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A School Day

5 Sep

Sweet Baby EZ hasn’t taken a nap in a week.  Pretty sure he’s teething.  Mike calls him Baby Difficult.  

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Today I dropped Ambrose off at preschool and came back home with plans to “do school” with Hazel.  I actually planned a lesson for today.  A real, in depth lesson.  Books, crafts, and the whole shebang.  So, 9am Ezekiel goes down for his nap and will.not.sleep.  After some frustration and serious consideration “how am I ever going to teach her if we can’t get a moment to ourselves,” I was reminded that this is school.  Not school in the traditional sit-in-the-classroom-and-socialize-with-29-other-6-year-olds.  But school in the essence that she’s obtaining knowledge.  Hazel is watching to see how I respond to things and is working on her very own character development.  In stride, Baby Girl.  We’ll take this all in stride.

We both go get up Baby Difficult and Hazel just loves on him.  She counts his teeth: 6.  Remembers that she has 20 teeth.  “Momma, he has 14 more teeth to grow.  It’s not going to be fun.”  We do math in the midst of these crazy days.

So the three of us sit and snuggle down for a book.  “What is a telegraph?”  “What does solemn mean?”  “Where’s Holland?”  We do history, vocabulary, and geography in the midst of these crazy days.

Ezekiel still isn’t taking a nap, and it’s okay.  

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I’m wearing the same shirt as yesterday

31 Jan

I’m tired today. Bone-achy tired.  I wish I could pull myself up off the couch and be vibrant and energetic–engaging in a messy art project with non-washable paints, making a few loaves of banana bread for all these expectant mommas in our lives and kissing boo boos.  But I’m just beat.  I’m wearing leggings for pants, yesterday’s shirt, and still haven’t put on socks.  Hey, I brushed my teeth.

Mike is still working these insane hours, sometimes on weekends, sometimes through the bed-time hours, sometimes at 3:30 am.  I’m working hard on establishing order in this household.  There is a lot of resistance from a certain 3 year-old to the new schedule of things.  Oh heaven-forbid if we eat at the dining table and not in front of the TV!  And, goodness, the laundry!  Oh, the laundry.  I used to do 2 loads a day and pat myself on the back.  2 loads barely puts a dent in the sea of spit-up and poop.  And I wont even get into Mr. 45-minute-naps.

Sometimes I feel so scared to share how I really feel.  I fear the instant band-aid or the I-have-it-worse or even the judgement. Did you read Becca’s blog?  She’s really struggling.  Oh Becca, this is what you signed up for.  Just wait until they’re teenagers.  But if I’m not sharing, I’m not being real.  I like being real.  I don’t want you to read this and feel pity or judgment.  But see it as transparency.  I’m being real.  Sometimes life is tough.  It’s not a complaint, but speaking the truth.  (If I were complaining, it’d be much more exaggerated.  Like children-swinging-on-the-chandeliers exaggerated.)  Mike and I are stretched so thin, and some days we are so exhausted.  Last weekend we used a baby sitter to go to the bank for pete’s sake!

Now that I’ve shared how tired I am today I feel the need to share that, for the most part, we’ve been great.  The Lord has greatly increased my capacity to serve my family.  Most days I feel energized at slapping some peanut butter on Mike’s toast as he runs out the door to brave the snowy 2-hour commute to work.  I love teaching Ambrose to take the lint off the dryer.  I revel in the peaceful dinner (though it would be better to eat with Daddy–he’s not home yet for the dinner hour).  Oh, and the deep pleasure when I close the kiddos door at 7:30.  Another day filled with satisfaction.

This life is satisfying.  Some days I just wear legging for pants and the same shirt as yesterday.

Five in a Row – The Glorious Flight

7 Sep

We began a new chapter in our lives on Monday.  We started home educating Hazel, our kindergartner.  We very much believe that learning should be fun.  Five in a Row is an acclaimed curriculum, and we knew it would suit our family well.  The gist of the curriculum is using delightful books (also known as Living Books) to teach your children.  You read the book each day for a week and draw out lessons for the week–Math, Art, Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies.  We like it because it teaches our kids that learning happens everywhere.

We kicked of our school year reading The Glorious Flight.

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Science

Louis Bleriot was the first person to cross the English Channel in an aircraft, so we took some time looking at the history of flight.  We watched some YouTube videos of the Wright Brothers, and read about Amelia Earhart’s flight across the Atlantic in Night Flight.

Daddy lead some science lessons about lift and thrust.

