Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paid Time Off

Today, after a couple of really laborious days, I wanted to call in sick.
I have it all planned out. I will make the call, use my really sick voice, and then crawl back in bed and watch horrible day time shows all day long. Sounds like a great plan. Except...
Who do I call? Who do I use my really sick voice to? And the giant question, why would I even remotely think that my bed would be a place of comfort and solitude for the day?
I suppose a day off isn't coming for a long time.
I remember when the twins were first born and the first Friday came and I felt a sense of excitement inside me at about three in the afternoon. I stopped to try to figure out why I would be feeling this way and I realized it was because it was almost the weekend. Time for a break! Until I was hit with the reality that I would not be having a weekend, time off - EVER AGAIN (or so it feels)
Being a mom is hard. Being a wife is hard. Being sometimes is just hard. Kids are human and unfortunately, so imperfect, just like us. 5 humans inside of four walls daily can become a little intense. Emotions are high, voices are loud, demands are extreme...oh the days of our lives. I so badly wanted to have children and when the doctor told me that I couldn't have kids unless we did IVF I was saddened, but ready to jump on board. And thank the Lord, it worked right away and both took and we were blessed with our twins. And then about 10 months later I was sitting in their pediatrician's office and I started to cry.
I was so overwhelmed (I didn't know the least of it, or that I was pregnant with Lily!) and I began to tell him how I feel such guilt because I so desperately wanted them and so often I am so frustrated with them, well, being them. He told me he completely understood, and in that moment I realized that part of that frustration just comes along with parenting.
That's nice and sweet and touching. But today I want a break. I love my kids with all my heart, but today, I want a break. I want to sleep and watch grown up tv and sleep some more. Then maybe take a bubble bath and then get a massage and then sleep some more. Eat a wonderful dinner and then sleep again for twelve hours straight.
But, no day off for me. That's fine. I will take a quick ten minute nap before they wake from theirs and have the kids entertain me and then I will give them a bath. We will have macaroni and cheese for dinner and I will go to sleep for one hour at a time tonight, all to do it again tomorrow. And I suppose, I wouldn't have it any other way (except for the 12 hours of straight sleep part) :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010


It is said that confession is good for the soul.
Let that sentence sink in a little bit. Confession, an admission of misdeeds or fault, is good for the soul.
As a mom and a wife we have so much on our plates. We have so many roles and hats that we wear on a daily basis and occasionally, or quite frequently, some of those plates seem to crash on the floor and shatter into a million pieces. Other times our graceful disposition really shines and we juggle all of these with elegance and beauty. I don't know about all you other women, but for me the latter doesn't happen nearly as often as the former much to my disappointment and to my family's too I'm sure. However, in those moments when there are broken shards of glass plates all over the floor, do you sweep them under the rug or do you have a friend to hold the dustpan for you while you clean it up?
Now in a perfect world, our dear husbands would be holding the dust pan lovingly as we swept up the glass in our high heels and all would be sparkling clean when all was said and done. However, what if the thing you dropped was something in regards to him? What if you forgot to iron his shirt for work and you guys got in a fight? Or if you think he is absolutely being crazy because he expects the kids to all be sitting calmly singing Kumbaya when he walks through the door after his day at work? And what if it was something more serious and you needed wisdom and discernment in how to respond to a situation with your husband? What do you do in that situation?
Just for fun this morning I typed into Google, mom confessional, and a website called came up. So, out of curiosity I checked it out. And there on the website were confessions from moms spreading from cute stories about their children to not wanting to live anymore. Quite the gamut. There were pages and pages of "confessions" just from today! Obviously it is meeting a need, but I think it's kind of sad.
Since I have become a stay at home mom there have been so many ups and downs in my world that I never saw coming. There have been points where Dave and I have been frustrated with each other and not seeing eye to eye, and times where Dave and I have been frustrated with our kids because we totally feel outnumbered, and times where things have been exactly what I dreamed about when I dreamed about having a family. And in all those seasons of life I have needed to talk things through, confess how I feel about the situations I am in, and thankfully I have a few very close friends that I am able to use as my "confessional."
I really think as moms we need those friendships that you can use as sounding boards. Friends you can call up and say, "what's your opinion" or "You will not guess what happened today..."We as mom need those friendships in our world that will give us insight and wisdom into our situations and not foolish advice. As I have talked about before, we need those friends who are real and transparent so that we can learn from each other.
Obviously, based on the popularity of this site, people need to confess. People need to talk about their struggles and their victories. But with a website, really?
As moms, when you think of coming together with a bunch of other moms what comes to mind? For some of you, a bullet to the head would be more preferable - I totally get that! But if you can put that initial hesitation aside and think about the possibility of getting together with other moms who are in this journey too, what would you want from that? A time for discussion? A place where you can just vent? Learning times when people come in and talk about subjects we all want to know more about? I'm interested. Please let me know your ideas of a perfect situation where you would be able to learn from others and "confess" what is going on in your world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Something that has always driven me since I was a little girl was being independent. I wanted to tie my own shoes, pick out my own clothes, do my own laundry, live on my own. Now, that we have kids I want to teach our children independence. As soon as they learned how to pull up a zipper they were putting on their own coats. As soon as they knew how to pull up their pants, they were doing it by themselves. And as soon as they knew how to get the velcro done on their shoes, their feet were their responsibility.

