Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tattle Tales, Water Trails, and Referee Fails

Friday with Elijah was maddening and hysterical all at the same time. 

Let me take a moment to describe this crazy, precious boy. He is 7 years old but in many ways this hardly seems believable to me. He is naive in all of the right ways, innocent in many ways. He is convinced that deep down all animals are kind and gentle and he could easily be friends with any one of them. He has a beautiful heart. If you cry he WILL join you. He feels everything deeply and is highly emotional. This can be a great thing, causing him to be sympathetic and kind. It can also be exhausting. His feelings are easily hurt, he is easily offended and deeply terrified that anyone and everyone will think he is foolish, always... all of the time. He is my 7 year old baby and I say that with a heart absolutely full of love for him and thankful that he is exactly who he is! 

Here was my evening with him a few days ago. As we were leaving the house to drop the two big kids off at play practice I told the younger two to be sure to feed Bugsy when we get home. 

Arriving back at the house a few minutes later. I reminded them once again. "One of you give Bugsy food, the other give him water." 

Hannah and Elijah, in unison asked, 

Hannah: "Can I do the food?"
Elijah: "Can I do both all by myself?"

I took on the role I play most often as a mother, referee. Thankfully those stripes are a slenderizing vertical. I am confident I have been mentally yelled at by all four of my players on a regular basis.

I made my call, knowing there was no way to please them both.

"Hannah you feed him, Elijah you do the water." 

"I asked if I could do both." Elijah said. Nearly in tears, of course.

I told him I knew that but they had asked at the same time and so this time I want you to do it this way. Telling him if he wanted he could do both tomorrow. 

Then he broke. Through tears he said the words that nearly brought my head to the steering wheel over and over just to make the madness stop! 

"But, sniff, it's too hard, sniff sniff, to do the water by myseeeelfffff!!" 

I didn't say it! I lacked the will power to even ask, in what way giving our doggy both food AND water made it easier than giving him water alone. 

I re spoke my original instructions and stumbled off the playing field into the house. 

Thirty minutes later, Bugsy had been fed (and given water, the floor from the bathroom sink to the deck had been watered, along with a good quarter of the deck) and the little kids were settled in the living room. 

Hannah and Elijah, when it is just the two of them, get along famously. Until they don't. I heard the wail from the living room. I picked up my whistle and penalty flag and braced myself. 

In came Elijah gripping some part of his body and crying. 

"Hannah punched me!" 

My kids are not big hitters but it has happened enough times for me to know there is always more to the story. I have learned to ask questions. 95% of the time he who tattles first threw the first punch, slap, or kick! 

I began my line of questioning and then called in the accused for her side of the story. I admit I was surprised by the results, a twist in the usual plot...

"He told me to punch him!" 
The 7 year old piped up, "not that hard though!"

I was downright impressed by the absolute self restraint Jarrod and I showed, not even a smirk until the kids left the room. 

I am equally impressed by my 4 year old Hannah's critical thinking skills as, a few hours later she punched Elijah in the face insisting, "He told me to!" 

He had not! 



Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Business of Being a Grown Up

I was THAT mom today. I try really hard not to be that mom but, I totally went there. My girl wanted something and so I did what I could to get it for her.

Fooey on the system, forget about proper channels and hierarchy... ok, just kidding it wasn't that bad.

But really, I am a rule follower. I am a "you get what you get and you don't throw a fit" kind of person. I am trying to teach my kids to be the same way.

When they are not quite old enough to be involved in something I do not ask somebody to bend the rules and make an exception. I tell my kid to wait another year or two. If they do not get the prize they wanted we don't go back and ask for something different. We try to find a way to enjoy what we have.

That is life in the real world. The real world is what I am preparing my children for.

My husband and I have purposed to do something since before the day our oldest was born more than  9 years ago - to raise our children NOW to be the kind of people they should be when they are grown. To start that process early on.

Yes, they get to be children - dirty, silly, loud, and crazy children. Just ask their grandparents, ask our neighbors, ask the poor gentleman that checks us out at Wal Mart after two hours of being confined to a plastic seat.

But we don't want kids so sheltered that they are not prepared to function in this big messy world that, let's face it isn't always fair!

This morning all of that was set aside. At church no less.

