My Child Care Journey…

DSC09085If there is anything I have learned in life, it is that you should not say, “I will never do that.”  OK maybe if it is something crazy like bungee jumping off a bridge…but don’t put that one past me.  I am the type who might actually do that.

We make our plans, of course.  God often has a better one that leads us through twists and turns, mountain and valleys, and to places we swore we would never go to.  Child care was one of those for me.

I was a child care sub in a public school district in 2002.  It was a second job and “my real job” was youth director at a local church.  Child care was secondary in my life.  So when I lost control of a group of 20 preschoolers, I knew this was job was temporary.  The following year I took a job as an after school care leader in a small Christian school.  This job was a better fit and I worked it for two years.  However, my passions were with the youth in my church and it was always a “second job” to supplement my part time income.

The following year we moved to Indiana and I had a brief stint of working in an actual day care center located in a business park.  I felt claustrophobic in the small classrooms with twenty four year olds.  The playground was a quarter of the size of the school playground where I worked previously.  When I lost control of a group of four year olds, I knew I could go longer work there.

I was a little too preachy about child care after that year, yet I was also confused about my calling.  I took on some traditional values even though I am not your typical stay-at-home mom.  I was never one of these college girls who wanted a “Mrs. Degree” and be a stay at home mom.  I wanted a career of some type and wanted to work outside of the home.  My desires and my values were all conflicted with one another and it is something I struggled with for years.

I stayed home for several years after having children.  I felt like it never came naturally to me, but I found my style eventually.  Two years ago a friend of mine wanted to send her daughter to our little Christian school we send our kids to.  Kindergarten dismissed an hour and a half before the time she finished work.  With no after care program at the time, I offered to watch her daughter until she finished work.  I only did child care about six hours a week, but I learned quickly that 1)  I loved having extra children in the house.  2)  I grew up on a neighborhood where there were always children to play with.  My kids do not.  This would be a way for them to develop friendships.  3)  God does not call everyone to be a  full time stay-at-home mom.  My friend was doing amazing work in God’s kingdom.  God was using me to help her do her work.

So come that spring I had a few families ask if I wanted to watch their kids the following school year.  I knew it was from the Lord.  Last year I had four regular child care kids.  This year I doubled that to eight.

Yes, now I am your typical stay-at-home mom.  I hang up my laundry on the clothesline outside.  I do crafts with my kids.  I bake muffins.  I sweep the floor at least four times a day.  I am OK with it.  Because I am supporting some amazing moms out there doing kingdom work.

I don’t think in terms of “real job,” “real career,” etc.  anymore.  And by the way I still do lots of youth ministry…mostly volunteer.

But this is me right now.  I love owning my own business.  I love having a loud chaotic house full of kids.  I love having a baby in the house.  I love watching my three kids love on these babies and toddlers.  So it’s a win win for everyone.

So my friends, never say “never.”  Your “never” might be your next adventure.

Weeks #8, #9 & #10

Today was our last night of a 30 day pool membership and I feel like I am mourning the loss of summer…or maybe just the pool.  We have three full weeks of summer left, but it feels like the first hints of fall are in the air.

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But since I have not blogged in a couple weeks, I want to back up.  Week #8 of summer was a unique week.  My husband and my oldest were on the other side of the country in Philadelphia with a small group from our church.  They helped with a camp “our sister church” puts on every year.  It was an amazing experience for both of them.  It was very strange having a full week with only my younger two, but I bonded with them as well.  We went swimming every single day.

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Our main reason for getting a pool membership is we all love to swim.  I always envisioned spending hot summer days with my family at the pool or the lake even before I had kids.  Since we don’t live near a lake anymore like we did back in our Michigan days, this is the next best thing.  My son began the summer hardly being able to hold his head above water.  He was still wearing arm floats or a life jacket at the beginning of the 30 days.  

