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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

My joy for today is birthday parties.

This past Saturday, we attended two children’s birthday parties.  We have been invited to at least one party every weekend this month.  For those of you that don’t have kids, do not be under the false assumption that we are very popular.  When you are a parent of school-age children, it is just part of the job description.  Sometimes these parties are great, sometimes they are not.  But they are always thrilling for our kids and we are always honored to celebrate a special moment in a friend’s life.

So far, we have only hosted one birthday party that included more than family for any of our four kids.  We are attempting to institute a 5, 10, 16 year old plan for big birthday parties.  Time will tell if we stick to that proposal.

In the meantime, we will enjoy entertaining our kids by celebrating other kid’s birthdays.  The cake, the presents, the games, the entertaining locations; free food, fun, entertainment, and time with friends, for both the kids and for us; it all makes for a pleasant way to spend some weekend time.

All of these parties also allows my kids the opportunity to do a lot of things that they do not normally get to experience.  At birthday parties, we have been to several farms, where we held chickens, rode horses, and got to take home freshly laid eggs, played laser tag, had gymnastics lessons, karate lessons, enjoyed bounce houses, many different pools, parks, and friend’s backyards, just to name a few.

Having kids can help you and hurt you when making friends.  At birthday parties, you have as many new friends as you choose to talk to, at least for the several hours of the engagement.  You are in it together, to have fun, to eat, to help your children with the new activities, to socialize, and to survive.  It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but as with so many aspects of having children, it is a simple, short-lived joy.  Twenty years from now, I might not miss navigating the crowds at Chuck E. Cheese, but I will miss seeing the overwhelming joy on my child’s face from a simple cupcake and goodie bag.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is my birthday boy.

My firstborn is 7 today!  I cannot believe I am the parent of a 7 year old.  Seven seems like a totally different era of childhood than six.  To me, 4, 5, and 6 seem to be grouped together, and then you have 7, 8, 9.  It is entirely created in my mind, but still seems significant.

Since it is his birthday, I will take this opportunity to brag about our amazing son.  I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to downplay his amazing qualities to not make other people feel badly when they are having trouble with their kids.  Not today.  Today the world must know how of his greatness!

Of course, Noah is not perfect.  He recently got in trouble at a birthday party for (playfully) hitting an older boy in the ear while tricking him that there was something on his shirt.  Very random and unusual act for our sweet boy, but I am sure this other boy’s parents think our son is far from perfect.  However, after this act was brought to our attention, and Noah was informed that the other boy was not happy about it, he immediately and sincerely apologized.  But of course, this is proof that he is not, in fact, perfect.  Just nearly.

Noah has an amazingly sweet and caring spirit.  He went to a water park with Chad today, just the two of them.  I told him that I would miss him and was sad I would not see him much on his birthday.  He then proceeded to write me a letter that said, “I will miss you too.  I hope you do not forget me when I am at Aquatica.  You are the best mom ever.  I love you very much.”  This type of event, where it is absolutely clear that he has thought a great deal about the feelings of others, happens at least every few days.  I have boxes full of letters very similar to the one I just quoted.  He was not a snuggly baby, but he has made up for lost time.  Even though he is huge for his age, he will cuddle up on my lap and ask me to rub his back, no matter where we may happen to be.  He is always sure to hug and kiss when parting or saying goodnight.  If something breaks or spills, he is the first to jump in and try to help.  He has a very kind soul.

Along these same lines, he is an amazing big brother to his siblings.  He is patient and sweet with the little ones, and plays with them for hours at a time.  He will often notice Amelia doing something adorable, and if I am not in the room, come ask me to see it and say, “She’s so cute!”  When in the backyard with his siblings that are two and four years younger than him, he will push them on the swings, help them on the teeter totter, and play tag for hours.

Noah is in 1st grade, but reads at nearly a 5th grade reading level.  He reads for hours a day, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night and finishing a chapter of his most recent book.  The book he reads most often is the Bible.  He knows Bible stories much better than I do and has read several children’s Bibles cover to cover.  He is the first to remind us if we forget to pray before a meal.  His love and thirst for knowledge about the Lord is truly a blessing and is inspiring to both of his parents.

If you do not really know Noah, you may find this post annoying or unbelievable.  If you do know him well, you will know that I am just hitting the tip of the iceberg.  He is an excellent athlete, funny, a good conversationalist, outgoing, friendly, and generous.

One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen, in his book Reaching Out, says this, “Our children are our most important guests, who enter our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while and then leave to follow their own way.”  My son is becoming his own person, and I am awestruck that I have been entrusted with such a special being, for such a short and important time.

