Communication and Teaching Responsibility to a Teen

Happy Sunday my friends!

It’s been another beautiful week, and I’m still flying high on the Spring vibes. I don’t think I realized just how negatively the winter affects me until it started to warm up again. I’ve planted my Spring garden, chipped and vacuumed up the lingering leaves, cut back my rose bushes, trimmed up the shrubs, and prepared my beds for mulch. I’ve also swapped out my closet – moving all of my winter clothing to the rack in the basement and bringing my warmer weather clothes up to my room, with just a few sweaters still hanging around.

I’ve been busy adding pieces to my wardrobe for Spring and Summer too, including a couple of new bathing suits, ahead of our June family vacation trip to Savannah and Tybee Island. There is so much to look forward to, especially now that vaccines are going out and COVID is going down. They’ve even lifted the mask order here in my town, which might be a bit premature yet but is a very positive sign of some normalcy to come.

This week in food:

That’s it, I give up! I’m sorry friends, I just can’t seem to remember to take photos of our meals on weeknights! I get pictures of the dishes I meal prep on weekends, and occasionally even remember to snap a photo of my lunch. But I get busy making dinner for the fam and the last thing on my mind is pausing to take pictures (it takes time to set up a scene and snap lots of photos to get that perfect one). I’ll share the week’s photos with you here, and I’ll share the meal plan. There just won’t be photos for everything on the plan. This is my weakness, and I’ve accepted it!

The Meal Plan

The Photos

Life & Things

I’m probably really late to the game on this one, but I’ve discovered Brene Brown. I know, I know…old news by now. But I never did get around to checking out the hype until an Instagram post led me to some podcasts, which took me to my library’s Overdrive app where I placed holds on her audio books. Two have already become available – I finished one and am in the middle of the other.

I’ve gone through so much personal growth in my life over the last several years that sometimes it feels like I’ve nothing left to learn – which is never true! I’ve discovered several things in her books that are new perspectives for me and are changing the way I look at things, why I do things, and how I can look at and do things differently to be the best mom/girlfriend/friend/family member possible. There is something about the idea of becoming my best self that always keeps me thirsty for new information, and open to putting it into practice.

There is something to be said for our default settings. We can read, listen and watch all we want…but when it comes down to it, our brains go into auto-pilot and we default right back to what we know and where we’re comfortable. It takes lots of work, conscious effort and practice to change that default setting, but I never met a challenge I didn’t look forward to taking head-on.

Brene’s work is teaching me new things about communication…something I thought I was already pretty well-versed in. How to ask questions, get more details, not make assumptions or “make up stories” due to lack of information. I think my favorite thing in the current book I’m listening to, Daring to Lead, is asking “what done looks like”. An example she gave that I just heard last night, was when someone asked her to gather up all the invoices and have them ready by 4:00. She said okay, no problem, and completed the task. But when she handed them over, he was frustrated because it wasn’t what he needed.

He needed invoices going all the way back to 2005, but he hadn’t specified that and she didn’t ask for more information, so they both ended up frustrated. By asking “what does done look like”, in other words, what do you need me to do for this task to be considered done, it opens up communication that allows you to work together and bounce ideas off of each other so that each person is set up for success and can get it right. I realized this is something I’ve witnessed in my own organization. What someone expects and what they actually ask for don’t always line up, and when they get frustrated it leaves me thinking “well I’m not a mind-reader!”

The book has given me a lot of ideas on how to more effectively communicate at work. But it’s also given me a lot of ideas for how to handle communication in my personal relationships, too.

My oldest son, Hunter, is 16 now. He’s had his driver’s license for about a month, we have a checking account opened up for him, and he just started his new job at a local pizza place on Friday. In two years he will be legally an adult, and I’ve recognized the need for him to outgrow his childhood – which frankly breaks my heart to even think about – and start taking on some adult responsibilities. He has a job, a car, a checking account, and just filled out his first tax forms yesterday before leaving for his second day of work. Like it or not, adult responsibilities are here and he needs to know how to manage them.

It’s hard to think about, because I know that once you become an adult, enter the workforce and take on responsibilities, there is no going back. The freedom of being a child and getting to play all the time with no responsibilities is over, and I feel sad at the loss of those childhood days for him. I feel even worse that I’m going to be that “bad guy” who forces him to give it up and start moving into adulthood. But I also know that it’s the right thing to do, because the time has come for it to be necessary. He needs to be prepared for adult life, and it’s my job as a parent to prepare him.