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The unstructured swim time was much needed.  He can now jump off the diving board without a life jacket on (which he was terrified to do only two weeks ago) and swim to the edge.  He can swim underwater and we’re working on floating on his back and blowing bubbles underwater…he will be back in structured swim lessons in a week.

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My oldest has progressed in her diving.  I am finally figuring out breaststroke and am not embarrassed to swim it when I swim laps with my friends.  The best part was quality family time which made the membership worth every penny.

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While my husband and oldest were away, the younger two enjoyed lots of free play time. My son taught the youngest to play Stratego.  They play the board game version and then they go outside in the backyard and play their own reality style version and they are the Stratego pieces.  It is quite entertaining.

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I am thrilled they have not outgrown Little People yet because I have fond memories of playing Fisher Price Little People as a kid.

The husband and the oldest came home very late on a Friday night.  The following Saturday I went on an 80’s cruise with friends from my mom’s group.  We were celebrating my friend’s birthday.  I think dressing up in the 80’s attire was almost as fun as the whole cruise itself.

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I love that this group is adventurous and will try these kind of events.  Going out for coffee has its place and we do that too…but getting a little crazy once in awhile helps keep things interesting.

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The cruise went from 11 PM – 1 AM.  I was home shortly after 2:30 AM.  I have not stayed up this late in a very long time and it took me a couple days to adjust to the lack of sleep…I’m getting old.

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Week #9 of the summer was a very busy week for my husband.  After being in Philly and getting caught up again…and getting ready for two full weeks off.  He still managed to take the kids on a walk to get Slurpies.

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It was wonderful to have the full family together again…

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The highlight of my week was taking three of my middle schoolers and one adult from our church rafting on the Deschutes River.  I had not whitewater rafted since 2001 when I took the youth group I was leading at the time to Tennessee.  I loved being on the river all day.

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I only fell in once and we were not in a rapid.  We were playing a balancing game our guide led.  We all climb to the back of the raft and he pulls a rope putting the raft in almost a ninety degree angle.  We have to be still and not make sudden movements.  On Attempt #1 two of my middle schoolers moved and took me and the guide in with them.  Attempt #2 we were successful.

Originally we were going to camp two nights, but unfortunately my co-leader broke his tibia while in Philly the week prior.  It was too late of notice to find another adult to replace him so we turned into a day trip instead.  It was still well worth it.

This past week which would be Week #10 is the husband’s first week of vacation.  It was the staycation week of the “vacation.”  Normally during staycations we take a break from “people from church” not because we don’t want to see our friends…but pastor families need alone time.  This week we saw quite a few people from church and I even worked on church projects which I swore I would never do when he’s off from church work…but I felt totally OK about it.  I enjoyed it.  For pastor’s families, I think so much depends how tired and exhausted you are from church projects, issues, or people.  Right now I don’t feel as tired.

We played street hockey Wednesday night with friends from church.  This is something we’ve done every Wednesday night when we are able since June.  

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Every Thursday night in August, our local running club hosts “cross country nights” at a local park.  They have four different races for kids and adults.  There are some very elite runners there–kids who can do 6 minute miles.  There are many running families who have kids that compete year around and travel out of state to meets.  We are not that family and never will be.  We just don’t have the talent to compete at that level and I am totally OK with that.  We love to run. We do it for the healthy benefits, the mental strength, and the time spent together.  My younger two did the 500 meter and did very well.

 

 

IMG_1285My oldest did the mile run.  I timed her at the track two weeks ago and she did about a 13 minute mile running the whole way.  I have no idea how to compare this because I never ran a mile at age 8–we just didn’t do that kind of distance back in the day.  I remember running my first one in seventh grade and getting 8:37.  

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Because she ran with elite runners, she started very fast.  She almost quit because she could not breathe.  She stuck with it anyway and shaved two minutes of her time and got down to 11.  I didn’t care that she was one the last.  I was so proud of her.  I’ve learned with athletics is not to try to be the person or family that you are not meant to be–but still push hard and do your absolute best.  Set goals and try to reach them.  

