Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Having time to spend with her always feels like such a treat. For so many years, I have been busy with babies and my moments of free time are hard to find. Now that my kids are older, Emily is beginning this trek I have known and loved so well. It has been so fun for me to hear her talk about life with her little man... born mid-March and happy as a clam. I have loved watching her grow from a hard-working student (I met her first during our years as residence directors.) to a faith-filled woman to a loving mom. The person she is just makes me smile.
This morning, we talked about life with our children and I heard again what I sometimes forget... that we have to slow down, we have to be still, we have to pay attention to what is before us today. Being reminded of these truths by a sweet, young mom was helpful to me today.
Emily talked about rocking her baby, about watching him sleep, about loving the way he felt in her arms. She reflected, wisely, that in only a few weeks, he will be so busy that these slow, snuggly days will quickly come to pass.
As I listened to hear talk, I remembered how it felt... being tired and weary by constant demands... thinking through each momma move and feeling the decisions to be of utmost importance... wanting so badly to do my best to love my child and give him the life we hoped he would have. As I listened to her talk, I remembered those hours of rocking and nursing and watching my baby. I remembered knowing their little heads so well that each new hair was noticed (my boys had very little!) and each small cry could be identified. I remembered holding them, cuddling them, rocking and rocking and rocking and rocking... hoping that each minute spent in that well-used chair was somehow pouring into their little souls, "Momma loves you. Momma loves you. Momma loves you..." Even when I was tired, even when there was laundry still to be done, I know now that those minutes were worth it.
My life today is different. We run from baseball game to baseball game and spend time thinking through the importance of guidance that can steer my teen away from life-changing mistakes. We encourage good grades, seek meaningful involvement and pray for our kids to grow in their faith. Those sleepy hours in my rocking chair seem a lifetime away... except, you know, when they don't.
Because sometimes, I still sit there and sometimes they come by and sometimes even the arms and legs of a gangly teen will awkwardly drape over mine and I will rock and rock for the minute it lasts and love the feel of his weight on my lap. And sometimes I can tell that my subliminal message to all four of my sweet kids is still running around in their brains, banging against their hearts, drawing them close to me even as they grow up. I can tell when they seek me out to smooth some crumbled feeling. I can tell when they stand real close and drop a head onto my waiting shoulder. I can tell when their arms wrap around my waist and they pull in tight and I squeeze back and marvel that they are so tall. Momma loves you. Momma loves you. Momma loves you.
Being with Emily was good today. It really always is. She helped me remember a different time... different but not-at-all-less. She helped me remember that it mattered and matters still today. That I love them. That I sit with them. That we do this life here together each and every day.
And when I see my friend snuggle her baby, I do miss it a lot. But, when I catch the eye of my 13 year old from across a crowded room, and he smiles and winks and looks away... the feeling for me is so similar that I really don't wish to go back. Because it's still sweet and it's still good and the message is still getting in. He is still my baby and I am still his momma and what we are building is clear before my eyes.
And even when I miss those warm baby days, I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.
Blessings on your day.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Outside my window...It is cloudy again. We have had so much rain lately. Every now and then we get a little peek of sun... but mainly it is gloomy out there.
I am thinking... about the day ahead... the things I am hoping to teach my kids this week. I am looking forward to finding time to focus on some Bible lessons that I want to experience with them. Struggling with feeling a little crabby today, though. The morning did not go as I had hoped and a bad start is no fun.
I am thankful for... quiet... a little here and there. A chance to breathe... a chance to dream about what we can do together this summer.
From the kitchen... If you can cook it on a grill, I am doing it this week. Love the grill! Have you tried bacon wrapped asparagus?? Oh my goodness! Amazing!
I am wearing... black capris, a black tank top and a white blouse.
I am creating... my book. Finally feel like I am getting somewhere. It is slow going but it is at least going. I want the proposal and chapters done by the end of this month. I will pitch it to a publisher at the end of next month. Prayers are welcome...
I am dreaming... about being in a better place financially. Less worry, less stress. We do not need much but I am so weary of our current situation.
I am going... to help in the nursery for VBS on Thursday... going out with friends for coffee on Friday morning. Cannot wait. : )
I am reading... and re-reading chapters of my book. Trying to edit... not my gift. While I write this one, I am dreaming of the next... excited for what it could be, too. Ooops, my dreams are getting away from me! : )
I am hoping... for a book contract. Praying for a book contract. Wishing. Working. Striving.