Now, what I am about to say is purely political, so please forgive me if you don't share my same views, but everyone has an opinion on this, and this is mine - so bear with me.

I wish that we lived in a country that supported my view on independence. A country that supported those who went and got a job and worked hard for their paychecks. A country that rewarded those families who were paying their own bills. A country that encouraged those parents who knew what was important and did it - like, I don't know, getting insurance for their kids. However, we don't live in that country.
If we work really hard and get a good paycheck, we pay more taxes. If we earn good bonuses, they take more than half of it away. If we pay our bills, great! But if we don't, that's ok, because the government will bail us out anyway. And now, we will all be forced to pay for insurance for those who haven't been responsible enough to get insurance.
I know it's harsh. But seriously. Dave has ms. Our insurance got dropped when he was diagnosed. I was enraged. I then looked for insurance options that would cover him. I found only special plans that were outrageously priced. So, I found a plan that took 20 percent off a medical bill if we had one. And that worked just fine until he found a job with great insurance.
I think government programs are fine, especially when you find yourself in a position that was seemingly beyond your control and you just need a little hand up. HOWEVER, when we make it a requirement that we can not make our own decisions anymore and that the government can make our decisions for us better than we can - that's wrong! When we create an environment where it's easier and more beneficial to not work hard, to not strive for something better, to not labor for success - I don't know how that is any kind of dream. It seems like a nightmare to me full of lazy, under inspired people who really care about nothing other than the pursuits of their own laziness.
So, all this to say, I hope that my kids learn the virtue of independence from me instead of looking at the government and the new dream they are handing out of really no future at all. I hope my children will want to work for what they have and make their own decisions instead of having a government make their decisions for them.
I love America and what it stands for. Freedom and liberty. I do not, however, like the government and what it currently stands for. Control and dependence.
Now, I will get off my soap box, and once again - if you do not agree, please forgive me as this is my blog and if you have a differing opinion please write it on your blog. I will read and take your opinion into consideration.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pathetic pride

