Friday, April 29, 2016

Hurtful Words Hurt Feelings

Jason is a tough kid... but he is also sensitive... tenderhearted.

A few weeks ago he told me the boy he sits with on the bus was telling him he wasn't cool. He's stuck sitting with this boy because they have assigned seats. I gave Jason some suggestions on how to deal with it, he tried some of those things and it eventually stopped... for a while anyways. Every once in a while it happens again.

This week there are more hurtful words. Jason has a fun imagination and he is confident in who he is most days and does his own thing. Sometimes he wears a suit and tie to school simply because he wants to. Lately, he's on a cowboy kick. He doesn't really have cowboy clothes, but he has a hat he likes to pretend is a cowboy hat, and he'll say things like "howdy partner" with what he thinks is a cowboy accent.

He's pretending.
He's having fun.
He's enjoying life.

Until the boy on the bus tells Jason over and over that he is NOT a cowboy.

This morning as Jason was getting ready for school and again pretending to be a cowboy...

JASON: George keeps saying I'm not a cowboy.
ME: Weelll... you aren't actually a cowboy are you?
ME: But I can see it still hurts your feelings when George says things like that to you.
JASON: Yeah... when he tells me I'm not cool or I'm not a cowboy, it makes me feel like I'm nothing.

Break. My. Heart.

We stopped everything. At that moment it didn't matter if we missed the bus and were late to school because something more important needed to happen. My sweet, tenderhearted Jason needed to be reminded of who and what he is.

I pulled my favorite boy onto my lap, gave him a big squeeze, and just started speaking words of encouragement to him. Words that built him back up. Words that reminded him he is far more than nothing.

You aren't nothing Jason!
You are so many things!
You are kind.
You are thoughtful of others.
You are smart.
You are creative and inventive.
You are a great soccer player.
You are a world changer.
You are loved, loved, loved!
And most importantly, you are mine.

And then we came up with a list of nice things Jason could say to George next time he said something that hurt. We talked about being kind even when others aren't.

I wish I could shield Jason (and Liza!) from all the hurtful things in the world... but I can't. I can only give them the tools to continue facing life when life hurts them. Hopefully they will grow up strong and confident.

And hopefully there are a whole lot of other parents out there teaching their children about how hurtful words hurt feelings.

PS... Obviously the kid's real name is not George. I don't even know a George.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Kindness, Compassion, and Infertility - A Guest Post

It's National Infertility Awareness week. My best friend has been trying to conceive for five years and in those five years I have learned a lot. I think the most important thing I learned is what words are helpful... and what words I should never ever say to someone trying to have a child. And most importantly... it's none of my business when a couple wants to have kids. It's no longer a question I ask. I have asked my friend Melissa to share some things with my readers today. You can also visit her blog, Little Mrs. Married, to learn more about her battle with infertility.


I know there are posts like this one all over the internet. People have put this so much more eloquently than I have, or with a much greater sense of humor. But I've wanted to tell this in my own words, with my own voice. So here we go... a little list of things you can say or do to support your friend who is dealing with infertility, and some things you definitely should NOT say or do when it comes to your friend who is dealing with infertility.

Your words matter. They just do. It is not easy sharing my story. It is not easy to open my heart and tell you our story, or about our RE consult, or how our IUI went. It's not easy telling you how long we've been trying. Yes, I choose to tell my story. And, honestly, it's been one of the best decisions I have made. It's been hard, but infertility is hard anyway. I don't think being public has made it harder. It's actually been very freeing for me. I am able to spread awareness. I am able to share what is hard for me, and what isn't, what hurts my heart, and what doesn't really bother me at all. I have received an abundance of prayers and support from family and friends, and also from people I never would have expected it from! That has been a huge blessing. And I am able to be a voice for those who do not feel like they can become public with their own infertility stories.

