Monday, March 23, 2009

Why Charlotte Mason

I had a few minutes today while everyone is napping and I found a post about why Charlotte Mason. This is the method I am starting with Jake this summer. Many have ask why this method and I have often said that I am still wrapping my head around it in order to explain my reasons. I think she did a great job explaining it - which means less work for me :):). If you are interested read here. Oh and for those interested the clan has arrived and things are great!!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Expansion Project

So I will be away from my dearly loved blog (loved by me I mean) for a few days. John's sis and her 3 kids are driving down from Colorado to spend a few weeks. They will be here late sunday night and then we are leaving on Tuesday for a few days in New Orleans. Then down to the beach (all with John's mom). After that we will be back in the country for a week or so with 4 extra people in our house. So for now my project is expanding our living space to accomadate 4 more. The crazy thing is I feel confident that we have plenty of room. Just one bathroom but I think we can handle it pretty gracefully. We shall see. Maybe I will post pictures of the arrangements I make to fit that many people in this little house. I mean come on folks - back in the day large families lived like this all the time. Enjoy your first week of spring. I read the following quote this morning which I loved so I will encourage you with it.

“If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But he perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.”

- D.A. Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Work in Progress

This is another playroom piece of art. We have not finished this one but it is probably my favorite. I thought I would share how we are doing this piece so if any of you are interested in doing it with your child you could. It is a process and we have stepped away from it several times but this one is defiantly a keepsake.
1. Jake painted a canvas with a few colors - no rhyme or reason mainly just a backdrop.
2. I cut out 2" squares in some of the scrapbook paper and newspaper and a few are pieces of mail with the stamps on them. I think I also used lined paper for a few.
3. I used glue and water to make a modge podge mix and glued the squares on the canvas. I put glue under the squares and a layer over the squares.
4. I made 2" squares on a piece of white paper. I had Jake draw each letter with a pencil in the square. I told him the letter needed to be big in the square.
5. Next I took a fat marker and traced his letters just so they would be big enough for me to cut out. You can tell they are not uniform. I wanted them to be in his handwriting but I needed them to be fat enough to cut out and glue on the squares.
6. I used the modge podge mix and glued the letters (after cutting them out - which was tedious) onto the squares. You can see how I did every other one and switched each row.
7. The last thing - we are still working on this part - is coming up with an object that starts with each letter. Jake has come up with all of them so far. We have skipped around because he still doesn't know all of the letters sounds. I had him draw them in the 2" squares and then I colored some and he helped with some of the coloring. Some were too tiny for him to color without tearing up so I let him tell me what color and I filled them in. I then modge podge them onto the square beside the appropriate letter.

I love this because he is coming up with the items. Some of the things he has come up with have surprised me like popcorn, lily pad and jellyfish. Sometimes I just think - where did you learn these things. It has been fun, especially since I am not trying to rush and finish it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

My Superhero's are growing up!!!

These are pictures from the boys actual birthdays and their joint birthday party. We had a super hero party. The boys got a trampoline from us this year and they love it. Literally that is all the kids did the entire party - except eat cake and open presents of course. It was a fun day.

Our Very Own Gallery Wall

This is our art wall in the play/craft/school room. I got this idea from one of my new favorite art sites. John bought cheap 1x2's (1.08 for an 8ft pc) and he made me some various size frames. Cheap frames. I sanded and painted them and we hung them on the wall below the fabric letters that spell create. As you can see in this one they have no glass. And in the middle of each frame is a small binder clip on a nail. This allows me to change out the artwork as we do more. This is Brady's ah-pu-tus (no i did not spell it wrong that is how he pronouces it). It is a hand puppet that we made.

I couldn't get a great shot of Jakes superhero drawing. It is a monster about to destroy the world until the superhero flies in to save the day. I love this drawing especially the arm that is out in front of the superhero. You can't see it here that well. The boys really love seeing their art displayed and like showing it to the few visitors we get.
These frames are a great idea and could really work in any room. They don't have to be bright colors so you could blend them into any decor. It is a great way to display and change out art even if you just did a few frames rather than a wall of them. Just an idea I thought I'd pass along. We made all of these frames for $5.oo including the hangers and binder clips.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Only These Remain...

