Did you know that Make A Difference Day always falls on the 4th Saturday in October? Tomorrow’s nationwide event is the largest day of community service and volunteering across the USA. I hope you are scheduled to do something fabulous in your community! But, if you’re like our family, what happens if your Saturday is already booked solid?
Did you draw up a contract with your child before handing over that cell phone? A parent-child cell phone agreement is a great way to discuss expectations and individual accountability upfront before that device ever lands in their hands.
We have been withholding the privilege of cellphones for our kids until now. We could’ve gone forever without giving in to the reality of society, but it is important to our kids, so we wanted to honor them. There are many reasons we wanted our kids to wait for this responsibility and I’ve written about that here. Our triplet sons just began 8th grade and their younger sister is in 7th. They are responsible, caring and hard working individuals deserving of this rite of passage in today’s culture.
Our kids were not happy at all about going away to a month-long summer camp in Missouri.
They were not happy that we were separating them in different cabins at a camp where they knew no one.
Many times I questioned our parental decision to send them off because life just feels better when our kids are happy, right?
Sometimes we need to remember that as parents we do know best and trudge on.
We knew that Kanakuk was the perfect environment for our kids to grow in every important aspect of their lives.
In six short years, our foursome should all be off to college and my husband and I will be left with a quiet house. Being without them for a month was tough, but it’s better to start figuring out now what being apart looks and feels like, so when that time comes I’m somewhat prepared. If you want to read my post on all the reasons WHY we decided to send our kids to sleep away summer camp, be sure to read this.
Here are 5 things I learned from sending our kids to Sleepaway Summer Camp
1. Camp affords personal growth through opportunity and exposure
Sleepaway camp is an amazing way for kids and parents alike to grow on many levels.
We will never know what we are truly capable of by always remaining in our comfort zone. Our kids were able to meet others from all over the country (mostly the Midwest and South) and learn from living alongside them. The campers also got to be mentored by cool young adults every day. Where would they ever have a chance to form close relationships with high school and college students?
They also got to try new sports and outdoor activities that they just wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do at home.
2. Modesty is Hotesty
Every night we would scroll through the camp photo website (as parents of sleep-away campers do) hoping to catch a glimpse of our offspring enjoying their time in the woods.
Every day I would find myself being so impressed by the pictures of the teenage girls around the pool and the lake. Seeing all these beautiful young ladies modestly dressed not only in one-piece swimwear but with sports bras and running shorts over them made this mother smile.
I grew up pretty conservative in Indiana and it makes me sad about the lack of modesty in our youth today.
Our daughter dear is back to her bikini-wearing ways, as most of the girls probably are now that they are home. But, she has learned about the value of modesty and being appropriate around the opposite sex as she grows, not just from her preaching Momma. She told me that the counselors would tell them that Modesty is Hotesty and I just love it.
All of the young men also had to wear shirts any time they were around females unless they were in the pool or the lake. Can I get a Hallelujah?
3. I am Third
I’m sure you’re aware that we are raising kids in a Me, Me, Me society.
One of the main reasons we were drawn to Kanakuk, was that it is a camp for teens to grow in their Christian faith. Their teaching of I am Third is exactly how we are trying to raise our children. God first. Others second. Me Third.
To find a camp that strengthens our family values was awesome. We attend church, pray in our home, and serve locally and on mission trips, but the power of our kids being surrounded by like-minded believers in their peer group for a month was very powerful.
They were inspired by camp President Joe White and two of our sons even chose to get baptized before coming home. I am in awe. I had the opportunity to hear Joe talk a couple of times and he brought me to tears with his words and passion every time. I’m so grateful for his love and guidance for this generation.
4. It’s awesome to read handwritten letters from your kids
Even though our four are yet to have cell phones, they love their Instagram and texting capabilities on their Ipads. No technology is allowed at camp, so it’s back to basic communication. Not being able to talk to our kids at all was the toughest part of having them away at camp with four weeks of only communicating through the mail.
How fun though to go to the mailbox and receive actual handwritten letters from your kids!