I am hearing... the fan in the dining room. The wind outside. The kids downstairs.
Around the house... I can tell the kids are home for summer... little things left behind in every single spot I see.
One of my favorite things... slow, patient days with a calm, patient momma. Not doing very well on this front today. Breathing deeply and trying to regroup.
A few plans for the rest of the week...finish the summer schedule, learn Outlook, finish messing with this crazy (new) phone, go out for coffee with friends.
What about you? : )
Blessings on your day!
Looking for more like this? http://thesimplewomansdaybook.blogspot.com/
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Here is a glimpse into how our day began today...
7:00 Benjamin and I wake up and spend some time hanging out together.
8:00 Josiah wakes up and comes to spend time with Benjamin and I.
8:45 Noah and Elizabeth wake up and look for breakfast. We all eat.
9:00 All the kids go out to the garden to harvest strawberries for snacks today.
9:30 I prepare the strawberries while Josiah and EB go to play with Legos and Noah and
Benjamin go out for a run with the dog. They are training for fall soccer.
10:00 We gather together for devotions. I am reading to them from the Jesus Storybook.
10:30 Noah comes up to write his blog post for today. (See "Life at the Lamp Post"below.)
The rest of the kids play Legos again and I can hear them cracking each other up
11:00 Elizabeth asks if she can work on the Leapster for a few minutes and then pops in her
Ni Hao Kai Lan cartridge and starts working on some age appropriate learning games. I
love that this game lets her connect with some part of her Chinese heritage.
11:15 Benjamin comes up from downstairs, scans the family room, finds a book wedged under a
side table and throws himself down to read a while. Noah is blogging, still. What he is
writing, makes me smile. It also, however, reminds me to be careful with what I teach...
they soak it up like sponges.
11:30 Noah is done blogging and I go to check it for editing mistakes. I send all the kids out
front to clean up the yard and porch, both of which need some attention.
11:45 Noah's blog is posted and I go outside to help with the yard. They have a good start but
need some help. Once we finish, we move on to cleaning the camper.
12:00 I think it is lunch time but the kids think differently. They squeal for sprinkler time and I
tell them okay so off they go to run and scream and get wet in the yard. I love that they
want to do this... I love listening to them playing together... I just love the whole of it.
So, soon we will have lunch and then we will do chores. The kids are assigned areas in the house to straighten up. They work in pairs to get the job done and then I check it, just to be sure. Having their help makes a huge difference to me because once they straighten an area, I can clean it and working together like this saves so much time.
After lunch and chores, we will sit down together and I will read to them for a while. The book I picked up from Amazon with Read-Alouds inside has been great for us, so far. Monday, we read The Ugly Duckling. Today, we will read a selection from the Odyssey.
After all that? Who knows? Bikes? Baseball? Books? There is enough to do in our little corner of the world to keep my kids busy today... and hopefully tomorrow, too. Removing the word "bored" from their vocabulary was helpful... not because I don't want to hear it but because it changed how they look at their day. They seek less to be entertained and more to discover. On this absolutely ordinary day, that is a journey I want to take with them.
They are off to build a blanket fort! Gotta love a happy mess!
Blessings on your day!
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Noah, who is very close to our golden doodle, Lexie, was especially frustrated. He complained again and again that they always had to feed the dog and never forgot (this is true...) and we didn't let them slack off like this. The older boys started pet chores at ages 2 and 3 so I could see that this felt unfair to them. I finally told him that summer was coming and that I would be able to really focus on this issue at that time. My answer didn't help his frustration and actually increased mine.
Last week, my kids got out of school and we have spent the past few days regrouping. We are sleeping in a bit and relaxing and playing and taking care of things that had been set aside for too long. Including this chore... this dog-feeding chore... that needed my attention badly. Because sometimes I forget what is important about parenting... sometimes I need to remember.
Yesterday, my kids had toast or cereal for breakfast while I cut up a beautiful watermelon to put out on the island. I was looking for natural consequences to help with correcting this pet chore. Elizabeth ate breakfast and then asked for a slice of watermelon.
"Did you feed the dogs?" I asked.
"Um, no." she replied.
I just looked at her and she turned to do her chore. Once both dogs had eaten and the chore was done, she asked again.
"Can I have a slice of watermelon now?"
"Elizabeth," I responded calmly, "this chore is important. It is HOW the dogs know you love them. You are paying attention to their needs and their wants and it matters. You made them wait. You will need to wait for watermelon."
