Friday, July 27, 2012

Guest Blogging at This Time Its For Keeps

Hey folks, I wrote a little piece about parenting for Mallorie's blog over at This Time It's For Keeps.  Mallorie and Will are good friends of ours and we were super excited when their beautiful first-born son was born a few weeks ago.  Beautiful family, sweet blog.  Head on over and check it out!

Will and Mallorie were unusually generous for first time parents and let Caiden and Elliott hold little baby Holland, which was so fun and cute!  Congrats, Will and Mal!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Caiden's Bully Problem

A few months ago, I wrote about how I tricked my mom into getting me glasses and I put up some mock pictures of the kids in fake spectacles, never suspecting that in a mere 2 months my baby would actually need glasses to see!

We realized she couldn't see well at a pediatrician visit a few weeks ago.  She stood in the hallway looking at the vision chart just shrugging her shoulders, unable to see pictures I could clearly see standing next to her.   Poor gal!  It broke my heart to realize that her eyes weren't working properly.  So we went to an optometrist and got the final verdict: farsighted with the right eye doing most of the work.  So glasses it is with a patch over one eye for a few hours each day so that the other one can get a the chance to develop more skills.  The way I explained it to the kids was that Caiden's right eye is a bully and its not letting her left eye get any practice, so we have to cover it up so the left eye can get better.

Sometimes I forget that I had personified Caiden's eyes for them.  We'll be driving somewhere and Elliott will starting talking about "The Bully" and at first I'll be really confused, not sure what he's talking about, but then I remember and I chuckle to myself in surprise.  Out loud, I just say, "Yep, the bully eye."  I never imagined what an impression that little analogy would have them.  Its kind of nice, though.  It feels a little bit like an inside joke between us.  The joke about Caiden's Bully Problem.

Elliott's Broken Heart

We don't get to see my side of the family very often so when we do its a treat.  Its been 2 years since the kids have seen my dad and stepmom.  We had 5 days with them this week, as well as a few with my aunt and uncle.  Grandma and Grandpa took the kids swimming every day, gave them driving lessons, taught them songs, and got reacquainted.

Tonight, the grandparents headed to the airport and as Elliott was getting ready for bed he started crying.  "I really miss Grandpa and Grandma," he cried.  "I wish they didn't have to leave."

And then as he was brushing his teeth, "I can't stop [crying]. Its just so painful!"

Poor guy.  We spent some time cuddling, reading the Bible, and praying.  We started talking about our time with Grandma and Grandpa and what we liked about it.  I asked Elliott what he likes best about his grandparents and his answers were just so sweet.

"I like that Grandpa is really funny and that he sang 'the song that never ends' with me.  And I like that Grandma helps me a lot and makes sure that I'm okay--like she will put her arm around me and pat my arm..."

And those things perfectly describe both my dad and my stepmom respectively.  I love how they each have their own unique things to bring to the table that are very different from the other, but are complementary to both.  My dad is over the top and makes things wild and fun, while my stepmom is calm and reassuring, creating a safe and loving environment.  I'm very thankful for them both.

I thought Elliott's assessment of their personality traits were surprisingly astute and timely as well, because I was discussing that very topic with my stepmom this afternoon.  Its easy to undervalue your own worth when you look at what someone else can do.  The loud, crazy, fun one might get a lot of notoriety, but the calm, quiet, and loving personality makes just as loud of an impression on the heart.  Its liked the Veggies Tales mantra, "God made you special and He loves you very much."  You may not be able to do what someone else can do and that's okay--you shouldn't try.  It should suffice to simply enjoy the unique qualities of others and be yourself!

God is the Creator and He knows what He is doing when He makes us.  Each of us is uniquely equipped to fill the spot He has given us to occupy.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bubble Fight!

Bubbles are fun, but colored bubbles are even better.  Colored bubbles with electric bubble blowers result in bubble wars.   Colored bubble wars result in tie-dyed people.  Fact.

The kids and I added food coloring to the bubble solution and then got splattered when the bubbles popped on us.  The food coloring kind of stained our skin for a few days, so beware if you try it.  I think our bubble mess stressed Dave out a little bit, but it was pretty epic for the rest of us.  We didn't mind being dyed blue, green, yellow, and red.  We got most of it off in the bath.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Tape Art Inspired by Cakies

I was telling my aunt the other day that I really don't want my kids remembering in the future that most of the time I didn't have time to do things with them.  Therefore, I try to make a regular habit of pushing pause on my life and doing something focused with Elliott and Caiden each day so that I don't let the never-ending tugs of life and "duty" overshadow that more important use of my time; its my way of showing them that I love them (along with words and lots of hugs and kisses and cuddles!).  I know that sounds terrible--the part about it being a conscious effort.  It shouldn't have to be mechanical.  But I've talked before about how easy it is for me to be around my kids all the time, but yet not really be with them. So that's my confession.  I'm a selfish, sinful person and I have to actually make an effort to think about others and not just myself.  Which happens to correspond with a Bible verse I'm having the kids memorize right now:

"Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interests of others."--Philippians 2:4

So we did some tape art, the other night, with that goal in mind; inspired by Cakies.