All of that being said, I don't think it's a bad thing to let people know what statements and actions are hurtful to those battling infertility... and which ones are helpful. It's 1 in 8 couples, y'all. Chances are even if you don't think you personally know someone facing infertility, you probably do. No matter what situation you are facing in life, you can probably agree with me that hurtful comments stick with you way longer than they stick with the person who said them. But encouraging, supportive words from others are a LIFELINE. They mean everything. Hurtful comments have ruined my entire day, or have had me crying as soon as the offender was out of sight. But words of support have often turned my whole day around (for the better). They have built me up. They've reminded me that I am loved and supported. Seriously, it means everything. I know my infertility sisters would say the same.

So that was quite the long intro. Here we go.

1 - Respect & try to understand that baby showers & other events are very, very difficult.

They just are. Some infertiles avoid baby showers like the plague. For me, I continued going to them for about the first two years of my infertility journey. At some point, though, it got too hard. It wasn't the baby bump or the mom-to-be opening all her gifts that was hard. It was being surrounded by mothers. Moms who could only talk about motherhood. I can't blame them. They're moms and they're at a baby shower, for crying out loud. But it was incredibly overwhelming for me. Painfully overwhelming, to the point of feeling like I might have a panic attack. The best gift you can give a friend like me is to let them know that while they are welcome to come to your shower (or your gender reveal or your kid's birthday party or whatever it is), you completely understand and are not offended if they do not make it. I have had four friends have this conversation with me - two had been through infertility and two had not. One of them mailed the invitation but sent me a text to let me know she understood if I couldn't be there. It meant SO MUCH to have them let me know I was invited but that if I chose not to attend it would be okay. When I walk away from conversations like that, I feel like a weight has been lifted. I feel respected, valued, loved. I cannot even begin to tell you how much it has meant to me. Be that kind of friend. Trust me, they wish they could be there. But they can't. It's just too hard. This doesn't mean they don't love you and don't wish they could celebrate with you. And they will, in their own time. I find it hard to attend baby showers, but a lot easier to go see the mom after the baby is born. It's a lot less overwhelming - and I bring food!

2 - Avoid certain phrases (see examples).

"Just relax & it will happen" or "If you don't think about it, it will happen" or "Jennifer struggled to get pregnant too, but as soon as she stopped thinking about it, she popped up pregnant!" or "If you go on a vacation and relax, it will happen!"

Just stop. Don't do it. Please don't do it! Even if you genuinely think she is too stressed out and that it's hurting her chances of conception... just don't do it! I beg of you. These types of phrases do more harm than good. First of all, they're just not true. Everybody knows somebody who just relaxed and then got pregnant, but guess what? That person was not dealing with infertility! Infertility is a medical condition. It's recognized as a disease. You can relax from here to kingdom come, and it's not going to change what is medically wrong! Also, saying that tells them that you think they're NOT relaxed. Me, personally, there have been times when I have been stressed about it, but there have also been months where I have been full of great peace. It still didn't happen! And someone insinuating that I'm not relaxed and that's why I'm not pregnant...well, it sucks. It hurts. It assigns blame, is what it does. I always want to reply, "I was relaxed until you told me to relax! Now I'm not feeling very relaxed!"
"If it's meant to be, it will happen." or "If it's God's will, it will happen." or "Maybe you're not meant to have children."

Yes, people have said these things to me. Listen, I'm a Christian. I know that when it's God's timing, nothing can stop it! But putting it like, "if it's His will" or "maybe it's not meant to be" is terribly  hurtful. First of all, going by this logic, the people who stick their babies in garbage cans or leave them in the basement to starve are MEANT to have children just because they have them. Come on, now. That doesn't even make sense. Second of all, if it's NOT God's will then He is the only one that can open my eyes to see that, and that can give me a peace about it. If I am still trying to conceive, then obviously God has not brought me to that point. Truthfully, I don't think He ever will. I do think it is His plan for me to have children. And everything in the Bible about the infertile woman supports that...they all eventually conceived. There is even scripture I like to hold on to like, "He makes the barren woman a joyful mother of children." (Psalm 113:9). As far as I am concerned, He is saying I AM going to have children. So please let God be the one to speak to me about that. Only He knows His will for my life.

"Just adopt!"

