Loving on your people… even after they move out? Well, yes!
If you know me, you know that my kids moving out on their own will not deter me from being the quirky, over-the-top mom. So my oldest moved out this past fall and while it’s been an adjustment, it’s actually been a fairly smooth transition. He only lives about 15-20 minutes away and we’ve seen him more often than I thought we would, so thats good! Lol!
So each year, I place the conversation hearts I’ve made on the bedroom doors of my kids. These hearts are made of colored construction paper, with words written in sharpie. Every year I go through my stack of hearts and pick words/phrases for each of them. And when I think of new words, I make new hearts to add to the stack! On the 14 days leading up to and including Valentine’s Day, I tape a heart on their bedroom doors. A word/phrase that is a quality I see in them. Something I’m proud of, something I admire, and something I respect. It’s my little extra way of showing them in “the month of love” just how special they are to me.
If you’ve been around the blog for a bit. you’ve no doubt read about this here.
But this year, with my son no longer here, I wondered what I would do? He lives on his own for now so I figured, why not keep the tradition by sending him the hearts I would put on his bedroom door if he were here? So that’s exactly what I’ve done!
I took 14 envelopes, and the 14 hearts with words I’ve chosen this year and I hand delivered them to him at his new place with the instructions to open an envelope each day starting with February 1st. He was suprised and not quite sure what I was up to, but it didn’t take him long to figure it out!
My original plan was to send the envelopes in a box with a few little things for V-Day, but since his dad’s birthday is the same day, I will undoubtedly see him so I opted to save the postage and just give him the envelopes for now.
It may seem silly, over-the-top, or strange to some; but I don’t care! Lol! Showing the people in my life how much I love them and how special they are is important to me and it seems like the world could use a little more of the little things to show we care.
What’s even better about this whole scenario? He’s actually hanging them on his bedroom door in his condo and was happy to send me a picture when I asked. I cannot tell you how happy that makes my heart. Through good and bad, the bond I’ve created with my kids will still always be the most important job I’ve ever done!
When my kids were little, I stayed at home with them. Well, ‘stay at home’ is maybe not the correct terminology because we (I) rarely stayed at home. I volunteered at their school and we were constantly doing things with friends like having playdates – moms and kids 🙂
One thing I didn’t do very often growing up myself, was go to summer camp. With the exception of church camp, this was just something my sister and I never did because my mom stayed home with us as well. We did, however, stay with our grandparents a lot. Each summer my sister would go to one set of grandparents and I would go to the other. We would stay for 2 weeks and then swap. I would go to the other set of grandparents and she would go where I had just been. I do remember at my grandparent’s house in Memphis one year, my grandma let me make a sign for the door to the guest room where I stayed. Kind of like my own little cabin away at summer camp. I found that picture recently, me with my sign on the door to that room I spent so many summer in… and it brought back a flood of memories. Even in my 40’s I still remember the feeling, the fun, the anticipation of spending those weeks with my grandparents. It’s something I am very grateful my parents encouraged us to do. Those memories are lasting my lifetime.
Being a family with 1 income, camp really didn’t fall within the budget and honestly, I enjoyed spending time with them when they were off school in the summers. We had a decent size back yard, a nice sized swimming pool, and plenty of toys/games/activities to keep them busy. So what was the point? Well, I learned that for them the point was that they wanted the experience, I guess. So I began to brainstorm. And looking back, there are so many more things I could have done with this idea, but they still talk about it in their 20’s so I guess it worked out just fine. The key for me was cheap or free but with a lot of memory making and education.
To make it as interactive and exciting as possible (and cost effective), I sat down and made a list of things around our city we could do for free or very little cost. i named the camp, Camp Firefly. The reason behind this name was that each of the 3 of my kids had the same kindergarten teacher and their classroom were known as the “Fireflies”. As the last Reed Kid had just completed Kindergarten and the Firefly legacy, it was an easy choice.
Then I went to go ole WalMart and Dollar Tree. At WalMart I bought a pack of men’s small white undershirts and fabric markers. At Dollar Tree I bought a pack of poster boards. That’s it. And with those items, our Stay At Home camp began. Camp Firefly!
On the first day of camp, the kids decided on their cabin names. Their cabins were, of course, their bedrooms. Jake had his own room so there was no negotiations there, he could choose whatever he wanted. And he settled on… Jellybean Cabin. The girls, however, shared a room. Surprisingly enough, there was little to no struggle getting them to agree on their cabin name. Butterfly Cabin. So with their choices made, time to decorate!
With the poster boards, they made signs to hang on their ‘cabin’ doors. I’m pretty sure their dad though I was nuts, but that was nothing new lol! Next step was camp shirts! Now, this was pre-Cricut. Well, the original Cricut was maybe out by then, but one would not be in my future for a very long time. Enter fabric markers! They had a blast decorating their shirts. They let their creative juices flow! We ate lunch on the deck, and swam in the afternoon. I would say it was a successful 1st day of camp.