So, yesterday for reasons that are beyond ridiculous, I was struggling with pride. You know that place, I'm sure. That place where you look at someone else's struggles or shortcomings and say to yourself, "I'm so much better than that!" Now most of us won't admit that we do that, but here on this blog, I admit it. I did this yesterday, and even though I knew I was being horrible doing it - I still did it. I was actually being so prideful that I called a friend totally removed from the situation to tell them how much better than that I was. Gross, I know.
And while I was preparing to call my friend to tell her how much better than that I was, my kids were being so calm and serene which only added to my pride of course. And then I called. And then all hell broke loose.
From that moment on for the next 24 hours my life has been pure chaos. I know that God doesn't take delight in our struggles, but after my last day I can't help but picture God saying, "Let's see who is prideful now!"
As soon as I began talking to my friend, Luke runs to me saying, "It was an accident. Peanut butter and jelly sammich. Accident. I so hungry." I followed him into the kitchen where I found my new jar of grape jelly broken into a bunch of pieces on my kitchen floor. Why he waited till I was on the phone to decide to make his own sandwich is beyond me, but he did, and there it was on my floor. As I wiped the last bit of jelly of my floor Emma ran by me and Luke quickly chased after her. She leaped onto the recliner and her foot met Luke's mouth and gave him a bloody lip and nose.
I calmed them down, cleaned them up and put them to bed for the night. Luke had a bit of a cough so I gave him some robitussin (ya, ya I know, cough medicine is from the devil) and some motrin and sent him to bed. It was calm again so I decided to make another important call that had been waiting all day to be made and as I lovingly held my baby in my right arm I said goodbye to my friend, closed my phone and turned to place it on the table. POP! My knee popped and I came crashing down. Will was unharmed, but I could barely move. So after icing it for a bit I decided to take a warm bath. I set my phone on the edge of the bath tub (really - I'm that smart) and my mom called. The phone vibrated itself right into the depths of my tub. Yes, it gets better! I hobbled myself downstairs where I proceeded to put it into a bag of rice to suck all the water out of it. Took a couple of pain pills and went to bed...
Only to be out of bed 15 times at least through the night with sick, teething and whiny children. Then this morning I go to the doctor where he tells me that I most likely tore my meniscus which is absolutely wonderful and am currently praying that does not translate into surgery (if you know otherwise, please do not inform me as I would prefer to live in my state of delusion) and he ordered an mri for Thursday. I came to pick up the kids at my mom's house where I found Luke absolutely miserable. We headed home.
Luke headed to the couch and curled up in the fetal position which means, "I'm really sick, pay attention." However, my other three children chose not to pay attention to that or to the fact that I am now hobbling all over the place and chaos continues to ensue. I put Will onto my bed for a nap, surrounded by pillows. When I came downstairs Emma came to me and said, "Mommy, Lily is playing with a sharp knife." I walk into the kitchen where I find Lily sitting on the floor man handling a bread knife stabbing at my homemade whole wheat loaf apparently trying to make herself a sandwich (I swear I feed my children.) Got that resolved when I heard crying upstairs where I found Will who did a back flip off of my bed. I got him calmed down and walked downstairs as I heard Lily's voice yelling a very clear, "CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!" only to find her in the kitchen again with two cartons of eggs and a measuring cup about to crack all of the eggs to make some concoction. At this point I'm sure some of you are saying, "You really should put a lock on your fridge." Been there, done that, she mastered locks by one and a half.
Got the eggs put away when I saw that Luke was really struggling with breathing and long story short ended up at the er where he was then admitted into the hospital with pneumonia. Of course they won't let me bring my nursing baby with me to the hospital to stay over night so my husband is there as I write this while I sit here blogging as this is the only way I can feel like I am contributing to the situation.
And here we are, 24 hours later, and I am quite sure that my little robe of pride that I was so excited to drape around my shoulders yesterday has been stripped off and I realize that I am really the least of these. I may not ever be in that situation that sparked this prideful streak of mine, but boy do I have my own shortcomings! My life is sure not perfect and as much as I would love a Norman Rockwell done of my family - it won't ever be and that's ok.
I'm sure there are moms who have looked at me and said with pride, "I'm so much better than that" and I'm sure that those moms would have handled my last 24 hours with much more grace, patience and poise than I did. However, I'm here on the other end of it, a little worse for the wear, but I'm here. And instead of looking at that situation that started all of this with pride, I think I am just going to pray for them in humility, knowing I can only hope that any onlookers I may have would do the same for me in my own shortcomings.
But seriously, here's to a better next 24 hours!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Want some ice cream?

Yesterday my husband and I took our kids on a short hike up Tubbs Hill for a picnic. Two major events here. This was our FIRST hike as a family, all six of us together, and our first picnic. The kids were excited about eating the whole way up and when we found the perfect spot for our clan, we spread out the blanket and began eating our turkey sandwiches and broccoli.
As other hikers passed us my son Luke started talking to every single one. He was asking questions like, "what's your name?" "you going on a picnic?" "do you like broccoli?" And for the most part, they were kind enough to answer him and engage in conversation for a few brief seconds. Then Emma reminded Luke that last time Aunt Char and I took them for a hike we got milkshakes. Luke got so excited and then began to ask every person if they like ice cream and if they wanted to come with us to get milkshakes. At one point I was pretty certain we would have quite the party at the ice cream parlor.
The way that Luke was so kind and welcoming to every person on that hill made me start to think. As a mom, as a parent, what things do I want to teach my children? What traits do I want them to carry on with them into adulthood? Integrity, independence, kindness? Curiosity, commitment, work ethic?
I have thought of this question before and decided on integrity. However this time as I pondered the question, I landed with kindness. Although there are so many traits and characteristics I want to instill in my children and pray my heart out that they carry into adulthood, I think kindness is pretty close to the top of my list.
And if kindness, integrity or whatever is so important to teach my children - am I leading by example? Am I the model of a kind person? I hope so - but yesterday I was challenged by Luke and he inspired me to be more kind.
So, I'm asking for response. What traits do you want your children to carry with them into adulthood? What traits do you see in your children already that you can be inspired by?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Control Freak