These are more of my latest creations. They hang over my sink. This is where I spend tons of time since we don't have a dishwasher. These three words have truly become a lifeline for us these days. Scripture says that Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. John and I are sure that God loves these people and that he has a plan for their lives and that despite the hopelessness that many of them feel (including us some days) we have hope that God will redeem this town. And the biggest thing that we can do is love love love. And this means love in a tangible way most of the time. These words remind us that we can't put God in a box - that because of Jesus we are not hopeless despite what our feelings sometimes tell us and that to love is to serve them and to meet them where they are rather than asking them to come to us.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Results of Some Recent Creative Therapy Sessions

You may laugh that I call this creative therapy. But for me it is very much therapy. When life gets overwhelming or I am struggling for whatever reason I need to create. I find great satisfaction in creating. This looks so different at different times and stages of my life. Those of you who frequented our apartment in Birmingham noticed that nothing - NOTHING hung on our walls. Brady was little when we moved in and he cried a lot and I just never found time to furnish it. This house we won't be in for long but I needed it to feel homey. I needed it to be warm and inviting and cheery all at the same time. Because we are trying to live cheaply I did not want to spend money for wall hangings so I just made some. I probably won't carry these with me when we leave but for now they each have a crazy significance to me. They are reminders for me of some very specific things.

My Bham friends who have frequented sips and strokes will recognize this tree. She has used it several times. Never been to sips and strokes but I went to the website and picked this one to make my own. There are several specific reasons:
1. I needed whimsical in my life. Some times I get in a rut with the same ole same ole and I needed something to look at that I might not pick most times in my life. This one is out of character for me and I just needed that.
2. It reminds me that my life is fleeting. Those little bubbles blowing off the tree symbolize my life to me. I want to live my life with purpose for I know I get one shot to leave a legacy.
3. As I look around me I see a lot of darkness and sin. This picture is somewhat contradictory. You wouldn't normally see bright and vibrant things coming from a black (dead) tree. This is my hope for this place that God has drawn our hearts to. That He will trade beauty for ashes and life for death. This picture gives me hope and reminds me not to waste my time on things that don't matter.

Again, I NEVER thought a picture like this would grace my walls. It seems that so much of my life has this thread running through it these days. NEVER THOUGHT!!!! This picture is in my kitchen. It wasn't suppose to turn out like this but it did. My inspiration for this was the header of this blog. It just makes me happy. But of course something in me needed pink in my life since it is FULL of green and blue. So this is how it ended. The verse written on there is one of the promises that I am holding tight to in my life right now... Ps 16:11 "You make known to me the path of life. In your presences there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." It is my daily reminder that nothing and nowhere will make me happy. Only in his presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

yes I know they are crooked. It is what happens in an old house when the door slams or the draft is stirring. My dad has a shop right down the road from here with a big bright light shining right into my bathroom window. There is a bush outside the window that has no leaves on it right now. At night if you leave the light off in the bathroom you can see the reflections of the empty branches on my blue bathroom wall. I just love looking at it - especially when the wind is blowing. I needed a big piece to go over my couch so I decided to paint these. It is very symbolic of the peacefulness that this home has provided for me. Something very unexpected in this move.
I have more but I need to get to church. John is speaking tonight and I think it might look bad if his wife either didn't show up or was late???