He came home from work Friday night and said that since he’s working Saturday evening he’s planning on hanging out with friends in the morning (the kid never gets out of bed before noon on a Saturday!). He asked me to make sure he gets up at 8:30. I thought about it for a second, then I said “you have a cell phone, set yourself an alarm.” He said if he did he’d just sleep through it. I took the opportunity to tell him that he’s becoming an adult now and he’s not going to have me to make sure he gets out of bed every morning, he needs to learn to do that for himself.

When Saturday morning came, I heard him up at 8 in the bathroom. I thought well good, he’s gotten himself up. But then he went back to bed and I didn’t hear from him again until after noon when I got home from dropping Logan off at Grandma’s house. He asked why I didn’t get him up. I said “I told you that if you wanted to be up by 8:30 that you need to set an alarm and get yourself up. If you chose not to do that, that’s on you. You were up at 8 and you went back to bed. If you wanted to do something with friends you should have stayed up.”

Just before leaving for work he complained about how his whole day was wasted and he didn’t get to do anything. I pointed out that he was going to need to make adjustments to account for this new step in his life. Stop staying up until 4am and sleeping until noon, make plans with friends for during the day, then be home on time to be ready to leave for work at 3:45.

I’m seeing this week that he has a lot to learn about responsibility, and he’s going to need clear communication from me about what responsibility looks like and what will be expected of him. He is starting to learn already, though. He woke up at 8 again this morning, and he stayed up because he didn’t want to waste his day off. That’s one lesson learned already, but I need to tackle with him both time and money management.

It’s a little overwhelming to think about, because I feel like this stage snuck up on me. We spent so much time focusing on his permit and driving hours and getting his license, that we didn’t really think about what all comes with it. Now here we are – a whole new side of this parenting coin. I’m confident, though, that all will go well. He’s a good kid and he’s plenty smart enough to figure it all out.

If you have experience with this stage of parenting, please leave me any tips or advice in the comments! Otherwise, I wish you a lovely and relaxing Sunday. I’ll talk to you again soon!


I’m Officially the Mom of a Licensed Driver!

Hi Friends!

I don’t have much time for writing, but I wanted to hop on here and give you all a quick update since no posts went live last week. You might know from older posts that I work full time in the SBA department at a bank…and if you’ve been following the news then you know the government passed another stimulus bill in December. That bill came with more funding for the Paycheck Protection Program, which means I’m back to working overtime to get PPP funds out to borrowers. We’ve had around a thousand applications, and there is a team of five of us working to process them, not including the lenders who are working with the borrowers through the application process.

All of that means – no free time for writing right now. I even worked this morning until about noon, and have a two hour reprieve until I go pick my boys up from their dad. That means no food prep happened today, and I essentially just bought lots of processed quick food for next week. I hate doing that, but I just don’t have the time to food prep or prepare meals right now. Also, this was our kid-free weekend so I spent Saturday with Michael…which means I had to get caught up on work today since I didn’t work at all yesterday.

Michael’s dad’s birthday is tomorrow, so they celebrated over the weekend. Michael’s siblings were in town, including a sister who lives in Virginia and a brother who lives in Chicago. We went to his parents’ house to spend some time with them yesterday, then did a little shopping. We stopped by Hobby Lobby where I spotted a new vase – I’m thrilled to see that green seems to be the color of the upcoming spring! Green is my favorite color and it’s been quite some time since it was trending. So I couldn’t resist the vase.

Then we went by TJ Maxx because Michael’s cutting board broke and he needed a new one. We found one for him, for $4.99. As for me…I went in for nothing and ended up spending $75!! I found a couple of mixing bowls, which I’ve been needing for a while, that match the other white platters and bowls I have with the dots around the rim. I found a copper salt and pepper grinder set that I didn’t need but bought anyway. Michael spotted a pineapple cutter – which I already have but it’s plastic and can’t go in the dishwasher (the last one I had warped) so it has to be washed by hand. It’s a major pain because it’s basically a tube and it’s hard to get a rag down it. The one he spotted was stainless steel, so I definitely scooped that up.