The fan worked as the engine.  When the engine died (the fan turned off) our planes crashed.

The fan worked as the engine. When the engine died (the fan turned off) our planes crashed.

Thrust is the force necessary to move our plane forward.

Thrust is the force necessary to move our plane forward.

We took a field trip to our municipal airport and looked at all the model airplanes.  This wasn’t as fun as I hoped, but both kids left wanting to be pilots.  I think that’s a success!

Fleming Field

Fleming Field

But our favorite part of the week was working on our Kiwi Crates.  August’s crate was about flight (how perfect!).  So Hazel and Ambrose both assembled kites and flew them on the sidewalk.

Opening our Kiwi Crate!

Opening our Kiwi Crate!

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Decorating his kite

Flying our kites down the sidewalk.

Flying our kites down the sidewalk.

Later in the week we put together our Kiwi Crate rockets and practiced counting down until Blast-Off.

3-2-1 Blast off!!

3-2-1 Blast off!!

Geography

This book takes place in the city of Cambrai, France.  We’ll be reading other books that take place in France, so I didn’t want to spend so much time on France.  So we simply colored in a French flag and took a field trip to a French Bakery to enjoy some croissants.

Coloring Flags

Coloring Flags

Then we studied the English Channel and looked at some pictures of the White Cliffs of Dover.

Twenty miles wide.

Black, tossing waves.

Fog and rain.

A very cold bath.

A long swim.

It is a dangerous prospect.

Papa Bleriot flew his 11th plane across the English Channel so we made 11 paper airplanes and flew them across our backyard version of the English Channel.  The kiddos thought this was great.  Ambrose manned the rescue ship–The Escopette.   And Hazel successfully flew all of her planes over the channel!  Ambrose on the other hand delighted to crash his planes into the water while steering the Escopette in the other direction while saying “Uh oh, my pilot died.”

Making Paper Airplanes

Making Paper Airplanes

Making Paper Airplanes

Making Paper Airplanes

Crashing Planes into the English Channel while the Escopette steers in the opposite direction.

Crashing Planes into the English Channel while the Escopette steers in the opposite direction.

IMG_4163Language Arts

This book uses a lot of descriptive phrases.  So we introduced the concept of Adjectives and had Hazel use five words to describe her lovey, Daddy Frog.

Delicate, Green, Dirty, Loved, Cute

There were also a couple new words for Hazel so we made some vocab cards.

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Valiant – Heroic, Courageous, Determined

Art

Perspective and viewpoint

Many of the paintings in this book show people looking up at the sky while others show Papa Bleriot looking downward from his plane.   Hazel took pictures of the toy airplane from the ground looking up and from the sky looking down.  We discussed what made each viewpoint different and how each painting illustrates the viewpoint.

Viewpoint and Perspective

Viewpoint and Perspective

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Viewpoint and Perspective.

It was a wonderful first week of homeschooling.  Hazel told me she loves school this year, and we can immediately see the benefits after just one week.  Hazel’s heart seems to have softened–she is far less grumbly and is thriving on the attention given to her.  Ambrose is appreciating the structure that school gives our family and is learning what is expected of him–ie He needs to get dressed before school starts, He may watch Curious George on PBS then he must turn off the TV, He and Hazel must play without Mommy’s help while I get lunch ready.

We thoughoughly enjoyed our first week of homeschooling.  We know not every week will go this well, but it was a wonderful way to begin our school year!

We thoroughly enjoyed our first week of homeschooling. We know not every week will go this well, but it was a wonderful way to begin our school year!

God gives us a new name

16 May

Those of you who know Ambrose know him to be a wonderful, outgoing little boy…who throws some out-of-this world tantrums.  He’s volatile.

Yelling

Yelling

I love him with a passionate heart.  But my love is imperfect.  If he screams through the middle of the night, I’m tired and grumpy.  If he screams in the car I’m irritated.  If he screams in the store I’m embarrassed and annoyed.  These are not qualities of a perfect love.

But God’s love is perfect and unfailing.  His love is unconditional.  His love is relentless.  His love is beautiful.  His love is enough to fill in the gaps that my parenting leaves.   His love gives us a new identity.

When I call Ambrose “Mr. Crabby Pants,”  God calls him Delightful.  When I call him “Grump,” God calls him Joy.  When I call him “Ambrose David,”  God calls him “Beloved for Eternity.”

