Tag Archives: parenting

Buffering

How often do we get annoyed waiting for a download? As technology has advanced, we’ve gotten spoiled and increasingly more impatient with the few seconds this transformation occurs, forgetting that this process used to take minutes. (Not to mention our personal history with “dial-up” connections…we need not remind ourselves how old this makes us sound!)

. . . ___. . . Buffering . . . ___ . . .

Yep, we even have a fancy term for waiting on technology: buffering – -waiting with purpose and a heightened expectation of data coming our way. We’re paused as we  wait for data or images to load, so we can proceed with our next electronic interaction. The momentary lapse in electronic connection makes us feel restless.buffering symbol

Software programs have even designed creative ways to give us digital holding cues…a flashing line promising that progress is about to happen or a bright green line racing around a circle offering the illusion of “almost there.”

Last week when I was feeling the pressure of navigating a tight schedule while trying to accommodate the various speeds on which my children operate, it occurred to me how often I act as a buffering agent to those around me.
Like the mysterious data preloading that occurs, our buffering efforts go largely unseen but are constantly at work.
As moms, we’re often filling in the gaps between one family member to the next. We are frequently redirecting children, softening sharp edges of voice tones and harsh facial expressions. We’re constantly monitoring the goings-on in our families, serving as a hub in which each family member dives in for a brief connection then returns to their homework or computer screen.
We help modulate the buzz of activity in our households, buffering between family and houseguests or redirecting young sibling traffic to a neutral zone when teens are hanging out in another.

Even our pets use us as buffers. During yesterday’s thunderstorm, my golden retriever would not leave my side as she panted and anxiously tucked her tail, looking at me imploringly to “STOP MOVING ALREADY!” so she could settle.Katie hiding from storms

As women, we probably have more buffering systems in play than men, so it’s not unusual for me to hear stories about how a friend is  intervening between her husband and their realtor; or navigating details between her husband and service workers (and hoping to get the details about the roof leak, the hot water gadget, or the pool pump control panel interpreted correctly).

. . . ___ . . . We buffer between extremes. 

We lessen the impact of potential harsh consequences we see coming, but they may not. 

. . . ___ . . . We referee between siblings. 

We reframe feedback from challenging teachers and revved-up coaches  in ways our children can absorb it more constructively.

All this buffering can take a toll on us, leaving us feeling battered and weary. Sometimes on a day when we’ve spent so much energy putting out other people’s fires and not gotten our own agenda accomplished, we’re left feeling unproductive with an empty tank.
This past Sunday when I was feeling off-kilter after a busy week of solo parenting, I managed to stop for a few moments and go offline.offline mom break

Even though I’ve been trying to practice the art of Sabbath rest, the struggle to downshift is tricky. During waking hours my brain does not seem to have an “off” switch, so this striving to rest is a discipline I have to work at intentionally.

As I’ve recognized the draining pull of this nearly constant buffering, I’m beginning to appreciate the nuances more and realize the hidden impact my unseen efforts have on those around me. Slowly, I’m giving myself permission to power down” so I can truly recharge and be more effective as a nurturing buffer rather than an automatic boomerang.
Like it or not, mommas, this buffering stuff is part of the gig. I’m grateful God wired us to multi-task and self-regulate so we can stay on track when needed. I’m also thankful for the grace He extends to us and through us, so we can upload a positive influence on our families.leaves fallen

Fall is our friendly buffer between the lingering mugginess of Summer and the harsh chill of Winter.

As we transition into muted days with a crispness in the air, may we slip away for some nature walks to rebuild our inner buffering system. We’ve got this, friends!

What is YOUR recharge going to be this season?

“We must cease striving and trust God to provide what He thinks is best and in whatever time He chooses to make it available. But this kind of trusting doesn’t come naturally. It’s a spiritual crisis of the will in which we must choose to exercise faith.” – Charles Swindoll


 

Warning: This Post Will Make You Itch!

When you are young, everyday begins as an adventure. There is excitement raveled up with unknowns and interlaced with dependency on grown-ups. There are ecstatic highs and devastating lows almost every day in a young ones heart. 

After the past two weeks, I think the same can be said for an adult too!

Our family is soaking up as much summer as we can, but have thrown in a Move, an Emergency Surgery and a most unexpected Lice Epidemic in a few short days that quickly turned to long and challenging “opportunities”.

On our Blog, we love to share all the fun, warm fuzzy layers that we do, but it dawned on me after the past week that it is important to share how we do the unexpected, uncomfortable layers also.

The Move and the Surgery were manageable for our family; the realization that 5 out of 6 in our household had lice however, tried to take us down. We had never dealt with itchy heads before so the moment of crisis was a fork in the road for us. We could model hysteria to our children, or we could choose a calmer path. (Believe me when I say that I had inward panic happening, but with prayer and support was able to walk the prettier trail). 

