Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ollie- Our newest family member

For years David has wanted to add a dog to our family. He has been talking about rescuing a Greyhound since I met him and then about 8 years ago he started talking about Italian Greyhounds. 
I didn't know anything about greyhounds or most dogs for that matter. I did have 3 dogs while growing up that I loved and I feel very strongly that if you are going to have pets that they are a part of the family and should be treated as such. So....that meant I didn't want any. I figured I already had enough to do. (Selfish maybe, but this blog is about transparency). 
Over the last year I have been more and more open to the idea of adding a pet to the family. We have a gap in the ages of our kids and many times people have commented that it'll be like having two little families. I detest that idea. I want us to be one big family. We are very initial about how we structure our kids activities and our time together so that we function as a family of six. I had already starting getting sentimental about the idea of David having the dog he's wanted since we got married, add to that the bonus of the kids sharing memories and experiences of the same pet and I was ready to take the plunge. 

I started doing research and seeing what the options for rescue were available in the DC area. I found a great organization called the Italian Greyhound Club of America. We completed the application, had a home visit, spent time with several IGs (or Iggys) and in just over six weeks, on Sep 28th, we got to bring home Ollie!
He is WONDERFUL! I am so glad that he joined our family. Ollie is a great dog and a joy. The kids adore him. He loves to cuddle and burrow in blankets and believe it or not, he rotates whose bed he sleeps in. Ollie is 8 years old and in great health. Hopefully, we will have many years together. 

1st Day of Pre-K

A week after the older boys started school, it was Sybella's turn. It's her third year of preschool and now she is in a Pre-Kindergarten Class. Honestly, I wondered how she would adjust to the extra hours of school this year and interestingly enough, it wasn't her but little brother who struggled to adjust. After having all the kids at home for the summer, Cooper didn't like having none of his buddies around. He's fine now but clearly, I am not as much fun as I thought I was.   :o)   

Thursday, October 27, 2011

First Day of School 2011

September 6th was the older boys' first day of school. They were excited to be starting a new year. Connor is in 5th grade this year and Colin is in 8th grade. They are definitely young men now. 

They were gracious enough to pose for pictures and even to allow their pajama-clad littles to join them. And boy, were the littles tired- the middle school bus comes early!

Monday, October 24, 2011

First Slumber Party

The week before school started Sybella finally had the opportunity to have her very first slumber party. It was particularly important for Sybella to have her friend Kylee over for one last extended play date before Kylee started kindergarten. The girls have been best friends for as long as they can remember (literally)! They have been in church, play groups, Bible Studies, Small Groups, and even 2 years of preschool together, not to mention numerous shopping trips, play dates, and lunches. But, with birthdays 3 months apart, Kylee meets the cutoff for starting school this year and Sybella didn't. Fortunately, the pain  sadness, drama, and absolute realization of this sunk in for Sybella in the spring so, now it's just about harnessing the last moments of summer. 

The girls dressed in their PJs from the American Girl Store trip in June and proceeded to giggle, play, giggle, play, giggle, play and not sleep very much. They had a blast! 

Who could've known then that Sybella would have Kylee's Ollie the Otter over for the night and just a a month later our family would get a rescue dog named Ollie. 

What beautiful friends! They don't get to see each other as often now with school in full swing, but they are still managing to find some quality time to hang out.  :)

11th Birthday!

On Aug 21st, Connor turned 11 years old. I can't believe how fast time flies! He is an amazing young man. 
In early August, we had a party for Connor at our pool including: swimming, table tennis, tetherball, pizza, cupcakes, and more.

Not only did Connor have many friends attend but his cousins were able to attend as well. 
Cooper and Andrew (cousin)

The AMAZING Birthday Boy

Sybella and Hannah (cousin)

Although he is now one year older, Connor is a joyful soul and I hope he always stays a kid at heart!

Happy Birthday Son!

Family Vacation

This year for our family summer vacation we again went back to Myrtle Beach, SC. The kids love this vacation spot and asked to return this year. 

This year Sybella and Cooper were both able to really enjoy the waves and sand...

