1 - This is exactly how we are all feeling. We got back from our last beach retreat yesterday after 4pm and then had rehearsal for this weekend at 6:30. We are all pooped! I think we've had enough Myrtle Beach for one summer. We can't let down yet, though. We have a full weekend ahead of us and then Josh is going head-strong at Journey's new space to get it ready. We'll be in our new building in about a week!!!
2 - Did you figure out what my "Story In Pictures" was? A couple of minutes after tucking him in to bed one night Zeke cracked the door open and threw his bubby in the hallway, saying that he "didn't want bubby to tempt me to suck my thumb". Totally unprompted! Areyna stuck bear out their too, but shortly came and retrieved him, with tears in her eyes, saying she just couldn't do it. Anyway, when Zeke got up, his fingers had NO prunage and they were completely dry! So, at 8:34am we had an ice cream celebration in honor of his first night with no thumb. Areyna was feeling pretty sad that she didn't have the same accomplishment so Zeke shared with her:)
3 - The day Zeke woke up with un-prunaged thumbs we had to go to the mall they asked if they could have a big bubble gum ball. I had a GREAT idea! I told them they could pick out ANY gum ball they wanted to, but they had to go three nights without sucking their thumb to obtain their prize! Zeke didn't make it, but bear spent the next three nights in the hallway (and cuddled up with Meme and Poppie) and she didn't suck her thumb. She's been smacking that gum all day today! We're not making a big deal out of it, but if they choose to try super hard and succeed they get to check off another box on their "No Thumb Gum Chart" to try for another prize.
4 - I'm reading David Platt's, "Radical". I'm speechless. Each word is leaving me with a tightness in my chest and an ache in my heart. If you have read, or are reading, that book you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you haven't...you need to!
5 - Meme got Zeke a new costume. He loves it so much that he has been known to sleep in it on occasion. The kids at the camp were making over how cute he was all week! He was pretty cute, if I do say so myself:)
When I have a project that requires me to get dirty I don't usually look forward to the initial "getting dirty" part.
If it's painting, I always start out very carefully, so as not to get any paint on me, the floor, the ceiling, the tarps. Then, out of nowhere, I see paint on my forearm. Then a spot on the ceiling and then I become a little more careless. I mean, I've already screwed up, what's a little more paint here and there?
If it's playing outside with the kids I don't necessarily enjoy the itchiness from the grass and, the stains on the jeans or the sticks in the hair, but once I morph into character, even Spiderman can't hold me down!
If it's trimming the bushes in the front yard, I start out slowly, tip-toeing around, trying not to get pricked by the holly bushes and watching out for spiders. But after I start getting a little dirty and begin sweating it doesn't bother me as bad. Give me an hour and I'm like Rambo, doing whatever it takes to get those bushes trimmed. Holly bushes? Go ahead and prick me! Spiders? I laugh in the face of spiders! Sweat? Well, that's just gross, but what can you do?
But isn't that how sin creeps into our lives?
At first you hate the sight of it. You tiptoe around it, sometimes running away from it, but then, without warning, it appears right in front of you and, if you are unguarded, it jumps right into your life. After the initial act, you've already gotten dirty and you become less careful. It begins taking over slowly and before you know it you are knee deep into a stronghold that you can't seem to get a hold on.
Then, you just become plain careless, thinking that you've already gone this far, what's one more...
"Be self-controlled and alert.
Your enemy the devil prowls around like
a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
I Peter 5:8
But there is hope! There is ALWAYS hope with Christ!
"No temptation has overtaken you but
such as is common to man; and God is faithful,
who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what
you are able, but with the temptation will provide
It's a good thing my kids are always so grateful and thankful, never complaining or whining about anything.
But even if they were rolling around on the porch in the backyard complaining about playing outside, and about the grass that was wet with dew, and the wiggly shoes on their feet, I'd never throw my hands up and say, "Forget it, I'm not going to listen to you whine anymore. I'm done. Go sit in your room until I feel like hearing you again." What kind of mother talks to their children like that anyway?!
And since my kid's actions never surprise me, especially if we'd had such a long morning, when I walked into the play room to tell the kids we were going to go meet some cousins at Chick-Fil-A (and that they could finally come out of their rooms) I most certainly did not find all the contents of the diaper bag all over the floor,
two children staring back at me with mouths full of snacks,
sitting in piles of cracker crumbs.
since that most certainly did not happen I NEVER stared blankly at them...
slowly turning around and walking away, speechless,
all the way to my bedroom.