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lessons from the Third Year

If you have not followed this series of reflections on parenting through my first 5 years you may want to start by reading this post . There are also my post on the first year and the second year if you are interested.
Oh the terrible two's - or was it the terrific two's? I think it was an equal balance of both most days. As I have spent time thinking about this year in both of my boys lives only one big thing has remained on my mind.
Parenting out of preference can easily exasperate your children.
I can't say I learned this with Jake. He is my mostly complacent child. He likes rules and does a fairly good job obeying them. So when He was two I parented out of preference. Of course at the time I did not realize I was doing that. I guess I should explain myself a little. Often times do you catch yourself saying don't do that (whatever that is - you fill in the blank). But in reality it is not that big of a deal that the child does that. It just seemed that at that moment you preferred them to not do that. One example might be screaming when they are playing outside. You are sitting outside and they get really loud screaming and giggling. It can be annoying so you say don't be so loud. But in reality was it really a big deal that they be kids and scream and giggle? Why couldn't you just get up and move away from the noise? Well with Jake we were able to parent out of preference because for the most part he just complied.
Oh this was not the case with Brady. I really thought at one point I would rather you extract my tooth without pain meds than me hear the word why one more time. Anything and everything we told him to do or not do was why why why. This began to really stop and make us question why Brady reacted so differently to our instructions. It also made us really stop and ask ourselves that question. Why don't I want him to do that? Yes I believe that my child should learn to obey without questioning but it was his questioning and hard head that God used to teach me what Scripture means about not provoking your child to anger. So after many tearful conversations John and I (it was me who was tearful) came to a decision that we would set boundaries for and discipline our children for one of 3 things. Disobedience, Danger/Destruction, and Disrespect.
Yes, as their mom I can tell them to stop being so loud outside because I don't want to get up and move away from their noise. And yes I can expect first time obedience and discipline because they did not obey. But it is times like this that provoking would occur. So we try really hard to ask ourselves and challenge each other to being yes parents. There have been many times that we have return to our children and said that we reconsidered and that they could go play in the rain (or whatever we may have said no to) I want them to be children and children do childish things. So if we give them an instruction and they disobey they are disciplined. We just now try really hard to rope in the amount of instructions they get - do's and dont's.
Danger/Destruction - these are not things like climbing a tree or playing with a stick. Yes they could very likely get hurt doing either of those things but that is what boys do. They take risk and they learn from both their success and their failures. These are things like hold my hand in the parking lot because you are small and a car may not see you and they will run over you. Or do not beat on the furniture with your light saber. We have to be stewards of our stuff and destroying it is not being a good steward. Go outside and find a tree or the ground to beat on. Are their lives in danger? Are they not being good stewards and destroying things? If not then we try to be yes parents?
Brady has taught me that it is quite easy to crush the spirit of a child. I know now that I did this with Jake more than I want to admit. Sometimes to the outside eye our children look wild and unruly. Most of the time we are ok with that because there will come a time soon enough that they are expected to sit down and be quiet and keep their love of life and free spirits all bottled up. But know we are not going to expect this of them except when we deem necessary. Quite often I get the "your boys are all boys" or the "man they are full of energy" which sometimes is the politically correct way of telling me that I should get a hold of my child. Even though I am cringing on the inside most of these times I just smile and say yes they are and there is never a dull moment at the Cook house. Then I remind myself that Paul says that we can not serve both man and God. If we are a servant of man we can not be a servant of Christ. And then I remember that Jesus said "Let the little children come to me and DO NOT hinder them from coming, for the kingdom of God belongs TO SUCH AS THESE."
I hope this post made sense.

St. Patrick's Day Ideas

I have been deciding on whether or not I really wanted to celebrate St. Patrick's day. I didn't know that much about the date and I am not one for doing things just because so I used my handy dandy google to learn more about it. Do you know about St. Patrick. He is credited for bringing the gospel to Ireland. So as I read more I thought it is a good day to teach the boys about laboring for God's kingdom. I want the boys to know about lives of people that have given their lives to building God's kingdom. I pray that God ignites their hearts with a passion for this one day and for now I want to expose them to men and women who lived with such passion. So here are our tentative plans for the day:
1. Awake to green all over - in honor of the country St. Patrick reached.
2. Green Eggs and Ham with Green toast (I will add food coloring to green milk and let them paint their toast before it goes in the toaster) and green milk. We will enjoy a reading of Dr. Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham. And no there is nothing spiritual about this Seussish breakfast but God's word says that whether we eat or drink - WHATEVER we do to do it to the glory of God. I don't want my boys to separate sacred and spiritual - having green eggs and ham can be just as sacred as fasting. I want all of their lives to be wrapped up in Jesus - the fun stuff too!!!!
3. We will make us some green shamrock jello jigglers for a treat later in the day
4. We are going to make some green clover cookies and "secretly" spur some friends and family on toward love and good deeds. We are going to package the cookies with this little poem explaining the real reason we celebrate St. Patrick's day, and share them with some of those we love. Here is the poem:

You might think I’m a Leprechaun
here to spread a little luck
But the truth you see is that luck to me
is nothing but a bunch of schmuck!!!

Today is not about a pot of gold
But a man named Patrick who dared to be bold.
God gave him a heart for a country
that was green all over.
Full of folklore, shamrocks
and fields of clover.

So to Ireland he went with one intent
to call the Irish to repent.

He told them of Jesus, his life and how he died.
Irish Luck, they said, would give them eternal life.
He said NO this comes ONLY when
In Jesus we abide.

God turned the hearts of the Irish
and a new life without the need of luck began
God did this great feat using one faithful man.

So today as we celebrate the life of St. Patrick
I wanted you to know what this day was really about.
Not leprechauns, not luck, not pots of gold
but one man who loved God and dared to be bold.

It is Jesus who made St. Patrick bold
He can do the same for you
if the truth be told.
Enjoy your sweet clover
While you stop and think this over:

Jesus died so that you may live.
How will you spend this life He gives?

