Life lessons

School’s out for Summer

School’s out for summer.

School’s out forever.

-Alice Cooper

The executive order came out last week. 

In person school has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. 

Although I’ve known it was coming, the blow still hit me hard. Reality often does hit hard in this day and age, doesn’t it?

I braced myself to tell the boys, figuring it would be a difficult conversation. But they took it surprisingly well. I asked them if they felt sad or disappointed and they said they didn’t. I asked for some feedback and all I got was, “well if it means less work in the end, then I’m all for it”. Yep, that’s my introverted, homebody son for you.

And that’s when it hit me. Sometimes news like this is harder on the parents than on the kids. Not always, many kids do take it hard I know, but many times parents are left with the feeling of loss as well. I’m not even talking about the difficult logistics of having kids home all the time, trying to homeschool, keeping them busy, etc. That’s a whole other ballgame. I’m just talking about the loss of what was to come. 

This year we have an 8th grader and a senior. Needless to say, these are two milestone school years. 

Our 8th grader will be a (gulp) high schooler next year. He was looking forward to a spring track season to help him prepare for cross country in high school. He was having a great year and had formed some fantastic friendships. It really seemed as if he had found his place. Unfortunately, since his school this year is a small private school that ends in 8th grade, all of his friends will scatter to different high schools next year. I personally have loved his school. The nurturing environment and small size were really what he needed after a few years moving around internationally. I truly appreciated the support given freely time and time again by staff and parents. I can’t even begin to convey what an overall great experience it has been. 

Then there’s our senior. Now that school’s closed he clearly won’t have the opportunity to experience all his lasts as a high school student. He won’t go to prom. He won’t have his last class. He won’t even have a graduation ceremony.

These are things that I’ve realized mean more to me than I would have ever realized. I appreciate life’s milestones very much. Celebrating all the lasts and firsts in life are a really big deal to me and many of these experiences come into our family through our kid’s lives. 

So, are the boys ok? Yes. Am I ok? Not really, but I’m getting there. Every day gets a bit easier. I took down their school schedules. They’ve emptied out their backpacks. And we’ve gotten into a new ”normal” routine. But waves of sadness do still hit me. I suppose I need a bit of time to mourn. 

Life will go on. New firsts and lasts will happen. Our world will recover and these times will turn into a history lesson for the people of the future. But right now is hard. We will all be faced with disappointment and change in our life circumstances. Sometimes we may just need to lick our wounds for a bit before we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. 

I am so proud of my boys and their resiliency. May it be a lesson to me to focus on the here and now instead of the what could have (or should have) been. We are blessed. We are together. And this too shall pass. 

But oh how the type A, hyper-planner in me hates every minute of it! 😉

Stay strong!

-Laurie

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Life lessons

Tea Time

Hi Friends! It’s been a while but things have been a bit crazy around here. Know what I mean?

These are incredible times we’re living in, that’s for sure! No one living today has ever lived through anything quite like this. Every day brings change. Everyone is glued to the latest news. We are all learning a “new normal”. Countries are coping with many obstacles and it’s been crazy how quickly life as we know it has changed. 

For many of us, last week was the first week of us being home more. For a homebody like me, this wasn’t too unusual but having everyone at home with me 24/7 was. Adults had to try and figure out how to work from home and parents had to try and figure out how to support their children when most of us had very little direction from schools as to what we should do. 

I would say our first week was a success but it wasn’t easy. Right off the bat, I made a daily weekday schedule for the boys so they wouldn’t be walking around on their devices all day and night. We certainly had our ups and downs. Jack’s school has been very proactive with remote learning but Elijah (our senior) has still not received any direction from school. I’m not blaming them. These are unprecedented times and everyone is trying to figure things out. However, it has made my job “Momschooling” a bit more difficult. That being said, we’ve managed to figure things out. Both boys watch documentaries, read, help cook, do chores, and projects around the house. We’ve all had more family time, and Elijah and Jack are spending more time together which is all a huge blessing. 

But, perhaps you were like me last week, and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I was laughing and the next crying. I found that often times I woke up with a great attitude and ended the day in frustration. I’m worried about our parents and our kids who are away from us. We are worried about Brett’s job, about our house build, and bills. Now don’t get me wrong, at our core we know that God is always with us and how incredibly blessed we are. Those are the things that always carry us through. But emotions run high through volatile times and we have all learned that prayer, patience and flexibility are key.