The younger two have gone to VBS all week at another church and the oldest attended a Christian theatre camp.  It was her second year attending.  She got more of a main part this year and loved it.  They did Winnie the Pooh and she played the part of Christopher Robin.

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Now it’s on to vacation.  Then a full week.  Then the following week I start child care already…just easing into it with one child here two or three times until school starts.  I haven’t done any back to school shopping yet.  I am still in denial.

Week #5: Water and Lemonade Stands

Can I just say how much I love summer?  I love swimming with my kids.

IMG_1144Last week Monday my friend invited us over to swim in their lake.  Because we all love the water, we cannot turn that kind of invitation down.  This is the same lake I trained for my triathlon on.

IMG_1150The water and warm temperatures were perfect.  We had hot dogs over the fire afterwards and smores.

On Tuesday my husband had to do a visit in Silverton so we came along.  We swam at the Silverton Reservoir where I also did a few training swims for my triathlon.

IMG_1154Because it is mostly a fishing area, we had to be very careful about fish hooks and glass.  The kids had to swim in their shoes.

IMG_1160There was a little place to jump off the bank into the water.

??????????????????????????????? I even got a training swim in.

I get a little more concerned with swimming with my kids in the open water.  Even thought my oldest is an excellent swimmer for an eight year old, I still have her wear a life jacket.  We’ve had a large number of drownings in the area the past couple weeks.  Many of our lakes and rivers have not warmed up yet and people don’t expect the cold temperatures.  Our swim areas tend to be more rustic and not as user friendly as the Midwest beaches I grew up going to.  You have to be cautious about drop-offs, rocks, and currents.

On Wednesday we met friends at a local park and on Thursday we relaxed at home.  I did not take any pictures those two days.

On Friday the kids had their annual lemonade stand for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

IMG_1181They had it from 4 PM to just after 5 and got lots of customers.  Everyone was coming home from work.  We also made M & M cookies.

IMG_1179I race for Prostate Cancer awareness because my grandpa passed away from it in 1989 when I was in junior high.  My dad is a survivor.

IMG_1183 Friday night we saw the most beautiful sunset.

Saturday was my triathlon. Sunday we had thunderstorms all day.  For us thunderstorms are somewhat of a treat because we rarely get them.  We have had abnormal humidity this summer and high temperatures.  Some complain about the heat, but I kind of like it.  It makes it feel more like summer.

 

 

Week #4 4th of July Week!

It was 4th of July week and it started out with temperatures climbing into the 90’s.  So that meant cooling off at West Bennet Park.

IMG_1099The kids love the spray ground which is located right next to the playground.  So they can easily run back and forth.

IMG_1101Some silly kid (not one of mine) got this bright idea to stick a towel in the drain clogging all the water thus creating a wading pool.  Not a bad idea, really.

IMG_1103The beautiful thing about Oregon summers is that its gets hot, but it doesn’t stay hot all day.  A breeze and cooler temperatures come in the evening.  So the oldest and I drove to Keizer where we biked along one of the few bike paths (we really need more!) in our town.  It’s a small 3-4 mile stretch that goes along the Salem Parkway, but you don’t have to deal with traffic and many intersections.  I love it that we can now bike together.

IMG_1108 On Tuesday we cooled off in the comforts of the library.  They had an afternoon transportation crafts session.  I am really trying to stay on top of summer reading.  I failed the last two summers.  :(

IMG_1111 On Wednesday morning the kids all decided to play My Little Pony together and wanted a group photo of all the ponies.  Two of them are my ponies from when I was little–unfortunately one is tailless.

IMG_1115Somehow Batman and the Joker were included the ponies activities…which works when you have a boy and two girls.  I LOVE watching my kids play together–LOVE listening to them making up stories.

