Children, Family

Little Kid Fight Club

little kid fight clubYou know the first rule about Little Kid Fight Club? You always whine and argue and tattle to anyone who will listen.

Have you ever sat back and watched a verbal smack-down between little kids? I’m not talking about the snarkiness of teenagers, but little kids. Like 5-7 year olds. It’s amazing how savage they can be. And when I say savage, of course I mean petty and minor. But in a little kid’s mind? So savage!

Take, for instance, my kids’ version of a glove smack to the face. Here’s what they do:

A typical argument over something life altering between boy child and girl child, like who gets to use the blue plastic place mat and who is stuck with booger green, ensues. After a bit of whining, yelling and the commencement of tears by boy child, girl child asserts herself by putting a period on the argument and confidently basking in the victory by putting the placement at her spot at the table. 

That’s not the savage part. It’s here…you ready?

Boy child angrily grabs a piece of paper (junk mail will do in a pinch- timing is key, here) and a pencil, gives girl child a cold stare of sheer anger…long enough to get her attention. Once eye-lock is made, boy child then slowly and methodically writes girl child’s initial on the paper. Pauses. Looks at her, draws a circle around the initial slowly and dramatically. And then? Draws a heavy, slow line through the initial.

THROUGH. THE. INITIAL, y’all! What the?! That is stone cold savage. And oh it works!!! Girl child is reduced to a stream of tears, which usually leads to a pity parade with stomping feet to find the closest parent interested enough to put an end to this ghastliness!

Oh the humanity.

OK, so this is all completely humorous to anyone over ten years old. But back off with your judgment because this is Little Kid Fight Club and you best enter at your own risk.

So, how do you diffuse such a runaway freight train of emotions and irrationality without losing your ever-loving mind?! No idea. Well, that’s not true. We muddle through with things like this:

Address the real issue

First we gotta find out what in tarnation caused this mess in the first place. “Oh, it was because you wanted to use the blue place mat and girl child had it first?!” We talk through why she gets to decide what place mat she wants to use and why he doesn’t. You know what we usually say?

She wanted it and said something first. Life’s not fair. Sorry. 

Of course, we do end up with the stupidly arduous task of now having to remember who had the blasted place mat last and who gets it for the next meal. Just because too much unfairness is harsh for a six year-old. 

Address the interaction

In the midst of addressing the real issue, we also take a moment to stop boy child when there’s too much crying while explaining. Firstly, I can’t understand “boogery bubble-ridden whiny speak” so I stop him and ask him to look me in the eyes. I’m usually at their eye level here and man, this part can take a second but it’s important to get the eye contact.

Once I have it, I ask him to fill up his lungs with air and breathe it out. Then I ask him to do it again. And one final time. Oxygen does a great deal for clear thinking. Now I ask boy child to tell me with his words what happened. I ask him to tell me without crying and that I will listen to him. Bless him, he fights back falling apart but he gets his message out. 

Next, we all have a quick discussion on how they talked to each other. (Notice I didn’t issue a ruling yet!) I remind them of the nasty sound of the argument and ask both kids to talk about how they said mean things to each other. Then I ask them why they said them. I prompt them to understand and say that they wanted to hurt the other child’s feelings by being mean. Then we talk about how that’s not a good way to win an argument. Ever. Being mean is just that.

And it doesn’t get rewarded by getting to use the blue place mat. I hold up the savage graffiti and ask if this was nice or mean. Once he says it was mean, I ask him to apologize to girl child. I then ask girl child to apologize to him. 

Then I lower the boom on how we move past this. Girl child gets the placement. We are done with this argument and boy child can have the placemat at the next meal. I tell him that if I hear any whining or any yucky talk from him, that he will not get the placemat at all. For real. 

No wallowing

I need him to learn to pull himself together and move forward. I need all the kids to learn this. This isn’t denying them the right to feel their feelings. This is simply not allowing them to unpack and move in to Sadsville or Angrytown. Just no. There’s a time to allow yourself to be upset and there’s a time to move forward. Not everything will go your way in all situations.

Now, kids aren’t born knowing how to do this so they have to be taught. And it doesn’t come easy. Because their emotions are big…especially for boys. 

