Monday, June 18, 2018

thoughts according to my journal

I'm behind on pictures but there are some things I want to remember lately that aren't photographed.

I am amazed at the human body and what it can do.  Dave competed in a half-ironman in the beginning of this month.  How people can do something like that and come out smiling is baffling to me.  So proud of that guy and his friends who did it together (ok, so that one is definitely photographed and coming soon, but it deserves to be mentioned more than once!). 

We are not good tv watchers over here. I don't know why, it just doesn't happen much.  Sometimes we try to remedy that because I think there's something fun about watching and discussing a good show.  We found This is Us last year and loved it (Dave petered out on that one, but my girls and I ate it up and were able to discuss so many interesting is SO good).  Dave's family has always been really into Survivor and I have loved to hear them discuss it.  So many good things to discuss and ponder about.  So in looking for something new one of my sisters recommended "The Good Place."  That one has been fun to watch with Lucy.  It is pretty cheesy, but there are some things in that show that I have thought long and hard about.  Dave, Grace and I have been creeped out by watching some Stranger Things this summer.  We stuck through the first few episodes that normally wouldn't have drawn me in but it's fun to have a "thing" with Grace.

Our family has been spread out far and wide this summer.  One weekend Max was in Provo, Dave and I were at his Ironman on the big island, Elle traveled from Jerusalem to Greece, (she is loving that study abroad so much), Claire went to girls' camp, Grace was working and almost got to girls' camp (long story), Lucy stayed with Nana and Papa, and Bo has had some time at her "dog-sitter."  It is fun to reunite with everyone after we've all been separated.  Bo cracks us up scampering and wagging her whole body in delirious happiness back and forth from me to Dave (she really likes us :) and back again, paws click, click, clicking on the wood floor to scramble as fast as she can to greet us over and over, wagging her whole body.  She thinks we are the bee's knees and it’s so funny.

I mentioned this before, but summer goals this year have not been easy.   I feel like I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face to try to get these girls going.  There are many things I think after so many years of doing them the managing and getting going should start to happen without so much work from me.  But it doesn’t.  Maybe I’m making them too dependent by the help I give.  But also, really, there wasn't much "calm" to figure things out for a while after school got out so I'm not sure what I was expecting.  So because those goals were hard won this year I'm extra happy to have them up.  For some reason my heart can relax if I see kids relaxing IF I know they’ve worked hard and been productive on some goals first (otherwise it drives me crazy).  Each day I love seeing them work hard all on their own, checking off their check-lists one by one, learning and being productive.

And when they’re anxiously engaged I can be too.  I have my own "summer goals" which have included lots of mundane things like self-insurance stuff.  It is so time consuming to get calls in to the right people to get all the right documentation mailed to us, and then the process for scanning and turning in all the information is another whole ballgame.  (We do this cost-sharing program called Christian Health Ministries and it's a pretty great alternative to health insurance.  Health insurance sure has issues in our opinion!)  Right now I'm working on scheduling surgery to fix Claire’s umbilical hernia, getting her through some tests to check her kidney reflux, figuring out some of Lucy’s mysterious issues that cause her agony, still in the process of trying to figure out what to do about her scoliosis, and gathering all the documentation from elle’s scary-infected reef cut she got in Hawaii before she left on study abroad.  It is FUN.  Ha!:)

Claire has been going to volleyball practices at 5:30-7:30am every morning at the high school in prep for tryouts in the Fall.  So nice that they offer that!  It is early and she is tough.  She's in a summer volleyball league that sadly she may not be able to finish since we have to work in this hernia surgery between sports so we are doing it this week to get it over with before Fall.  She is also babysitting as much as she possibly can to earn some summer money.

Dave (when he can come amidst Ironman training) and I have had our third "recruit" accompany us to our workouts this summer: Grace.  (Max and Elle both go with us when they're home).  Why do I love working out with my kids so much?  I don't know but it's been fun...I think even Grace would agree (at least most days).  Grace is working hard at Old Navy.  She can now fold like nobody's business.  She also started her first college class (woo hoo!) trying to get some credits in this summer and is learning so much from that.

Lucy is doing an art class this summer.  I am hoping it will help her keep some of her art skills she's started to let go of.  As she grows older and loses more vision, I'm trying to figure out how to help her keep going on the things she loves most.  It is easier said than done. 

Our college kids are learning and growing so much.  Max started up spring semester college classes alongside work.  It's tough work but he likes being back in the swing of things up there.  Elle had horrible Internet access in Greece so it was so fun to catch up with her when she got back to Jerusalem.  She is learning so much not only from the classes and travels but from the people she's with and I love hearing all about it.  There is something so beautiful about switching up your "terrain" every now and again to learn and dig deeper in life. 