After that I told him not to let me get anything else! Then he wandered over to the men’s clothes to browse (he picked up nothing), so I wandered to the women’s clothes. I was excited to see they had some Spring dresses out! He texted me and said to come on, he was at the check out. So I walked up, two new dresses in tow, and told him “see what happens when you leave me alone?!” Luckily I always over-budget to leave wiggle room for things like this!

And now for the big news of the week – HUNTER TURNED 16 ON THURSDAY!!! I cannot believe I have a DRIVER in the house! It was raining on Thursday, so I took him Friday morning for his driver’s test, which he passed, and then over to the DMV to get his license. He is now a licensed driver and can drive on his own. It’s awesome because now he can drive himself and his brother to school so I don’t have to leave the house at all since I work from home! But it’s also terrifying because he can now venture a lot farther from home than when he was just riding a bike to get around. I made him share his location with me, but since that isn’t always very reliable (it tends to show up “location not available” quite a bit), I also downloaded the find my friends app so I can keep track of him on there.

He also is going to be applying for jobs next week, so he’ll be adding some working hours to his weekly schedule very soon. Money for gas and taking his girlfriend on dates…my first-born is growing up so fast its terrifying!

Okay friends, that’s about all that I have time for right now. I need to get changed and run by Michael’s house to drop some things off, then go pick up my boys. As soon as work slows down, I promise I will be back with more nutrition posts and thorough Sunday blogs with meal plans and photos. Please bear with me until then!!


The Importance of Taking Time for Yourself

Dear Friends,

I will admit it, I’ve neglected someone very important to me — myself! I don’t think I fully recognized how much until Michael and his kids spent a few days away at the lake with his family, my boys were still gone to their dad’s, and I was home alone. My summers usually always look like that. I’ve been single for the better part of 10 years since my divorce, and when the boys go to their dad’s for the summer that is usually my time to be Loren, the woman, as opposed to Loren, the mom.

I always try to make time for myself throughout the school year, usually on weekends when Hunter and Logan are at their dad’s. I think one of the most common things we do as parents…I realized this especially after my divorce…is get so wrapped up in our jobs as mothers and/or wives (or dads/husbands) that we completely let ourselves go. We stop focusing on ourselves and the things that make us, “us”. I believe this is one of the major reasons why so many people end up finding themselves feeling unfulfilled or unhappy after a few years of parenting, as well as stressed and overwhelmed.

Unfortunately we don’t always figure out the importance of “me time” until we’ve lost ourselves, and sometimes lost our marriage or relationship too. I know that is what it was like for me. I got divorced and became a single parent, and for the first time in four years I had to stop and think about what I wanted for myself and my life. And I realized, I really had no idea. Up until that point every decision I’d made in the last four-plus years had been made as part of unit, whether that unit was wife or mother. But I hadn’t given any real thought to myself and what I wanted.

Hell, I even chose my college major based on my kids! I hadn’t even started my first semester of college when I found out Hunter was coming — I enrolled in classes in May with my major still undeclared, then got a positive pregnancy test a month later. So I had to un-enroll myself from that school, move 200 miles back to where I’d graduated from (because that is where my now-ex-husband was still living), and enroll at a new school. When I enrolled in classes there, I chose Early Childhood Education as a major purely because I was getting ready to have a baby and figured if I had no idea what I was doing with my professional life yet, at least that would help me be a good mother.

After my divorce, it was shocking how long it took to “find myself”. Yes my friends, that is a real thing. When you get so caught up in your family and doing everything for other people, you would be surprised at how easy it is to forget who you are, or even what things really make you feel happy and love yourself. In my case, I became a wife and mother so young that I’m not sure I ever even had a chance to figure that out before diving into a life of adult responsibilities.

Michael and I have been together for four months now, and I honestly couldn’t possibly be any happier in this relationship. This is the first healthy and happy relationship that I’ve ever been in, and I quite literally thank God every day for blessing me with this man. He is kind, giving, even-tempered, understanding, appreciative, and above all else a true partner to the highest degree. He is absolutely everything I always dreamed of having but didn’t believe actually existed. It has been so easy to fall into a comfortable place with him, and give myself to him, his kids, and my kids just like I did back when I was married and my boys were young.