Recovery

Girls have lots of layers of feelings but boys have big clouds of singular feelings. Recognizing the difference here is so important because they recover and learn differently. Girls can talk through their feelings better than boys at this age so we find that talking with the girls allows them to work through the stages of anger. With boys, we have seen that diffusing is important before any rationality can happen. Taking the time to diffuse (asking for the deep breaths and eye contact) helps immensely to move into talking and resolving anger. 

No matter how the argument started, how it ended and who walked away the victor, we always try to get the laughter back quickly. The laughter is kind of the packing tape on the box of yuck that we’ve worked through and stuffed into the box. Laughter moves everyone past the anger and into the “next thing”, whatever it is. The cadence of conversation and humor is a little faster-moving to put some space between the rawness of what happened and where we want our kids to be now.

And once the smile creeps onto the face of an upset child, the sparkle returns to his eyes and he’s ready to grab onto funny conversation with no hesitation. Always move forward!

 

Children, Family

Please just poop in the potty

Potty TrainingOur potty training days are over, thankfully, because I was about to lose my ever-loving mind over my last child agreeing to poop in the potty. Notice I didn’t say “finally figuring out” but rather, “agreeing”. Y’all, this child fought us over pooping in the potty for the longest time.

The. Longest. Time.

I remember telling other parents who were potty training (keep in mind that this was before our last child’s potty training phase), “Oh don’t worry! It’ll happen and I guarantee your child will not go to Kindergarten not knowing how to go in the toilet.”

And then…baby girl happened. This little one was born two whole months early. She was a little firecracker in the NICU, causing all kinds of ruckus because she wouldn’t progress like the doctors wanted and then, like a light switch got turned on, she just did the thing everyone was waiting on her to do. Whether it was maintain body heat, not lose weight, suck/ swallow…she struggled and struggled and then like a snap, she got it. All of it. 

One NICU nurse told us, “Honey child, watch out for this little one. She may be little, but she sure is fierce!”

And oh is she fierce! Every milestone she’s reached, she does on her own time. Some kids are just like that, I guess. Our first two were like clockwork on milestones. Baby girl works on her own schedule. 

Fast-forward to potty training. And I know all the experts say “she’ll do it when she’s ready” or “don’t push her, you’ll only frustrate yourself and her” blah, blah, blah. But tell all that to the preschool who is telling you that in order for your child to be in the three year old class, she has to be potty trained. 

So, for all you parents who find yourself in this similar situation, here’s our story. I ain’t gonna lie, it wasn’t pretty, I did pull my hair out, there were tears, accidents and perhaps a child running around the house without her pants on but we did it and here’s how. 

Pick Out Your Special Underwear!

First we did the “Pick out your special underwear!” in hopes that she would respect her britches and not soil them. We also bought 5 pairs of the basic Walmart cotton pants in a variety of colors because we were going to go cold-turkey.

And we did.

And it went as expected. Soggy and drippy. But we continued. We changed pants, washed pants, made very frequent trips to the potty. 

Stickers!

So we added a sticker chart. With her favorite character. We went to the store and she took forever deciding what stickers she wanted to have on her chart. We figured her investing her time in picking out the stickers would help keep her motivated to actually get to use the stickers! 

And it went as expected. The chart hung on the wall…naked. Waiting for stickers. 

Nudie time!

Soon it was Christmas time and I had some time off work and I decided this girl is gonna learn how to at least tinkle in the potty before I go back to work. We discovered that she absolutely didn’t like the feel of tinkles dripping down her leg so off the pants came. She was not happy with this, but it worked quickly because soon enough she was “holding it” and “making it” to the potty. She even got to where she took herself. 

One of the things we said was “Listen! I hear your pee pees coming! Here they come!” and for whatever reason, that proclamation got her so excited that sure enough…her pee pees did come! She was so proud and we all made a big deal out of any success she had. 

Soon enough the sticker chart was filling up. And soon enough she was taking herself to the bathroom and was announcing an invitation to all within the sound of her voice to join her as we all gaze into the toilet to behold her success. She also made sure someone was on the task of sticker presentation. 

And now for the second part of the show…

And so it was, she became potty trained for tinkles.

