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, Funnies..., travel

That time she almost peed in the Uber!

uberYou guys! You don’t know stress until you experience something so traumatic as hitching a ride in a lovely Uber with your littles only to hear “Momma…I have to go potty weely bad!” from the backseat. Um. wut?? The littlest of our littles has urgently advised she has to go and she can’t hold it. We are at the near beginning of our ride back into Washington DC from Alexandria during evening traffic. So, the seemingly forever 7 mile trek to the hotel is wrought with pleas of relief because her pee-pees are coming and she can’t hold it anymore!!!!!

At first we figure, how bad can she really have to go…I mean she went twice in the course of our dinner (completely normal activity for her- a combination of curiosity of what the bathroom looks like and maybe also actually having to go). There can’t really be THAT MUCH pee in her at this point. But then we start thinking, she’s really sticking to this ‘having to go potty’ mess. And she’s getting a little louder.

We try telling her “we’re almost there…look I can see it!” (we can’t see it AT ALL). That does not work.

We try telling her to imagine her pee is going back into his little house (a trick my grandma used on me as a kid and it usually bought us about 10 minutes). That also does not work.

Now we start really feeling the stress of the logistics of managing the situation if, in fact, she really can’t hold it any longer as she is now vocalizing quite loudly. I mean, there’s no way the Uber driver can’t hear what’s going on at this point. We are in a mini-van. A nicely appointed one with comfortable leather seats. Crap. What if this child actually pees on this guy’s car? What’s the protocol here?

Anyone who’s been to DC knows you can’t just “pull over” and “stop in” to a “shop”. Besides the double-parked issue, there’s also this: “No, pal, those restrooms are for paying customers only”. And a teary-eyed four-year-old whose pee-pees are coming doesn’t faze them at all. Those cold-hearted savages.

Nope. We have to make it to the hotel. We HAVE to make it to the hotel.

So baby girl is now crying, “I can’t make it! My pee-pees are coming!!” and she’s wiggling all over the place. I spot the car mats and see that they are the plastic kind with spill catching grooves all in them. Ok. Worst case scenario, I lift baby girl up, she pees all over herself onto the mat. We arrive at the hotel, give the Uber driver an extra $20 for his trouble while I take the mat into the bathroom and rinse it down.

While I’m mentally preparing for this scenario, my dear husband has come up with his own idea. He’s thinking of taking off his t-shirt and fashioning a diaper around baby girl so at least his shirt bears the brunt of her dilemma. Bless him.

uber alexandria washington DCA huge tour bus has now pulled in front of us, slowing our rate on the last leg of our seemingly endless trip. CRAP!! MOVE!! It is at this point that I know for sure that our Uber driver is in this with us as he starts maneuvering like a parent who’s kid has to pee. He weaves in and out of stupid traffic…and this is more than the efficiency that Uber drivers usually use. This guy does not want his car to be peed on. But he says nothing. He just focuses on his mission.

Finally…we round the last turn. We really CAN see the hotel. “Look baby girl! There’s our hotel! We are here!!” She’s still a crying mess. But we made it. As the driver rounds the turn in the courtyard, I’ve already unbuckled her so I can grab her and dash out of the car. Whatever happens next, I can handle.

I proclaim to the Uber driver, “we are still dry!” and he smiles at us. We thank him for this expeditiousness and I bolt to the lobby bathroom with baby girl. We make it to the bathroom, I lock the door and strip down her pants, then hoist her up on the potty. She then starts chatting about how the bathroom light turns itself on and off and did I know this? Also she can’t reach the toilet paper but that’s ok because Momma can hand her some. This is her favorite hotel ever.

Wait, what?!? GO POTTY!!!

She says, “oh yeah!” like she forgot! Then the relieving sounds of tinkling and she smiles up at me, saying, “See?? I told you I had to go!”

Traveling with little kids…ugh!!

 

 

 

 

Children, Family, parenting, Uncategorized

Don’t Cross The Line

Cross the lineEach child is uniquely different, with different personalities and different triggers to action. So what happens when your child is willfully disobedient or unruly? When they knowingly cross the line?

You’ll Break Your Tailbone!

helicopter parentRecently my little kids got roller skates! I discovered three pairs of skates at a thrift store that perfectly fit each kid. And they were the grow-with-me skates. All for the price of $9!! So I put the skates on the kids…8, 7 and 4 years old. I also made them wear their bike helmets. I never wore mine when skating, but I think the Earth’s gravitational pull is stronger now so the odds of the kids falling and busting their heads is significantly greater than when I was a kid.

