making the trek

Trekking through life: Faith, family, friends and a whole lot of coffee!

We reap what we sow October 18, 2016

Filed under: Family,Kids,Lessons,Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 6:00 AM

Have you ever had your toddler sass you with a phrase or intonation that was a dead-on impression of you?  Or perhaps a middle schooler roll their eyes with a disdainful expression that you’ve seen “somewhere” before.  Maybe even a high schooler or young adult disagree with you about something and throw your own logic back in your face?  No?  Maybe it’s just me then.  Just kidding, I know I am not alone here on this one.  There is no better mirror on our own parenting than in the faces, words and actions of our children.  I, for one, have seen some not so great mirroring of my own over the years and will honestly say; parenting is a constant work in progress.

Today I was privy to a portion of a particularly nasty and public conversation between two people.  These people are related to me and the conversation was one that my sister and I shared with our father 3 decades ago.  OUR conversation, though seriously explosive and resulting in a 7 year long estrangement and forever deconstructed relationship, positively paled in comparison to what I read today.  As I sat back and picked my jaw up from the floor and judged it all, I realized how horribly sad this situation is.  So broken.  The father, has long had anger issues and has never acknowledged that he could be mistaken on any subject.  Ever.  A father who can not ever be disagreed with.  A father who loves to spoil his kids and participate with his kids as long as it is something that holds his interest.  The daughter, a child of a 2nd and 3rd marriage to an older father and younger mother.  The boundaries?  As far as social media and family rumors go:  loose boundaries, spoilage resulting in entitlement and now anger, frustration and lashing out.  A lost little girl needing guidance, love and security, but unable and unwilling to ask.   A truly tragic truth, some lessons are never learned, only repeated with likely the same sorrowful results.

We reap what we sow.  Mamas and Papas those little hearts need boundaries.  They need to feel safe.  They need to trust that we have their backs. They need to know that they can screw up and we will be right there to help brush them off and give them solid advice and encouragement for the next go around.  They need to learn how to argue respectfully and know that sometimes in life we can agree to disagree and respect each other’s points.  They need to know as they navigate kindergarten recess, middle school lunchroom, and high school cliques that we are there every step of the way; not fighting their battles but cheering them on and fueling their self-esteem.  Sometimes it means making the unpopular choices and denying a sleepover, checking in with a parent, monitoring social media and cell phones.  Honest conversation.  Hard conversation.  Those boundaries are setting that foundation for later in life when those preschoolers on training wheels are spreading their wings as 19 year olds on motorcycles and preparing to move out.  Setting up boundaries and expectations early is the difference between a selfish, entitled young adult unable to make a committment waiting on society to give them a trophy for showing up to work on time and a confident and aware young adult able to understand the value of a dollar, a strong work ethic and the importance of following through with committments.

We don’t have to be our kid’s friends, they will have enough of them on their own.  Our job as their parents is to lay the groundwork so that they will be adults we want to include as friends. Anything else is a disservice to them, heartbreak for us and only adds to furthering moral and social decline in our society.

And for the love, keep your poop off social media.

 

Summits and sunsets July 21, 2016

Filed under: Faith,Family,Gratitude,Lessons,Photos,Travel — tracye1 @ 12:15 PM

Today we put our boy on the plane back to Florida for a few days rest and lawn mowing before he heads to the Keys with his girlfriend’s family.  Tough life, right?  However, that also marks the downward slide of this amazing vacation.  And that’s ok.  It’s been phenomenal.  A favorite compliment to us this week was “we look like we belong here”.  True.  You never know what God  has in store for us and looking back 10 years ago, I would never have pictured this.  Ever.  Man,  God IS good.  And full of surprises.  So, who knows!

Yesterday, we let the kids sleep in and then spent the day at Mt. Cranmore enjoying the ropes course and zip lines (ok sort of—it was a great workout, but a few of us are not height fans and were thrilled to be done with that part!), ski lift (amazing views, cool breeze and lost sunglasses found again after a return trip up the lift), mountain coaster and general enjoyment of the ski resort during summer.  We were able to spend time with Hubby’s cousin at his super cool home followed by a yummy Chinese restaurant afterward. We were fortunate enough to catch the sunset on the way back home on the Kancamagus Highway.  It was a wonderful way to cap off the day and end the boy’s mountain vacation.

cranmore

Mt. Cranmore-summer fun

The boys summited Mt. Washington the other day.  I still have no pictures yet, but they had a tremendous experience.  Adequately prepared, they experienced the crazy weather that accompanies an enormous mountain from 70 degrees at start to 30 degrees and socked in with wind at the summit.  Periods of visibility to less than 200 yards to completely clear within 10 minutes.  Lunch in the AMC shelter and a break from the weather with 25 other hikers.  8 hours of hiking.  Both agreed they were glad to experience the highs and lows of the weather and the challenge it brought as it made the glory of the summit that much more appreciative.  If that isn’t a great analogy for life, I don’t know what is.  Nothing worth having comes easy.