We always boogie board while we are at the beach but this year, the boys also used the skin (skimmer) boards to glide across the top of the water in the shallow areas. And yes, our most adventurous child, Cooper, spent lots of time trying to figure it out. He discovered it's harder than skateboarding.  :)

We had 7 days just swimming, running in the sand, building castles, and enjoying the sun. It was amazing! David took a special day with each of the kids to do something one-on-one that they wanted to do. He took Colin golfing. Connor chose a 3D movie, Sybella took him shopping. And Cooper took him outside for a walk and to throw the ball (every day---apparently, the youngest gets more dates!)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Big Doll House

I have a friend who calls The American Girl Store the Big Doll House...and that it is! I had a chance to visit the store when David and I were in New York last year. In June, a brand new store opened in Tyson's Corner. I knew that the first time I took Sybella I wanted her to bring her Bitty Baby (Sophie) and have lunch at the cafe. 
So, the week it opened, we had a girls' day. Sybella and I, along with my mom went for lunch and our friends Shauna and Kylee joined us. We made reservations for opening week over 2 months in advance--- who could've known this was the toughest reservation in DC to get? 
The girls LOVED it and now Sybella is asking for both her first of the American Girl Dolls and wants to have her birthday party there....we'll have to see about that. 

Getting ready to eat. 

The girls loved the high chairs for their babies.

Taking home their wares

Father-Daughter Dance

On June 18th, David got a special Father's Day gift. He and Sybella attended a Father-Daughter Dance. It was a special date night. There was dancing, games, activities, and lots of fun had by them both!

Daddy even picked out and bought Sybella a special new dress for the event.

How adorable!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Virginia's Gold Cup

In early May, David and I had the opportunity to attend Virginia's Gold Cup in The Plains, Virginia. For those who don't know, this is a horse race on a grass track. It is great fun. There is food, hats, horses, more hats, seersucker suits, the races, and lots of socializing. Thanks to our friends Jamil and Lambeth for inviting us!

Cooper's Second Birthday

For Cooper's Second Birthday, April 25th, we decided to have a family party. Here are some great shots of the Birthday Boy. He enjoyed everything about the day-- singing, clapping, cupcakes, candles, presents, and of course, ALL of the attention on him!


Over Spring Break (April 2011), David and the older boys went on their first camping Trip. They spent three days in the Shenandoah National Park. We aren't campers (anymore...we did enough of that when we were in the Army). But, David wanted to create a special Father-Son Memory and he felt like the best way to do that was to take all of them a bit out of their comfort zones, away from their electronics (His and the Kids') and just have some fun! They enjoyed hiking, climbing, and Smores-making. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

My Running

I have now had the opportunity to process for 48 hours and I am ready to share what the Sports Medicine doctor told me Tuesday. As suspected, my injury is plantar fasciitis. I had this 5 years ago and successfully treated it, but it's back.
Unfortunately, I have a much further progression than I have ever had before. Ultrasound shows that at the point of connection to my heel bone, the fascia is measuring 7mm in thinkness (swelling) with a 4mm pocket of fluid surrounding it. Looks like it was heading towards rupture...not good.
The solution: no running for 3-6 weeks with physical therapy (2x/wk) and cross-training (3-5x/wk), then reevaluate. If it heals, back to running with modifications (gait, stretches, etc.). We would evaluate other options such as five fingers or shoes with orthotics at that point. If the fascia is not healed at 6 weeks, we will talk about interventions (steroid injection potentially- ouch).
I do not have a bone spur and I do not desire surgery. I am a runner. I want to run long into the future. So as heartbroken as I am, I am going to get well and focus on the long-term. And, yes, that means no Marine Corps Marathon for me this year.

