Wednesday, August 25, 2021

My Babies

As we walked to school, R stomped ahead of me on the sidewalk, frustrated with sixth-grade drama, clothes that don’t fit right after another pubescent growth spurt and pretty much everything about the world in that moment. I tried to be positive and set her on course for a good day. “Let’s list three things you’re grateful for.” 

“Ugh! Just forget it! I’m not grateful for anything! You don’t understand!” 

My mama heart was hurting for all she’s going through and the sting from her biting remarks. V slid his little hand inside mine and whispered, “Love you.” Sweet boy. I told him thanks and that I loved him, too.  We chatted as we walked along and then when we got within a block of school, he took his hand out of mine. I saw the group of kids at the corner. He looked at me, a little chagrined. I smiled at him. “I get it, Buddy. Thanks for holding my hand this far. I feel better.” He smiled more confidently and headed toward them. 

By the time school got out, R was her cheerful self again. Tween life is hard; I remember how much I hated it. And navigating it with separated parents just adds another degree of complexity for my already sensitive girl. 

They’re both growing up so fast. (As is S.) Just makes me even more grateful for those sweet moments. 

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Have We Forgotten How to Think for Ourselves?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

To say that the last year and a half has been traumatizing is an understatement. The world as we knew it came to a screeching halt with the COVID-19 pandemic.  If this had happened 20 years ago, I imagine the chaos could have been somewhat less polarizing, but maybe that's just a middle-aged woman pining for the "good ol' days." 

Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan of the internet. And social media. But we've gotten so used to having information served to us on a silver platter, we haven't paid much attention to the waiter. 

The worst part is that when met with a conflicting opinion, people are no longer able to have rational conversations about their differences. It's partly due to the fact that there've been so few in-person interactions, and it's easy to say what you want from the safety of a screen. While I think most of us have realized that on our own, we can look to movies like The Social Dilemma to dig a little deeper into that. 

Add to that immediate defensive stance the various "sources of truth," and you've got a recipe for disaster. Of course we're all arguing about who's right when every news outlet gives you different stats or a spin, And few consumers bother to do their due diligence by researching the statements to see if they're valid. 

With school starting last week, the things I'm struggling with the most right now are masks and vaccines for kids. I refuse to argue with people through a screen. I'm happy to have a respectful conversation to hear logical opposing opinions on the matter, but so far that's not been my experience. I actually started writing this because on Insta there was a post regarding a school district deciding to give the parents the choice to let their kids opt-out of masks. Several vile comments were made, and I simply added one saying to keep in mind that most people are only trying to make the best decision for their family, not intentionally put others in harm's way, and there's no way we can know the circumstances surrounding every person's decision, so it's important to be respectful. To which someone replied that exempting their kids from masks for no reason doesn't deserve respect. Sigh. This is why I usually refrain from commenting. People are so defensive out of the gate that they're not even reading the whole statement before jumping to conclusions and flinging vitriolic diatribes.

Here's all I have to say about it. And it's neither pro/con for masks or vaccines, but highlighting another side of the story. According to the CDC, there have been 430 COVID deaths of children in the US since January 2020. Of course this is tragic. The loss of any life is heartbreaking, particularly that of a child. However, the total average number of annual child deaths (again, all of this data is on the CDC's site) is 18,346. That actually only covers ages 1-14. The number of deaths from injury is 12,175 through age 18. So let's say roughly 5,000 child deaths a year are from factors other than injury, such as diseases like COVID. And for the sake of argument, let's pretend all 5,000 are from COVID alone. Even though we know that only 430 have been from that specific cause over 20 months, not just a year. But with this Delta variant being more dangerous for kids, let's just jump to that extreme conclusion. 

Out of 80 million children in the US, their odds of dying from COVID would be .006 percent. 

The leading cause of death in children isn't illness. In fact, in ages 10-14, the #1 cause is accidents, #2 is suicide, #3 is cancer and #4 is homicide. Those top 4 make up 75% of the causes of death. Then a combination of health issues (diabetes, anemia, flu, etc.) makes up most of the rest of the top 15. (Still on the CDC site.)

