Monday, June 6, 2016

Parenting Teenagers

NEWFLASH: parenting teenagers is different than parenting little kids! This is probably so obvious, but for the sake of journaling, I thought I'd write about my feelings about it.

I've been doing it for a few years, but I feel like the last little bit (older teenagers, 3 at a time) has really changed how mothering feels for me.  It's harder, I think, but probably only because I'm a routine person.  I spent(10-15) years learning how to parent little ones and now I have to learn something new.

Parenting big kids is so much more cerebral I think.  It's less physical (pick up the kids, wipe their noses, buckle the carseat, watch them at the park) and more mental (thinking through interactions,  deciding on consequences, stifling urges to control, etc.) I will never understand people who say they need outside work so their brains don't turn to mush.  Mothering requires so much hard mental work for me, especially now. 

I feel like with little kids it was clear:  they need to be respectful, they need sleep, they need to eat good food, they need to learn, they need to get out and do interesting things, they need to learn to contribute.  I felt like I was really good at setting up systems and being consistent so that those needs were met.  Not that I was perfect, but I felt like I kinda knew what I was supposed to do.

With teenagers, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M SUPPOSED TO DO.  Here are some questions with which I wrestle (and, in the end, usually have different answers for different kids):
  • do I care if his hair is long? 
  • how much input do I have on modesty?
  • should I make them redo this crappily done job or just let it go?
  • is a curfew really important?
  • How much do I check and give consequences for grades?
  • how much do I push getting a job, an eagle scout, an extra curricular activity?
  • how much do I require them to be with the family?
  • should 15-17 year olds be allowed to take road trips?
  • how do I manage those #$@* cell phones?
  • how do I handle poor driving?
  • do I set limits on the sports they play?
I am not a helicopter parent by any means but I'm also very rigid in my head on how I want my kids to be, so I'm constantly trying to balance those two competing characteristics. I want to be involved enough but I don't want to force them to conform to my very narrow ideas.  I'm learning that I feel most frustrated when I make who they are and their behavior some sort of reflection on me and my parenting, so I'm trying to notice when that DUMB way of looking at things is driving my interactions with them.

Going along with that:  you kind of can't make them do stuff anymore.  You can't make them be nice to someone, you can't make them get a job, you can't make them care about how the house looks, you can't make them be reverent at church.  You can have consequences (but should you for all of these things?? Who even knows...) but you can't actually MAKE them do stuff.  I have REALLY good kids and  they really want to be good people, and so more and more, I'm learning that they respond best when I teach a principle first and then talk about applications.  For example, we were concerned about cell phone use and so we taught a family home evening about temperance.  As we concluded the lesson, we talked about our new plan to keep phones on the main level of the house (and to try it for a month and get feedback) and they were really good about it.

Another thing: they see you for who you really are.  My kids are respectful, but they call me on stuff. They will tell me if I'm seeming hypocritical, or unfair, or unreasonable.  It's a little hard for a slight perfectionist.  I'm trying to listen and evaluate and respond in a way that invites them to keep being honest with me.  It's hard.

There are lots of good things!  I can see them becoming adults (and I like it!)  All those years of wondering and now I can see glimpses.  Also, they are very funny and interesting.  I love when things are quiet and we can start talking and I really enjoy the conversations.  I appreciate especially the extra responsibilities you can give teenagers: trips to the grocery store, childcare, help with cooking, around the house projects, help on trips.  I like their friends.  I like that they are better at some things than I am, and they teach me: sewing with Emma, running with Gabe.  

I really really love them and really really know I lucked out.  I hope I can figure this stage out okay.  In the end, I feel Heavenly Father prompting me when I need it the most, and I'm relying on His help to not fail.  What a refining challenge this job is!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Quick Quote

Levi is "SO NA-NOYED" basically any time he doesn't get what he wants. 
I had no idea our family was so annoying, until Levi came around and informed us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kitchen renovation post

When we moved into this house 9.5 years ago, I didn't love the kitchen.  I didn't love the how brown and warm it was.  I didn't love the backsplash and after a year or two I began to LOATHE the tile.  (WHY DO PEOPLE EVER PUT TILE IN KITCHENS??? The clean up is so impossible.) But you don't buy a new house and redo anything, so I lived with it.  I love how the kitchen is set up and how big it is.  I made lots of yummy food in this kitchen.

Ryan finally got tired of the difficult, easily broken tile and we decided that after almost 10 years, we could justify a surface, kitchen renovation.  We wanted clean, cool surfaces...leaning toward a modern look, while staying true to the house's craftsman design. 

We decided to tear down the upper level of the bar.  I've liked hides mess, and makes a great serving surface, but we thought it would be more modern if it was one level, and really liked the idea of having some bar seating (especially since we have filled our table and have issues when we have guests over.) I love the blue barstools, which add color, and we have loved having some close-to-the-kitchen hanging out space.

We decided to have the cabinets's much cheaper than new cabinets, and honestly what we had was quality.  It was way more expensive than we thought, but the company had come recommended.  It was AMAZING how it lightened up the entire house.  We chose brushed gold, modern pulls/hardware and they add a fun touch.


