making the trek

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

Snapchat and all that January 1, 2014

I had a few different friends post a recent article on Snapchat and the dangers it poses; you can read the article HERE.   I also saw a recent similar article on Catholicmom.  (The actual article escapes me, but they regularly have great updated “app” articles to keep me in the loop and are my GO-TO source on all apps and tech stuff).  Articles such as these wake me in the middle of the night filled with fear, anxiety and dread.  Paralyzing dread and all-kinds of wild, fear-based planning to keep my children cocooned and protected from every hidden danger ever known or unknown.  Makes for a super restful sleep.  Not.

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However, we must LIVE our life.  Pray without ceasing and learn from our mistakes and move on to live another day.  We must teach our children to do the same thing.  No easy task in this day and age of insta-everything with no youthful mistake or regret left undocumented (to which I say daily “Thank you, JESUS, that we did not have the internet when WE were growing up”).

In this techno age there will always be a Snapchat.  As soon as we parents catch on and log in, there’s a new app that’s hot and drawing the kids in by droves.  We can uninstall, remove tech devices, forbid cable, internet usage, friends, etc, etc, etc.  To what extent though?  What choices are we left with?  We have to do something and whatever we do will have a result, good, bad or ugly.  We, as parents, can choose avoidance or we can face it head on.  Don’t hide your head in the sand; choose to put on your gear and prepare for battle:  protect your children through education and preparation.   Agree or disagree or take it with a grain of salt, here’s our approach:

Lead by example.  Kids learn by mimicking us.  I only need to listen in on a disagreement between kids to hear how I REALLY need to work on my intonation and patience with them.  It ain’t pretty.  Same goes for tech stuff.  If your face is constantly on your phone and every text, status update and ‘Gram is a lead-in for most conversations it might be time to step back.  Let me introduce you to the “silent” feature on your phone and/or removing social apps or scaling back.  Phone free dinners are mandatory in our house and so is participation in daily “highs and lows”.  Sometimes it’s all we can do to get through dinner without a free for all, but expectations are there and are observed.

Knowledge is power and as parents we are called (like it or not) to be abreast of this technology, so dig in and find a few websites to regularly check in and learn about apps and how to navigate them.  And for the love of Pete, find a spot to put down all your usernames and passwords, because these apps are like rabbits…the more there are…the more there are.

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Communication is key.  Regular conversations about life, plugged and un-plugged are key.  We don’t home school (and I applaud ALL who can and do) and as a result our kids are privy to a WIDE variety of people, lifestyles and situations in their public schools, friendships and extracurricular activities.  Much is cringe-worthy and the teach-able moments are never-ending, however, my personal approach continues to evolve from lecture giver to observer and navigational assistant in managing these moments.  A constant work in progress, I assure you.  (Hubby is often far more about keeping it simple in explanations:  truthful but short and sweet).   It’s getting easier for me though and when our 10yo daughter is trying to explain the friendship she has with a sweet boy as a “friend with advantages”, I quickly correct here to the correct phrase of “friends with benefits” and explain that since that means a friend who you have sex with and no special relationship and that is ABSOLUTELY NOT the way to describe THIS  friendship, she is at once shocked and understands that sometimes we all need clarification.  (In truth, this boy is a friend, who happens to be a boy, that she can talk with like her girlfriends and at 10 it’s such a unique phenomenon she isn’t sure how to classify him.  I let her know that “friend” is purely acceptable and applicable.)  Would you not be so blunt?  Perhaps not.  However, I am all about honesty and saying it like it is; beating around the bush is just crap.

Participation and being present.  I  personally struggle with this in our daily busy-ness.  We both work full-time, our kids are in school all day, our oldest works, we have a variety of kid activities, church, etc.  It’s busy, from morning coffee to passing out after evening prayers.  The importance of chatting about our day (mentioned above during dinner) and addressing any concerns or just planning out dreams and enjoying newfound passions are crucial to a kid’s security and growth.  It doesn’t take a whole evening, but a few FOCUSED minutes on a kid speaks volumes for days.   You don’t need to look much further than any number of crash and burn famous kid moments (or maybe even some you know personally) to see the link between parent and kiddo is nonexistent or shaky at best.