We chose to laugh instead of cry at the situation presented to us.

We educated ourselves on what was happening and then took a stand as a family to eradicate it.

We looked at it as an opportunity to grow stronger in family teamwork as we poured hours into vacuuming, cleaning, laundry and so much laundry.

After we quarantined the majority of the house, we banded together and called several evenings a “huge family campout” as we piled all the boys in our room with borrowed bedding. 

We all know there are two sides to every story,  but as adults, we are constantly given chances to figure out the better option. Lots of little eyes watch how we deduct and choose. We couldn’t do it on our own attempts every time;  God’s mercy shows up for us when we ask Him. Thankfully He got us through the last week!! 

There were honestly Highs and Lows running the gamut, but the perspective on our situation stayed focused. We hopefully taught our kids how to weather some set-backs without being swept under. And the silver lining was new Hairbrushes for All!!!

All your children will be taught by the LORD, and great will be their peace.  Isaiah 54:13

Landing zones & Launch pads

In the fast shuffle of summer activities and quick transitions from one camp to the next, our landing zones tend to attract odd bits and pieces of our lives, gaining depth and dimension at warp speed.  messy desk

Graduation announcements from last month mingle with lingering Christmas cards, awaiting that elusive moment of “getting around to it” for mailing a congrats card or transferring a friend’s address from the cute family photocard into our phone contact list. Our good intentions taunt us from these leaning stacks of paper and unprocessed mail each time we pass by on our way out the door.

That workbench out in the garage for “projects?” Yep, it gets piled high with everything from replacement toilet seats and seed packets of spring flowers that didn’t get planted to athletic shoes that have to be returned because feet have grown too big for them. One season of detritus gloms on to the next and soon you have a mishmash of holiday decor and unrelated sports gear teasing you as you park your car each evening.garage workbench

These landing zones of our lives naively begin as “planned” triage centers (assess urgency, prioritize level of importance and divert onward) but sneakily become perpetual messes that overwhelm us, nudging us toward stagnation rather than action.

As moms, we often become the landing zone for our family members, too. We gather stories from our kids about their latest interactions with friends, reactions to something Coach said at practice, or quirky things that happened at youth group. We get inundated by requests for new shoes, spending money for lunch with friends, or last-minute items needed for a camp that starts tomorrow.cubbies

Requests, logistics, multiple schedules, deadlines, menu planning, and household responsibilities land on us repetitively throughout the day. Demands of family life pile up on us, little by little, until we feel bogged down.

Inertia starts to feel familiar and perhaps even a little cozy. It might be easy to succumb to frustration and exhaustion because we constantly feel like the target zone for problem-solving and distribution central.

Another way to view the chaotic landing zone in our home is to see that it also serves as a launch pad. From this dumping ground of nitty-gritty details of busy family life also springs the data resources to point our crew in the right direction. The schedules, sports agendas, camp registrations, invitations, announcements, and endless stream of college brochures are landmarks for our kids’ journey through childhood. WE are their navigators. 

As we absorb the impact of our children bouncing off of us as they hurl themselves into a variety of childhood experiences, we can empower them to launch from us in a healthy way. If we are able to provide some rallying encouragement and emotional steadiness while they are refueling in our safety zone, they will gain confidence in their own trajectory.cloud art

Sometimes it isn’t easy being the staging ground for these multi-faceted, difficult-but-necessary tasks to be completed before an impending countdown. Although you feel the pressure tangibly building for launch and feel a little clumsy with all the delicate maneuvers, the outcome can be intensely rewarding for each successful takeoff.

So, hold steady, my friend. Reinforce those buffering systems. Let that striving child take flight in his own way. Breathe. Pray. Repeat. While awaiting his sweet return, clear your landing zone and prepare yourself for the next liftoff phase. Provide that foundation of a strong legacy of faith. Solidify his base now so as he launches farther and more independently, he is clear and focused on his ultimate flight plan. Remain steadfast in this training period so you’re both ready to launch well.

Legacy page of Bible Quilt
Legacy page in my #BibleQuit

 



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Fathering Footholds

Last week while dropping my son off at camp, I was directed to park in my “place” amidst the caravan of cars parading in to deposit youngsters for the week. Unfortunately, my “place” was in 6+ inches of meddlesome mud. My son & I rallied to embrace this unexpected mire. We changed our shoes and soldiered onward. The mud slowed our pace as we took methodical steps to release the suction clinging to the bottom of our soles.
Ssschhhhmucckkkk!”  “Ssschhhhmucckk!” hissed each shoe, flinging droplets of mud up the back of our legs. As we plowed our way through the sloshy mud, we grinned at each other and aligned ourselves shoulder to shoulder as we arrived at the check-in corral.  My son’s eyes sparkled as if to say, “I’ve got this.”toe to toe in the mud

Ok, so there was a little grumbling involved on my part as I had to McGyver my way back to the car & magically transform my mud-encrusted feet back into drivable footwear, but I sensed we had made a memory…and something more.

