Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Big Girls Do Cry

The other day Peyton and I were talking about something - I can't even remember what it was - that caused me to say, "I remember when that happened to me and it made me cry."

She looked at me in disbelief and said, "But mommies don't cry!"

I then had to explain to her that yes, in fact, I DO cry, that everyone cries. She then chimed in with, "But Mommy, I've never seen you cry."

Score one for the rising kindergartener.

She's right. I can't remember a time where I've cried in front of my kids. I don't count the baby days when sometimes I would weep from mere exhaustion, they don't really count because the kids don't remember that time in their lives. But, over the last few years, I cannot remember a time when they saw me shed a tear.

Now part of this has to do with the fact that I'm not one to wear my heart on my sleeve. I keep my feelings close and guarded, worried if someone sees me feeling out of step or wearing thin. I'm the first to admit that it takes a lot to make me break down. I'm just not a crier ... but I DO cry.

My conversation with Peyton got me thinking though. I want my kids to share their feelings with me. Not just now, but later on down the line. In those scary tween and teen years I want them to talk to me, to open up, to let me know if they're sad or hurt or joyful inside. And the only way that they're going to learn how to do this is by watching Matt and me. By watching us share and reveal our hearts and feelings to them, the good and the bad. Admittedly, I can't become a "feeling-sharer" overnight, it's just not in my nature. But I can make a concerted effort to make sure my kids know what I am feeling so that they too can learn what feelings are, how to identify them, and how to share them with others.

I've started trying to share more feelings with them lately and I can already see a difference. I talk about when I'm sad and why I'm sad or if I'm having a good day I'll share and tell them why. It's helped tremendously when I've been frustrated or angry. Rather than erupting in anger or yelling, I'll just start spewing how I feel. Things like, "It makes me really angry when you won't do what Mommy asks you to do. I'm upset because now we all have to sit here and wait because you aren't ready. That means we're going to be late and I get angry when I'm late to an appointment that I've made with someone." It seems a little harsh in writing but I'm telling you it has made a world of difference. The kids are seeing I have feelings and instead of just knowing that I'm angry because I'm raising my voice, they know WHY I'm getting angry. It also makes me feel better and decreases the likelihood that any yelling is involved.

I could tell the kids were really liking it when they started drawing pictures of their feeling to show me. One time when I didn't let Sam have a piece of gum, he went and drew a picture about what he felt like instead of crying and being upset. He showed it to me and we talked about the picture and how he felt. I think by letting them tell us their feelings, they feel validated and more willing to accept any punishments or repercussions that we dole out. Knowing how they feel has softened my approach to them and how we talk about arguments or disagreements after the fact. And, hopefully, it's helping them understand that having feelings, understanding them, and sharing them are normal things for our family to do. Now if only I can guarantee that this will still be the case 10 years down the road ...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Last night during our devotion time with the kids, Matt thought it would be a good idea to teach the kids the names of the four Gospels of the Bible ...

Matt: "So there are four Gospels and what are they? Sam?"

Sam: "Ummm, Luke??"

Matt: "Right! And what's another one?"

Adah: "Uncle John!!"

Matt: "Well, it's just John, but good."

**In her defense we DO have an Uncle John.

Matt: "Ok, so Mark and John ... what else?"

Peyton: "Matt!"

Matt: "Close enough - Matthew. Now there's one more. We have Matthew, Luke, and John. what's the last one? Luke, do you know?

Luke: "Ummmm ....."

Matt: "C'mon, you know it. Starts with an M ....."

Luke: "Oh! Mommy!"

The Gospel of Mommy. It has a nice ring don't you think?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

In Honor of Valentine's Day

In honor of the day of love we're celebrating tomorrow, here are some things I am loving right this instant ...

1. Luke's Rs, or I guess the lack thereof. His Rs still come out as Ws and I just cannot resist getting him to say "R" words all day long. I'll be sad when he outgrows this last piece of his babyness.

2. The boys new found love of basketball. Maybe it's because it is easier to watch than golf or football, but all of the kids will sit down and watch an entire basketball game on TV now. This is music to their sports loving parents ears! And everyday you can find the boys outside playing make-believe basketball games with their ball and hoop. Nothing could make this former basketball player happier!