After a long-story-short, my summary is this:

1.  Set the example.  Modify Ghandi’s quote to fit your family and “BE the change you want to see in your children/marriage/family”.

2.  Stay informed.  Be aware.  Learn the trends.  If we are all about it, it loses its luster and excitement and the shock/thrill loses its power.

3.  Talk.  Talk.  Talk.  And then talk some more.  Communication is key in marriage, parenting and life and it is CONSTANT.

4.  Be present.  Listen.  Ask.  Listen.  Learn.

Bottom line is, they are kids.  They are navigating childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.  They will screw up 1000 times over and they need us present to help them untangle those unfortunate moments of growing up.  We can hope they will avoid the bullying, sexting and variety of other fears we know lurk daily and we will do the best we can to protect them.  At the end of the day, the education we can provide for them in the school of life is the best chance they have.

Isaiah 41:10

           ‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
            Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
            I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
            Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

 

 

#Affluenza: are you kidding me? December 14, 2013

It seems we’ve come to a whole new low in society, the final fruit of a generation of spoiled children and parents who (it would seem) have failed to set boundaries and actually parent their offspring.

If you aren’t familiar with the story of Ethan Couch in Texas and his attorney’s outrageously SUCCESSFUL plea of Affluenza as a defense in his drunk driving that left FOUR people dead, by all means click HERE or do your own Googling, there’s plenty of fodder.   The gist of the story, as I see it, is that there are a group of young people (and for the minute, let’s leave affluence out of this) that steal beer, get drunk, drive and wind up killing 4 people and left 2 with serious injuries.  This week the judge in the case sentenced Ethan to 10 years probation and a long-term treatment facility and NO JAIL TIME.  Just chew on that a minute.  It’s like grizzle, you simply cannot swallow that.

Parents, we have a DUTY to parent our children.  Perhaps no one told us,or maybe we just weren’t listening/believing, but the sad fact is that parenting is the hardest flippin’ job EVERRRRRRRRRRRRR.  From the time our sweet and precious bundle crosses the threshold of placenta to oxygen it is Game On.  No joke.  Sleepless nights and sleep-deprived  parenting, potty training and 2-year-old defiance parenting, sibling rivalry and sharing parenting, school days and friendship parenting, tween angst and teen independence parenting, college life and young adult parenting and then…..then….then…..we can be friends.  First we must parent.  That, folks, is a marathon, so best fuel up!!!

Parenting means loving those kids and setting boundaries.  Let’s clarify:

bound·a·ry
ˈbound(ə)rē/
noun
plural noun: boundaries
a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line.
Failure to set those boundaries leads to confusion when our kids are trying to figure it out for themselves.  I’m not advocating helicopter parenting, however, I AM all for setting up expectations and explanations of WHY we set limits and the consequences and following through.  The follow through is the hardest part and the most crucial, otherwise, where is the lesson learned?  And lo, there are MANY, MANY lessons to be learned, and some a few times before the lesson is mastered.
Currently, our 8th grader has had a semester of slacking to the max in his math class.  Now, it IS an 11th grade math class and we don’t expect an “A”; we DO expect effort.  The effort has been lacking to the tune of a D/F which has resulted in some pretty uncomfortable consequences.  Those consequences have resulted in 1)renewed focus, 2)more attentive and interactive child, 3)renewed vigor on task, 4)completed assignments, 5)increased understanding, 6) D/F to a C and 7)mature and tremendous communication among us and our son. It’s a challenge and sadly, we’ve done this last year and apparently we have short-term memory in this house at times and need to repeat lessons, however, as seen with our 10th grader….they DO learn, apply and adjust with much fruit to be shown.  Like I said earlier, it’s flippin’ hard; parenting is hard.
In the words of Nike,  JUST DO IT.  and then do it again.  and again.  and again.
Otherwise, we will have more BS “Affluenza” nonsense diagnoses to deal with rather than just calling a spade a spade.  If you mess up, there are consequences and if you REALLY mess up….there are REAL consequences.
Ethan (like MANY before him) made a terrible and tragic choice that dealt consequences that he will deal with mentally for the rest of his life.  Sadly, his consequences aren’t much different from the coddling that led to his poor choices.  Mamas and Papas, come on, let us ALL buckle down and hold our kids accountable for the choices they make, because Lord knows the mess we are in for when we don’t.
Galations 6:7-9
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
 

Dang, that first week of school is HARD!! August 25, 2013

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Happy earlier bed times…I mean 2013-2014 school year!!