Holding on to this version of summer around here since we know the "terrain" will switch up again before we know it with the BBS conference and the reunion and all that comes with July on the horizon.

Friday, June 15, 2018

the end...hopefully with a new beginning on the horizon

Lucy and I finished The Last Battle this last week.

Which meant we finished off the whole Chronicles of Narnia series.  And I hope I will always remember sitting in her room with her, tears streaming down my cheeks, because that last book is emotional I tell you! 

Lucy and I had waded through sorrow in the description of "the end" a couple nights before, and that night we had tears because the new "beginning" was, to me, almost breathtakingly beautiful.  I don't want to give anything away so I won't say more than that, but I will say C.S. Lewis has such a beautiful grasp on what I think life is all about. 

Setting aside the emotion elicited by the book itself, I think I was even more weepy because it was not only the end of a grand series that made us "feel" so much, it was also the end of a beautiful venue that almost felt like it was uniquely suited for us to talk and discuss.  I have so loved reading that series snuggling up with that girl of mine.  It’s been such a bonding and spiritual thing for us. 

Oh, we’ll try to find another series of course, but I know we’ll never find one as good.  And with the end of that series I think part of the “magic” of innocent youth with Lucy is ending along with it.  It’s like I’m grasping at straws with all my kids trying to hold onto them, and an extra thick and beautiful one just slipped from my fingers.
Those smiles up there were after I had calmed down, and we had discussed all the parts and pieces that ended that book, how they related to life and the gospel we practice (Lucy brought up all those parts...she seems to understand all those analogies in such a beautiful way, with angles and details I don't think of).

If anyone has any suggestions as to a new series we can start on, please send ideas our way.  And if anyone has not read the Chronicles of Narnia, please do.  You won't regret it.

Thank you for leaving us so much to think about, C.S. Lewis. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

the Bo & Claire show...and some summer ideas

We like our dog.  Have I mentioned that?  Sure, she is still pretty naughty sometimes, but she's also kind of endearing.

Claire sure has fun with her.  Here's a "draft" of some tricks:

...and here's a perfected "show:"
Ha!  I think she needs to join the circus with that skill :)

Since so many families are into the thick of summertime, I meant to post some summer ideas first thing this morning.  And here I am at 4 in the afternoon.  Dang. 

But I wanted to just praise "summer goals" for a second.  I'm so grateful my parents worked with us to create our own unique goals in the summertime growing up for so many years, and that we're passing them on to the next generation. Those goals have been hard won in our family this year for some's been hard to nail down the details on all those thoughts.  But this week all the checklists have been hanging proudly on the wall, getting gradually filled in, and it feels so good to have some good productivity going on. 

Much more about Summer Goals over HERE (and lots of other posts probably linked at the bottom of that one), but I also wanted to post some very well laid-out planning helps my sister Saren has made summer camp.  Those ideas are HERE.

Thank you again for all the good input yesterday about social media.  One reader asked if she could share those notes I shared.  My answer is yes, share away!  This is something that needs to be thought about and dissected and discussed.  It is here to stay, and it's so great to get a good handle on how it affects us and our families.  Let's keep conversations going so we can keep taking action to figure out what works for our families. 

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

what I learned from our Collin Kartchner night, and thoughts on a social media family pact

Ok, here goes.  

Social media has been heavy on my mind lately, and also my heart.  I've talked about it HERE and HERE, and so much has happened before and after and in between those posts that just keeps me thinking and thinking.  

And worrying too. (I think it's pretty interesting I just came across this post HERE clear back in 2012...we were worried about social media clear back's not new...and also HERE a couple years ago when I talked about how we need to be "technology trainers").  It continues to be more and more addicting as it sucks away life from so many of us.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it's really true. 

I keep waiting for the perfect words and thoughts to post about it...waiting for that moment when I've gathered all the info. to make a powerful point.  But this is something that keeps morphing and changing and "powerful points" keep coming at me from different directions.  So although we have not come to the "one-solution-fits-all" deal (that I knew we wouldn't, yet kept somehow hoping would materialize), I'm determined to keep posting about the journey.   

So here I am to place my latest thoughts on the altar of things-to-think-long-and-hard-about.

You know you're supposed to be worrying about something if it keeps coming to the forefront of your mind over and over and over again...always accompanied by a pricking feeling to do something about it.  