In the minutes before exiting the dry refuge of the car, we rallied to problem-solve and put our heads together on how to get ourselves and his belongings to his cabin relatively dry (aka: not dropping anything into the mud along the way). These little moments are ways we teach boys how to remain calm, to access resources, and to think quickly about their next choice. It’s an opportunity to establish a confidence foothold…a tiny nudge to show this excited 11-year-old boy a glimpse into being a resourceful adult in a sticky situation.

mini me
mini-me

Each time  we are able to model confidence and grace in a stressful moment, we reflect those abilities back to our children so they can see themselves as confident and capable.

As Father’s day approaches, I’ve been thinking about experiences that have been fathering footholds for my boys. 

We want our boys to mature into capable adults, faithful  husbands, and loving fathers. This transformation doesn’t happen overnight, but in the minutia of daily life with an added layer of thoughtfulness woven in. If we don’t nudge, cajole, and shape these boys in social courtesy and “gentlemanly” prowess, how do they develop these skills so they’re finely honed and naturally expressed when these young men are adulting out there on their own?

boy in tieI appreciate the “expectations” certain extracurricular groups set to reinforce these niceties. Learning to tolerate the discomfort of formal concert attire for orchestra performances or wearing business clothes all day for a key club convention is a good life lesson. Learning how to present themselves, make eye contact, and endure public speaking contributes to that young boy “trying on” the weight of adult responsibility in a supportive environment.

teen drivingAs parents we also have snippets of training time throughout our daily activities:

– mentioning a few pointers re:  driving  etiquette as our teens chauffeur us around on errands

– encouraging them to hold open doors or to return grocery carts for the elderly or frazzled mothers with toddlers

– sitting patiently in the passenger seat, awaiting one of the guys to open your door (and being gracious when it’s clear that you can do it yourself yet patiently allowing your young man to demonstrate this gesture of kindness)

Family vacations that broaden children’s perspectives and enhance an appreciation for things outside their “normal” have long-lasting impact.

yellowstone

I’m thankful for the encouragement and support that my boys have gotten along the way to offer them some fatherly footholds. Each of these positive contacts contributes to these young boys developing a foundation of manly self-confidence.

mentorteachers that have gone beyond the classroom to challenge and mentor them in positive ways

a father that lets them lead, but is available with the backup map when needed

passing on a legacy pin

the grandfather that passed along his National Honor Society legacy pin to his grandson being inducted 60 years later

 aunts that have repeatedly purchased popcorn and household gadgets through a variety of  fundraisers

outgrowing unclesuncles that have teased and talked sports with the boys, making a big deal of the ones gradually outgrowing them

the kind elementary school principal that greeted each student by name at the door  each day

a youth group pastor that meets them for donuts and reinforces their brotherly bonds

work crews that enthusiastically help on Eagle Scout projectseagle scout work crew

father's day a Grandpa that drives long distances to join in Father’s Day activities and tease them about girls…and the whole nine yards

grandmas that have cheered for them on the sidelines of their chosen sports or clapped enthusiastically after a musical performance

Each time someone SHOWS UP and demonstrates interest in what a young boy is striving toward, that boy gains confidence about the young man he is becoming. It fuels his drive and motivates him along his path.  It strengthens his armor, readying him in unseen ways for his future role of husband, worker, or father.
Baylor familySo, we wade through the mud with our children. We engage them in face-to-face conversation. We cultivate a love of our own alma mater, yet also release them to choose their own school that fits them best. We celebrate their wins and comfort them in their losses.

 

"Father" Bible Quilt page
Bible Quilt: Father page

Each day in small, ordinary ways, we offer our boys little fathering footholds and entrust them to their ultimate Father figure, praying for guidance and growth.

As we celebrate the Dads around us this weekend, let us also be mindful of the young boys observing the fatherly traits all around them. Each interaction matters.

Grandpa and me
Grandpa and me

 

In honor of Father’s day, here’s to my grandfather who was a “gentle man and a gentleman.”

You shepherded us well, Grandpa. We love you!

 

 

 

Exhale

Whoosh!

balloonsAs we pushed through the last week of school and immediately catapulted into the first two scheduled summer activities, I found myself feeling a bit like a deflated party balloon. My outward self was still trying to celebrate my boys’ last day of school yet my inner self was no longer floating high with anticipation just wearily hovering low and fading into smallness.

Summer and all its sunny expectations of FUN was here, but I wasn’t feeling it. I kept waiting for the bright mantle of “summer” to fall upon me, but found myself struggling to muster up excitement for the usual burst of summer activities. “What’s the deal with me?” I wondered.

