Friday, October 19, 2018

High Five for Friday (10.19.18)

One
I mentioned in last Friday's post that this year's dance pics required us - girls and moms - to spend two hours outdoors in 91 degree heat and 724% humidity, surrounded by mosquitoes, ants, and a savage attack cat. I think doing so was worth it.

Two
Last Friday Will and his classmates celebrated meeting one of their fundraising goals with a glow in the dark obstacle course. Taking pictures in the dark proved challenging, but at least I could watch him have fun in person (when I wasn't trying to protect my face from flying, glow in the dark basketballs).

Three
On Sunday we wrapped up Will's birthday celebrations with a casual gathering of a few friends for video games at Nerdvana (a local vintage arcade) and cupcakes back at our house. This is a great group of boys, and I'm grateful Will has them for friends.

Four
Last Saturday evening Hallie took an incredible calypso masterclass from one of her favorite teachers. (And I went out for a beverage and nachos with friends while she danced.) We love Dominick - Hallie finds him both fun and entertaining, but she also learns so much and works as hard or harder in his classes than she does in any other class.
I love this one - I see a beautiful combination of strength and grace.
She wanted me to caption this photo: "I'm still not sure
what I'm doing with my arms when I do a calypso leap".
Hallie and Dominick.

Five
A few weeks ago Hallie accompanied a friend to Awana
night at church. Hallie had a great time, so she went again
the following week, and the week after that, she officially joined
and received her Awana shirt and handbook. She was so proud!
Grandma and Grandpa sent Will this cool Lego chess set for
his birthday - the board and each of the pieces are built out of Legos!
Halloween-themed Body Pump launch at my gym!
Helping make her brother's birthday cupcakes.
One of the first four recipients of the
"Diamondback Award" at school.
Reading with Princess Leia.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots! 

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Lots of Words Wednesday: Love Walks the Fine Line

A couple of weeks ago a friend shared on Facebook a link to the words below.

By Amy Weatherly

I bought bouncy balls for my son’s class treasure box. Something nice for the teacher, a simple way to show my son what it means to give back. A simple way to show him how much extra teachers do for their students.

Plus, it was a good excuse to go a little crazy in the Target dollar section.

So I took him to the store and let him pick everything out. We picked out basketball bouncy balls and soccer ball bouncy balls and pink bouncy balls and some that were just plain blue. This morning, he informed me that he is really hoping for a basketball.

My initial reaction was to text the teacher and ask her if she could hold one for him. After all, he helped pick them out, so he kind of deserves to get the one he wants, right?

But then the other half of me, thought “No, you’d better not. He needs to learn to be happy with whatever he gets. He needs to learn that you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. And you don’t need to be interfering in his life anyways. Stop being a buttinski mom.”

So this back and forth went on like a ping pong ball inside my mind for a solid five minutes.

Balancing on that very, very fine line.
And then it dawned on me: This. This is why moms are so exhausted. Yes, we chase kids. Yes, we clean up after them like the guy scooping up poop behind the horses in the parade. But I don’t believe that’s the true source of our exhaustion. I believe it’s this dance, this teetering back and forth while trying to walk this very, very fine line of what is right and what is wrong. What is black and what is white. What is good for our kids and what is even better.

When you have a baby, you walk this fine line and you worry about whether breast milk or formula is better, about whether your baby needs Pampers or Luvs, about whether to keep your baby in the room with you, or let them sleep in their own crib. Every decision is as delicate as that precious baby you are holding gently in your arms.

When you have a toddler, you walk this fine line and you worry about whether or not to start them in a Mother’s Day Out program or to keep them at home with you. You wonder whether screen time is really going to destroy your child for life like all the articles say, or whether one (or four) episode/episodes of “Paw Patrol” is fine. You also have to get the laundry done, and you can’t do that with your 2-year-old hanging on your leg. So back and forth, back and forth — you begin the process of wading through the mud to find what is best.

Not what is good. Good’s not good enough. You need to know what is best.

And then they throw a tantrum in the middle of the cookie aisle at Kroger’s. Right there, with everyone watching, waiting, wondering how you’re going to handle it. Right there in between the Oreos and the Chips Ahoy. Will you yell? Will you give in? Will you be too hard? Will you be too soft?

