Plodding Along #CoffeeTalk


Thank you all for your heartfelt comments on my post the other day. I can’t even remember what day it was, so you know I’m not myself. Ha! Seriously, though, I read each and every one, and I can’t quite get over the outpouring of love and support, so thank you.

I did get off my duff and get to my workout appointment on Tuesday and I have never been so sore in my life. I can barely move. We didn’t even DO that much, and it wasn’t that hard at the time, but man, oh, man, I must be more out of shape than I even feared.

It’s just my legs. I was doing some upper body stuff while my foot was in the medical boot, but I hadn’t done much of anything for my legs in over six weeks. So now I’m hobbling around like an old lady between my swimming head, my stiff legs, my stress fracture and my aching back (did I mention, those weeks in that medical boot created back issues I’d never had before? Oh yeah, good times…)

I haven’t managed to get to an aqua class or to call the doctor yet. Truth be told, I’m still not myself. I have sat at my computer for the better part of every day this week but I’ve accomplished little. I can’t seem to focus, I don’t have much desire to write, my mind is going in about 120 different directions and Facebook is becoming my second home-on-the-Web.

Yesterday afternoon I finally gave it up and went and sat outside in the sunshine for about 20 minutes. Savannah came out and jumped up on my lap, and we sat there together basking in the late day sun. It felt wonderful. I’d like to say I was refreshed afterwards, but not really. The kids got home and suddenly my quiet, tidy house became a free for all, and I started to feel like I was losing the tenuous grasp I had on my sanity.

What they don’t tell young moms is, when the kids get older, it definitely gets less physically challenging, and you may not be as exhausted as you once were, but they become so much more emotionally draining… and their newfound independence has a way of turning your orderly life upside down.

It all SOUNDS so lovely at first… they can do more on their own, they can help with the chores… but in reality, they create more messes for you to clean up. They make their own snacks, but they don’t clean up after themselves. They help with the kitchen after dinner, but they don’t load the dishwasher properly so you have to redo half of it the next morning, and you can never find what you need when you need it when you go to make dinner the next night. They can bake their own cookies, but they almost set the kitchen on fire when they decide to take a shortcut and put the cookie dough in the microwave. They get home from school and leave a trail of shoes, socks, backpacks and lunchboxes in their wake. They change clothes three times a day and throw everything in the hamper, whether it’s dirty or not… on second thought, I’m lucky if the clothes make it to the hamper. They’re usually on the floor, often in the hallway where I get to view the loveliness. And don’t get me started on the laundry that I take such care to fold and stack… that they unceremoniously rip apart as they’re looking for that certain shirt that they must. wear. right. now.

And then there are the extra curricular activities and the driving… I am so thankful my kids don’t go to a private school far away! The amount of driving I do on any given afternoon is enough to make me rethink my decision to live in the suburbs. Do city kids walk to school and activities? That sounds pretty fine right now.

Of course it is my job to teach them the proper way to do things around the house, and those moments in the car can be the only times we get to bond all week, but some days I think I’d rather have kids in diapers than tweens and teens.

But the up side is, they are fun to talk to (when they talk), and they get my humor, they fill the house with music, they teach me new card games that they learn during band practice (what!??), and they rub my back when they see that I’m not feeling well.

And I know, I KNOW, that in a few years, I’ll be sitting here in my empty nest, looking back at this time of my life, missing the chaos… and I will write a blog post telling other mothers that this season is so short… so embrace it, enjoy those kids and all their messes and squabbles and foibles, because they will soon be adults out on their own, and who knows where they will end up and if they will even want to come visit dear old mom. My biggest comfort is that, Lord willing, they will get married and produce a bunch of grand-babies to cuddle.

Then it will be all worth it, right??

What I REALLY meant to write about today, though, was our vacation planning. I warned you that my mind is going in about 120 different directions, didn’t I?

This kind of goes along with the kids getting older and not being around forever. We’ve decided that if we are going to travel as a family and see new places, we need to start now. It is complicated because we don’t want to take the kids out of school at their ages, and traveling during school vacations is much more costly than going during the off-season. Plus, my son’s marching band schedule is INSANE. We can pretty much go nowhere as a family until after the holidays.