I love real friendships. I love those friends, those moments when you can drop your guard and be vulnerable, letting your real emotion show. As moms, I think this is vital to our health and well being.
Today I was reminded of the battle that we are really in. This is hard. We want the best for our kids and we feel that we bare all the weight. What an overwhelming task! Us women are such comparers to begin with, but then add motherhood to it, and we do ourselves in. We question why our baby isn't sleeping through the night at two weeks like all the other babies. We wonder why our toddler is still not potty trained at three when all the other toddlers are at six months old. We get frustrated when our kid isn't speaking fluently like the little girl next door. And we so often put all the weight, the guilt and the frustration on our shoulders.
Now of course it doesn't help when you have outside voices reminding you of all the things that you are secretly concerned about yourself but don't want anyone else to point out. Different generations did things differently, some things drastically different, and well, our kids aren't their kids. Our kids are our kids. Our kids are going to develop the way our kids are going to develop. I don't think we can put a gold seal standard on parenting and call it good. Kids are unique, God knows we are, and so things are just not going to be the same. Yet we forget, get into the rut of comparison and become frustrated.
However, thank God for friends who are other mothers that are honest and say they are right there in the struggle with you. Thank God for mothers who have tried the thirty different techniques before they found the one that worked for them - and are willing to admit it. And thank God for the mother who is honest with where God is working on her so that other mom's can stand with her in that and take it on as a challenge for themselves as well.
But one thing God whispered to my heart this morning as I was sitting with a group of wonderful women who love their little ones with all their hearts was that these kids aren't ours. I've learned that lesson the most when my kids have been sick. When Will was born and he landed himself in the NICU for the first two weeks of his life, it seemed my heart was ripped out of my body. I wanted to protect him, save him from whatever was eating at his lungs and I couldn't do a thing. I couldn't spend all day and night in the NICU because that wouldn't achieve a thing let alone accomplish anything for my other children who were dealing with their own uncertainty of the the situation. I wanted to control it and I couldn't. God reminded me then that Will was His. He was taking care of Will. Will was in His hands - not mine. I found peace in that during that trial.
And now Will is healthy and starting to crawl all over the place and join in the chaos that we call family and now we have the day to day trials. And I find myself forgetting what God reminded me. These kids, these wonderful amazing human beings are not mine. They are God's. Now, God entrusted me to take care of them, raise them, train them in the way they should go - but when it's all said and done, they belong to God. And what freedom there is in that realization! God created them, God knew when they would learn to sleep and talk and go to the bathroom in a toilet. God knows all this. God really does have it under control.
There is a new song by JJ Heller called "Your Hands." The chorus goes like this, "When my world is shaking, Heaven stands. When my heart is breaking, I never leave your hands." There is so much uncertainty in parenting, but God really does have it under control. When we feel like we are out of control and discouraged, God has it under control. When we can't see past our own circumstances that hour let alone minute, God has it under control.
And thank you Jesus for my mom friends who can remind me when I forget, as I can remind them, God really does have it under control - and He has this parenting thing figured out.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

To the finish line

I'm not a veteran parent, so excuse me if I come across like I know everything, which clearly I don't. However, I am a parent with four children who take every last ounce of my energy, so I am talking from my experience with being tired. With that said...
Last night at church Dave and I didn't hear a word that was spoken from stage. Unfortunately for us, since the current series is on marriage and we know we can benefit from it. Instead of listening intently, we were completely distracted by the sideshow performance right in front of us. There was a young boy and girl sitting in the row right ahead of us. To be safe, I would say they were maybe 15 or 16 years old. They couldn't keep their hands off each other. They couldn't stop whispering in eachother's ears. They couldn't stop fidgeting and repositioning so they could be as inappropriate in church as possible. Dave and I exchanged looks as if saying, "should we say something to them?" But we didn't. At one point I had to bite my fist to keep my mouth from opening something that would not have been said in love. We were questioning their ages until she revealed her hand and her chubby little girl hands appeared with each nail painted a different shade of pastel and then we knew she was just a little girl.
I am not naive to think that kids are being promiscuous at fifteen. I guess I was naive to think that they would be a little more sneaky then to go as far as possible as they could in a church service. She had two long sleeve shirts on, but her boyfriend kept covering her up with his jacket. It wasn't cold - although my internal thermometer is totally messed up after four kids, I know it wasn't cold.
At one point, a man, sitting two seats down from the couple looked at the girl and sarcastically said, "Are you cold?" She looked at him and said, "ya." He was an older gentleman and we couldn't help but chuckle at the obvious sarcasm. But what shocked us was that before the service was over, the man looked at the young girl and said, "I'm ready. Let's go." He was her dad!!! Which leads me to my point.
I know quite a few parents who after a certain amount of years give up. Whether that be three, eight years or fifteen, they just give up. Parenting is too hard. It's a lost cause. Their kids are too screwed up, too much to handle, too out of control. They have tried as much as they think is possible, nothing has worked, and they have given up. This scenario has greatly frustrated me as long as I have been aware of it, but last night it made me sad. This young teenage couple was on a slippery slope. If they were that nonchalant about behaving that way in church, how are they behaving at home? This girl and this boy are compromising in ways that will affect their futures and the saddest part was that her dad was sitting idly by. Dave was about to fly through the roof in frustration. His mind instantly went to if Emma was behaving that way - the poor boy probably wouldn't have the ability to walk after the church service. This girl's daddy was supposed to protect her and he just ignored it all.
Parenting is hard, and I know I'm in for it when I have four teenagers at the same time. I know that I'm going to be pounding my head against the wall when I have two teenage girls. And I am not delirious enough to imagine that we will be immune to any of it simply because of the effort we put in to parenting while they are little. Already our kids have attitudes and personalities that surprise me. Yesterday at Costco, it was crowded and my usually very polite son looked at some people in front of us and said, "get out of my way people!" That was a proud moment! Embarrassed, Dave and I pulled our cart off to the side and admonished Luke for speaking that way. I have been told that three years is just a little looking glass into what thirteen will be like and I know we have quite the task waiting for us. And that task, with four kids will take every ounce of effort and teamwork between Dave and me as possible. How overwhelming and discouraging those years will be if we just give up?
I know I am an idealist in hoping with all my might the thousand times a day we tell our kids we love them and how beautiful and handsome they are will make them confident and give them the ability to make good choices when it comes to relationships. They may mess up but to the best of our ability we want to protect them from making those choices that will permanently affect them.
I know this post is all over the place, but this really affected me last night. Please don't give up on your kids. Please don't decide that playing the game takes too much effort and just go sit on the sidelines. Play hard. Work hard. Be hands on in the game working till the buzzer goes off. When we decide to be parents we decide to have a job for the rest of our lives. Our kids are our jobs - and any job that you just sit on your duff and don't actually work at will not be a job in which you advance or succeed.
Please for the sake of your kids, run hard to the finish line. Don't give up. Because I'm sure that the prize at the end of this if we run the race set before us with determination and focus will be rewarding.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cereal and pickles

