Friday, July 16, 2010

The Clean(er) Laundry...

So last week you read about the bad bad mother that I am. Yes, that's right... I am human. This week I get to toot my own horn though, so I am a little happier about hitting that "publish post" button. Here is the thing about these two lists... while I do think there are some hard and fast rules and such in parenting, I also know there are some things that we simply decide are right and wrong for our family. It is the vast difference between a Biblical Conviction - something the Bible clearly states is wrong, and a Personal Conviction - something we have thought about and prayed about and have decided for our family, the standard will be______. So, don't think that I am making these lists for a rule book, or a way of saying I am a better parent. Anyone who knows me knows I would never make that claim... ;) I actually hope that someday it will serve as my trump card when the boys drag me to one of their therapy sessions. "Oh yeah, pull up that blog post from July 2010... booyah! I WAS doing a few things well!"

Random and Assorted Things I am Glad We Have Done as a Parents:

1. Allowed Couch Jumping.
Now, already I know some mom is cringing. Yes, I let my children jump off our couches, use the cushions to make forts, and other assorted tactical games. This was a choice I have never regretted. My couch is slumpy, yes, and I do think I can hear it sigh sometimes, but happy memories were made. Bonus... building couch forts requires small children to cooperate. Side note, I NEVER let them jump on someone else's couch. That is, well... rude.

2. Mom and Dad are a Team.
Micah and I never belittle each other (in front of the kids anyway) or let the kids do something we know the other has said no to. A perfect little example just came walking into the office as I was typing this. No joke. Just this very minute, Alden came in asking for more milk. If allowed, this child would drink approximately 438 cups of soy milk a day. He asked me, and when I said no, he went to Micah playing the very sympathetic, "Daddy, I jus wan some meeelk" card. He played hard, even had his boxer shorts pulled up to his armpits and the pity me look going on. It would be easy for Micah to say, "Yes". That would render him the favored parent. We both agreed early on though, that we are not loving our kids selfishly, to make us feel good, so we are a team. No need to one up each other. We go down together, or we stand proud together. So, whether we are picking our kids up from jail, or watching them receive their doctorate, we are a team. No one will ever utter, "This is all your fault." We are on the same page with discipline, priorities, and rules. Have we disagreed and had to hash that out in private? Yes. Have we been perfect? No. At the end of the day, we are still a united front. And we kiss in the kitchen a lot. I think that helps too... :)

3. Implementing the Huck Finn Principle.
I am still so very glad that my children have been, well... duped into thinking certain chores are a "privilege". Things like mopping, vacuuming, and even dusting are held in high esteem around here. (they caught on that wiping the potty was not a reward pretty quickly. bummer.) The latest chore-reward? Peeling carrots. You would have thought I had let them eat straight sugar from the bag. I think I had them hook,line and sinker when I hesitantly pulled out the peelers, and compared them to very,very, sharp knives. I think this would only work with boys. Tell them they are using a weapon, and they are in. Maybe you moms of girls could say Barbie likes to peel carrots???

4. Mud Fights in the Yard.

The previous owners of our crooked little house had used half the yard for one of those cute koi ponds. (note, "cute" here is used in an entirely sarcastic manner.) That left us with lots of lovely sand/dirt under a certain portion of our yard. Apparently, built into the heart of every testosterone bearing child, is the ability to find dirt, rather than grass, in a yard. On a certain day whilst playing in the sprinklers they discovered... dirt+water=fun. I was faced with a choice... let them play in it, potentially destroying clothes, shoes, and upping the laundry and bath duties forever or say no. I meekly said, "Ok. You can play in the mud." Their response? Thrilled. Ecstatic. Joyful. Exuberant. I could go on and on. It made me realize, I would like to take all the grumpy, stick in the mud adults I know and throw them in a big vat of mud and scream, "PLAY UNTIL YOU ARE HAPPY AGAIN!"

