The Summer Plan – guest blog by a mom of four who’s got this thing figured out

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photoToday’s blog post is from a fellow West Point mom.

We’re facebook friends and when I saw her post, I asked if I could publish it on my blog. She agreed. I just love the spirit of her message and the fun and forceful way she mothers.

I’m done, here’s Danelle!

Ever since I’ve been a mom each summer I try to have a very basic guideline for what I expect on a daily basis. (Otherwise I get grouchy and they get bored.)

I laugh because my kids freak out about our plan every year, but if you look closely, only 2.5 hours of their entire day is spent doing anything they don’t choose to do.

Here is how we’ll try to redeem the time we are blessed with this year:

The Summer Plan

Daily–
TV/gaming/computer/screen time (and, yes, watching tv with your sibling “counts” as your own tv time…I wasn’t born yesterday)–2 hour maximum
Chores—30 minutes (or however long you’d like to take)

Reading –1 hour minimum
Music—30 minutes minimum
Exercise—30 minutes minimum

Everyone up by 9:00 am

Mealtimes—breakfast ends at 10:00; lunch ends at 2:00; dinner will be at 7:00

Breakfast choices: yogurt, oatmeal, cereal, toast
Lunch choices: sandwich, chips, soup, cheese and crackers, fruit, veggies, leftovers, grilled cheese, quesadilla, ramen
Snack choices: fruit, veggie, granola bar, dried fruit, nuts

*You are expected to put your dirty dishes into the dishwasher and wipe around your place-mat when you are done eatingphoto

• There is absolutely NO FOOD OR DRINK allowed in the basement other than popcorn and water. You must have permission to make popcorn. The answer will most likely be “yes”, but ask anyways
• If you bring any food or drink to the basement you will be charged a $5 fee for this decision
• Chores must be done by 5:00pm
• You can earn extra $ or extra screen time occasionally by doing extra jobs (the frequency of these will be determined by parents and if you get sassy about it, the answer will be an automatic “no”)

Activities for Bored People:

  1. Play a “board” game (get it? Haha!)
  2. Get out a puzzle
  3. Go for a walk
  4. Play with the dogs
  5. Get together with a friend
  6. Make crafts
  7. Bake a treat
  8. Write a song
  9. Write a letter to someone20140617-094240-34960709.jpg
    11. Read your Bible
    12. Listen to music
    13. Pray for someone who is struggling
    14. Use the elliptical
    15. Have a lemonade stand
    16. Write a poem
    17. Call a friend
    18. Call a grandparent
    19. Offer to help a family member with something
    20. Weed the garden
    21. Trim your nails
    22. Make your bed
    23. Organize your closet
    24. Make a slushee
    25. Sit on the patio and stare off into space
    26. Ask a sibling if there is some project you could help them with
    27. Walk to the store
    28. Walk to the river
    29. Have a picnic
    30. Make a meal for someone

Originally from Southern California, Danelle and her family now live in Lincoln, Nebraska.  She and her husband have four kids – two boys and two girls and a dog named FooFoo. Her oldest son is a cadet at the United States Military Academy, class of 2016. She says, “Being a mom has been the most amazing, challenging and important thing I have ever done. I love encouraging younger moms who are right in the middle of the best job they’ll ever have.

Danelle seems determined to be faithful with her family’s time, to lead her kids well.

539620_4131081765991_613836652_nAs I read her suggestions, admittedly I felt a little guilty because I haven’t been so industrious. I need to implement these ideas even if I just only have an orange hair, freckle face 17-year-old at home.

What would you add to her list? Which one do you like the most?

 

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I slow-danced with another man and I liked it

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photoMy first experience slow-dancing was traumatic.

Picture a teenage girl going to a Mormon youth dance. She misses her mom who’s in the hospital. It’s a weekend night. Her friend’s name is Michelle.

Platform shoes, lip gloss, a tender heart, polyester

Abba music playing in the background

This Catholic girl alight with anticipation

Who will pick me? Am I pretty? Has that pimple disappeared? More importantly, will there be enough disco music???

Then the creepiest, dweebiest guy asks me to dance. How can I say no? He isn’t cute but he’s the only one to approach.

Pressing me close to him, he slowly removes his glasses and whispers…

“I don’t need these to see you, now do I?”

Every shameful feeling a teenage girl can experience joined me on the dance floor that night

Clumsy feet step all over his until I can’t take it anymore.

I run into the girl’s bathroom, lock the door.

And upon my return home, immediately shower to remove that guy from my person.

Yeah, I’d say that qualifies as a traumatic slow-dancing event, wouldn’t you?

Since then, my slow-dancing skills haven’t improved.

Foot surgeries, knee problems, my list of excuses will impress.

It’s a standing joke with the Hubs.  I can’t slow-dance, I can’t follow his lead. It’s so silly when I even try.

But more than three decades later, there’s another guy who wants to dance with me.

My middle olive shoot – Aaron

On his wedding day no less…

Did he not remember the legendary tale? I mean, I only talk about it a couple of times a year. I plead with Aaron to not humiliate me by forcing me to slow-dance in front of people. Can’t we just leave it alone?

I send him videos of moms choreographing wedding dances with their sons. Don’t they look amazing? Doesn’t that look like fun? I think we should do that, don’t you? Heck, I even work with an up and coming dj on a dance mix.

But no.

The kid won’t budge.

He wants to dance with his mama.

Tears flow after the father/daughter dance. I know I’m next.

Aaron, I can’t do this.”

“I’m crying. I’ll look stupid. People will laugh. I will uglyphoto cry.”

“No, Mama, you can do this.”

He takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor.photo

Suddenly I don’t care. I almost feel pretty. I know I feel proud.

I’m in my son’s arms.

My charming, safe and oh so handsome child. He’s a married man. Sweet melodies serenade my heart-strings.

We step all over each other’s feet.

I twirl him to lighten the mood.

He spins me around. We look ridiculous. At one point, we miss intersecting after a twirl.

It’s a hot mess.

But I cry and look deep into his eyes. I caress his soft cheeks just like I did when he was a baby.

10172643_10203755528669758_7964348490121130609_n“Oh Aaron, I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Mama.”

And then it’s over.

The music stops.

I leave the dance floor glad. Really super duper glad.

10345846_10152968220578018_3115487111255556271_nI nearly passed up this imperfect moment.

I look at the pictures afterward and reflect.

I almost got in the way. Pride and self-consciousness, as clumsy as my feet trying to move at a gentle speed, nearly ruined the moment.

But the sun had streamed on the spot where we danced. We were unaware at the time. I had no idea. Beholding the images now, God’s hand held us together. 

Quite simply, despite our lack of skill, we were GRACE-ful. Not our feet but our hearts.

I feel resplendent. I feel healed. I’ve been dancing on air ever since.

Here’s my message to you moms – don’t pass up moments due to insecurity. Those times don’t come around every day.

And to you sons – encourage your sweet mothers. Take us by the hand. We get scared too. Tell us you love us and guide us to the adventure. You will never regret it.

Five minute Friday – close

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photo 2Today we’re close to a life changing moment

Tomorrow amidst a throng of observers and before God, my middle olive shoot beholds a beautiful woman adorned in the loveliest of linensphoto 3

Walk down the aisle and become his wife forever.

For all these years, we have been a close family

Priding ourselves on raising our three olive shoots to be men of God, to be ready for this moment when they go from not only being our children but

Being someone else’s beloved for life

We are so close.

Tonight I prepare my heart and pray

Tonight I speak and cry

Tonight I welcome family and friends and the woman I have prayed for since Aaron was a wee one

And my prayer is that we will be close – my sweet boy and I and the woman we welcome to our family

10171703_10152894953923018_2252761905675416999_nHow could I not want that considering I never had a daughter biologically?

Moreover though I pray that these two young kids who really have no idea about the enormity of marriage

Because let’s face it, no one does and I’m 27 years into this thing

That they will have an intimacy with the Lord, a closeness to Him

photoI am so close to becoming a mother-in-law, I took a seminar about it and learned many “inside” tips!

It is scary, like I’m about to jump off a diving board and plunge into the unknown

Entering what has been called the most complicated human relationship

And my heart’s cry is for a closeness with the Father during our lives together

And with her, if that is her desire and the Lord’s.

Today we’re close to a life-changing moment. Amen.

Five minute Friday – visit

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photo 17It was a Sunday night

Another Sunday night where my mobility is limited

And I am challenged to fight off another unwelcome visit from Depression

Too often these days as I sit on my bed and count the hours until I am FREE, Depression is my companion.

Nothing made this Sunday night any different until my son walked in with two of his buddies

And instantly the doldrums were lifted

Without any extra food, no advance planning

A spontaneous dinner party with four teenage boys ensued

Cheerfulness and hospitality visited

Friendship and fellowship stopped by

photo 18We supped on homemade pao de quiejo, (a dish that was visited upon us thanks to our borrowed Brazilian olive shoot), fresh green salad with homemade dressing, fried zucchini rounds and some leftover chicken. We all made the food together, no complaints, just fun and teamwork.

Those boys do not realize their arrival brought sunshine to this tired foot and soul

And in a way, we entertained angels unaware

How about you? What memories come to mind for you about the word “visit?” Any recent “visit” that especially encouraged you?photo 19

5minutefridayCheck out what other people are saying about this word on Five Minute Friday! It’s so interesting to read different perspectives!

Five minute Friday – encouragement

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2014-01-03 18.44.52 photo 14Encouragement is doing something because you want to not because it feels like an obligation.

It is going beyond a perfunctory one-word statement on a facebook wall – which I have done also to be fair

Unexpected flowers from my orange hair, freckle face olive shoot and a family friend - fragrant encouragement!

Unexpected flowers from my orange hair, freckle face olive shoot and a family friend – fragrant encouragement!

Those usually produce the opposite of encouragement, quite honestly

But encouragement is a stretch of action and heart to make an effort to say

You matter

I care

I want to help

You are not alone

Many times when I am feeling low, it’s hard to acknowledge I crave help and attention. What if people don’t follow through? What if they said they wanted to help but now suddenly, they make it clear it wasn’t really sincere? 5minutefriday

As I begin week three of recovering from foot surgery, the Lord has used unexpected people to encourage me

A visit from a busy mom after my surgery which then allowed my husband to take our son to see his fiancée in Delaware2014-01-03 19.45.57

A meal prepared by Brazilian friends who wouldn’t let me lift a foot or a finger!

A delicious choc olate/caramel apple beautifully wrapped and other tasty delights delivered with smiles and happiness

Homemade dinners and offers to take me out to run errands

A lunch after Bible study, a ride back home ❤

God has also used certain family members to make my immobile life bearable –

Encouragement gives the heart confidence to carry on

Thank you to all who encourage me on this blog and throughout life. It means so much!

How have others encouraged you this week?

This post was inspired by the sassy gang at Lisa-Jo Baker’s weekly Five Minute Friday!

Five minute Friday – see

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photo 9For over 20 years, I’ve been collecting Christmas ornaments for my three sons.

I would see them on my trees and anticipate the day when they would no longer hang on my branches and proudly announce that I was gathering these ornaments for a very special moment.

photo 8All over the world – El Salvador, Peru, Germany, in Maine, Florida and beyond, I saw ornaments and brought them home and remembered to tell my olive shoots that one day when they got married, those gifts would go to live in their homes to be enjoyed by their own families.

It was joyful seeing all the lovely tokens and memories on my trees. There is a sushi ornament, a snowman mowing a lawn, a giant “X” because that’s my middle son’s middle initial, the homemade Christmas bell Nate made when he was a wee little boy, so many I want to tell you about each one!

Oh and the enormous sparkly ball that Aaron faithfully prominently puts on our largest tree (a family tradition)…

photo 7This year after the holidays, I saw my hands doing the thing I had promised long ago.

Something that caused my heart to tug.

I packed those ornaments I had long saved in two separate boxes

Because two of my olive shoots are getting married. I see this as a good thing, a wonderful thing actually, but it also makes me a little sad.

This blog post was brought to you by the word “see” and the 5minutefridayenjoyable gang at Five minute Friday!

Warmth – Brazilian style

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photo 5Temperatures plummet all around the country but we experienced a heat wave of sorts. A Brazilian blast of kindness warmed our family these past few weeks as we enjoyed spending time with Chico’s parents. I have loved ones in Qatar, Chicago, El Salvador and Brazil – we’re all over the map!

Since last May, the Lord opened the door for new people to enter our home. Most who entered as friends left as members of our family. Some through actual marriage proposals (Lu and Kelsie) but others through spending extended time in our home – they became W-H’s, an extension of our olive shoot branch.

And it’s interesting, the timing of it all. Disease and deception ushered a person out of our lives. Without a proper goodbye, a thank you, a warm embrace, nothing, nada, zilch, poof, he was gone. I don’t recommend it. So while recovering from the pangs of loss, these people have been a healing balm to our family. We haven’t forgotten this person but we have moved on in order to survive. He hasn’t been replaced but God has opened new chambers of our hearts. I know many people who have experienced a loss can empathize.

On Sunday, we said our goodbyes to Francisco and Leyla. We enjoyed going to church together and I was deeply touched to sit by Chico’s mom and to hear her singing the refrain “Hallelujah” in one of the songs. Tears streamed from both of our eyes as the music played. It’s safe to say that a year ago none of us had any notion how close we would feel to one another. I didn’t really personally know any Brazilian people until September. Now it’s like our family has grown exponentially just by adding one charming borrowed Brazilian olive shoot into our home.

After church, we went to a restaurant. As the meal was ending, Chico’s dad went out to his car to get something. When he returned, he approached the Hubs holding something small in his fingers. He then gently took the corner of the Hub’s jacket and carefully attached a small gold item to the collar. With a few emotional words in Portuguese, he embraced and kissed my husband and that’s when we saw this.

photo 4In some way, it re- minded me of when Nate was pinned as an officer at West Point. Our dear friend Colonel Eric Kail com missioned Nate. We will never forget that moment or that man.

It also reminded me of the kindred moment when Nate was tabbed by his brothers after completing Ranger School those memories flooded back to me.

I’m not sure Francisco understood the significance of his gesture but based on the tears that flowed afterward, perhaps we all did. Francisco’s gift to my husband was an acknowledgement of trust and connection. That pin proudly sits next to the Army pin on my husband’s coat. The cold weather allows him opportunity to display some of our dearest and deepest connections.2013-07-12 12.17.27

The  feeling of being deemed worthy and proven can warm a heart and that little pin of our two flags was a profound symbol between 2013-07-12 11.19.16men. When people enter our lives, they leave an impression. In this case, it was an enduring and deep connection neither family could have expected.