5. After our "secret spurring" we will come home and enjoy our jello snacks and read some books about St. Patrick's life. I may order this dvd. I found it on Amazon for about $5 so we may give it a shot and watch it with the boys.
6. I am thinking a green pesto pasta for dinner...not sure yet.

Throughout the day, I plan to talk with Jake about what St. Patrick did - what the life of a laborer looks like. Hope these ideas spur you own to enjoy and celebrate the life of a laborer.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lessons from the Second Year

If you have not followed this series of reflections on parenting through my first 5 years you may want to start by reading this post. After that is a post on lessons I learned from the first year for anyone interested. You can read it here.
I love love love this year of their life. Everything is new to them and they are absorbing their world for all that it is. Such a sweet trust exist in them. They don't know to fear anything and so they are curious about everything. They have a simple faith that the world is good and they are ok. Thinking about this year with both of my boys has reminded me when Jesus says to let the little children come to me and do not hinder them from coming for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. My boys pursued everything with reckless abandonment, especially Brady. But then enters mom and dad with so many no no's. This is not a bad thing. They had to learn that there are things that are dangerous in this world and that not all of the world is good and safe. It can also be a bad thing as well. I always hated going to houses with tons of no no's. It meant that I had to stay on top of them and squash their curious spirit. I have heard several writers say that we shouldn't remove no no's from the house but rather train a child not to touch them. I 100% agree with this - in it's season. I remember being a teenager and thinking that my parents had long forgotten what it was like to be a teenager and they just didn't get me. Well that statement and it's consequences are for another post but the sentiment is the same. We have been on this earth for so long and we have forgotten what it is like to see and discover beautiful things for the first time. Or to be curious about the sparkly thing that is on the table. Things don't catch our eye like that anymore. So the biggest lesson that I learned this year of parenting was to create an environment in my home that allowed uninhibited exploration. There are plenty of places that I carried them that allowed time to train them in the no no's. But i wanted home to be a safe haven for both them and me. In order for that, I had to remove the things that caused me to go running the minute they got out of my sight for fear they would hurt them self or something else. Don't worry there were still tons of training opportunities for obedience, even in the home. This was one way that made life simple for me and it helped two fold. 1. created a safe environment and 2. kept my home simple and clutter free.
The other big lesson that I learned this year and will pass on is that children are resilient and it is ok to break our man made rules when necessary. It did not make them bad children or me a bad mom. This year of both of my boys lives dealt me some hard blows. With Jake, I was pregnant with Brady and so so sick 7 of the 9 months. This meant that Jake spent lots more time watching the Wiggles than I had wished and that I spent way less time down playing with him as I had hoped. During this year of Brady's life, all of my health problems began to manifest themselves. I fought depression and several bouts of 6 weeks hives breakouts that left me on edge and sleep deprived. Again, they both spent way more time watching tv or entertaining themselves than I would have wished. It was ok and thankfully with Brady, God had taught me that it was ok. With Jake, I spent way too much time feeling guilty for neglecting him. God promised me that He would never leave me nor forsake me and I trust Him that is true. It doesn't mean that at times I don't "feel" like it is not true. This is true as a mother as well. By God's grace, I will never leave or forsake my children and so God showed me that I needed to think on what was true about me as a mom, not how I felt at the time. Not a day went by that their needs weren't met and that they weren't loved on.
As I have began to reflect on my time as a parent, this was the beginning of a long journey that God would not bring to fruition in my heart until last summer (4 years later). It is God who will make my children holy and good. It is Him that will change their hearts and bend it toward obedience. This realization does not negate me from my responsibilities as a parent but it does relinquish me from the burden that is and was not mine to bear.
Despite all of the hardness of these 2 years of my life it was one of my favorites in their lives. I remember a specific day toward the end of my pregnancy with Brady. I was feeling better and we decided to get out of the house after John got home. We went to a strip mall and I sat down at a table at Starbucks and John walked Jake down the way. I watched him walking and holding his daddy's hand. He was so cute in his little overalls. He stopped and notice a flower blooming. He stuck his nose to it and took a deep breath to smell it. He picked the flower and held it close. They started walking toward me. He was holding the flower in one hand and swinging the other arm. He would look up at John and just grin. When he returned to me he gave it to me and said "mell it mommy. It is for you." Despite all of the tv watching he had done and the little time I had given him over the last few months he still adored me - I am his mom.