Anyway…it became obvious really quickly that these kids were not good at skating. If you ever were unsure if you were a helicopter parent, put skates on your kids. You’ll find out where you stand really quickly! So, I established boundaries for skating. The kids couldn’t pass the first line in the driveway until they had become a little more proficient in not falling all over the place. Our driveway slopes upward so I was not about to let them up that hill until they showed me some skill.

Of course soon enough, girl child was a skating “pro” (not really…but she’s waaay better than she was) and boy child was completely out of control but for some reason never fell. Like ever. I’m not sure what was happening but it was almost like he couldn’t fall if he wanted to. He was a straight up mess of flailing arms and wildly kicking, rolling feet but his grin was huge and he always made it to his intended destination (the other side of the driveway into the grass). So I relaxed the rule a bit for them.

Baby girl? That was another story. She is not good at all with skating. Partly because she’s four and how good can you actually be at that age? Partly because she kept sitting down, goofing off, taking one skate off and just not getting any real practice time in. But as soon as she saw girl child and boy child crossing “the line” she wanted to cross the line as well.

Oh heck no, darling. No way in all of heck am I going to let you past that line. Are you kidding me? Have you seen yourself skate? She was not pleased that she couldn’t cross the line. So do you know what she spent the rest of skate time doing? Getting herself right up to the line and looking back at me with a sparkly eye while saying, “I’m gonna cwoss da line, Momma!”

Why would she do this? Why would she knowingly disobey me and why is she wanting to cross the line? Well, if you’ve met baby girl, you’ll know the force is strong in that one. She’s got a strong will that makes me wonder what we are going to do with her because all of our tried and true manipulation tactics do not work on this child.

So here’s the thing..and believe me when I say I’ve failed at this. Miserably. Yelling at a child like this will not make her want to change whatever she’s doing and do what it is that you want her to do. In fact, it thus becomes her mission to never do that thing you want her to do. Or conversely, she will try come hell or high water to do the thing you’ve yelled at her not to do. And this may or may not include skating past the line.

Manipulation- The Puppeetering of Childhood

We may have stumbled upon some things that work pretty good for this kind of child. I don’t claim to guarantee these will always work and maybe these are unique to baby girl. But here’s some things that we found to be effective:

  1. A distinct choice Not a crappy choice…she smells a bad deal a mile away. A good choice. Baby girl falls apart if she doesn’t get to sit next to Momma at a restaurant. Like big, loud, long-lasting fall apart. So…a trip to the bathroom to discuss options is in order. I squat down to her eye level and I ask her to quiet her cry. Then I ask her to take a breath…fill her lungs (she obliges). I tell her “here are your two options:” and I make sure to put up two fingers so she “sees” her options. “#1, you sit across from Momma now and it’ll be your turn to sit by me the next restaurant we go to. I’ll write it down. #2, we go home right now and you spend the rest of the afternoon in your room while girl child and boy child skate.” She gets to choose her fate. Now she’ll try to negotiate and I again list her two options. She’ll try to wind up her fit and I tell her the choices are gone, it’s time to go home. At this point in her young life, she can’t call my bluff so she starts yelling “No, Momma!” and I start the process over again. I give her the two choices. Once she resigns herself to choosing option 1, I tell her how proud I am of her and I ask her for a hug, which she really wants. While I hug her I tell her I’m so happy she will be across from me because I can look at her beautiful eyes when we talk. She suddenly likes this idea.
  2. “I need you to…OK?” I used to think asking a child “OK?” after I gave an instruction was a sign of weakness. But now I see it, at least for baby girl, as a way to empower her to be a part of what she’s about to do. Obviously I still manipulate the situation to produce the desired result, but she gets to actually agree “all by herself”. “Baby girl, I need you to help me set the table, ok?” or “Baby girl, I need you to pick up your books, ok?”. She usually responds favorably to this kind of request. But in the instances where she may balk, I sprinkle the request with a compliment: “Baby girl, You are always so good at helping out, I need you to help me set the table, ok?” Compliments go far with her…really far. She wants to do good. She wants to be noticed for doing what she is supposed to do. If she’s doing something she knows is good and we are a little slow to notice her, she’ll say, “Momma aren’t you so very pwoud of me?” This is the part that impresses me. She really does want to do the right thing. We’ve just got to convince her of what it is sometimes.
  3. Logic At least with Baby girl, she gets logic. She really understands it. The key is to keep it simple and attainable. So don’t threaten her with tossing all her clothes in the trash if she doesn’t put them away. That’s obviously not going to happen and it’ll reduce the credibility of your future logic arguments. Logic to baby girl looks like this: “Baby girl, I need you to put all of your markers away because I’m worried that puppy dog will get a hold of them and start chewing on them. I don’t want a marker to get stuck in her belly because she will get very sick!” Baby girl is loyal to her dog. That dog isn’t going down on her watch, no sir. That appeal to logic (or really emotion) sets baby girl in motion quickly.