Maybe one day in the not too distant future I will be one of those "put together" moms. I will look gorgeous all the time, my kids won't have a speck of dirt on them, meals will be gourmet and my house will look like a show home. Not only this, but when I have other moms tell me their "mom stories" in exasperation, I will look at them with a confused look because I NEVER have overwhelming moments when I question what the heck I got myself into when I decided to be a mom. Ya maybe one day, probably not...ever.
This morning for breakfast my kids had cereal with no milk because our milk that was supposed to be good for three more days went sour. And on the side they had a pickle. They were thrilled. No oatmeal, fruit, yogurt...cereal and pickles. I'm sure if they had seen the left over spaghetti from last night they would have loved to have that as the appetizer. Dinner was pretty much the same story, but I pulled out the left overs and they were content with that.
But in all my domestic glory (ha!) today, I started thinking about how sometimes moms can be so pretentious. We so easily find our identity and our value in our children and if they are absolutely perfect we are as well, by default. I know some moms who say their babies are sleeping through the night after two weeks, never cry, never say no. There are those moms who look at you with absolute confusion when you tell them stories about embarrassing moments caused by your children as if to say their kids have never misbehaved.
I have always been an open book for the most part and I learned years ago that we can either take our struggles and our shortcomings and hide them away so no one knows that we are actually human, or we can allow God to use those to minister to other people in a way that only He can through these situations. I chose the latter. I want to be transparent so that maybe a mom who is tired and discouraged can look at my life and say, "Ok, I can laugh at this, I will survive. I am loved by God even when I feel so unlovable, and He thinks I am beautiful even when I haven't been able to take a real shower in three days." That's my calling in life right now, that's the ministry God has placed on my heart.
I have four kids and only one slept through the night before they were one year old. My kids are so loud the cops get called and embarrassing moments? Ya, my son pulled his pants down in the driveway today as a senior citizen was walking by because he had to go to the bathroom and I guess we didn't make it abundantly clear to him that the only reason he got to pee behind that tree the other day was because we were lost in the woods. That's nothing compared to the time when I was leaving IHOP with the kids and my kids holding on to my back pocket de-pantsed me in front of the whole restaurant.
This parenting thing is a journey as is life, and if we spend the entire time pretending that we have it all put together, we will miss the true joy that can be found in the journey. So, although I aspire to have a show home, beautiful clothes, time to get dolled up and wonderful gourmet meals for my family all the time - right now my jeans with holes in the knees because I'm on the floor with my kids all the time, my toy strewn house, and even those meals that consist of dry cereal and pickles are where I am, where God has called me to be at this time in my life. And I won't pretend that I'm anywhere else but's a wonderful place.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's all Greek to me...