Now…the hard part. The poop. She DID NOT LIKE the idea of pooping in the potty. And we found ourselves in the same situation. Her outright refusal, our failed attempts, lots of soiled clothes and a ton of frustration. She did the same thing when getting ready to poop so we tried our very best to catch her just before and run her to the potty. No luck. She even had a pretty reliable schedule but somehow we would either just miss it or she would hold it and go when we weren’t looking, which was pretty awesome because we watched her like a hawk!

Bribery

 potty training sticker chartTime to bring out the big guns. She is motivated by a reward so we made it a big one. We let her pick out a big toy she really wanted.We made a “three poops” chart and had big, awesome stickers she could place over each number upon success. Guess what we did next? We put the big toy on top of the refrigerator where she could see it and we told her she had to do three poops in the potty to get the toy. Do you know I had to dust that thing, it sat up there so long? She wanted that toy but she refused to go in the potty. 

But we held firm and the “three poops” chart sat empty.

potty training briberyUntil one day…I was at work and I got a text message from my husband. 

“She just took herself to the bathroom and pooped in the potty”

Oh my heavens, I have never been so happy. And not an hour later, I got another text “She just did it again…all on her own”. 30 minutes after that one, I got this text: “She peed twice in the potty and she’s sitting on the potty now saying she pooped.”

In one day, this child had completed her chart for getting the toy she had picked out and from that day forward, she was potty trained completely. Just like a light switch. Just like every other milestone she hits. Some kids are just like that. No matter how much you push, it really does depend on when they are ready to do it. 

Some kids potty train quickly. Some take forever. Sone get scared of the potty and some just prefer to go in their pants. Patience is key. Consistency is key. Laundry packs, hot water and lots of changes of clothes are key. 

Your child will become potty trained. If I can offer a piece of advice, it’s this:

Do not compare your kid to someone else’s kid. Your kid is your kid; not someone else’s kid. She will get it, I promise. It’ll be gross until then, sorry. But soon enough it’ll all be in the rear-view mirror (get it…rear view? haha!). 

Good luck!

Children, Family

Teach them young

laundryThere’s always a tendency to do for our kids just because it’s easier or quicker. Shoot, even my slight OCD can hinder my ability to let my kids do something. They won’t line it up right or fill the cup enough or point the spray in the right direction…something. But I know this isn’t good for my kids’ learning of basic life skills. My impatience, lack of time or irritability with things being done “just so” can’t get in the way of my responsibility to teach my kids these skills they will need in life.

THEY WILL NEED THESE SKILLS. 

This isn’t some trendy activity that can win me parenting awards because I was enlightened enough to teach my kids how to clean countertops or fold clothes. This is stuff they need to know how to do when they live on their own or find themselves at any point in their lives in a position where they may need to know how to function as an independent being.

You know, like camp. Or college. Or a week with Grandma.

I remember talking with a friend about her child’s sporting event and how she always had to make sure her child’s uniform was clean because her daughter wasn’t going to do it herself. This child was 13 years old!

All I could think was, “Why can’t your daughter make sure her own uniform is clean for game day?!” And that was my question to my friend. The response? “Oh, well, she would never remember.”

Ha! You what’ll make her remember to manage her own responsibilities? Telling her that it’s her responsibility and then letting it be her responsibility. Let’s break down how this should go using my friend’s daughter’s scenario (and this applies to all basic life skills learning opportunities):

  • You tell her that making sure her uniform is clean by game day is her responsibility.
  • Show her how to use the washing machine and the dryer- the detergent, measuring, what knobs to push, settings…the whole bit.
  • Then you tell her the following (or something similar):

“Henceforth, uniform cleansing is now your responsibility…with all the honors, rights and privileges appertaining thereto.” 

Now comes the important part, mom. Actually let it be her responsibility. And you know what’s going to happen, right? She’s gonna fail. And that’s ok. 

Got it? That is actually ok. It’s beautiful, really. Because that’s the lesson-learning time. The consequence, if you will. She will show her stinky tail up to the game with a dirty, wrinkly uniform. And it will be a lesson she will not soon forgot. Mark my words, it will take one time to learn this lesson. Going forward, uniform preparation will become a priority for her. 