And thank goodness that would never happen because then I'd have to shut my bedroom door and lock myself in so I could take a shower in peace and gain my composure...again.
I don't know what it was. Maybe PMS, maybe lack of routine, lack of drive and motivation, or maybe it was just a desire for the craziness of summer to be over and my family back together, but I was feeling pretty down the first half of the week.
I wanted...needed, to get out, but didn't really want to talk to anybody.
I don't know, it's hard to explain.
One thing is for certain. I needed to snap out of it...and pronto. I still had three kids that were counting on me for love and consistency.
Here are a few things that have at least a 95% effective rate for getting me out of a funk!
1 - Music - choose your music wisely. I almost ALWAYS have it playing in the background, but it can play into your funk if your not careful. I like to get on Pandora and search for new artists and genres.
2 - I was spontaneous. My best bud, Jenn, was having a similar week. She called me on Wednesday morning on her way to the doctors office asking if we wanted to meet them at Chik-Fil-A for lunch. It was last minute and my kids were super cranky and complaining about everything. I decided that her call couldn't have come at a better time! Jenn and I made a "no obligation to carry on conversation" policy (you can do that with close friends) and had a great time together. We even enjoyed some good conversation in spite of our "policy";)
3 - I set up the pool and had mandatory outside time. It's amazing what some good ol' sunshine and fresh air can do. It has been WAY TOO hot to just play outside, but you can't go wrong with a little water in the kitty pool!
4 - Instead of trying to think of what I needed to get done during nap time I ended up falling asleep with Areyna and Zeke, reading by my side. The nap was great and the snuggle time with the kids was much-needed. Sometimes the pile of laundry, the unmade bed, and the dishes in the sink can just wait!
5 - I prayed A LOT about my attitude...and the kid's as well. I have to make sure I get up earlier than the kids. It's the only time I can think clearly and focus on Christ completely and give Him my undivided attention.
BONUS FACT: Josh got home Thursday morning. *sigh* That always helps the "funk"!
When you are in a funk what kinds of things make you snap out of it?
My friend lent me this book last week and I dove right in on our trip last weekend.
Like any parenting book, there are some things I disagree with, but overall I have agreed with the foundation behind most of his ideas.
The second chapter was a toe-stomper! Leman was differentiating between authoritarian and permissive parenting. Two totally different extremes. As moms, we tend to judge the moms that fall on the opposite end of the spectrum.
Here's the thing though. A lot of times we often parent in the middle. Here is what Leman had to say about this: "...we wander inconsistently between the two - permissive to a point, then cracking down with authoritarian wrath. I see a lot of parents in this bind. They dangle their child on a yo-yo of inconsistency, and then wonder why the kid often acts like a 'yo-yo'."
For one reason or another we can't seem to find the common ground of authoritative parenting. There is a huge difference between authoritarian parenting and authoritative parenting and we so often miss that. "Authoritative parents do not dominate their children and make all decisions for them. Instead, they use...discipline, which is tailor-made to give children the loving correction and training of which the Lord approves." They allow their children to fail while teaching them to be responsible for their own actions.
After reading all of this I realized that, as I strive to be a more laid-back mom, the final outcome is this yo-yo effect. Here's what's funny, I couldn't have read this chapter at a better time. Josh has been gone all week at a camp, so it's just been me and my three. My Tuesday had gotten off to a rough start. For some reason or another Cai had been fussing ALL morning and following me around the house crying and whining. I know that when I have mornings like this I tend to take my frustration out on Rainy and Zeke. I could see that they were already sensing my anxiety at breakfast so we stopped and I asked them to pray for me.
They were both more than willing to pray to God "to help mommy to not be frustrated". They were the two sweetest prayers I had ever heard, and the Lord heard their sweet requests on my behalf.
The day was long from over, though. We took a trip to Wal-Mart to get a few things. I'd like to think that I allow my kids to have a good time on our outings so, when I'm feeling really adventurous, we'll look at all the silly greeting cards and stop by the music kiosk. I decided that this was a day we could just take our time. But, as soon as I went to the counter and checked out, I realized that I had left my wallet at home. I was feeling my anxiety rising again and knew that "authoritarian mom" was about to break out! I quickly remembered what this does to my kids. It makes them confused and frustrated and that is exactly what God tells parents NOT to do!
