Friday, May 20, 2016

Purer in Heart

Wednesday my youngest son's school brought all the 1st grade classes on a field trip.

I, in my typical want to compensate for the lack of school volunteering, went as a parent helper. I, of course, had that one kid. The kid who doesn't heed instructions or redirection unless he thinks it is his own idea. But it worked out all right.

As we were walking to our various stations, we'd pass kids from the other groups. One of these classmates had a visible simplicity of mind and a difference in his gait. He also had his own adult providing individual care to him. Whether she was his mother or para wasn't clear to me..

We made eye contact, me and this precious soul.

And in a too-loud voice, timbre deeper than most 8th grade boys, he called out, to anyone who would hear, "Hi! Hi!" holding his hand up in a static wave so as to let everyone know the source of this raucous greeting.

"Hi," I said brightly, smiling as I held my group at bay for the moment.

"Wha's yer name?" he asked with an odd cadence, putting the emphasis on "yer."

I caught the microgesture of his adult helper, the ducking of the head and tug on his hand making both the unspoken plea to "quit bothering this poor lady," and apology to me.

But I wanted to let him know, he's not a bother.

And, knowing my own daughter's "twice exceptional" status with tendencies toward the autism spectrum and a giftedness that makes her very book smart, often left her struggling to engage in exploratory social interactions, not to mention the awareness of just how often this little guy probably got ignored, I responded.

"My name is Heather," I answered with a smile as my hand echoed his own still gesture.

"Oh! Hi!" he said with a megawatt beam of a smile as his helper smiled back faintly, urging him on.

Later in the day, I took my group for a bathroom break, when my toothy grinned, auburn locked new friend passed by once more.

"Hi! Wha's yer...." he began, and I recognized her embarrassment again.

"Wait, yer Heather, right?"

I nodded, smiling broadly as the pride of his remembering rippled across his face. His adult helper relaxed, some.

"You remembered," I said, initiating a celebratory fist bump with him, putting his aide at ease and pushing this happy-smiled angel over into a dreamy bliss.

"Yes, Heather....yer My Heather."

It takes virtually no effort to change someone's day, and often the reward profoundly impacts you.

I can't get that sweet boy out of my head.

I wish that we were all so pure of heart that joy would be so easily grasped. Instead, we cover our joys with worry, envy, conceit, etc.

Lord, give me a simple mind and a joyful heart. Help me see the significance of the seemingly insignificant actions and their impacts always. Help me to encourage those around me.

"Purer in heart, O God, help me to be;
Teach me to do Thy will most lovingly;
Be Thou my Friend and Guide,
Let me with Thee abide;
Purer in heart, help me to be."


Friday, November 6, 2015

this job

I just happen to be blessed enough that this ^^ is the job of my dreams

Yes, it's another post about how much I love my new job. It truly never gets old.

The people. Both with whom we serve and for whom we serve.

The energy. In the community, in the opportunities waiting at the state and federal levels.

But mostly?

Because this work has been my heart's desire as long as I can remember.

The LORD is good and faithful to His promises!
Social work is a hard field.

Resources are limited. Despair is plentiful. Crises rule. Political ideology divides the community.

But still, hope rises, beauty emerging from the ashes of a broken spirit.

And that is the hook for me. 

That triumphant ascension of a restored spirit is so damned beautiful. I am drawn like a moth to the flame - it might hurt a bit or even a lot, but I just can't resist being part of the process.

Today, I facilitated a meeting with my employee (still in training) and a participant whose case is complicated (but aren't they all?). At the end, my staff member thanked me for my help and guidance, saying, "To see and hear how others word things and how they encourage our participants is so helpful to me. You taught me a lot today."

It made me think of a few of the most vivid memories of my career....