If she asks you if she can throw her uniform in with a load you are doing, then absolutely the answer is yes (unless her uniform is completely nasty and needs a separate wash). She is preparing and she’s using her resources. Success!

If Friday night comes and you know that uniform is on the floor in her sports bag and you know that Saturday morning she needs the uniform, let it go. Sounds mean, I know, but seriously it’s fine. There are worse things than having a dirty uniform. If she’s about to get hit by a car, please tell her. But if she just didn’t do her laundry, let her go through that failure. It’s so important for her to understand how to place value on things and how to prepare accordingly. You reminding her or doing it for her will not help her long-term.

Wouldn’t you rather her have a dirty uniform at her game than her have dirty clothes for her grown-up job interview? If you bail her out of every single thing that happens to her every single time, she will learn nothing and she will be unprepared for a world that doesn’t give a fat pig’s tail that she is unprepared. 

Sounds tough, but it’s not. It’s kind of like the story of the butterfly hatching from its cocoon. A little boy saw the butterfly struggling and seeing how exhausted the butterfly was, the little boy pulled the butterfly from its little cocoon. After the butterfly was rested and his wings were dry, the little boy noticed that the wings were misshapen and scrawny. He asked his grandfather why the butterfly looked that way.

The grandfather told him that since the butterfly didn’t have to work to free himself from the cocoon, it also didn’t have a chance to strengthen itself. So what should’ve been strong wings were instead weak and useless. The struggle and pain is there for a reason. It builds strength needed for future use. The same goes for children. Giving them everything, solving all their problems, doing everything for them does them no good. 

Teach your kids, but allow them to fail. Let your kids be disappointed. Allow your kids experience not winning. Encourage your kids to take ownership of their responsibilities and, if necessary, let your kids go to their game with a dirty uniform. 

They may smell…they may be uncomfortable, but they will learn. And they’ll be better for it.

 

 

Children, Family

New Year…New Changes

New YearEach year on New Year’s Eve, we celebrate by having an (almost) fondue. I say (almost) because we tried the real thing with meats, sharp pointy metal skewers and a live fire. Between fine motor skills and general greediness, we decided that we should change how we “fondue”! 

Now, we make a delicious spread of various fruits, cheeses and meats. Accompanying this deliciousness are little individual cups of chocolate, yogurt and other dipping opportunities. Individual. Because we double dip. And we use fingers. And some of us have been caught on occasion picking our noses. So…individual is the way to go.

This year, we really upped the ante. Crab legs. Oh sweet mercy, crab legs. We’ve created three little shellfish-loving monsters and despite fine motor skill limitations amongst a few of them, these kids can handle their crab legs quite well! And they work for that food happily!

In our spread we had Monterey Jack cheese, cantaloupe pieces, raspberries, strawberries, grapes, marshmallows, chocolate sauce, sparkling apple cider or chocolate milk for drink and…bright red, hot and steamed Alaskan crab leg clusters. Steamed in our beautiful, black speckled steamer pot. 

Oh we were in heaven that evening. We each had seafood hand cracker tools and the vinyl table cloth that covered the table knew going in that its purpose would be fulfilled that night. Out of this bountiful celebration, an unofficial official “who can pull out the most intact crab meat from a leg” competition began and these kids honed their craft quickly!

Such a fun annual event to look forward to on the eve of turning the page into a new year. This year, we recognized something that we want to work on for the betterment of ourselves and our family. We are cutting out the majority of social media in that it has been way too accessible for too long. So it’s not a forever goodbye, but a significant reduction in how often we look, comment, like or aimlessly scroll down the news feed. 

Something we have begun to notice is that for how much information we post and how much information we read about other people, we have lost the ability to interact genuinely with others. I suspect that the same holds true for other people as well. We already know everything that’s going on with each other, there’s no real need to talk about it. Plus, we think we have everyone figured out so we end up putting everyone into little silos of “people we agree with” and “people who are wrong”. 

So…we are pushing away from the social media table. Which is an odd thing to say, given that we blog. But I have always said that the first purpose of this blog was to be a documentation of our family primarily for our children. And others have followed along for the entertainment, commiseration, or a combination of both, which is perfectly fine. 