3. Last Wednesday's nap. What's that?? Nap, you say? That's right, we've been off of naps for months now but last week the kids seemed run down and we had a late night ahead of us at church. So I put them all down for a "rest" and they all fell asleep! It was definitely the highlight of the day as I got to just bask in the silence.

4. Our new small group study at church. We're doing a really cool series over the next few months centered on common questions people have about Christianity and the interpretation of the Bible. We're only one week in, but it's been great so far. We love our small group.

5. Cookie Butter (thanks Trader Joe's) and Cookies (thanks Girl Scouts).

6. Leaping practice at home to ready ourselves for Saturday morning gracefulness.

7. Adventures walks including trips to "Splash River Park" (aka the bridge where we throw rocks into the water) and the "Unicorn Forest" (aka, the wooded trail leading away from our house).

8. Valentine's Day dinner for me and Matt. I'm excited to try a new recipe and we both love a good meal AFTER the kids have gone to bed.

9. Sweet Brown. If you don't know what I'm talking about then I won't enlighten you ... you're probably better off not knowing.

Happy V-day everyone!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Staying Connected

How close do your children live to their grandparents? Can your daughter open the front door and walk a few blocks to Grammy's house when she wants to show her a picture she just drew? Or would your son have to catch a few planes just to let Grandpa know, face-to-face, that he had made the school basketball team?

Over the years, the concept of families living in close proximity to each other over a lifetime has started to change. It's not always a given that grown children will move back to their hometowns once they get married and/or have children of their own. But what effect does this have on families? How do we make sure that our children are connected and known by their grandparents that they may only see a few times a year? And how do we maintain that age old concept that it "takes a village to raise a child" when that village can be spread over several hundreds of miles?

Our family is fortunate that we have one side of the family close by (an hour away) while the other side of the family is a day's long drive away. We want our children to see all of their grandparents as much as they can. Forming memories with them is so critical at this time because my parents (and my husband's parents) are so willing and eager to spend time with them. They still have the energy to keep up with their grandchildren, something that I know will one day change. Here are some of the few ways we try and keep our children connected with their grandparents:

1. Visit with them as much as possible
Nothing can trump actual one-on-one time with a grandparent when it comes to making memories. Grandparents are willing to read piles of books, play with play dough, attend kids' sports games, and many other things just to be close to their grandchild. We try and give our children ample opportunities to make memories with their grandparents. This may be as simple as a day visit that includes a trip to the ice cream store or something as elaborate as a multi-generational family vacation. Whatever the event, we feel that actual, in-person contact with grandparents is the best way to make and preserve memories.

2. Become pen pals
My grandparents (my childrens' great-grandparents) live a long distance away and are in their late 80's. Although they are in good health, it is hard for them to take long trips to see us. As a way to keep in touch, they have started writing letters and sending cards to my children. My kids love receiving letters from them and then dictating ones to me for us to send back. It provides a connection between them that is often hard to forge with great-grandparents. I'm planning on saving the letters so that they'll have a reminder later in life of the sweet things their great-grandparents said to them.

3. Skype or Facetime
In my opinion, one of the greatest things to come out of the current influx in social median is Skype and/or Facetime. Both allow my children to have face-to-face contact with their grandparents any time they want. It's great for younger children who sometimes don't have the patience to sit and listen to Grandma on the phone and it gives them the ability to actually show their grandparents what they've been up to lately. My kids' grandparents always get a tour of our house and an introduction to any new toys or artwork when we talk to them via Facetime. Both kids and grandparents love it.

4. Grandparent camp
Although  going out of town without children (especially if the children are young) can be a daunting idea, it can be made much easier if a grandparent is willing to watch your children. Although they know it will be exhausting, many grandparents will jump at the chance to spend a few uninterrupted days with their grandchildren. It also means that you get to have a few uninterrupted days as well, something every parent needs! Sure the schedule may not be kept, the house will get messy, and your kids will be spoiled, but memories will be made and your parents and your children will grow even closer in the process.

All of these are just several ways that our family tries to keep our kids and their grandparents linked. What about your family? Are big family trips part of your summer plans? Does Grandma watch the kids one night a week so you and your husband can go on a date night? I'd love to hear additional ways that you keep your family connected.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Picture of the Week - February 3

We scored front row seats to the sunset show