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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

All The Feels!

Their bond will remain solid, I'm sure.
 It's been a week of high intensity around our place.  One child is off to her first year of college (in another state!) and another one just turned sixteen.  One child admitted to difficulties in middle school and another has emotional extremes as if she was in middle school.  One child, thankfully, seems to be typical, content, fun and simple.  I'm really grateful for that these days.

With seven six people under one roof, there are a lot of emotions and hearts to consume my thoughts.  Mr. Wonderful is grieving and adjusting to a home that no longer houses his firstborn.  I worry that the overwhelm of my younger children will be more annoying without the presence of his own children.  This is the first time he has experienced life without at least one of his girls living with him full time (We still have his younger daughter 50%).

There are a lot of individuals and emotions happening in our house and sometimes it just feels like too much.  I want to "fix" everyone, make them happy.  But transitional seasons contain sadness, excitement, joy and more - often all in the same day.  There was a time that I thought sadness and joy were unable to coexist, but I've witnessed them all wrapped up together.  We think that pain erases joy or that doubt discounts our faith.  Such is not true!

All too soon, this guy will be heading to college - Yikes!
We happen to be in a time of many strong feelings.  Thankfully, we get to support each other through the process.  I have to remember to avoid my codependent tendency of taking on responsibility for the feelings of those I love.  I cannot fix the empty room upstairs.  I cannot remove the rigors of middle school.  I cannot create a soft heart or positive attitude.  I can take care of me, practice healthy self care and support each one I love in their own struggle.

I'm confident we'll soon experience more consistency and enjoy a carefree spirit in our home soon.  Have you had any major transitions lately?  What can you do to take care of you today? How do you handle strong feelings?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Move-In Day and A Parent's Victory Walk

By the time this post is published, I'll be rolling down the highway with my awesome husband.  I actually enjoy road-time with him!  A few lanes over our oldest daughter will be driving with her sister and a car packed as full as it can be.  We're moving her into the dorm and it is another transition for our family.

I know my experience isn't the same as bio mom or as Mr. Wonderful who has lived with her everyday for the past 18+ years.  I sense the weight of his grief as he accepts that the day has arrived.  "For so long it was this big day way out there, and now it's here," he shared this week.  He's trying to balance his angst with the truth that she needs him to not need her, just to love her.  He does that so well and she will never doubt that truth.  She will feel it deep in her bones for life.  Mr. Wonderful has provided a safe, stable foundation from which she can launch.  I reminded him she isn't going to disappear and they will always be close, having a special bond.

My role as stepmother will be mostly to support Mr. Wonderful.  I'm sure I'll carry laundry baskets and bed sheets.  I packed a care package of her favorite snacks and toiletries.  But her bio mom will be the one to make the bed and organize the drawers.  I'll observe from an emotional distance and I'll pack away mental notes for the day my own offspring makes this journey.  It does feel, "Like a big day way out there."

When we leave, I hope that Mr. Wonderful can hold his head high and proud.  This is his victory walk.  He has delivered her ready and capable of standing on her own at university.  He has done an amazing job as dad in the day-to-day and I know he will continue to cultivate an adult relationship filled with mutual respect and trust.

I'll try to capture some moments on Instagram - follow me there!

This Mom Thought She Had It All Together

How Not To Be That Mom on Move-in Day

Monday, August 17, 2015

Seasons Change

Most days this summer, my alarm went off at 5:45 am.  Just after 6 am, I was reaching the end of our long driveway and breaking into a run for my morning exercise.  It took me about half a mile to feel fully awake and then I noticed all the things: The slowly fading darkness, the early bird chatter, the tinkling of the creek and the color of green emerging from the shadows.  I had time to consider the day before me with it's challenges and it's pleasures.

By the time I completed my run, I had prayed, mulled over my concerns and given them to the Lord.  I had time to think about friends and family who are near and far and could pray for situations that I couldn't control.  I arrived back at home to a mostly sleeping house, a quiet, cool shower and a feeling of accomplishment and preparedness.  It was a routine that I enjoyed and benefited my soul more than my body.

I miss it.  When school starts, my morning routines change.  I still pray, but it's usually while I'm still snuggled under the covers and I don't take as long or allow my thoughts to wander where God guides.  I still run, but it is in the hot afternoon when there are more people and cars on the way, and I'm more concerned about the children at home and the dinner that needs preparation.  I feel rushed and there is no solitude.

It's been this way for years now, and I know that soon it will too dark to run in the early morning, anyhow.  I will begin to appreciate the warmer afternoons when the morning become chilly.  It's just the definite mark of a change in seasons.  Summer into fall.  Freedom into routine.  Each season has it's pleasure and I'm sure to find much for which to be grateful in this next one.

What is changing around your place right now?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Links and Life Lately

Life has shifted into the the demands of a more structured school calendar and once again we are experiencing transition.  My firstborn began middle school with great expectations and then great trepidation.  He is hanging in there, but it's been a rough week.  I'm grateful that the elementary school kiddos are loving their classes and teachers.  The contrast has made me grateful for a cozy community school for them.

One step daughter is content beginning her junior year and anticipating her Sweet Sixteen birthday.  I'm excited for her as she continues to mature and bloom.  We only have one more week before taking our oldest to her university dorm.  The freshmen "essentials" are growing in a pile and soon she will be officially launched.  She's had a lovely and unique summer to savor, her presence will be greatly missed in our home.

Since I haven't been able to share too many of my own thoughts, here are some links I've enjoyed lately.  May your weekend be restful.

Perhaps because I adore words, I have also loved the concept of languages and dialects.  This infographic facinates me!
The Worlds's Most Spoken Languages

I've noticed in myself a difficulty focusing on longer passage of the written word - and I've read tomes in my lifetime!  So this article explaining Why We Can't Read Anymore was on target.  I'm considering how I may implement some of the challenges.

