Family · Parenting · Perspective

Forever a Book Lover

I’m not sure who is more excited that we are almost done reading the Magic Treehouse- Afternoon on the Amazon book. Me or my son?

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Why only an afternoon on the Amazon? Because vampire bats. See? Even exciting stuff in a book written for 7 and 8 year olds.

We take turns reading pages. It’s a fun evening ritual. However, the book worm in me gets impatient to find out what happens! No peeking!

With only four pages left, he was exhausted and drifting off to sleep.  The conclusion will have to wait… so until tomorrow night, Jack and Annie are still stuck in a treehouse in the Amazon.

Goodness, I love a good book of any level! From Fancy Nancy to the Magic Treehouse series, I’m thankful my children’s reading and listening levels are increasing. Don’t get me wrong. Go Dog Go has its charms, but it’s nice when the plot thickens deeper than party hats and dogs racing to a large tree.

I’ve been immersing myself in quite a few self-improvement books, faith commentaries, personal blogs and a smattering of other articles. It may be time for another good light-hearted piece of fiction!

What or who do you recommend for a good book?

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Top 10: It’s Time for Summer Break

You are probably seriously wondering who is more eager to be done this year… me or my kids? I’d say it’s a tie.

10. It’s light out until almost 9pm and bedtime was no later than 8:20pm. “Mom, it isn’t even dark out yet!!!” Can’t argue with that.

9. Sticker charts are no longer working for anything. Nada. Zilch. NOTHING.

8. They’ve been watching movies in the majority of their “specials” (art, music, etc.) for two weeks already.

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7. Summer baseball games have started, as they have every year previously for decades, and school is still in session.

6. Even the teachers are wondering why they voted for this later “last day” calendar.

5. Everybody is crying in the morning about getting up for school. Not sure my kids could move any slower.

4. School lunch. That’s what you are eating unless you are going on a field trip. No special lunches because you “don’t like what we’re having at school today.” Find something you can chew and swallow on that plate.

3. I’m only opening the backpack once a week…

2. We stopped with homework 3 weeks ago. The teacher said it was optional?

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1. For the love of all good things: The sun is shining. Birds are singing. Grass needs mowing. Flowers are blooming. Garden is growing. Farming is kicking into high gear and I’m still running carpool!

3 more days!!!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Ride to School

I always enjoy hearing how the ride to school went when I don’t do the drive. I’m 99% of my kid’s transportation to, from and everywhere in between.

Today, my husband had a haircut scheduled at 8:30am plus a few other errands so he drove them in. When he returned to the office, I asked how it went:

“They argued all the way to town about whether Te Fiti from Moana (Disney Movie) is a girl or a boy. He was just arguing to argue. She was right. Te Fiti is a girl. His argument was that boys can wear a crown too if they are the king.”

Oh how I love when he gets in on these snippets of life!

I learn about the good and bad on the drive to and from school: friends, fights, sick kids, bad words, hurt feelings, moments of grace, and eye-opener – who’s boyfriend and girlfriend.

I about choked on my gum last week when he told me that XXXX and YYYY were doing something worse than holding hands (1st grade). Still driving, I cautiously tiptoed into it with my very literal child. “Did they kiss?” — No.  “Did they hug?” — No.  Mom, XXXX says they are DATING! “What does dating mean?” — I don’t know. Just that they actually LIKE each other!

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This allowed an easy transition into the conversation that in first grade, we like everybody as a friend. No need for anything more than just being a good, caring, kind friend to all. This is fine with my son because frankly, he has a younger sister and thinks she is SUPER ANNOYING most of the time. Therefore, all girls must be an annoyance. I told you. He interprets all things as cause and effect, literal, black and white.

I think it’s important to get in on these conversations. The little daily life moments add up to big things. The frustration on the playground is much easier to solve when discussing it in the car in small increments each day as opposed to when the note from the teacher comes home saying ZZZZ had a bigger problem today at school.

