Family

The cost of my yes.

I’m reading a book with my women’s bible study called “Present Over Perfect” and while I’m only halfway through, generally the premise is that so often we get stuck trying to be everything for everyone, except for those we really need to be there for.  We’ll bend over backwards for those who are in our “outer circle” (your happy hour buddies, friends I see 3x a year) but they aren’t really our “people”.  My people are my family, my closest friends… these are the people that I’m going to call when I get crazy news – good or bad.

And as a result, we live this frantic life trying to do, do, do.  We leave no margin in our life and so we are exhausted and overrun. We keep ourselves busy doing unimportant tasks for people who really aren’t that important to us.  We’ll cancel our family plans because our boss’ boss asked us to start a huge project at 4pm on a Friday (due Monday morning).  Or we’ll try to take on the Team Mom, Room Mom and PTA Coordinator roles – but by the time our kids get off the bus, we’re wiped out and angry because we’ve been stretched too thin trying to be too much for everyone else.

I can completely relate to this.  I often say yes to too much and then our family life suffers.  I sign us up to volunteer for events, or to host friends on the same day we have back-to-back sports activities.  I find I either say YES to everything, or YES to nothing.  It’s hard to find that happy medium.  So our life will be crazy hectic for 4-5 weeks and then completely dead for a month or two so we can recover.

Even when I’m resting, I’m not really resting.  I’m mentally planning my kid’s upcoming birthday party or I’m folding laundry while I relax and watch a show. I think mom’s are especially guilty because we take on so much when it comes to our children. I want to be super mom and working mom and helper/volunteer mom and party planning mom and playdate mom.  I want it all.

But at what cost?  That’s what I’m trying to figure out.  How can I really find the balance that we need for our family?  This book has really helped me remember that sometimes saying YES to something only feels important for a moment, but when I look back at my life, does my YES really matter.  I want to do things that make our family better.  That give us more margin to do things God might spring on us.  Not to have us suffering as we run from one activity to the next, one to-do list to the next.

Landon Robert is 7.

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This sweet thang turns 7 today. He is the perfect firstborn.  Easy going. Responsible. Fun. Hardworking. Adorable.

There are so many things I love about this boy.  I love how his role as older brother as really evolved over the past year.  He really cares about his brother and is fiercely protective of him.

Landon, Brooks and I were on a recent bike ride and several times something happened where Brooks fell behind, fell off his bike, got stuck in the middle of a big hill and this boy just turned into super brother, quickly finding out what was wrong and helping his little brother out.  He hopped off his bike, grabbed B’s bike and walked it up the hill, then went back down and got his own bike.  There are examples like this all the time of how sweet his is taking care of Brooks.

I love how he gets along with everyone.  He is loved by so many in his class. The teachers tell me he gets along with everyone.  He’s a natural peacemaker and avoids conflict.

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He is just all-around awesome. He works hard no matter if it’s reading, helping in the yard, working on his sports skills or doing a chore like cleaning the playroom or putting dishes away.

I am so proud of who this boy is and what he stands for.  He is joy, love, kindness and tenderness all wrapped in one. I get choked up just thinking about the fact that I’m already about halfway through my parenting job.  I can’t believe he’s been my baby for 7 years already.  It’s flying by.

Happy birthday to my sweet Landon Robert.  You are the awesome-est young man and I’m so proud of who you are and what you bring to our family.  I can’t wait to smother you with kisses (while I still kinda can) and love on you all day.  I love you (times a million bajillion)!

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Recent weekend highlights

With my slack blog posting efforts, I’m going to throw a couple random recent weekend highlights into one post.  Straight from my camera phone – recent weekend highlights:

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This was one of my favorite moments recently. Just me and my two boys sitting on the floor. This was shortly after Blouie Finn joined the family, so we were keeping him company in Brooks’ room.  The boys were sorting and trading their Pokemon cards. I was asking them important life questions – What was the best part of your weekend? If you could only eat one food for every meal what would it be? What’s better – basketball or baseball?  I’m a real life, Barbara Walters with my intellectual questions 🙂  No distractions, just heart-to-heart convos with these kids.