I know there are lots of fellow-worriers out there.  Ever since I started talking about social media here there have been countless emails, comments, texts going around asking the same kinds of questions.  Social media is taking over our children (and often us right along with them), and we must take some action.

Together, if we keep this conversation going, we have power to change the trajectory of the negative impacts of social media at least in our own families, and hopefully we can help spread it like wildfire that will have the potential to help many.

Now, I want to be clear that I do not think social media is evil.  On the contrary it can be enlightening and beautiful.  But the caveat there is that it "can be."  Just because something has some good points though, doesn't mean we shouldn't be weary of it.  

SO here I go.  

Let's start with this picture just to set the mood:
It's not a perfect picture...kind of a weird angle, crazy shadows...but to me it epitomizes what childhood should look like.  Those girls gathered every wheeled form of transportation they could find, rigged them together somehow, and had a ball parading through the neighborhood.  This kind of stuff happened all the time.

Sure, creative stuff like this still happens today, but all too often the landscape is changing for kids this age.  Lots of roaming the neighborhood, imagination and creativity has been traded in to sit on a couch, often right next to each other, looking at a screen. 

And little by little that kind of transition needs to be reversed.  

I mentioned my conversation with my friend a while back where we decided to gather some of the people we had talked about social media with in the past and read a book (The Tech-Wise Family), then get together to talk about it kind of "book club" style (I talked about the background that led to this back HERE...and please don't be sad if you're local and didn't know about it...we just invited people we had spoken with specifically about this recently...anyone is welcome to join as we go forward!  We still plan to meet up again in the Fall.).  We gathered together and had such an enlightening discussion.  We went around the room, introduced ourselves, talked about the ages of our kids and what kinds of things we're dealing with in the social media realm, talked deeper about the things that stood out to us from that book, and learned SO MUCH.  
That is a group of powerful ladies right there...and also a lot of food...ha!

But there was something so empowering about the fact that we were all so on the same page.  So many of the same concerns, some solutions, some new ideas, but mostly just power in numbers.

It just so happened that a guy named Collin Kartchner was coming to town to do a seminar all about social media right after we met up.

He's this guy who is trying to bring to light all the crazy stuff social media is leaving in it's wake (suicide, depression, ADHD, addictions, etc.).  Several blog readers made me aware of him on one of the posts where I've talked about social media thoughts before.  It was a little counter-intuitive for me to follow him since I was in the process of severely limiting Instagram, because lots of his stories have so much to say...see all those little dashes at the top of the screen below?
Yeah, that's a LOT of stuff.  But I've skimmed over them in the last couple months and there has been a LOT of stuff in there that I was baffled by.

And that's just one post...there are lots of other good articles referred to like this one:
(That one really is so good... HERE is a link to read it...things we can't do when we are buried in a screen.)

And other interesting things like this:

He is a little on the "worst-case scenario" side, but I think in many ways that's exactly where we need to be in this day and age.  We can't bury our heads in the sand.  We need to be aware of what's happening out there.  Perfectly "normal" and seemingly well-adjusted kids are starting to slip down a slippery slope of depression and loneliness.  The comparison game is in full force.  And it's not just a wive's tale.  I've seen it in my own kids.  I've seen it in my good, beautiful, on-the-ball friends.  

It is real.

So although this seminar was in the very midst of all the end-of-school madness, I'm so glad a bunch of us were able to make it work.  There were three parts to that evening:

1)  It was great to hear Collin Kartchner.  He gave a lot of stats told some good stories, drew us in. 

2)  The keynote speaker was a lady named Katey McPherson, and I thought she was phenomenally in-tune with what's going on.

Here are some of Katey's slides:

I showed this one before, but it was pretty poignant to me and worth posting again:

I loved this thought:
 (None of that happens when you're glued to a screen.)

This has lots of useful information about all the main apps kids use:

This chart shows the apps in order of how much "junk" can be associated with being the apps that you should ban like there's no tomorrow:
She gave some recommendations for helping limit screen time:
Some of my other favorite things I took notes on from her:

  • Help cultivate dignity in kids.  This happens when we have frank discussions and let them into our concerns...and do things like formulating a "technology contract" together.  (the one we came up with for our family years ago is HERE...but we should really constantly revise that thing).
  • Role-play with kids.  Helps them learn to stick up for themselves if someone is bullying them, trying to get them to send inappropriate things, etc.
  • Hang on to the relationship.  "The best app is YOU."  We need to be present.  We need to be what they go to for direction and help, not peers where they're just trying to seek attention.
  • Let them fail in a safe environment.  Sometimes we take too much control, we need to let our kids make some of the decisions and learn from the bad ones while they're under our own roofs.

3)  Then there was a panel for Q & A and that was perhaps the very best part.  The panel consisted of a couple police officers, a detective who deals with underage sex crimes (that stem from pictures sent over the internet), a counselor who deals specifically with depression...

...and then in the middle of that mix was a regular teenager.  That teenager was the most helpful...oh boy she sure spilled the beans about a lot of things kids do on their phones and had the whole audience (of 600+) gasping at times.  She explained all about apps kids use the most, the ones that are really dangerous, explained things like what a "finsta" Instagram account is to those in the audience who didn't know (it's a "fake" Instagram kids have them that I follow and theirs are pretty funny, but I guess lots of secretive, not-so-good things can also happen there), she explained about the "for your eyes only" part of snapchat and some other things that had parents' eyes bugging out.

I love that one of the police officers told a story about how one of his teenagers "earned" a phone at an earlier age as the others because she demonstrated so much transparency and responsibility and respect.  Sometimes we give phones to kids without any preface or preparation which is a disservice.

Loved gathering with all these good women when it was over:

The next night Collin Kartchner and his wife spoke to parents and their kids.  

Grace had to work, but I figured it would be great to bring Claire.  And I will tell you, it was like serious pulling teeth to get her to go!  She was SO annoyed at me that I wanted to take her.  But when she realized I wasn't budging she recruited some friends who were excited to go, and suddenly realized this wasn't going to be so bad after all.  

Collin told some interesting stories and pulled all those kids in that auditorium in from the very start.  His wife told the story that Claire said hit her the most.  She talked about how, a few years ago, as a successful small Internet business owner, mother to some great kids, and wife to someone she was in love with, she should have been over-the-moon happy.  But that she was immersed in social media and she found herself in a dark place.  She said that her dad had passed away when she was fifteen, an obviously extremely sad situation, but that there she was, a grown woman all those years later with everything she had ever wanted and was, in many ways, more sad then than she was as a young teenager who lost her dad.  She explained when she pulled away from social media and comparing herself to others her life changed dramatically.  It was a pretty powerful story.

Claire and her friends were pretty happy they had come.  This was supposed to be a video of Claire telling me how much she loved it, but I took a picture rather than a video on accident...ha!
You get the idea though.

Those kids even wanted to stay well after the thing was over to meet Mr. Kartchner.
 They crack me up.
That was a powerful night for me, because it helped Claire realize in such a positive way, that it wasn't just me being crazy about all our discussions about the downside of social media (she had had some good eye-rolls going on about that lately!).  I loved hearing her explain it all to Grace a little later, and loved our following discussions.

Ok, so that's a LOT of info. thrown out there.  See why I have waited to put this together for so long?

There's so much to say.

So much to think about.

In closing, let's go back to that teenager on that panel the first night.  She told a story about how her mom took her phone away and how she found an old one in a drawer and was able to get around the controls on it.  She explained that even when kids get their phones taken away, or apps removed, even with all the best parental controls in effect, kids are smart.  If there's a will there's a way.

Which solidified my feelings that the most important defense against the "dark side" of social media is to talk.  Talk, talk, talk.  Discuss.  Be open.  And love.  I know that seems too simple in many ways, but one thing that really stuck out to me that they said was that "kids want to be seen, heard and loved.  With social media they can get all that in 20 seconds" (posting a sad photo on Instagram, tweeting out a plea for attention, sending something they think will make people love them on snapchat).

Our kids want/need attention any way they can get it, even if it's negative attention.  If they're getting it from posting crazy/inappropriate/attention-seeking things on technology oh they'll get it...from their peers as well as from getting attention from their parents (if they find out). 

But if WE as parents can give them more of that...if we can "see" them more, "hear" them more, and show our love though communication and discussions and respect and letting them somehow keep their dignity, how positive that can be!  We also need to help them build their own confidence from those four most essential things in that slide up there:  they need movement, nature, real human connections, and physical touch (love that they had a mom and her daughter demonstrate how long an 8-second hug is...and how powerful that kind of connection is).

We stood around the counter in the kitchen, my girls and I that next morning (Dave was out of town) and talked.  The room filled up with love as everyone gave their say, and we made a little pact.  Different from our formal "contract," this time it was just a simple pact.  I promised to listen more.  And to "be there" more.  And they promised in turn to share more, and be more transparent.  We gathered my mom in too (who was in town) and of course the girls wanted Bo to join in, but we made a promise there that morning in the form of a little pact handshake.
So it has to happen right?


But we are on the right track.  And it feels good.

Monday, June 11, 2018


There is power in light.

That's why we chose "be the light" as our school-year motto last year (back HERE).  

Lucy still prays for us all to "be lights" pretty much every prayer she offers.

I'm so glad for the reminder.

I think light can be almost tangible.  Something as simple as a smile or a kind word shared on a hard day brings power and shines beauty.

I do believe we have the power to change lives for the better if we let our lights shine, and if we let our hearts be soft enough to learn, and notice the lights that shine from others.

I don't know how it all works, but I like to think that that light that can come from inside a person is made up somehow of the same stuff as light that bathes things in beauty around us.  

Especially at that "golden hour" of the day.

I could hardly stand how gorgeous the light was one night on a neighborhood walk.
It almost cancelled out the fact that the light wasn't coming from the inside of my girls that night. 

They weren't in the mood to soak in all that beauty for some reason or another.

Oh sure, you may think that internal light could be shining from this picture:
But nope, this girl wasn't having it.

 Neither were these girls:
(Those smiles are faking it.)

But this one is real:
I was mesmerized by it all so much that I had to take in a little study of light on the plants in our front yard after my other unwilling subjects had marched into the air conditioning:


It took my breath away.

Those girls may not have been shining their own lights on that walking night, but this other night when I went to join them for a swim they sure were.
Why does it give children so much delight when their mother dives in and gets her hair wet? 
I don't know but if it gives smiles like that I better do it more often :)

Loved that they let me take their pictures bathed in that light.

Yes, light has the power to make things beautiful inside and out.

I'm going to have to make more studies of both kinds.

Challenge: (to me too, of course)...let's put forth a conscious effort to spread some extra light in a deliberate way today. 

Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday pondering -- worldwide devotional

We just had the best discussion as a family for Family Home Evening.  Dave gathered us to watch part of the "worldwide devotional for youth" from last week, and the room filled up with so much love and beauty as we had some deep discussions about life, and how we are living it.  How social media is affecting us.  We evaluated how we are serving and giving, and connecting with Heaven, and ways in which we can do better.

I wanted to share the video.  It is very, very good.  I don't care if you are a part of our same religion or not, there are some pretty beautiful, universal things shared that I promise you and your family will love and relate to in some deep and meaningful ways.

(That is just the talks themselves, the whole thing with music is HERE.)

I want to challenge anyone reading this to watch at least part of that devotional together as a family or with someone you love and discuss it.  And with that challenge I can vouch that there will be some very beautiful light and goodness that will come from it.

Just sharing a little love this Sunday.

Friday, June 8, 2018

the last day of school celebrations

School's out.

And we are deep into summer over here.

We had a few days of what felt like non-stop parties and sleeping in and now we're on to a routine with "summer goals" all set up and that feels pretty good.  Also, lots of doctor appointments, trying to get caught up on all the health stuff.  Girls camp has come and gone, Dave's IRONMAN has also come and gone.  Yep, we're in full swing over here.  Also lots of heat.  Oh boy, we live in a hot place.  But I love how summer releases us into so much freedom.

For today, let's talk about the last day so we can have it on record over here in the blog world.

Somehow our "rainbow pancake" tradition has flown out the window in exchange for bigger and better...

Grace rushed off to a student body end-of-the-year celebration at school:
Claire and her friends gathered for their traditional pre-last-day get-together:

...and so did Lucy's:

Loved riding the tandem bike over with her and talking with these great moms who have raised angel daughters as the kids smiled and celebrated setting off on their last day:

Back up for just a sec, because graduation was the night before the big day for some reason this year, and Grace had fun celebrating with her good friends over there.
...including the security guard which all our kids have been best friends with.
They also did their end-of-the-school-year "paper drop" tradition over at the high school...

After school Grace and co. decided to make their own hot tub:

And all these soon-to-be SENIORS swam before Claire's friends came to take over.

Claire had put dibs on the pool since Grace had to work that afternoon...and boy oh boy did she and her friend fill that puppy up nice and full:

More about that get-together and 8th grade graduation back HERE.

Grace made up for having to work the last day of school with a big party the next day:
That back yard filled right up again:

Then on Saturday Lu's friends filled it up.

By then, we were officially tuckered out from celebrations.

It was the last year we will have three at three different schools with three different yearbooks.

...which makes me a little melancholy.  I hate that time keeps speeding by so fast.

But also so excited for Grace and Claire to get to be in high school together next year.
...and for Lu to rule the school as a 6th grader.

New grand (and scary) adventures ahead!

The 2017-2018 school year is wrapped up for the record books.  Let the summer games keep on keeping on.
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