My kids have begun the first in a series of several Vacation Bible Schools this summer. Yesterday was day one. My oldest, sweet 9 year old Elyse, had a blast as always with one big hiccup. She was in a class full of strangers watching all of her friends galavant off together in a separate group. All because I fell in love with Jarrod Brooks instead of John Smith.

Somehow my daughter is attracted to friends who's last name begins with letters in the second half of the alphabet. This happened last year. All of the P's and S's and T's were in one group while Elyse was with the loser B's and D's. Ok, maybe not losers. But strangers. And like always, last year I told her what a great opportunity it was to make new friends. See, what a good mom I am? Using every opportunity as a teaching moment. (I can hear my former foster kids barfing somewhere as I type that).

Yesterday my heart squeezed a little, no a whole lot, as she ran down the list of friends she saw... in the distance at VBS.

It has been a very tough few months for my dear girl. She, like her mommy, does not make friends quickly. She is loyal and faithful like her daddy, almost to a fault. One close friend is all she needs and she had it for one glorious year. That friendship ended several months ago, leaving Elyse shocked, confused, hurt. She has tried making new friends, tried moving on. But she loves to give people the benefit of the doubt and has, over and over again the past few months, set herself up for hurt on top of hurt in this friendship.

Honestly you guys, I could not bare another moment of disappointment for my girl. I told her yesterday that I would see about switching her to the other group. It was out of my mouth and in her cute little ears before I had time to think about it.

I hate, loath, despise, abhor confrontation of any kind. I do not like the idea of hurting somebody's feelings even just a little bit. Or worse, them having even a fleeting bad thought about me!

This, I am embarrassed to say, took prayer and a bit of private inner coaching. I didn't even know who I was supposed to talk to about moving Elyse to another group. I was afraid they would say no. I had visions of being laughed out of the church - because I am neurotic that way. {if you people only knew the things that go through my head most moments of most days...}

But I did it!!!!! (Go me, go me, I'm a rock star, I'm a super mom!) The teacher seemed a little hurt. I am pretty sure she too thought, "Oh goody, you're THAT mom!" And for 1.5 seconds I wanted to hang my head and say, "yes, yes I am" to apologize and tell her she could keep my daughter in her class.
(Yes, all of that in 1.5 seconds. I'm a fast thinker.)

But you know what? This business of being a grown up is hard! There are some upsides. So far the biggest one my kids and I have come up with is, you get to eat candy whenever you want!!! Like WHENEVER you want!!!!

But most of the time it is hard. You do have to be the grown up. You do have to yield to others, do for others...

I want my kids to be amazing grownups. I have no doubt they will be. But grown up time is a very long time and it comes up pretty quick. There is no turning back. So from time to time I will let my kids have a kid moment. To enjoy one of the perks.

I am that grown up now, who can put aside fears. Who can, whenever the need arises, NOT care if somebody else thinks I am doing a poor job, not doing the right thing. Because I know my kids better than anybody else. If three days of fun with friends is going to ruin my daughter for the future... then I have MUCH bigger problems!

I am going to do my job, the very best I can, and sometimes that means, I'll be the grown up, you be the kid and we will take those jobs for ALL THEY ARE WORTH!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Watch Them Watch You

I am going to get straight to the point! 

I have seen a very simple truth these past few months. My children love because we love, period. It is just that simple. Sure they are getting older and forming relationships of their own - teachers, friends. But from the beginning we have modeled love and respect, they watched, they mimicked and they loved, unconditionally because we did.

I greet my parents with a joyful hug when I see them. I love my parents, I respect them and I demonstrate that. So, since the beginning of their lives my children have had that same kind of love for them. Jarrod loves and serves me. They see that and they respond in a similar manner. Breakfasts in bed, notes around the house, a patient tone of voice, etc.

My relationship with the Lord lately has been, shall we say, lacking. And I have watched as, slowly but surely, my kid's own precious friendship with Him has unraveled. In the past we could not go but a few minutes without talking to or about Jesus - in the car, in the kitchen. He was our friend, a vital part of our family and it made more since to include him in conversations than not to. Sadly He has been suspiciously absent from all of our lives for the past few months. I keep thinking, I'll get back to where I was someday. There have even been a couple of half hearted attempts. But really I have been under the impression that it is only affecting me. 

Parents, be not deceived. I know you know they are watching. I know you have heard they will do what you do, not what you say. 