Today we will explore a bit more locally again, light hiking with the pup and prepare to head to PA tomorrow to visit with my mom and her husband again before we head south and home.

So, for now, I’m going to continue to soak up this porch, this weather and this time.

Blessed.  Truly.

sunset

Sunset fun

Romans 8:18 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

 

 

 

 

Big picture June 11, 2016

Filed under: Lessons,Life,Parenting — tracye1 @ 9:58 AM

I’m truly over hearing about Brock and his foolish speaking father.  I’m probably about to do an unpopular post here, but first do not misunderstand me:  that kid was wrong.  that dad was wrong.  that judge was wrong.  this entire thing is so.   so.   so.  wrong.  The only thing that is good is the two young men who intervened.

There are so many layers of wrong in this entire scenario we could dissect it for days.  Which has been done.  Over and over again.  I’ve stopped reading.  Maybe you have, too.   You might not even read this, and that’s ok.  I’m not reading anymore.  Here’s just some of my observations:

Here’s what I haven’t seen:

  • Accountability.  so much excuse-making in the Brock camp:  let’s just call a spade a spade, he did wrong.  period.  end.  Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility.
  • Remorse.  So much blah, blah, blah about alcohol, privilege and talent.  While I’m quite sure he is sorry now for what he did……it also seems certain that he’s likely not sorry for the right reasons.  I can’t help but wonder if this kid was truly, honestly, genuinely remorseful from the very beginning (without his paternal mouthpiece) would we have even seen this story?
  • Cause.  We live in a society that makes big money on exploiting women.  Human trafficking is so disgustingly large that we somehow can’t even get a small grip on it.  The seed of women-as-objects is so deeply planted in the minds of our boys (and girls) that while eyebrows are raised when a 14 year old wears a skin tight dress to 8th grade graduation, the parents won’t even see what’s wrong with that.  I bet they dang sure give the side-eye to any male who takes notice though.  Because modesty=prude.  This is apparently anytime I take my 5’9″ daughter dress shopping and it takes an act of congress to get a cute dress that actually covers her ass.

Here’s what I have seen:

  • USA swimming taking the stance that the Judicial system should have taken.  BRAVO.  BRAV.  O.
  • Privilege and letters of recommendation apparently serve more of a purpose than job applications, or college apps.  It truly IS all about who you know.  Myth:  proven.
  • Alcohol.  Once again a factor. And when it is you can’t count on staying in control or your friends watching your back.  It’s a long history through the decades of impaired decisions on both sides and tragedy following.  And a whole lot of regret. And shame.
  • Great posts on the reminder of an ongoing teaching of our boys, girls, young men and young women on the importance of respecting others and standing up for what is right, in spite of what big advertising and society shove down our throats.  This conversation should NEVER end.  Despite the uncomfortable nature  of the topic.
  • Inconsistency in how a crime is treated.  Race.  Privilege.  Good, Lord.  Is it any wonder what a mess our country is in?  And with the two top running “candidates” for president, I don’t see any improvement any time soon.  Jesus, please come soon!
  • Mob mentality.

There’s my vent.

 

Anorexia, it’s not just for girls March 11, 2015

Filed under: Changes,Faith,Family,Kids,Lessons,Life,Uncategorized — tracye1 @ 10:13 PM
Tags: , , ,

I write this in hopes that a family dealing with this on the “boy’s side” of things might be encouraged and possibly even be helped.  Although, I will absolutely preface this by saying I am NOT an expert here.  What I AM, is a mom with a rock-solid mother’s intuition.

It started rather normally enough with a 15 year-old entering summer just as his body went through that growth spurt that 15 year-old boys do….5ish inches upward in a matter of 3 months.  Summer for this particular child also meant days filled with skateboarding all over the city with friends.  Pretty much EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  And I am talking 7 a.m until dark or later.  A hearty protein smoothie to start his day off followed by hours of skating with bananas, water and protein bars were a recipe that concluded 10 weeks later with a 6 footer at just under 130 pounds.  Down about 20 pounds and up roughly 5 inches.  Truthfully, this kid was so busy all summer having fun that I don’t think we grasped the hugeness of the growing and changing until summer was almost over.  I mean there were small signs throwing up red flags for me, but not enough to convince me I wasn’t just being a paranoid mother.  Baggy shorts and big t-shirts hide a lot.  or a little.  We weren’t really worried though because when you burn those calories all day and grow at the same time, it’s pretty obvious what is going to happen.  But still.