I’ve noticed recently that I wasn’t doing as much of the things that make me, me. But it wasn’t until he left for the lake trip that I realized just how much I’ve neglected myself. And let me just throw in a disclaimer right here and now that he in no way whatsoever has pushed me to do that. We both enjoy spending time with each other and he is always the first one to offer help when there’s something of my own that I’m needing to get done.

I’ve been making these choices completely on my own — because if it comes down to choosing whether to spend time with Michael or spend time writing my book, I choose time with him. If it comes to taking time to get my yoga in or seeing him while we both don’t have kids at home and have the opportunity to spend uninterrupted time together, then I choose time with him. I haven’t been hiking since last Fall, and I started reading a book in mid-April that I should’ve had finished by mid-May and still am not done with. I read two books in May and one in June, but I hadn’t touched a book between July 5th and July 29th. I have reading goals set for myself this year, and now I’m behind because I’m not taking the time to do it.

Honestly — I’m not sorry. Michael and I have a new relationship, and my boys have been gone (except for every other weekend) all summer, and we very much needed that time together to get to know each other and build a solid foundation for our relationship to grow on. What I’m seeing now, though, is that I’m going to need to shift gears a bit as the boys come home and we settle in for the school year, to make sure I’m still giving myself priority time in the midst of giving my kids and Michael and his kids my time. The last thing I want is to get so lost in this new family and relationship role that I forget about who I am as an individual.

Taking time to yourself isn’t selfish…you need it so that you have the energy to continue giving to those you love. You aren’t neglecting your children or responsibilities by taking a short break from them to regroup; rather, you are making yourself more able to serve them well. You’re also giving your kids time to learn the important skills of independence, thinking through and solving problems for themselves, and self-soothing — all very important skills they will need to carry into adulthood.


Michael and I have worked out a plan for the school year, which I will share more about late this month once we’ve had a few weeks for execution. We’ve worked out days where we each go our separate ways to get done the things we need to do at home. And something I want to do for me is make sure I’m taking time for reading, writing (especially my book) and yoga, and making time for hiking (which is definitely something that Michael and I can do together, or the boys and I can do together) on some weekends. I think it is just as important for Michael, because he loves to play golf but rarely goes anymore. He needs to make sure he is giving himself time, too.

So…how did I spend my few days alone? Michael and his kids left Sunday afternoon, and I went home and got my yard mowed so I would have the work out of the way for the week (I’d done my weekly cleaning already on Saturday). Then I texted my group of friends and made plans to do the Sunday Imo’s tradition we started last winter. We don’t go every weekend by any means, but it’s something we do occasionally because the new Imo’s location is a stone’s throw from mine and Jenny’s houses, and Zach lives pretty close as well. We can eat pizza and drink a couple of $2 beers and have a chill Sunday evening with the group, so it’s kind of turned into a tradition by default.

Monday I did something I hadn’t done in way too long — I worked on my book. I read through the first chapter I had written, made a few edits, then started on chapter 2. After a couple of mosquitoes found their way up through the boards on Michael’s screened-in deck, I called it a night and went home to take an Epsom salt bath and watch Mary Tyler Moore. Tuesday night I was supposed to go to a baseball game with a friend, but I hadn’t been sleeping well and didn’t really want to go anywhere, so I took that night to be home by myself and totally veg. It felt so good to not have to go anywhere or do anything! Then Wednesday I had to jump back into some responsibilities.

The week before, a coworker had asked me to make cookies this week for another coworker’s birthday. She let me know Monday that she wanted them Friday…of course! That meant I would need to spend Thursday night baking, but that was the day Michael was coming home and we had plans. So I ended up baking cookies on Wednesday instead, and also went to El Sol for a quick dinner with a couple of friends. I didn’t get much me time that night, but in all honesty, by the end of Tuesday night I’d had enough time to myself and was ready to be productive and see my love again. I may need time to myself sometimes, but one evening of doing what I want instead of what I have to do is usually enough to refresh my mindset.

This week I’ve been trying to soak up the last of my obligation-free time. On Sunday, I pick up the boys and they will be home for the school year. School starts next week…it’s so hard to believe how quickly this summer passed by. It’s time to get back into full mom-mode, and I’m definitely ready. If you’re a parent too…then cheers to you and the brand new school year. Soak up that time with your babies, take lots of pictures and enjoy the ride…and don’t forget about yourself!