So far it feels good to be untethered from my phone. Social media is gone from it now. And it’s been eye-opening already to see how often I reach for my phone to check social media without even realizing it. 

We’ll see how this goes…maybe we’ll fall off the wagon but maybe not. Maybe we’ll be able to realign ourselves to how we used to be before social media came along. Maybe we’ll be more in the moments of our family’s lives. And maybe we’ll have time for more personal and interactive things without the distraction of the phone.

It’s not a New Year’s resolution…hopefully we can hang on to this idea for longer than we generally hang on to New Year’s resolution. We’ll see…wish us luck!

 

Children, Christmas, Family

We Got To Spread Cheer Across the World!

operation christmas childWe were so excited, this year we got to spread cheer across the world! Well, to one little boy between the ages of 5 and 9. We participated in an awesome program called Operation Christmas Child, which is sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse.

I had brought home an excitingly colorful shoebox and the kids were curious as to what this was. After all, who doesn’t like a bright red box with little cartoon children on the side and a decorated airplane on top, right?!

Once we cleared up the fact that this was not a gift to our children (maybe a teeny bit of disappointment for the kiddos) and started to tell them who this special box was for, they couldn’t wait to go shopping for their new little friend they most likely would never meet.

What a wonderful experience this was! We chose a boy between ages 5 and 9. After all, we know a little bit about boys in that ages group. And off to the store we went. Now, sometimes it can be a little difficult for young children to understand that the toys are for someone else. I’m not going to lie, there may have been a few tears shed because the shopping excursion did not yield a special present for our kids. But this is all part of the experience!

It was a great opportunity to remind our kids how the recipient of this box lived. What he had for toys, a home and what his life was generally like. We showed our kids a video of the kids receiving and opening their Christmas boxes and it was electric to watch the joy and happiness on the faces of the children who received a gift.

operation christmas childSo we thought about what we could get for this little boy. What kind of things he would enjoy and how we could get as much stuff into that box as possible! Fun things, silly things, crayons. A notebook for drawing, lots of Match Box cars, a stuffed animal and a cool football! Oh, and some cozy socks!

We got home and laid out all the gifts onto the kitchen table. “How are we gonna get all of that stuff into this little box?!” But you know what? It all fit! Perfectly!

We said a little prayer over this box and sealed it up, complete with a special sticker on the front that connects us to the box. That way, we can track the box and see where it goes! 

So once our box was ready, Daddy and the kids took it to the drop-off location. What a fantastic operation that was, too! Who knew so many loving and caring people were involved in such a great world-wide operation!

operation christmas child

At the drop-off, we got to see the entire process from when we first get the box to after we drop it off. It was so neat to see where all the box goes before its final destination into the hands of an excited little boy on the other side of the world!

We also got to see all the volunteers who locally coordinate receiving filled boxes. They prepped them for packaging and delivery to the place where more volunteers will then load them for international shipment. These boxes will be delivered to more than 200 countries around the world and ours will be one of them!

The only down-side to this is that our kids don’t get to see the little boy’s face when he opens his gift. But we can only pray that he enjoys these special items picked out just for him. And that along with those gifts, his little heart and mind are open to the message of the Gospel that’s coming with it. 

What a fun project this was, and it was kind of a last-minute idea, too. I just happened to walk by a stack of empty boxes and picked one up, but I assure you that this is a new family tradition that we will enjoy doing to begin the  Christmas season!

operation christmas child

Children, Family, Uncategorized

She Takes Her Job Very Seriously

takes her job seriouslyRecently, girl child got to be a flower girl in a family wedding. Not only would she be a flower girl, but this would be her first ever wedding! She was asked about six months ago by the bride and it’s been a frequent topic of conversation in our household ever since! This is a very important job and she has had every intention of taking her job very seriously. 

As the big day grew closer and closer, our conversations became more frequent and detailed. We talked about what her dress would look like, how she would gently toss flower petals as she walked down the aisle before the bride. How she would stand at the front with the best view in the house. We talked about how the bride would kiss the groom at the end and we giggled with glee at the thought of it! 

takes her job seriouslyCountless drawings appeared all over the house of child-drawn brides and grooms, brides kissing grooms, flower girls, bouquets, wedding cakes, etc. The big day even made it onto a hand-made calendar hung on the refrigerator door so that no one would forget!