Only in Minnesota

9 May

Only in Minnesota in May do we get a few inches of snow one day, more snow the next then three days later we’re out in our swimming suits.  Our spring was terrible.  I feel like I shoveled more in April than I had all winter.  The gray skies and the dreary weather matched my spirits, though I would have enjoyed some fun in the sun.

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Snow on May 3.

After such a gross spring we celebrated the warmth only as Minnesotans do.   We pulled out our swimming suits and the hose and had ourselves a good ‘ole time.  I sprayed some shaving cream on our slide and let the kids have a go.  It really wasn’t as fun as it sounds.  I thought it would provide hours of entertainment and big poofy messes of shaving cream.  But the shaving cream wiped off the slide each time a kid slid down.  Eh, it was worth a try.

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Getting ready for some messy fun!

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Cleaning the slide with her bottom and some shaving cream.

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Little man isn’t too sure what to think of it. He thinks it’s “messy”

But the Little Lady sure enjoyed getting a little messy.

But the Little Lady sure enjoyed getting a little messy.

Shaving cream is becoming one of our favorites.  It’s fairly easy to clean and the kids enjoy getting a little “messy.”  Try it out with your little ones!

Desperate Mom

9 Jan

The last two days I have posted some encouragement on Facebook to mothers in the trenches.  I have seen an overwhelming response.  My private message inbox is flooding with notes of gratitude and relief from other moms who are in the throes of motherhood.  Seriously, I’ve had over a dozen women privately message me.  I think I struck a nerve.

Beautiful Motherhood.

Beautiful Motherhood.

I cannot take credit for this.  The Lord has placed a vision on my heart for the past few months about creating an organic community of women and mothers.  Titus 2 talks of older women training and teaching the younger women to love their husbands and children.  Did you catch that?  Younger women need to be taught to love their families.  Who’s teaching you?

I used to attend a church in which the majority of the congregation was in college.  I was an older woman.  At 28 I was old.  Mike and I were asked to mentor a young newlywed couple.   Old.  Truth be told, there is a mentoring ministry there where young women can be mentored by older women.  But again, I was an older woman.  A mentor, not a mentee.

Anyway, a little over a year ago I felt like no one else was struggling like I was. I felt so isolated.  I had a difficult baby, I felt pressure to already expand my family, and I felt inferior to my friends who “had it together.”   I had a wonderfully, supportive husband, but he was under pressure too.  I reached out for help within our church, but no one knew how to help other than to pray for me.

I never, ever want another mom to feel like I did. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and I see it.   I’m sad we only share our Kumbaya moments on facebook and Pinterest.  I don’t want to glorify the messiness, but to show that these moments are real, and that if you experience them and want to quit, there is nothing wrong with you.

A community surrounding and validating Motherhood is necessary!  As a stay-at-home Mom I hear so often that it will be just a few years before I can go back to work and do something meaningful.  As if what I’m doing now isn’t meaningful.  I’m reaching souls for eternity!   I pray that as my children grow I may reach out to young mothers and give them support as they disciple their little ones.  Now, that’s important work.

When the Lord placed this vision on my heart, wouldn’t you know, a book called Desperate was being published.  It was written for me.  And you.  The Lord heard our cries for help!

Wont you join me in a No More Desperate Moms movement?  I’ll be reading the book and leading a group of women as we navigate our way through the trenches.

*Disclaimer:  This may come across as a complaint or a cry for help, but it’s not.  I’m secure in my identity in Jesus and am full of joy.  Some days still reek of struggle, but I experience far more days of joy than suffering.  This wasn’t always so, and I want to share with Moms the importance of true, biblical community and encourage them that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

A Good Mommy

22 May

Mom:  Hazel, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Hazel:  A Mommy.

Mom:  That sounds great.  That’s a pretty high calling.  What kind of Mommy are you going to be?

Hazel:  I want to be a good mommy so that I can eat vitamins, drink beer, and do dishes.

Mom (laughing):  Is that what Mommies do?

Hazel:  Yep, only good Mommies eat vitamins, drink beer, and do dishes.

Mothers Day with my 2 Blessings!

Well, later today while finishing up the dishes for the day I may just have to wash my vitamins down with a cold one and revel in the fact that Hazel thinks I’m a good mom.

Book Review: The Mission of Motherhood

26 Jan
The Mission of Motherhood

The Mission of Motherhood

I picked up this book at the recommendation of a lady I met at the park.  She noticed I was frazzled as my baby was shoving wood chips in his mouth and Hazel was yelling at the boy on the swing, telling him it was her turn now.  The woman kindly stated that this book changed her perception on Motherhood.