As Dave and I have been listening to the "Peasant Princess" series by Mars Hill Church online, it has brought us back to the five love languages. In case you haven't heard of these, they are the fundamental ways in which we all experience love. Most people have one major "love language" but some people major in all five. One's love language can change over time with growth and circumstances. The five love languages are
1. Words - affirmation, letters, texts, emails saying how much you are loved and cared for...
2. Gifts - pretty self-explanatory
3. Time - spending quality and quantity of time with someone...
4. Touch - Hugs, holding hands and all that stuff
5. Service - Laundry, oil changes, changing dirty diapers
When Dave and I first married his love languages were affirmation and time and mine were touch and time. Then we had children. Oh how those little monkeys change EVERYTHING!!! Now Dave's love languages are time and service, and mine is now SERVICE. I say that so emphatically only because so often I feel like I'm so far behind on everything and when Dave just helps without me asking, I am head over heels in love with him!
Gary Chapman is the author of the 5 Love Languages book and I know that he has written a book pertaining to children as well. I have never read that book, but this week I have been thinking a lot of my kids' love languages and how I can communicate better to them my overwhelming love for them.
Luke's love languages are definitely time and touch. Luke wants us to read him books, build elaborate train tracks with him, play monsters, color - with him. He is also the kid who has to give everyone in a room a hug and a kiss at least twice just so you know he loves you. Even if he has known you for five minutes.
Emma is definitely words and touch. Emma likes to hear how beautiful and wonderful she is. She loves to hear how much we love her and how far our love can reach for her. She will ask us ten times how pretty she looks just to hear us tell her that she is one of the two most beautiful princesses we have ever laid eyes on over and over again. She also loves being cuddled but she won't be aggressive about it like Luke is. She waits for our invitation, but she eats it up. You can tell that's when she feels the safest, is when she is in our arms.
Lily is harder to nail down. She is so busy and all over the place. She is pretty independent and can play on her own without complaint. But when I think about it, she is definitely a time and gift kid. When Dave brings home stuff for the other kids they are excited about it, but Lily treasures it. She loves the things people give her. She treats each gift she has been given like the most precious gift ever. Lily is also definitely time. Much like Emma with touch, Lily doesn't demand one on one attention, but she thrives with it.
I want to focus on loving my children in the way they best understand it. It's so hard, especially with the time part. I feel like I am constantly being tugged in five directions and every single one of my most loved people are time people to some extent. But tonight, I pulled Lily aside and went upstairs with her in a moment of calm with the other kids and we read books together and cuddled. She was so happy and she was so thrilled to comply with what I needed from her after that - no fighting, no screaming...just lots of kisses and hugs tonight after we spent our ten minutes together -alone.
What are your kids' love languages? What are your love languages? Are you communicating love to them in the language you best understand or in the one they fully know - or do you speak the same language?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Works of Art

Before I became a mom and I desperately wanted to have a baby, I had a friend ask me if I was ready to be a parent. Before I could answer she repeated herself, "Are you ready to be a parent? I'm not asking if you are ready to have a baby but if you are ready to be a parent." I didn't understand the gravity of her question that day. Of course I was ready, I thought, I can't wait to hold a little snuggle muffin and sing lullabies. Now though, I fully understand what she was saying to me. Being a parent is such a huge responsibility, an undertaking like none other. Parenting changes relationships and transforms people. Parenting is hard.
I remember when I was ridiculously huge, pregnant with my twins Dave and I would talk about what it would be like to be parents. It seems like all our parenting conversations were about our future kids when they were about eight. Those years though, between birth to eight - we didn't discuss those at all...simply, because we had no clue. No clue whatsoever. We talked about our kids being kind to their friends, when they would start dating (we didn't know we would have a girl and that we would change our whole philosophy on dating to don't even make eye contact with the opposite sex until we pick a spouse for you), chores, their relationship with Jesus. We didn't talk about how they would learn to be kind, or the process in which we teach them what to expect and give in a relationship, or the development of a work ethic, or the process in introducing them to Jesus.
Before I had kids, I was an expert in parenting. And now, that I have four kids I am the first to say I have no clue what I'm doing. The things I swore my children would never do before I had a quiver full of my own seem so minor in comparison to the things my kids have pulled off. I have become a full time student and am no longer pretending I know enough to be a teacher.
Even though being a parent has changed me, how I view the world, how I view God, how I view myself - it has been one of the greatest adventures of my life. They are like blank canvases that God has entrusted to Dave and me to paint and help create a masterpiece with. I work, I strive, I pray to paint with strokes of love and kindness, encouragement and purpose. Sometimes though I paint with frustration and exhaustion, confusion and exasperation. But I think I can honestly say, so far I think they are quite beautiful pieces of art.
I have four little snuggle muffins now and lots of lullabies have been sung. I've been blessed with four babies and now I get to parent all of them. And today, as my house is filled with laughter as they chase each other around the table with their Tonka trucks and Will is desperately trying to get in on the action, I am grateful I had no idea what my friend was really asking me that day. Because if I had understood, had known how hard it would be, these giggles may not have been ever created. Children really are a blessing from the Lord...thank goodness most of us assume we have it all figured out before we have our children so we are brave enough to have kids and thank God that He is still painting on my canvas, and His grace is sufficient for me a masterpiece in the making.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The battle...