We decided to do two-toned paint and different countertops.  We did white paint on the wall cabinets, with a gray, almost cement looking quartz countertop.  The island is kind of opposite, with a gray paint on the cabinets and a white speckled quartz countertop.  I can't even tell you the joy of not digging out red pepper seeds from tiled grout.  Our kitchen probably stays cleaner because it's so easy to wipe down.

I wanted a very minimal, yet interesting, backsplash.  I chose a white medium hexagon with a very light gray grout and it is one of my favorite parts of the kitchen.

Another of my favorite things is my new sink.  It's HUGE.  You can have an entire meal's worth of dishes in there and you can't even see them.  It honestly makes my life feel less chaotic, because I can't see dishes in my sink! And the wiping right into the sink instead of over a weird border lip thing?  Heaven. We picked a brass, modern faucet (to replace the CONSTANTLY breaking one that came with the house.)

We made a few changes to the dining room, replacing the not so cute chandelier with this beaut and doing some restyling to my green hutch.

As far as extra decor goes, we've decided to keep it simple.  A few plants, blue barstools and a pretty light green faux roman shade seems to be enough to add color, but keep the calm, quiet feeling I was going for in my new kitchen.  Thanks for checking it out.  (Honestly, you realize how talented home decor photographers are when you try to do it yourself.  Not quite the crisp, well lit, kid free photos I've seen on pinterest, but oh well!)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April Recap

Just jumping on to do a quick recap of what's been going on here during the last month.

We'll start with Easter, even though it was technically in March.  It was a little chilly (I HATE Easter egg hunt pictures with snow coats on, but when you live in Spokane...) We dyed eggs on Thursday night and Levi was SO excited.  "We do Eeser eggs when guys come home, mom?!"

Easter weekend had a track meet, a scout campout, 2 soccer games and women's conference, but we were able to squeeze in a egg hunt with the youngest 3.

We had a lovely Easter sacrament meeting and hosted the Daines for Easter dinner. I was very proud of my two gorgeous cakes and my table decor effort (something I generally don't like to do).

We spent half of Spring Break in portland (Ryan, Gabe and Jane stayed home).  My friend Jessica grew up there and her sweet family hosted us and showed us all the famous Portland places.  Food, mansions, bridges, shopping, waterfalls, we did it all in three days and it was so much fun!  

After we got home, we did our annual bike to Red Robin, hiking and Ryan continued his tradition of coming up with fun work projects for the kids to complete every morning.

Spring sports have been in full swing.

Emma: pole vault (PRd last week at 7 feet.  She enjoys it and works hard.)

Gabe: track (doing really well. the 2 mile is his jam.  He's one of the top three 2 milers in the district, with a PR of 9:46)

Jane: basketball, soccer and track (tried basketball for the first time... so love watching her try new stuff, loves her soccer team and coach, and is about to have her first meet on Thursday...high jump, long jump, 400 and mile)

Seth: soccer and running (he has some natural ability at both, and, as usual, is just always happy to be wherever!)
Faith: soccer (she's learning little by little to harness her natural speed and talent.  Loves having Ryan as her coach).
Levi: making things SUPER FUN for the mom that has to drag him to all of the above mentioned events.

It's beyond crazy to get everyone where they need to be and to watch them do their thing, but it's one of the parts of mothering I'm pretty good at and really enjoy.

Ryan had a business trip in San Jose CA last week and I joined him for the weekend before.  We left Emma with the kids and she did a great job, even with some pretty serious fevers and coughs.  We appreciate how capable and helpful she is.  We rented bikes and rode 20 miles around San Fransisco on Saturday and ate lots of yummy food. We did things we'd never done before (riding over the Golden Gate bridge and exploring Golden gate park) and it was the most magical day. On Sunday, we drove inland to go to church and have lunch with my dad and Genie.  On our way back in, we swung up the coast and drove down to Pigeon Point light house. It was so pretty and there was even a playful seal on the sand! On Monday, Ryan worked and I hiked with my oldest friend, Tammy, explored San Jose's rose garden and did a little shopping.  It was short, easy and so fun!

Levi is OBSESSED with Star Wars.  We have an old chess set and he plays Star Fars fighting with anyone who will join him ALL DAY LONG.  Ryan made him some cardboard light sabers and he used those for a while too.  It's mostly cute (though those dang toys are EVERYWHERE) to see him love something so much.

We also got news in February that he was probably no longer allergic to any nuts, and we've been slowly introducing them.  They wanted to hold off on peanuts until we did an In Office Peanut Challenge, where you hang out in the teeny doctor's office for 3 hours while they give increasing doses of peanuts and watch for a reaction.  I had to get pretty creative to keep him happy, but it was all worth it when he was declared Nut Allergy Free!

Jane ran for middle school secretary last week and lost.  She was so upbeat and prepared and confident about the whole thing.  Her speech was great and we were so proud of her bravery!  We were a little teary when we heard the bad news, but she talked it out, said she'd run again and celebrated her effort with some ice cream at our favorite restaurant.

We've had a warm warm spring and it's been wonderful.  Blossoms, flowers, hikes, bike rides, even swimming in the lake are not usually things we see and do this early in the year, but we've been taking advantage of it!