We are thinking about doing something for Spring Break (ours is April 1-6, so actually less than week, which makes it hard to go very far) or after school gets out in June. The other question is, where to go? Hilton Head looks nice for Spring Break. But I’d really like to take my family out West, probably to the Phoenix/Scottsdale/Flagstaff area. But that’s too hot for June and too far(?) for a 6-day school break. Plane fare is no joke so we want to make the most of our time out there if we go. I’m really conflicted.

I’m wide open to advice. We need to start nailing things down if we’re going to go in April. Fortunately it is early April, and before high season in some areas here on the East Coast. I found a great price on a home rental in Hilton Head because the rates don’t go up till the end of April.

Then my son threw Yellowstone out there, and now I’m all looking into that… at least the weather there would be more temperate in June, yes?

HOW does one decide? We are clearly not big travelers. We usually go where we are invited, and that’s worked well for us so far, but there are so many places we haven’t seen, and I really want our kids to experience more than Maine and the Jersey Shore before they go off to college, so it’s now or never.

So that’s where I am right now… plodding along, trying to find the energy and focus to complete the projects I’ve committed to, trying not to get too bogged down in the quicksand of life, and looking ahead to some fun family adventures in the new year.

Or as Elisabeth Elliot wisely put it, Just do the next thing.

Join the Conversation

35 thoughts on “Plodding Along #CoffeeTalk

  1. Thanks for sharing your struggles. Hope it helps you to share. It helps all women when we share openly. No one lives a perfect, trouble-free life — because there is no such thing. Hang in there! Lots of people care about you. Your issues are universal. Praying for peace for your mind & your household! Love your blog.

  2. A bunch of random thoughts from a reader…

    I honestly don’t know what my younger self was smoking when I thought to myself “life will get so much LESS chaotic” when my daughter starts school. Oh.my.word…for all the youngish moms reading this, it is a BUSIER season of life. Just in a different way. I’m like you in that I am embracing this season and I know in exactly 3 years it will be done when she goes away to college.

    I’m in Texas and fortunately my daughter is in orchestra. But her best friend is in band and let’s just say I agree with you about band. It’s insane. Her best friend is in band and let’s just say it’s been a major challenge for those two to stay friends because her friend is *always* doing band related activities..practice, performance, contests, more practice and then she prefers to eat and hang out with her band friends during the day. It’s hard.

    For vacation: Have you ever considered Zion National Park? The city of Springdale sits at the base of the park and is a walkable town. So you can hop on a shuttle bus and spend the day hiking around Zion, take a shuttle back to your hotel and then walk to dinner, etc. Very nice.

  3. I have 4 children and I know it seems crazy but the time does go so fast. My 2 boys are 19 and 21 and they are commuting to college. My girls are 15 and 13, my babies are starting to become young women! I don’t even want to think about later and trying to enjoy the now in each day with them. As for a family vacation, for about 14 years we have been going to Madeira Beach which is about half an hour from Tampa. We go in the summer when it’s very hot so April should be nice. I just discovered your website this year and am really enjoying it. Everything will be fine with you and your family.

  4. Reading your blog in Perth, Western Australia this evening, as I do often Jolynne and with three teenage kids of my own I’m hearing you!! Hang in there! It’s sort of comforting, for want of a better word, to know that you are not the only one with these feelings. Good luck with the holiday plans -sometimes half the fun is in the organising. Take care, love your honesty.

    1. Can I just say that I LOVE that I have “friends” all over the world due to this little hobby that I started 8 years ago. Thanks so much for your words of encouragement.

  5. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now…when I remember to get to my blogreader! Fortunately, I saw this post today. Quite a bit of it resonates with me as my own children grow older. Bigger kids, bigger problems…

    We go to Yellowstone every other June (we are fortunate enough to have a family vacation home near the West entrance) and I think it’s the best time to go. Less crowded, decent weather (although the range can swing widely from low to high – you must bring fleeces as well shorts), and every bit as breathtakingly beautiful. Everyone – especially kids – should see this place at least once, but even after multiple trips, it never gets old. If you end up pursuing Yellowstone (and I would add in Jackson/Grand Tetons to that trip, too) as a vacation, feel free to contact me for ideas.