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Pie Face was hilarious. Each time it would get close to Brooks, he’d pop his head back just in time and the whipped cream would fly over his head onto the floor.  Finally, Dean stood behind him and held his head in place.  That’s what I call good parenting! Plus, gotta love their Steelers gear!

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Landon rocking out his basketball game!  I think this was the last game of the season.  He’s on the far right with a few of his teammates.  Waiting for what he calls the best part of the game – the star sticker rewards and snacks.  #kidsthesedays  #go13

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Peanut butter-marshmallow-chocolate fondue.  Yes. Please.  It was delicious.  My favorite is definitely the bananas and the strawberries. Hmm… what would make this better? (A favorite question when eating meals with the Bradbury side of the family) Answer: Not much.

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I found this apology note in the couch cushion.  He never gave it to me, but I found it and asked about it.  I wish I could call this #parentingwin but Landon did this all on his own.  Dear mom, I am so so sorry for being mean to you. Will you forgive me? My heart burst a little when I read it.

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We finally scheduled our adults-only family date night (plus Jonas).  My parents treated us to an Escape Hour and it was so much fun.  Plus we escaped!  Sidenote: How hilarious is it that my nephew Jonas and Dean are matching!? (navy stripe shirt, khaki pants, brown shoes.)  The only thing Dean was missing was the ginormous blow out Jonas wore later at dinner. 🙂

So there you have it… fun weekend memories captured on my phone. Our life lately.

Parenting battle: Leaders vs. Followers

On a recent run, I had a realization about my parenting. (I think most of my realizations in life come on runs. I think that’s where God likes to talk to me.)  Lately, I’ve noticed my firstborn is really starting to “follow the crowd” at school.  He’s skipping out on participation and theme days because all of his friends aren’t participating.  This same boy who just a few months ago loved to do all the “extra” activities has now decided that he’s too cool to participate because his friends don’t want to.

I’ve tried to reason with him that it’s actually great practice to stand up and do what you do, even if your friends don’t think it’s a “cool” choice.  After all, the battles he’s facing now with peer pressure are nothing compared to what he’ll face in the next 5-10 years.  I want to set him up for success in life by being able to confidently make his own choices, even if no one else is making that same choice.  The ol’ “if your friends are jumping off a bridge” conundrum.

My realization came less with how things are going with Landon (my firstborn), but more with how I’m handling my secondborn – Brooks.  Brooks is the epitome of “leader” – that boy doesn’t follow any crowd.  When everyone else is playing a game, he’s completely content to go do something else he wants to do.  He has this cool confidence with his choices.  And the challenge is trying to “break him” of always doing things his way.

I realize that I have to be more careful with what I’m teaching him.  He’s a leader and outside of the box thinker, and I don’t want him to learn to “be part of the crowd”.  It’s really the balance of pushing him to lead but also helping him recognize times when he needs to follow (i.e. when the class is working on an assignment is not the best time to ‘do his own thing’).

I admire Brooksie’s confidence and the way he doesn’t do the same thing that everyone else does.  But with that means he’s going to defy my directions more often and push harder to do things his way.

Alternately, while Landon is a rule follower and often very quick to obey anything I ask him to do, I’ve also found he’s quick to follow the guidance of his friends.

Thus my parenting struggle, pushing one to disobey the rules a little more and gain more of his own voice, while finding small ways to keep my independent spirit in line so he isn’t always trying to run his own show and he knows when he it’s time to comply.

Two sons.  Complete opposites.  Parenting challenge.

 

The best parts of my day.

I think we all find ourselves in moments of our day where we wish we could stop time.  Or take a mental picture that never fades.  The parenting moments that make my heart skip a beat.  The times it feels like we were plucked right out of a magazine ad.  These are some of the best parts of my day:

Snuggling in bed with my kids, with fresh pjs and wet “just showered” hair.  Often watching a kids cooking show and discussing what we’d make if we were on the show.