Adoption is a beautiful thing, and we are not at all opposed to the idea. However, adoption is not an easy button. It's a roller coaster of emotions. It is money, lots of money. It is paperwork and interviews and home studies and meeting babies and holding them in your arms only to have the birth mom change her mind. It is WORTH IT in the end, when it works, when you have your forever baby, but it's still not an easy way out. So to just flippantly toss it out as the answer to all infertility problems is ignorant. Adoption is a beautiful and wonderful thing. It is a miracle. But a couple may need to grieve their dream of having a baby with daddy's eyes and mama's nose. And that is okay. It's between them and God. It is a decision they come to on their own. Trust me, there is no couple you say this to that hasn't thought about it already. They may even be starting the process.You just don't know.

3 - Don't feel like you have to give a "solution" (like those above). Just offer support.

One thing I have noticed: Most people feel the need to give a solution. It is very rare for someone to say something to me about infertility without adding in some sort of advice. The "advice" usually goes like this: "Oh, girl, I'm so sorry. You know, I bet if you relax and stop stressing about it, it will happen!" or "I am praying and believing with you that God is going to answer your prayers! ... Make sure after you have sex you lay with the bottom half of your body elevated so the sperm can travel!" (Yes, an actual comment to me, and yes, I know what to do after sex, thank you!!) or "You should buy my product!!! It's helping people get pregnant!" (That one is actually pretty hurtful, because it feels like you're trying to make a buck off of my infertility.) 

Usually, it's not an actual solution. It is often something ridiculous. Sometimes it is something that might help, but not something I haven't already thought about before! Some of it is things I'm already doing! Trust me. You may have just recently found out about our situation, but we have been going through it for five years. I fully believe that God has been and will continue to lead us and guide us every step of this journey. The truth is, you do not have to say anything at all. But if you want to, it can be something like this:

"I love you." "I'm so sorry y'all are going through this." "We are praying for you." "I don't know exactly what you are going through but I am here if you ever want to talk about it. Or if you just wanna go get ice cream or something."

Since my word for the year has been "believe", I have recently found that I also love comments like these: "I am praying and believing with you!" "God is going to give you the desires of your heart." "You are going to be a wonderful mother!" "I can't wait to see your announcement pop up in my newsfeed! I have no doubt it will happen!" These restore my faith. Sometimes I hear them when I am discouraged, and they're exactly what I need. They turn my whole perspective around!

Notice how these are different from the things you shouldn't say. These don't offer a half-hearted solution. They just let us know we are loved and supported. And that is really all we need.

Now, I'm not saying I am not open to new ideas or advice. I am, and if you have a burning desire to share something with me that you really believe could help me, go ahead and do it. I'm not going to hate you or anything. As a general rule of thumb, though, I would really think and pray about it first. If you are supposed to say it to me, I think it will weigh very heavily on you until you do. If not, you'll forget about it. I guess what I am trying to say is, don't just flippantly use empty advice, saying the first thing that comes to your mind. Only give the advice if you feel that it's something I haven't already considered. And don't do it at all if it involves the words, "why don't you just" or "relax". Ha!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Scarred For Life

We had some interesting talks with the kids a few weekends ago.
I walked right into it without thinking...

The kids have heard the word sex.
Jason asked what it was over a year ago, so he knew in very simple terms what it is.
Liza never asked... so I never told her.

Until that weekend...

We were working on a puzzle and had Pandora on. A song came on that was very suggestive. We've heard it before. The kids like it. But I just couldn't... I couldn't have them singing along to a song that spoke of things that just seem wrong to have little kids singing about. So I told them we were going to give it a thumbs down.

The response was, "Awww! I like that song!"

ME: Sometimes songs talk about things you don't yet know about and if you did you wouldn't want to be singing along. I'm going to need you to just trust me when I say we need to thumbs down a song so that it won't play again.
THEM: *looking bummed and not sure*
ME: Really kids... lots of times songs are talking about things like sex.
THEM: Oh. Ok.
ME: Does that help you understand?
THEM: Yeah.
LIZA: I have a question.
LIZA: What IS sex?

So we went to her room and closed the door and had some girl talk. I told her she was going to think it was really REALLY weird... and I was right. She had such a great reaction. Honestly... one of my favorite conversations with her ever. So memorable.