When you have a school-aged child, you walk this fine line and you stress about which school is best for your child. Again, this is your child. This is their education. The weight of your decision is heavier than a two-ton elephant sitting on your chest spraying water out of his trunk. This decision will go with them forever, so there is no adequate. There is no fine. There is no good enough. There is only what’s best, and it’s all on you to find it, like Waldo, only if you don’t find it, you can’t just turn the page and move on, you’ve basically ruined your child forever.

When you have a teenager, you walk this fine line of letting them still be a kid, and pushing them to become an adult. This fine line of going crazy and trying to keep your cool. This fine line of taking everything they own away and tossing it out the window of your two-story home and understanding all the changes puberty is putting them through. This fine line of being the adult who doesn’t put up with disrespect, and this friend who will come and pick them up if they’re at a party, starting to feel uncomfortable.

And then there’s the fine line of who to put first: your children, your spouse, or yourself. You can make the case for all three. You can easily argue on all three sides.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

No wonder we are so exhausted. Our minds are a maze. Our lives are a juggling act. Our jobs are trying to find the black and white in a world full of muddled gray. Our jobs are trying to dance the tango and the waltz and the Boot Scootin’ Boogie and the Macarena all to the same bizarre song.
No stinking wonder.

I don’t have a ton of advice here, honestly. I’m not an expert. I’m right in the middle of the mess with you, my friends. We are mothers and we will always want the absolute best for our children and we won’t stop until we find it, even if that means mulling every decision over by digging through a giant haystack of articles and advice until we find the dadgum needle our children need.

I can only tell you this: you’re doing a good job. You’re doing a hella good job. You wouldn’t care so much if you weren’t. You wouldn’t worry so much if you weren’t. You wouldn’t be walking that fine line like Johnny Cash if you weren’t exactly what and who your kids needed.

They’re going to be fine, and so are you.

How beautifully relatable are these words?! I no longer feel sleep-deprived exhaustion as the parent of an infant. I no longer feel physical exhaustion as the parent of a toddler. And I no longer feel mental exhaustion as the parent of a preschooler. Instead, I feel an all-encompassing and overwhelming exhaustion as the parent of two tweenagers whose every question - and they ask A LOT of questions - requires a carefully thought out response, because the answers I give and how my children respond to them have significant real life consequences. I always wonder and frequently worry if the occasional anxiety they feel is normal for kids their age or if they're developing an anxiety disorder. I always wonder and frequently worry if the occasional sadness and emotional swings they experience is normal for kids their age or if they're depressed. I always wonder and frequently worry if I have created for them a balanced childhood, with the right amount of time dedicated to and allotted for academics, extracurriculars, play, rest, and sleep. When do I hold, when do I give in? When do I step in, when do I step back? How can I be everything they need, my husband needs, my employers need? All day, every day.

As the author explains, this is why moms are so exhausted. This is why, every night once I have finally tucked everyone into bed (and then answered all of life's most-pressing questions, because life's most pressing questions ALWAYS come up after bedtime), I fall into my own sheets feeling like I just ran a marathon, took the SAT three times, and attended a wedding and a funeral back-to-back. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my role as Will and Hallie's mother and adore parenting them at this stage of the game. But the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion runs deep these days.

The author admits to having little advice to offer, and I find myself in the same boat. I simply wanted to share this perspective because I expect many moms out there can relate and could use the buoying support of knowing they are not alone.

I leave you with Amy Weatherly's last few paragraphs and my small addition: stay the course, take each day/hour/minute as it comes, lean on your village, and take heart knowing moms everywhere understand.

Sometimes you’ll miss the mark, sometimes you’ll be off by a few feet, or even a few hundred. Apologize. Forgive. Get back up and keep going, keep trying. Keep trying to tiptoe across that tightrope. Keep trying to balance your way through motherhood. Keep trying to do the things that are the very best for your children. In trying, you’re loving them in a way that will make a loud difference in their lives. And I promise, that love will be the thing that carries them over the threshold from happy childhood to successful adulthood.

That love will be the thing that makes the most difference, not whether or not you call the teacher and ask her to set aside the basketball bouncy ball.

Love walks the fine line, and you’re doing it. You’re doing it better than you know.