Friday, March 6, 2009

This is such a great example of why it is imperative that we discipline our children with natural consequences that are RELATIVE to the disobedience/bad decision. They can learn by the time they are teenagers that decisions have consequences. Oh and how I wish she'd could have known that in a year she would not ever see those people. High School is such a horrible time. It absolutely breaks my heart. Watch with a tissue. Watch this

Thursday, March 5, 2009

A Prayer for this Recession

The song that you hear today on my blog has been playing lots at our house lately. It is a beautiful prayer. I was reading a friends post about Wood, Hay & Stubble. After I read this post I was listening to this song and decided how perfect this prayer is for our current recession. It is a wonderful perspective and I hope you are encouraged by it today. Here are the words, read each chorus because it is different:

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view if no roof is overhead And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
What we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case . . .

We'll give thanks to You
With gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace

But Jesus, would You please . . .

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Lessons from the First Year

I think this whole time of reflection started a few days ago when I talked with a sweet friend who just had her first child. Her husband is deployed to Iraq and so she will be doing the first month or so alone. After I got off the phone with her I begin to pray for her and I was reminded of my first few months with Jake and all that I learned. Oh the first year of parenting was such a HIGH learning curve. For the first time I have been handed the responsibility of a life. I had the highest of hopes that I was going to do this right. So I read all the books - Babywise, The baby whisper, Shepherding a Child's Heart and I don't know the host of all the others - most were not age appropriate which ended in information overload. From all the hoopla I read as well as my own experience, below are the things that stuck 5 years later. I still pass on and return to as my own stakes of God's faithfulness in certain times.
1. God gave you a mother's instinct to parent ____ (Insert your child's name). No one else has this instinct. Continually ask God to help you use it wisely.
My first pediatrician in Orlando told me this about Jake and till this day I pass it on to new moms. I can't tell you the times that this statement has given me confidence till this day to do what I feel in my gut and to trust it is from the Lord.
2. Considering the first 3 months a 4th trimester for my babies, made life so much richer for the rest of my first year.
In the book The Baby Whisper she talks about this 4th trimester. It made so much sense to me. Imagine being in a warm, quite, dark, secure place for 9 months of your life (isolation have you), and then you are thrown back into the "normal" things of this world. You would need time to adjust and you would need people to be extra sensitive to your needs. People would not expect someone to fit into the routines of daily life as soon as they re-entered society after 9 months of isolation. So how did this play out for me. I gave both of my boys the first 3 months to adjust to life. I did not swing to the side of complete attachment, nor did I do the other extreme of babywise. I held my babies a lot, rocked them to sleep sometimes, I did not let the cry it out, if they seemed really hungry before the time to eat I feed them. They slept in their own bed unless they were having a bad night and then I put them in the bed with me. I did all that I could to help that little boy adjust to this world. Don't hear me say that they never cried - they did. Brady almost the whole 3 months. But my mentality was what was the point. I gave them the first 3 months to adjust and gave them as much help as they needed. I strongly believe that as parents our worlds should not revolve around our children. They need to learn to be a part of a family and that life is not all about them. But the Scriptures tell us that there is a time for everything. Some times life must be about them. It is just a beginning of a life of dying to myself. (don't hear me wrong here. I don't disagree with the principles taught in babywise. I used them with my children. The problem with it is that many mom's hear "sleep through the night in xxx weeks" and make that their end game. When this was orginally released, the american academy of peds issued a statement saying they did not condone these practices and that their rate of infant malnurioushment had increased drastically as a result of this book. Many babies do great with the initial scheduling and the sleep easily from the get go. Many and most do not. This is where we as moms need to see this as a season of extreme selflessness and help our babies adapt to this world. Our heavenly Father is very gracious with new believers because we are learning to handle solids but for a time can only handle milk. We too, have to have this mentality with our little ones. But like God, there comes a time when they need to move on to solids. This calls for discernement. As God and he will give it to you)
3. The 4th month, they integrate :)
This is the month that I really begin enforcing a schedule. They begin to learn that life is not always going to revolve around them. But the truth is, they have for the most part slide into a healthy schedule themselves with a little help for me. This is the month that I taught my boys how to put themselves to sleep. As we approached this month I would lay them down awake sometimes to start the process. I remember the week I started this with Jake. I sat on the couch and cried the whole time he cried. It broke my heart but I knew it was the best thing for him for the long run of his life. As I sat there, God reminded me of Paul and the thorn in his flesh. I wrote the following in Jake's journal as I sat on that couch crying:
What is best for a child is not always what is easiest. Easy develops no discipline and discipline is necessary to "run the race." When Paul ask God to remove the thorns from his side, he cried out to God and pleaded with him but the Lord still said no, not because He didn't love Paul, nor because He lacked compassion for him (scripture indicates otherwise) but because He was his Father and he knew what was best for Paul as a whole and for the long run. It would save you and me both many tears if I walk in and pick you up but I know that in the long run it will pay off. I also realize that to be a parent to you the way God called me to be there will be many more times I have to sit by and choose to do the hard thing. Always know that it is because I love you dearly just as the Father loves us dearly and He disciplines those he loves.
4. I held my babies - ALOT and I am so glad I did
Lots of the books say that you will spoil a child if you don't teach him from the beginning. They say put them down often. An older mom told me this one - one day very soon they will not want you to hold them anymore and it will happen sooner than you think. Those cuddle days will pass so I enjoyed them and I am so glad I did.
5. My little bundles of joy will grow up and move out but my husband will not.
My marriage has always remained a priority. This meant that my kids took their naps and went to bed at a decent hour so that we could protect our time together. Sure there are lots of time that he is not the top priority (gauged by time). But none the less, we made decisions from the get go to protect our time and marriage. God has called me to be a wife first - not a mom.