Yesterday the topic on the way home was “Truth or Dare.” Remember the age range for this conversation was 4-7yrs old. Not quite the mine field it can be when you are a teen! I wonder what we’ll talk about tonight?

 

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Childhood Fort

It occurred to me as I was cleaning out flower beds in the gorgeous spring sun that I had a wonderful childhood. I’ve appreciated it before, but as a parent, my perspective shifts and deepens.

I was trimming down the pampas grass. It grew to about 12ft tall and the bundle of stems was approximately 18 inches in diameter. Each stem was 0.5-1″ thick. The winter had stripped most of the loose layers off.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect those stems would be for constructing a fort!

Did you ever build forts when you were a kid using the random branches, boards, and other materials that you scrounged up? Did you dig into a natural low spot and set up a shack? Find that perfect arrangement of tree branches to pretend you had a house?

My sisters and I built forts everywhere we went – our house, the shelter belt of trees, down by the creek, at our grandparents, the trees behind the church between baseball games, etc. The list could go on and include anywhere we traveled from ages 5-12.

My dad lost half a dozen hammers to our construction escapades. He found the majority when he cleared out the area where we built our magnum opus – two stories, scrap lumber with wooden fence posts, a ladder, door, and window. The neighbor boys (2 miles away) came to help us put on the roof. We took fabric scraps and nailed them up for curtains. It was amazing and apparently full of dad’s lost hammers!

cabbagepatch-618x412Many lunchboxes filled with PB&J, cucumbers, and little Thermoses of water accompanied us out to the fort. Our favorite dolls would spend the day playing house or exploring “the forest.” When it was time to come in, my mom would honk the car horn. She does this now with our kids, who adventure around the farm on their own.

As I trimmed and stacked the pampas grass, I felt unbelievably lucky to have those experiences. Carefree in the country, sheltered from the world’s cares. Basking in the summer sunlight and smelling like the trees and grass when we came in at dark.

I want that kind of idyllic memory for my children: experiencing the freedom of imagination and nature. The simplicity and creativity of childhood illustrated in the building of a fort.

I kept the stems and trimmings.

Although we arrived home from a birthday party with only 30 minutes until their bedtime, we went outside to play until the sun was gone. My son’s eyes lit up when I told him he could have all the material I cleaned out of the flower beds. With excitement, last night they built their own fort.

Creativity · Family · Perspective

Child-View Photography: POV

Yesterday’s post was pretty heavy. In an effort to lighten things up, here is the world from my children’s point of view. Not necessarily in focus or properly framed, but authentic child-view.

Every once in awhile, one of them sneaks my phone and takes random pictures. 99% of the time, my phone is completely off limits to them. Exceptions are few and far between.

I give you the photography of M (age 4) and T (age 6).

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Outdoor Scenes. And a good reminder that I need to get the flower beds and yard ready for spring!

The above porch project (rip it off and pour a new pad and patio) is the LAST thing on my husband’s “honey-do” list. It is also kind of on my father-in-law’s honey-do list as he does concrete work and is a brick mason. Now to coordinate the two…

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A nice evening, early spring sunset. We like to sit on this swing in the evenings and listen to the night hawks and cicadas in the summer.

I find it entertaining what they focus on. Truly fascinating to see what they notice.

This is our 14 year old 19# house cat. He’s been with us since before we married. Still has his claws and does not, nor ever did, have the ambition to use them. He also enjoys small children carrying him around and key lime pie yogurt.

These two were M. A picture she painted, then continued with an ink pen to create on. Not her cleanest work, but I refuse to judge or have an opinion about free-style child artwork. Her dance shoe. We are wrapping up her first few months in dance. She’s become a much more creative kitchen dancer since starting class. Now it’s not just me…

Finally this. I hope this is what they always leave my presence with.

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Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The lesson in the purple tiara

Bad decisions.