Obviously, there’s much to consider with a determined child…this is just a sampling of what works for ours. We often think of how much of a challenge baby girl is, where it comes from, and how to dismantle it without breaking her spirit. There’s no one way to tackle this and it’s a moving target. The key is to adapt and adjust. I’ll reiterate what I said earlier…I have failed at all of this. But I’ve also had success. And it’s those successes that you build on.

Children, Family, Uncategorized

It’s Picture Day- I Must Paint My Face

Picture DayIt’s picture day. The day you clean your kids up, brush their hair, and press their clothes. You make it seem on print like they are cherubs who don’t break things, scrape knees, get dirty, or otherwise have kid fun whenever possible. Everyone knows this is true. And yet everyone does the same thing.

If you think about it, how often are your kids as clean and orderly as they are in the portrait hanging in your main hallway of your house? At least for us…it’s kind of never? Maybe Sunday for a few hours during church time.

Picture day should be letting kids do the very thing they were designed to to…kid things. Clean, dirty or whatever. Then when they’ve really gotten into their fun for the day, plop them on a little stool sitting in the middle of the very “creativity” they have made (read: mess) and take a really good quality portrait.

Slap it up on the wall, baby! That’s a memory. That’s the true essence of childhood.

Picture dayAnd yet here I am, thinking about the time ticking down before my kids’ scheduled picture day. I’m both impressed and mortified that baby girl decided this morning, of all days, to “play with make-up”. She smeared stamping ink all over her face. Today, of all days. It’s like her DNA code tells her that paint must be applied to her face because the energy of the universe indicates that a picture will be taken today.

I scrub baby girl’s face to the point where I can’t tell if I’m scrubbing off pink ink or irritating her skin. I make the kids brush their teeth for obvious reasons. Like quality brushing…the kind you make your kids do before their dentist appointment. You hope to fool the hygienist into believing that your kids brushed their teeth every single day like they’re supposed to. I don’t want to see last night’s pizza oregano nestled in between the two front big teeth of girl child.

Now I’ll brush their hair so it doesn’t look like the sweaty, stringy heap it does every other warm, sunny afternoon. I wipe their faces as if they don’t shove food into their mouths with such accuracy that the gooey sides of food don’t smear all over their cheeks. I save the clean clothes for the very last moment. And then bark out orders to quickly change clothes and for the love of Pete, don’t get into any messes!

We tip-toe to the car, not touching anything on the way. Don’t pick anything up, don’t run anywhere, don’t do anything. Just get into the car.

I try to manage all attitudes and interactions such that no one feels offended or slighted or anything else that causes one or all to burst into tears due to some obviously important injustice. You know, like the sun shining too much. Or the seat belt being too gray. And dear heavens do not let anyone fall asleep on the way to the picture studio.

Yes, picture day represents a completely accurate vision of childhood. It’s not at all a fictional version of my kids at any point in their little lives. If nothing else, it shows everyone what my kids look like under all their fun.

 

 

Children, Family

Make It or Buy It? The Baby Food Dilemma

Baby girlI honestly didn’t realize this was a big issue but it is. Make it or buy it? It’s the baby food dilemma. And in this world where literally everyone has a qualifying opinion on how you should tend to your own baby, you’ve got some big decisions to make in the area of baby food. And please know that whatever decision you make, you will be wrong. I kid, of course. Know that whatever decision you make, it is the right one. (Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product using one of these links, the cost of the products will not increase for you but you will be supporting this blog and we thank you!)

It’s funny how people think they can answer a question you never asked when it comes to childcare. But, thanks to social media, we all have mega phones and lots to say about lots of things. So…baby food. Make it or buy it? Let me share with you what we did…because we did both. For different reasons.