Anyway, the pediatrician didn’t seem concerned, even when I point-blank asked if this might be a bit too much, too quick.  So it must be alright.  Right?

When school started back up, our sophomore had a new-found enjoyment in his new physique as well as an interest in eating cleaner.  It was a great opportunity to have many, MANY, MANY talks about food as fuel, getting enough calories, exploring new recipes, hitting the farmer’s market and finding new food blogs (a favorite being chocolatecoveredkatie).  So you just don’t complain when you have a kid whipping up “healthy” desserts and various brussel sprout recipes.  Because broccoli is good for you.  And still that nagging persists.

A disturbing trend started about roughly the same time with an obsession involving food challenge videos on you tube.  The crazy ones…the cross fit dudes who sit down and eat 10,000 calories in a sitting….that kind of crazy.  I lost count and I lost interest after the first 2 or 3, but I didn’t stop taking mental notes of the fascination and the jealousy that wrestled together in the mind of this shrinking boy.

Slowly, other subtle things were occurring such as not partaking in the homemade cookies, being critical of what other family members were eating, small amounts of food being eaten at meal times, “I’m not that hungry” out of the mouth while the eyes linger longingly, etc, etc, etc.

Then came Halloween Horror nights.  Creepy enough but then apparently our zombie lover had a bad Moe’s experience which ended the HHN trip 2 hours in.  Fortunately, our good friend lives close enough that he picked him up and brought him home to vom and sleep.  2 days later we were in the ER with dehydration and down to 117 pounds.  It just got real. And that’s a deep, dark, ugly hole.

Thus the beginning of the delicate dance of addressing the issue and guiding him back to normal.   Many nights the Hubs and I lay in bed talking about what the hell do we do.  Neither of us had an answer.  And, I might add, it is NOT the time to get up and start googling boys and anorexia.  Sleep and peace left on a vacation together after that.

I picked the brains of friends throughout the summer and fall.  Friends who are nutritionists, moms, professional athletes, friends who suffered with anorexia and bulimia as kids and lingering body and food issues.  I called around to find counselors that were familiar with boys and anorexic behavior.  Pickings were slim, I’m here to tell you.  By slim, I mean I found one counselor that sounded like he could potentially help us.  Maybe.

The saving grace, and I do mean GRACE (capital GRACE) was that he was open to discussion.  And mama likes to discuss, so we had many discussions with the Hubs letting me take the wheel on this as he wrestled with his own demons of where/how/why this was happening and the helplessness that is so intricately woven in those questions.  While our son could not wrap his head around the physical need for 4,000 calories a day to meet his body’s needs, he DID hear what I was saying.  At some point during a particularly frustrating conversation I flat-out told him that if he kept going with his plan that his body would fail him and he would die.  Something finally clicked.  Just a bit.  The teensiest of a bit.  But the seed was planted.  His response to me was that he didn’t appreciate that I thought he would kill himself.  To which I had to re-explain myself that it wouldn’t be intentional, however, if he didn’t start giving his body what it needed calorically and nutritionally, his body would take it where it could get it.  Some fat here, when that ran out….some muscle here…and the heart, well….it’s a big ole muscle and if you take from it, it just doesn’t work.

He agreed to meet a sports nutritionist that I knew from the Y.  Thank you sweet baby, Jesus!!  We met monthly, measured, discussed, strategized and I just sat back and listened.  The hubs and I could want it for him all day long but he had to take ownership and do the work.  It was a grueling one step forward and four steps back process.  By about month 3 or 4 he was finally making some gains.  Up about 7 pounds and with a new-found vegan diet that made him feel healthy and satiated and less conscious of what he was eating, he was slowly coming back to us.

This past fall he bought a Jeep Cherokee.  Working at Dunkin Donuts pays off (the irony, I know…believe me, I know) and the kid finally had wheels.  After the wheels came dreams of “‘muddin”” and he joined a jeep club.  His first foray out with the club finished with a good old-fashioned BBQ in the woods.  Our vegan came home ecstatic, adrenaline-rushed and a belly filled with chicken.  And cookies and ribs.  He declared a vegan death.