I can't even tell you how many times I was reminded of this chapter while on the verge of a freak-out moment. I chose to parent authoritatively, not based on my mood or circumstances. It's been amazing to see the kid's response to this!
The phrase of the week was "OK, mommy, I will obey you!" and "Yes ma'am!". I could hardly believe what I was hearing. My heart was so full of joy. Whether it was time to leave the pool, or time to take a nap, or time to share a toy, their reaction was the same. You better believe I took them to get ice cream after dinner and on a long walk to the park before the rain came!
Just try it. Next time your kids are seeing "nice mom" but you feel the ugly head of "authoritarian mom" rising up, remember that you have a choice! If your kids see consistency in you then you'll see consistency in them...most of the time;)
We've been talking about modesty a lot this summer. With all the skin we've been seeing at these beach retreats and skimpy clothes of the summertime, how can you miss this opportunity!
I have this bathing suit that I only wear at home, in the backyard, when I'm laying out or playing in the pool with the kids. I like sun on my tummy, what can I say!?
Zeke came up to me one day and asked why I had my undies on. Note: Everything is "undies" to Zeke that shows ANY skin and a guy is considered "naked" if he has his shirt off;)
So, after totally laughing out loud I decided that this would be a great time for a talk about modesty with Areyna and Zeke.
I talked about, when we are at home it's okay to wear certain things, but when we go out, we don't want people to see "too much skin". I went into quite a bit more detail with them, of course.
Ever since that little talk, both Areyna and Zeke have been very in-tune with their modesty. It can be pretty hysterical at times, actually.
It's been so awesome to see them responding to something so quickly and with something so simple.
I think, too often, we underestimate the capacity of these little minds. They can totally grasp way more than we give them credit for. You better believe Zeke keeps Areyna and me in check as our "Visible Skin Monitor" before we go out in public now, ha!
Even though the twitter hash-tag looks somewhat misleading, #kidsexchange, we look forward to this semi-annual event. And it's time for the HUGE NC Kid's Exchange this week. I dropped off all my things to sell on Monday so I could get in early yesterday and get (almost) first dibs on everything on my list.
A full winter wardrobe for Areyna, including winter coat, scarf, hat and glove set and shoes.
Sweaters for the boys and hat and mitten sets
A drum set for Zeke - $130 off the original price! (we'd been scouring craigslist for MONTHS looking for a set for his birthday.
A scooter for Areyna - scooters keep our kids occupied during band rehearsals! This was a smart buy.
All my Christmas shopping done for the Via cousin side of the family and our kids!
I couldn't NOT give a special thing to our kids when we got home, so I sorted out what we'd save for Christmas and decided on 1 costume for each and 1 big thing for each to play with. We took them on a scavenger hunt around the house to find their special gifts! You should have seen their faces.
Here are their favorites from the sale that we've already gotten our money's worth out of.
1 - Zeke's drum set: He went straight to his drums before even telling us good morning this morning!
2 - Areyna's scooter
3 - A bell costume for Areyna
4 - A bigger Spiderman costume for Zeke - which means an old/new spiderman costume for Cai! (you gotta love hand-me-downs)
5 - A tunnel maze for Cai - He LOVES it! How much? Well, let's just say he wanted to crawl in the tunnel before eating breakfast...and you KNOW how much this boy likes to eat!!!
I know this sounds so stupid, but I'm just being honest.
I had such mixed emotions as we gave our kids their gifts. I mean, we hardly ever buy toys, even for birthdays, much less for no occasion at all. One, they are a lot of money and two, they already have so much! In a society that is already telling them that they "need" more stuff, it is a constant reminder that we need to teach our kids gratefulness, contentment and thankfulness.
So, last night before we went to bed we asked to kids to specifically thank God for all He had given them and today we are all going to find 3 things that we can give away to someone else that may not be so privileged.
I am beginning to realize that Zeke is going to be a tough one to teach. He just thinks on a totally different level than me. He thinks creatively and abstractly and I am struggling to find ways to teach him. Music is just going to be his thing, and I know that, but it's hard to pay the bills if you don't know your numbers ya know?
He wants to do school, but he wants to be at Areyna's level. Areyna knew her letters by the time she was three, so the fact that she is reading 4-letter words right now comes as no surprise. Zeke gets upset that he can't do school from her book and gets frustrated. We've tried to make a game out of it but I'm still trying to find his niche.
He knows his colors, but numbers, letters and shapes are a no-go.
If I ask him what shape a circle is he will make the shape with his hands and say "O", but can't remember that it's called a circle.
