Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

I will be running from these dinosaurs all night. Heaven help me. Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sweet Babies, You get to Help Mama Clean...

Teaching my boys one way to a woman's heart...;) 
Life skills, right?
I have to share something that is working for our family.
See this fabulous chore-chart/incentive-program/how-my-kids-earn-their-allowance thingy?

I think it is working. 

Usually, I just pin crafty ideas from Pinterest with no intention of actually doing them. (Which one of my friend's assures me is pretty good. She says she just listens to me talk about what I pinned on Pinterest with no intention of actually doing any of the ideas. Love.) But this I saw and thought it would motivate my kids to do their chores with a more cheerful heart and make my life easier. (Really love.)

It took me about ten minutes to make. I already had the chalk board. I stapled some twine across it, printed out the chores I wanted done and glued them to the clothes pins, and then added the money.

Now let me get one thing straight: my kids are not paid for every little thing they do around our house. They have to clean their room and help with the dishes as their expected contribution to being a part of our family. But once a week, we clean the house as a family and they get paid for the chores they do. Then, if they go above and beyond on another ordinary chore, or notice something and clean it without being asked, they can get $1 for that too. On average, they earn about $4-$5 a week.

I love it because it more accurately represents how earning money in the real world works. (I am not in favor of just giving kids money for simply existing. I mean, don't get me wrong - these little people I love so much they take my breath away. But still, when it comes to money...they need to learn reality or it's just going to be tough for them as young adults.) I also like that they can see the clear expectations we have for them. And if they are saving up for something they want, they can decide if they want to work harder and earn more money. It's nice that they can immediately pay themselves and experience that satisfaction you get when you earn your income. (We all remember getting our first paycheck? It was a little bit intoxicating, right? I was definitely ready for my next pay check, and my next one...)

This is all my attempt to instill a work ethic in these sweet babies at a young age. I think it is working... (Fingers crossed.)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Why Your Words {And Your Story} Are So Important

She greeted me with a warm smile, like we were old friends, even though I barely knew her. Impulsively, I hugged her as I came through her door. She showed me around her lovely home: her cute kitchen with the pop of turquoise paint, her barn wood floors, a beautiful table here, a handcrafted shelf there, all built by her husband. I could tell she loved her home the same way she loved people. I was instantly glad I came.

She offered me homemade peach cobbler drizzled with cream, and a hot cup of tea. We ate and chatted. I had a lot on my mind and heart. I was feeling pulled in different directions with my writing and public speaking, and I felt a little lost. I longed to talk to someone who has traveled the road before me. I needed advice. I needed the wisdom from a woman ahead of me in life.

I had thought to ask if she would meet me out for coffee, then dismissed it. Surely, this woman had better things to do. She is busy with her grandkids, her professional life, her personal life – she doesn’t need me to creep in on her time. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to meet with her? I would love to know her thoughts.

So in a moment of bravery, I asked her if she would ever want to join me for coffee. But, what she offered was even better. She invited me over to her house. She made me treats. She made me feel like she had been waiting for me.  She gave me such great advice.  I needed to hear her words, her story, her wisdom….

The lovely evening ended, and I got in my car and began my drive home. The floodgate of tears opened. Tears of relief. I had prayed for direction, peace, wisdom, and comfort, and God had given me all of that through this beautiful woman.

This woman was the hands and feet of Jesus for me.

I think that was God’s intention. He created us to need each other.

       “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
                                                                                                             I Thessalonians  5:11

       “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.”
                                                                                                             Hebrews 10:24

It is such a beautiful thing. And I am not above asking for help. I know who to go to for encouragement. I know where to find wisdom. I know who will wrap their arms around me and love me. I know who will speak hard truths into my life. I know God uses the wise, honest, loving, and godly people in my life to speak to me. And I am not afraid to find those people and go there with them.

I know that people and relationships can be hard. But people can also be amazing. This shouldn’t be surprising, because we are created in His image. (So cool.) And we get to choose to follow Jesus. And the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us, which means that His truths, His wisdom, and His love is inside of us at all times. (Unbelievable.) And then we get to share this with each other. (Just awesome.)

And if you think your story, your encouragement, and the words God has pressed upon your heart are not needed and important, think again.

Because what if the lovely women who invited me into her home and spoke wisdom and direction into my life had been too busy or dismissed me? Her couch became a safe haven. The steamy cup of tea was therapy. The warm food fed my soul. The welcoming atmosphere allowed me to be vulnerable and honest. Her story spoke wisdom. Her advice gave me peace and assurance for my next steps in life. A small amount of her time made a big impact on me. I needed her words. I needed her encouragement. I needed her.

 Because that is how God created us…

 To need each other.

 To make an impact.