It is surreal to receive a note from your daughter saying that she just went on a three-day overnight canoe trip, sleeping in a tent while she had a fever of almost 100 degrees, but had a blast. One son wrote that he went on an overnight canoe trip through rapids that tipped his tin vessel and he and his cabinmate had to hold on to a log until someone came to rescue them. This was all before they climbed through a cereal box-sized hole in a cave to sleep for the night. It was an awesome experience, he said.
Whoa. The camp provided them with adventures and situations that built resilience and confidence that I could never provide at home. It’s difficult as a parent because I want to see pictures of all of the cool stuff they did and saw, but there are none.
Our sons and daughter have the memories and we get to hear their stories. It’s perfect and exactly how it should be.
5. Dry Shirts Ain’t Hype
Ain’t no party like a K-2 party! This camp is crazy fun. Kanakuk had a themed party night every week and dance parties all of the time. The leadership counselors are high energy and everyone just has a blast. My reserved kids were not looking forward to this part at all, but they all came home talking about how much fun the parties were.
At closing ceremonies, I was watching all of the campers letting loose doing the Whip and Nae Nae together for the very last time. It made me smile from ear to ear. The boys told me that the counselors would chant Dry Shirt Ain’t Hype– meaning get out there and let loose. Enjoy your life!
I receive absolutely no compensation for this post or recommendation of this camp. I truly love and believe in the experience that our family receives and want to pass the blessing of it along to you, as a friend did for me.
I used to believe that parents sent their kids off to sleepaway summer camp because they didn’t want to be with them.
I now know that this couldn’t be further than the truth.
Parents who make sleepaway summer camp a part of their family plan understand the value of all that is learned and gained through such an experience. Sending our teenagers to Kanakuk sleepaway summer camp in Missouri has been a part of our family plan for the last five years and is not something that we decided spur of the moment to do because we were tired of being with them.
Sending our teens to sleepaway summer camp has been one of the best investments we have made in our family.
Anyone who sends their children to camp knows it’s expensive and a lot of work to do so. Have you ever labeled 64 pairs of underwear with a sharpie? It would be a whole lot easier to send our sons and daughter to the grandparents’ house who have requested to have them anytime rather than send them to camp.
But, we’re not looking for easy. We’re not looking for convenience.
We’re not looking just to catch a break.
We’re looking for impactful, eternal investment.
Growing up, I never knew kids that went away to camp. I went overnight once to Little Hoosier Camp and my husband didn’t last more than a night away at his hockey camp a few miles from his home in Providence as a child. As parents with minimal experience in this realm, we would’ve never even thought about sending the kids off to a sleepaway camp, if it weren’t for observing some dear friends who believe in summer camp as part of their family plan.
Sending our kids to sleepaway summer camp is a sacrifice.
As parents, we don’t even allow our kids to go to sleepovers and keep them close to home most days. We’re not completely comfortable with the idea of being apart from our sons and daughter for weeks at a time, but feel it’s important, for all of us, so we faithfully make it happen.
5 REASONS WHY WE SEND OUR KIDS OFF TO SLEEPAWAY SUMMER CAMP
1. Camp builds their confidence and intrinsic motivation
The camp provides time for the kids to figure out how they want to spend their time, without Mom or Dad hovering over them. We spend so much of our family time shuttling our kids to their programmed sports and activities that there is little time for them to think of what they really want to be doing.
Their youth sports seasons are so long now that unfortunately most days it’s like going to a job for them. Camp allows them the freedom to choose whatever feels fun to them at the moment.
2. It’s an opportunity to be uncomfortable
Our kids get nervous about going off to camp and I have to say the same goes for my husband and I. As parents, we want our foursome getting out of their comfort zone though. We want them to learn resilience and independence away from us in a safe setting. What better time to do that than now?
We separate the triplets in their own cabins which they aren’t thrilled about. At home, they share a bedroom and enjoy being together. At least they will meet up at activities, where daughter dear is truly on her own at a different camp 45 minutes around the lake from her brothers.