The amount of energy being put into this fight for masks and vaccines for something that's nowhere near  as dangerous to our kids as those top 4 is astonishing to me. Well, people might say, we can't control accidents, but we can control masks and vaccines. True. Accidents will happen. But what are we doing for kids' mental health that leads to #2 and #4 on the list? Maybe we should devote more energy to those problems. Of course, that will take a lot more time and energy and work than a quick post to shame others for not wearing a mask or getting a vaccine. 

On a personal note regarding the mask/vaccine debate, after doing my research, and taking into account my family's specific needs, I will wait to get us vaccinated until it's approved by the FDA. That said, I think it's fine for places to require masks if they feel it necessary, and I'm ok with complying. I think my 11YO and 14YO should wear masks to school if it makes everyone feel better, but I also think that my high schooler is old enough to do her own research and critical thinking to make the smart choice for her and her fellow students. She doesn't love wearing a mask, but understands the thought process behind it and is accepting of it. We've also talked about the vaccine, and she has come to the conclusion that she would prefer to wait to get it but would consider it if it was required for extra-curricular activities.  

However, my 7YO is too young for that level of discernment. Because of that, I do believe that as his mother, I know what's best for him. He's behind in reading - not compared to his peers, but compared to where his siblings were at that age. It's so fundamental and the building block for future academic success, and I do believe the masks inhibit the kids' ability to hear/see speech patterns that build their vocabulary for reading. Not just from what I've witnessed personally, but from direct feedback from a speech pathologist. I also think that while it sounds like a good idea in theory that there were fewer illnesses during the school year, we've done our children's immune system a disservice. They need to get sick when they're young to build up their immunity. One winter with a mask isn't the end of the world. But the reality is that COVID is here to stay. It will likely take on a path similar to that of the flu, mutating every year but never fully going away. We cannot maintain this lifestyle forever. 

The district we're in did not give the parents a choice, so for now, they're all wearing masks at school. My hope is that after flu season the numbers will drop enough that they can go back to being mask-free. In the meantime, just trying to remember that I'm not an expert on anything except my own family and will continue to try to remember to think for myself. 

Monday, August 16, 2021

A New Chapter

Photo by Sapan Patel on Unsplash

I started a new job a couple of weeks ago. I'd been at my old company for almost 9 1/2 years, and though it was amazing when I first got there, the owners retired and after several buyouts, it became another corporation focused on the bottom line and uninterested in the people who made it happen. 

Sadly that wasn't my first experience with something like that, so when I interviewed with the company I'm at now, one of the things I told them I was most interested in was finding a job where I liked what did of course, but more importantly, finding one where I felt valued. And this place is just what I was looking for. 

In fact, not only is it an ESOP, but they have 117 hours of volunteer time each year for associates to do pro bono work with personal philanthropies. I'd never heard of such a thing. I thought my old company was progressive to offer us 8 hours a year. 

The evening of the same day I accepted this job, I received an email from my church with an opportunity to go on a fully-funded mission trip to Kenya! The Lord works in mysterious ways, but this wasn't mysterious in the least. Message received! The only glitch in the plan is that my passport was expired, so I've done all the things to get it pushed through. Confident that God will make a way if it's meant to be. 

Regardless, just so excited after 18 terrible months (well, let's be honest - things have been going downhill for about 3 years) to finally have two really amazing things happen. And back to back!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

"For King and Country"

"Burn the Ships" album cover 

If ever there was a time I needed to write, it was the last year and a half. It was the most painful of my life. Unfortunately, the content is not something for the public, so I've kept it hidden. The only thing that got me through was being rooted in my identity as God's beloved child. Someday I may be able to go back and share it, but for now, I'm looking forward, and writing about the good things. As "For King and Country" says, 

The time has come
to make a choice,
and I choose Joy.  

S is a huge "For King and Country" fan, and I love them, too, so I decided to take her to their concert as her birthday present since she's turning 14 in a couple of weeks. I bought tickets online about a month ago, and last night we headed to what will always be known to the locals as Sandstone Amphitheater. 