The first time I put my blood, sweat and tears into my work...(read the entire post here, but the most important part follows.) 
.... There he was sitting on a bench on the sidewalk.
"How's it going this evening, sir?"
"Purty good, girl, now whatcha up to?" he slurred. 
He's pretty well lit you know."You're pretty quick," I said with a wink. "Well, my friends and I are doing surveys for the statewide homeless count that's going on tonight, and I wondered if we could take a few minutes of your time and go over the survey. Everything is completely private and cannot be traced back to you. Whaddya say, huh?" ...
.....At the last question, asking what services had he attempted to access but couldn't obtain, he verbally offered up "respect," as the number one thing he wanted but couldn't get.
I showed him the paper, and said, "Look, I want you to see me write that down. I think it's very important that the state know this is important to you. What about the rest of these, housing, job assistance, clothing....?" 
...We crossed over the intersection to head up north on the west side of the street we'd just been on. Shortly after, Seth directed us to look across the street. Our guy had already put on the t-shirt in his goodie bag. 
"We just made his night didn't we?" Seth asked incredulously.
I nodded, misty-eyed. "He may not remember it tomorrow, but for a few minutes tonight he was reminded that he matters."

The time I was going to grad school and Christ showed up as a homeless man.
It was then that I saw Him.
I thanked the Lord for showing Himself to me, as I walked past the homeless man who’d just scored the remnants of a to-go box out of the trash. I hurried past him returning to my plastic bag of goodies, saw it was still there, grabbed it and started back toward the man.
When I stopped at the bench on the sidewalk where he sat, he looked puzzled, his face begging the question, “Didn’t you just walk past me?”
“How’s it going?” I asked him with a smile.
He looked up skeptical, but overall in good spirits. “Good, how ‘bout yourself?”
“Good. Hey, you’ll probably think I’m crazy, but I just last night bought a bunch of snacky-type food that I really only need a little of – and when I walked by you the first time, I couldn’t help but think that perhaps I could share my extras with you. Could you use some bagels and whatnot?”
His face lit up – sure, he said, he could use all the help he could get. However, he told me, he only had room for some, not all of what I was planning on giving him. It is always so poignant to me when those in need reveal that they haven’t lost all of their need for human dignity, despite primal survival instincts.
We sat and talked, with no strings attached to case management or service plans, for a good 45 minutes on that bench. Passersby stared at us, this unlikely pairing of a grubby old chronic and a young professional woman, neatly done up for the day.
His name was Rick. He was a vet who had fallen in love with the rich culture of the “old world,” while stationed overseas, and felt that we Americans had no culture in the arena of art or history, and what we did have was being replaced with TV, technology and rampant materialism. Somewhere along the conversation, he asked me why I was “bothering” with him. I told him I used to work with the homeless in Fort Collins, but that I was out of the “business” nowadays. I told him I missed the contact. 
....In short, our conversation was highly enjoyable, intelligent discourse covering a vast array of topics. Rick asked my name, and I told him, saying, “I don’t know that we’ll ever meet again, but it does feel good to know a person’s name, huh?” He agreed, saying perhaps we would meet again, that we “never know.” I bid Rick adieu, shook his hand unabashedly, and headed down to the university.

And the time after I'd put my career on hold:
Yesterday I received an e-mail from my former boss telling me that a woman, let's just call her Ladybug, had stopped by the office looking for me. She thought that Ladybug had been a former housing client of mine.
I looked at Ladybug's name and indeed, she was a former housing client of mine.... 
Today I called her, and we talked a bit before she revealed the reason for her wanting to get in touch with me. Being pregnant, I teared up with emotion when she told me that the 4 (or more? she couldn't remember anymore) people who'd been put in my housing coordinator position over the past 5 years have "never even come close to how good you were, Heather. Never. And I think about you a lot." 
We talked some more and at the end, Ladybug asked me shyly, "Is it ok if I keep your number and call if anything else comes up?"
I'm not a social worker anymore, and now I can put myself forward as just a person who loves others as Christ has shown me to do. As a social worker, this would have been a taboo move to make, but there was something freeing about the answer I put forth: "Sure, Ladybug. Maybe we can even get lunch together sometime."
Whether I'm on a payroll or not, my heart longs to be helping others, in big, transformational ways down to the reaffirming display that I recognize someone's worth, even if society does not.