3. Tech-free Time
This alone is a major reason to send kids off to camp today. Even though our sons and daughter are still living without cell phones, they do have Ipads and boy do they love starting every summer day with them. Video games and Instagram fill every quiet minute they have.
How wonderful it will be to have a group of kids together playing outdoors without any gadgets in hand. Perhaps they will even learn skills to converse in person with other human beings.
We must mindfully provide our children with opportunities to live without technology in order to gain important lifelong skills.
4. Spend downtime in nature and learn new skills in the Great Outdoors
Let’s be honest Arizona is nowhere you want to spend your summer. Our July through September is equivalent to winter in Chicago. You just bear it, but you definitely don’t want to spend much time outside. The only outdoor playtime for kids here is in the swimming pool. Camp will give them the ability to enjoy activities on the lake as well as sports and other outdoor fun that they wouldn’t get to do here at home.
5. Meet new friends and gain mentors
Living without any family nearby, we purposely seek out positive mentorship for our kids. At camp, they are able to meet people from a different region than where they are growing up which is a benefit. Our sons and daughter also get to live under the mentorship of Christian college students and Biblically trained teachers who have chosen to spend their summer with them.
Is sending your kids off to sleepaway summer camp a part of your family plan?
It’s hard to believe that yet another school year concludes for our family on Friday. I’m not sure where the time goes, but I do know that it certainly seems to be moving at rapid speed.
I was waiting on my passport photos to be developed at Costco last week, when I noticed the lady next to me looking over her son’s high school graduation announcement. I could feel pain tugging at her heart so I said, “Oh, is that your handsome son? How great!” And she turned to me and said “Yes. No one tells you that one day they are going to leave you though.” And I replied, “yes they do, but we just don’t want to believe it.”
I don’t know this woman’s story and that literally was the extent of our friendly exchange, but I definitely felt regret in her words. All parents know under normal circumstances that we have approximately 18 years with our kids at home under our roof. What we choose to do with those years is up to us. That being said I am already 2/3 of the way through my major parenting journey.
I want to have no regret when it comes time for my four children to leave this nest. And most likely I will lose all of them to the real world within a year. My goal in raising them has never been about doing it perfectly but by all means raising them intentionally.
One friend was telling me her desires to go on a family vacation to Washington DC, but that All-Star baseball and other kid activities once again weren’t going to allow the time. Let me ask you something. If you knew you only had a month left with your kids, would you change your priorities? Would you choose to take that crazy vacation you’ve always wanted to instead of signing up for yet another activity? I would have to think so.
I wrote an article in the new issue of MASK (Mothers Awareness on School-Aged Kids) about our six month family sabbatical by motorhome around the United States of America. The issue is all about time and the importance of taking it while we have it.
Taking a family time out and removing yourselves from all the sports, school and even your jobs, definitely takes a lot of courage and determination. But, if we don’t take the time now to stop and enjoy one another, when our kids are young, we may just end up full of remorse when they head out the door into adulthood.
I don’t want to look at my son’s graduation announcement with any regret. Of course there will be natural sadness but that hopefully will be overshadowed with pride and excitement because we’ve all done our best. I’m here to tell you that your children will leave you one day, so you won’t be able to use the excuse that no one told you so!
Time is ticking and the time is now. Enjoy it while you’ve got it!
You have so much potential.
A more accomplished blogger, journalist and author said this exact statement to me during our meeting at Mom 2.0 Summit this past week. We talked of my past and where I want to go now with my writing. We talked of working with brands and me becoming a speaker. I was ready to take on the world when I walked out of that conference room.
A mom still has potential?
I positively knew the sky was the limit when I was 19 and it was easy to act on that then. I went for jobs over my head, got them and succeeded in the positions. Looking back, perhaps it was my skillset on my resume that got me the jobs. I remember my friend telling me about Cultivated Culture. She told me that she’d found a resume template on there that she’d followed to make her resume look better. With a strong resume, you’re likely to achieve the job you want. That was useful advice because being successful with jobs is never easy. Recognizing what you are capable of and going for it is much easier when you’re living life just for you. Then one day you become a Mother and you start to question all that you are and who you should be living for.