– – – I forgot to exhale. – – –

The fullness of the school year had pressed in hard from all sides, nudging us along from one end-of-the-year culminating event to the next and sweeping us through finals week. Although I hadn’t taken a single exam or given any oral presentations, I had buffered and nourished these souls that were putting their all into their last school days. The truth was that we were all tired as we approached the finish line of another academic year.

Even if we aren’t the main player on the field, the sidelines are a busy place of support and encouragement as we prepare our players to get out there to do their best. As parents we’ve put in hours of training, too, but may not recognize the toll it’s taken on us. We may not be aware of  the moments we’ve been holding our breath as the next play unfolds before our eyes yet just beyond our grasp.

heart puzzleOn the last day of school, I awoke each of my sons and celebrated the moment of transition into their next grade level. As I looked into each sleepy face, something slipped inside me. A gear subtly shifted inside this mother’s heart and I paused to absorb its impact.

While each of my boys  is excited to move on to the next phase  of school, this promotion  also means a natural step closer to their independence. Celebrating their growth this year also means recognizing their progress toward stepping out on their own one day in the future, slipping away from our home and my dinner table. These were some heavy thoughts to bear in those first hazy moments of “the last day,” so I tucked them back in and moved toward a celebratory breakfast, focusing on their joy.

climatis openingLater that day as I added another envelope to the growing stack of graduation announcements, engagement party/wedding reception invitations, and college brochures, I realized we’re all in the metamorphosis of May. These transformations elicit all the feelings and soak up all the energy. As we dive in to celebrate each milestone, we want to savor each moment.

We also need to remember in each one to breathe . . . to embrace this shift of change in our loved ones and loosen our hold just a bit. (It’s good practice for the next “biggie” after all.)

– – – We need to remember to exhale. – – –

It’s in this exhale, where we can discover the joy of letting go…

to blow out the candles
to blow a kiss to a sweetheart
to blow that dandelion fluff as far as it will fly
to blow a pinwheel just for the delight on a toddler’s face
to release tension that has been building within us
to watch our children soar
Psalm 105:4
Bible Quilt – Psalm 105:4

 

As we celebrate these changes and allow ourselves a moment to exhale, we’ll realize the sunshine is a little brighter and our hearts a little fuller.

We may even discover that we’re ready for the longer days of summer after all. 

 

 

Behind the Scenes of Loading a Great Soccer Wagon

This is not for the faint of heart. There is skill and precision of timing that only comes from being in the trenches—a.k.a The Soccer Field. This is what the Wagon used to look like every Saturday…
We have all either seen or been the mom with an antsy sibling-child that is hungry, bored, wet, cold, hot, whining…I’ve seen a toddler drop his drawers and pee on a parent’s chair. It’s ALL out there on the field.
And yes, there is an actual game going on with your child playing. And you have come to dutifully and joyfully cheer them on. It will come to a crashing halt if you have not loaded a Great Soccer Wagon for the “others”.
The obvious items being: soccer ball, water thermos, chair for yourself, blanket and a handy umbrella for shading options.

Now let me bump up your game with another set of items that will free you to enjoy what you originally came for–the soccer.

We have a carry container with a Lego drawer and a top brick plate to create on. These are our “Soccer Legos” and they draw crowds of kids each time we bring it. Everyone can build side-by-side on a blanket. Legos have no age barriers. All 4 of my boys and their peers will sit down and tinker with Legos!
“Dirt Toys” are fabulous for the younger set. Grab a recyclable clothe bag and load up those sand box toys with a few extra hot wheels for good measure. The field inevitably has a side area that will just be dirt. And if you have boys…they are magnets to dirt! (Just throw in some wet wipes for the clean-up).
We always have a stadium-sized umbrella for the kids to set up a make-shift shade tent on the ground. This also comes in handy to block wind. I tuck a small rope in the wagon in case we need to tie it more securely to a chair.  Speaking of rope…there have been times when the kids will collect sticks and use the small rope to make “tepees”.
Band Aids, Comic Books, Gum,  Rubics Cubes and various Fidget Toys are stashed in Wagon pockets. Any Drive Through Toys are funneled to the Soccer Wagon; if they get left or taken by another child…I’m good with that!
I tuck a few quarters in for a random snow cone occasionally. And I take 1 snack for each child but put it in multiple tiny ziploc bags that won’t hold much, so that when they ask me repeatedly for more, I keep doling them out…eventually they’ve finished the 1 snack but they are none the wiser. (It keeps them busy).
We load the Wagon the night before a game day and then lift the whole thing into the back of the car. It does not collapse down until the game day is complete. You can do this too!! It takes a small amount of preparation, but once you’ve set the Wagon up, you are good for the season. Enjoy the games!