One week under our belts here.  Please don’t take this as boasting….please.  Just don’t.  But…..it went pretty well.  I even experimented with doing my MWF (scratch Monday to just Wed/Fri this past week) in the a.m. and had Hubby wake the kiddos so that our 5th grader is ready (almost) for me to take her to school when I get finished at 7.  So far, so good.  (The high schooler is long gone at that point and the middle schoolers still have an hour-ish before they leave).  We also had cheer practice on Tuesday and Thursday.  Lawn mowings at the end of the week.  Of course, no real homework to speak of until Friday, overall, I simply can NOT complain.  Disgusting, right?  Hopeful, yes??  Yes.  I vote yes.

Scenes from a cheer practice.  Girls under cover, mama in the car.

Scenes from a cheer practice. Girls under cover, mama in the car.

And so why in the he-double hockey sticks were the Hubs and I flat exhausted this week?   Flat. Out.  Exhausted.  Hopefully we will get a second wind and adjust to our schedules and school life–which as history shows, we will.  Until then, I will sing the praises of the iced coffee and the franchise of the Donut that is Dunkin’.

ye olde afternoon pick-me-up

ye olde afternoon pick-me-up**

**of course, adjusting bedtimes, dinner routines and getting back on the healthier eating choices will help, too.  DD is just so tasty and convenient, though!

Because we can't be having THIS scene every night, those kids DO like dinner.

Because we can’t be having THIS scene every night, those kids DO like dinner.

 

Parenting. Not for the weak. July 4, 2013

Filed under: Family,Kids,Lessons,Life,Marriage,Parenting — tracye1 @ 8:25 AM
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It’s summer.  Need I say more?

I didn’t think so.

It’s rained this week.  All.  Week.  Every.  Day.

I actually enjoyed working because I knew I wasn’t cooped up in the house with bored kids trying to fray each other’s last nerve as a past-time.  I was glad the girls had day-camp to go to.  Glad the boys are old enough to entertain themselves with bike rides and skateboarding (in between the rain) and horn practice and video editing.

Last night though.  The rain mojo.  Oy.  So bad.  So bad that on the way to our son’s July 4th concert I turned the car around.  Yes I did.  We kicked the girls out.  Yes we did.  We made them go back in the house.  Yes we did.  It cancelled all “rest and relaxation” time for our 15-year-old, but hey if Mama and Papa aren’t getting any R&R why should he?

We asked each other, “What the he** are we doing wrong???”

Reality:  Rainy week.  Less than adequate planning.  Tired kids.  Tired parents.  Boom!

Answer to our question:  “nothing”.  We are doing everything right.  Life happens.  Especially when you have 6 personalities to deal with.  And rain.  Life happens.

Moving on.

 

Flashback Friday..QuickTakes Style! May 10, 2013

Filed under: Family,Kids,Lessons,Life,Parenting — tracye1 @ 12:01 AM
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Phew.  Friday.  Thank you, God!!!

For a wrap up of the week I’m hanging with Jen and the peeps all sharing about our week..go visit, bring coffee…and a donut…or if you are eating clean, maybe some hardboiled eggs.

As for me, I’ve got a few flashback moments of kiddos…I guess all these graduations are making me a little nostalgic!

— 1 —

The dangers of going commando.  Our youngest son, in 3rd grade, learned a difficult lesson in the importance of wearing underpants.  A classmate decided that “pantsing people” (you know, randomly yanking down pants of unsuspecting or suspecting people and running away) on the playground would be fun.  Our son and some friends thought it funny and the 6 of them just chased each other around (our son had a belt on and felt invincible) until the mastermind of the game had the tables turned, our son pantsed him and much to everyone’s surprise….the kid was commando.  Game over.  All 6 boys were suspended for the day, our son got a 2 day suspension (since he was the ill-fated puller-downer-of-the no undies boy–don’t even get me started).  He doesn’t “pants” anymore and I sure hope the kid who was “exposed” learned to put on some underpants.  Funny now.  Not so funny then.