5. Put it in your Treasure Box.
Somewhere under Lincoln and Hadji's bed are their plastic sterlite "treasure boxes". Small children will grow attached to odd things. Broken cars, rocks, valentines from kindergarten. Let them keep some of them. I didn't enjoy having these little "treasures" all over the house, hence the birth of the "Treasure Box." (Which must be placed neatly under the bed... I have my limits here folks!) I think I realized the necessity of this as I always had a drawer deemed the "junk drawer" in my childhood room. I remember having to clean out notes from sixth grade, a porcelain egg with Ziggy on it from a girl scout Christmas party exchange, and other assorted goodies, as a 2o something adult. It was fun to look at what I saved, and you know what? I got a plastic box and they are still in my mom's basement. (yes, she wanted my drawer back, the tyrant!)

6. Find a raw veggie you like and eat it.
I do not care if it is carrots, broccoli, tomatoes or even egg plant. Just find one you like in its raw state and get ready to eat it at least once a day. Have I made small children cry, "But I don't wanna eat da carrots." Yes. Have they since learned to love them to the point they will even pick that over say, strawberries? Yes. (freakish but true.) My kids don't eat like little vegans or anything, they have their fair share of sugary junk, but I want them to have their veggies too, so this was and remains, one hill I will die on. (or leave small children at the table boo-hooing over having to eat that last bite of broccoli.)

7. The World Does Not Revolve Around You.
Why can't you watch your TV show? Why can't you go first every time? Why can I tell you I am claiming the next 15 minutes as "Mom Time" and you are not allowed to come into the office, yell my pseudo name, or break any bones requiring immediate attention??? Because... the world, it is not spinning on its axis, waiting to give into your every whim and desire.... even if it is not necessarily a "bad" want. Kids need to learn that they don't get whatever they want, when they want it, and that sometimes, it is someone else's turn for the spotlight, the gifts, the first choice, etc. Admittedly, Hadji's ability to pooch his lip and cross his arms in sheer disgust at his wants not being met are proof that this is one, we must continually work on...

8.Tv Rots Your Brains.
Yes, we have drilled that actual phrase into their heads. It is tops in my book. TV is fine and fun and good, but like anything, too much of it is bad. I have seen the glassy eyed effects of too much tv, and have taken it away for a week at time declaring, "If you lack the ability to play with toys you have clearly spent too much time on your buttocks just watching toys on a screen."

9. The Girl Must Love Jesus.
From the time Lincoln first said a girl told him she "liked" him, we have been drilling the following into his head: We do not care where she is from, what color she is, if she is rich or poor, skinny or fat... whoever you pick for a wife must first and foremost LOVE JESUS. And... love HIM more than she loves YOU. We have also discussed other admirable qualities, and that dating should really wait until college, but the Jesus first part... well, its always first. :)

10. Take a Hike.

Hiking with our little men is one of our favorite things we do as a family. It teaches them to cooperate: Micah taught them early on that we could only walk as fast our slowest person. Leadership: They take turns being the first one in line, and calling out "branch" or "rock" to help the others and lead them well. Perseverance: Tired? Suck it up and keep moving pal. We must keep going. We also love to see the views, let the boys explore and do a bit of free climbing and such. All in all, I say hiking is a good and cheap activity for the family.

So, there you have it. I am glad for other things we have done too... Micah has taken the boys and taught them things about the outdoors, and fixing stuff, and other man arts. We have made cookies and cards and donated toys we still love. All in all, I think I have neat-o kids... in spite of my shortcomings as a parent... and there are lots. Forgiveness is also a thing we have to talk about around here alot...

The Next Installation in our No One is Dead Yet Parenting Series... "The Perfect Parent, Order Yours Today"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Parenting Confessions

So, we started a new parenting series at our church, entitled "Parentology". I laughed when our pastor talked about how when we are young married couples, we look at people with their kids, and think pridefully, "I will never let my child do that." And then... we do. I laughed because I did it. Here is the thing, even when we don't let them display the offensive behavior, the heart of that attitude is what needs to be addressed.

