Dec 17, 2019

Parenting is Hard

12/17/2019 — cori

I know I've mentioned alot in this blog about how I really have loved the teenage years. And I still do, doesn't mean parenting stops or gets easier. These past few weeks are proof of that.

These two adored each other when they were young. Bennett has always been so thoughtful about including Chloe. And Chloe couldn't give him enough kisses or hand holds. But things came to a breaking point this week and all those lovey feels were no longer in the air. It broke my heart. I waited and watched. Parenting looks different at each stage. At this particular one, I can't go in and tell them to stop and fix the problem for them. I have given them all the tools they need, I just need to stay on the outskirts and see how it plays out. 

However, I decided to come off the sidelines yesterday. The animosity between these two had risen to new levels and it wasn't getting better - rather worse. What I wanted to do was yell at them to take their heads out of their butts and see how they're hurting the other person. I wanted to tell them to just stop it and they would. I wanted to tell each of them how mean and selfish they were acting. But has anyone ever changed by pointing out all their negative qualities? Obviously, I was going to have to find a different way.

Chuck was out of town (the go-to peacemaker), we'd reached our breaking point, and I was the only parent left to clean up this mess. I was scared. I hate conflict. This cannot be overstated enough. I hate conflict between myself and others and just watching it play out between other people. I just want it all to go away. I decided the famous prayer of "Help, God, Help!" was in order. I left my prayer time with an idea of how to handle this situation and felt much better about the inevitable conflict that was to come.

I talked with each kid individually telling them that we would be having a talk in a little while about what's going on between the two of them. I wanted to prepare them so they not feel attacked. I wanted them to have time to think about the things bothering them the most so they would be able to articulate it instead of melt into a puddle of tears or use the famous teenage adage,"You just don't understand."

We all decided to sit in my room. I started the conversation off by reading them a blog I wrote 10 years ago about how much they adored each other. They both remembered the situation and seemed a little melancholy after I read it. I told them that their feud has gotten to the point where I needed to intervene because they are not using the tools I taught them. This situation has gotten out of hand and they need a mediator to help walk them through the hurt each of them are feeling. I get to be that mediator. 

They began by telling each other the one thing they love the most about one another. Then they were each free to tell the other the one thing that the other was doing that was causing them so much pain that they felt justified in treating each other in such spiteful ways. They each had to listen and not respond until it was their turn. It's hard to hear and see these ugly things in ourselves - especially when we feel justified. They had to sit with that pain and hear how it hurt the other. That is a humbling place to be. They both did it well. 

There was no yelling. There were no accusations. They seemed relieved to finally be talking about this and getting it out into the open. It was a healthy conflict resolution. I was the only one to cry, but I seem to do that a lot these days. I cry when I'm overwhelmed, happy, sad, hurt. Chloe might have cried as well, but I had my glasses off and couldn't see clearly. But all the tears were of relief. We were all relieved this hurt between each other was named, discussed, and forgiven. We were relieved to go back to our normal relationships letting love guide and not the hurt.

The thing about conflict's normal. To avoid it is to avoid relationship. Relationships take work. We have to push through the hard parts. We're unique human beings with our own wills, of course there will be conflict. But how much do you love the other person? Enough to fight for your relationship?

To keep them honest and resentment from building up causing another episode like this again, now, on a daily basis, they will have to tell each other one thing they really appreciate about the other and one thing the other did or said that made them feel aggrieved. Like anything worth while, it takes practice. There will be more ups and downs, but they should be better equipped to handle them on their own.

The Far Side of Parenting is so much harder than when they were little. But I'm thankful for these opportunities to grow and learn along with my children.

Dec 5, 2019

Happy Thanks 2019

12/05/2019 — cori

Thanksgiving 2019 almost didn't happen. We were supposed to drive to Utah to spend the week with the Thompsons. No one could have predicted back in June that winter would be starting in October this year. The day before we were supposed to leave for Utah, we ended up getting one of the largest snow dumps we've ever had while living in Colorado - a foot of snow. Below, Chuck is demonstrating the depth of snow and snow drifts.

It snowed all day Monday and all night through mid-day Tuesday. We had originally planned to set out around 8am on Tuesday. When I checked the Wyoming Department of Transportation website to see if the main highway we have to travel was opened, I was disappointed to see it was completely shut down as indicated by the large red rectangles below. 

We checked all available routes...going through the mountains was impossible because all the roads leading up to the mountains were closed. The main highway going through Vail Pass was closed due to a rockslide. All the passes over the mountains were closed. Going north (the quickest route) through Wyoming was closed. So we decided to wait it out. We would just leave first thing Wednesday morning. But then I checked the weather and learned that Utah was under a winter weather advisory from 4am Wednesday morning through 10am Saturday morning. We were definitely between a rock and a hard place. This meant we would have to leave at 10pm Tuesday night, assuming I-80 opened back up, and drive all through the night to beat the blizzard that was supposed to be arriving at 4am. 