~(a VERY sad) Sharon

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I am a rule follower. I have said it often and it's never really bothered me that I follow rules. I mean, doesn't that mean that I have integrity? I suppose in moral evaluation rule following is great but I have discovered over this summer that it can also be a pressure point or a driver to some of my behaviors (can all my nurse friends say OCD).
I am marathon training. It's a feat! It's harder than I ever anticipated. It's as much mental as physical and sometimes I even wonder if mentally I've gotten soft (b/c I wouldn't have in the past considered myself soft). So, I have found that I lean to my "rule-follower" tendencies to keep me on track with my training plan. If the plan says I am running 6, 3, 5, 7, 12 this week then in the past, that's what I would be matter what. Injury, fatigue, schedule, life, crisis, nothing would stop me. But I have found that this training is a "marathon, not a sprint" -- pun intended. I MUST LISTEN to my body; sometimes it can do the plan, sometimes it needs the plan to be modified. If I want to make it to Race Day healthy and prepared (mentally and physically), there has to be a balance between my listening skills and my "rule following." I know this is likely not news to many of you out there but this is a true epiphany for me. And, it doesn't just apply to running, it applies to life.
I said to a friend last week that I have discovered: I am best off when I allow guilt to result in grace.
My new commitment to myself is now to keep the end in mind and listen before I act.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Car Adventures

This week was hectic and I had a son who was sickish (long story). I didn't realize how off kilter I was until Friday's the story:

Thursday, I came out to my Tahoe, we were in a rush,  as you often are with 4 kids. I noticed immediately that something wasn't right. My steering seemed sluggish and there was an "engine overworking" sound to the car when I got above 45 mph. There were no "alert" lights or indicators on. The tires seemed fine. So, I kept going to my destination with a cautious driving stance. It became clear thru the day that this was not a temporary issue. There was definitely something wrong with my vehicle. I suspected power steering or drive belt. I called the mechanic and told them the symptoms and said, "it's almost like when I drive in 4-wheel drive but worse." The mechanic said that could check it the next morning.
On Friday, I took it in and had an hour to kill with the 2 youngest kids. We walked a mile to enjoy a slurpee and visit the local fire station. When we returned to the garage, my mechanic told me, it's done- you guys are ready to go. I was surprised and asked what was wrong with it. He chuckled and told me, Nothing.
What?! I knew that couldn't be right; something was definitely wrong with my truck. I looked at him quizzically and he said, "you know how you said that it was driving sorta like it was in 4-wheel drive? Well, it was in 4-wheel must have hit the button accidentally or one of the kids did. The indicator light is hard to see in the sunlight, especially if you didn't mean for it to be on. (I think he was just being gracious.)
He told me that he checked out all the belts and fluids and everything looked great. He didn't even charge me for the time and effort he spent on it. All in All, "no problem, no charge" was a great thing to hear from the mechanic but I still felt silly!
There will be no more "driving" for the little kids and no more trips to the mechanic without checking the 4-wheel drive light for me.   :0)


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Doing great...simply?

I am always amazed how people will throw money at a problem. Recently I have been more interested in the behavior of people working in austere condition throughout the world. When a decision is made to spend money and the end result is something that lacks longterm viability. A recent example was the purchase of a large generator for a village. Turns out the generator runs on petroleum which is near impossible to find in this region. The point...LOTS OF MONEY spent in a solution that didn't work. This morning I watched Arvind Gupta speak on the simplicity of toys that also serve as teaching aids. I love his passion, simplicity, and the great things he is empowering people to accomplish...and all of this at MINIMAL COST!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Family Picture

I have lots of photos and videos that I want to get out but the best place to start is probably with our most recent family photo; It ain't easy to get 4 kids on a couch smiling, looking in the right general direction, and interested in the 40th photo of the day, while at the same time having the parents stop giving instructions long enough to smile. The kids did pretty good!