Life is already so full of competition, why make parenting another area to one up in? We try and make others think we are perfect parents, and that our homes are always harmonious little machines where never a cross word is spoken. Right. I am going to tell you some of the things I am glad I did as a parent, and some of the things I wish I hadn't, and hopefully, to let you know... we are all in this together.
We are all trying to raise little humans, and in our family, to train them to love the Lord and serve others. Let's help each other out here...

A Few Things I Wish I Had Never Done/Said/Displayed

1.Eye rolling.
I take full blame. Well, part blame. If my mom had cuffed me a good one maybe I would have stopped. As it stands, I am like a 13yr old who is "so over" what you are saying that the eyes... they roll. Sometime they are followed by the distinctly German 'kchaaaaa" sound from the back of the throat. That is how you will know I am really done with the topic at hand.

2. Brought a TV into the home.
There, I said it. I know it seems crazy, and Amish, and all that, but really... I hate it and love it at the same time. It is too easy to let them watch it. It is too hard to police everything they see on it, and sometimes I want to scream to other parents, "DISNEY TEEN SHOWS ARE NOT GOOD FOR YOUR KIDS"... but that would be judgemental, so I won't. (whispers) But I do think that.

3. Slate Flooring in the Bathroom.
File this under ignorance please. We put in our lovely slate bathroom floor before any small males were using the potty. We never knew you should seal a slate floor, and then, the whizzers got it. It is my daily goal to eradicate the bathroom stank from the commode area. If you are changing you bathroom flooring anytime soon, make it one you can hose down with bleach. (I have a whole other blog post about my ideal bathroom and the ability to hose it down from floor to ceiling.)

4. Forgot how to Praise.
Somewhere along the line, I began to just expect my kids to act right. I forgot to praise them for kindness and right choices, and became critical if they messed up. Criticism and correction are polar opposites, and it is a deep regret that I replaced the latter many times with a sharp tongue.

5.Overlooking Teachable Moments.
I am often chiding myself for letting "important things" lead to missing a chance to teach my kids. I can brush them aside too easily to take a phone call, return a text, or chat with a friend. Guess what? God wants me to maintain my ministry with my family first, then the church. I know, not a popular idea for a "pastor's wife" to say, but how would I be leading the ladies of our church if I was able to always display a lack of importance for time with our own little brood of five?

There. I said it. I have yelled at my kids. It is embarrassing, and I am not saying it so others will make me feel better about it. Its not ok. I am trying, and trying is the keyword, to think before I launch off on one of them, "How is this helping correct their behavior and move their heart to a better choice?" Am I always successful? Nope. I failed yesterday. It is a daily battle, maybe it is not yours, that is awesome. Pray for the ones who struggle with it. Yellers are people too...we just need to be quieter people.

7. Cheaping out on a good camera.
I know Dave Ramsey would flame me for this, but... if you are having a baby, go buy a good camera, even if you have to get the Best Buy card and make payments for 12 months. Please note, Dave and all other financial police: I did not say go buy the most expensive camera. I did say invest in a good camera and take pictures... Someday those shots of your kiddo eating cereal or reading in their undies, will be worth it. Bonus points if you can get yourself into the photos once in while too, messy mom hair and all.

8. Not Playing Enough
Can I blame my mom for this one too? Doubt it. She was a single mom, raising four kids, managing a home and all. She had a reason to be tired and not always play with us. I do not have those reasons, and yet, it is with great head hanging shame that I admit... I have taken my children outside and literally said, "Please. Please go play, I just want to read Lucky and sip crystal light." I have even spouted off with the occasional, "There is a reason I gave birth more than once. Built in playmates. You have two brothers to play with. Go." Now, I know there is a balance here, we DO need time alone and our kids DO need to play together. I am talking about me being lazy, and just not hitting the ball with them, or playing tag. Will I get sweaty? Yes. Will someone inevitably get mad? Yes. Will we still be making a memory? Yes.