How come we don’t encourage our fellow moms with the powerful phrase- you have so much potential? My new friend and her statement really stood out to me. It was different. She was authentic and empowered me. She gave voice to what I feel inside.
Because you know what happens when you become a Mother….
Your potential now becomes their potential, if you let it.
Being a Mom has never really defined me. I guess it did for those years when I had four in diapers and gates on every room in my house. I had little choice but to dive in and solely focus on my little offspring. Need I say that I love being a Mother more than anything? (Us Moms always gotta clarify that, whenever we voice that our sole existence isn’t Motherhood, right?) I’m just saying I’m not the Mom who puts stickers of my kids accolades on my car or gets all worked up at their sporting events every Saturday. (Did I mention that I love them more than life itself? Just making sure you got that.)
I hope that my kids are succeeding in school and at their activities because it makes them feel good, not because it gives my life meaning.
It’s so easy to talk about how much potential our kids have, isn’t it? They are young and have the whole world ahead of them. The world is their oyster and boy do we want to see them be their best. But what happens to our belief in that same potential for ourselves once we become mothers?
In the process of getting caught up in our kids potential, we fail to recognize our own.
A lot of times we are just too busy and it’s just easier to let our family members do their thing, while we take care of all the daily maintenance behind the scenes. Walking around with the ability to do something fulfilling, feeling it inside, but not investing the time to make it happen is a disservice to everyone. It’s tough to sometimes know exactly what we’re meant to be doing. It can feel overwhelming as we’re pulled in all directions. But, we have been put on this earth to use our God given talents and to do something with our one precious life. Because I know that you have the potential to do anything your heart desires.
Watch out world. I may be a woman past my prime but I have potential and who can stop a woman with that?
Dear Teacher of my Beloved Middle School Student,
I understand that it’s that time of year that I have been asked to send in daily treats of Monday’s flower, Tuesday’s favorite snack, Wednesday’s gift card, Thursday’s school supply and Friday’s personal note all in the name of National Teacher Appreciation Week. I thought that in middle school perhaps I would be free of this daunting schedule, put out lovingly by our APT, but obviously that is not the case. The problem is, I’m in the business of picking parental battles and asking my almost 14 year old son to carry a flower for you on to the bus, isn’t one I’m willing to fight for. Please don’t take this personal.
Unlike the elementary school days, you and I don’t know one another. We wouldn’t even recognize each other if we passed in the grocery store. Now that I’m no longer needed in the classroom, our relationship is pretty non-existent.
But I do want you to know that you are appreciated every day.
I am grateful that you have found it in your heart to come to this wonderful school and teach our children. God Bless you for that. In celebration of this special week for you as a teacher, I wanted to share with you how I try to honor you in our home each and every day.
- I teach your student about personal responsibility and doing his best, in the hopes that he can come to school prepared and make your job perhaps a little bit easier. We talk about kindness and compassion and the importance of treating you and his classmates with respect.
- I expect him to comb his hair, put on clean clothes, get all the leftover breakfast out of his braces and remember the deodorant, all to help make your classroom a little more pleasant. If you happen to have him after PE, I apologize and can’t be held responsible for that.
- When he complains that the school work is boring or that you weren’t at your best that day, I stand up for you. I tell him that you have the toughest job on the planet, for very little pay, and that I could not imagine ever having to do what you do. That’s right, I’ve got your back. You never have to worry about that.
- We have not given our child a cell phone so that you may have his full attention. With Clash of Clans beeping in the backpack, you may stand no chance otherwise.
- I don’t hold a position on the APT because I frankly don’t want to. But, I do volunteer my time and work hard to help our school earn money because I know it is important for you to have technology, aides and supplies in order to do your best.
- I thank you for allowing my darling to grow and learn under your daily care and for reaching out to me when I need to know that he has crossed the line. Your understanding that this is the time we want him learning from his mistakes is appreciated. When my child pleads his case on why you may have it all wrong, I explain to him that perception is reality. You win.