For our first two children, we bought baby food. I honestly didn’t give a single thought to making it. Both my husband and I worked full-time, which meant the kids were in daycare all day. I know, we’re horrible parents. So, having jars of baby food was extremely convenient, both for packing their bags for daycare and for managing dinner when we all piled into the house, hungry after a long day.

No one died from eating jar baby food. And to my recollection, the kids loved eating it. There was no issue. We did dabble some in the “organic” baby foods once we stumbled upon it by accident. Those marketing geniuses preyed on the insecurities of new parents by slapping the word “organic” on the front of a beautifully natural-looking baby food jar and suddenly we have to spend more money on those jars just so we aren’t bad parents feeding our babies pesticide-ridden baby food. Well played, marketing department.

Now, for our third child, I made the baby food. Let me set the stage a bit here. Baby girl was born prematurely so we had a heightened awareness of her health and making sure she was protected from germs. Legitimately so, as she was at extreme risk of things like RSV and the unknown possible effects of prematurity like a weakened immune system, etc. Also in play, my husband became a stay-at-home dad since baby girl couldn’t go to daycare for at least two years- doctors orders.

So I pumped at work (I had built up a monstrous stash of breastmilk while baby girl was still in the NICU, eating only .5oz while I pumped out a good 6oz every two hours) and she was exclusively breastfed for six months. Then we introduced rice cereal slowly. She stayed on that for a bit because she was still developmentally two months behind. We generally went slower with her, but then she got good at eating the cereal so we decided to add a vegetable.

Baby foodIt was at this point I decided, uneventfully, to make her veggies instead of buy them. I don’t even recall being twisted up about it. I just said, “You know, I’ll just steam veggies, drain them and then store them in ice cube trays so we’ll have ready-to-thaw serving sizes”. It really didn’t take much time at all and it ended up being really convenient. We used these Baby Food Cube Trays to keep the food protected from any possible funky smells in the freezer as well as to help make it super easy to remove the food from the trays.

Once she was ready for combo foods, I just pureed whatever we were eating and put them into ice trays. So she was eating what we were eating. And bonus…she transitioned to table food way easier. She was familiar with the taste and texture we were already serving so it worked out great in that respect.

So, I say all of that to say this…don’t lose any sleep over whether to feed your baby from a jar or to feed your baby homemade baby food. Your baby will be fine either way (unless she has some rare issue that the doctor has specified going one way or the other. In that case, listen to the doc!). Don’t worry about what your friends or your family says.

Do what’s best for you. This is probably the hardest lesson for new parents to learn but you will not break your kids. You have what’s in you to do the best for your family. Trust yourself. Feed your kids. Change their diapers. Love them. Let them sleep. Enjoy them.

 

Tell us your thoughts on baby food. Is this an issue for you at all? What’s your preference…make it or buy it?

Children, Family, Homeschool

Totality…almost.

Totality almost baby girlLast week was the week of the total eclipse across the entire continental United States. And we were in the path of totality…almost. We were in the path of 97% totality. What’s a measly 3%, anyway?! Well…when you’re dealing with the sun, apparently 3% of the sun is still super bright. More on that later.

So…the day of the eclipse arrived and the kids were super excited. This was a homeschool day focused completely on what happens with an eclipse, how the moon covers the sun, how the shadow screams across the ground lightning fast although it seems to us on the ground like it’s taking forever!! We had bought our glasses awhile back (shout out to dear husband for thinking of buying them back before the price jacked up with supply and demand!) and those glasses came with an eclipse book. So we poured over the book while we waited our turn for the big show. On the east coast, that was about 2:30pm so we had time to watch the eclipse on TV as it made its way across the country.

Pinhole Eclipse ViewerI had found cute pinhole eclipse viewers you can make out of cereal boxes so we spent some time making those as well. As much as my OCD self wanted to take command of this project, I made myself stand back and let the kids cut out the holes, tape the tin foil and…poke the hole in the foil! I need a minute for this one because every fiber of my being wanted to manage the ‘poke the hole’ step!!