And when girl child’s flower girl dress arrived, she could hardly contain her excitement. Being a flower girl suddenly became real! It wasn’t just something people said. She was actually going to BE a flower girl. My stars!!

Finally, oh finally the big day arrived. And suddenly…it hit her. 

As we were curling girl child’s hair into little ringlets, she began to breathe heavily and start to cry and complain of a stomach ache. I feared she was sick and wondered how I would nurse her back to health enough to make it down the aisle when she tearfully said, “I’m not nervous!” And this told me she was very nervous, which is unusual for her.

So we stopped everything. 

I sat her down on the toilet (seat cover) and told her to breathe like me…slowly in….slowly out. Slowly in…slowly out. I wiped her little tears and we talked quietly about how wonderful today is. And how good a job girl child did in rehearsal the evening before. We talked about the people who would be watching and how those same people saw her yesterday.  Then we talked about how it’s the bride who should be really nervous…and that girl child is leading the way for the bride to walk down the isle to marry her love. 

Then we remembered how they would kiss at the end! And how giggly that would make us (her)! It was after this little conversation that girl child whispered, “You know, Momma, I really did feel nervous and scared but I feel good now.”

takes her job seriouslyWe clamored into the car and drove to the wedding venue at which point I told girl child that her job for today had begun. She was to be helpful in all things where she could and then she would be the best flower girl in the whole world! Girl child did her job well. She was a helper. And she was friendly to all. She introduced herself to any guest she didn’t recognize and also talking with those she did know. 

She mingled, she helped, she delivered messages between the bride and groom. Whatever was asked of her, she happily obliged, bless her. This responsibility was so important to her and my buttons were bursting as I watched her be the flower girl as best as she could. 

When the time came, she got into line and waited until it was her turn to walk down the aisle. She made sure her little basket was ready. Her bouquet tucked into the side of the wicker of her basket and all her little loose flower petals ready to mark the path for the bride.

One deep breath and away she went…delicately walking, lightly dropping flower petals. Smiling. Thinking. Stepping. Dropping petals. That’s a lot to remember all at once. But it kept that fast-thinking brain occupied enough that it kept the worrying at bay. She did it. And she did her job well. 

At the end, I asked her what she thought of the day. She said, “Momma, I’m tired…but it sure was beautiful!”

It surely was!

takes her job seriously

Children, Family

Toothless is My Name

toothlessShow of hands of everyone who loves the tooth-pulling stage of childhood. No one? Yeah, me either. I’m a giant weenie about wiggly teeth. I want no part of the dangling, wiggly, baby tooth holding on for dear life. Yet somehow, I managed to have children who love loose teeth! Of our three kids, two are in the “tooth falling out” stage and those suckers fell out like popcorn! I had kids walking around essentially toothless! [Note: this post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to buy a product using the link, the cost to you doesn’t increase but your purchase helps us fund this blog so we thank you!]

So recently we found ourselves once again with a freshly lost tooth. Boy child has just pulled out his last (for awhile) baby tooth. Tooth-pulling in our family is a big event. There is not the slightest bit of apprehension…only growing excitement as the tooth becomes more and more loose. Because that means a visit from the Tooth Fairy!!

Upon losing his tooth, boy child put it in the special cup and put the cup at his spot at the kitchen table (our designated landing strip for the Tooth Fairy). Now, let me say that when the kids first started losing teeth, I went all out. Matching envelope and personalized note card from a uniquely named Tooth Fairy…what in tarnation was I thinking?? Yes, let’s add work to a task I’m half likely to forget to accomplish as it is. So…over time, the Tooth Fairy has become less personal but at least she pays out consistently. The kids don’t seem to mind.

Except with boy child, we keep forgetting to make sure the Tooth Fairy visits! I don’t know what the mental block is…we set a reminder on our phones to remember to exchange the tooth for money but dang it if we don’t forget and that poor boy comes downstairs to find his tooth right where he left it. 