    1. Thank you, Jessica! I will. Maybe we should shift our focus from the Phoenix area to Yellowstone, especially since my son mentioned it. It would be nice to somewhere the kids are excited about. My crazy kids don’t really want to go anywhere. They always have fun when they get there, though.

      1. We went as a family to Yellowstone last year. We went with another family and it was the.best.trip.we.ever.had! We rented a house (much cheaper than Jackson Hole hotels!) We went on a “float trip” one day with a BBQ on the bank of the river at the end of the float. We did horse back riding one day (none of us had ever done that before!) we obviously drove around Yellowstone for a few days (swam in some hot-spring river areas-awesome!) and rode a vernacular up to the top of the mountain where it was snowing in July and had hot chocolate (kids) and beer (us!)-back at the bottom it was 90 degrees. Best family trip ever-if you want any info, email me!
        Love your thoughts about kids-sounds like my house too. Don’t worry, we’ll get through it right????

        1. Hi Nancy, where did you find the home? I think we will likely go that route. I was looking at Homeaway for places to stay in Flagstaff if we did that location this summer, and I found a few that looked promising. We are thinking of doing Yellowstone in 2016.

  6. I am right there with you. Mine are 9 & 7 right now and I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that they are old enough that they are less exhausting, that there is no way possible for my to have any more (because all my close friends are just now having kids) and on and on. When in reality, they are much more independent and can completely fend for themselves for the most part, but I’m no longer convinced that that is a good thing all the time!

    The messes. Oh the messes. I keep telling myself to not resent the messes, to embrace it and realize that in a few very short years they will be gone and my house will boringly stay cleaner. Some days a clean house it what keeps me sane though.

    Travel, we are hoping to start traveling with our kids starting next year too. We’ve went to a few places just a few hours from home but we want to really travel while they are still younger. I have no suggestions for you though. Our first big family vacation is going to be a Disney cruise.

  7. I highly recommend Yellowstone! Went with my parents when I was 16 and loved it. Absolutely beautiful and something every person should see. As far as the temps, we went in June and it was warm during the day but cool at night and in the Mornings so we needed a lightweight coat.

  8. Hi Jo-Lynne, I am new to your blog and found it while looking for cute outfits to wear. What I’ve found though is something so much more! I wanted to leave a comment on your post about having the blahs because I was right there with you. But then I had to get the kids to school and then my work day started (I also work out of the home). So I never got to post. Today again though, your post hit such a chord with me. I feel like you are writing what I am thinking and feeling! In a strange way, it is comforting to know that we are all struggling with one thing or another. My daughter is in marching band too and I am so overwhelmed at the moment I just feel like crying. I work out of the home as well, but even being in the house all day, it is still a total mess! Dishes, laundry, phone calls to make, the list is never ending. Sorry for the babbling. After I started following your blog, I found myself in a pity party: why couldn’t I have the cute outfits, shoes, and accessories too and go on tropical vacations like her? But then I realized after your post, that you struggle just like the rest of us. My point is: I hope you find comfort in knowing that YOU ARE NOT ALONE!! Today I will ask the Lord to give me extra strength so I can do all those things that need to get done for the family, when all I really feel like doing is watching HGTV or the Food channel all day! Bless you for putting yourself out there so we can all feel less alone in our struggles. 🙂

    Quick comment about trips: Yellowstone was amazing as a family! We went several years ago in the summer and we want to go back. Arizona is also a very cool place to visit (not literally cool, but you get my drift). I hope you find someplace special so you can recharge your batteries and connect with your family. You deserve it!

    1. Thanks, Cindy. I think sometimes working from home is more stressful b/c you SEE the mess all the time, lol. But I wouldn’t trade it for a second. I love the flexibility. And the fact that I can work in my jammies all day if I want. Ha! I’m actually thikning more and more about Yellowstone. The fact that my son mentioned it makes me think it might be the right choice. I’d like to go somewhere he is excited about b/c he is almost 15 and I know our family trips with him are numbered.