Friday, March 18, 2011


All the parents reading this title know exactly what a meltdown's the moment at which your child's resources, reserves, and rational responses evaporate. Usually a meltdown comes when they are beyond tired, in a growth spirt, &  haven't eaten. The trigger for the meltdown is totally unrelated to it's cause and is usually so ridiculous that the parent can't see it coming. One minute everything is fine and then you put lunch on the blue plate instead of the green plate and it's as if lightening has struck. There is no real solution to the meltdown. It requires time, rest, food, love, and patience. Once it passes, it's over; over that is, until the next time.
Interestingly, meltdowns are not exclusive to children. They are universally human.
They happen when our margin is gone. Think of margin like the margin on a sheet of paper. It's there for a reason. It gives the visual boundaries necessary to write and read a page properly. It's a place for a teacher or editor to put notes or corrections. It's a place to put extra or forgotten information.
In everyday life, margin is our reserve - the place where we absorb unexpected or overloading circumstances to our time, emotions, & finances. The margin is a temporary extension of our abilities. We are designed to live inside the boundaries of the margins; we can only sustain expenditures of time, efforts, or finances to a certain amount and then to need rest and restoration.
When we find ourselves instead living IN the margins on a consistent basis, we are on dangerous ground. We are going to be prone to meltdowns and unfortunately, the meltdown isn't the worst of it-- it can get much worse. It can lead to financial ruin, unbearable stress, decreased effectiveness, health problems, damaged relationships, and much more. The meltdown is your warning. It's a red flag that says, "Get back inside the margins before you break or break someone else."
Last week, I had a meltdown. I don't even know what the trigger was- I can't remember. But I know that I was reduced to a child-like meltdown. Tears and all. I had spent the week living IN the margins.
In no particular order these were the circumstances:
1. sick kid
2. no quality sleep x3 days
3. major project due for a kid
4. kid with classes 2 nights that week
5. orchestra concert
6. week 2 of my diet
7. race training (running)
8. spouse out of town for 10 days
9. unexpected (bad) interim school report for a kid
10. 2 projects due for my non-profit volunteer work
11. First week of swim lessons
12. Sore throat and allergies for me
and who knows what else.....
Thankfully, it was late in the evening. I put the kids in bed and just fell to my knees (literally) to pray. I love our big family and I support my hubby's travel schedule, but sometimes in managing it all, I forget that I don't have to carry it all too. God wants to carry it with me and for me.
Over and Over again, I see how Psalms 40:1-3 rings true in my life:
"I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord."

I am glad this meltdown was short and now I have a re-centered perspective for both my kids' meltdowns and an a reminder to stay out of the margin.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lent 2011

Lent is defined by the Merriam-Webster's Online dictionary as: the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting.
The interesting thing that jumps out at me is that the definition says 'weekdays' - I have always given up things every day from Ash Wednesday until Easter...So, theologians, is it only weekdays and if so why is it only weekdays? Does that mean that you indulge as much as possible on Saturday and Sunday? Somehow that just doesn't seem right to me. 
Curious musings aside, this year I am giving up something that is not easily named. I guess I would call it blind indulgence. I have not been treating my body much like a temple (valued home) lately. 
So, I am going to be keeping up a food journal thru the course of lent and utilize it to acknowledge how fatigue, poor choices, complacency, and stress are affecting me physically, mentally, and spiritually. This should help me to make choices without blind indulgence (the idea that if I don't know or pay attention, I am not responsible.)
How about you? What are you giving up for Lent?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Connecting Habits

When David I and first got engaged, he began to take my hand whenever we prayed. Whether we were in a corporate, small group, or private setting, every time prayer started, he would reach out and take my hand. It became a habit, not even a habit, but more of an expectation, something that we enjoyed. It connected us- physically and spiritually. Then a day came when if he was distracted and didn't reach for my hand, I reached for his- I had joined the habit.
I can't think of a time when we haven't held hands for prayer, if there was any way to be near each other at that time. Rarely, we'll pray over a meal at a large holiday gathering and we'll be on opposite sides of the room and just can't get to each other; in that case, we make eye contact before we bow our heads.
Now, this isn't a's a point of connection, a habit we developed rather unintentionally years ago. But, it's amazing. Why is it amazing?
Because in the good times and the bad, we connect.
Let's be honest marriage isn't easy. Two people falling in love and wanting to sacrifice a lot over the course of a lifetime, is a miracle in itself. There are going to be bumps along the way. Tough times, disagreements, frustrations, they will all happen. Having a 'connecting' habit is a great way to bring you back physically, emotionally, and spiritually to the good between you. It's a reminder that the bad isn't so bad and that 'this too shall pass.' There may be times, when these little connecting habits are all you've got or at least the best you've got in the communication department. I am not talking about when someone didn't do the dishes for the 100th time, even though it was their turn. I am talking about when there is a job change, a job loss, excessive work hours, disagreements over kids, money problems, addictions, extended family disputes, health crisis, mental instability, persistent schedule obstacles, and any number of other things a couple may face.
The simplistic beauty in this habit is that it's not entirely dependent on us. Even if we don't find (or prioritize) a time to pray together alone, we are going to be exposed to prayer- at church, in small groups, at meal time, at weddings, in lots of different places.
I wish we could say we planned it; this connecting habit is honestly one of the best things that ever happened to us...and we did it on accident!
And now, I am thrilled to say that the habit has spread to our kids. They love to try and reach out to grab our hand before we can even reach for theirs.