This drive usually takes 6 hours, sometimes a little less. On this harrowing night it took us 9 hours. I checked the wydot website one more time before we settled in for the evening to watch a show before our planned 10pm departure time and to my surprise, they had reopened the highway earlier than anticipated. It was 7pm. We all ran around the house like crazy people packing. We left by 7:45pm. The roads looked like the above picture all night long. That was not snow on the road, that was pure black ice. Chuck said he didn't feel a dry patch of road the whole way. Plus it was snowing the whole time. We were one of the first few people on the highway because no one else dared get back on. We saw whole parking lots full of semis waiting to get back on the highway. It was so perilous. Chuck did such an incredible job. We couldn't go faster than 45mph for most of the drive. The snow started getting heavier once we got to the western edge of Wyoming. The last 1.5 hours of the drive were near impossible due to exhaustion, snow, and ice. I'm sure they were closing the road behind us as we were driving.

It was heaven to finally arrive! We were indeed grateful! We got to their house at 4:45am and went straight to sleep for 4 hours. That first day was a blur of exhaustion. We were even too tired to play cards that night, if that's even possible to believe. However, one important event did take place on Wednesday where the repercussions would be felt the rest of the week. Katie asked Chuck and John to go put the turkey (that she had been diligently thawing for the past 3 days) in the neighbor's fridge. They left on their assignment. They came back and told us all the junk food these neighbors kept in their fridge like, boxes and boxes frozen pizzas, corndogs, and popsicles. We all guffawed and laughed it up. It shows how tired we were that none of us picked up on the key words in that sentence.

On Thanksgiving morning, Katie sends the guys back over to neighbor's house to fetch the turkey so we can get this show on the road. This is what they come back with. It is completely frozen. They had put the turkey in the neighbor's freezer in their garage and never thought twice about it...that is until they took it out. Then all the pictures of frozen pizzas, corndogs, and popsicles came flooding back and it dawned on them a little too late what their mistake was. I'm shocked they came back to the house without a new turkey in tow. But they did - with their collective tails between their legs. Katie immediately sent them out in search of a fresh, unfrozen turkey that we could actually cook on this day of Thanks. Shockingly, they found a grocery store opened that still had turkeys. He even brought home a consolation prize of her favorite donuts. Win/win. We eventually ate a late, late lunch/early dinner and all were happy. John and Chuck thought they were out of the dog house. They were framing the whole thing as though they single handedly saved Thanksgiving. I think not.

The girls are in charge of the annual Thanksgiving cake. This year we got a circle cake. And as per the custom, we couldn't fit in the entirety of the word "thanksgiving"...thus, happy thanks. This was not on purpose. Apparently, we have massive issues with space planning. 

Here are the happy chefs who are spelling challenged.

And here's what Bennett and Issac did practically every waking minute.

Football and talk time dominated the rest of the day.

We spent Friday morning up at the church playing pickleball. A game new to Chuck and I. But we loved it tremendously. We had some pretty serious rallies.

We also played PIG at the hoops. All of us. We went in descending age order. 

It was hilarious. Somehow Chuck ended up having to go after Lucy. Lucy is a dancer. So she added dance moves to every one of her shots. 

Chuck ended up following her and was forced to follow her lead. The following short clips prove how hilarious the entire event turned out.

"Buddy" Chuck for the win!

The snow was constant! The kids enjoyed a friendly snowball fight one of the days.

Penny Lane was also a constant. I don't typically like little dogs but this dog stole our heart.

Bennett was in love!

Saturday arrived and we couldn't figure out how we wanted to fit everything we hoped to do into one day. In steps Chuck and his organizational genius and creates for us a well thought out time map with start sticky notes. 

This impressed Issac so much that he had to make a larger scale version and also add some of his own items. I'm sure Wes added a few as well.

Lucy felt her version was more legible and neater.

While the girls went shopping (no pics, sorry), the boys went to a place called "The Dartside" where they played Nerf Gun battles. They couldn't have had a more fun time. And I'm so thankful I didn't have to go! We all conveniened at home and then headed back out for some more shopping.

This is what happens when you let the boys roam a store alone.

They said they were trying to find "date outfits" for our date later that evening.

Then we found a Lululemon store. Bennett had never been in one and was wondering what all the fuss was about. He decided to try something on while in the store. This was about all he could afford.

Not to be outdone - Buddy Chuck.

It was very cold out. So while we were waiting for it to get dark enough for the holiday lights to turn on outside, we waited in one of the Visitor's Centers in Temple Square. This particular building had a very large statue of Jesus. So the kids and I took a selfie with Jesus.

Chuck and John wanted one too.

Then Bennett and Chloe said they wanted a picture together but they did not want Jesus in it.

That just felt wrong, so I quickly snapped another to include Jesus because it just doesn't feel right cropping him out of the picture.

The guys were getting a little bored in Jesus' room, waiting.

These are two peas in a pod!

Finally, the moment we had been waiting for. We got to see the whole area lit up with holiday lights.

It was very festive and beautiful.

After our incredible "parents only" date that evening (loved the Korean food!) we came home and realized we forgot one of the activities we had brought along to share - the Thanksgiving Quiñciniera Piñata. It was named thusly because: 1) we forgot to do it on Chloe's 15th birthday, 2) Esther's 15th birthday was only a month away, 3) Lucy's 13th birthday was this month and 4) who doesn't want a Thanksgiving piñata? We value all tradtiions and are open to just about anything fun.

So, before we head out on Sunday morning. The guys fashion a long pole that they have taped the piñata to (not sure that the Mexicans would approve of our getto set-up). But it was too cold to hang it in the garage (6 degrees) and the ceilings were too low to hang it in the basement - thus, the pole solution. Makes much more sense now, doesn't it? Katie found a long wooden type stick thingy under her bed from Australia (see, we just love including all cultures) that the kids used to take turns hitting the piñata. 

It eventually broke under Wes' demise and a candy free-for-all was had. The perfect way to end a perfect week. The night before we left, we learned that I-80 was shut down again. We weren't even sure if we'd be able to make it back home on Sunday. Lucky for us, they opened it by 7am the morning we had to leave.

This was the mess we got to drive home on. All black ice, yet again. It looks like slush and snow, but it was not. That highway was a skating rink the entire 8 hours home. 

We are so thankful for the gift of this enduring friendship. We are soul mates. What else would make you risk life and limb to spend time together?! 

If there was one downside, it would be that this was our first Thanksgiving without Gavin. I knew the day would eventually come, but you're never really prepared for it. He decided to stay in ND/MN instead. He drove home with his friend Collin and shared Thanksgiving with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Ryan and Aunt Sveta. He had a blast and got to spend quality time with family without us monopolizing the entire conversation. He's such a gentleman, he never interrupts, which means in our family, he rarely gets a chance to speak. So he had uninterrupted time with his grandparents and who doesn't love that?

Nov 4, 2019


11/04/2019 — cori

We tried so hard to come up with a fun activity to do on Bennett's birthday! We couldn't take him to another basketball game cuz we've done that like 3 other times. He's not a huge fan of golf. Football games are too expensive. We wracked our brains and then it finally dawned on us - squash!! Ever since Grandma and Grandpa taught him how to play squash, he's loved it. So I searched high and low and finally found one of only 2 places within an hour's drive of us that has squash courts. So we were up and out early this past Saturday to descend upon the University of Denver to play our little hearts out. We had the courts for 2 whole hours and we used every second of it.

The first match-up was Bennett and Mom. Bennett eeked out a win, but just barely. It was the last win he got against me. I ended up beating him (legitimately) 2 games to 1. 

It was a repeat story when Chuck and Bennett played. Chuck was up 2 to 1. This made him very happy as he is always on the losing end of the game when they play ping pong.

Bennett got his third and last win again Chloe. She was surely a good sport but her style of play is rather hilarious. She switches her racket from hand in order to avoid a backhand hit. She has a ballerina-esque quality to some of her moves across the court. It's fun to watch.

Chuck and I played some hard fought games, but each time, I came away the winner. I don't know how.

Chloe enjoyed looking like a squash player even though she lacked some of the necessary skills. Thankfully, she is learning how to laugh at herself. We had some good rallies even though I eventually won.

Let's just say it was hard to be Chloe on this day of play. She lost every game she played.

Oct 31, 2019

The Culmination of Childhood

10/31/2019 — cori

The joy of the new is a delicate
Dance with the old
They weave in and out
And  in our memories take hold.
A time long gone
Yet close enough to touch
Those stories flood back
Make us laugh so much.
A never ending smile
Laced with drool
Given freely to all
A gift, a jewel.
Protector of all
Especially the small
The superhero is ready
When his sister calls.
The ball, at home in your palm
Single-minded devotion
Practice and skill leave you calm
Nothing left to chance.
The sound of the swish 
After it leaves your hand
The search and the smile 
The nod from the stands.
All-consuming delight
Life-shattering too
The paradox of what you love
Can also hurt you.
Lessons learned 
Deep in the core
Can harden or humble
But can’t be ignored.
When life offered you less
You chose growth 
Strength and humility,
The dance gave you both.
Your worth and your value
Spring from within
Not from what you do
But who you are in the depths.
Nurture and protect,
 Search and expand.
With this as your goal,
You’ll succeed as a man.

Oct 30, 2019

Solo Traveler #2

10/30/2019 — cori

This go around it was Bennett's turn. He spent a long weekend up in Fargo visiting Gavin and enjoying all that Fargo has to offer. The boys had great weather and a great time can't ask for more than that. Bennett got a tour of the University from Gavin and his friends. They ate at all the hot spots, walked the picturesque downtown area, and watched alot of Marvel movies.

Their interests and personalities are night and day, yet I love that they take the time to show an interest in what is important to the other, as any good friendship does. Not all siblings grow up to be friends, but I'm so thankful these boys are. What a joy it has been to watch them grow from little boys enthralled with superheroes to young men with their unique passions yet still addicted to superheroes - only in the fashionable way these days through MARVEL movies.

No mater how big and smart and strong and independent these two get. This is what I will always see when I look at them.

and this...

and this...

"There is a destiny which makes us brothers; none goes his way alone. All that we send into the lives of others comes back into our own." - Edwin Markham

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