My sweet Noah, thank you for ushering me into motherhood seven years ago.  You are more special to us than you can ever know.  Happy Birthday my precious Boo Bear!  I love you.

Enjoy your joys for today.

My Birthday Boy as a Pilgrim on Thanksgiving.
Thank you for the picture Spencer!

 

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My joy for today is answering questions about heaven.

Almost two years ago exactly, when Noah was four, I wrote a blog very similar to the one you are about to read.  As it seems with so many things in life, patterns are followed, cycles continue.  For the past couple of days, my four year old daughter has been asking a lot of questions about heaven, death, and God.  It seems this just must be the age, at least for my kids, where issues of mortality and eternity come to the forefront of their little minds.

When Noah went through this stage, we had a big, gut wrenching, tear filled conversation about heaven and death.  So far, I have not had such a dramatic and emotional experience with Molly, but that seems to fit with both of their personalities.  When Noah experiences an emotion, he experiences it 1,000%, very quickly and intensely.  Molly usually ruminates over something in her mind, and we only get glimpses of what is happening in her beautiful head.  This has been no different.

In the past few days, I have heard so many precious questions from our sweet princess.  Tonight, about an hour after we put her to bed, she was calling for us.

If we die in heaven, will we come back down here?  Oh my.  How precious.  I explained that we can’t die in heaven and that we can’t even get hurt or sad.  She seemed sad after I said this, which surprised me.  Then, with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice…

I’ll miss my doggie and tigger.  Now I have tears in my eyes!  This girl has slept with her favorite “critters,” a stuffed dog and tigger, for every nap and bedtime since she was a year old.  I was so happy to be able to tell her that she will certainly have doggie and tigger in heaven.

Earlier tonight, at dinner, she leaned over to me and said, “Will we have our same hair in heaven?”  I was not entirely sure which way she hoped I answered this, so I paused for a moment and then she said, “Because I really like my hair, and Nana’s hair, and your hair.”  Yes Molly, we will definitely have our hair in heaven.

I am sure that we have not heard the end of these questions.  It is a very precious time in my sweet girl’s life.  Laying with her in bed, after all her siblings are asleep, rubbing her back and talking about God, I could not treasure this time more.  Can God hear us in heaven?  Yes Molls.  So He can hear us down here and up there?  Yep.  Isn’t that great?  He must have really good listening ears.  Yes ma’am, He does.

Enjoy your joys for today.

Contemplative Molly

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My joy for today is being female.

There is a strange pattern happening when I run.  If my brother or someone else is accompanying me, no one really talks to me, yells at me, or makes rude gestures.  If they are not, without fail, in my 45 minutes out and about in my neighborhood, this does happen.  Ah, the joys of being a woman.

Last Saturday, it was a group of golfers, all over the age of 60, who took it upon themselves to yell at me as I was running by.  One gentleman (and I use that word in the most facetious tone possible), who already had a beer in hand at 7 am, made some strange gesture and body movements, which I think were intended to be sexual in nature, but I could not recognize as such (thank goodness).

I recently read “Bossypants” by Tina Fey.  She talks a lot about sexism in this hilarious book, which often rears its head in disguised ways.  Ms. Fey questions why interviewers always like to ask her what it’s like to be the boss of so many people.  She asks in her book if people often pose that same question to Donald Trump.  We all know the answer to that.  She also mentions how in her improv days, skits had to have at least as many men as women in a skit, if not more.  If there were more women, or (gasp) only women, it was deemed only appealing to women.  This is still true of many movies.  If a movie has a mostly male cast, it is not necessarily only for men.  But if it has a mostly female cast, men are doing us women a favor by seeing it.  This pattern of sexism has endless examples.  If a woman is passionate about an issue or has a disagreement with someone, she is being “emotional.”  If a man does the same, don’t we admire his passion and drive?  Insert your own example here, dear female reader.

Being a woman comes with innumerable challenges.  It also comes with innumerable joys.

As a child, my mom always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up.  But it turns out, I simply wanted to be her.  But I still dreamed big.  I have a “Barbie for President” that I got in my pre-teen years.  I was pre-med in college but wanted to be a stay at home mom.  I then decided the goal of being at home required a sacrifice in career and I was blessed to know that my future spouse would have a job that would provide for our family.  Some women are able to juggle demanding careers with excellence at home, but I did not want to try.  I got a graduate degree that I hoped would be more conducive to work at home, and I have been absolutely amazed at the Lord’s provision in making that become a reality.