Fast forward a few days... we were sitting at the table having breakfast, once again listening to Pandora. An advertisement came on and it was about discrimination. It went something like, "If you feel like you've been discriminated because of your race, sex, etc..." and I looked up to see Liza and Jason with confused looks on their faces.

I decided to clear things up a little and...

ME: Oh... sometimes they use sex to mean...
LIZA: No! No no! Not again!

I laughed... and laughed... and laughed some more.

ME: Let me explain honey. When it's used like that it just means that Jason's sex is male and yours is female. That's all. Every time I sign you up for something the form asks me what sex you are.
LIZA: *relieved and laughing* Oooooh. Ok.

I love my family. :)

And we now laugh every time we hear that advertisement.

Monday, April 25, 2016

52 Lists - 16 and 17

I'm a week behind again. What can I say, life happens! (Did you know the name of my blog used to be Life Happens? ) I have been working again and we have soccer and then there's school stuff... and life! The sun has been shining a lot of the days and we love being outside... so the computer gets a little neglected, and I'm ok with that. Here are my lists... 

Favorite Books
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Nurture by Lisa Bevere
Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman
On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
Children's books by Doreen Cronin
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

People I Admire
Mike - because he never gives up on me.
Liza - because she is so free and silly and makes people feel good.
Jason - because he is strong yet gentle, he is considerate and wise.
My parents - because of they way they raised me.
My grandma - because I am pretty sure she is the sweetest person on the planet. 
My grandpa - because even though he is quiet, he is constant and steady. Also because he is the perfect picture of how staying active keeps you young, no matter your age.
My Mother- and Father-in-law - because they are a great example of what generosity looks like. 
The teachers at our neighborhood school that used to exist - for how much they cared about the needs of every child and how much of themselves they gave to meet those needs.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What Coaching Is To Me

When I coach soccer my goal is not to teach the kids the game of soccer. My goal is to teach them about LIFE as they learn the game of soccer.

I want to teach them so much more than how to properly kick a ball or play a certain position.
I want to teach them to
do their best... always
push themselves when they are tired and want to quit
never give up
win well and lose well
have fun while working toward goals
have confidence in themselves and each other
be committed
work as a team.

I want to
build character

It's not about coaching a game... it's about coaching people. The game is just the means to accomplish that.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

52 Lists - Favorite Quotes

List #15
Favorite Quotes

I love you sixty-nine Toy Story 3 PICKLES! ~Jason

I'm not ok, you're not ok, and that's ok. ~Sark

People don't treat you the way they do because of who you are, they treat you the way they do because of who they are. ~Pastor John

My momma don't like you, and she likes everyone. ~Justin Bieber

I'm not beautiful like you, I'm beautiful like me. ~Joydrop

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Conversations With Jason

We were discussing movies today and there is one that the kids would like to see, but we have decided to wait a few years to see it. The conversation went a something like this...

 ME: I had some people I trust tell me there is a lot of violence in that movie, so we aren't going to watch it until you are a little older.
JASON: Most of the kids in my class saw it and they said there wasn't that much violence.
ME: Papa Mike is one of the people who told me he thought it had too much violence for my kids to watch. Do you think it would be wiser to listen to Papa Mike or the kids in your class?
JASON: Papa Mike for sure! I was just saying though that they saw it.
ME: That's ok that they saw it. They have rules in their house and we have rules in ours and sometimes they are different. But we are going to stick to our rules.
JASON: I'm glad that we do.

And that's about the moment that my heart exploded! I don't know how I got such a sweet, understanding kid.

Of course, he plans to grow up and break my heart some day. This was yesterday morning's conversation...

ME: I love you so much Jason! Say you'll live with me forever!
ME: Why not!?
JASON: Because I'm going to want to get married.
ME: Well your wife can live with us too.
ME: Why not!?!
JASON: You would get tired of having two more people in your house.

I asked how old he thinks he'll be when he's ready to move out. He told me when he's about 20 and my heart cried a little as I realized that is only 12 years away!

I love him so much that sometimes it hurts.