And I am so filled with joy to not only be doing it again, but this time, training others as they join me.

Someone once told me:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

this and that (and a freezer meal menu bonus)

So, it's been awhile ....again.

But it's all good.

Happy Fall.

My life has been so FULL of late - the new job is really coming together (btw, please go like our page on FB!) and the feedback I'm getting from our students just warms my heart. It makes me want to do better for them each day. Also, every day, no exaggeration, I come to work thinking, "What blessing is the Lord going to drop in my lap today?" And, every day, something arrives. 

I have NEVER been so aware of His workings in my life. At home. At work. At church. He is THERE.


So this happened.

My daughter is now in high school and she went to her first homecoming last month.

I feel a bit overwhelmed with that tidbit of information. For multiple reasons.

1. While most of my NoCO colleagues are just beginning their families, I have one that is not so far from leaving the nest. It's a bit surreal.

2. I feel so old - like I have a high schooler!!! - and yet, I was 20 when my mother was the age I am now.

3. I was only 1 1/2 years older than Kelsey when I began dating my husband. She could potentially meet (or already know!) her forever friend with benefits in the near future. I'm not ready for that, and am reminded that we need to be on our knees in prayer for her and her future spouse.


Today's sermon (10/ wasn't up yet at time of this post) was just amazing. It had a little bit of this, and a lot of You Matter Intimately to the INFINITE GOD OF THE UNIVERSE!

Please, go listen. It will lift your spirits no matter where you are at in life. If you have weathered some storms and are in the sunshine once again, it will foster a sense of gratitude and remind you of the blessing that hindsight is. If you are currently in the storm, it will speak to your heart and whisper truths that the world may be overpowering at present. Listen hard for the quiet but firm voice of truth.



In ways that are inconceivable. In ways that inspire hope. In ways that speak purpose into your life.


Any mama that's on Facebook or Pinterest has seen the "X number of freezer meals in A Ridiculously SHORT Amount of Time," posts, and I have fallen prey. More often than not, it is batch cooking, making 2, 3, EVEN 4 of the same recipes, times several. Which is fine if you have a family that lives in a rut.

I can barely get my family to eat leftovers, let alone would be unscathed if I made them eat the same meals several times in a month.

The other thing is that some of these recipes are just.... meh.

While I cannot vouch for the quality of all these meals just yet, I was really pleased to get a variety of meals (only 2 are repeats) from Michelle Pleiter's blog. (I don't know her, just think I happened upon this post while social media-ing the other day.) BTW...if you freezer cook, this menu is available in Excel with the recipes hyperlinked and shopping list itemized.

Yes, I am a nerd. But a nerd who shares the love.

I only did some recipes that I figured should be tasty by the ingredients, (but added some of my own touches, too, like southern style hash browns - read: pre-diced potatoes - for the chicken pot pie and adding some celery to a couple of recipes).


I have to warn you.

This takes a fair amount of time.

Those Pinterest mamas that say it only takes 2 hours must have a small army helping them chop, label, mix, and assemble, because it took me several hours.

That said.

Have a great week, all!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the power of for moms too...



Here I am, sitting shyly in the corner, about to get confessional and, well, REAL.

I'm a pretty authentic person, and usually what you see is what you get with me. I don't do fake and gamey sorts of relationships. Though I have a formal register vocabulary for work and my more casual register for conversational speaking/writing, my bottom lines are usually the same, just in different vernacular, so to speak.

But, that said....

I am not a reality TV star where everything I do and say is exposed for all to see, hear, and judge me for.