So, overall last week was a success. Honestly it was a peak and valley kind of week and I’m sure you can totally relate. I am so grateful for this time we’ve been given where we can slow down and just get to know each other again. Where we can have lingering conversations over a meal, or I can teach the boys basic skills that we are usually just too busy to do. Have I had waaaaay less time for me? Absolutely! I’m working on that. But when I step back and remind myself that I am investing in my family even more than I usually do, I feel really good. I hope the boys will come out of this knowing how to cook a meal, and make a bed. They will understand how much work goes into keeping a house running smoothly and how to shop for a family. But most of all, I pray that by the end of this, they will know just how much their mom loves them. Because if that happens, my heart will be full.

Hang in there, my friends!

Do as I do and take this one moment at a time. Try to see the good before the bad. There are so many blessings that can come out of this. Turn to prayer and trust God that He will bring us out of this stronger and closer than ever before. Sit back, treat yourself to a cup of tea and a handful of M&M’s and just enjoy the peace of home. We may never have this opportunity again to invest in ourselves and to invest in those we love.

A goal of my more “me time” is to write more. If I can swing it, expect lots more updates in the next few weeks. They may be short, they may be happy, or they may be sad but I hope you’ll join me through this journey.

Together we are strong, and we can get through this!

-Laurie

Life lessons

A Tough Mom Day

Today was a tough mom day. Well, let me clarify that a bit. Today for the most part, was actually a pretty good day. I worked out, had lunch with a friend, and ran some errands. Yes, today was a good day-until dinner time when my good day came to a screeching halt.

During our delicious meal of beloved tacos (classy, I know), our conversation turned to relationships. It was during this time that my 17-year-old (soon to be an adult, out in the world on his own) told me that he thinks, and I quote, “respect is overrated”. The sad thing is, he is drop dead serious in this opinion. He thinks I’m living old-school when I say women (and people in general) should be respected. When I told him my opinion on respecting women he responded with, “well I think I should be respected”. I sat there dumbfounded at where he came up with this nonsense. Silly me, I know exactly where he got it-from media and popular social opinion. His dad and I certainly never taught him any of that nonsense, that’s for sure! After 26 years, my husband still opens the car door for me and that’s the way it should be, for Pete’s sake! If that makes us old-school then I certainly never want to be new-school.

So that was bad, but he’s been known to spout off his ridiculously progressive teenage opinions from time to time, so I was able to shake my head and blow it off. Well, blow it off as best I could. I am a mom after all, and of course tend to blame myself for every wayward idea or action my children have.

But then came the ride to youth group with my 13-year-old who proceeded to remind me how, “dad is the fun one”, and how, “dad works harder than I do for our family because he has a JOB”. Oooh, I think the smoke was literally coming out of my ears on that comment. I quickly reminded him that his dad and I both work very hard for the family but just in different ways. He disagreed completely of course, and we spent the rest of the car ride in silence.

So that was it. Just like that, day ruined. 

Ok I know, these may seem like small issues in the big grand scheme of life. I get it. But they are really big to me. Like I said before, this is my job and I take it very personally. After all, God entrusted these kids to me to shape and mold in preparation to send them out into the world, and love the world as He loved us. When my kids say things like they did today, I feel like I have completely failed at the one job I’ve been given. I know it isn’t really as dire as that, but some days I just worry about the people I’ve brought up, who will soon be independent, active members of society. 

We mothers have one of the most thankless jobs in the world. That is, if it’s even really considered a job (I’m being sarcastic, of course). Every day we tirelessly give ourselves fully-physically and emotionally to our family’s wellbeing. We may not get a paycheck. Heck, we usually don’t even get a thank you. And although we may get thrown up on, yelled at, and disrespected, we are always there and show up ready for each new day. 

But believe it or not, despite it all I still consider being a mom one of the best jobs in the world. Perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment, I don’t know. I do miss the days when the kids were young and would hold my hand. The days when they would look up at me with their big, bright eyes beaming with so much love that would just fill up my heart. I suppose when I’m having a bad mom day, or even just a bad mom evening, I need to remember those precious times. I need to take a step back and remind myself that it will all be ok. That, while God has entrusted these little ones to me, He also has a plan for them. He gave each of them to me knowing that I would be perfect for them, even when I fear I am not. God is allowing me to plant the seeds and He will produce the fruit. 