These are the top lessons I learned during my first year. There are tons more but this is enough for now. Many moms have done it differently and it worked for them. I don't claim to know the right answers but I feel convicted to share my journey. This is my heart. A mentor told me to cling to 1 Tim 4:12 - " Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I covet the women who have shared their life and lessons with me because it is how I have learned. God's word instructs us to pass on what we know. I think so many mom's fall under the fear of I haven't done it all right and so I have nothing to share. That is a lie. That is exactly what Satan would want you to believe. I am still learning and will be till the day I day. I have made TONS of wrong decisions but it is good to learn from the mistakes of others. By God's grace alone will my children turn out ok. I won't take credit for their good because HE must increase and I must decrease!!! As I share my life and lessons, I give all Glory to God for in Him all wisdom and knowledge rest.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I have had the privilege of being a mom now for 5 years. Over the last day or so I have been reflecting back on the things I have learned about being a mom during these years. I love being a stay at home mom. Not the "Oh I was made for this and every day is peaches and cream" kinda love. Rather the "thank you God for giving me the eyes to see beyond this not so peaches and cream day." I am not a kid lover (don't be offended I love many of your kids dearly). I don't volunteer to teach VBS - I volunteer to administrate it. I am a thinker, a planner and I love deep conversations - they are fuel for my soul. Any of you with kids knows that most of the time it is too loud to think, to strenuous to plan and to involved to have deep conversations while telling your child to stop picking their nose or to quit sucking on the moose's antler. (Oh the things we say).
I can't imagine doing anything else with my days. I often tell people that there is no where else that I would rather be and at the same time there is every where else that I would rather be. Being at home and dealing with my kids and all their messiness (sinful and literal messes) has drawn me into such a richer and deeper relationship with my heavenly Father. As I see how frustrated I get with them so quickly and then I am reminded that "the Lord is not slow in keeping his promises as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance." (2 peter 3:9) And then there are the times that I get angry and yell at them because I am put out by their sin. It is then that I am reminded that it is God's kindness that leads to repentance (Rom 2:4). Oh and what about when I say "how many times do I have to tell you to do such and such...when are you going to remember...." I am reminded that "he who begin a good work in you will carry it on to completion" (Phil 1:6). I am so thankful for these reminders because it is in those moments that I love my Father more. I do all of the same things that my children do and these are his responses to me. Being a mom has made me see so much more of my sin and it has made me understand so much more the grace God has shown me. I pray that in spite of me God would make my children holy, that he would make them love Him and that He would mold their hearts to see the world in light of eternity. I want to share more about specific lessons I have learned through the last 5 years both by hands on and by those great women that have gone before me on this journey and have saw fit to grace me with their lives and their wisdom - both hands on and by their writings. This is enough for is getting to long.
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Gal 6:9

Birthday Present

We had a birthday party this weekend and I love to think outside of the box for birthday presents. Ellie, the little girl, has a brand new baby at her house (3 kids just 4 and under) so I thought I would give a easy gift that could help mom. I had forgotten about giving craft boxes until my friend Laura reminded me. But I decided to tweak the idea a little because right now mom doesn't have much time for crafting. I created Ellie a box all her own that she could do at the table during busy times like when mom is feeding baby or cooking dinner. I actually find an art tackle box at target that already had some supplies in it. Paint was one of these but I just gave it anyway. Everything else she can use on her own. I then bought some other things. Here is the list:
-molds for clay
-paint, paint holder & stamps
-mini pom poms
-pack of adhesive foam shapes
-foam door hangers to decorate
-pipe cleaners
-glue sticks
- a small roll of contact paper
-I put a pack of construction paper in the bag
-mini stamps and stamp pads