  9. The only place out west I’ve ever been is Colorado Springs, which was lovely — Pikes Peak, and the fresh air, and visiting some sort of dude ranch one day. I was in middle school.

    I had a friend (who was about a decade older than I) tell me once that young children are physically exhausting, and teenagers are emotionally and psychologically exhausting, and she’s right. You’re finding it out. And you can also choose not to come-behind-them, and clean/fix/put away/repair everything, and instead tell them to do it themselves (over and over and over, ad nauseum), but that’s no better. Then, when they leave, you get to worry from afar. And al the intervention that they desperately NEED yesterday … gets to be done from 3 states away, while they’re in college. I kid you not — it’s stressful! Basically, kids are easiest to help when they are close by (in your very arms) and you’re in control. And they are a nightmare to help when they are far away and have been in charge of their own lives for a few months. SIGH.

    Blog issue: Before your blog went through the change (haha), it would retain my name/email/website info for me, and I didn’t have to re-enter it each time I commented. Now I have to re-enter it each time. Any ideas why?

  10. I love the “Just do the next thing” quote! All of the mom duties can be overwhelming and paralyzing. When my mind is racing, this is a good jump start to use.

    It is also how I talk myself into going to the gym on the days when I don’t feel like it. “Just one foot in front of the other and get there!” I’m never disappointed I went.

    So, in that vein, I’m going to get off the Internet and book a hotel for a one night getaway for our Fall Break. We are also thinking about Phoenix, area for Spring Break. The Florida panhandle is a quick 12 hour drive for us, but my 11 and 8 year old will soon want to be with their friends for breaks, and Florida is the place to be. Wanting to spend more time as a family together while I have the chance and save Florida for later. Keep us posted on any vacation deals, finds!

    1. A quick 12 hour drive? Is that sarcasm? UGH! I hate driving, lol.

      I don’t think I want to go to Florida. We’ve been to Disney 3 times. I want them to see something new. Definitely noodling the Phoenix/Flagstaff/Sedona scenario vs Yellowstone.

  11. Embrace imperfection!!

    Older kids certainly do come with their own challenges. My coping strategy for 2 teens was to set hard limits and increase my expectations of them. Both kids were limited to just the 1-2 activities each that meant the most to them. So when it was baseball season, karate was cut back to one night per week. If chorus performances meant a crazy rehearsal schedule, youth group was scratched from the schedule for a while. This was a great way to develop a sense of priorities.

    Then I turned over some responsibilities completely to the kids. I taught them to do their own laundry by age 12. Yes, my son has lots of grayish underwear and socks because he doesn’t like to separate colors–but, who cares? Neither kid likes to fold and put away, so I got them a handheld garment steamer to freshen up clothes pulled from the “clean pile.” They have to clean their own bathroom, and even though it’s not pristine, I’m confident that it’s clean enough to be healthy. Letting go of control is definitely not easy for me, but I know it’s good for them.

    So give yourself a break! I believe we create a great deal of our own chaos by trying to meet perceived societal expectations–photo-shoot worthy house, gourmet meals, kids who are Homecoming Queen-all-star athletes-National Merit finalists-school newspaper editor-all rolled into one. With one child in college now and the other set to go next year, I’m certainly not thinking, “I sure wish I had driven her to more activities,” or, “If only I had done his laundry for him…”

  12. I have written you about plantar fascists and while mine cleared up in about 10 months, I now have hip pain and understand how the foot issue messes with one’s back. Praying your body heals quickly. I am from South Dakota and love the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore and Spearfish Canyon. We drove from MN to Montana and did Yellow Stone in a week with teens 5 years ago and it was doable so one could spend a couple of days in the Hills and then drive over to Yellow Stone. I think you would love it and your kids can hike around and the snow should be gone 😉 We drove the whole way so had a couple of drive days, closer to 3 or 4 but broke them up. Love the quote and have a busy day and needed the reminder.

  13. We went to Yellowstone at the end of May and there was still a ton of snow. Many roads are closed before Memorial Dayish. It is a beautiful area, along with Jackson Hole and Tetons, April is snow skiing time in Jackson Hole.