Tucking them in at night.  Hearing the highs and lows of their day. What made them laugh? What made them feel silly? Did someone/something make them sad?

An extra special prayer.  The moments that my kids remember a prayer request and pray on their own accord.  For a neighbor, or a sick friend.  Not just the “thank you for the day and my toys and cozy jammies” the ones that have an extra something to them.

Dance parties in the car.  Music blasting and my eyes darting to the backseat to see my boys singing the words and throwing their hands up to the beat.

An unprompted, unexpected thank you.  When Brooks comes and says, “thanks mom for the note in my lunch. It made me smile today.”

My kids laughing.  Their real, head back, belly laugh.  It can be the result of a tickle war or a joke that only the two of them understand.  But I love those moments where they are just uncontrollably laughing.  Absolute joy written all over their faces.

Yes, like all families we get the fighting or the “why isn’t he doing it, too?”  But in between these moments, there are the highlights.  The snapshots that I take hundreds of time each week. The ones that make me say, please time, slow down.

Making 2017 a success. #goals

Yesterday we hit a recap of 2016 goals and how I did.  Some things were great and others could have used a little more work.  Here’s what I want to do this year.

  • Faith – Pray more.  I’m pretty good at the meal prayers or the short, in the spur of the moment prayer, but I want to do a better job of the thoughtful prayer. The prayer where I sit by myself for 10 mins and thank God for all He’s done – specifically – and then come to Him with my requests.  I used to get into some deep prayers in my personal time and I’ve really gotten away from it.
  • Family – Dean family of 4 trip. No other family members or friends, just the four of us away somewhere for a few days.  We also have a special beach weekend with just Brooks on our radar – his “I’m going to kindergarten soon” trip with just the three of us – mom-dad-Brooks.  Also, I’d like to do at least 6 lunch dates with my kids this year – during their school day.  I know that it won’t be too long before Landon doesn’t want me interrupting his lunches with his friends, so I’m going to get them in while I can.  I also want to get back to helping my kids memorize scriptures.  When they were younger, we really worked on this a lot and I’d like to get my kids back on track. I think 10 verses this year is a good goal.
  • Marriage – I think if we did one date a month that would be a good goal.  I’m sure 12 dates doesn’t seem like much but when we it takes work and neither of us are gung ho about planning dates or coordinating childcare, it’s a really good start.  It would also be good to do a weekend away, or even a night.  Maybe an impromptu last minute deal trip somewhere?!
  • Financial – I haven’t put pencil to paper on this yet, but I’m sure I’ll come up with a few lofty goals for our family – savings for college, retirement, church tithing, saving, etc.  I’ll also probably need a new car this year, so that applies!
  • House – I always have a bunch of house goals.  Here are my top ones:  redo our master bathroom – for our functionality, we need a nice big shower and that’s pretty much the only thing our master bath is missing. So I want to redo it and make it a cozy and light colored set up.  Set up our playroom/entertainment area.  This means we need to do a toy detox!  And set up our playroom into two separate spaces.  I’d also like to do some smaller weekend projects like painting and hanging molding in our half bath and installing outdoor lighting.
  • Health – More than 50% of the days this year, I’d like to exercise – even if it’s 50.0001% of the days 😉  (So, 183 is the goal!)
  • Personal – I still think counseling should stay on my list for this year.  This is something I need to be a better me.  I’d also like to stay off social media more.  I find that if I look at Facebook, I can get sucked in, but when I stay off of it, I don’t miss it.  I don’t like what comparison does to me and since social media is always putting your highlights out there, I do better not looking at it.

So there you have it.  My goals and plans for the year.  I know some will be easier than others to achieve, but I like having things to “cross of a list” or strive for.

How did 2016 goals shake out?