— 2 —

Our oldest girl has begun the braces.  3rd child.    If only thumb-sucking wasn’t so cute in little kids…..she has her spacers in and impressions taken and next week we go for the next step.  It brought back memories of our oldest when he had his braces and expander and HEADGEAR at night.  Oh the crazy of the hair in the a.m.  Good times.  Goooood times.

— 3 —

Our youngest sweet pea was a real stinker when she was little.  She still gives us a run for our sanity, but when she was about 2 she would stand at the top of the stairs in the middle of the night at the gate and bang on the wall for me yelling at the top of her lungs…”Mama….I talking to you”.  A bullhorn would have been less intrusive to sleep….

— 4 —

Another time, I put her on the balcony for a time out and she banged on the side of the house so loud the back neighbors came running because they thought it was a gun shot.  True words.  Last time I picked that spot for a time out…..epic parenting fail.

— 5 —

When I had my first knee surgery, our oldest daughter was being sweet and figured she’d share a Warhead candy with me.  I was in bed, propped up, immobile.  And apparently a sucker…..Have you ever had one?  No?  Well, go to your local convenience store, grab your video, open the wrapper and let the YouTube viral hits begin.  My mouth still salivates and tingles just hearing the word “Warhead” and my daughter tries to repeat the episode from time to time….uh uh…ain’t gonna happen.  But you go ahead….

— 6 —

The time our youngest son—-hoo wee…this kid’s got a bunch of ’em—-decided at about 6 years old to make a slingshot in the backyard/woods out of 2 young saplings (still attached to the tree).  He was successful for about a few turns, until that ONE rock backfired and busted him in the mouth…cracking 2 teeth and bloodying his EVERYWHERE….oh….the….blood…In the end, he didn’t lose any teeth, there was a fracture but the root was spared and there was a slight gap and two front teeth chipped.  He’s 13 now and since he’s finished with braces we finally got the teeth bonded.  He didn’t want to do it since it was such a part of his history…but it made Mama feel better.  And we all know that when Mama’s happy….it’s allllllllll good.

— 7 —

Mother’s day is upon us….Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there….babies, fur babies and spiritual babies, May God Bless your mothering spirit!!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

Friday. Parenting. Blogging. Procrastination. March 22, 2013

My morning prayer with the kids on Fridays as we drive to school ALWAYS includes a prayer of thanksgiving for “Friday, mama’s favorite day of the week“.  True story.

Today I’m joining in with Jen and friends with 7 Quick Takes….today, mine are super quick, because a) I have to wake up kiddos and b) I’m trying a timed experiment on myself…let’s see how it goes, K?  K.

  1. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about parenting this week….and blogging…..and continuing Ed points (or my procrastination in obtaining them EVERY year and I thought I’d share a few points with you.
  2. Blogging.  I’ve been feeling my blog is about to go in a different direction.  I also feel I might have to take some time off to figure out WHAT direction that is.  So….just get ready.  It’s coming.
  3. My state license is up for renewal at the end of April.  I have ZERO CEUs.  ZERO.    I have all my periodicals out and have been reading and taking tests.  Why do I have to perform so well under pressure?  It’s a curse I tell you.
  4. Parenting advice I’ve received and taken to heart over the years.  (This might not work for YOUR family, but these are things that have worked for OURS).  On the birth of our first child….oldest son….still in shock from labor, resting in the hospital a friend said, “Quickly, hurry up and have 3 more.”  I told her she was crazy.  And then I did.  Best.  Advice.  Ever.  Big families are crazy and loud and so very worth it.
  5. One of my dearest friends always sends her children away with “Angels watch over you”….I loved the blessing, but didn’t want to copy  her COMPLETELY, so I incorporated a “Sign of the cross” on their foreheads.  If we are in a hurry, often the kids will say, “Moooooom, my blessing???”  Send your kids out with a blessing.
  6. One year we had a project due and I needed a poster board STAT, my girlfriend said, “Oh, come out to my car, I have some in my trunk.”  From that day forward, we have had a STOCKED school supply area.  Be prepared.  You never know when you’ll need that poster board—for us it’s usually Sunday night.
  7. Put your marriage first.  It takes constant effort, tweaking and pruning.  The fruit of your efforts is a strong, communicative, partnership, friendship and example for your children.  Children that will pick your nursing home one day.
  8. Lastly, and having FAILED at my time experiment and counting as this is now 8 Quick Takes…….PRAY, PRAY, PRAY always over and for your children and take EVERY bit of parenting advice with a grain of salt.  Some things you can use.  Some you won’t.

