We’ve Got “The Look”

Cypress Mom

Blog photoI’m afraid we’ve developed into “that couple” with “The Look”.  The look isn’t glamorous or trendy.  It’s not one that I’ve desired, but I believe it’s found me like it will find every adult eventually.

“The Look” sneaks up on everyone.  Then one day you realize you have it and there’s no going back.

I’m talking about “The Look” given to other parents when their children are misbehaving, are out of control, crying, whining, and any other annoying thing you may think a small child or baby would do.  I have personally received those looks!

I can remember sitting in Olive Garden with our soon to be one year old.  He was sitting in his high chair and looking all around at other tables.  He was waving and being so cute.  At some point crankiness set in and he began to fuss.  The fussing turned into crying and before we could…

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Farewell to Summer…and other things

Blog summer photoI’m always a little sad to see Summer go.  Ok I’m a lot sad.  I love the time around late May; just in between Memorial Day and the beginning of June.  School is just about to let out, and it seems like June, July and August will be such a long, fun-filled time.

There’s the planning part that makes everything so adventurous.  Museums that we want to visit and good fishing holes that need to be tested are discussed. Saltwater, freshwater, types of fishing bait, and the infamous, “Mom!  My line is tangled again!”, are part of the summertime daily chat.  There are also the “Where are my goggles?” and “Has anyone seen my swim suit?” questions that reverberate throughout the house.  The smell of sunscreen and the bright sunny forecast start our day off happy.

Random trips to the neighborhood pool are followed by a quick trip for snow cones which then turn into lazy, hot evenings of just taking our time.  There are no schedules, except for the neighborhood swim team practice.  There are no tests, projects, or last minute homework.  There are no lunches to pack; my personal favorite!

Simple things during this season make ordinary life so special. A quick visit to see family, collecting sea shells, making minnow traps, treating a sun burn, and taking the long way home help fashion a sense of timelessness.

A walk into a store in early July, however,  brings a blissful summer day back to reality.  Backpacks, school supply displays, and signs shouting “Back to School” make my stomach turn.  It’s barely July 4th and school is already being thrown in our faces.  And to add to the melee, Christmas decorations begin making their unwelcome appearance in some stores.  I would rather deal with backpacks than pre lit trees in 95 degree heat! I tell my kids to turn their heads; we don’t want to witness this jarring reality check.  I especially want to enjoy this time with them keep them away from what inevitably will happen; each child turning a year older and getting closer to leaving home.

August arrives with full speed.  Teacher assignments are received in the mail and I begin to plan for the school year ahead of us.  My oldest will enter middle school and begin a new chapter in his life, and I will unenthusiastically pack those darn lunches.  Buses will start showing up on our street, and crossing guards will make their appearance at the same street corner as the year before.  I’m clinging to my Summer memories, not ready to make new ones for this pending season of change.

The Fall season is now replacing Summer, and I am forced to look at pumpkins lining grocery store entrances.  Labor Day has come and gone, and soon Christmas sales will suffocate an already diminishing Thanksgiving holiday.

Somewhere I think I hear a fishing pole calling our names…I’m ready to go back.

Cell Phone Coma

Children using smartphonesCountdown has begun. In 30 seconds a major asteroid will collide with Earth!  JJ Watt called and wants to practice some football drills with you.  You’ve won a million dollars and a trip to Disney World!  No response.  My kid’s head is down and he is intently watching a small, rectangular device in his hand.  The only signs of life I can detect are his diaphragm moving slowly up and down, and the thumbs and index fingers seem to be moving on their own.  Eyes are fixated and pupils appear dialated.  There is absolutely no response to any of my attempts at verbal communication.

Sound familiar?  The image can only be something that every parent of a pre-teen or “tween” is learning to deal with.  While our kids have no cell phones of their own, they use ours frequently to play games and see what their friends are doing on social media.  This is learned behavior by the way.  Humans aren’t born with an innate sense of pushing buttons.  But from the looks of things, this generation will never know that concept.

I grew up in the 70s and 80s where board games were cool, and Battleship was the closest thing to being “tech savvy”.  By the time the Atari game system launched in the 80s, with the game Pac Man following soon after, we thought as kids that this was the biggest invention ever!

Arcades were the rage then too with pin ball machines and their fancy, bright lights.  Going to the pizza parlor were you could play games AND eat pizza with a big mouse called Chuck E. seemed like heaven.  Your parents yelled your name out to come sit down when the food was ready, and everyone would sit, eat, and talk.  Now most likely a parent will text their kids to come to the table, everyone will sit down, phones are out on the table while the family is eating, and an occasional word will be spoken.