What habits do you have with a spouse, child, or other family member that connect you no matter what's going on in life?
What connecting habit would you like to start now?


Friday, February 18, 2011


I came to the conclusion this week at the gym that I have not been pushing myself enough. Now, I am a regular at the gym and even though sickness laid me off a lot in the last 2 months. I work hard and I'm in good shape; I run 10-20 miles a week- that's pushing yourself enough, isn't it?
Yesterday, I reaffirmed for myaelf that it isn't.
I was doing abs (which I hate and have done 3 of the last 5 days) and found myself pushing super hard for the last 10, then I let out a deep sound that mixed the 'out loud sigh' and a groan. The kind you should make when you are pushing to the next level of growth. Training, changing, and growing should hurt. Not hurt in a painful way but hurt in the 'I'm getting something for my effort and it's something worth having' way.
Why was I doing abs? Well, I don't like the way my abs look or feel but the bigger reason is that my core is weak and it has been contributing to other potential problems with my hips and knees. When parts of our body are out of balance then the other parts of our body must compensate. Usually it's not in a good way either.
This brought me to revisit the idea of balance as it relates to my life, not just exercise.

Why is it that when we are pushing in one area we slack off in others?
Work and Family
Cardio and Weights
Children and Spouse
Faith and Obligations

You name it, we struggle as humans (I know I am not the only one) to find a good balance.
A friend of mine long ago talked about faith, family, finance and fitness as the four spokes on a wheel. The wheel will be flat and not rotate if all four areas aren't in balance and in the case of fitness, there may be an internal wheel made up of Cardio, Stretching, Weights, and Nutrition.
It has been a 2 year journey for me to get back to looking at stretching, weights, and nutrition in addition to my cardio craze and you know what? until I got all four in balance I could only achieve sub-optimal results and risk getting hurt!

Is part of your life out of balance? Why? Do you want to fix it? How will you do it? 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Indecent Proposal?

I don't know that I would blog about this normally but with all the unrest in the Middle East and Africa, I don't know that this huge piece of legislation got enough attention, so I am doing my small part to create consideration and discussion.
Yesterday, the Senate voted to extend the Patriot Act for ninety days to give the House and Senate a chance to come to agreement or compromise regarding the future. The House had already voted to extend the act until December. The White House also supports extension of the act.  (reference: BBC) Items covered in the act include: extension of wiretaps, access to business records, and surveillance of terror suspects, among other things.
I understand why this bill came into existence following the September 11th attacks and I can understand why it had so many supporters (and opponents). I had just exited the military less than a month prior to 9-11-01 and was still working at a military hospital. David was serving on active duty in intelligence at the time. There were definite concerns about further imminent attacks on American soil. There was a perceived if not real threat with significant potential consequences. I had questions and concerns when it became law in October 2001 and almost 10 years after the it's creation, I still have to ask some questions when it comes to the Patriot Act. I won't answer these questions for you, I just pose them here as something to be considered:

1. Does its provisions compromise the constitutional rights of Americans? 
2. What freedoms, if any, should Americans be willing to trade in the name of intelligence gathering?
3. If/When the act is in place (including it's standing since 2001) should it's provisions be limited by time (called 'sunsets'), for example, should it's powers be considered a necessary requirement for 12, 24, or 36 months following an attack on American soil-- with the ability to reinstate the act following new attacks?   ---this is how the act was originally designed and each time a sunset was reached, it's measures were extended or made 'permanent.'
4. What results have we actually achieved thru the Patriot Act? (Realistically and maybe necessarily, we will never have an accurate answer to this question, it's more rhetorical in nature.)
5. Is loss of dues process a worthwhile trade for gathering intelligence here in the US even if that intelligence stops an attack? --since activity related to use of the Patriot Act is usually protected information, for reasons of National Security, when an error is made under the act (a person under surveillance, detained, or resources seized in error), is recompense ever made to those affected?

After asking all these questions, I have to caveat that oversees intelligence collection is a different ball game; I do not question the government's (Intelligence agencies and Dept. of Defense) need to collect intelligence oversees. Also, I don't think that non-citizens are necessarily entitled to the same rights against surveillance that US citizens are entitled here in the US.
The conclusion I come to regarding the Patriot Act is that it is a slippery slope. It feels a little like a movie I saw long ago called Indecent Proposal. Maybe you've seen it. It's about a couple in need of money to fulfill a dream and avoid financial ruin. They go to Vegas and gamble what they have in search of the needed funds. They lose their money and are approached by a millionaire who offers $1million dollars for a night with the wife. The couple agrees to this 'deal' and signs a contract because this would solve their financial problems.
They learn the hard way that life is complicated. Following that night, they aren't just able to forget about their compromised marriage and how they managed to get the money.... the sacrifice looked reasonable in the beginning. They justified their choice, but in the end, they had given up something that they couldn't just forget about and couldn't be replaced. This couple nearly destroys themselves in the process.
I am concerned that the price of the Patriot Act is just too great.
Is congress accepting an indecent proposal on our behalf?

**Please note: Although this blog downloads to 2 Facebook accounts and a Twitter account. It is the sole opinion and commentary of Sharon R. Simon. This blog is not the work or opinion of David E. Simon or his employer, Mission Essential Personnel.

Monday, February 14, 2011

How was your day?

Years ago, I made a conscious decision that I would become intimately familiar with what David does for a living (even back when I worked). Why would I do this? Certainly not so that I could have burdens to bear and stress to endure or because I don't have enough to think about. For me, it was a decision about how to best partner with him in marriage.
For David (and for many men I suspect) so much of what is going on with him emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually is tied up with what he is going thru, achieving, chasing, or dealing with at work. Knowing what he does and how he processes it, as well as the dynamics of his workplace have helped me to listen, understand, know how to pray for & with him, as well as give advice or have discernment about a situation from a different perspective (when he asks of course).

Now there are several key components to doing this:
1. I am only familiar with David's workplace and co-workers from his perspective (and there are 2 sides to every scenario). If an issue arises, I often just listen or simply ask him to think of it from the other person's perspective.
2. I think about his work, job endeavors, and career path as "ours." And it is ours- we make those decisions together and I live with the commitment, hours, and travel required, picking up all the extra slack. BUT, he is the one who owns them everyday so I have to remind myself that my attachment to them is for his benefit First, not mine.
3. I try (very hard and fail often, and yet keep trying) to only give advice or an opinion when asked.
4. I visit the office for various things and engage with co-workers often; I interact and build relationships as the opportunity presents itself without regard to office politics and challenges-- they are always changing and I don't need to concern myself with those.
5. David has always worked with women and many times needed to travel with them. Knowing each of these women (and their spouses if they have them) creates a natural protection for my marriage. There is a clear knowledge and respect by these women for David's wife and family and therefore a decreased opportunity that a inappropriate or uncomfortable situation could present itself.   ***This is not because I have anything to worry about where David or his co-workers are concerned! This is just SMART, PROACTIVE, marital strategy.