I’m so glad I read this book.

Sally Clarkson puts in words everything I have felt called to do in my mission as a mother.  She lays out God’s design for motherhood and the ways she nurtures her four children.  At times it can seem overwhelming the qualities she tries to instill in her children, however it is never burdensome.  She begins her book stating that we, as mothers, should do the best we can with our children and trust the Lord to fill in the gaps.

Sally Clarkson has inspired me to search the Scriptures for what the Lord says about parenting and the role of Mother.  God designed motherhood to be a deeply meaningful and life-giving role.  Being a career Mom is not a popular position these days, but through Scripture Sally is very convincing in her compassion and clarity.

She divides the book into four sections.  A Mother’s Calling, A Mother’s Heart for Her God, A Mother’s Heart for Her Children, and A Mother’s Heart for Her Home.

There is so much wisdom in this book, and I highly recommend it to any woman—a young, single woman, a mother, or a grandmother.

Some notable quotes from The Mission of Motherhood.

“If the mother who gave her children life is not willing to do what it takes to provide security, love, protection, instruction, and stability for her own children, then who will be willing to do so?  Many will be orphans in a crowded world, longing for the security they were supposed to find in their own family.”

“I’m called to give up my rights simply out of my love for Jesus (emphasis mine).”

“Though children are rightly told to honor their parents, it is certainly easier to honor those parents who have shown honor to their own children by doing what it takes to build a relationship.”

“Though cultural storms attack violently each day, a solid Christian home can be a protective fortress, a haven of peace for all who live there.  Those inside its walls are protected, nurtured, and nourished in body, heart, mind and soul.  Such homes need a director, guardian, and a caretaker, which is what God had in mind when he designed the role of mother.”

Enjoying my Children

12 Aug

Old women are always telling me to enjoy my children because they grow up so fast.  Hello, I have an almost three year old.  Where did that time go?  I have been praying  to really grasp that simple fact that they wont always be little.  When Hazel’s 16 I don’t want to wonder why I always was so busy with cleaning, laundry, or even making dinner.  When Ambrose is 16 I don’t want to wonder why I didn’t spend more time reading to him, playing cars, or being silly.

Sometimes it is really hard to put down the housework and just spend a few minutes with my kids.  But that’s exactly what I need to do.  `

Don’t get me wrong, I like a clean, organized house and food on the table.  After all, it is my job to manage the household.  But I love my kids.  I want them to know they are important in my eyes.

Right now I’m aiming to dedicate at least half an hour each morning with Hazel while Ambrose is napping.   Only a half an hour?  Of course I spend more time with her every day–but it’s always doing something I want to.  We cook together, fold laundry, we spend time at the grocery store or weeding the garden, but it’s usually something of my choosing.  During Hazel’s half hour we do something she wants to.  Today she chose to play with flashcards.  Other days it might be playing outside, reading a book, or even watching a movie.  When she chooses to watch a movie during our time together  it’s tempting to get up and get some work done while she’s occupied, but then I wouldn’t be spending time with her.  I treasure our time together and it’s really helping me to see what a gentle heart she has.

Watching a storm together. I'm so glad she chose to do this because it's one of my favorites!

My one-on-one time with Ambrose comes after his afternoon nap while Hazel is still napping.  No, he doesn’t choose what we do together, but he still gets play time.  Today he climbed up the stairs several times, and I just reveled in his excitement and pride.

Ambrose is learning to walk behind his scooter.

I know our schedule wont always afford a dedicated thirty minutes to each child daily, so that’s why it’s so important to do it now.

Happy Mother’s Day

8 May

A sweet woman and a wonderful mother sent me a Mother’s Day card.  She’s a fantastic mom and has raised four great children–so I think she knows a thing or two about Motherhood.

Motherhood is not for sissies.

Motherhood is not for women
with weak stomachs,
strict routines,
or wall-to-wall white carpeting.

Motherhood is not for women
unable to juggle three things at once,
read between the lines,
or face fear on a regular basis.

Motherhood is not for women
too quick to use the word “impossible,”
or too hesitant to say “yes, you can.”

Motherhood is not for women
who refuse to believe in miracles,
or tomorrows, or themselves.

Motherhood is for
the caring and courageous women
who make a difference in the lives they touch.

Thanks Jane for the encouragement.
Thanks Mom for giving me life and for giving me an example of caring and courageous.