Category Archives: family life

Youth Sports…

Youth Sports…

Our 17 year old is about to start the spring baseball season. His goal at this point is to prepare for college ball..  We have set some goals and boundaries, and he is well aware that there are no guarantees, but the journey will be fun and rewarding in and of itself.   Having 3 boys and an x-sports reporter husband, we know ALL about sports around here, and we have participated in a few… but baseball is numero uno.

We have had our kids in recreational sports, travel leagues, and on school teams.  My husband has been a team manager, assistant coach, and spectator.  I have even subjected myself to the role of team mom, and, inadvertently learned how to keep a score book, which has resulted in a crippling dent to my sideline sociability.  We all have run score boards, sold BBQ tickets, candy and coupons, and have done our time sweating to death in a concession booth.

Recreational sports programs are a unique, cult like experience.  You have your super stars, and your not so super stars.  The jersey number is sacred, and you know who’s there by the decals on the mini vans and SUV’s in the parking lot.. There’s plenty of nepotism and partiality.  Every good ballpark has their share of screamers and cussers, as well as angry and bad parents.   Over the years, we have been pretty blessed with some awesome families on our teams… for the most part.  I can tell you that many “player drafts” take the parents behavior and support into full consideration.  No one wants the “banned” or trouble parent, even if their kid is a pretty good player.

Last year, our team was delayed for our field time, because a player in the game before ours lost his temper over a tough call.  The player tried to hurt the umpire, then, once ejected from the game, and the park, his father hit him in the head which resulted in the boy returning the favor, but with his cleats – thus, the authorities were called.  Really?   We have seen players purposely trip, hit and push other players, to only be rewarded by their coach.  Years ago, we even witnessed 2 coaches that were on the same team, get into a full blown fist fight in the dugout… in front of about 22 ten year olds and their families.

With all of that being said, having your children play recreational sports can be a very fun and rewarding experience.  Seriously.  Your kids can learn to be a team IMG_9668player and a friend. If your coach is good,  the players will understand the actual game that they are playing.  They may also realize that working hard and setting goals is good, and they can hopefully learn to win with humbleness, and lose with dignity. Unfortunately though, the trend of prideful, out of control parents, kids, and coaches, is becoming more and more common.  That is not fun or rewarding …for anyone.  Good, responsible adults seem to be the minority and bad examples are being set.

We need a reset, and it all starts at home.  First, know that whatever your priorities are as a family, will set the foundation of priorities for your kids… If  sports take precedence over going to Church, don’t be surprised when your kids grow up and keep that standard.  If the sports schedule deems higher importance over the rest of the families schedule, don’t be surprise if your kid thinks they are more important… If parents encourage, and remember that all the players, on both teams, are just young people, the mean trash talk should dissipate… Sports can be awesome, but it’s even better if long term perspective isn’t lost.  Set your boundaries and goals ahead of time. That will save you from reactive parenting and issues later.  Trust me.

There are hundred’s of thousands of kids playing sports all over the world today.  Less than 1% will actually make it to the big leagues.  They are kids.  The shaping of their character is far more important than how far they can hit a ball.  Teach them to play, and give it their best, but let’s put sportsmanship first and skill second.  Remember, it’s just a GAME that begins when the umpire yells, “PLAY ball!” Really.

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

my gangAfter parenting 4 amazing kids, for almost 30 years, I thought I would share some of the toughest things I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) through the process…

Top 10 Ways to Parent a Teenager

  1. LISTEN and ASK questionsChill questions. Casual. Don’t act like Sherlock. The point is to ask questions that usually require something more than a grunt, and hopefully you’ve been listening and can come up with one that they will want to answer. A great place to attempt this, is at the dinner table or while they are trapped in the car with you. (This is tricky, and requires much effort and patience on your part.  Don’t get discouraged, it will get easier)
  2. Set guardrails a/k/a boundaries and rules with set consequences.  Rules or, as I like to call them, non-negotiables; such as lying, cheating, disrespecting you, getting a zero on a report card… I don’t know what yours would be, but I’m talking about the issues you will fight to the death for.  Those are in stone and set your family’s standards.  Everything else is a guardrail, which you discuss, explain and can possibly  alter under circumstances.  If these are in place, then you are parenting  proactively instead of reactively. (much easier for day to day drama) Really.
  3. Hang out with them.  Have a date night. A shopping trip or, a breakfast out.  Something my gangthat you regularly do with your kid – that’s different than the daily grind.  Be intentional.
  4.  Know your Social Media.  No excuses.  If your young person has any kind of an internet identity, then you better know what it is and how it works.  Period.  Take a class if you have to, but it’s the INTERNET. The ENTIRE world in the palm of their hands.
  5.  Know your kids internet passwords.  They don’t have a right to internet privacy. Seriously.  If the government and all the interfaces they are using, know their passwords, and activity, so should you – you, the parent and the person that is supplying all of that electricity, wifi and phone service.  If you both understand the internet, this point is valid.  Check their social media. Now that you know it, and have the passwords, every now and then, do a check.  Kids need parents and accountability.  Otherwise they wouldn’t be kids.  Man up and just do it.  It’s not invading their privacy.  Now reading their diary/journal is a completely different story. Leave that alone.
  6.  Make your home a place they want to be… and their friends.  Find a used ping-pong table or a basketball hoop.  Always have snacks in the pantry and something to drink in the fridge other than milk and water.  (Please don’t think I mean you should have all the latest video games, and let them do whatever they want)
  7.  Say, “I’m Sorry.”  Be an example of learning from your mistakes.  Especially when you lose your temper with them! Even if they have pushed you over the edge, freaking out is never a good idea. So, when you do freak out, (assuming you’re like me) be sure to tell them you’re sorry.
  8.  Encourage them.  They need it. A lot.  Encourage without sounding like you are babying them. Avoid pinching the cheeks and telling them how cute they are… especially in front of their friends.
  9.  When (not if) they mess up, and come to you, or even if they don’t come to you, never motmobsay, “I told you so.” Don’t even say, “I was afraid that would happen.” Consequences will be hard enough when they hit the wall.  Having you there to listen and love will be much better, and will set the foundations for the impending friendship that you just might have with them someday.  I’m not saying save them from consequences – Don’t do that.  That’s how they learn and grow. I’m saying to love them through it.  They already know they messed up. They don’t need us pointing that out again and again, or telling them what they should’ve done.  This would be a great time to implement #1 …
  10.  Pray with them. Pray for them. Share the Word of God with them in a real way.  It’s not the Churches job to train your kids up in the Lord.  It’s yours.  You can’t be too busy.  You can’t put busyness before that.  If you do, don’t be surprised when they grow up and are too busy for the things of God.  What you make priorities in your life, will probably be theirs.  I know… Ouch.

Parenting teens is hard.  They are emotionally driven, hormonal, men/women children under our stewardship! Thank God we have all of those sweet memories of their first steps and loose teeth to remind us how much we love them!  They are not always going to like us, and will most likely even tell us that they hate us.  (which usually means you’re doing something right) They are full of passion, ideas, hope and energy.  God help us.

This list is far from complete.  I could have made this a “Top 100”.  These are just the ones that were the hardest for me to learn.   I didn’t even address dating! That’s a blog post all unto itself. Really.

What would you add to this list?


Top Really’s for January

Top Really’s for January

Looking back at the first month of 2013, these are the top things that caused me to say my ever popular word… “Really?”  Whether it was said from a happy place of excitement or from shock at an unbelievable situation, or just flatly stating an undeniable fact… the word fit the bill.  Now You decide…


My son is engagedengagement ring

My other son is engaged.

I’m going to be an instant “grandma” to 4 amazing kids…

My daughter is talking about pledging a Sorority

The gun control debate…


Nicki Minaj is on American Idol…he's driving!

Pop Culture…. Just… pop culture… sigh.

My youngest just got his driver’s permit (!!!)

I feel 25 in my head…most of the time, and can finally admit it.

I named my GPS Marsha… so I can say it 3 times in a row whenever she is “replanning”… (Does anyone even get this? Or am I really lamer than I think)

Fringe ended… forever.

I’m more nervous about my puppy’s training school graduation, then I was about my kids… (How am I going to get her to “stay” for 30 whole seconds??)Good bye Sybil

The Downton Abbey death… (OMGosh!)

Seeing the full moon… (I know… this isn’t a “new” thing, but every time I see one, I can’t help but to be in awe of it and our Creator)

After not really having a sweet tooth my entire life… I now dream about ice cream and milk shakes…

My pants are too tight…


What made you say “Really” last month?

Top Ten Really? of the Week

Top Ten Really? of the Week

Since my blog is titled, Really Jennifer, and it’s usually about things I say, “really” to, I’ve decided to have my top ten of the famous expression as a regular post… So here’s the first one that should have been posted last week… Enjoy.

My top ten Really’s of the week…

  1.  Traffic. Everyday. Of. My. Life.
  2.  The Superbowl halftime show… that I didn’t watch but read all about later.
  3.  Superbowl commercials with half naked ladies in them… and watching them with my pubescent son… (how fast can YOU change the channel?)
  4.  Marisa winning The Next Great Baker… (I liked Nadine better)
  5.  Holding my dog, crying my head off, while listening to the guy at the dog pound explain to me the cheapest way to put my crazy dog to sleep…then he tells me I can bring the body back to him for free disposal…
  6.  Actually buying and administering doggie prozac.
  7.  Gas Prices.
  8. Politics.  (Add a Seriously! to this one)
  9.  Having my college student explain to me why she could never live with “parentals” again, now that she’s independent…
  10.  Having to explain the difference between independence and freedom to my college student.

These are the most memorable of the week.  What can you add to this list?

Old Habits Die Hard

Old Habits Die Hard

Today I had an OCD day squared.  I haven’t had one of those in a long time.  My day consisted of paying both company and personal bills, going to the bank, getting my car serviced, taking one son to baseball practice, and lunching with another.  Then I vacuumed my house, dusted, windexed, straightened, mopped, did all the laundry, shopped, and cooked.

I call that an OCD day because I was totally anal about all of it.  My ADD kicked in as I flitted from task to task and even re-did a few things that needed it. (in my mind, anyway)  I really got a lot done.  Now I’m all tucked in my corner of the sofa with my laptop and remote control, waiting for Alcatraz to start.  I was reflecting on my day, and I am surprised at how obsessively productive I was, since I haven’t had such a full day like this in a long time…

I used to be intense about lots of things.  I guess you could say I was tightly wound, and had strong ideas and routines for everything.  I spent hours cleaning grout and hanging baby clothes on tiny hangers… I had to have the lines just right in the carpet when I vacuumed.  Everything had to have a box, or place… with a label.  Disorder and conflict were strictly forbidden.  Everyone thought my house was beautiful and clean. I had schedules, charts and lists.  It was a great front.  I worked so hard on things I had control over, because I couldn’t control so many other things that weren’t as obvious.  The insecurities were overwhelming but the appearance was close to perfect.

Those days are long gone, as I have submitted to the authority who really has control over everything.  It was an easy,
spiritual, and emotional experience to accept the One who has saved my soul, but letting go of the “control” that I thought I had, or didn’t have, is a different story.  It is a slow, painful development, which continues today.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that this whole Christian walk is a process.  Thank God.

So how does that translate into a clean house?  I was productive, after all.  I guess it just reminded me of how psycho I used to be.  Have I regressed into my insecurities? Sure! Every now and then!  But now, instead of dwelling, stressing, and dusting 3 times, I say a prayer, praise my Lord and I let it go.  And it works…Really.

Do any of your old habits ever rear their heads in your new life?  What do you do?

Tattoo? Really?

Tattoo? Really?

Last week another one of my children informed me that he got a tattoo.  I mentioned the last tattoo milestone in my post “A Week in the Life” awhile ago.  This now makes three of my four kids permanently decorated.  What does this say about my parenting, considering I told all three of them not to? Really?

Now, I’m not a prude, nor am I stranger to the skin ink.  My ex husband has a creepy snake thing on his shoulder and both of my sisters have something, although I don’t remember what.  My beautiful niece and her husband actually own a professional tattoo parlor.  Her husband is a remarkable artist, and I am always amazed at the work  he does.

Many young adults that I know, have recently made the commitment to this art and I’m amazed.   I just don’t understand I guess.  I am not one who believes it is a “sin”, although the famous OT verse, Leviticus 19:28, is referring to not behaving as the pagans do… so you can take that for what it’s worth…I don’t think having a tattoo makes you any less of a person either, but I personally would just never do it.

Here are my top ten reasons why…

  1. I’m over 40 and I think about my commitments very carefully.
  2. I’ve seen what gravity can do to a body, and sagging art work doesn’t help it.
  3. It hurts.
  4. I’d only be copying my kids…
  5. I don’t want to explain it to my grandkids.
  6. I’m OCD and ADD… I would loose my mind if I couldn’t erase it when I decided I didn’t like it anymore, which I would, and I hear removal hurts even more.
  7. WWJD… Really.  He wouldn’t, cause he was Jewish.
  8. My husband doesn’t like them. (I know this should be reason enough…)
  9. I don’t need to prove, show or remember anything that bad.  That’s what scrapbooks and blogs are for.
  10. I worry enough about moles and freckles…the more I care for my aging skin, the better.

No matter how many people are walking works of art, the stigma will remain, and it’s one I don’t have to worry about.  Am I mad or disappointed with my kids? No.  But I wish they had left their beautiful young skin alone.  It’s a blessing that won’t last, but that tattoo will…Really.

Do you have a tattoo?  If so, I’d love to hear your story.

Black Friday.

Black Friday.

Today is Black Friday.  The biggest shopping day of the year.  I am sitting on my sofa, still in my pj’s and it’s after 2PM.  I did get up around 9 this morning, but I cleaned the kitchen floor, did a load of laundry, vacuumed my bedroom, and the ceiling fan in my bathroom.   I have also managed to read about 4 chapters in The Circle, by Ted Dekker, the 25th Proverb and Psalms 132-135.  I’ve checked out Facebook this morning too.  Many of my friends have been posting about shopping and all of the great deals and crowds.  I’m not jealous.

There was a time in my life, when I planned my Christmas shopping and headed out before the sun.  I’ve stood in lines holding toys and electronics for hours.  I fondly remember applying for my Target card, while standing behind 200 other people, holding a hopping Tigger, that I almost didn’t get.  It was a dive and grab, and I was victorious.  My youngest son beamed with delight on Christmas morning, and we tolerated that bouncing, chatty Tigger for many, many hours, days and weeks after.  I asked him if he remembered that Tigger today.  He said, “no.”  I wanted to yell, “Really?!? What!?!  I almost committed assault and battery for that thing!  I stood in line forEVER!”  Really??  He said that he does remember the Thomas the Tank bike, that we purchased at 4:30AM at Zany Brainy in 2001.  I only stood in line for about 45 minutes for that one.   It was the bike he learned to ride, and I have scrapbook pages of the event in memorandum.  I guess I should have taken a picture or two of that dang Tigger.

Several years ago, we started a new tradition at our house.  We only give the kids 3 gifts.  A gold, which represents a treasure they have wanted.  A frankincense, which is something for their mind, and a myrrh, which is something for their body.  We still hang the stockings, and fill them with fun things, in keeping with Christmas traditions.  It has been AWESOME.  Having 4 kids, I still must shop for 12 gifts, but there’s a defined point and a plan.  When they tell me what they would like, it’s a short list.  Also, by calling it what it is, it keeps the theme of the real meaning of the holiday in focus.  I can usually get everything online too… Usually.  Last year they couldn’t think of anything that they really wanted, so we adopted a few families in our community and put all of our resources there.  We still surprised them with a treasure on Christmas morning, but it was more memorable to shop together, and deliver the gifts to those families than lots of gifts under the tree.

So, what did you do today?  Are you finished your shopping already?  I still have to get the 12…  I wonder if it’s too late to go find a good deal?


Thanksgiving. Really.

Thanksgiving. Really.

I obviously don’t plan well.  I posted on “gratitude” a month ago.  If I listened to the blogging professionals, I would have mapped out my posts on the calendar.  Oops.  I’m just ahead of my time…. If you would like to read my post on Gratitude for this Thanksgiving holiday, here ya go:

I do have plenty to be thankful for this year.  I am really looking forward to having my 3 eldest off-spring back in the house.  My daughter arrived last week, and has informed me that she “likes me more” now that she doesn’t live with me.  Really.  We have enjoyed some quality time shopping, painting and watching television.  We’ve only had one tough conversation about laundry room etiquette, that didn’t go as well as I had planned.  I’m hoping the boys don’t show up with all their dirty duds, or we will have to have a family meeting.

I’m not a big fan of the “slaving in the kitchen”, but I do it anyway.  I am thankful for the abundance of food and a functioning kitchen to prepare it in.  I’m pretty spoiled with a husband that tends to the turkey, and all of our side dishes are pretty easy…except for the sweet potato casserole. My favorite part of the day though, is when all of us are around the table.  It makes all that cooking worth it.  When the kids were young, we always made it a point to have dinner together as often as possible.  As they got older, and got cars and jobs, it was more of a challenge, but we still managed a few nights a week.  Now that most of them are on their own, it’s one of the things I miss the most.

I have so many blessings in my life.   Here’s my top 10.

  • My Salvation/Grace
  • The Word
  • My husband
  • My children
  • My family
  • Friends
  • Health
  • Church
  • Wisdom
  • Provision

There’s so many more, but most fall under one of those categories.

So, what are you thankful for?  What is your favorite part of the day?

Happy Thanksgiving!

3 Empty Rooms

3 Empty Rooms

I’ve been a bad/sad mood lately.  Well, I guess I should say that I’ve been fighting off a bad/sad mood.   I’m normally a pretty happy kind of girl.  My standard mode of operation when something troubling happens, is to get upset, vent, vent again, pray, repent, and then I’m usually over it.  Just like that.  I don’t dwell or ponder like I used to. (although Rob doesn’t always agree with this statement, so I might be in denial)  It makes for a happier home when I don’t freak out on unsuspecting family members too, and I prefer a happy home… and denial.

So, I was trying to figure out where this bad/sad mood is coming from and I had few ideas.  First and foremost, it’s the devil.  He’s always to blame, so I will give him the credit where it’s due. I also think life as a Mother of four, self-employment, home-schooling, and being involved in youth sports, give ample opportunities for stress.  Plus, I haven’t been to an all you can eat pizza buffet in 11 weeks…Seriously.  With all of that driving me nuts regularly, I think I’ve narrowed it down to one new thing that has happened recently.

My second son moved out last weekend.  I was pretty neutral about it, so I thought.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of him, and I know he can manage out in the world.  He’s twenty-one years young and extremely responsible, for the most part.  The thing is though, this is the third adult kid to go and do things their way, contrary to my recommendations.  Really.  I would think that sooner or later even one of my kids would go, “huh… wow… Mom is almost always right about stuff…  Maybe I should try it the way she suggested?… Hmmmm. Yea!… I’m going to listen to my Mom!”  (Sorry, I really walked down that dream road for a second…)

The funny thing about that is, I am the same way.  I never listened.  I did everything the hard way and it sucked.  Life was hard and it didn’t have to be.  That’s one of the downsides to being strong-willed.  Do I have regrets?  Well, no.  I can’t, because then I wouldn’t be the person I am today.  I am a living testimony of what God can do with a strong-willed life. (can I get an AMEN?)

It’s wanting that testimony for our own kids wherein the problem lies.  The trials we go through is where our growth and character comes from. (Rom.:5:3-4) It’s usually when we are in the middle of a mess, that we cling to God the most.  We are real quick to realize our need for Him at those times, instead of the times when life is all peachy and we are feeling self fulfilled. So, I’ve prayed every day for my kids to walk with God.  I pray for them to have a love and desire for Him that exceeds all else in their lives.  Even when we are the cause of our mess, can we truly appreciate a Savior, if we never feel the need for one?  Can that come without trials?  I don’t know.  I really hope so.

I’m a big talker of faith, and I’ll be the first to share how God has worked things for good in my own life.  I do live in grateful awe every single day that I am forgiven.  It’s walking all of that out as a Mama where I trip sometimes.  It makes the Word so real for me, as God tells us His way, out of His love for us, we continually do things our own way anyway.

Letting go, and having faith in God over our kids lives is not the easiest thing to do.  I know He loves them even more than I can imange.  I hate that God has no grand-children, but then on the other hand, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

If you have any advice for this mom with 3 empty bedrooms…. Please share.