Monday, October 15, 2018

2018 Teal Pumpkin Giveaway

I talked about the Teal Pumpkin Project around this time last year, so for those of you who read Chasing Roots regularly, this post may feel familiar. The topic is an important one, however, so please give the post a quick read and consider either participating yourself (if you welcome trick-or-treaters to your home) or sharing the post so others can jump on board the teal pumpkin band wagon! 

This year and for the first time in his 12 years, Will will trick-or-treat like a "normal" kid. He won't have to gently sift through buckets of candy looking for a piece he can safely eat, or say "no thank you" and walk away with nothing at all if the candy offered contains or might contain peanuts. I won't have to read the labels on or look up the ingredients in every piece of candy he brings home. He can sample anything and everything, without fear. (Well, maybe not anything and everything - he did just get braces, and they came with a whole new set of sticky food restrictions...)

This wasn't always the case for Will and our family. As my regular readers know, Will has a peanut allergy but thanks to a new treatment protocol, now can and does eat peanuts. Sadly, not all kids with peanut allergies are so lucky, which is why, after participating for the first time in 2014 when it officially hit front porches nationwide, we continue to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

For those who haven't yet heard of this Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE) project, here's the background information and a quick summary. At least one in 13 children (perhaps as many as one in 11 children) have a food allergy, and many more suffer from Celiac Disease, eat a restricted or special diet, or receive their nutrients via tube feeding. For these children - those who can't consume any of the items received while trick-or-treating or who can't trick-or-treat at all - Halloween doesn't have the same sparkle. The Teal Pumpkin Project began as a local awareness activity in Eastern Tennessee and grew into a nationwide campaign to "raise awareness about food allergies and promote the inclusion of all trick-or-treaters" and aims to ensure every child can experience a safe, happy holiday.

Participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project is easy.
  1. Pick out a pumpkin, paint it teal, and place it on your front porch on Halloween.
  2. Provide non-food treats - pencils, erasers, stickers, bubbles, and plastic vampire teeth have been popular at our house - for trick-or-treaters. 
The goal here is not to exclude candy; FARE suggests simply putting candy in one bowl, and non-food treats in a separate bowl. And if you don't have time to buy and/or paint a teal pumpkin, you can buy one onlineorder a fun sign for your front yard, or print out and hang up one of FARE's signs!

Later this week and just like we've done for the last four years, Hallie and I will buy a pumpkin at the local pumpkin patch and she'll spend the better part of an hour carefully covering every last inch of orange with teal paint. No, painting a pumpkin teal won't cure Will or anyone else of their peanut allergy. But doing so is a step toward increasing awareness and making the world a safer place for people with life-threatening food allergies...and Hallie loves having a part in this effort on behalf of her brother.

Would you like to win a Teal Pumpkin Project paint kit? Enter by commenting here or by commenting on or liking this post on Facebook. Will will randomly choose a winner on Friday, October 19th at 5pm and we'll mail or deliver your paint kit on Saturday, October 20th!

Let's paint the town teal!

I have no affiliation with nor have I received any payment - financial or in-kind - from the Teal Pumpkin Project in exchange for this post. I just happen to be a big supporter of their work!

Friday, October 12, 2018

High Five for Friday (10.12.18)

Last week I replaced my High Five for Friday post with Will's birthday post on Thursday, so today's high fives go back a couple of weeks. Happy Friday, friends!

One
Will had a great - albeit busy, with early morning cello practice, school, lunch with Mom, runners' club, soccer practice, and dinner out - birthday. Thank you to everyone who wished him well last week!
We always do powdered sugar donuts
topped with a candle for birthday breakfasts.
Fast forward to the end of the day - birthday cake time!
He wanted a white cake with raspberry layers and chocolate frosting
for his actual birthday and Fortnite cupcakes for his party in a few days.
Soccer ball cookies for his teammates after practice!

I also want to give a shout out to my friend, Jamie, who recently started her own cookie baking and decorating business. She made Will's birthday cookies (no parties at school anymore, but I wanted Will to have something to take to his soccer teammates since they practiced on his birthday) and they were both adorable and delicious. If you live in the BCS area, get in touch with Jamie for all your cookie needs! (Click on the image below to visit her Facebook business page.)


Two
Six or so months after I came due for a cut and color, I FINALLY had time to get my hair done! My hair always needs attention in May, but I hold off because the summer sun and chlorinated water bleach and dry my hair out regardless. Then I hold off again once school starts because August and September are completely booked with PTO events and fundraisers. But when October rolls around, I'm finally back in my stylist's chair and it feels so good. (No pics though - I have a strong dislike for selfies.)

Three
She didn't win the Student Council presidential election (and didn't seem too troubled about losing to her friend "Action Jackson"), but I'm proud of my Hallie Claire for choosing to run for office, coming up with a clever poster, writing and practicing her speech, and presenting it to the members of Student Council. Putting yourself out there - especially where there exists a chance of public defeat - is never easy, and she handled the process gracefully and with a smile on her face.

Speaking of proud... Last week Will heard both an acquaintance and a friend use a derogatory term. He told the boys that the word was mean, insulting, and inappropriate, and that if they said it again, he wouldn't continue playing with them. The acquaintance used the word again, so Will stuck to his guns and walked away. I wouldn't have known about this if another friend of Will's hadn't seen and heard the situation unfold and then told her mom...who happens to be one of my best friends. Kids make A LOT of bad decisions, but every once in a while they make an incredibly good one.

Four
We have a new creative studio in town, and last Friday night I finally had the opportunity to try my hand at DIY wood sign art.

These projects cost a fair amount (more than DIY canvas painting art studio projects, for example) so I won't be able to visit the studio very often, but the process was interesting and fun and I can't wait to go back!

Five
Happiness Highlights
Painting her daddy's toenails a lovely
combination of royal blue and kelly green.
Hallie and her dance family.
Flu shots - check!
Never far...
...sometimes REALLY close. (He somehow
squeezed into the less than two inches of space
between my back and the back of the chair. 
My puppy nephew in his Halloween
costume. He looks psyched about it.
A friend captured this pic of Hallie at the
moment her Mini Company director showed
them their first costume for the year. 😍
It's beautiful!
On an overcast, slightly rainy Saturday I decided to
indulge in my first caramel apple spice of the season. 
Found my T1-82 for Will to use! 😂
Halloween decor is up!
"I love you so much, Will."
Me and my girl at her last Boosterthon.
Hallie and one of her besties, Tessa.
I'm so grateful for their friendship.
Four (of their five) years of Boostheron together!
The boys' bathroom doors at Will's school also got a makeover!
When did these handsome boys get so big?! 
When you survive two hours of dance photos with 16 seven, eight,
and nine year olds (in 91 degrees and 724% humidity and surrounded
by mosquitoes, ants, and a savage attack cat) you go out for ice cream
with friends. Thank goodness for ice cream.

Happy Friday, Chasing Roots!

Linking up with High Five for Friday here:

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Errands With Erin

As a little girl, I thought - self-centeredly but understandably so - that when my mom, sister, and I ran "errands", we were actually running "Erins". One day my sister asked my mom, "why don't we ever get to run Saras?" From then on my mom made a point to periodically run Saras, rather than just Erins. (Apparently this is a common childhood misinterpretation of the word "errands" - my niece, Lily, also once asked her mom why they never got to run Lilys.)

One - or both - of these girls has dance after school every day except Friday, so on their free Fridays they want to have playdates. The challenge is that because Hallie has dance and Will has soccer on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, we have to fit appointments in on Tuesday afternoons and errands in on Friday afternoons. (Kid appointments and errands for which the kids need to be with me, of course - I accomplish as much as possible that doesn't involve the kids while they're at school.) The solution to this challenge turned out to be Kara coming with us on our errands, because errands with a friend and someone else's mom are so much more fun than errands without a friend and with your own mom, right? So far this semester Kara has joined me and Hallie and occasionally Will on treks to Target, Wal-Mart, Once Upon a Child, Hobby Lobby, and the library.

I told the girls the story about running Saras instead of Erins, while they didn't think it was quite as funny as I did/do, we did agree that our errands would be more fun if we renamed them. I suppose there are worse ways to spend a Friday afternoon than running Hallies and Karas with these two (well, three, with that big brother in the way back) cuties.