I miss old school blogging. My posts reflect that, meandering from current events to family updates to long form articles. I know, I know. . . current blog gurus say Find your audience! Write in your niche! But whatever. It’s my website.
Still, you're probably here for some mommy-encouragement or theological talk. The shortcuts below will help you find that content quickly.
The Connection Equation
Don't you wish there was a magic formula for good parenting? We know there isn't. . . and yet, there are things we CAN do to build connection with our kids.
On the Bookshelf
Books I'm reading. . . Books Hubby is writing. . . Books that come in the mail. Always looking for your recommendations, too.
Whether you are in the throes of changing diapers or giving driving lessons, we all benefit from inspiration from others. The Mommy Encouragement Files are where I collect wisdom other moms and record what I'm learning, too.
I drove a little purple Honda Civic hatchback when I was in my 30s. It was a great car, but it was low to the road and I could hear the tires on the road and every noisy bump. When all four boys were in the car with me, it was super noisy. I’d hear them chatter in the back seat. (Okay, sometimes fuss at each other in the back seat.)
Then I got hearing aids.
And I realized for the first time that they weren’t just being noisy in the back seat — but they were also trying to talk to me.
Hearing aids changed my life in a way that makes me both sad and happy. They made me a much better mom, because I realized that my kids in the back seat actually wanted to talk to me — and weren’t just making noise! Sad, because I realized that for so many years I was tuning them out because I couldn’t really hear and understand them.
My hearing loss is in the speech banana. Part of the reason why it took so long to have my hearing loss diagnosed was because I could hear — just there were sounds that I couldn’t pick up.
Our brains are so amazingly adaptive. The actual phonemes that my ears couldn’t hear were “filled in” by my brain.
Li_e when you _ead th_s _ente__e — you ca_ u_dersta_d wha_ I’m writi_ by the lette_s and patte_ns you ca_ _ead, an_ you_ b_ain fi__s in the b_a_ks.
That’s how I hear conversations without my hearing aids. My brain is working overtime, not only filling in the missing sounds but also taking cues from the patterns of speech. It is easier for me to understand people with whom I spend a lot of time, because I’m familiar with their speech rhythms. (That’s one of the reasons I understand Hubby’s Russian more easily than the average Ivan on the street.)
Because my hearing loss requires so much extra decoding of language, it is no wonder that now that I have hearing aids my brain is less tired at the end of the day!
Many people don’t realize they have hearing loss because they can still hear quite a bit, and their brain is working hard to help them understand what others are saying. Often hearing loss comes on gradually, and we adapt. Or the loss begins outside of the speech banana, at higher pitches, and so the loss of hearing isn’t initially impacting conversation.
In addition to not realizing the onset of hearing loss, many people are resistant because it is associate with getting older and many have a resistance to acknowledging that. I was in my mid-30s when I was diagnosed with moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss. I felt validated — it wasn’t all in my head! But also I was young enough that I didn’t feel like it was a sign of getting older.
Have you wondered whether you may have the beginning of hearing loss?
Is it harder to understand the speech of little girls than other people? Do you prefer to talk in person rather than over the phone? Do you avoid noisy restaurants because it’s hard to have a conversation with people? Can other people hear the music playing at a store, but you can’t? These may be hints that your hearing needs to be evaluated.
I had no clue what the first step was when I wanted to get my hearing checked. There are three primary paths you can take to have your hearing evaluated.
I was referred to an ENT who had an audiologist on staff, and scheduled an evaluation with an audiologist. This is often covered by insurance, billed through the ENT.
An audiologist may also have an independent office, not affiliated with an ENT. After my first hearing test, my follow up appointments have been with the audiologist in her office.
You may also be able to get a screening, but not full audiology exam, through a local hearing aid business. My local hearing aid specialist at Lifestyle Hearing is a great guy and provides screenings. This is often a good low cost option. (Ye, some hearing aid businesses do try to oversell higher end hearing aids, and so I recommend this with caution.)
I’ve been wearing hearing aids over a decade. I’m so thankful for the impact they have had on my mothering and the ability I have to really listen to my children.
I was recently invited to discuss parenting teens on the Theology Gals podcast. It was so encouraging to me and I feel even more committed to praying for my teens after talking with Coleen and Angela
I invite you to listen in as we discuss topics such as…
- How can we build stronger connections with our teens?
- How do we help our teens with mood swings?
- How do we encourage our teens spiritually?
- How do we handle our teens questioning the faith?
“Mom, C17 just taught me how to make coffee!” exclaimed A6.
My work here is done.
We discovered this nest in a little bush in a parking lot near our doctor’s office. I love all the birds in this part of Florida. A6 noticed how it is different from the Red Legged Thrush nest we had on our porch in The Bahamas.