But FOR REAL!!!!! They are watching, EVERYTHING! They are listening, to EVERYTHING!! Where are you at? This will likely be where they are at. Are you in the word? Are you praying without ceasing? Is Jesus the main topic of conversation? Hopefully that is the case, keep up the good work and pray for me that I'll do a little better! 


Monday, April 21, 2014

I Am Already a Little Lady, Think I'll Just Embrace The Old

My life this month reads something like an 80 year old woman's. 

Last week, an appointment with my Rheumatologist. 

This week an appointment with my Neurologist. 

A consult with my rheumatologist to get orders for my upcoming appointment with my Cardiologist. 

Endless trips to the pharmacy to pick up medication, sort out medication mix ups and then more trips, to pick up more medications. 

Early bed times, early dinners...

Checking for fiber in my cereal. 

It's like I took a ski lift up the hill and then just took a crashing roll down the other side. 

I think I am going to just give it up, give in, turn on The Price Is Right and call it done. 

I wonder if my kids would mind if I start picking them up from the bus stop in my housecoat and slippers?! ;)


Sunday, April 20, 2014

You Are My Friend, You May Not Even Know It

Elyse, my oldest, my 4th grader, is really struggling. Girls her age are mean. I don't know if you remember being that age but I do. I was definitely mean. My friends were mean. It was a big mean old world. 

This is the world Elyse is in right now. She is not innocent. But she is, sometimes, the victim and it breaks my heart. 

I have very much wanted to call up a mom or two or four and give them a piece of my mind. No doubt a few moms have wanted to call me up as well. (Nana, if you are reading this, yes your precious granddaughter indeed can be mean, ask her brothers.) 

I keep telling her that it is going to get easier. As she gets older girls get nicer. Women, in my general experience are not near as mean. 

I have had the privilege over the past couple of years, of making some great friends. 

When my husband and I were house parents to some amazing teenage kids we did not really have opportunities to invest in grown up relationships. (still wouldn't trade it)

We then spent the next four years in a tiny, itty bitty town were friends were hard to come by, and the majority of our time was spent with, teenagers. (we really are mature, I promise) (and still wouldn't trade it)

I am a closet introvert. Yep that's a real thing - on the outside, upbeat and friendly - on the inside - crippled with fear, exhausted by the time I leave a social environment because of the energy it took to pretend to feel comfortable, much preferring to be at home, quiet, reflective, perhaps writing my thoughts and feelings. 

God has basically had to arrange situations that drop me in the path of other women that have sought me out and demanded a friendship! 

It's a small circle of women, my relationships may not even look like what you would call a friendship. There is a really good chance a few of these ladies would be surprised I consider them a close friend. But over the past couple of years I have been overwhelmed and blessed by these girls and their companionship means to world to me. 

They have quietly come in and set up shop in my heart. These are the few that remember that my life has recently taken an odd turn. Most conversations with these friends begin with, "how are you feeling?". They think to pray. They think to check in. They ask about Isaiah, knowing his situation is near and dear to my heart. They quietly ask if they can take over a task, knowing it hurts me. It's really that simple. Occasionally we meet up for some late night, mommy type fun. Mostly we have a sporadic texting conversation that may take an entire day between bible studies, nap times, second and third trips to the grocery store. But that's ok. I feel encouraged, I may get a good laugh, I am stirred to pray for somebody other than myself. 

Thank you ladies, for taking an interest in a mess like me. Thank you for reaching out when you get in return insecure, socially stunted, self centered me. 

We have met up on many different platforms - from MOPS, to message boards, through sharing our thoughts, hearts for healing and desire for answers for our little boys suffering with tourettes. From preschool pick up to the convenience of living across the street. YOU reached out, YOU kept reaching out. You smiled, laughed, prayed, encouraged your way into my life and I am eternally grateful. 

I find it difficult to help Elyse, to teach her how to be a friend. I have long been out of touch with what that even looks like. You, my friend have been an example - not just to me but to a precious little girl, very hurt, confidence crushed by the actions of others, likely every bit as insecure as her. 
You remind me what friendship looks like and I in turn am finding it easier and easier to teach my daughter. If you don't know who you are, I am sorry I have failed to tell you what you mean to me. You have hung in there all the same. In my book that makes you amazing. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!   Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Thanks for lifting me up!  


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Second Nature Shouldn't Be Second Best

The other day my kids wanted to know what all the yard signs decorating the lawn of our local courthouse were for. Why did they each have a blue ribbon printed on the front? 