Her head dropped. Her shoulders drooped and she walked out of the kitchen sans fruit.
This morning, Elizabeth got up and got dressed. She played with her brothers while I made french toast and sausage for breakfast. When we gathered to pray, I had put out some juice and started to get the plates. I put the princess plate aside and waited.
"Can we start?" she asked excitedly.
I looked at her and said waited.
"Where is my princess plate?" she continued.
I looked at her.
The boys grabbed a plate and started to serve themselves and without another word, Elizabeth went to feed the dogs. I know she knows what to do. I know she struggles with clear expectations. I know. But, the truth is I am her momma. The truth is that I do her no favors by feeding those dogs myself. The truth is she needs me to hold her to a higher standard and expect from her what I know is hidden underneath. It is my job... and I have to do it even when it is a tiny matter. Because learning to be responsible and caring with pets will be a lesson that transfers over to many other places. And, because knowing there is a limit you must obey is important for anyone, child or adult.
I am remembering things about parenting that have fallen by the wayside. It isn't that I didn't know that... it's just that life gets away from me sometimes. And when it does, because it will, it doesn't mean all is lost. It doesn't mean my daughter is naughty or irresponsible or anything like that at all. It means I am needed. It means that my job is still going. And even when I take my eye off the ball for a while, it is never too late to start again, not for me and not for you. We might get discouraged. We might feel overwhelmed. But it is good for us to remember that being consistent in what we expect goes a very long way in the life of a child.
We aren't there yet. Elizabeth is learning... and truly not done. We may visit this again tomorrow. It is a small thing in a very big life but a lesson that needs to be learned. And after all this teaching, as I sit here writing this blog, a six year old girl is playing downstairs with her brothers... and she is smiling. She knows she did the right thing and that choice always feels right. We will see where that takes us tomorrow but I know this: I am not giving up. Helping my sweetie find her way is an awfully big job that, honestly, makes me smile, too.
Blessings on your day.
Monday, June 7, 2010
School got out on Thursday and we spent Friday at the beach and a local pool. The weekend held sports and rain and more work in the garden. But today? A whole new ballgame!
I started the day early so I could go for a walk before Mark left for work and the kiddos got out of bed. I came back and worked a while to set a selection of snacks out on the island to enjoy during the day. They woke up slowly, one at a time. I had time to spend with Benjamin, snuggled a while with Josiah and got a one-armed-hug from my teen as he headed outside to shoot hoops. Elizabeth woke up and played calmly in bed and by 9:00 AM, all were awake.
After a no-frills breakfast, we started with devotions and used a new book that I am really excited about. The kids worked on some memory work and then spent a lot of time playing outside. Having time... open, free, relaxed, unstructured time... is such a gift for us. I am loving it...
So, day one is almost done and dinner has yet to be made. But the dog got a bath and we read a good book and all of us have let the juice of a watermelon run down our arms. We perused the garden, laughed out loud and worked on some goals for the summer. One of the goals I have set is to help the kids work on writing skills. To keep this interesting, they will be blogging a few times a week. They have their very own blog (link at the bottom of this page--Life at the Lamp Post) and will do their own editing and writing and posting, with my overview for safety more than content. Feel free to check it out!
If you have an idea about how to make summer good for your kids and for you, I would love to hear about it. We have a lot of days off in front of us and this is just the start. What do you do to help the days go well? What ideas work for you? I know for myself, I am hoping for a long string of good days, making memories with my four sweet kids. Possible? Some days. Today? Exactly what I hoped to find...
Blessings on your day!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Sometimes, even in the midst of it all, you have to take a second to think... even when you are older... even when you're 13. Because it is a lot to end the year... a lot to think about and a lot to feel.
Then, we went to the park... a grand distraction that works so well! And they played and laughed and jumped and ran and ate junky food while the sun fell on their sweet, little faces. Oh... and there were sandcastles... well sort of.
It's not that we wanted to leave... just that the time had come. So out we walked, ready for what comes next, ready for what summer brings. Because it is good and sweet and needed and right. And our friends will be there, too...
Blessings on your day.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Years ago, when I was working at Trinity, I learned huge lessons about the importance of closure from a resident assistant who was working with me at the time. Katie was especially gifted at nurturing relationships and in her professional and private life, she always made sure to make both beginnings and endings in special ways. While I had known, in my head, how crucial it is to find ways to offer closure at appropriate times, Katie taught me how that LOOKED as she lived it out before me. This has had an impact on my life as a parent that I did not expect.