Well, yes. I do blog and share some of my weirdo neuroses - e.g., my word nerdisms, affinity for tying pop culture references into daily events- and deep thoughts - my faith is integral to who I am, thus I talk about it; I also entertain my inner Kant, Plato, Locke (philosopher for those of you unfamiliar) - and life struggles on occasion in this space.

So yeah, I do share more of myself a bit more freely than the average mama bear, but not ALL THE THINGS.

Like {what I feel to be} my huge failings in the parenting arena...beyond the standard mommy guilt, sometimes we have some really intense "discussions" in our home (see above picture's "We do REALLY loud."). With feelings so large, voices so loud, chaos so great, that our pets take cover. (Not kidding, or as my son said tonight "Hyperbole-ing.")

And it makes me so sad after these episodes, because that's not how I wanted this part of my story to go! I was going to be different than the examples I had.

My kids were going to come to me with ANYTHING and feel comfortable approaching me with their awkward queries, confusion about navigating their emotions, and the need for assurance and comfort when life was hard.

Anyway, that's not the way things are shaping up and more often than not I feel like Drew Barrymore's Beverly Donofrio, desperately wondering through tears and clenched teeth, "When does this job ever end?!?!"

Yesterday at our staff meeting, one of our organizational consultants shared the brilliance of Brene' Brown's TED talk "The Power of Vulnerability." I had already watched it numerous times, but seeing it again reinforced the truth in the paradox that through our vulnerability, we gain strength, power, confidence, and ultimately, contentment. (It's 20 minutes, but I tell you, it is time WELL spent. Click the link! Then come RightBack here)

And then I got home and we had much sibling rivalry over chores and other tween/teen miscellany that is minutia to the hubs and I and MOUNTAINS OF WOE AND ANGSTY STRUGGLE (cue Miley with The Climb) to them.

But I was enlightened. I had been reinforced with wisdom and truth!

And it didn't mean a damned thing.

This morning was a lather, rinse and repeat kind of deal, despite my best efforts to be mindful, present, and meditative during that window between the older two leaving and the littlest little waking.

Then my day at work got consumed by IT issues, that felt very real and worrisome....until at the end of the day, I discovered the reason my laptop couldn't recognize the hard drive, and therefore fail to boot up, was because it had somehow dislodged and was hiding in a pocket in my tech bag.

Seriously, I live a charmed life.

Got home, ate well, kids were behaved.

I felt a weight lifting.

Then the youngest and hubs went to Cub Scouts, and the other shoe dropped.

And by dropped, I mean that darn shoe fell with the relative velocity and force the Looney Tunes anvil had when being pushed out of the window.

I asked for some help with the household chores. Which has been the hot topic of late. I keep asking for help and all I get is push-back from all my room-mates at casa del Meyer. It's been a bit frustrating.

And it got really ugly and intense and I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and have someone mother me with the nurturing and support that EVERYONE in our house so clearly needs right now.

It passed through, and we took a timeout. I returned to my onerous task of comparing the costs and terms of health insurance and would it be better if we all went on my new employer's coverage or if we did a split of one of us with the kids and the other partner at their employer. (I live it up on a Tuesday night, yo!) The kids went to do the homework that was cited as the raison de la resistance, because, "Mom I can't do any chores because _________ never does jack squat, and I have homework that is due TOMORROW, my friends all hate me, yada yada yada."

After calming down, and the homework was done in, I kid you not, less than 10 minutes, I opened up to my son, the child with whom I'd particularly clashed tonight.

Was the cost of getting your way over not even 10 minutes of homework worth it?

I understand things are rough for you right now. I would never minimize that - and I'm not asking you to, but I am asking that you take a break from your own misery and recognize others around here are miserable too, for various reasons that may be different from yours, but just as real to them as yours are to you.

I am sorry. I don't want to be a dragon roaring in your face with ugliness and anger, and probably really bad breath. We did eat lasagne with a lot of garlic in it.

That garnered a chuckle.