So, here’s to all you weary moms out there (myself included). Your job is not one that is paid because no one could put a price tag on what you do. You are valuable. You are important. And although it may not seem like it at times, you are loved. 

That’s all. 

Tomorrow’s a new day.

So give yourself a big pat on the back, and carry on. 

You’ve got this, and so do I…I think. 😉

Life lessons

Who Are You Callin’ Old?

I stood in the self-checkout line of our local grocery store scanning my items. Beep, beep, beep, and into a bag they went. All went smoothly until I scanned my alcohol. “An attendant has been called to help you”, chirped through the speaker at my checkout stand. In no hurry, the attendant on duty sauntered over and looked at the screen, then at me, then back to the screen which read, “is purchaser over the age of forty?”. She punched in some numbers while saying over her shoulder, “I guess you can pass for forty.”. With a smile she turned and walked away, just like that, as if what she said was no big deal. I on the other hand, stood there like a deer in the headlights. I can (perhaps) pass for forty? As if that’s a complement? How old do I look today anyway?!? 

This seems to be the theme of the last two weeks for me. I’ve had my annual physical and a dentist appointment. At some point during the course of these two appointments each respective doctor told me not to worry about this or that since it’s just what “comes with getting older”. 

Jack, my 13-year-old was saying something to me when I was getting in the car the other morning. I asked him to repeat it and he said, “mom, I seriously think you need hearing aids. You are constantly asking me to repeat myself” Ouch. “I don’t need hearing aids, you need hearing aids”, my immature self mumbled under my breath.

Ok, so I may be getting slightly old..er, I guess. 

Sure, I am going to be a grandma in July (SO excited), and I have a few aches in my joints. I also manage to injure myself quite often by doing absolutely nothing. But I’m only 46 for Pete’s sake! Shouldn’t you start to hear the “you’re just getting older” comments when you’re sneaking up on 60 or so? I guess these comments hit me hard because a mere ten years ago I was still getting carded every single time I tried to buy alcohol. Can’t someone just card me today for old time’s sake? Humor me please!

How can I be getting old when I still feel like I’m..hmm..maybe 30? I was going to say 25 but even I know that’s ridiculous. 

Although I feel like I should be younger than I am, I certainly wouldn’t want to be 25 again. I appreciate the level of maturity I’ve achieved (most of the time anyway), but love that I haven’t lost my sense of how it felt to be young. I’ve become comfortable with the fact that I want to be in my pajamas as soon as the sun goes down, and that I think concerts are too loud. I mean really, why do artists feel as if they have to blow your eardrums out when they’re performing live? I have to admit though, was surprised the other night when we watched a bit of the Grammys and I didn’t know even one of the performers. Perhaps this is because I spend my time listening to Bing Crosby Radio and classical music. 

ohmygoodness, I AM old!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ha! Well, I guess it had to happen sometime. Now I just need to figure out how to age with grace (although grace has never been one of the words used to describe me). 

Here’s to getting older and celebrating where we’re at. Whether we are young or perhaps just young at heart. You’re only as old as you feel and I choose to go with 25…ok, ok 30. 😉

Life lessons

Bumps in the Road

Within 10 minutes of waking up for the day, I managed to break a glass and spent the next 5 minutes cleaning up the microscopic shards that scattered all over the kitchen like confetti. Really, how does broken glass manage to scatter all over the place like that? 

Less than 30 minutes later on our drive to school, I was in a heated discussion with my 13-year-old Jack, about why playing video games for twelve hours straight isn’t healthy. You know, a typical mom-teenager conversation. We went round and round. He refused to see my point and by the time we arrived at school our discussion was at a standstill, both of us frustrated, looking silently out the car window equally convinced each of our viewpoints were the only valid ones (mine was, of course the right one-haha). After I dropped him off and drove away I sighed, thinking this day was not off to a good start. 

Feebly looking for some sort of redemption for the negativity of the morning, I decided to step on the scale. Why in God’s name I thought this would be the saving grace I needed for the day is beyond me. As if EVER stepping on the scale has ever left anyone jumping for joy. The numbers flashed before me and, as expected, instantly deflated any bit of happiness I had left.