The reality lies somewhere in between though, as he feels most healthy and energetic when he sticks to a mostly vegan and clean diet, however, he has FINALLY embraced the fact that he doesn’t need to firmly lie in one camp or another, but can incorporate them all to meet his needs.  He’s found a happy medium.  He’s also found a new job.  Pizza delivery dude.

So was he a full-blown anorexic?  As I stated earlier, I’m no professional, but he hit many of the behaviors solidly on the head. There was no obvious trauma or drama during that time to pinpoint why.  Somehow, his grades never suffered.  This kid may be in the current state of Prodigal Son with the Lord, but his parents, never stopped praying.  Their friends, they prayed.  His siblings, they prayed.  Holy water…you know it.  Blessed salt….right on in that dinner.  There is no giving up.  There is no black or white answer.  Eating disorders can differ with each and every person.

For now, he’s good.  Is he “cured”?  He’s finally up to a 32ish waist from a 28 and I no longer see every vertebrae in his spine when he’s shirtless.  However, I’ll say that addiction runs deep in this family, both sides.  Addiction and control, they go hand in hand and he will always struggle with control.  Of course we all do on some level and at some point, he will be mature enough to know it’s a demon he will always need to acknowledge.  As for right now it’s one day at a time.

I’ll take it.  2 years later.  I’ll take it.

 

Beauty and the judge July 15, 2014

At a football game for my daughter’s cheer squad I saw a young girl (maybe a mom, not sure) with the tiniest of tank tops (barely covering the important parts) and the shortest of shorts in white.  She sat with the football players.  I sat with my jaw to the ground.

At the produce store, a young girl in a barely there t-shirt and bikini bottoms prancing around.

At an interview and struggling to maintain eye contact as cleavage joins in the interview process. 

I have a confession to make.   I am incredibly judgemental.  I try not to be, but truth be told; I judge.  Hard.  It’s a struggle.  Sometimes, it’s because I care enough to point out the obvious, i.e. shorts too short/tight/ripped, etc.  Sometimes it’s within the limits of my own children and setting boundaries and sometimes I turn the ugly, judgemental eye….think along the lines of “What not to wear”.  The irony of it all, is I am no fashion maven and have had enough “what not to wear” moments that Stacey and Clinton should be here yesterday with their $5000 and help a sister out. But.  It’s not the fashion mishaps that concern me (mostly, I find THOSE highly entertaining and educational) it’s the blatant sexism in fashion and the lowering of the moral bar in what should be deemed acceptable. Starting in the toddler section and it doesn’t stop there.

Our girls have been blessed some truly awesome hand-me-downs in the past, however, a large portion of those clothes just kept on going out the door to the thrift store due to inappropriateness.  I mean, do we REALLY need to see ass-crease with every pair of shorts???  We’ve had several talks.  Together. One on one.  At the table.  In the car.  In the stores.  They know exactly where Dad and I stand in what’s allowable (basically school dress code=family dress codes for most things…but not flip-flops, I mean, c’mon…we live in Florida!).  For the most part, they abide by the rules.  In truth, they do each own a pair or two of hootchie shorts, however, they are mainly for the house or sleeping in.  Sometimes, they make it out though.  The point is, we and they are trying and trying hard.

Most importantly, I think they are receiving the message of modesty and the importance of what you wear and the message it sends.  Incredibly difficult is short shopping, dress shopping and back to school shopping (which sadly is upon us).  Challenging also in peer circles and learning to stand your ground and making your parent’s message yours.

Such a tough battle and a constant fight in staying modest.  We can’t advertise sex 24/7 from age toddler up and expect no problems.  Yes, I know that what you wear should be what you want to, but this is life and life isn’t fair.

So I judge.  And I use those judgements as teachable moments.  Mostly.  For the other times, well…..I’m working on that and I have this handy-dandy Matthew to keep me company.

Matthew 7: 1-3  (NASB)

7 “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and [a]by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:1-5 (The Message)

1-5 “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

**Bible verses from the Bible Gateway

And then…this video making ALL the noise.  And it really fits in.  With the immodest dressing.  Overmakeup.  Trying too hard.  I shared it with my girls and I want to work harder by leading by example, otherwise it’s just words, right?  So, thank you, Colbie!!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/13/colbie-caillat-try_n_5581951.html

 

 

Marriage=Hard June 7, 2014

wedding

Anyone remember their Pre-Cana weekend?  Classes?  Some, all or none?  My memory is pretty crapola these days…I blame multitasking, 4 kids and age.  Maybe I should do more Sudoku or 20, 40, 8 or whatever that game is.  Gingko?  Whatever…getting off track here.