I am sometimes (maybe oftentimes) jealous of my husband’s near daily lunches out with colleagues.  The kids ask him what he had to eat for lunch at the Country Club, and I think back to the cold macaroni and cheese that I picked off my kid’s plates at home.  But despite these injustices, I absolutely adore being home with my precious kids.  I love the weekends, but really look forward to Mondays and just doing our routine, the kids and me.  I realize that some men are primarily at home with their kids, but they do not get the unspeakable privilege of being, in the words of Beyonce, “Strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business.”

I recently saw an ad (for Athleta in the March 2012 Real Simple magazine) that I thought was a bit corny, but a great description of a woman’s life, while obviously allowing for many variations along the way.

Get Born.

Find a group.

Find a job.

Find the one.

Have one.

Have two.

Roast a chicken.

Cut bangs.

Run.

Breathe.

Run.

Relax.

Run a 5K.

Run a 10K.

Crunch.

Listen. Listen. Listen.

Be loved.

Look lovely.

Do good.

Give back.

We kick asphalt.

Power to the She.

You can keep on yelling golfers.  It’s ridiculous that I have to endure you as simply a function of my sex.  But I wouldn’t trade genders with you for anything in the world.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is a Saturday well spent.

I recently read an article in a parenting magazine that said there are only about 940 Saturdays between when a child is born and when they typically leave for college.  If you are a parent of a child older than 5, let the waterworks begin.  If you are the parent of a child younger than that and particularly sensitive to this issue, you are welcome to join the pity party as well.

We had a fairly average Saturday today.  I started my day off with a wake up call from our 9 month old at 6:30 am.  I nursed her, put her back to bed, and went for a run.  When I came back, pancakes were just coming off the hot griddle, coffee hot and ready at the table.  We have had a “Pancake Saturday” tradition for many, many years in our home.  This actually got it’s start in my own childhood, and I have wonderful memories of these times with my family.  It’s such a great tradition for many reasons.  It is a much-needed break for a mom to be served breakfast, giving her a respite from chef duties in the morning.  The kids also get to help with the cooking and cleaning, giving them an opportunity to practice life skills.  And of course, we all know the benefits of sitting around the table together as a family.  At the start of a busy upcoming day, often filled with extended family and friends, it’s a great opportunity to start the weekend off in a calm and together manner.

Today, after pancakes, we all got ready for soccer games.  We are very blessed with an amazing sports complex behind our neighborhood, about 5 minutes from our home.  Noah’s game was first, and their match ended in a tie.  Molly’s team was next, coached by my amazing hubs and cousin, and their game also ended in a tie.  It’s a whirlwind of activity at the field, and a great opportunity to see lots of friends, as well as being cheered on by family.

Our kids are very active in sports, so this is a very typical start to a Saturday in our home.  The afternoon is filled with variety.  Sometimes chores must be accomplished, and the kids are included in these as much as possible, especially involved with Daddy’s duties in the yard.  Sometimes we go to the beach, to Disney, or to a friend’s birthday party.  Today, we went to my Granny’s house to spend time at the pool with my parents.  We had a cook-out, swam, read, and got some sun.  Basically, we were together.  Tonight, we are playing some video games, getting a few things done around the house, and early to bed to get ready for church tomorrow.

That was our Saturday; pretty simple.  We never left a five mile radius around our house.  For our youngest, we have just enjoyed about #36 of her 940 in our home.  I shudder to think of how many have already passed for our almost-7 year old.  Most have been spent well.  No matter what we are doing, if we are together, they are a success.  Strangers that like to talk to me in random places always like to remind me that the time goes so fast.  I do not need reminded.  I am acutely aware, and treasure every second.  Excuse me while I go read a bedtime story (or five or six) to my four little ones.

Enjoy your joys for today.  

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My joy for today is my children’s shoes on the wrong feet.

Some of you have probably realized that I use this blog, at times, to spin something that is sad, annoying, or generally negative, into something positive.  I may as well be honest right now.  This is one of those blogs.

As most of you know, I have four children.  I know lots of people that have quite a few more kids than I do, so I am not under any false pretenses that I am superwoman or that my life is as hectic as they come.  I know it could be much, much more so.  However, as we all know, sacrifices must be made to preserve our sanity, no matter our life circumstances.  One of the sacrifices I made when I had just one child was caring whether or not my child’s shoes were on the wrong feet.  I have chosen, many years ago, to not concern myself if the right shoe is on the left foot or vice versa.