Crap.

toothlessOf course, we immediately spot the “problem” with the Tooth Fairy. “Buddy, you didn’t put the cup at the table!” or as with the most recent excuse for being horrible parents, “you forgot to write the Tooth Fairy a letter!” I know, we are horrible for putting our failure on his lack of being able to follow very explicit and apparently unbendable rules of how to submit a tooth to the Tooth Fairy. 

But he doesn’t seem upset by his blunders and willingly accepts that his mistake caused her delay. I think girl child is on to us but she doesn’t say anything. She’s not dumb…she knows being quiet keeps the money coming.

So last night, boy child wrote out his letter. He drew a special dragon (pretty good, if you ask me!), drew a “picher” of himself and drew a box for his Tooth Fairy to put his/ her name. He placed his tooth properly on top of the letter and set it at his place at the table in just the right spot. Everything looked perfect. There’s no way she won’t leave him money now! So off to bed he goes. 

I kid you not, we nearly forgot to exchange that stinkin’ tooth!! But, thankfully, we remembered at the last minute. I feel like we’ve created a non-personal Tooth Fairy experience for boy child after we went through so much with girl child’s Tooth Fairy. We had even given her a special fairy name, beautiful stationary and subsequent visit glitter to mark where she had trod during the night. So, since this was boy child’s last tooth for a while and he has developed a recent love for all things dragon (from the movie, How to Train Your Dragon…awesome movie, by the way!), I made a special note from his viking Tooth fairy- Bicuspid the Great (since he asked for his Tooth Fairy’s name). And not just any letter…one that was uniquely special since boy child appreciates these kind of surprises:

toothless

For those who do not read backwards (a truly unique skill I am fluent in from a very young age!), it says, “I have the proof that you lost a tooth! Brush everyday and you’ll be on your way. To no longer be TOOTHLESS!” 

He loved it! 

 

Children, Family, travel

Off the Beaten Path

off the beaten pathSometimes you need to get off the beaten path. Get away from the noise and the commotion, the electronics and the hustle of life. This is a concept we always try to instill in our kids, though they don’t always appreciate the simplicity of it.

We love the Blue Ridge Parkway in western North Carolina. It’s our home away from home. We know all the secrets, the best waterfall spots, the hikes and the stories from long ago. It’s truly amazing how quiet the parkway can be. The sounds of nature, of the birds and the animals scurrying about their business.

The silence is loud up there. And it’s a beautiful sound.

Our kids don’t so much appreciate this just yet, but we still encourage them to stop and listen. To smell the air and feel the cold breezes on their faces. And to see the blue that gave the mountains their name. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to see the clouds tuck the mountains in like a blanket, with only the mountain peaks sticking out above.

off the beaten pathWe stop for hikes and no one is too little to participate. The hikes leave the familiarity of the parking area and quickly meander around rocks and exposed tree roots. This is where the kids begin to enjoy their visit with the parkway. We see tiny salamanders peeking out of the wet moss along the waterway at Mabry Mill, peregrine falcons guarding their nests around Devil’s Courthouse, a black bear jogging across the parkway, as if to say, “don’t mind me…just passing through!”. Or we find a rushing water cascade at Wilson’s Creek that runs under the parkway and feel clean, cold mountain water.

off the beaten pathWe visit the ranger station at Waterrock Knob and hike under the impressive Linn Cove Viaduct, an engineering feat that kept the parkway road off of the delicate vegetation of Grandfather Mountain. We stop by Moses Cone Manor, walk along his old paths and see the pastures that lead to the family grave stones. Once in awhile we can park the car along an overlook to watch a thunderstorm move across the valley far out in front of us.

You can do all sorts of exciting, fun, busy activities on vacation and we do those things as well. But we always make time to visit our dear friend when we can. The parkway and its beautiful scenery have done so much healing and restoration for us throughout the years. It’s become like medicine for us. We miss it when we are away too long. And we hate to leave when we are there.

Girl child asked me recently why we like to be here so much. I told her that this beautiful place fills up my soul when it gets empty. Some may say that only God can do that, and that’s true. His beauty and His creation fills my soul and revives it when I find that it’s become empty.

off the beaten path

 

 

Children, Family

The Rain and the Soul of a Child

rain soul of childRecently on a Monday afternoon, it rained unexpectedly. No thunder or lightning…just rain. The kids had been doing their schoolwork most of the day but were finished and had hoped to go outside to play. So they were not happy to see the sky open up and pour down on their plans. [NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links. It helps support our blog but we only recommend things we have tried and love!]