Its so funny that these moments are conscious efforts, because they end up being the most valuable and rewarding ones!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making Stuff: DIY Training Drawers

I'm always looking for ways to help the kids stay organized so they can enjoy their small space and not feel frustrated.  One is a boy, the other a girl; one has the world on his shoulders, the other carefree; one is a neat freak, the other haphazard and messy; one is conscientious with a weighty conscious, the other... not so much.  This all results in a lot of hubbub and frustration when it comes to mess and when it comes to cleaning.  The best of friends suddenly become mortal enemies.  Or else collapse into a pile of tears on the green animal rug in the middle of the room.

It makes me think of an old favorite book called The Bernstein Bears and the Messy Room which exactly describes our situation: the cubs always bicker about cleaning so nothing gets done and Mama has to come in and do it while the cubs argue away.  One day, Mama Bear has had enough, loses it, and just starts throwing everything away which results in panic and chaos.  Papa Bear comes in to settle things down and they all devise a plan that results in an awesomely organized space. There's a pegboard for hanging things, and lots of labeled boxes for games and things.  *Pitter-patter*  My heart can't contain the joy of seeing that organized closet!  I'm in love! I love that book.  I've implemented some of their strategies, but we're still having problems.

Caiden, in particular, has had a very hard time with her clothes.  Clothes are everywhere.  I have organized her drawers countless times and explained where everything goes.  I've chided her about putting things away!  But its hopeless...

About a year ago, I saw these fantastic dressers featured on the Apartment Therapy blog.  I love the idea of them, but the hefty price tag is completely unrealistic for us.  It sparked something, though, and ever since then the little wheels of my mind have been a'turnin'.

My mind kept coming back to that Training Dresser by Peter Bristol until I hit upon a spin off idea: instead of a dresser with drawers shaped like clothes, how about regular drawers with pictures on them of what goes inside?

So I took Caiden's two dressers and painted the outside of each drawer with a square of chalkboard paint and drew pictures in chalk of what clothing items go inside.  The cool thing is that you can always change it up. And... it works!

It has been wonderful so far and Caiden seems to be really encouraged by the help.  She now refers to each drawer as a "box."  She'll say, "Where does this go?... Oh! It goes in the pajama's box." and then she'll happily put it away.  Sure, she still drops her clothes on the floor a lot of the time, but at least when I ask her to put them away she doesn't grab them and shove them into the nearest draw.  She folds them and puts them into their proper places.  I love it!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Gospel and Caiden

A few weeks ago, we were driving home from a lengthy outing of grocery shopping when Elliott suddenly became offended in the backseat, sitting next to Caiden.

"Caiden!  You hurt me and you promised me that you wouldn't hurt me.  You broke your word.  That is not okay Caiden.  You broke your word!"

On and on he went, very vocal about the offense.  I'm still not sure about all of the particulars, but apparently, he felt betrayed.

Meanwhile, Caiden was worriedly trying to defend herself: "I didn't mean to! It was an accident!"

"Well, you still broke your word, Caiden." Elliott chided.

Caiden took this condemnation extremely personal and was totally battered and broken by Elliott's claims, until finally the only thing she could muster in defense and self preservation was, "Well... God still loves me!!!"

It was her only defense.  She had nothing else with which to justify herself.  It was absolutely beautiful and astounding.  She gets it.  My little 4 year old girl understands what the Gospel means to her.  No matter what she does, or how she fails, she will always be accepted by her heavenly Father, because Jesus has given her that standing with God when He laid her blame on Himself and gave her His own acclaim that He deserves in place of it.

As a parent, there are so many things you are bound to get wrong.  My prayer as a parent has been that
I would effectively display daily dependence on Jesus and love for Him.  I want my kids to see my desperate need for Jesus in every part of my life.  I know that they are watching me and modeling themselves after me.  Most of all, I want them to see that it is real.   I know this can only happen if it IS real.  And only God can do that in me and through me.  And apparently He is teaching them, as evidenced by Caiden's application of the Gospel in her own situation.

In spite of all my shortcoming and failures, He is teaching my children how to walk with Him and what the Gospel means to their lives.

The Gospel and Elliott can be read here.