 To be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Master Bathroom Remodel

You know how you start a project, get 90% done, then put off the finishing touches for like a year? This is the story of our master bathroom remodel. Our hang up? What to do with the mirror and windows. But here’s what my husband finally came up with. It’s a curtain rod with a sliding mirror. I have to admit I am pretty impressed with his creativity. So, now we are 98% done. The last 2%? Well, notice there is no toilet paper holder. Which really was no big deal because for the entire year we successfully set the roll on the back of the toilet. I’m not sure why now, but in the past week our boys have knocked a complete roll of toilet paper off the back of the toilet into the water…three different times. Which also wasn't a big deal, until the last time. It was the last roll of toilet paper in the house, it was late, and I was so tired there was no way I was making a Target run. I came in the bathroom and saw the last roll sitting sopping wet on the back of the toilet. “Noooo!” Why, boys? Why? They shrugged it off like, “this is not really a big deal, mom, you’re over-reacting” (which I sometimes tend to do). Oh, my little boys. They can have a serious conversation about whether a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton could actually fit in our living room or not, but not understand why a sopping roll of the last of the toilet paper is a big deal to me. As a peace offering, my five-year-old did go get a roll of paper towels for me. (You are sweet, little boy, but – ugh.) Girl problems in a house full of boys. So, that toilet paper holder will be hung up real soon. It’s a must. :)


Before:

We completely gutted the bathroom:
 
After:


Linked to: Remodelaholic Blog

Friday, October 2, 2015

When Parenting Gets Hard

My three young boys and I still had not made it through the security checkpoint. The airport was hot, our carry-ons heavy and we stood uncomfortably close to strangers. Turtles moved faster than that line. Turtles didn’t even have to be alive to move faster than that line.

What little space remained between us, our luggage, and the passengers next to us, my two younger boys somehow managed to fill. They sprawled out on the floor in discomfort, their limbs intruded on strangers, and they whined like champs. I quietly reprimanded them. My oldest son yelled at his brothers to stop – continually and loudly. I reprimanded him as well. Finally after two long hours, we made it through security.

Later, I thought about how trying to get through an overcrowded airport alone with my boys can bring out the worst in me. Then the image of my oldest son trying to get his brothers to quit being obnoxious popped into my head. I gasped. Oh my goodness. My oldest son was trying to help me. When his dad is not around he likes to become the man of the family. I know this about him, so why did I reprimand him? Yes, I know he was yelling in strangers’ ears, but my poor little man stretched his wings of manhood and I immediately clipped them.

{Big sigh.} Parenting is hard. 

It is wonderful, rewarding, and amazing, but hard. And it just gets harder. For one simple reason: as the kids get older, they remember. Our words matter. 

It is hard to lay emotions aside and know what to say when.  It is hard to know when to push and when to pull back. We can all entertain parenting fears like:

What if my kid could be really good at – insert sport, talent, academics here – but I never pushed him/her hard enough and he/she missed out?

What if I pushed my kid to be good at – insert sport, talent, academics here – but my kid hated it and never told me and grew up resenting the activity and me?

We can freak out if our kid hasn’t hit a milestone or learned something as quickly as the kid up the street. We can compare ourselves to all the best qualities of other parents, then of course feel like we fall short. We can helicopter too much. Or we can give our kids independence then kick ourselves when they fail because we doubt our decision to let go. We can worry our children’s shortcomings reflect our own parenting failures. 

Look. I know intentional parenting is good. But unhealthy pressure and unrealistic expectations is not. But here’s the thing: even though I can question and worry about my effectiveness as a parent, my heart tells me – Are you ready for this? – it doesn’t matter. Whether we put unhealthy pressure or not on ourselves, our kids are going to turn out okay. 

Haven’t generations of imperfect parents before us have successfully raised kids? Didn’t the generation before us have to walk both ways uphill barefoot in the snow to school? That generation turned out fine.

Our generation turned out fine too. When I think of my own childhood, I don’t remember it as perfect. I remember sometimes being pushed and sometimes not. I remember good conversations and frustrating conversations with my folks about decisions I made. I remember good times and hard times. (Mom, I am so sorry about junior high. I was awful.) In the normal ups and downs of family life, I have fond memories. Why? I always felt loved.

Hmm. That thought is telling. 

Maybe when this parenting thing gets hard and we are not sure what to do, we can simplify it. We can let go of all the unhealthy expectations and ask ourselves: In this situation, does my kid feel loved? 

After our airport incident, my oldest son had to write about his happy place for third grade. This is what he wrote:
"My happy place is a place I go a lot. My books are at that place. My cool collections are there. My toys are there. My neighbors are at that place. My family is there too. My happy place is home."

Be still, my heart. Despite my mistakes, my son still likes home best.

As parents, we won’t do everything right. We will not always be sure what the best thing to do or say is, but we can confident of one thing: we know how to love our kids. We can create a home that embraces them. We can be a family that learns together, is full of grace, is accepting and safe, and loves deeply. 

We can create a happy place.