Building a RAFT
Affirmation of Relationships. . . I wrote the first of this Building a Raft When We Move series in early May, and thought I’d have a post up each week. Haha! Reality is, we’ve been living out rather than writing about the “logs” of Reconciliation, Affirmation, Farewells, and Transition/Think Destination. “Building a RAFT” is a tool developed by TCK pioneer and sociologist David Pollack to help people making big transitions. I first came across this idea about two decades ago in the book Raising Resilient MKs (p. 77, aff). You can get a free e-version here!
Jean Larson describes Affirmation as “telling people what they mean to you and thanking them.” I’ve found this to be so important in my relationships and leaving process. Yet as I’ve implemented Affirmation in my transitions, it has grown to include not just the affirmation of relationships, but also an affirmation of the internal growth I’ve experienced in a place.
Hard Goodbyes are Good
No matter how complex the logistics of moving may be, the hardest part of moving is the changes in relationships. My first major move was from New Orleans to San Diego. It was the late ‘70s and I was only five. The hardest part of that move was saying good-bye to my grandparents, Maw Maw and Grampie. The loss was acute, and the tears flowed — and no goodbye has been as poignantly hard as that first one.
Hard goodbyes are good — they show us how dear are the people God has put in our lives.
It’s risky to make friends, when you know you’ll be saying goodbye. At one point in my life, I saw myself become a bit callous to new relationships, and I have seen it at times in my teens — why bother getting close, when we’re only going to leave soon? I don’t need friends. I have friends (long distance) and that is good enough for now.
I’ve even had friends tell me, “We usually don’t bother making friends with embassy families — we know they are going to be leaving soon and it is too hard.”
Even though I didn’t ever fully embraced that attitude of “not bothering” with friendships, at one point it did become my default setting. Friendships are hard. Goodbyes are hard. Let me keep the good friendships I have going through email and online groups — and just be satisfied with local acquaintances. I don’t need more friends.
Then Hubby was hired by the Department of State. While our lives had been transient before with our own adventures, the military, and as missionaries, we were entering a new phase of life that required international moves every two to three years. During our initial training in DC, one of the people God brought into my life was another FS homeschool mom, Anne. She quickly became a dear friend during that short time of six months. Something about her friendship broke through, and I realized that IRL friendships were worth the vulnerability, even when we know they will be short term.
Good relationships are never guaranteed. I totally didn’t expect the significantly close friendships I’ve had in Nassau — and they have been a gift from God.
Affirmation of the important people in your life makes the hard goodbyes more doable. For some people, I’ve written an email or a card — especially people who I don’t see frequently or have been important to my kids. But for most of my friends, it is important to me to spend one-on-one time before we go and verbally tell them what they have meant to me. The easiest way for me to do this is to invite someone to lunch or coffee, or set up time to walk together and talk. Sometimes these are “goodbye” dates as well, but primarily I focus on the affirmation of what this friend has meant to me and how God has used them in my life.
While the affirmation of key relationships is a priority, during the last few months I also purpose to affirm the people who are regular parts of my life rhythm. . . I express thanks to the cashier I see multiple times a week at my local grocery store. I tell my doctor and his staff how much I appreciate them at my final appointments. My hair stylist. The gate guards. The mail room staff. People at church. Teachers. The bank cashier. I express my thanks, convey the good things of having lived in the host country, and share what I will miss.
Affirmation, Not Just Relationships
When we move, I have the opportunity to reflect and affirm the growth God has brought in this place. Our tour in The Bahamas has been a crazy mix of stress, with the opportunities to let go and rest in the Lord.
Seriously, I’m thankful for the liquid xanax of seeing the clear blue water every day. I’m thankful for the slower pace of life. I’m thankful that Hubby isn’t getting middle of the night urgent phone calls from DC that need to be addressed right away.
At the same time, we’ve had significant health issues and stresses this past few years. I’ve had more external stresses and internal struggles with anxiety than just about any time in my life. It’s been an ongoing practice in releasing my anxiety to the Lord, and trusting Him. The Bahamas has been a weird dichotomy of peaceful and stressful. I’m still pondering the areas of growth from this time in life.
While goodbyes don’t really get easier with time, I’m more prepared to say goodbye now than I used to be. Just as importantly, I feel more prepared to welcome friendships that I know will be for a limited time.
If you are facing a big transition. . .
Have you considered what friends God has brought into your life during this time?
What ways can you affirm your friendships? How can you plan to have meaningful times before you leave?
What ways can you facilitate good good-byes for your children? Have you encouraged them to talk to or write notes to people important to them?
Have you thought about how your friendships may change when you leave, and how you can continue them?
In what areas can you affirm growth in your life?
Building A RAFT When We Move Series
The Beginning of Goodbyes
Reconciliation: Building a RAFT When We Move
Affirmation: Building a RAFT When We Move
Farewells: Building a RAFT When We Move
Think Ahead / Transitions: Building a RAFT When We Move
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Whether it is facilitating a workshop or speaking to a group, I'm available to help you develop practical skills to help you connect with your teens.
Always happy to do audio, video, or written interviews on topics related to connecting with teens, covenant theology, and expat living. firstname.lastname@example.org
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