We are in a lot of transition right now - and by and large it is good transition but new is stressful. New grades, new schools, new work, new routines. There is a lot going on, and I feel...... when ...... Sometimes, I don't want to come home after work because I dread the fighting so much. I'm so tired of this, aren't you?


Right now, I've got a lot on my plate. I don't have a lot of time for fun. My ankle still hurts from spraining it last Saturday. When you guys where playing at the party down the street the other night? I spent hours grocery shopping for bargains and nutrition and then cooking/prepping it all so that we can do our activities and not have to wait to eat at 8:00. Would I have liked to play or read a book? Heck yes, but I also have to make things run smoothly or else we are always in unhealthy chaos.

I love you. Will always love you, no matter how mad you get or how hateful your words may feel - you're stuck with me for always. I'm so proud of you and really wish I got to see the awesome young man everyone else at church and school gets to see. Instead, I get all your insecurities and anger dumped on me, and I understand it is because you trust me to still be here after all of that, but I am so very weary and tired of it. My bucket is beyond is starting to crack because of the dryness. 

Then the scouts got home and bedtime routines started...sort of.

The littlest decided he didn't like the lasagne I spent all night cooking (along with a bunch of other freezer meals) Sunday so that we could eat at a reasonable time, so naturally, he was hungry when he got home. I went to make him a bowl of cereal when I saw the notebook over by the coffee pot.

It's a very hard balance sharing your adult self so openly with your child. You can't burden them with adult problems they can't control, and you can't blame them for things when sharing. But let me tell you, that ^^^ right there? 

That is power in vulnerability!

It takes a big person to apologize. Bigger still when one is only 12 and that full of heart.

That has given me some peace, confidence, and contentment. (Also? My bucket is no longer dry. The tears that were generated have filled my bucket pretty much to the brim.)

Peace that he gets it.

Confidence that he is so much more than the angry and sullen kiddo that I've seen so much of recently.

Contentment in knowing somehow I've given him the knowledge that sharing hard things makes us grow closer.

A heart that is lighter, fuller of love, and reduced in worries and weariness.

These are all powerful gifts borne of me sharing my hard truths with my kids.

"Share each others burdens (vulnerabilities) and thus fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2.

^^^ truth that has been tested and proven by the work of the lovely Brene Brown. Why are we always so surprised when Scripture is proven time and time again?

Thank you, Lord, for your beautiful paradoxes in life. 

" 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' ...For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 9, 10.

It now stands to reason that I should be spiritually/emotionally strong enough to rival The Hulk's physical strength after this display of transparency, no?

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Deo gratias; a counting of blessings

For the solid presence of his arm around me as my eyes reluctantly opened this morning.

Deo gratias.

For the inexplicable peace a mother feels when all her children are under the same roof.

Deo gratias.

For the sparkle in her eyes last night and the newly acquired Mexican accent on her Spanish.

Deo gratias.

For the little one stumbling into my room at 6:30 whilst I was fighting wakefulness; his quiet assent to me noting I had to get up. But can I still get in your bed? The peace on his face as he instantly fell back into dreamland.

Deo gratias.

For the gentle breeze caressing me as I walked this morning, soaking up Your mountainous beauty of in the midst of suburbia around me.

Deo gratias.

For the sun-washed extravagance of that particular time of morning, golden halos bouncing off every still dew-kissed leaf, pine needle, and flower petal.

Deo gratias.

For good friends and neighbors that stopped and talked while I was out.

Deo gratias.

For kindly forcing all these awarenesses into my conscious observations. Because You know as well as I do, I'm prone to forget. That all of these things? They're borrowed. And You chose me to give them to.

Deo gratias.

For the quiet peace and happiness on my heart this morning.

Deo gratias.

For the graceful glide of the pelican overhead

Deo gratias.