IMG_1116 Yesterday was the 4th of July–one of my favorite holidays.  For the past three years we have gone to the Independence-Monmouth Parade.  We sat closer to Independence like last year.  Thankfully this year they did not run out of candy until they got to us.

IMG_1119 The kids wanted to wear red, white, and blue bandanas.  Which was great because it protected their heads from sunburn.

IMG_1131Our original plan was to go to our friend’s house after the parade and spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening there.  They always put on a fabulous 4th of July celebration.  Due to some unfortunate sickness, they had to cancel.  We had friends come to us last minute and we set up the slip and slide.  We had a nice outdoor dinner with them.  Then just our family headed downtown for the fireworks–the first ever 4th of July we all went to a fireworks show as a family.  I had not been to a fireworks show since 2006!  This is a picture of everyone standing for the National Anthem.

IMG_1126We got there early enough so we did not have to fight for parking spaces.  So we had time to read stories.

IMG_1128And play Uno.

IMG_1133And dance to music from a local band.

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The kids did fine with the change of plans and all in all had a great 4th of July.

Next week is supposed to be HOT again.  We don’t have as much planned, but I am sure we will find plenty to do to keep us busy.

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Kids need individual time with us.  I am not talking about driving them to sports practices and volunteering in their classrooms.  These are good too and of course you are connecting with your child during these events.  I am talking about “one on one” dates with your child.  My dad called them “turns.”  We call them special times out.

In these times your children will open and share things that they would not normally share in the chaos of your day or in front of the whole family around the dinner table.  If we are not intentional about giving our children this time, we miss those special conversations.

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This week I took my oldest for a bike ride along a local bike path.  She could practice shifting gears and getting on and off her bike (which is still a tad too large for her) and I could practice biking in clips.  Afterwards we went to Jamba Juice which is my new favorite restaurant. I could have a peach mango smoothie every single day if they weren’t so expensive.

She told me months ago a girl she knew was being teased because of the way she dresses and wears her hair.  This little girl was told she is not popular enough and needs to try harder.  My oldest told the little girl that she didn’t have to listen to the girl who was teasing.  That she looked great and to simply be herself.  It was in that moment I was proud of her.  It took some trials of her own to understand those truths.

I think it hit a chord with both my husband and I because we remember moments of being the one teased and not feeling “cool enough.”  I don’t think you fully escape that pain, but thankfully you heal and find your confidence.

I know we are nearing the tweenager face and girl drama is going to increase.  I pray that her confidence continues to grow and that she can be a light in her classroom and out on the playground.

 

 

Second week of summer

Week #2 of summer.  The unfortunate thing about this week was my seasonal allergies got so bad that I had a pulsing sinus headache that knocked me out most of Tuesday.  The fortunate thing was the kids are old enough that I could sleep while they played on their own. Especially because I took a Sudafed PM on accident instead of AM…so that pretty knocked me out all afternoon. The kids can work the TV (and they know only 1 hour in the morning), make their own snacks, get their bikes out of the shed, etc.  The husband works next door to our house so he could check in on them every hour and was home for a full hour during lunch. The oldest knows how to use the phone. It was a little anxiety ridden for me at first–“They’re unattended!”  Yet they are 8,6, and 4 now…it’s not like the days of laying on the couch sick letting toddlers run around and hoping nothing gets destroyed.

But that was only one day…one day of an overall pretty good week.

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It is the week before VBS and I am directing again this year.  What seems to be a daunting stressful job for many has become doable…and even fun…for myself.  It took many years of trial and error to get to this point.  While I know I won’t direct forever (I already warned my church this is not a permanent thing!) it has been a great volunteer position for me this year.  Lots of people stepped up.  Because my oldest is doing odd jobs to earn money for her mission trip to Philadelphia this month, she helped me sort volunteer t-shirts, name tags, and helped my friend set up decorations.