Then I had the boys make Ellie 2 splat mats using this technique. I rolled them up and tied them each with a ribbon and put them in the bag. I then made a little card using the same stuff and attached it to the bag. Instead of the card being transparent I put the tissue on a piece of construction paper. On the back of the paper I wrote a birthday note and then stuck it down on the contact paper. It was a fun and creative gift and the boys loved that they got to make part of it. Their faces lit up when she opened it.

the card

Jake's - a castle with a sun and sunset and flowers and a tree with a birds nest

Brady's - he did the background and I cut out her name and put it on top of his masterpiece

Easy Art Project

My friend Laura did a post about this easy art project. The next day was a rainy day and I had all the supplies on hand so we went to crafting. Here are the steps for those of you who need just a little more than a picture:

we used :
clear contact paper
tissue paper cut up (I keep a box of scrap tissue paper that I cut up or let the kids cut it up to have for various crafts)
construction paper for the border

you could also use:
construction paper for the center, feathers, etc (experiment)

what to do:
1. cut a piece of the contact paper and tape it down to the work space. I put the white part of the paper that I pulled off under it so the kids could see the clear piece better.
2. Give the kids paper and scissors and let them go to town. I just turned on some music and let them at it.
3. When they finished with their pieces I let them pick the color for their border and I cut little 1/2 inch or so strips and put it around the project to frame it. Don't put it all the way to the edge so that they will seal good
4. Cut another piece and put it over the top. John helped me because our piece was a little big. Then smooth it out and you have a sealed masterpiece.

Brady's work of art

Jake's Dinosaur
- the yellow x over the dinosaur is a jail. The dinosaur is in jail because he was trying to destroy the world.

The kids had fun and then we used this same concept to complete a birthday present. I will post on that soon.
Happy Creating!!!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The prompting of my waffle thoughts...

The following conversation I had with one of my home school ladies last week. I wanted to share it with you because it is what prompted the Waffle post. I wanted to talk about it rather than just posting this but I have a birthday party on my mind and didn't have the time to reword this. I think that the same principles apply for girls as well. I just think that with most boys this will be a struggle throughout life. I also think that this whole concept is possibly why people label boys as "less" responsible that there counterpart girls. I think it is a very wise idea to start early helping prepare them for this struggle. I am still processing ways to help them. Thankfully, John sees this need as well and can help me think through it. More on this later.

The question she posted:

I have 3 children, 8, 6 and 3. I need advice for my 6 year old son. He is a wonderful boy - full of energy, joy, life. He is compassionate and caring. When he does something wrong, he is truly penitent and broken about it. After having said all of these wonderful things, here is my problem: Although he doesn't have any overt maliciousness, he "forgets" what is the right thing to do when I'm not around. For example, he knows he should listen to his teacher in Sunday School, but all the other little boys are squirming everywhere, so he quickly joins in. Or if he's playing with a friend who misbehaves, he does as well. He even tells me about it afterward ("Mommy, I made a couple of bad choices today.") He is very honest!

I know he is young, but I also know that habits are formed early. I do not want him to be a follower, but rather a strong man of God. What are some practical things I can do to help him towards self-control? How can I help him to be his own conscience? I would truly appreciate some ideas here.

My response:

Tanya, I am in this same boat and here are the practical things I have learned thus far from both my mentors and my husband.
1. My husband says that sometimes men "just don't think about things the way we do" It is the whole concept that women are like spaghetti - everything flows together and men are like waffles - all things are compartmentalized. When they are doing one thing that is what is on their mind. Most often other things do not flow into their thought process during that time. That being said my husband has come up with systems for himself that help him remember certain things. So how does this apply to our boys - well for my 5 year old I have seen that lots of short reminders - not lectures - right before each situation helps him remember. Before i take him into Sunday School I bend down and say "do you remember what you are suppose to do when the teacher is talking? And what are you suppose to do if the other boys start to talk, squirm, etc?" That is it. It is a gentle reminder as he walks into a situation.
I think that this parallels how the Holy Spirit uses the Scripture that we hide in our hearts. The Bible says to hide God's word in our hearts that we may not sin against him. The act of hiding the word is not what helps us not to sin. But the Holy Spirit using those words to gently remind us in situations is what helps us not to sin. Once we are reminded by the Spirit we, as Christians, choose to either be a slave to that sin or to turn from it and obey God. Our boys have that same choice. As a mom, we gently remind them as they enter a situation what is expected of them and then the choice is theirs - to obey or not.
2. This comes to the second thing - natural consequences. Sometimes it is sincerely the issue of not remembering. Other times it is their sinful LAZY hearts that choose for it to not be important enough for them to remember so they make the choice to forget. The best way to make the issue important is for him to suffer natural consequences of the decisions that he makes. If he is continually misbehaving with a certain friend then he should not be allowed to play with that friend for a period of time. Because we are not just to confess our sins but rather to confess and turn from it. I think it is great that he is honest with you about his bad choices and most likely I would guess that his problem really falls in the issue of #1. But we have to just be careful that he isn't just telling you the truth but not truly turning from his sin. I don't know your child so you will have to be the judge of that. If you think it may be the later then I would suggest invoke natural consequences that will help him remember ALONG with a gentle reminder before his activities, especially those in which you are not present.
I can't say yet how long these "gentle reminders" will be necessary because I am, as I said in this boat with you. I have been told that to not grow weary in doing this because eventually I will reap a harvest of faithfulness. I take that to mean that eventually these gentle reminders that I give him now will in fact sink in and cease to be necessary. But what I don't know is if they will just be replaced by other ones. My husband still has to have his own gentle reminders. Who know? Hope this helped.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My husband the Waffle

Have you heard the saying that women are like Spaghetti and men are like Waffles? John and I agree with this statement so much and see it play out in our lives daily. The whole idea behind this saying is that for a women all of her life flows together. You can't really tell the beginning from the end. This is not true for men. Most of their life has a clear beginning and end and most men have a hard time thinking or dealing with any other compartment except the one they are in. (This is not true for all men and for some men the degree of it's truthfulness may be more extreme.) For example, when the boys were smaller and John was working outside the home we had an at least weekly discussion about him calling me during the day just to see how I was doing. I would sit down with him and lovingly explain to him (weekly for a while) that being at home with 2 small children who don't talk back can get lonely and that it really spoke tons of love to me that he would take the time in his day just to call and check on me and chat for a minute or two. For a long time the cycle would go like this...we have the talk, he calls the next day and maybe the next but not the next or the next and then soon we have the talk again and it starts over. Finally, we heard the above saying and had a long conversation about the implications of it in our lives and this topic of the phone calls came up. What he and I both realized was that when he was at work he was at work and that's where his mind was. He had always assured me that he thought of me throughout the day but usually not at a time in which he could call and then by the time he could call he didn't think about it. For a long time I felt unloved and could not understand how he could say I love you and I missed you today but not even pick up the phone and call?
But I know that John loves me and is very committed to our marriage and so we talked about a way to help him remember - per his idea. He set an alarm on his computer to go off to remind him to call me. When he told me this my pride swelled up and it did not make me feel loved at all. But as we talked, I saw that this was his way of trying to merge his compartments. I also agreed just to call him if I was feeling lonely and really needed to talk for a minute. It was prideful of me to expect him to know how I was feeling. Since this issue several years ago, we have seen this play out in so many areas of our lives. For example, I have to battle holding a grudge or letting a situation of conflict with others go, he doesn't really struggle with that - he has moved on and mine is all intermingled. I could talk all day about how this plays out with men and women but I think you get the point.
I started this post and titled it parenting a waffle but I will save that for another post. It took longer to get my point across about men being waffles. We are called by God to be our husbands help mate. For me, I have seen this play out in lots of ways that include humility and dying to my wants and needs in order to help him reach his fullest potential. I have had to tell John how to best love me and what would help me in a situation. I have had to stop expecting him to read my mind because he can't - God never made him that way. Since this conversation about Spaghetti and Waffles happened I must admit that I have swallowed lots of pride and decided to be helpful to my husband in understanding me when all of my life is running together and I am overwhelmed - or whatever emotion I feel. The benefits of this enormous amounts of pride swallowing has been exponential. I have seen what he is really made of. When I stopped making him guess my needs and lovingly explained them to him he took it and ran with it.
As i said, the whole point of this post was to talk about parenting a little boy waffle but as I wrote it became about our first priority as moms - dealing with our waffle husband. More on the boys later.