But, I let them do the whole project and the kids ran outside to look in their viewers. They were not pleased. I’m not sure what they thought they were going to see, but a little bright circle at the bottom of a box of Special K was not it! So, the boxes were kind of flung to the side. But at least it was time spent having fun making a craft. Memories, right? 🙂

I had put on my viewing glasses just to see what the sun looks like through them and low and behold, the moon was already kissing the edge of the sun!! “The moon!!!”, I screamed like a little kid,  “I can see the moon!! It’s starting!!”. And my own little ones came scampering outside with their glasses loosely attached to their heads. It was in this moment that I realized that baby girl’s glasses would never stay on her face. So, the resourceful side of me poked holes in the back edge of the glasses and I tied twine pieces to the holes.

Then I tied the glasses to baby girl’s face. Yep…tied them to her face. Worked perfectly!

So…in all of this excitement we had told our dear children, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can’t make it happen again so don’t miss it! We aren’t going to stop looking at the eclipse because you are having a fit. You are on your own until after the totality.” Because, for real…this IS a big deal!!

So, we had thought the wildcard would be baby girl. She’s got a knack for pitching a fit at the worst times. But she did great! No… the dark horse of the day was boy child and I’m debating to tell you why he was pouting right at the moment of maximum coverage of the moon…

He wanted to eat hummus. Right then. At that moment. Yeah. you read that right. He wanted to eat hummus. It was all we could do to get those glasses on his head and make him look at the sun!

“Look at the sun right now, son!!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…

The moment was upon us. All the kids were quietly watching. We took off our glasses to look at the darkness around us that wasn’t there…begin commentary now:

Totality almost eclipse maximumHey, it isn’t dark!..Hey, the moon isn’t completely covering the sun..I thought the street lights would come on!..It isn’t even cold!…Where’s the stars??

This picture is the moment of maximum moon cover. This is 97% totality:

So, feeling a bit disappointed ourselves, we start talking about how bright the sun is. How when only 3% of the sun is showing, it’s still bright enough to cast shadows, still bright enough that we can see to read, still bright enough to feel hot outside, still bright enough to burn your eyes …It’s bright!! Although for a few minutes, we were able to see a single planet in the sky.

So, it was totality…almost. But for us, it was an entire day of lifetime memory making. And though I didn’t see the Bailey’s beads, the wispy corona or the diamond ring effect I had an entire day of time with the kids that we will undoubtedly be talking and laughing about years in the future around our Thanksgiving table…

“Remember that summer where we had a total (almost) eclipse?! Who was complaining about the hummus??

 

 

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Spiritual Conversation Prompts with Your Kids

Heaven's GatesIt’s an interesting thing to have a conversation with kids about spirituality. Sometimes we put our over-thinking onto our kids when they don’t have that issue. Younger kids take things at face value. They aren’t puzzled by unexplainable things to the extent that older kids and grown ups are. I have conversations with my kids as they show interest in a topic and only take it as far as their curiosity does. That is, give them information until they are satisfied and then leave the topic until another questions arises. So, I’ve put together some of our spiritual conversation prompts that really get the kids’ thinking juices bubbling:

1. What do you think Heaven looks like?

This is a great conversation and we’ve had many creative ideas of what Heaven looks like. I usually pause to allow my kids to envision the best, prettiest, most perfect place they can imagine. We talk about how there’s no tears in Heaven, how it’ll always be happy and beautiful. That we’ll see God and that we’ll get to talk to Jesus. The possibilities are endless. Outside of keeping the ideas aligned with perfection, I just let them imagine and describe what they imagine. I can’t say for sure if they’re right or wrong and I tell them I don’t know. And that’s OK to not know. The kids don’t seem to mind at all.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2.

2. How are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Three and also One?

This is such an interesting question as an adult, let alone as a child. All through this conversation with the kids, at the end of the day, we don’t know for absolutely sure how this is possible. What I like to put out there for the kids to think about is that somethings of God are so outside of our ability to think through. And that’s ok. We’ll find out for sure when we get to Heaven. In the meantime, how I explain the trinity to my young kids is that the three operate as one- God. God the Father…always been, always is and always will be. God the Son- Jesus, who died for us and is our defender. He’s our filter. God looks at us through Jesus. And God the Holy Spirit- the Holy Spirit is the “mover”. He’s the action of God. So- distinctly three and yet one. And it’s ok if you can’t get your mind around it.

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1 Corinthians 8:6

3. How does God hear all of our prayers?

This is a good question that really causes us to realize how powerful God really is. When you start to dissect the impossibility of it (in the realm of humans), that’s when the awe sets in. God never sleeps, He hears every prayer. How is this possible?! How many people are there on Earth? And how many prayers are being prayed at any given time? The Bible tells us that God hears every prayer:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers of the people offered in this place. (II Chronicles 7:14-15)

Hearing a prayer is not the same as answering a prayer. And sometimes the answer is not the one that we want.  Now, this is a good segue into the next question.