It seems to be a week of them for my six, almost seven year old little guy. This is a transition year where he needs to be more responsible but is still testing the waters of just about everything. Some weeks are smoother than others.

Yesterday morning, in the midst of the morning school rush, he decided to shred his 4yr old sister’s purple feathered tiara with scissors. He then hid the stem, but couldn’t get all the fluff collected before I walked into the kitchen to find him standing amidst the floating purple fuzz.

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All I could do in that moment was tell him I was disappointed in his choice to destroy something that didn’t belong to him. As a move towards reconciliation with his sister, he  let her take one of his stuffed animals for her show-and-tell that day. Then out the door to the car we went.

I am firm with my children that I love them always and everywhere – even when they do naughty things. On the flip side, as parents, we don’t let them get away with much if we are aware of it happening. They both have loving, empathetic hearts so they seem to truly understand the “why” after causing the hard feeling but are definitely not yet able to consistently see the action- reaction connection.

*Flashback* I don’t specifically remember these younger years of my life, but I certainly know I made poor, horrible, terrible, no good, very bad decisions. In 34 years, you could probably go around the earth a few hundred times if you lined up all my bad decisions end-to-end on a written piece of paper.

I know I carried the guilt for some of these choices around for a long time.

There have been intense prayers and moments of quiet meditation reflecting on my stupid decisions. Tears, guilt, shame, and anxiety. I’ve been there. It isn’t like I have many deep dark horrible secrets. Most of my bad choices were obvious and at least, semi-public. It’s more like you start digging a little hole and eventually all your little shovels of dirt end up making something bigger when they are all put together.

And then I realized something…

I’ve already been forgiven for these bad choices. I’ve owned up to most of them to the other person and most importantly to God. He already knew. He was just waiting for me to acknowledge where I’ve fallen. He allowed Jesus to come and pick me back up.

 And in all of this reflection – I’ve realized that the one person who keeps harping on things that happened in my younger years IS ME. It’s just me.

I need to keep forgiving myself. Just like I forgive my kids when they make bad choices and in turn, they forgive each other, I need to remember that I have a loving God who forgives me. I need to remember that patient grace that is extended to me and extend it on them.

They will learn just as they did yesterday with the purple tiara incident. “Life is a lively process of becoming.”- MacArthur

Psalm 103  is a beautiful psalm about forgiveness and love.

Family · Parenting

Balloons

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Ah the joy of the Christmas vacation from school…

I’d like to freak out on  thank the amazing and unassuming sales lady who offered my children these free balloons on a solid 18″ plastic stick in the mall on Monday.

We just went to get a package of socks for my husband with a gift certificate and a few last minute late Christmas gifts. We were day-after-Christmas sale virgins. What in the what?! Who knew it was like the running of the bulls?

The mall was packed. I was frazzled by the time we reached the checkout line of our first of four stores. The same woman almost ran me over with her stroller three times. It was like stroller road rage. We get to the checkout and this sweet 20 year old asks my children “Do you want a balloon?”

Exuberant yes from Thing 1 and Thing 2! I think “how nice of them to give away balloons!”

From store one to store two I am playing tetherball trying to keep my loving littles from pelting other determined shoppers speed walking thru the holiday hustle. By the checkout at store #2, I am ready to confiscate the metal detector and dollhouse that were so excitedly received on Christmas due to the behavior of the balloon holders.

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It’s like dodgeball to get from the second store to the car without pummeling someone with the beloved balloons.

Frazzled mom and dad put the offending purple and orange balloons in the backseat….  where my kids find them again this morning to go to town.

What the flip?! Was it seriously not cold enough the last few nights to deflate those suckers? By mile four of our morning car ride, they are beating each other balloon-style, my four year old is howling, and my six year old is overreacting defensively to everything his sister is howling about.

But we do love balloons. Looking back, I should have held my hand up nicely as a non-verbal stop sign when the nice young sales clerk offered the balloons.

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