I told them it was to raise awareness for autism. Many more questions ensued after this. What is autism? What does it mean to raise awareness? 

I reminded them how, from May 15-June 15, I wear a turquoise ribbon on my shirt or my purse. It is to raise awareness for Tourette's. 

I explained that we want to raise awareness about things so that people will better understand the disorder or disease. And so that medical professionals and scientists will be encouraged to do more research to find cures. 

Isaiah piped up from the middle seat, "I don't want a cure, I like my tics." 

This has been a fairly new development. In the past he has very much disliked them. Some are painful, some make it difficult for him to fall asleep, some are very noticeable and make him very self conscious in public. 

Lately he has been rather attached to them. Despite the fact that he reports, nearly weekly, whether he has been successful at managing them in public. Despite the fact that his room has to be very dark at night to better help him fall asleep. Despite the fact that his neck popping tic does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon and it causes him pain on a regular basis. 

He does not remember a time in his life that he did not feel the "need" to scrunch his nose, knock his knees, shrug his shoulders, throw his head back, stop walking to drag a foot, touch EVERYTHING to his chin, repeat things under his breath, or some variation of these and many more all of the time. 

Tourette's is very much a part of my child's life. He dislikes it but cannot fathom a life without it. Life would just be strange without tics. 

This got me wondering, what other things are a part of my children's lives that, whether they like it or not, they don't know any different?

The words they are exposed to that, though I do not allow them to say, I say a plenty? Crap, I hate that I do that. ;) 

Perhaps the freedom I feel to lambast a fellow driver on the highway, and how casually I dismiss my negative outburst, because I felt I had a good reason. 

Have they become so accustomed to running late for everything that commitment just doesn't seem all that important?

I know they don't like hearing me yell. I use to get a lecture from the back seat when I "told off" another driver from behind my steering wheel. But I explained why it was ok, they had it coming -  and so it became ok for mommy to yell. 

I know that they like me to keep my promises to them. But when we are running later  than an agreed upon time to be somewhere, I have a very good reason. Sometimes it was even their fault and so this part of keeping our word is really not all that important. 

I guess I feel like I do a pretty good job teaching my kids to be kind to others. They get in trouble for saying yucky things. I make them stick with something if they have given their word. I make these things a priority. So surely they will grow up and desire to live this way. 

And I am probably correct, they probably will want to live this way. But the other way of living will be like second nature to them. Doing anything any different may prove very difficult for them. 

As best I can I need to create an environment for my kids where second nature is a good thing. Where what they are accustomed to will be the ways we bless others, the ways we honor commitments, the ways we speak words of encouragement. 

There are some things in their lives I cannot control, and no matter how much a want to remove the negative I just can't. Tics would be long gone if I could. But for all the rest, there's visa (oh wait, that's not right). There is me, being the grown up, taking responsibility and creating an atmosphere where not knowing any different is a really good thing! 



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What Will Your Snapshot Look Like?

I got paid a pretty big compliment yesterday. It was like the best kind of compliment. Really I feel like I received some sort of trophy and am standing up here on my podium looking down on all the little people! 

Bahahahaha!!!! Like I know what it's like to look down on people (In case you don't know I am 4'10".) My kids barely qualify to me as little people. 

Seriously, even when my kids were babies I felt like a little 7 year old apprehensively being handed a baby to hold for just a moment. 

My babies never fell asleep on my shoulder. Rarely did any of my 4 kids even fall asleep in my arms. I am sure it was just not comfortable nor did it feel like a secure place to them. I couldn't even cradle a new born in one arm. Most newborns come out longer than one of my arms.

This is Hannah, my youngest, at 4 weeks old. Like, for real, you can' tell me that does not look like a little kid getting to hold a baby. 

Ok, now I am going way off subject. Here is how this awesome compliment came to be. Through a texting conversation with my sister-in-law, Laurel.

Me: And an hour later we are leaving office max. Think I will just go home. 
And then after I realized that message had not been sent to my husband, it's intended destination, I texted Laurel back and said. 