The idea of really understanding the answer when you ask "How was your day?" may not appeal to you but I have learned that even in the busiest seasons of our lives, this practice has helped keep us connected. I'd encourage you to find out one new thing this week about how your spouse spends his/her day.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

A New Stage of Life

It's not unusual with four kids to feel like you are in Taxi Driver Stage- the time in which you seemingly serve only as a means of transportation for everyone's activities. This stage occurs a few years after Bessie the Milk Cow Stage- filled with breast or bottle feeding CONSTANTLY and the Potty Pooper Stage- a time in which your party IS the potty, poop, accidents, back-breaking hovering and much clothes washing.  None the less, the Taxi Driver Stage is as time consuming and messy (and filled with sheer joy and laughs!) as the stages before it.
Today, however I got a glimpse of a total different stage that I had never seen before (not sure that I like it either). I'm calling it the Mass Exodus Stage- the stage at which you don't just run your kids around, dropping them off for an hour or two, rushing back to pick them up again. In this stage, the kids are old enough to have day-long or in fact, weekend-long activities, routinely; I'm not just talking summer camp. I'm talking regularly scheduled calendar-worthy all-day activities.  What?!   Next, you'll tell me that they'll be driving (in just 3 short years) to these things- I may end up calling that the Scared S*#@less Stage.
HOW did I get here? 
Well, an egg meets a....oh, sorry, I meant- How did I come to this revelation today?
Connor is in Ohio with his aunt and uncle this weekend. Colin spent Saturday snowboarding with his small group and then, to compound the sense of exodus, Sybella, my 4year old, went out to play with a 1st grade neighbor and her older brother. I was left at home with just one young son. That's a 75% reduction in labor, distraction, entertainment, and sweet, sweet moments. To top it off, David left for a week-long business trip- so he couldn't even make it feel like I was getting much deserved time off from the work of motherhood.
I am tearing up just writing this. I typically celebrate the passing of stages and talk fondly of a time in life without the obligations that come along with kids- but this weekend, the Mass Exodus made me stop and 'feel' their departures. I have SO much respect for the moms I know who are sending first and second children off to college. I am saying a long prayer of thanks today that I have an 11 year span between my oldest and youngest- at least I will get to ease into these stages of aging children that lead us to the  Empty Nest.

What Stage are you in right now? What do you love best about it?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Mom Chat

This past weekend, I had the humbling opportunity to do a Mom's Chat for about 15 women hosted by my friend, Brooke. The idea was that I would give information on several topics from my experiences, errors, and lessons learned with our 4 kids and then there would be a time for Q&A. We didn't get a chance to do much Q&A due to starting a bit late and the fact that I prepared too much content (in fear that I wouldn't have enough- the thought of being unprepared is torture to me); but, amazingly enough, I think it went exactly the way it was supposed to go.
As I worked thru my preparation for the event and praying for both the event and the women involved, I kept expecting that God would give me exactly the parenting information that would help and encourage the women attending and.... he didn't! Instead he gave me two things to share that are awesome and I thought they might be an encouragement to others of you.
The first is the idea that Jesus knows exactly what burden each of us is carrying and although the burden may not seem big to anyone else, it's big to us; he knows it, and he wants to be in the middle of it with us-- we just have to let him. How reassuring is that! There is no one I'd rather have with me in the middle of my biggest challenges than Jesus.
The second thing I shared was that negative self-talk is discouraging and destroying women in awful and unnecessary ways. We talk to ourselves, criticize, and undermine ourselves with words and unforgiveness that we wouldn't use on our worst enemies. (At least I know that I have talked to myself that way.) I asked the ladies to write on a card something that they have been self-talking that they wouldn't admit to their best friend, their husband, or God himself. I encouraged them to destroy the card or better yet, leave the card with me or a friend as a symbol of the finality of this negative self-talk in their lives. Several women left cards with me and others have shared their cards with friends. It's amazing the steps that can be taken to break damaging behaviors with one 3x5 card!
So grateful for the opportunity to share my journey with the intent of helping and encouraging other women. Also especially grateful to Shauna, Tracy, Brooke, Lora, Glenda, Terri, Tobi, Kim, and Eileen for encouraging me- and speaking things into my life to help me be and live better!