    Breckenridge, Colorado and Banff / Jasper in Canada (stunning!) are great for outdoor fun, but again early April is usually considered more for winter type activities…depending on how the weather is trending each year of course.

    Phoenix / Sedona are really pretty. They had wildfires there last year so you may want to check to see if Sedona was affected.

  14. Several months ago I found myself feeling tired, unable to focus, depressed and irritable. Totally not feeling like myself! I initially attributed to menapause (I’m 53) but when I began having vision problems where my eyes wouldn’t focus I saw my physician. She tested for various things including my B12 level. Although I was on the lower end of normal in B12 I asked to have B12 shot anyway. I was getting a little desparate , the vision problems were frightening. The B12 worked great! The vision and other problems were gone and i felt better than I have in a long time. Im not saying this will work for everyone but just throwing it out there as something to think about.
    I really enjoy your blog and look forward to reading it every day!

  15. Hi Jo-Lynne! You absolutely can’t go wrong with Yellowstone! We did a huge trip out West this past summer, my boys are 10 and 11, it was FABULOUS! We went late June through early July. Areas of Yellowstone feel like you are on different planet with the incredible geysers, really magnificent! My boys were mesmerized with portions of our trip. The Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole were my second favorite spot…so beautiful and peaceful. We enjoyed the North rim of the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Mount Rushmore and Pikes Peak as well. All of the national parks had wonderful Ranger programs for the kids.

    Happy planning and feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions!!


  16. Yes, they grow up so quickly, you’ll miss these days, etc. etc. BUT — and I’m probably gonna get my mom card revoked for this — the empty nest thing isn’t as bad as some people make it out to be. There’s actually quite a bit of freedom involved. 😉

    You’re right, plane fare definitely is not a joke! Have you considered a miles credit card? We use one (Chase Sapphire Preferred) and we charge EVERYTHING (paying it off monthly, obviously). Then we earn lots of miles that we can then redeem for their various travel partners — 11 of them, I think?

    The points have come in so handy too for things other than big planned vacations too. For instance, last month, when Hubs had to go back home for a funeral. It was obviously short notice, and would have been a real budget buster to pay for a last minute full fare, but was no issue using points.

    If you wanna know more about it, just lmk & I can explain. 🙂

  17. I have a 12 year old son and I can relate to the trail of stuff, mess in the kitchen, etc! I’ve always tried to enjoy each day, because he is growing up fast. As for vacations, I recommend Key West. We went a few years ago and it was absolutely magical. We rented one of those condos on the ocean and waking up to see the water everyday was amazing. Key West was very family friendly, with a lot of historical attractions.

  18. Sorry to hear about the ups and downs. I am on the “other side,” with 2 kids done with college and one of the 2 (whom I miss terribly) out of the nest. As they get older, I would’t say that it gets easier-just different. For the laundry thing-my kids started doing their own laundry in high school, which equipped them to do it when they headed away to college. They actually offered to do it themselves-claimed that I shrunk stuff 🙂 One good thing about not being gifted from a homemaking standpoint 🙂 I found that as my kids hit their preteen and teens, the best time that I got with them was in the car and during weekly mall visits with my daughter. We did Jersey Shore vacations until they hit their early teens-then it dawned on me that I would not have them around for vacations much longer, and we started going farther afieild. I second the comment about the rewards credit cards-we used them to great advantage and put each kid’s private college tuition on them.
    That got us to Cabo San Lucas, Hawaii, Barbados and San Diego, in addition to some shorter trips. With teens, there is a fair amount of drama and angst-it is hard not to take it personally when they lash out because they are trying to spread their wings. And sometimes, they really need you to listen. Hang in there-you will miss them when they head away to college.

  19. Oh man, this post was just what I needed. Younger kids just starting to get high school aged and needing some activity: we’ve been debating on band, sports, all kinds of thing, but don’t want to take focus away from schooling either. Kids seem to develop in tighter social groups with people they do extracurriculars with. I’m hoping they both decide to do soccer so that at least we’ll be driving to the same places (mostly) 🙂

    Best of luck. It’s hard, but I (hear) that it gets easier.

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