Stretching outside myself

I signed up to be a party host.

Not kidding.

BBQ at our house!  Everyone is welcome.
Well, it's not really just me - Matt's name is on there too.

Why, would we do this, you ask?  And how does one even do it?

Well, our church organizes something called "table groups".  They are monthly get togethers at someone's house.  We have gone to one for about 7 months and we love it!  It's not a "churchy" activity, just a chance to get together with other people and talk.  We are able to bring our kids and we all share a meal together.  We've had Mexican night, casserole night, breakfast for dinner night and now we are doing some grilling nights.  The people are amazing and the food is always great.

So, why would we change anything?  We have enjoyed it so much but the idea is to get to know people in your neighborhood.  This group is about 20 minutes away in our old town.  We love going over there but it seems we should probably go to one where we live.  And there weren't any openings in a group by our house.

Enter Matt & Angie opening their home to others.

Stretching on every corner of our comfort zone.  Pushing the limits of security.

I'm feeling the stretch. I think we both have this immature feeling that it won't be successful, that our group will be a dud.  It sounds lame, but I don't know if that insecure part of me has grown up yet.

I'm reading some books on being a good hostess, I'm buying some extra chairs, I'm preparing to let go a bit and allow others to feel welcome in our home.  Spill something, no problem.  Break our toys, no biggie.  Scared the cats, they're just animals.  What's the worst that can happen, really?


A summer schedule update

I have faithfully printed out a new schedule at the beginning of each week.  We have time for TV, computer, reading, play, lunch, snacks and more.  It is not written in stone but gives us a general outline to follow.

The verdict:

Kids - some of them love it and some of them can't read yet.  So, the child that needs a lot of structure finds great comfort in a plan.  She doesn't always like the lack of activities on any given day but she has found ways to entertain herself.  The one who can't read would be fine with less structure.  She just waits to be told what we'll be doing next.  And my middle girl is pretty happy no matter what.

Mom - this is the best plan ever.  I finally have something to point to when they are bored.  I can say - oh well, you should be watching TV right now (they are pretty excited when I remind them of that activity) or you should be working on your chores.  If they play nicely together I try to leave them alone.  They generally do enjoy being together.

Dad - I think he enjoys not having wandering, annoying, bored, frustrated children in the house.  Since he works at home and shows up upstairs several times a day, it helps them if they are fairly settled and occupied.

Outings (like this one to the Graue Mill) are part of our weekly plan.
We have found time this summer to take family walks, have family game nights, enjoy our fire pit in the evenings, read books aloud and just enjoy being together.  There is a sense of calm and peace most days that is truly welcome and wonderful.


Email account for my 10 year old?

Wow have I been struggling with this one.

My 10 yr old has been asking for an email account since school let out.  Apparently a lot of her friends at school have them.  She won't be returning to that school so they gave her their email addresses to stay in touch.  Great idea, right?

Except - my daughter is 10!  I'm thinking that's young to have her own email.  Google agrees - their standard policy is no accounts to anyone under 13.  (Perhaps this will change over time.)  So, I decided to find out how all these kids had their own email.

To put it bluntly, they lied.  Now, I should say that they didn't go and create accounts without anyone knowing and then use them to send out millions of spam messages. Their parents approved (and probably set up the accounts) and then I think are monitoring their email somehow.  I'm not sure why Google doesn't allow parents to create "junior" email accounts that are connected to their own accounts.

I'm leaning towards this whole "lying" idea and creating an account for her.  I trust her and am mostly worried about her receiving spam and/or unwanted email.

Ideas to make this safe:
1.  Set up a filter so everything that goes into her inbox also goes into mine.
2.  Have her password and use it to check her email occasionally.
3.  Read her email before she is allowed to login.
4.  Assume she is trustworthy and do nothing.
5.  Use a different email provider.

I'd be curious to hear what you think and/or what you have done about email for kids.  Thoughts?

I'll be sure to post an update when I decide what to do about her email requests.  Right now she just uses my email and I move her messages into a folder with her name on it.  But, I don't really like her being able to read my email if I'm not paying close attention, you know?

Update 8/2012: She's now 10 3/4 yrs old.  She's been using my email for for the last 2 months.  I decided to get her her own address.  Now I just have to tell her about it.  Thanks for all the great advice!


The 5K - in photos

Well, you all heard about my 5K experience but I realize you have been anxiously awaiting pictures. (At least of something other than my pretty bib.)