3rd strike. If this was baseball, I’d be out.

By 10:30 the weight of the world was on my shoulders. Everything bothered me. The new house build at a standstill, not knowing if I would have enough time in the day to get everything done on my list, my fat butt…all of it. I’m sure you get it. 

But guess what!

It was about this time that God gave me a big virtual slap upside my head. What was my problem? I was driving down the road in my nice truck on my way to Costco. Once there I would fill my cart with food for the family. My health is pretty good, I have a family that, although disagrees with me at times, loves me. I am so blessed. I began making an attempt, albeit a feeble one, to count my blessings instead of my frustrations, and you know what? The more I did this, the more I began to feel positive instead of negative about the day. 

It amazes me how even a tiny change in attitude can completely change one’s day. I’ll admit, there are many days when I find myself wallowing in my own self pity. Woe is me and all that. But maybe instead of spending so much effort on negativity, I need to make more of an effort push it aside and allow positivity to rule. 

Our attitude is a choice

Sure, things happen in our lives that are beyond our control. Things  we would not choose. Challenges we must overcome. Difficult days. But if we choose to not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by them and try hard to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, wouldn’t we all be happier in the long run?

Lord knows I’m a work in progress and have a long, long way to go. But as I’m on this bumpy road called life, I’m going to keep trying to see the journey in a positive light. The devil will always try to steal our joy. To find us where we’re weak and place heaviness upon us. We need to see this for what it is and push the evil out before it roots into our lives.

This morning wasn’t great but making the choice to count my blessings turned the day around and you know what? It ended up being a pretty good day! I hope yours was too.

-Laurie

Life lessons

Musings of a Middle-Aged Mom

Here I go again, starting a new blog as if I have all the time in the world to kill. 

As much as I hate it, sometimes I have to admit I’m crazy. It’s not as if I have a household to run. With a million things on my to-do list, dryer humming in the background, dinner to make, kids to corral. No. All that has been put aside so I can have some “me time”. 

Ok, I know writing a blog isn’t everyone’s idea of “me time”. But has become my outlet. My chance to put my stamp on something that’s only mine. We all need something that’s just ours, right? Especially us moms! 

I’ve spent the last 26 years nurturing and loving our little brood. Bandaging scraped knees, reading bedtime stories, drying tears when life got hard. I’ve learned that motherhood is never easy. In fact most of the time, it’s just messy. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes along the way, that’s for sure! But through it all, I’ve loved my kids and my husband fiercely and the best I can. After all, God gave me each of my four children because He knew I am exactly what they needed…right? Some days I have to tell myself that over and over again. How about you?

Our lives are never dull, but boy are they amusing (at least I get a kick out of our craziness). Here’s a glimpse of our recent adventures:

We lived an average American life up until about four years ago. A house in the suburbs, strong marriage, and four active kids. I suppose God thought our lives were getting a bit dull so He gave us a life-changing opportunity. Thanks to a job relocation, half of us up and moved to China (our older two had already moved out of the house-we didn’t just draw straws to see who got to join us-haha). The funny thing is, I always said I would NEVER move to China. I told my husband, if you ever end up working halfway around the world, you can go by yourself! Ha! Well, that didn’t pan out. I love him too much to let him live that far away. 

After three years in Shanghai, we had a surprise relocation to Bangkok, Thailand. Before we moved abroad I knew nothing about Thailand. In fact, I was like many people who thought Bangkok was actually located in China. Geese! Once we finally settled in Bangkok, we thought we would be there for 2-3 years. Well, par for our crazy course, we ended up getting relocated again after only a year. However, this time we got to come back home to good old Michigan! And it’s a good thing too since our Christmas present from our daughter and her husband was the news of our first grand baby on the way! WOOHOO!!!

And because we can never seem to keep our lives dull, we’ve decided to build a house. Now that process could be a blog in and of itself!

So now, here I sit. A million things still on my to-do list, the dryer stopped and our clothes getting wrinkled, and the chicken thawed out for dinner. I suppose my “me time” has come to an end, but I sure hope to have more of it to share some more of our crazy lives with you. 

Thanks for coming along with me on this journey. I’m sure I will keep you thoroughly amused. 🙂

-Laurie

P.S. If you want to read more about our adventures abroad, or get some great travel tips, check out my other blog:

The Bunch Abroad