Now since this was about 15 years ago, the memories have stayed but the specifics have not. After that 1st day, the rest is a blur of activities.
One day we went to a local drive through park near us. Lone Elk Park. It’s an exapnsive park that houses Deer, Elk, Bison, Geese, and at the time, Owls. It had long been one of our favorite pass times as a family on the weekend mornings and it’s free, so it was a natural choice for a day’s activity. Near the end of the park is a shelter with picnic tables. We ate our picnic lunch there. Dad was off work so he went with us and one of their cousin’s went as well.
The World Bird Sanctuary is also in the same entrance as Lone Elk Park. This was another free activity. Being our 1st time there (it hadn’t been open long), it was a new experience ad the kids learned a lot about the different birds. Watching the birds interact with their handlers and learning about their natural habitats was certainly interesting.
One of our ALL-TIME favorite activities is our local zoo. We are in the suburbs of St. Louis so we are very fortunate to have access to the world renowned St. Louis Zoo! We are very fortunate to have this FREE, world-class zoo in our city. At the time the kids were little, the Emerson Children’s Zoo, located inside the zoo, was free admission before 9:00am. So that’s the 1st place we would head. Once we completed our time there, the rest of the day was spent on the rest of the zoo. Having a yearly zoo membership we could save on parking and other activities within the zoo that may have a small fee, like my favorite, the Sea Lion show. But there is an entire days worth of fascination and education with just the main zoo itself… all for free.
There were other activities we did during our week long stay at home camp, like playing at the local park, riding bikes, swim day, and much more. Local to our area (St. Louis) there are a lot of affordable attractions to help summer or a stay at home summer camp be more fun! Six Flags, The Butterfly House, The Magic House, and the City Museum, just to name a few. Check the internet for coupons and membership savings. There is so much you can do on a budget and with a little creativity that provide those memorable moments lasting a lifetime. Be creative!
How is everyone doing? The state the world is in is very scary and something none of us have ever experienced in our lifetime. We are in unprecedented territory and I wanted to check in and see if any of you are feeling the same way.
The last blog post about me (I wrote with disdain at prompting from my kids), I shared a little about myself and the current journey I am on. I’ve recently taken more time to check in with myself and take care of myself. Go here to get the beginning of the journey.
Checking in with you all now really comes from the unsettled feeling I have with the state we are all in with this COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. Our lives have halted, been turned upside down, and I feel are generally just uncomfortable right now. By uncomfortable I mean scared, different, and we all seem to be creating a new normal. Not all of this is bad. The perfect example for me is of course all of my kids are home, grounded if you will. Well, they are all adults so they are not literally grounded, but they know the importance of staying in place to help stop the spread of this horrific virus. While the day in and day out of staying put has us all on edge from time to time, we really are making the best use of our time together and I am extremely thankful.
To be completely honest, with my daily routines being thrown into a tailspin, some days I feel the wheels are completely off the bus with my daily self care routines! I haven’t been wearing makeup (good for the skin!), so I have told myself I do not need to clean my face as often. LIES! I have not been going out of the house for work (my full timejob), or to do much else… therefore, I haven’t gotten up, dressed, done my hair and makeup… you know, typical fails. Why? Why do I do this when I know and have stressed the importance (to myself and everyone else) of maintaining your daily routines with no exceptions? If I’m not careful, I will fall into the same life I was living when the kids were younger.
Going forward it’s business as usual, so to speak. Although I haven’t completely let my routines go, I WILL be getting back to them. For instance, today as I am writing this, I did all of my normal morning self care, self reflection, I did my hair and make-up and got dressed before work. Ok, I didn’t get too crazy, I have joggers on, but the rest of me is business as usual! Lol!
While we are all adjusting to a new temporary normal, keeping up with those small comforts of routines and practices (at least for me) will help with the changes. Once we come out the other side of this pandemic, things most likely will never go back to “normal”, whatever that was like before. But that’s ok, because we can create our new “normal”. We have more time now than ever to reflect on exactly what we want out of life. What we want for our futures. How we want to proceed with our lives when social distancing will no longer be the norm. If there are any positives that come out of this dark time we are currently in, I hope and pray that we can find a way to come together and end the hate that has been growing and spreading in the world. Lofty goals, I know… but if we set our minds to it, we can achieve anything! Even our daily routines 😉
So there’s lots of new faces around here. I’ve been encourage to do an “Introduction to me” post.
Here’s the problem I’ve always had with that… who am I?
If I don’t know, how can I share with others?