So we watched it pour and pour and the kids tried to think of things to do now that they were officially stuck in the house. But then the rain slowed to a steady sprinkle. Seeing that there was no thunder or lightning and that this was a pop up fall shower, I told the kids to get their rain boots on. I also told baby girl to get her new umbrella that she had colored herself. (This is the neatest umbrella that has panels of colorless drawings that your kids can color with water-proof markers…completely adorable!) They all happily obliged because they knew what was coming next.

Outside we went, into the steady sprinkles for some good old fashioned puddle jumping and playing in the rain.

This seems to be a lost art, though the instructions for doing this activity are woven into a child’s DNA. You don’t see this activity much anymore but I think it’s one that is useful to everyone who engages in it.

Playing in the rain feeds the soul of a child.

rain soul of childIt does. Scientific fact. Playing in the rain allows kids to get wet and dirty and it also allows the built up laughter deep inside of them (not just the little laughs at the surface) to bubble up and be released. This causes the mouth muscles to engage the usually-underworked latero-obglingota maxio facial muscles. Ok, so maybe that last part is a bit made up. But it does make them smile huge and constantly.

And the laughter…all the giggles! The birds in the trees even stop their singing to watch the fun the kids are having. I watch them soak up the rain into their stringy hair and a little bit inside their rain boots. They jump in puddles, the bigger the splash the better. Running in the puddles works well, too. All of this gets the heart pumping and the laughter flowing. The eyes sparkling and the soul feeding.

This is what children thrive on…fun. No bickering, no arguing, no whining and no pouting. It’s virtually impossible to simultaneously do any of these offensive kid behaviors and also play in the rain. Also scientific fact.

rain soul of childPlaying in the rain is one of the few times I can count on my kids not arguing with each other. They truly enjoy each other’s company and feed off of each other while splashing in the puddles.

Imagine all the memories they are stitching together in their childhood. Stitching together a blanket of memories that they’ll undoubtedly pull out of the closet when they’re older and wrap themselves up in it to recall those moments of pure bliss and innocence.

Maybe all of us should go play in the rain every now and then.

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

One Day She Will Roll Her Eyes At Me

one day she will roll her eyes at meWhen our first child was born, I remember looking down at her, in awe of her newness and so in love with this warm, wiggly little being. And I remember thinking that this beautiful gift from God would one day roll her eyes at me in frustration. I knew that day would come. Because she would grow and learn and develop her own opinions and thoughts about things.

And occasionally her thoughts would be in direct opposition to my thoughts. She would grow to want to be independent and the struggle between parents holding on and children wanting to let go would rage on, like a dance with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop.

Fast forward to today. Girl child really likes to do things by herself. Not like baby girl does…spilling the cereal all over the table because she wanted to pour it herself but does not yet possess the fine motor skills to maintain accuracy when aiming for her cereal bowl. Girl child likes responsibility. She likes to do things that confirm she’s growing up. Like emptying the dishwasher herself, including the knives. She knows what’s been off limits to her until she’s old enough. And she wants to be old enough!

So, as she gains more and more independence, I wonder where I will fit in to her world. When she was fresh from God, I was completely in charge of everything for her. Now I reach into my pockets and hand over yet another thing I managed that she now can do for herself. Lord help me when she’s old enough to drive.

That’s kind of scary. Because at some point in her life, I won’t know where she is or what she’s doing. She’ll call me and check in (she better if she knows what’s good for her!). We will chat and catch up on all the stuff she’s been into. Maybe she’ll share heartbreak with me, but who knows. Maybe not. And then, she’ll hang up and go on with her life. Without me.

As we move further away from dependence, I try to remind her how family always sticks together. How we always look out for each other, no matter what. That her brother and sister are now and will forever be her closest and best friends. She will still roll her eyes every now and then but I’m trying to plant the seeds now so that later, when she needs the tree of support and faithful love and encouragement, she’ll find us all there.