We have been through the two's already twice. We thought we had our hands full with Luke and Emma when they were two. Lily was fairly new and Luke and Emma were all over the place it seemed, all the time. When the twins hit three, we thought we had finally crossed to the other side until we heard that it was the "terrible two's" and the "trying three's." Three has been quite the adventure, but nothing has prepared us for Lily. She puts the twins to shame.
Lily is a tough little girl. She will not be overlooked, left behind or forgotten. She demands attention and she sticks up for herself like none other. She laughs with her whole being, and she cries with her whole being. In fact, as I'm writing this, she is in her room screaming because she has decided she doesn't want to take a nap today.
In fact, Lily's cry is so loud that we actually had the police called on us last summer shortly after Will was born. Our house doesn't have air conditioning so we all use those box window fans. Sleep deprived as I was with the noisy fan blowing I couldn't hear Lily's screaming in the middle of the night because she lost her pacifier. Apparently, Lily was disturbing a neighbor's peace and they felt the need to call the police. Lovely. The police knocked, and since I couldn't hear my child screaming out of laziness, I couldn't hear the police knocking. However, the police did say that the first time they came they heard no crying. I suppose Lily found her pacifier and went to sleep, but lost it again and started screaming. The wonderful neighbor called the police again. Once again, I did not hear the knocking. Then at six in the morning, Luke snuck into the garage, opened the garage door so he could see and was dragging in the Christmas decorations (oh my life!) when the police pulled up for the third time. Luke ran in scared thinking they were here for him and he ran up the stairs saying, "Mommy, someone's here. They are here!" Totally incoherent I walked to the door and saw two police officers standing there very somber. After they explained to me what was going on, I responded, "I just had a newborn...I'm tired...and baby's cry."
Needless to say, Lily is loud and stubborn. She can find her pacifier in the middle of the night, she just wants me to find it for her. I could let her cry, but I may have the cops knocking down my door. She has learned that screaming gets her what she wants much faster than speaking and so screaming is her communication of choice. And now that she is two, asserting her independence, we get to hear the scream. All. The. Time.
I have learned that I need to pick my battles, especially with her. Do I really care if she eats yet another banana? No. Do I really care if she pulls every pan out of the cupboards to cook when she has her own kitchen to play with? No (as long as she cleans it all up). But I do care if she is unkind to her brothers and sister. I do care if she is disrespectful. I do care if she doesn't take a nap because the scream becomes louder and longer.
In parenting we have to pick battles - and when we pick our battles, we have to win. It's crucial. Right now, the battle is nap time...and the screaming has finally stopped, wait, nevermind. The battle continues. She is not going to come out of her room until she has rested. I won't allow it. I will win. However, if I let the screaming get to me and went up to her room and said, "Ok Honey, you can come downstairs," she has won. She just learned that if she screams loud and long enough, she will get her way.
One of the battles I have chosen not to fight lately is the clothes battle with my twins. Luke and Emma insist on dressing themselves. Luke is obsessed with sock jammies and Emma is obsessed with looking "perfect," although we have different ideas of what perfect is. I let them wear what they want as long as it is modest and appropriate. We live in North Idaho and though we have had a mild winter, it still is cold, and Emma wants to wear short sleeves with no jacket. I always have her jacket on hand. I always remind her that it is going to be cold. But ultimately, she chooses against it. And ultimately, she always ends up wearing it. Not a battle I choose to fight.
However, one of the battles that we are waging right now in our home is the picking up of toys. With four little ones we have an endless supply of toys and books ALL over our house. It drives my husband crazy and though I have gotten somewhat used to it, I all but go insane when I step on one. We tell our kids if they don't pick up and put their toys in their toy box, we will gladly pick up for them and put their toys in our toy box. Which is in the garage. Up high. I have four boxes, big boxes, of toys in our garage that I have confiscated because I had to pick them up. That is a battle I'm fighting. I have to clean up so much, I don't want to add toy picker upper to my list all the time as well.
So, I'm asking, what battles are you fighting? What battles are you letting go? And when you decide to fight in the battle, are you making sure you are winning?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hubba Hubba