Me: That was meant for Jarrod...but you're welcome for the unnecessary info. ;)
Laurel: LOL
 Me: Apparently it takes an hour to print 4 pieces of paper when you take a 4 year old with you!
Laurel: Was it at least an interesting hour of printing?  
Me: More like 45 minutes of going to the bathroom and then taking stuffed Mickey Mouse to the bathroom, wiping his rear and all. Then lathering, rinsing, and drying both sets of hands. Followed by 4 seconds of printing. Followed by 14 minutes of stopping to ask for EVERYTHING we passed on the way from the printer to the register. Followed by 56 seconds of paying. ALWAYS interesting when Hannah is around! 
 Laurel: Lol!!! Well, at least Mickey is learning good bathroom hygiene! Lol! You're such a great mom! You've got 4 very blessed kids! 
See me up there on my podium, trophy in hand? Don't I look proud?
Me: I have to admit, I did a great job faking patience! It was suppose to be a quick run in run out trip to print stuff to register Hannah for Pre-K. After an hour there we didn't make it to the school. 
Oh the joys of chronic illness, some days 1 errand is plenty!!! 
Laurel: For what it's worth...I think you did the right thing today. Years from now, Hannah won't remember (or care) that she wasn't registered for Pre-K today. But she will look back and remember the times you invested in HER HEART. Which is what you did! 
And that is why my SIL is so wise, and so right. 

Those were kind of my thoughts when I gave Hannah permission to get some toilet paper to wipe a stuffed Mickey. And as I waited quietly for she and Mickey to wash up, dry off and slowly make their way out of the bathroom. 

Not because I am a great mother, in fact I am making up for a lot of lost time. 

I have been making a lot of attempts to slow down, relax, and let my kids enjoy being kids. Some days are not conducive to that. Like today as we flew through Wal Mart after picking Hannah up from Mother's Day Out and before time to pick the big kids up from school. 

But yesterday we did not HAVE to be somewhere. Sure I had an agenda, but it was much less important than a lovely little 4 year old getting to nurture her favorite Mickey Mouse friend. 

Maybe she will remember it one day, maybe she won't. But at some point, one of these memories she is making will stick. I want there to be a good chance that it's a fond one. 

I have come a long way in my 9 years of being a mommy. Yes, I have a long way to go still. 

I am done trying to keep everything in perfect order. I am done with rigid schedules for the sake of having a rigid schedule. 

I want kids that mind, I want kids that do what I ask when I ask. But I am trying to listen to what they are asking for as well. They don't always make it as clear as I do. I have to pay a lot more attention. But when I hear, and I do comply, we both have a beautiful snapshot that might just last a life time. 

I can't think of a single schedule I've ever written that I will look back at in years to come and smile!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Gently Led, Lighter Tread

A friend shared a verse with me the other day that I had not remembered hearing before.

He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11

My friend said, and I agree, those of us with young often times need a bit more gentle hand. 

We tend to be too hard on ourselves, second guessing, expecting self perfection in a world where chaos often rules. 

God knows this, He knows the life of a young mother. Rather than judge and condemn, He gently leads! 

I don't believe God meant for this job to be so hard on us. I think fears, uncertainties, and insecurities are things we pick up all by ourselves. 

Matthew 11:28-30 says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

I love this passage, it has many times been a comfort to me. I want my burden lightened. I want rest! What mother doesn't?

Reading it again the other day I took note of a few key words that I often hurdle over in my attempt to get to the end. 

Come to meall you who are weary and burdened. 

Not I will come to you, He already has, He's already shown up to the party. 

He has already put in the time and work and, as a gentleman, has left the ball in our court. 

We come and then Jesus takes the lead once again. 

He gives us rest. 

But he asks us to Take (his) yoke upon (ourselves). 

Incase you missed it this, once again, requires action on our part. 

Take, used in this verse, according to the Greek, means take up, lift up. 

The "yoke" is offered, we receive it, we pick it up. 

(I believe this can be done by simply praying, thanking Him for what He offers and maybe asking for a little help getting it on)

And then... learn from me. From Him. 

As we take the time to learn from him, or as the King James version says learn of him, we can more easily portray those attributes of Him to our children and our husbands

For (He is) gentle and humble in heart. 

We can more easily except those things for ourselves, gentleness and humility.

And (we will) find rest for (our) souls. 

For (His) yoke is easy and (his) burden is light. 

His yoke is easy because we no longer have to carry around condemnation, or expectations for perfect actions. 

He already carried all of that Himself to the cross for us, and left it there and now offers to us a lighter burden, His yoke. 

As we continue in our work, fitted with much less burden, learning of Jesus, becoming more like Jesus, He gently leads us, especially during this time of our lives when we are tending to our young!