Sometimes as mothers, we can get swept up in the frustrations, the struggles, The Hard Things. Understandably so, because there are a lot of them. As a Christian mother, I get frustrated with how "They rise up call her blessed" does not seem to apply to my life. How all the strife and petty arguments (heck, I'll be real, the kicking and screaming, and not always by me!) seem to overwhelmingly season the days.

But then sometimes, the Lord gives me a morning like this that totally restores my soul. 

The resulting gratitude colors the day in a way words could never do justice to. Not just for the things I remembered above, but for the chain of grateful thoughts they birth. Like, wow, all those are great, but then there's Christ and His sacrifice; thank you Savior. 

There's a lot of mindfulness buzz out there that talks about how we have to be aware of our thoughts (hmm, sounds familiar) and while I don't disagree with the concept, I do feel like it is one more thing we feel like we have to do On Our Own. 

Be strong, and soldier on in your life. 

That has its place. Though when you're in the trenches of tantrums, potty training, work-mama balance, teenage rebellion, or whatever other mama meltdown du jour faces you at any given moment, how much strength do you have to muster up the mindfulness? Usually? I. Got. NUTHIN.

And that's ok.

Did you know there's no shame in asking God to put these things on our minds for us? Or for allowing Him to speak through a good friend who will do the same?

There's a reason why the song is called Blessed Assurance.

Thank you Lord. For this day and all the yesterdays and tomorrows you've written for me. For the countless blessings You've showered up on me. Please keep me mindful of them.

Monday, August 3, 2015

the middle class SQUEEEEEZE

So today I went to Larimer Health Connect to do a little comparison shopping. My new gig has put us in a waiting period in which we need to secure healthcare for the months of August and September; while I got the full low-down on COBRA at my exit interview, which would offer the comfort and familiarity of the plan we've had for over a year and a half, the new premium is MORE than our monthly mortgage payment. Yes. Paying into a pool of money that health insurance sharks invest to cover the risks of those in the pool, swimming in funds we've contributed but could potentially never even draw upon, will cost more than our shelter.

Oy. Hello Monday, there you are, you fickle frenemy.

So, yeah, I thought, "Perhaps there is something on the Exchange that could be [more] affordable in the interim."

And perhaps there are icemakers in hell. About the same probability, is all I'm saying.

See, Seth's employer does have insurance they offer to their employees. But it basically boils down to REALLY expensive catastrophic coverage (super high deductible and 60/40 co-insurance after deductible is met). Thus, when I started working at the Health District last year, it was cheaper for us to all have really good coverage on my plan than it would have been for us to do a split with me and the kids on my plan and him on his plan.'s where the ACA went wrong and was totally perverted from its original intent thank you politicians more concerned with fillibuster and lobbying than taking care of ALL their constituents, but I digress....those of us who work and earn between 251%-400% FPL, and thus would be eligible for some health premium tax credit, typically are going to have employer provided insurance available to us in some form. Whether it is actually affordable or not doesn't matter, just whether we have the option in theory, because who cares if the numbers actually WORK is enough to take those tax credits away. 

As it turns out, without tax credit subsidization, the premiums on the Marketplace Exchange are laughable as to affordability, and downright absurd as to the narrow scope of "coverage" they offer, not unlike what some employers are offering their employees. Families in this "luxurious" class known as the upper middle are then forced to go with a policy that is MORE than their monthly housing expenses, plus whatever out of pocket expenses actually are incurred should you actually need to use the care.

So let's stop and look at the math, folks. 