It's been a hot minute since I've been to a concert there, and when we got to the entrance, it was blocked off, and we were rerouted around to the other side along with a very long line of other cars. It had started raining, so at first, we were ok with being stuck in traffic. But as we'd left in time to arrive 30 minutes prior to the concert starting, the fact that it was 5 minutes after showtime by the time we got to the parking attendant was incredibly frustrating. As we got closer, I got nervous as I noticed everyone was paying with cash. I'd chosen to leave my purse at home and had just brought my phone, keys and ID holder which only held plastic forms of payment. When it was our turn to pay for parking, my fears were confirmed, and I couldn't keep a few tears from escaping as I apologized to S while exiting the lot and heading to the nearest gas station. She told me it was ok, we'd only miss a couple of songs. With her encouragement, I found my optimism. I said maybe there was an opening band, and we wouldn't miss them at all.

We ran to a nearby Casey's, grabbed some gum, and as I paid at the counter, the card reader gave me a chip error. Nooooo, I thought. The cashier said they'd been having issues with it and to try it again. I said a quick prayer and it went through. I got cash back, and we ran to the car. As we sped down the road past the line of the cars waiting for the VIP entrance where we'd mistakenly gotten stuck before, we saw a rainbow. I smiled and told S that this mishap had been a blessing because if we hadn't had to leave and come back, we would have missed seeing that colorful sign in the sky. We finally got inside the gate, parked and started the long hike to the outdoor amphitheater from the back 40. 

There was one more hurdle, and it was the one I was most worried about. When I'd tried to open the email that contained the electronic tickets right before we left, I couldn't find the barcode. While we waited in the ridiculous traffic for 45 minutes, S and I tried digging through all my old email and searching for new messages, as well as calling the phone number and clicking on the help link in the confirmation email to no avail. I'd decided we'd just have to go to the ticket window when we got there. 

Thankfully it had stopped raining by the time we got to the box office, and we were able to walk right up to an open window. Unfortunately, it turned out that I'd inadvertently fallen for a scam site when I bought the tickets, and they weren't valid, which was why we could never get to the barcode. "But it shows the confirmation and the seat numbers right here - Upper Section, Row W, seats 12 and 13." The guy was kind and sympathetic, but he couldn't give those seats to me. I was so embarrassed. And furious at myself since I was going to be out the money and not get to take S to see the show. As I was about to walk away, the guy said two people who were supposed to pick up their tickets never showed, and we could have their seats. I teared up in gratitude. 

Walking in, I was trying to pull myself together, saying to S, "There's no crying at Sandstone!" in my best Tom Hanks impression. We noticed that there wasn't any music playing yet, so we hadn't missed anything; they'd delayed the start of the outdoor show because of the rain. My spirits were lifted and I said a quick prayer of thanks. We were quickly distracted by the merchandise stand and able to move on with our night. As we walked away with our souvenir shirts, I checked the tickets and saw that we were now going to be sitting in the lower section, 10th row, left-center. Close enough to the stage to see Joel and Luke sweat in their long-sleeved jackets! To top it off, the woman sitting next to us works in radio and introduced us to a DJ we listen to on occasion. 

None of these amazing things could have happened if our night had gone the way we had planned. Throughout the show, Joel and Luke told the amazing story of how they came to America and the hardships they faced and spoke encouragement to all of us. Woven through the performance was the thread of trusting that God loves us and He's the one who's in control, all of which was made so evident through the events of the evening. It was an amazing performance. God just blessed us so much in this situation, and we felt His hand on all of it. So grateful I was able to share it with my baby girl. 