One morning Jason said, "Mom, take my picture like this then put it on the computer and say 'Howdy!'"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Clothes Are Getting Wierd, Part 2

Sometimes I walk through stores and am just baffled.

What is the deal with the clothes these days??

Specifically... exercise clothes.

I need a pair of sweatpants. I have one pair that is too big and am desperately in need of another pair to wear to all the soccer practices I'll be having. I went to the stores looking for a simple pair of sweatpants and found that they no longer exist!!

Everything is spandex or yoga pants. I don't want tight pants. No one wants to see my leg dimples. I don't want to see my leg dimples! And I don't want to pay $25 for a pair of yoga pants... that are also tight where I don't want them to be tight! I want a simple, old fashioned pair of generic sweatpants that don't care what my shape or size is.

Oh... and don't even get me started on the shorts! I've seen underwear bigger than some of those shorts!

And tshirts... these days you have to wear three just to get enough thickness to not be see-through.

I'm 36 and lazy. I don't need spandex... I need sweatpants! Baggy, forgiving sweatpants.

Someone save me and tell me there is still a place where I can find a pair of these???

Sunday, April 3, 2016

52 Lists - Dream Jobs

List #14
For this list I'm supposed to list my childhood and current dream jobs. I never had much of a list for either of these things, so I've decided to list some of my job history... because most have been dream jobs!

Dream Jobs

1. Working for a carpenter. I spent a summer in high school sanding wood for a carpenter. Four hours a day... me and a sander or piece of sandpaper. I loved this job. It was tedious, repetitive, and took very little thought... just my style!

2. Summer camps. While in college I spent four summers working at a summer camp for kids with special needs. This was the perfect job for me. It allowed me to be my crazy self and hang out with kids all day long, day after day after day. I have so many great memories from my summers at camp. It truly was a life changing experience. After I got married I continued working at a local summer camp as waterfront director. Days in the sun, swimming, canoeing, kids. Doesn't get much better than that!

Umm... that's about where my job experiences of the past end. I haven't really had many jobs. In between those things were some short stints at other jobs... like being a janitor at a college campus. That was a pretty awful job... but it was a job. I also spent a lot of summers in my younger years working at the family business... a greenhouse. I still can't grow things.

When I was younger I always wanted to be a teacher. I went to college to become a teacher. I quit during student teaching. (Still got my degrees though so it wasn't a total waste... although I have never used my degrees.) I found the classroom to be the wrong kind of setting for me. I don't care to be the one to teach ABCs and 123s and all the book kind of teaching that needs to happen in life. I prefer to teach kids ABOUT life. (I know that happens in the classroom as well... just not the way I want it to.) About working through your issues, learning how to make friends, being responsible for your actions, etc. I spend my days looking for the teachable moments.

I don't need a job to do that kind of teaching. I just need a neighborhood full of kids, a soccer team, a large bus stop. Of course, none of these things are a "job" so I'm not getting paid... but I'm happy.

My current jobs are also dream jobs.

1. Crochet. I never ever thought I would be able to make money off of my hobby, but I do! It's fun that people want me to make things for them. I really enjoy the process of creating an item and knowing someone will wear it or give it as a gift. It doesn't hurt that I get to do this "job" from the comfort of my own couch while binging netflix shows.

2. Environmental Education Instructor. Seriously guys... DREAM! JOB! And I didn't even know something like this existed until I was in college working at camps. And I guess this is as close as it comes to being a teacher without being a teacher in the traditional sense. I work at a local camp in the Environmental Education department. During the spring and fall, schools come for field trips and I take classes of kids into the woods and teach them about things like insects and ecosystems. Or, my favorite, I take them to the stream and talk about the food web and then look for critters in the stream... and I get paid to do this!! I get paid to help kids experience nature in new and personal ways.

When it comes to jobs... I am working a dream job. I could do what I am doing forever.
Ultimately, the dream is that Mike will always have a job that pays enough that I don't need a "real" job. I enjoy my seasonal work with an insanely flexible schedule. I love that I love what I do, and I love that it allows me to still be home for my kids. I love that work feels like play... and still has a paycheck. I don't think it gets any dreamier than that!!

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