- I believe in you and will not question what you do or why you are doing it the way you are. And I assume that you feel the same for me as a parent. We are both doing our best.
Happy National Teacher Appreciation Week! It certainly takes a village and I’m so lucky to have you as a part of ours. Oh and your gift card is on it’s way…..
Mom of your Beloved Middle School Student
I’m telling you the angels were singing to me the day the nurse told me during my ultrasound that the baby I was carrying inside me was a GIRL. I could cry now just thinking back to that exact moment. If I had to name one best moment of my life, I think it would be this one. I was a Momma to triplet sons less than a year old at the time. I was just sure one of them was going to be a girl, but they all came out male. Then, unexpectedly expecting a fourth I needed to know if this special surprise was indeed my daughter. And yes, she most certainly was.
She is still the love of my life, but some days I have to really strain to hear those singing angels. But, I couldn’t be more proud of her and who she is today as she turns 12. I was nothing like her at this age, so she is fascinating to me. I was scared of anything and everything. She fears nothing and enjoys all.
Did you see the Always #LikeAGirl Super Bowl commercial or have you seen the campaign? It was my highlight to watching that game. I wanted to jump up and shout, YES girls, YES!! Instead, tears welled up in my eyes, as my sons stared at me in horror. I am all for raising and being a strong, confident woman. I know the Always campaign uses verbs like Run#LikeAGirl or Skate #LikeAGirl, but I want to use adjectives that describe my youngest who is growing up with three brothers ahead of her.
Here are 12 words that embody my daughter, along with my favorite pictures of her from our USA travels, in honor of her 12th birthday today. Turning 12 #LikeAGirl.
The NHL trade deadline is today. I get a pit in my stomach just thinking about it and our family hasn’t had to worry about this in 7 years. But, I know all too well how NHL families are feeling today and it simply could be the toughest day of the season for us wives. Most fans and people unrelated to the sport don’t have any idea the anxiety that today brings.
All day you are scared to death any time your phone rings. Are the rumors you’ve heard about you moving on true? You’ve wrapped your head around the thought of you getting traded and then there’s no phone call. I guess we’re safe and not going anywhere. But, wait we kind of wanted to go. Didn’t we?
As a wife of a former NHLer with a 17 year career, I spent many years feeling the nervousness that today brings for those following in our footsteps. It’s not fun at all. Because even if you are stable and going nowhere, you will have to say goodbye to teammates and friends today. Guys will inevitably leave their wives and families behind to get on the next flight to their newest NHL home. But, even so, it may just be for a short time, so you can’t get ahead of yourself because most likely you will be making yet another move after the season. That is, if your presence doesn’t lead your new team to the playoffs promise land.
Our friend and ex-teammate on the Phoenix Coyotes, Shane Doan, was quoted in the Arizona Republic this week saying, “When it’s your friends and peoples families that you know, it’s so much harder. There’s amazing things to playing in the NHL. There’s a lot harder things to do, but I don’t care who you are. It’s no fun.” Shane has spent his entire career with the Coyotes since he joined the team in 1995. He and his wife, Andrea, have four children like us but haven’t had to experience any of the moving around. She and I talk about how nice that is yet how change is not necessarily a bad thing.
Change is pretty much inevitable when you are married to a professional athlete. Sometimes a trade feels exciting and other times it feels like your world is coming to an end. It isn’t a whole lot of fun to not have any say in where you are moving to or when you might do it. It can and does happen in an instant. But, nonetheless you pick up and go and make the best of it. And I have to say I am a different, more well rounded, confident person because of it. I now have amazing friends all over the US and Canada because of NHL trades. I couldn’t be more grateful for that. Back in the day, Keith and I never would’ve dreamed of retiring to the desert. When we married we pictured ourselves raising kids in a brownstone in downtown Chicago. Ah yes, life is a wonderful journey, isn’t it?