9. The Clenched Teeth Store Threat
I cannot tell a lie. I did it to Lincoln this week. If you do not know what I am talking about, you were either a really good child whose mom never did it to her, or you are currently a parent who lies. It is not the worst parenting move ever, but if you abuse it, you will have to use the arm-twist-teeth-clenched-seething-with-anger-voice, every time you go out in public, and that will make you look like super mean mom. Or someone with lock jaw. Either way, I wish I would always remember to just give that little whisper... you know, that authoritative, you are not going to keep acting this way whisper. In the long run it is much more effective than the clench threat where you are left bearing your teeth like a horse in heat.

**Later this week I will post the other list. The easier to write and fun to think about list. It is... The Few and Assorted Things I am glad I did as a Parent. Stay tuned. Well, given my track record for blogging, don't actually stay tuned, just come back say, Monday or something. I can't have you just reading all my dirty laundry... there are actually moments when the laundry IS clean.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Dear Huggies, I will miss you...

One week ago today, our home was forever changed. We (meaning, I) decided it was time for Alden to potty train. After the last post, I am sure you can understand why the thought of giving him this next step of boyhood was difficult for me to swallow. I sucked up my wallowing no-more-babies-grief stricken- whimpers and got out the little boy undies.

He did ok at home Friday. One little accident, no nap time problems.... Friday night was a different story. He had three accidents whilst at my friend Lolo's house. I was already thinking, "Man... this kid is just not getting this." I put him in a diaper for bed... that is against my firm potty training policy of no diapers, no pull ups. I decided, it is one thing for your kid to whiz all over your own home in their sleep, it is entirely different and wrong for them to do so at a friend's home.

So... we came home Saturday morning, and I had put him undies, prepared to watch the wet spot form, and reclaim my baby. Oh no... that was it. He's done. Potty trained.

He has not had an accident since, and not a drop at night or during naps. Really? So quickly? Yep. He has even moved to taking himself to the bathroom!

I caught him in there, talking himself through the motions. "Ok, undies off. Pee-pee in da potty. Oh, point it down! Now Fwush" I just watched, in awe. When he parked that little naked booty on the floor and put his own underwear on, I almost lost it! NOOOO! This is too much! I went over, and thankfully, he put the undies on backwards. I am still needed, if only to put Bob the Builder on the proper side of the buttocks.

I sadly realized, this is the first time in 8 years that no one in this house will be in diapers. EIGHT YEARS. I know people throw parades about this sort of thing, but wow... first the crib, now this... if Alden didn't look so stinking cute toddling around here in those little undies, I would be a basketcase.

This photo was Sunday morning... I laid out the boys' clothes, and hit me... three little sets of undies.Sigh.

I think teaching your kids independence is one of the hardest things to do. Sometimes we don't invest the time to make them this way, because, honestly, it feels good to be "needed". I realize though, that as my relationship with Lincoln has been changing lately, it deepens. Well, it can deepen. If I set aside tv, my latest book, or even that sinful iPhone app "Angry Birds", and spend time with him. I can spend time talking to and investing in him as a little person, and then we will continue to grow closer. It will be different... he no longer needs me to shower him, dress him, etc. BUT he needs me to keep pouring into him in other ways. If we miss this chance as parents, guess what? I don't think it can be recovered. You will miss a tenderness and closeness with your children that lasts through adulthood. I pray that God would continue to slap me with His heavenly 2x4 when I forget this. Psalm 90 has never rung truer than right now...

The days pass quickly. I want to INVEST these 24 hours. We need to turn off the stupid reality show, quit browsing online uselessness, and stop worrying about silly things... Wow, I hadn't meant to sound so preachy, but there it is! (and I am talking to myself here most of all, so whine not...)
See, see what happens when I don't have babies to occupy my time all day? I will surely lose readers over this latest diatribe and that is ok. My best friends? They are right here, in this house. Four men who mean more to me than all the stuff I let overshadow their importance. God forgive my stupidly placed affections...
All this angst over some diapers that are no longer needed, crazy I know, but I never claimed to be sane, so there.
And PS I haven't used huggies in a long time, so technically it is "Costco ginormous box of kirkland brand diapers I will miss you!" but that was too long of a title...