Self Care That Satisfies - I've been big on self care for years now, and encourage everyone to learn what builds your spirit.

I'd love to hear what you're reading in the comments!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Friends in Every Season

I have had a more difficult time developing close friends in my current season of life.  The combination of a large, blended family with odd scheduling, working full time, cultivating a marriage with greater priority than I did the first time and more have made it difficult to connect.  I'm working on that and hoping for improvement.

I think that's why I value my long-time friends so greatly.  They have seen me at my best and my worst.  They are witnesses to my history.  My closest friends live far away, but are near in heart.  I'm so grateful that we have made a tradition of connecting in person whenever possible.  These girls are wonderful encouragers.  They are my sounding board, they point me in the right direction and keep me humble, too.  I couldn't ask for better friends!

This weekend, we get to gather once again and I'm so very excited!  If you have friends in your life, be sure to let them know what they mean to you!










Monday, July 20, 2015

I See Superman

Mr. Wonderful and I are celebrating our anniversary today.  Our wedding day was right up there as one of the very best days of my life.  I feel so lucky for so many reasons.  I truly never thought I would have a love relationships like this that encompasses friendship, romance, fun, goals, family, partnership and so much more.  I didn't even know to hope for what I have.

If you meet my husband, you will notice he is a handsome man, kind, articulate and a great story-teller.  You would see that he likes to laugh, he is consistent and he keeps his word.  He follows through, follows up and is great at building lasting relationships.  He is laid back and loves to laugh, he is focused and disciplined about the things which he feels strongly.  He is devoted to his family, committed to his faith and can handle deep conversations.

You would notice immediately that Mr. Wonderful is a jock.  His mood can rise and fall on a soccer match, but he doesn't let anything keep him down for long.  He is quietly confident and can handle whatever challenge is before him.  You might see a Clark Kent-ish guy with lots of potential.

You can purchase this poster here.
When I look him,
I see superman.

I see the man who took another chance at love after his heart had been broken.  He was willing to be vulnerable and in still believes in marriage.  He pursued me unabashedly and completely won my heart.

I see character that is consistent and faith that remains, even when challenged by the doubts and cares that come with a life lived fully.  I see depth, desire for growth and trust that is the foundation of his strength.

I see a dad who filled the empty rooms of his quiet home with noisy children that aren't his by birth, but I'm praying they take after him.  He loves each of his children whole-heartedly and invests in them with time, attention and affection.

I see a generous man who shares what he has with others and loves to be extravagant.  I see kindness that notices when someone needs encouragement.  I trust his discernment and wisdom.  I feel completely confident that he is on my side and acting for the best interest of our family.  He is my reward at the end of a day well spent and my safe place to land when things aren't right in my world.

No - he's not perfect, he's real and true and sometimes tired or weak.  But the Clark Kent many may simply not notice is the hero of our family story.  Daily and even more so in circumstances that test the quality of mankind, he proves his strength.

I'm lucky to be his chosen match.  This day we celebrate just two years of marriage, which seems insufficient for the content of what we share.  But I'm so looking forward to a lifetime with my own personal Superhero!  My great fears of remarriage have prove false, thus far, and I have no worries that will change.  Such is the greatest gift of my Mr. Wonderful: Security.

What do you see that the rest of the world doesn't get close enough to notice?

Monday, July 13, 2015

Screen Time Considerations for our Summer Schedule

Screens.  We have them - lots of them!  I suppose you do, too.  Our summer started out fairly busy and we were out and about more than home.  But the last few weeks and the next several to come are filled with lots of time at home and I felt strongly that we needed some boundaries around the children's media usage.

I'm trying to use my phone less and be more present and I want them to learn self control in this area, too.  So, we worked together to establish boundaries and we all feel better about them.

Together with my older son, we created the following list of things to consider.  In general, televisions don't keep us from other activities, but the video games can dominate the day if we let them.  So we created stronger boundaries around the games than general shows:

We may turn the TV on when we wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, etc. We can watch shows, movies or Netflix.

By 10 am, YOU MUST BE DRESSED, TEETH BRUSHED, HAIR BRUSHED AND BEDS MADE. The TV needs to go off at 10 am until 1 pm. This is time for reading, artwork, crafts, bicycle riding, outdoor play, gardening, building, legos, trains or dolls and chores. You MAY use the walkie-talkies or listen to music.

After 1 pm, you may use screens/video games/Wii/other. You may have up to three hours of game time each day of the summer. BEFORE turning on a screen, the chart below must be completed:

Read for 30 minutes?

Finished Daily Chores?
- make bed
- put away laundry
- straighten kitchen
- pick up bedroom floor
- Did Mommy leave a list of extras?

Spent some Time Outside?

Draw or Write in Journal?

Of course, our babysitter is the one who has the job of enforcing throughout the day.

So far, we have been pretty good about sticking to the general plan.  Some may think 3 hours of video game time is too much, but it works for our summer schedule (During the school year, we don't do video games during the week).  It helps that there are a couple of afternoon or evenings each week where we are out of the house and active, so the time is even more limited.  Also, video game time is a privilege lost when there are discipline consequences.

The summer is quickly winding down and I'm comfortable with our screen time situation.  Are you?  Do you have boundaries in place?  Do you differentiate between games/learning/watching?

Note of Disclosure: Every now and then I notice a "binge day" and I'm grateful we have a system for less use overall. Also, these considerations are in place only for the younger children in our home.  My step daughters have differing online regulations.

There is much written on the subject, the ideas in the articles linked helped form my thoughts:

Resisting the Screen Siren

Children Need Outdoor Play

Toll of Screen Addiction In Children

Growing Up Social (includes affiliate link)