Before I kick off my goals for 2017, I wanted to quickly review where things landed for last year.  2016 was a good year in many ways but definitely had areas where I could improve. I’m going to revisit goals for 2016 and then my comments on how I did in these areas:

  • Faith – Get out of my “God funk”.  I was riding high the first half of last year in my walk and the second half of 2015 just wasn’t there for me.  I think a lot had to do with reading Battlefield of the Mind the first part of last year, but I want to get back on that high I had the first half of the year.  I don’t think I did really great on this one.  Even leading my women’s group, I felt slack on the fall study we did and just never got into a good grove.  
  • Family – Dean family of 4 trip (ours in 2015 got cancelled due to a little storm named Joquain!) and a trip to Disney.  I want to do a better job of balance – the whole work/family/individual trifecta – too often it veers one way or the other and I’d like more of a balanced triangle this year.  I also want to do more special dates with the kids.  We did a good job early 2015 but it’s gotten away from us. We did Disney and went to Maryland in the summer to see Deans family.  We didn’t do as many “special” planned dates, but did do a lot of one-on-one bike rides or meeting the kids for lunch during the week at school or just doing a fun impromptu froyo date while running errands together.  I think I need a more tangible #s goal on this one, but we definitely had some sweet one-on-one time with our kids.
  • Marriage – I want us to mix it up this year. More weekends or nights away where we enjoy us time.  Surprise dates. A renewed focus on us now that our kids are a little older and don’t require so much of “us”. We did not do a good job on date nights this year.  I think because we are go-go-go so much during the week, the thought of planning another thing to do or a night out seems too much.  On the weekends, I just want to relax and during the week I don’t want to add anything else to our plate.  I know this isn’t the right answer but it’s the truth.
  • Financial – I have some figures earmarked for goals with savings, 401k, kids accounts, etc.  The usual! We did great this year on financial goals.  There were even a couple – ‘this is a crazy ridiculous goal, what are we thinking?!’ and God more than delivered.
  • House – I want to put something on the walls in the boys’s rooms. They seem unfinished despite being about 90% done. They just need the finishing touches. I also want to buy new bedroom furniture for the master and paint our room.  In 2016, I want a new toy storage solution in the play room. Something to start organizing that room better.  And I want to throw a party in my house. I don’t take advantage of our set up enough and I’d love to do a little backyard cookout or another type of get together in my home – gotta use all the hosting kitchen supplies I’ve acquired over the years. I think we did a pretty good job on the house goals this year.  Our master is about 98% done. We got new furniture that I absolutely love, painted the walls, hung crown molding and hung a picture gallery.  So much better than it looked before.  We also bought some dining room furniture that I really love and hung a few light fixtures.  And we had some friends over a few times through the year, so we did a little entertaining. 🙂
  • Health – I exercised 120 days in 2015.  So 1/3.  I think I can do better. I want do 150 days in 2016.  If it’s going awesome I’ll hit 180 (about 50%) but I want to be realistic with the increase.  So anything above 150 is a goal reached! I did 170 days in 2016. Goal reached. I think I can thank a binge watching of “Suits” 5 seasons. I only let myself watch if I was doing the elliptical, so many of those days were with Harvey and Mike entertaining me.
  •  Personal – I want to do some personal counseling this year.  I’m often not the Ginger I want to be and I want to do some personal searching and counseling to figure out how I can be better.  I also want to do more reading.  I love devouring a good book and after our trip to the DR this year where I read 5 books in 5 days, it just renewed a love for books that I had growing up.  I also want to practice shooting in manual.  I need to work on my photography skills! I didn’t do the counseling. I think I’m afraid of the time commitment it will take and don’t want to start something unless I’m going to stick with it.  I definitely had some great reading stretches this year.  I love to read for pleasure and James Patterson and Nicholas Sparks often have some good stuff!

All in all, I think 2016 had some really great stuff. Our kids got more active in extracurriculars which was really fun to watch.  We stayed busy with church and family. Our house got some mini improvements.  It was all-in-all a good time!

Now, bring on 2017!