The world is not okay with this.

Since I now have three children walking and wearing shoes, the probability that one of them will have their shoes on the wrong feet is quite high.  One of the qualities I prize and cultivate in my kids is independence.  The ability to dress oneself falls into that category.  For that reason, I guide and oversee them while they are getting dressed, because I also believe in them looking presentable and put together, but I do not micromanage the minute details.  I make sure their clothes match, that they are weather appropriate, that their hair is decently brushed, and that they are wearing shoes.  I consider other things to be not worth assaulting their self esteem over, such as hair accessories for my daughter, sock choices, and which foot a shoe is put on.  Apparently, to most people, having shoes on the wrong feet is not a small thing.

I have had more people than I can count tell me about this “problem” over the past four years.  The phenomenon reaches the height of absurdity when people who do not speak English must find a way to tell me in other languages, and with the use of hand motions.  I have had performers in a show we just watched go out of their way to inform us about the shoes.  Doctors, gas station attendants, homeless people, high powered businessmen, and in general, complete strangers of all variations in any situation feel the duty to share this information with me.  It is fascinating to me how this is something that universally bothers others to their core.  It seems to be the one thing that people will go out of their way to tell a complete stranger, no matter that person’s level of shyness or social ineptitude.  My reaction seems to confuse them even more.  I usually just say, “I know.  Thanks.”

My whole theory on the shoe thing is that if it bothers the child enough, they will switch them.  Many times I tell them myself before we leave the house that their shoes are on the wrong feet.  But I do not demand that they change them.  Sometimes after I tell them, they change them on their own accord.  But sometimes they do not.  If it doesn’t bother their little feet, why should it bother me?  And why should it bother you, random stranger in the grocery store?

I have a feeling that the “shoes on the wrong feet” phenomenon is short-lived in the life of a child.  My oldest is almost 7 and he rarely puts his shoes on the wrong feet anymore.  This is probably both because he is better at recognizing which foot is correct and also because he understands that it is indeed more comfortable when the shoe is on the correct foot.  This phenomenon seems to reach it’s height around four, at the age that a child is very proud of their independence and more adamant about asserting it.  This will not last forever; rest easy world.

I do actually believe that almost every person that feels the need to approach me about this issue is trying to be helpful.  Sometimes I believe people are just finding a reason to interact with me and my children, and this is a good conversation starter.  At times, it’s just the sheer number of people saying it in the course of the day that makes it trying.  Of course, you, dear reader, may be saying to yourself, “If it bothers you, just switch their shoes!”  True, that would be a simple solution.  But if I had started doing that four years ago, I would not have this blog to write today, and would not have this joy for which to be thankful.  It’s kind of like our thing now, shoes on the wrong feet.  I have the opportunity to have my kid’s back in the face of strangers, and adult strangers nonetheless.  They know now that other people do not like their shoes being on the wrong feet, that they do like it that way (or at the least, do not want to switch them), and they know that their mother does not care.  I think that is a good place to be.  My kids and me, we are on the same page, in the face of the world.

Enjoy your joys for today.

 

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My joy for today is my bread machine.

As I type, there is a loaf of homemade, from scratch, whole wheat egg bread baking in my kitchen.  And it took me about 7 minutes to prepare.  Those of you with bread machines will say, “Of course.”  Those of you without bread machines in your lives will say, “What?!”

I asked for a bread machine for the past few birthdays and Christmas holidays.  I think my family did not want to get it for me for two reasons.  One, it is a kitchen appliance and may not seem as fun or romantic as other gifts.  Two, I think my loved ones thought I would never actually use it.  However, this past Christmas was finally the time for the bread machine’s entrance into my world!  I unwrapped it Christmas morning, and since I started using it soon after New Year’s, there has not been more than a few days without fresh bread in my home.

Here is the list of breads I have made so far:  Basic White, Basic Whole Wheat, White Egg, Whole Wheat Egg, Italian Herb, Milk Bread, Raisin Cinnamon, Chocolate Chip, Cheese Garlic, Multigrain, and then repeats of many of the aforementioned.

I enjoy cooking at times but am absolutely spoiled by my Granny’s cooking meals for us.  Because of this, I really don’t cook very many dinners each week.  Making the bread is a way that I can feel like I am providing something nutritious and homemade for my family, with very little time commitment.  They can eat it with dinner, at breakfast, or as a snack, which is especially useful for attempting to control my six year old’s insatiable hunger.

Today’s joy is not as deep or profound as some of my others.  But it is very tasty.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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