Monday, May 25, 2020

Careful & Courageous

Poppies photo by Edgar Laureano on Unsplash

As we enter week 11 of stay-at-home restrictions, our county is in reopening phase 2, so yesterday we were able to go to church in person. Saturday, our pastor posted a video walking through how things would look - single entry door, communion in stacked cups for one touch point, no more paper and pen for filling in connect cards - just digital sign in, etc. But before that, he talked about Deuteronomy 31:9 and how Moses told Joshua to be strong and courageous as the Jews finally were able to enter the promised land. And now, as things are reopening, and there's a full spectrum of response from insistence that it's too early, to uncertainty, to people partying at the Lake of the Ozarks this first weekend of summer, it's important to be careful but also courageous like Joshua. I think that's good advice. We can't keep living the way we have, but we certainly can't go back to how things were. And with there still being a lot of unknowns about this virus, we need to proceed cautiously, but we also shouldn't live in constant fear.

Careful and courageous.

It's the approach soldiers protecting our freedoms have taken, and as we honor those who sacrificed their lives today, Memorial Day, it seems fitting to keep it in mind for us as well.

Saturday, May 16, 2020


Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash
At work I'm on our Social Committee. It's been tough to keep morale up while everyone is working remotely. This week we decided to do a fun series of throwback photos - Wednesday was high school pictures. Yesterday was photos from milestones in life. Suggestions were first job, graduation, marriage, kids, etc. Of course I immediately thought of the births of the kids. Someone posted the first time they went to a Super Bowl game. I got to thinking outside of the suggested areas. What were pivotal moments in my life?

Falling off my bunk bed and breaking my nose in 1978.
Starting kindergarten in 1980.
Taking my first dance class in 1980.
Starting softball in 1981.
Taking my first ballet class in 1982.
Meeting my lifelong BFF in 1984.
Royals winning the World Series in 1985.
Witnessing the Challenger crash in 1986.
Breaking my hand in 1986.
Getting stitches in 1987.
Watching the Berlin Wall come down in 1987.
Winning 1st place at a national dance championship in Disneyland in 1988.
Becoming best friends with the rest of my HS girls in 1988.
KU winning the national championship in 1988.
Accepting Jesus as my Lord in 1989.
Going to my first concert - Bon Jovi - in 1989.
Dad having triple bypass open heart surgery in 1990.
Watching kids in my high school stage peace sit-ins opposing the Gulf War in 1990.
My first kiss in 1992.
Graduating high school in 1993.
Meeting my future husband in 1994.
Moving to Colorado for college where I knew no one in 1995.
Making a new best friend in my dorm roommate in 1995.
Pledging Theta in 1995.
Graduating college (the first in my family) in 1997.
Starting my first "real" job in 1998.
Moving into an apartment with one of my HS BFFs in 1998.
Meeting the SPC kids and moving into a duplex with 2 of them in 1999.
Stocking up on a few things for Y2K in 1999.
Celebrating a new millennium in 2000.
Going back to school and finding a career in 2000.
Witnessing 9/11 in 2001.
Traveling to Hawaii for 3 weeks with my newest BFF from work in 2003.
Being sexually assaulted in 2003.
Getting married in 2005.
Taking a family trip to visit my mom's home in Canada in 2006.
Getting to travel to China for work in 2006.
Having to put down DH's dog, Scorpio, in 2007.
S being born in 2007.
KU winning the national championship in 2008.
Barack Obama being the first African-American to win the presidential election in 2008.
Joining Facebook in 2009.
Getting vaccinated for H1N1 swine flu in 2009.
Buying our first house together in 2009.
R being born in 2009.
Starting this blog in 2009.
Totaling my car in 2010.
Opening an Etsy shop in 2011.
Getting laid off in 2012.
Having a miscarriage in 2012.
V being born in 2013.
Mom being diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2014.
Royals winning the World Series in 2015.
Finally being baptized in 2016.
Taking the kids to Disneyland in 2016.
Dad passing away in 2018.
Having surgery in 2019.
Getting our dog, Judy, 2019.
Chiefs winning the Super Bowl in 2020.
Going into quarantine due to COVID-19 coroanvirus in 2020.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Staying Connected to Loved Ones in Memory Care During COVID-19

Since the company I work for does marketing for senior living, I was able to write a post about how this is affecting me personally that they shared on their blog today. So hop on over and check it out.
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