I start talking about myself and end up talking about my kids every time. Why? Because they ARE my life. They are grown, and still they are my life. However, I’ve begun my own journey in the last couple of years. So maybe I do know a little more about myself that I thought. Let’s see.
I always wanted to be a stay at home mom. Not to “not work”, but to cultivate the relationships, bonds, and lives of my kids. I truly feel it’s one of the MOST important jobs we are to EVER do. We are raising those that will run this world. Take care of this earth. Raise their own some day. They not only need to be taught how to live and survive and right from wrong, they need to be taught how to relate to others. To care for others. To love others.
Now that my children are grown, I’m on a journey to rediscover myself. You always hear about parents making their kids a priority over themselves and who they are, but you never truly understand until you are in that position. And that’s exactly what I did.
So who am I???
For now, let’s start on the surface:
I love music! All kinds of music!
I have a handful of favorite tv shows. Friends is definitely at the top of the list. Right up there with it is One a Tree Hill & Charmed. I like so many different genres and many other shows, but those are definitely at the top for me. One of my childhood favorites was Wonder Woman. The original. Wonder Woman. Like the Lynda Carter version. There will never (for me) be another Wonder Woman like her.
I love to cook for my family. Well, when I’m feeling it. The day to day rigor of – work, come home, fix dinner, work some more, head to bed – gets to me often and I just don’t feel like it. But when I have time and am in the mood, I love it!
I love, love, love to read!
Fun fact : I own every Nora Roberts book she’s written under her given name. I love her writing style and the way she develops her characters and their relationships. You truly feel like you’re a part of the story.
I’ve also been making small strides to get back to caring for myself:
I’ve recently increased my water intake to 1/2 my body weight in ounces/day. Currently (as I’m writing this post) I am on day 60! I definitely see some differences in the way my body feels.
I’ve also developed routines for each morning and each evening. (I’ll elaborate on those in another post) Before I would clean my face when I felt like it, or take my vitamins when I remember, but developing these morning/evening routines have been a huge factor in my development of self care. My youngest, Mallory, took a course in school where she learned all about deficiencies and tried to help me figure out what was the most important for me to take lol. I’ve also had a doctor’s input in that area.
I want to evolve my self care to accomplish a more healthy lifestyle. And I’ve made moves toward this. I stretch every morning and every night, Megan even gave me some suggestions for this one – being a dance instructor and all. Stretching is so important for our bodies.
When I started this journey of rediscovering myself and taking care of myself, my kids were (and are) all onboard. My son, Jacob, has even talked with me about the importance of this for me. They are seriously my biggest cheerleaders and it’s really great to experience. It makes me realize just how wonderful they’ve become and how “worth it” it really was to stay at home and raise them because we were able to build lasting bonds that go both ways.
This is (and I am) definitely a work in progress.
In order to be fully transparent, this whole post has been a struggle for me. Nudges from each of my kids have pushed me to hit the publish button. It has always been very easy for me to show love to others. To pour time and energy into others. But it’s not been as easy to do that for myself. I’m always evolving and self care is getting easier and easier. Showing myself love in that way is becoming more natural for me. However, talking about it, sharing things about myself is never easy. The tightening in my chest and procrastination was all too real with this post. I’m pretty much an open book. I will share just about anything with anyone. But writing about myself just feels so vulnerable.
I hope you stick around each week for the fun posts, but also check back in because I will be updating my progress on this self care, self discovery journey I’m on.
One of the things I always did while raising my kids was really try to intentionally take an interest in things that interested them. So many times it’s easy to put them in a sport or activity we did as kids. Or introduce them to a hobby we are interested in. That is perfect in the sense that they won’t (or we won’t) know what they are interesteed in until we give them those options. That is the best way to start. I did that with all of mine.
Sports, choir, drama club, or anything else, we encouraged them to find something they enjoyed. I made it my mission to take an active interest in what made them happy. I may not have understood it, it may not have been my cup of tea… but if it was important to them, I made sure to show an interest.
Fast foreward to now… they are all grown, young adults if you will, and I feel I have a very strong relationship with each one of them. So carrying over from their childhood are hobbies and interests that they each enjoy that I have learned to enjoy too, if for nothing else than just spending quality time with each of them.
So we have decided to do something fun!
My son Jacob, likes burgers. He always has! He could literally eat a burger every night of the week. We have talked about Mother/Son dates to try some of the “best burgers” in our hometown of St. Louis. So that’s what we are doing! He has coined our little adventures, ‘Burger Bounce’, and he will be writing much of the blog/review. Those that know my son know that he has a dry sense of humor and very eclectic approach to writing. This should prove to be entertaining at the least. Be on the look out for the Burger Bounce coming to the blog very soon!