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After being sick on Tuesday, I was itching to get out of the house.  The weather was beautiful!  My head still was not quite right in the morning.  By 3 PM I decided to bite the bullet and take the kids biking.  I knew they would go slow and we could take breaks as needed.  It was our first bike ride together on a trail.  My youngest’s bike is not in the greatest condition and the training wheels don’t stay in place so that created a few falls…and stops.  But overall everyone had a great time.

ImageIt is difficult for me to bike with all three of them because I have a racing road bike.  I bike in clips (though I am still a rookie and learning how to do this).  I am too nervous about biking slowly behind them especially when they stop suddenly…not sure I could clip out that fast.  So I wear my 90’s style roller blades…and I still get a good workout too.

ImageBecause I was feeling so much better, I decided to play street hockey Wednesday night.  Some guys from our church started a Wednesday night hockey night in our church parking lot.  I don’t like to play volleyball or basketball–but I won’t turn down a game of hockey…even I have not played since junior high intramurals…and we’re talking over 20 years ago!

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I took the kids to the Public Works Day at the local park.  It is when the Public Works department comes with all their big trucks and educate the children about what they do.  There is also some bike safety education, games, face painting, and free lunch.  My kids went last year and loved it…so we had to go again.

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We have been trying to teach the children about other cultures.  One of the best ways to do that is with food.  The husband made a Korean barbecue and then we had the kids read a website about the country.  We quizzed them about what they learned.

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I am not sure what country we will do next.  Ethiopia?  Indonesia?  Greece?  The kids want to do Mexico, but I would rather do one that is going to be more of a challenge…and different.

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We ended the week by going to Eugene for part of the day.  My friend Linda who was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan was playing in an ultimate frisbee tournament there.  I visited her over Spring Break in May in LA where she currently lives.  This time she got to see the husband again and meet the kids.  We were able to watch her game and go out for pizza…this is a picture from when were in LA together.  I was a dork and left the camera memory card pack home in the PC yet again.

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Now on to VBS week–where our week will be pretty much be VBS and not much more!

First week of summer

First week of Summer 2014 is in the books.  I think it could be called the “Woa–we have all this extra time on our hands, what do we with ourselves?!” week.

ImageWe enjoyed an early Father’s Day dinner at Sonic.  We only go here about once a year (though their milkshake menu tempts me to go more).  There is something fun about eating in the back of the van.  We had just come from Costco hence the giant bottles of detergent.

ImageGot to love the grilled cheese sandwiches.

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And the hot dogs too!

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On Saturday we had a small army of men from our church in our house.  Since we moved into our house I have despised the carpet in the eating area.  It seemed to get more disgusting with time.  The red velvet cake stain would not come out, the cat peed in the corner, the kids tracked mud in this winter–I hate the carpet.  If I were to give any advice to pastor wives out there living in parsonages I would say the following 1) Show love to your Building & Grounds 2)  Advocate for your families’ needs in a kind and gracious way.  Gentle reminders are good, but don’t be pushy.  3)  Be patient.

ImageAnd hooray–hardwood floor.  Someone asked, “Did you cry when they ripped out the carpet?”  I said, “No I cried when we had the carpet.”  The guys did an amazing job and we felt incredibly cared for as friends and a pastor’s family.

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We celebrated the start of summer by going to the drive-in with friends.  I LOVE drive-ins.  I have always had a thing for them.

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The kids love them too!

ImageYesterday we celebrated Father’s Day…

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I have to say that we are loving the down time.  I still cannot gauge if this one needs a nap or not.  I don’t think she can either.  I, myself, don’t take naps anymore except on Sundays…I can’t during the school year as I am working.  I think I took two naps last week mostly because I could.  My rule for when I take a nap–“Don’t wake me up unless–” The kids: “Someone is bleeding.”  The kids have been keeping busy playing baseball in the backyard, picking raspberries, playing Lego Friends and regular legos, coloring, and riding bikes.  We went to the library and the mall last week, but mostly we have enjoyed being home.