Flexibility is the key to this lifestyle. I learned to go with the flow as we moved around to four different teams. Two trades came at the March deadline. I can say it was much simpler when we were just a newly married couple moving from Chicago to Phoenix. Somehow it didn’t feel quite the same getting the news with four kids in tow going from Anaheim to Vancouver. But, we definitely grew with each move. I learned to reach out and connect quickly with other women who gave me advice on where to put the kids in school and overall help me navigate my new city.
Today is tough. I’m feeling it for all of you who will shed tears and hug your man before he heads off today. I’m sorry for that. Change is difficult but it also creates opportunity. A new world awaits you so take advantage of it. This NHL craziness certainly doesn’t last forever so hang in there and enjoy your ride.
With Valentines Day just around the corner and red hearts adorning my home, love is in the air. No matter our age or stature in life, we all share a common thread in our need to feel loved to best succeed in life. But, how good are we at demonstrating our love to those who mean the most to us?
The 5 Love Languages is an amazing tool that I use in my daily life. It’s truly life changing to figure out the love languages of your children and spouse/partner. Different people express love in different ways. This Valentines Day your loved one may buy you flowers when what you really want is a romantic dinner out on the town. Perhaps you’ll cook him a home made meal when he really would just love to hear how much you adore him. Or maybe you both want to go to one of the most romantic places in the world, New York City. Where there is plenty of things to do for both of you to enjoy your Valentine’s day. The only problem is that you haven’t told each other. And the miscommunicated love goes on and on… unless we learn one another’s love language. I think quotes are a great way to show how you’re feeling to one another and an easy way to start learning each other’s language of love. There are loads of quotes at lifehacks on this topic which you can use to express yourself.
I think it’s even more important to learn the love languages of our children. Go figure that each of my four kids receive love in four different ways. I knew their personalities differed but who knew that the way they feel loved is uniquely their own as well. Definitely keeps me on my toes!
According to Gary Chapman, the author of the 5 Love Languages Series, there are five specific languages of love:
1. Words of Affirmation – This language uses words to affirm other people. These are the people who are always complimenting you and showing you love through their words. This is definitely not my love language, but it seems that it’s a very popular one with many of my friends and one of my sons. It’s very important to tell these individuals how wonderful they are any chance you get!
2. Acts of Service- For these people, actions speak louder than words. Dad’s love language is Acts of Service. We all know this and love serving him coffee as this makes him feel loved. Going out of your way to do things for individuals with this love language is important!
3. Receiving Gifts – For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift. Do you know that person who is always giving you thoughtful gifts? This son shows his love through buying his little Sis a surprise gift in New York City.
4. Quality Time – This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention. Yep, this is me. Make a plan to spend one on one time with me and my tank is full! I’m even willing to take silly selfies if that’s what spending time with my eleven year old daughter entails.
5. Physical Touch – To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch. Do you have a child who loves to cuddle? The one who is always pushing around his siblings and giving high fives to his friends. Physical touch is the way to their heart.
HOW DO I FIGURE OUT MY LOVE LANGUAGE?
Start thinking about what might be your personal love language and then those of your family members. What resonates with you when you look at our moments above?
Observe how you most often express love to others. Is your first instinct to hug someone or express to them how wonderful they look?
What do you complain about most often? That is good insight into what your love language may be as well. Your complaints reveal your inner desires. What do you request of your spouse most often?
According to Chapman, sometimes there are certain life situations that make the other love languages extremely attractive. For example, your primary love language may be Words of Affirmation, but if you are the mother of three preschool children, then Acts of Service by your husband may become extremely attractive to you. If he gives you only Words of Affirmation and does not offer to help you with household responsibilities, you may begin to feel “I’m tired of hearing you say, ‘I love you’ when you never lift a hand to help me.” For those years, it may appear that Acts of Service has become your primary love language. However, if Words of Affirmation cease, you will quickly know that this continues to be your primary love language.
This Valentines Day have each member of your family take the brief online quiz to see what your love languages are. It’s fun and free! Then grab one of the books to learn more and start spreading the love. Only this time you will be equipped to show it in the way someone might need it the most! Happy Valentines Day to you!!
Join my Community!
Want tips for raising your kids without regret? Join my community so we can stay in touch!