So with my older daughter, Megan… she and I have a mutual love for coffee. Her’s is definitely a stronger love than mine, though as I am happy with my plain coffee and a little creamer at home in the mornings. She, on the other hand, could drink black coffee all day and even throw in a specialty coffee from a local cafe. We will be having our time together that she has named ‘Coffee Crawl’. Specifically visiting local coffee houses and those that give back to the community. Look for the “Coffee Crawl’ also coming to the blog soon!
And then there’s my baby, Mallory. She is still in college so she isn’t home much, but when she is we have discovered that we share a strong love of… shopping! I swear that girl owns more shoes than most. We love to shop the deals and sometimes just have fun window shopping and laughing until it hurts. We don’t get to shop together often throughout the school year, but when we do and find good deals, we will be sure to share those in our ‘Fashion Finds’ blog posts.
I am excited that this is something they love to do with me. To me there really isn’t anything more special than having found wonderful friends in the young adults you’ve raised. I know, super corny…but that’s me! And it’s so true. My relationships with them mean the world!
So we are almost to February 2020! How did that happen? January went by so fast!
With February comes the threat of more winter weather (especially here in the Midwest, am I right?), and Valentine’s Day. Mostly a commercialized holiday of sorts that promotes love and being in love. But it’s not just for that!
It’s a perfect way to celebrate those in your life.
So the past year or so I have seen the posts all over social media platforms about the cut out hearts on the door of your child’s bedroom. This is actually something I have done for years! I actually did it for my husband a time or two (his birthday also happens to be Valentine’s Day), but I’m not even sure he noticed lol!
I do always do it for my kids though. Even when they were away at college! As long as they live in my house, this is an inexpensive, heartfelt way I can express my love and admiration for them. And they seem to look forward to seeing all the hearts even if it is a picture sent to them at school on Valentine’s Day after it’s complete!
Each year I do this, I really try to think about each of my kids. What they’ve accomplished this past year, their triumphs, and their struggles. I choose words that I feel really describe them in my eyes.
Sometimes they are the same words as the year before, sometimes they all have some of the same words or phrases, but all are relevant to them and their life and character.
This is a neat way to express these affirmations to them. Who doesn’t feel better about themselves and life in general when someone (especially someone who loves them) takes time to express their feelings about them. I know I would!
Try this. Try this with your kids, your roommate, your significant other, or even a co-worker at the office. A little act of love and kindness can really make someone’s day!
Girl’s Weekend … do you have one? Many do these every year with family, childhood friends, school friends, work friends… it’s not a new concept. But for me, since marriage and kids, they have been few and far between.
So I began a tradition with my girls. In fact, it’s a tradition I’ve wanted to start for quite a while, but until I went back to work, I didn’t feel a weekend away and all the costs that come with that were feasible.
Each year in the fall–usually in the month of October– we will leave on a Thursday or Friday afternoon and head out of town. Not too far away, but far enough that we are away from “our reality”, and we stay until Sunday evening.
This year, they even agreed to matching shirts! Ok, not matching… complimenting. Same color, same design, but whatever style we wanted. I designed a few options and they mixed and matched to create their favorite. To some it’s just shirts, but to us it’s a representation of our time together and one day we can look back at all of these shirts and reminisce on the laughter and fun times.
Our main objective for the weekend is to get as much of our Christmas shopping done as possible.
While that IS our main objective, the time we spend is much more worth the trip!
Time together. Time to relax, unwind from work/school and life, and time to catch up with each other.
My hope is that this will be at least one weekend that we can look forward to each year. No matter where we are, we can re-connect and be together. They are growing up. They are young adults now. Soon they will be moving out on their own. Beginning their life away from mom & dad. Perhaps starting their own families… but for this one weekend a year, we come together.
Memories are important to each of us. I love that all of my kids have the appreciation for the little things and the understanding that a lot of the time they are the big things.
Have a lovely day!
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This quote from Steve Jobs is one of my favorites. I mean, I’ve always thought of myself as a little bit crazy. I’ve also thought what I do with my life can change the world. I haven’t ever told anyone that little tidbit… but its always been there. I think maybe that’s where my love for volunteering and being there for people comes from. Seriously. I feel a constant drive to be there for others, to volunteer my time, to see if I can make a situation better for someone. Because if I can, then my day is made! Of course that’s not to say I’m perfect, I’m actually pretty far from it, aren’t we all? I have my moments of cattiness and frustration, just like everyone else. But my heart is most full when I can be there for someone through a rough time, give sound advice (although I don’t always follow it myself), or just generally make someone happy. Shouldn’t we all do that? Make others happy? Help make the world a better place, with kindness?
That’s it! Super simple! There are a million other ways we can spread kindness and change the world. These are just a few. I’ll end with another favorite quote: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi