Do you have to attend every game?

It’s August and school starting mean football season at our house. Our 15 year plays football which means he dresses varsity and plays JV. Therefore, fall, school, and football has swooped in and pretty much destroyed my calendar and I assume many others.

Believe me, I enjoy football season and look forward to watching my son enjoy playing the game.  Many of us enjoy those moments when your child truly loves and enjoys the sport and they are fun to watch.  However, do you have to attend everything that your kids are in?

I have had many, many conversations over the past couple of months with moms and dads and almost all have said “YES” or “I can’t miss not getting watch them!”  I also get the, “I think you are crazy look” for even asking this silly question from a few.   However, from some, I see heavy shoulders, downward glances, and the weight of the world on their shoulders as they run in circles to every single event.

What is it that tells us in our heads and hearts, that we have to be at everything?  Is it parent guilt?  Is it social and societal pressure?  Is it out of habit?  Every family and parent is different and I will never tell anyone how to parent.  That is your business, not mine.  But why I bring this up, is that I see the quality of life for many parents and families, the level of stress, the level of running in circles, deflating the fact that you enjoy or want to see you kid do well and you want to be there to support them. 

You know what, I don’t make every game, horseback riding less, practice, etc.  The secret is out! I missed my son’s first JV game due to sickness and I did cry.  Call it parent shame or just the disappointment that I wanted to be there, to watch him play, to support him.  I had to remind myself, I can’t make every game and it’s ok. There will be dozens, upon dozens of games.  He understood and knew why.  He was good with it.

Sometimes my work, travel or another event like a wedding shower, wedding, etc. disrupt the fact that I (we) cannot be there.  But you know, your child knows you love them, that you support them and you are their biggest fan regardless of your presence.  That they can be successful, without you in the wings, that they can have a great game and talk your ear off about it when they get home.

I will call my kids before or after, get photos sent via text message and I hit up the next game, lesson, etc. the following week. 

I understand that your child might have their best game ever, or they hit that homerun or break that school record, make that first goal, etc. but I bet you money, they will do it again.

I had to remind myself not to put so much pressure on myself!  It is hard enough to be a parent and raise children today.  Don’t add to the stress and unrealistic expectations!  Find a balance, and learn to accept that you can’t do everything and that this is OK. 

Take care of yourself.  Take care of your sweet family and find time for yourself.  No more parent shaming and guess what, you don’t have to attend everything.

Back to School

In the past two weeks, many of us have gone back to school. For colleges, school starts tomorrow. It’s fun to see pictures on social media of families moving their kids to college and helping them set up their dorm rooms or apartments. A big change for many as they wave goodbye to their child and hope they make good choices, study hard and find good friends.

I have taught college students for 10 years between two colleges/universities and much has changed over the years, especially with COVID impacted high school youth. For 1-3 years, we told school-aged students not to come to school, not to play sports, not to get a job, they had no prom, no homecoming, etc. They just stayed home, because of COVID. Then these students come to college and it is like hitting a brick wall. They are shocked they have to come to class, that they must turn in homework, and that they need to engage in the class and be prepared to be successful. It has been a rough year or two helping these students make adjustments and take ownership of their academic journey.

The biggest challenge I have faced with students is their lack of time management which leads to self-diagnosis anxiety or stress-related issues. These students have been made to do little and be held accountable for little. So college is like a huge shift from kid to adulting. Students also don’t like the feeling of being stressed which is a natural and a lifelong emotion they need to adjust to, manage and work with to be successful.

So each year, I go over this college success handout that I created based on my own college experiences and from teaching college for a decade. If you have a high school or college student, feel free to share. My goal, as a professor, is to help students learn and grow in their academics, personal values, faith-based foundation, and help them become the person they are meant to be. This means building these life-long skills and abilities.

If you dropped off a child at college this past weekend, my heart is with you. Your child will do great and help encourage them to grow, learn and surround themselves with good people.

To the State Fair

We are off and running to the Indiana State Fair today. We try to go each year and with football, school, work, life, etc. time is getting away from us. We are hoping for a cool and cloudy weather, low attendance and no traffic (wish us luck).

My history with the State Fair goes back to my time in 4-H and my first college internship at the State Fair in the communication department. I learned so much as a communication intern that summer from writing press releases, assisting local news/media for story spotlights, covering numerous shows, writing for publications, and much more! I loved my time at the State Fair.

Today, our goal is to make it around the grounds, see Tanner’s 4-H project, not get rained on, let everyone eat something they want from the Fair, and see at least one thing they want to see. Our travel bag (aka bookbag/diaper bag) is stocked with diapers, snacks, Advil, water, toys, etc kid clothing, etc. A stop for caffeine (aka Starbucks) is required by me.

Those who have ventured out to the Fair and those still going, I hope you have a wonderful time and make some memories! I pray for little traffic, good weather, and lots of caffeine for you!

Too soon?

I admit it, I’m that person. I decorate for seasons and holidays WAY before acceptable time. And guess what, I’m good with it!

Christmas is up around November 1. Spring decor is up by March 1. And fall decorating is done and it’s August 6.

It you are an early holiday decorator, you are my tribe. I love changing out and moving out various decorations and rearranging home decor. With kids, they love the change of the holidays. There is something magical about these changes.

So for this short blog, cheers to all of those who put up their Halloween decorations in August and their Christmas is November. Below are some of our fall decorating. Have a great week!

Summer House Projects

An update on summer house projects and the commitment to putting holes in our walls…

When the summer started, we made a list of house and family goals that we hoped to accomplish.  Some of those goals included outside projects like fruit trees, a concrete pad, and patio updated.   While some projects in the house included finishing the snack bar and some wall hanging projects.  This leads me to the fact that I hate putting holes in our walls. 

We have a home that is almost 5 years old and we have lots of open wall space.  But the thought of holes, power tools, nails, screws, etc. makes me so nervous.  Once it goes in, it can’t be undone (it can be removed but there remains a hole).  And there is little room for error.  Hence, the industrial pipe shelf…

One of our children needed more shelf space to show and display his rocks, Legos, and collections and I love the look of a large pipe shelf but had never bought a kit.  So, I purchased a 3-shelf kit for $70  from Amazon and the assembly was pretty easy.  We purchased three 6-foot boards from Home Depot and I stained them deep brown.  The wood was $57.  But what threw me for a loop was that we were going to put 48 screws into the wall!

Each metal pipe attachment to the wall, consists of 4 screws!  There are 12 of them total.  Holy moly on a commitment to a wall project.  But after the first set went in, we were committed.  And it turned out great.  Take a look below at the before and after photos.  I would do another industrial pipe shelf and they are relativity easy to put together, cost-effective, quick to do, but you have to commit to the holes in the wall.

We also did a photo ledge over our bed.  I LOVE IT and more screws in the wall.  But with a photo ledge, instead of hanging a bunch of photos, it is only the ledge that gets screwed to the wall.  It really adds to our bedroom.  I am still working on a story wall in my office.  I will finish that up this fall (more holes in the wall).  I want our home to tell a story and for me, that is with photos, pictures, prints, etc.  Our home has a personality and it is ours.  But it takes putting some holes in the wall.  

Terrarium 101

Terrariums have become very popular over the past year or two.  I love the look and the idea of having a little container of nature in my house.   

Succulents have become my favorite plants due to the fact that I can keep them alive and they are easy to care for.  Terrariums are a great way to bring nature inside within the context of an enclosed glass or plastic container.  They are interesting, fun to make, and also kind of whimsical to have in the home. 

What I used for this simple terrarium:

  • Glass jar and remove the lid (from Dollar Store or Walmart, $5.99)
  • Potting soil
  • Decorative small gravel (any greenhouse or Hobby Lobby, usually in the fairy garden section, or craft selection).
  • Rocks that I have collected over the years.
  • Succulents (or small air ferns, plants, that need little watering, do well in the sun, etc.)
  • Paint brush or a rag (dry).

I started with putting about 3 inches of soil into the jar and then wiping the dust/soil off the inside of the jar.  Using a rag or dry paintbrush to constantly clean the inside of the jar is key.  Then I purchased three succulents and put them into the jar.  Lightly covering them and moving the soil around, then dusting again. 

I inserted the larger rocks, utilized the grey and pink gravel, and dusted again.  So simple and easy to do.  I water it sparingly and it looks amazing.  The kids even find it fun to check in from time to time.  The total project cost me about $20.  Some Walmarts have terrarium kits as well.  This would be fun to do with friends or have a terrarium-making party.  A super easy, fun project that even I can keep alive. 

Snack Bar Take II

One of our summer projects was to work on a snack bar in our basement for the kids to use when they have friends over, for birthday parties, etc.  After a lot of searching on Pinterest, a couple of simple ideas that were cost-effective came to mind.  A simple bar, chairs, a mini-refrigerator, some paint, and prints from ESTY helped it all come together.  The total cost (with the prints) was around $200. 

The wall was white and needed some color. We chose dark grey which we thought would go with some Norte Dame-type pictures or photos. 

The bar is made from popular that has been stained.  Brackets were purchased to hold up the bar top.  Very simple, easy to construct, and easy to clean. 

The black stools were ordered from Home Depot and came as a set.  Even better was the fact that they came assembled. 

ESTY has lots of great ND memorabilia and poster art.  Some are pricier than others. I also didn’t want a digital download so having the prints made and sent (they are copies) was a little more in price.  The frames are from Hobby Lobby ($10 each at 50% off).  I will never pay full price for a frame, ever.

The snack neon light was on Amazon and was around $30.  I did not have high expectations when I ordered it, but it is well made and works great. 

Now it is filled with snacks and ready for a birthday party!  Snack bar take II turned out awesome.  One summer goal down, a few more to go. 

Fair 2022

“I came, I saw, I conquered.” Jay Z

Another 4-H Fair has come and gone, and we survived.  We may not have conquered, but survival is the goal.  The fair to me, singles that the summer is almost halfway done which is crazy, because I feel like summer has just started.  Time flies…

The boys showed the most pigs they have ever shown.  They were more responsible, more engaged and did more work which is good and part of the process as they grow in older.  To take responsibility.  To take ownership.  To work, engage, and help others.  It takes a village to show animals at a fair.  It is a lot of work, time, and commitment. 

We could not show pigs without the help of our uncle Robert and his love of show pigs and his ability to be very patient with the boys.  My husband is a consistent helper and supporter as well.  We could not show pigs without them both.  As pigs need prepared for the arena, need in and out of pens, getting the pig to the arena (we had to take 3 turns, pigs don’t always like to turn), watered, fed, and keep moving, it takes 2-3 people (adults), all day long.

The Fair for me is about watching the kids grow in responsibility, watching them have fun and display their projects and hard work; for them to help others get their pig to the wash rack or turned to go to their pen; learning how to better show the pig next year; how to improve on their poster project, or what they can do to be more competitive.  They learn, they grow more each year. 

Here is to all the families that came, saw, and conquered the fair this year and survived.  You rocked it!  You survived and made memories in the process.  Being in 4-H takes a lot of work for families and parents. Kids cannot do without you.  Thank you to all the volunteers, families and community who help put on the fair and the animal shows.  You are appreciated. 

Until the next fair, may you continue to conquer and survive.  Enjoy the rest of your summer.  Long, Live Summer (with no more pig chores!)      

Project Dresser

I love working on furniture.  It was through my 4-H years that I was introduced to the home environment project that opened up this life-long hobby for me.  I love finding vintage furniture and transforming it into something different, purposeful, and beautiful.  I can see the possibilities by just looking at a piece of furniture. 

Our daughter was in need of a larger, dresser and she will be transitioning to a toddler bed soon (shedding a tear) when I saw a friend of mine posting for sale her vintage Broyhill dresser online.  For one, it was a steal ($50) and in great shape.  It was perfect.

This Broyhill dresser was very popular in the 70s and 80s and lingered into the 90s because it was well made, a popular style and it seemed like many of us shared having this same dresser or the whole set of furniture in our rooms as little girls.  I did!  This was my childhood dresser.  We had the set as well.  My sister had the tall dresser and we had the matching desk and hutch.  Like many of you, it brings back memories.  You can still buy this dresser online from Broyhill (and other vendors) for hundreds of dollars as it is now “postmodern” in style. 

To be honest, it was a good, solid, cute dresser.  But I knew I wanted to paint it and update it.  Magnolia makes a line of amazing paints and I found a soft pink that I loved (called Ella Rose).  I sanded the dresser down, then primed it.  I let the primer sit for 24 hours.  The paint was chalk-based, so I used a chalk brush and was hoping that these prior steps would reduce brush lines.  Two coats later and we spray painted the hardware, it was done.

Then another friend happened to put the matching headboard/bedframe up for sale online and we were able to get that!  Going through the same process with it and working on it this weekend.  What a transformation!  I am so excited to move these pieces (the twin bed will come later) into Ada’s room.  The dresser turned out amazing!  Perfect for a little girl’s room.  See the photos below.

With some inspiration from Pinterest and some extra steps in furniture cleaning and prep, I am so pleased with how it turned it.  I hope my daughter has many wonderful memories of this dresser being in her room like I did (and like many of you).  Project dresser was a success. 

5k Run

Summer Goal: Run a 5k

I have not ran a 5k in 10 years and even the 5k I ran 10 years ago, left me sore, unprepared, and exhausted. This summer/this year, I sat out with a number of goals that relate to my health and wellbeing and also our family and home.  One of those goals was the run a 5K and run it well. 

After having the baby in January 2021, then having emergency surgery and numerous complications and contracting MARSA, my body (my physical, mental, and emotional state) was very challenged.  I spent months with wound treatments/therapy; limited physical activity; having a wound vac attached to my body; being in pain and tons of medications.  It took almost 6 months to feel halfway like myself again let alone run or workout much.

I started running again that summer but slowly and steadily.  By December, I decided that I needed to work harder, push myself harder, and develop some endurance.  That is when I started to build up my running distance and pace.  I slowly built up to running 4 miles at a good, consistent pace, with limited challenges in breathing.  It took 7 months to do this (for me).  I also ran outside a couple of times to change up the feeling of running on a treadmill to running on a road/pavement.  Which is completely different.  A treadmill has some give while a road/pavement does not. 

On June 4th, I ran the Sunburst with thousands of other people.  It was kind of intimidating to get dropped off at the starting line and be surrounded by thousands of people who were lining up.  My anxiety was through the roof, not sure why.  Maybe due to the large crowd or the fact that I put in so much time and energy into preparing for this event/moment for 7 months. 

My goals for this run were to run the whole time, to run well, and to improve on my personal time which was a 10.14 mile.  I was able to accomplish all three with a personal best time (average) of 9.12 a mile.  That was almost a minute better than my goal.  I will not lie, that I am sore today but getting on the treadmill to walk.

I did this run for myself, my husband, my daughter, and our boys.  I did for us.  I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and also show my family that we can achieve goals if we work hard, be consistent, and push ourselves.  Running into the Notre Dame stadium, onto the 50-yard line for the finish was pretty awesome. I hope to run a few more 5k’s this summer but the goal for 2023 is to run a 5k with my husband beside me.   

The treadmill awaits…