If I ask him what shape a square is he will make the shape with his hands and call it a box.
I can't seem to connect the two for him.
So, this morning I made up a game called "The Shape Hop".
I tell him to stand on a certain shape.
He has to find the beginning shape and then he jumps through the maze of shapes to find that same shape until he can make it back to the original one.
He really enjoyed it and Areyna joined in the fun too. I think repetition will work for him so maybe after a few weeks of this he'll have at least 4 shapes down:)
Monday was family errand running day. We hadn't reinstalled Micaiah's car seat base from our beach trip so we went ahead and made the switch. I know...a couple of weeks early, but he'd outweighed his infant seat by about 3 pounds so we figured he was safer in his new seat.
He giggled and kicked with glee the whole time we traveled to our first destination. Areyna was so excited that he would be able to watch movies with them on road trips. She reminded us SEVERAL times about this along the way:)
One of our stops was Triangle Town Center Mall. Josh needed to stop by the Verizon booth to see what he could do about his phone. He had jumped in the pool with it at the beach last week and it totally died. The Verizon people were awesome. They said, "Let's just pretend that it never got wet and we'll mail you a new one in 2 days." WHAT?!
Anyway, while he was at the Verizon booth I took the kids to the indoor play place. I think this was the first time he'd been able to play freely on a playground without me having to worry about him eating wood chips or handfuls of dirt. He LOVED it!
The other moms observing him cringed every time a bigger kid came close to touching him, but he's a tank so I wasn't worried at all. All the other kids loved on him, but Areyna was quick to tell them that he was her brother!
He LOVED the tunnel.
In And Out...In And Out
He also liked the climb up to the slide
and going head-first DOWN the slide while laughing the whole way!
Areyna has really matured over the past several months. Josh and I have noticed a big change in her attitude, but even more importantly, in her character.
Here are a few examples of what we've been seeing:
After Zeke had been begging for me to cut up a lemon for a meal I promised I would give it to him and Areyna for dinner. Well, when it came time for the much anticipated cutting of the lemon for dinner it was time for Josh and Zeke to leave for band rehearsal. I asked if Areyna still wanted to eat the lemon. She replied, "No, because I don't want Zeke to miss it because he wants some."
When scurrying around, gathering ALL of our stuff around church, this has become quite a task lately, I began calling out, "come on, kiddos, it's time to load up in the car". I couldn't find Rainy anywhere. And so it began..."Rainy, you need to obey right away baby!" I stopped in my tracks as I looked over to find Areyna helping Kayil, her younger cousin, put her shoes on so Kayil could, in turn, obey her mommy.
Areyna has also been very sensitive to listening for God. She is searching to hear from Him. She's been asking LOTS of questions about how God speaks to us and why she can't feel Him or hear Him. We have tried to explain that God doesn't usually speak to us in a voice we can hear with our ears. A lot of times he chooses to speak to us when we pray, through the Bible, and through other people.
One day, hours after deliberately disobeying me, Areyna came up to me and this is the conversation that ensued:
Areyna: "I'm sorry, mommy."
Me: "What baby?"
Areyna: "I'm sorry."
Me: "For what?"
Areyna: "For disobeying you."
Me: "What are you talking about baby?"
Areyna: "When you told me to stay on my pillow and I got up and threw toys in Cai's bed."
This was a perfect segue into how God truly talks to us. God had spoken to her heart and convicted her of her actions. It really seemed to click for her at that moment.
I was cooking dinner. Why is it that Micaiah only seems to want my full attention when I have to get dinner in the oven? Anyway, Areyna picked up on this and came to get Cai. She has learned to lure him into another room by dangling a favorite toy or bubby where he can see it:) He eventually followed her into the living room where she kept him entertained until I was free to join in the fun.
Zeke was on the verge of a freak-out moment, but quickly collected himself and calmed down. He is finally learning to cope with his sudden bursts of emotions (I could learn a thing or two from him, ha!). Areyna saw his self-control, which she knows we have been working really hard on, and said, "Good job buddy, you had self-control! Way to not freak out!!!." Then she looks at me and grins, "I wanted to encourage Zeke."
On our walk to the park one evening, while the sun was making it's decent behind the clouds, Areyna looked at the light streaming through the clouds and shouted, "Look mommy, there's God!"
I pray that I will be as sensitive when God shows Himself to me as this child of mine. That I would be as sensitive to His presence, even in the simplest of things.