It’s an addiction.  It’s everywhere.  Go to any public gathering and you’ll see adults doing the same thing; heads down with thumbs and index fingers moving like crazy.  In a few years I predict the physical therapists will have an epidemic on their hands from strained necks and over usage of thumbs.  And plastic surgeons will be working on the “turkey necks” that adults are giving themselves by looking down so continuously.  (Gobble gobble!)

I am preaching to myself here.  How many times I find myself getting caught up with what someone is doing. “Oh you’re eating that for dinner?  Yummy!” or where someone is vacationing, “Third cruise this year?  Jealous!”  Actually I’m nauseated.  Why is this so perpetual?  I love being connected but where to strike a balance is tricky.  I’m “pinning” recipes and DIY projects that I will never to get to try because I’m on my phone!  And the Word Crack game has the word “crack” in it for obvious reasons.  We just can’t seem to put these things down and walk away.

I hate to miss a birthday or anniversary.  I love seeing baby pictures posted by my friends.  Vacation photos?  Bring them on!  I can dream about where I would love to go.  But when we as a family and society begin to withdraw from each other, that’s when you realize enough is enough.  So my husband and I have come up with a few rules to help ourselves and our family:

  1. At the dinner table, no cell phones are allowed.
  2. Posting photos of each other are ok as long as I’m in good lighting and my husband has his Giants hat on.
  3. No posting about being out of town on vacation while we’re actually away.  We don’t want our Facebook Friends and Family breaking and entering. (You can thank us later from saving you from a life of crime.)
  4. Kids are not allowed to have cell phones until we as parents feel they are responsible enough to own one.  At this point, 19 years old seems pretty reasonable.
  5. When someone doesn’t seem to be responding to anything that my husband and I are saying (see the beginning of this blog), it’s definitely time to provide CPR because the Cell Phone Coma has commenced.

So look up and around.  Enjoy the view.  Save your neck from future plastic surgery.  More importantly save yourself and your loved ones from Cell Phone Coma.

“T minus 10, 9, 8 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, the Asteroid!”  I yell out.  “What?”  I hear from the patient.  It seems he has finally awakened from his coma…for now.

Trusting God With Your Children

cross I can remember dressing both my babies in their Sunday best for baby dedication.  Both Protestant and Catholic churches have their customs for bringing their children before the church.  Some call it baptism or christening, and we call ours dedication.  It comes from the verse in I Samuel 1:11, where Hannah had pleaded with God to give her a child since she was barren.  If God fulfilled her prayer, she promised to dedicate her son, Samuel, to God. It’s also found in Luke 2:22 with Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the synagogue 40 days after his birth and dedicating him as the custom allowed.

Standing before the church, our minister asked us if we would do our part in rearing our children in a godly home.  At the time the answer seemed easy and of course we agreed.  Now, as I parent a preteen and an elementary aged child, I see how much our world has changed and the challenges and dangers it presents.

In this day and age of online predators, international terrorists, school shootings, cyber bullying along with so much more, raising kids in this generation is tremendously difficult.  I often watch the evening news and wonder what will their world be like when they’re adults?  What will our economy be like?  What will our environment be like?  I hear the broadcaster announce, “nuclear deal reached”.  Hard to imagine a peaceful existence for their future.

The hardest part for me as a Mom is not worrying about my kids.  I don’t think it ever changes.  I know moms whose children are now parents themselves well into their forties.  These moms still worry about their adult children.  Yet there comes a point when you can’t control everything and have to hand it over to God.  Trusting Him with your child.  How?  When?

Trusting Him to place my child with the right teachers.  Trusting Him to guide them in making the right friends.  Trusting Him to help them catch that fly ball at the baseball tryout, or nail that tumbling sequence at a dance recital (yes I prayed really hard for that one, because how horrible to fall in a dance recital!).

There are always going to be big and small decisions concerning our children. I have learned that when I start to worry or fret,  it’s time to stop and pray.  When I do, I can hear that still, small voice say “Trust Me”.  And why wouldn’t I?  We can run around frantic and concerned, or stop and remember that the very one who knew us while we were being formed in our own mother’s wombs (Jeremiah 1:5), knows our children just as well and has a plan for their lives.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lords, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

My children have a future in Him.  I have reminded them that there are people who will try to convince them to follow other beliefs, pursue other interests, and take other’s advice, but to follow Him is what I agreed to help them do as infants.  Continuing that promise is something I can’t falter on.

I remember a song I learned as a child, “He’s got the whole world in His hands.”  It may not seem like it with the chaotic worldwide headlines, but He does have it.  He has our family.  He has my children.  And I am so thankful to have HIM.