A mortgage that is considered affordable and living within one's means is generally touted at about 30% of one's gross income. Add in a  healthcare premium that is MORE than that, and you have a family that is paying over 60% of their income to housing and health PREMIUM again, that's not even counting out of pocket expenses. Then take off all the payroll deductions/taxes, and you are looking at upper middle class families struggling to survive on roughly 1/4 of the money they work for. Twenty-five percent of our wages is supposed to cover food, transportation and again because we live within our means, our vehicles are paid for, but we still have to pay for the pump, maintenance, and insurance, educational debt for a degree I had to have in order to secure employment of a certain means, clothing, inevitable home repairs, {insert other responsible adult expense here}, and the elusive white rabbit of recreation/leisure oh, wait, there's a reason we haven't had a vacation in 7 years

Do our lawmakers know how soul crushing it is to work hard day in and day out but not have anything to show for it? Or to feel like you can breathe for a moment? Obviously, some do, or else those in poverty would not have gained from the ACA like they have. I don't begrudge that. I do struggle with the corporate welfare and failed trickle down economics that we allow to persist, creating a growing burden that squeezes any kind of prosperity out of the middle class reality.

I am not saying the ACA is bad. I believe the intent was great and I wholeheartedly supported it, given my work experience with people in need, and then our own personal near-bankruptcy caused by an unforeseen medical crisis.

I AM saying the logic got broken when partisanship caused the de-volution from what it was to what it is. 

And something has to give.

I have to do COBRA because of our family's needs until my trial period at the new job is done, and suffice to say, again as it bears repeating it is well OVER what we pay for our mortgage. But it is cheaper than buying a bronze pkg on the marketplace right now and paying for follow-up care with specialists out of pocket. 

In the meantime I have ridiculous amounts of student loans to pay and back to school season is upon us. Not to mention that I have a child who is merely 4 years out from needing her own help with higher education costs.

But...cue the scripture verse I put at the beginning of this post. Scroll back up and dwell on those words.

I may not have a fat wallet, but I do have a LORD who has blessed me in endless other ways.

Monday, July 27, 2015

service with a {maniacal} smile

This is 21st century parenting, yo. No joke.

Since I went back to work last year, my kids have done summers at home.

:insert the public outcry, "They're how old?!?" here:

Answer: 14, 12, and 6. And provided that many kids begin babysitting for pay at age 12, by my calculations, I have a 2:1 caregiver to child ratio. Plus the age-old #whenIwasakid spiel. And, just for good measure, no one's been lost, injured, or malnourished in the meantime. So, it's ok, thank you for your concern!

They do a good job for the most part. There are 3 parks in the vicinity; they occasionally ride their bikes to Kids Bowl Free; there are friends and adult neighbors around to socialize with; and church activities like VBS have broken things up a bit.

But, left to their own devices, they would spend far too much time on their screens. This results in a rather post-modern parenting reality for me of having to ensure the child locks are in effect for the Xbox, Netflix, Comcast, the computer, and our wi-fi before I leave every morning.

Even doing this...we've had a struggle of late with them getting their chores done every day.

Now, y'all know that I just started a new job, so there's that transition. There's also the fact that the mister has had 3 surgeries in 9 months, the last of which was the end of June and has rendered him unable to bear weight on his foot for 6-8 weeks. Therefore, it is imperative that the kids carry their weight, because this mama's got a lot on her shoulders right now.

Enter last night, and the girl child really wanted to get together with her friend whom she hasn't seen much of this summer. Said friend has two younger brothers that our youngest plays with at school and they have fun together on these visits.

So I said sure. But there were strings attached.

Not only would she and her brothers be required to get all the chores done before she went, but I would need photographic evidence texted to me before said outing would be permitted. Might as well get the most out of that family smartphone plan, right?

It worked like a charm.

At approximately 11:40 a.m. the texts came in rapid succession...

Disclaimer, my teenager gave me full consent to post the following pictures. They are unaltered, appearing just as they did on my phone.

Laundry folding in progress
Not enough room for the 1,000 words this pic conjures

There was a vacuuming mishap,
so she swept the stairs.
With. A. Broom.

Rosie was unloaded and seen here,
is in the process of being loaded up
I ordered them to eat leftovers for lunch.
Photographic evidence that they complied.
Moral of the story...

If you give a girl a [smartphone] camera, stuff gets done.