Blessings and enjoy the weekend and my favorite day of the week!!!

 

 

Seven Quick Takes (a day late….) March 9, 2013

A day late to the party, but the kids have hijacked the computer this week and I’ve been coughing so much I haven’t cared to be on it anyway….however…..bright and early Saturday morning and I’m feeling fine-ish and they are sleeping so it’s MINE.  ALL.  MINE.  And I’m joining in with Jen and her weekly Quick Takes…she says she might go last first…hmmmmm, that might bode well for me  😉   without further adieu….

  1. I’m working on a “Day in the Life” post.  Riveting.  I’m sure you can’t wait to see how my day shapes up compared to yours.  Funny thing is, it’s a little tedious accounting for one’s day AND trying to make it funny.  Clearly I have nothing mind-blowing to talk about if THAT’S my big project, eh?
  2. One week post-flu and I THINK (Oh, please, please, please, please let me not jinx myself here) we are relatively healthy.  Except for this nagging cough/sinus infection I’ve had all week.  I’ve been eating cough drops by the bagful and have had several nights on the couch trying to breathe/sleep/not wake Hubby all night.  I finally broke down and my doctor called me in some antibiotics and cough syrup…hence the early wake up–slept like a baby.
  3. Week 2 of my fitness Groupon and each workout KILLS.  Amazing how hard you can work in a 35 minute period doing just a few exercises and opposing muscle groups.  Super excited to see how I’ll be at the end of the 6 weeks.
  4. This week our boys had a WWF session in the backyard.  By boys I mean including Hubby.  Let me say, I HATE wrestling.  Someone always gets hurt.  It’s loud.  It’s annoying.  And yet…..so necessary.  Hubby had me read (and I probably need to REread) John Eldredge‘s book Wild at Heart and it helped me to understand and appreciate the male “need” to be a male, so I accept it a wee bit more.  Wee bit.  In the end, Dad still won (he’s still hanging on…).  Big brother still won (barely).  And the only blood drawn was on Dad’s chin by a stray long nail. boys
  5. I scored some AWESOME dishes at our church thrift store this week.  Service for 12.  TWELVE I tell you!  12 dinner dishes.  12 small dishes.  12 bowls.  A serving bowl and lid and salt and pepper shaker.  $50.  Except they weren’t.  They were half OFF…..yes, that’s right, $25.  S.C.O.R.E.  Super cute.  AND I saw some fantastic coffee cups that will complement this set from Pier One.  Now when we have company….we’ve got enough dishes!  So come on over!!!rooster
  6. I have the day off Monday to take our youngest athlete to the County wide Fitness Festival.  Little stinker made it to 4 events.  Sit and reach.  Standing long jump.  Shuttle run.  50 yard dash.  Should be great weather.  I’m sure there will be pictures to follow.  And blogging.  Especially since I have the DAY OFF!
  7. We’ve been in the refinancing dance for our house and got a sweet low-interest rate with no closing costs and no re-appraisal.  It takes a while, as you may or may not know, and yesterday we got the call from the title company….because we were late to our closing….that no one ever told us we HAD.  We jockeyed around lunches (fortunately Hubby was working from home that day!) and traffic—-because Bike Week starts this week….but…..it’s done.  We celebrated with a Friday night fire pit and marshmallows after our fish and chips dinner.  ‘Twas a good day, nice end to the week.  fire

Happy Weekend, Y’all!

 

 
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