I vaguely remember our Pre-Cana meetings with our Priest as more of a checking off of the boxes and looking back I’m certain he probably wanted to forehead smack both of us.  We were barely active in the Church and going through the motions, however, clearly the seed was planted because….here we are…20 years later and growing everyday in our Faith, Marriage and family.  It’s been a mind-blowing 20 years.  To say the least.

The thing is, I don’t remember much about Pre-Cana.  I remember a lot of vague, surface discussions.  Discussions on the budget and maintaining a joint checking account were the main things I remember, and that’s it.  NFP?  Not so much.  Marriage being hard?  Not really.  So, whether it is my p.poor memory or my 23 year-old naive self, Pre-Cana didn’t really prepare me or scare me.

I take you to be my  lawfully wedded spouse,  my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day forward. In the presence of God, our family and friends, I offer you my solemn vow to be your faithful partner in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow. I promise to love you unconditionally, to support you in your goals, to honor and respect you, to laugh with you and cry with you, and to cherish you for as long as we both shall live.

I would have loved if we could have taken an in-depth look at those vows:

  • Lawfully wedded, constant friend.  Your spouse comes first.  Always and forever.  Your best friend.  Girlfriends are second and friends come and go as you move through seasons of life.  Pick wisely and you will never be lonely.
  • Faithful partner.  There is a reason men and women shouldn’t be alone together if they aren’t married.  It’s called a fallen world.  Free will.  Attractions will happen and we are all human; it takes a lot of effort to go from foot loose and fancy free to hitched forever.  It can be overwhelming.  Be honest and be sure you are both up for the task and be ready to decide if you can be forgiving if one or both of you fall.  It’s a tough and enticing world out there and marriage isn’t a deterrent to some.  There’s a reason 50%+ of marriages fail.  And infidelity doesn’t always come in the form of a person.
  • Sickness and health.  You will both get sick.  You will both need caretaking.  Be loving.  Be awesome.  Be kind.  Be thankful you are in this together, because being sick is something no one enjoys.  Being a caregiver is no picnic either.  You’ll both have a turn, be ready.
  • Savor and relish the good times and know that bad times will come.  Be a team.  Fight for each other.  Fight for your marriage.  Life is a constant change, ebb and flow and the better you work together, the stronger your marriage will be.  Dig in.
  • Love unconditionally.  This takes practice.  Every day.  All day.  For life.  Staying in love is work.   Put in the sweat equity.  You’ll reap a harvest far beyond your expectations.
  • Support each other.  Careers change.  Dreams evolve.  Work it together.  Marriage is team work.  Be flexible and be each other’s greatest cheerleader.  You’ll take risks in your careers and when you do it together the reward is so much sweeter.
  • Respect each other.   Criticize in love and in private.  The tongue is a savage beast and those words….well, don’t believe the rhyme…it’s all backwards:  words wound.  Be respectful always in word and in deed.
  • Laugh together.  Often.  Experience life joyfully.  It is far too short to be taken so seriously.  A huge area of weakness for this bride who, far too often gets caught up in all the “must do’s” and details of life.  Laughter is free therapy.
  • Cry together.  Forgiveness is hard.  Loss is hard.  Change is hard.  Life is hard.  There will be tears and if nothing else, hold each other through the storm.
  • Cherish each other.  This is your best friend.  Your life partner.  Your help mate.  Your help meet.  Your other half.  Your better half.  Your worse  half.  Your half.

So maybe Pre-Cana DID cover these…maybe I wasn’t listening….maybe it takes 20 years.

More to come….on marriage and vow renewals….stay tuned! 😉

 

School situations and changes.. May 20, 2014

Homeschool? Private? Suck it up at sucky public school?  All options we will be likely weighing over the next few weeks or months.  I know, “Do not worry about tomorrow….”.  Got it.  BUT…..what’s the difference between worry and pre-planning?  There is a good chance that due to a house sale our kids will lose the address that keeps them all in schools we have been happy and lucky with.  Except for our rising 9th grader who will keep his school due to the academy  he is in next year.

So our choices are:

  • suck it up for the schools we will be zoned for.  even though the middle school is NUMBERO UNO on the “Top 25 Incidents” in our area and the ONLY one with gang related activity (reported anyway).
  • find the funds for private.  right.  let me run out and check the garden to see if that lettuce is growing some Benjamins.
  • homeschool.  at this level.  I don’t even know if I’m capable.

So.  Just pray.  Chime in if you got some ideas.  I’m allllllllllll ears!

 

 
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