My husband and I have been married for six years, and because it's us, those six years have been full of ups and downs like we would have never imagined on our wedding day. Buying homes, being poor, infertility, having twins, having another baby thirty minutes later it seemed, Dave getting sick, moving, moving back, another baby, him being sick...and on and on it goes.
Before our sixth anniversary we had four children, lived in two states and our whole life looked different than we had imagined it to look like only a few years earlier. In the craziness of our lives we put our marriage on autopilot and haven't stopped yet to refuel or regroup. And the disconnect was really frustrating me - more than it has before, and I finally started praying to the Lord about it. And my prayers were answered.
Our church just started a sermon series on marriage and I also found Mars Hill Church online. The pastor did a sermon series called "The Peasant Princess." It is based on the Song of Songs and it has blessed Dave and I tremendously so far. It has opened up lines of communication and refocused us on what's truly important.
Which leads me to my question - in being mom all day, do you find yourself forgetting or neglecting your other, more important roles?
I know I do. As Christian women our priorities should be:
1. God
2. Spouse
3. Kids
4. The rest...(which includes Facebook and cell phones and all that stuff which has become my new addiction)
Often times I find myself putting my priorities like this:
1. Kids
2. The rest
3. Spouse
4. God
No wonder I have felt a disconnect from Dave! He's not where he's supposed to be on my list of priorities. Nor is God, and since He's the giver of all good things I really need to focus on putting Him first.
Just in the last week since Dave and I have been refocusing and re-prioritizing our life our kids have taken notice. They notice that Mommy and Daddy are talking more, and being more affectionate. They notice that we are laughing together and generally seem happier.
When our kids are secure that Mommy and Daddy are doing okay, they feel the freedom to be kids. But kids are so aware, and if they feel that there is some unrest with Mommy and Daddy they will respond with uncertainty and acting out.
I encourage you as moms to consider your priorities this week and re-prioritize if necessary. Our kids, as it has been proven statistically, do so much better when we as Mommy and Daddy are loving each other in real practical ways and not just in words. How are you doing with that?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The joy of cooking

What a wonderful day! My children are finally better except for those stubborn runny noses and life has returned back to normal...ok, our normal. So, today I thought it would be a great idea to make our own pizza. From scratch. This might not seem like a big endeavor, however, I am not much of a cook and I have three little children who want to "help" at every step and a baby who screams for my attention when I have none to give. But I was determined.
My kids love to cook, especially my son Luke. He is really fascinated about cooking, and unfortunately for me has tried many of his own recipes before my husband or I are awake to tell him no. We have come downstairs countless times to flour, sugar, every one of the spices, chili flakes, cream cheese, marshmallows, even toothpaste combined together in various ways to make cookies or cakes or muffins. My favorite was a few days before my son Will was born and I had been up all night with the stomach flu in the heat of the summer when I woke to Luke in the kitchen mixing garlic infused olive oil with maple syrup and pouring it all over the kitchen and the dining room. I'm sure God knew I needed to have the stomach flu that night so Luke would survive the next morning. The kid even goes to sleep with his last words being, "Mommy, what are the ingredients in chocolate chip cookies?"
So, with his fascination about cooking and to curb his determination to do this by himself I have really made a concentrated effort to cook with him and Emma as much as possible. The kids and I have made everything from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to fruit salad, spaghetti to semi-homemade calzones. It is a great math activity with measuring and counting, a good hand-eye coordination activity with pouring and stirring and it's a great lesson in following the rules with going by recipe. Now, that we are feeling all warm and fuzzy...
WHAT AM I THINKING??? I get myself in these situations, homemade from scratch foods. Really? I've never made dough with yeast in my life and I have my first experience with my four kids screaming and talking incredibly loud with excitement as I am stressed out because I just know I am going to ruin dinner. I always get snippy - excuse the generalization, but it's true, ALWAYS. And by the end of the prep I am exhausted and ready to put them to bed, never mind that it is only four thirty.
However, my kids are so gracious and love cooking and me so much that they just disregard my snippyness and continue about their excitement like I am saying nothing of significance, which in reality, I'm not. But my kids love it. And dinner was fabulous. The crust turned out pretty darn good for my first time and the sauce was wonderful, and my kids loved the fact that they made it all by themselves (I will continue to let them think that.) All in all we actually all really enjoyed ourselves today. We had fun.
And enters Joy. I am learning as I'm focusing on the Fruit of the Spirit in my parenting that one fruit begets another. When I am patient I am more self-controlled. When I am more gentle I am more kind. When I am more joyful, even if it takes immense amounts of effort to get there, I am more peaceful. Today, our home was filled with joy. Joy because I kissed Dave goodbye instead of just giving him a head nod as he walked out the door and I changed a diaper. Joy because I responded to my daughter Emma's requests for physical affection. Her love language is for sure touch and with four kids I often don't get to do that, but today we got to cuddle. Joy because I fulfilled Luke's need to cook and be completely tactile in learning. Joy because Lily and I danced just because. Joy because Will's smile has returned after being absent due to his sickness. Joy was present today...and all because of a pizza. Let me explain.
We had a purpose today. We had a goal today. And our goal today was a goal that included the whole family. We all worked together to create something - and Dave knew he was going to have food tonight when he got home from work. Maybe, just maybe, if we put a purpose on every day instead of just letting the days slip by, our days would be filled with more joy.
But honestly, goals wear me out. Goals are messy, goals are a lot of work, and goals often don't turn out as beautifully as they are intended to be when goals include four little kids. But when we accomplish something together as a family, like making a homemade pizza, we met a goal - we succeeded. And my kids and me, have a great memory now - that's pure joy.