Well, here they are.  My dutiful husband (did I mention we are about to celebrate 15 yrs in August?) snapped these photos with his iPhone. He has been so supportive and got all the kids up and ready to come cheer for me.

The start - can you see me? Me either.

The finish.
One of the best things was having Anna waiting for me near the end and running with me up to the finish.  The other best thing was all the food the coordinators had out for everyone.  There were donuts and muffins and fruit and quiche and cookies and more!  They had giant tubs of water everywhere.  It was absolutely decadent and much needed.


The 5K

I feel a little behind the times.

I just ran my first 5K at 34 years old. I don't feel that old.  But, I don't really feel any younger.  It is such a strange place to be at.

The run was fine.  I was super nervous and pretty much wanted to throw up.  It is a strange feeling to be starting with 300 some other people all crowded together.  I certainly wasn't in a hurry to get going but I couldn't help but think - "I can certainly run this faster than him/her."  I doubt I will be thinking that for one minute at the half-marathon.  This race had many families (entry age minimum was 6) and racers of all ages.  I felt pretty comfortable.  And super nervous.

I tried to pace myself and actually did a pretty good job but I was just so anxious.  I wanted to be going faster but I didn't want to make myself sick.  I know how much harder it is if I push past my limits and I would end up being slower really.

I'm happy with my finish time but I realize that I'm just beginning.  I only ran 3.1 miles, I still have 10 more miles to add on in the next few months!

Back on the road today - I start running 4 days a week now.  I'm hoping for cool early mornings!



Mommy is on timeout.

Kitty Peace
This day started out badly and has continued on a bad streak.  My oldest informed me that the minor changes I had made to our schedule were unacceptable.  Then the conversation turned into all the reasons she is unhappy and why she wants to move and how the neighbor kids are mean.  Phew.

I want to fix it for her.  I want her to be well liked and popular and generous.  All the things I wasn't as a child.  My mom tried telling me that I had to be less bossy and more outgoing or else I'd never have any friends.  I'm tempted to say that same thing but I know that those words left me feeling alone and unlikeable.  So, I try to listen and offer gentle guiding words. It feels pointless.  Kids don't give much positive feedback.  I think you just throw kind words in their direction as often as possible and hope that some of them hit the mark.

I'm on timeout to remind myself that I'm not a failure, that it's okay if we don't go on an adventure each day.  It's okay to be frustrated by the petty arguments of children.  It's okay to eat when hungry and not worry about my waistline.  It's definitely okay to take a timeout before losing my temper.

Thinking calm thoughts....


Summer cooking, junior style

Middle of the week. I skipped my workout this morning to sleep in. I was awakened at 6:30 to Anna unloading the dishwasher, cleaning her room and doing other chores.  Huh?  Thank God for my schedule!
Anna prepares something yummy.

I asked her to be a little quieter (I'm a light sleeper in the morning) and I went back to sleep.

At 8 AM she came into our room, proclaiming that breakfast is ready.  Huh?

Matt and I went into the kitchen to find homemade crepes.  Matt makes crepes on a regular basis and Anna has been wanting to make some "changes" to the recipe.  So, she put every different kind of sprinkle and candy possible right in the batter.  But, she has learned something after living with her two non-candy eating parents.  There were 2 plain crepes for us to enjoy.

Truly, the crepes were good.  They were a little dense.  She made 5 crepes out of the recipe, whereas it is supposed to make 15.

I'm working on seeing all the cooking lately from our 10 year old as a huge blessing.  And I'm totally signing her up for cooking school asap!


Mommy, the child whisperer?

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

I struggle with being a bit cynical and pessimistic when I write.  I like to complain and vent.  A lot.  And most of it is better unheard.  So, the silence on the blog means that I am adjusting to summer.  The kids are home and they are struggling with change of schedule and habits.  And I am too.

Katherine, the chicken whisperer
Some days are bad and some days are worse.  And then there are little pockets of peace, calm and niceness.  But, for now they are just pockets, snippets of time.

I remind myself that I adore my kids, that I have sacrificed and changed my entire lifestyle since they were born.  I had them by choice and I even spent most of my younger years hoping to be a Mom.

As a friend said, "You can't send them back, right?"  Nope and truly I wouldn't want to.  But, these transitions are hard.  I should be the calm in the storm but too often I am the storm itself.

As I implement my new schedule, I hope for the peace of planning and the smooth sailing of structure. Hopefully we can attain this before school starts up again.