4. Why does God sometimes not answer our prayer the way we want?

This is kind of tough question and it’s a great opportunity to teach the kids that God is not a genie waiting to grant them their every wish. God won’t give you a million dollars because you ask for it. The Bible says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.- James 4:3”.

So the motive to just have money is the wrong motive. Asking God to help you find resources to further His Kingdom would be a more appropriate prayer. And even then, the answer God gives is one that is perfect in His plan, though it might not be the answer we want or expect. And that’s OK!!

5. Why do bad things happen to good people?

This question is a really difficult one and it’s one that grown-ups have trouble understanding. When I talk to my kids about this, I want them to understand that God isn’t behind the bad things happening to good people, Satan is. We live in a fractured creation (I love this description!) and because of the sin of the world, perfection isn’t here. Thinking of how big God is and how small we actually are, I remind my children that in the end God wins. God wins! Time in God’s realm is so much bigger than our time here on Earth. A day to Him is a thousand years to us. So, His plan isn’t finished yet. The bad things that happen aren’t the end. God’s plan isn’t finished yet. Until the day that God rights things, we have to live with sin and choose every single day to look toward God and to choose Him! His plan for us is secure far beyond the things of Earth.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

6. How did God make everything in six days?

Easy!! He’s God! This is a fun topic that doesn’t require too much technicality because kids’ imaginations allow them to see the “impossibility” as almost magical. And that’s ok. God made man out of the dust of the Earth. So he can literally do anything. And yes, in six days. Six mornings and six evenings. As we talk about the fantastical aspects of this, we move easily into how detailed God was in every single thing he created. How each thing is necessary to the other thing. Everything on Earth is connected and God created it that way.

You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.- Nehemiah 9:6

7. What will it look like when Jesus comes back?

Sometimes I’ll ask my kids this question when we see a remarkably beautiful sunset. You know what I’m talking about. The sunset with the humongous fluffy white clouds and the sun majestically outlining the clouds with fiery yellow. Sun rays beaming across the sky. This must be what it’ll look like when Jesus comes back! It’s a good starter for talking about what the kids imagine Jesus return will look like. And it usually leads to other conversation about how no one knows when he’ll return, about how we should always be ready for Him, and about how beautiful he will look when he comes to get us. My kids always think of this return as joyous and exciting. It’ll be unmistakable…it’ll be loud and everyone will see it!

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him. Revelation 1:7

8. How come I can’t hear God?

God wants us to get to know Him and we can do that through the Bible. His spoken word is in the Bible and though we can’t hear Him audibly right now, we can hear Him through His word. The scripture- parables, instructions, lessons and testimonies- all have the voice of God. We can “hear” God, but we have to listen differently than with our ears. As we study God’s Word, we will get to know Him. Keep studying and keep learning.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . . Hebrews 1:1-2

Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Family, Uncategorized

8 prayers I pray for my children

8 prayers I pray for my childrenSo often I find myself wondering what kind of world we are leaving our children. It is in these moments that I find myself silently praying for my kids and most often it’s one of these 8 prayers I pray for my children. Mind you, these prayers aren’t lofty nor are they spoken aloud. These are the silent, constant prayers that mothers find themselves praying.

Whether it’s in specific thought, or during those times when sleep evades us…when tragedy strikes another family and we are counting our blessings while grieving with them. A mother’s prayer is constant. It’s a bath of protection and blessing and desires and hopes and faith…a jumbled mess we hand over to the Father. These are 8 prayers I pray for my children.

I pray for my children’s safety

Our world is so dangerous. Some may say it’s always been dangerous, but I see it creeping precariously close to the safety of the home. People are becoming more evil in how they would harm children or how they would harm random people, no matter the age. I pray for my children’s safety. I pray for God to protect them with warrior angels. Warriors. To fight the evil that exists around us at all times. So I pray for my children’s safety. As Girl Child has prayed for, “the strongest bubble that no one can break through!”.

I pray for my children to stay close to each other

This one sits in the back of my mind and I pray on it when it bubbles to the front. I pray my children remain close friends. Hopefully we will be around for a long time but when we are gone, my children will have each other. And I pray that they rely on each other and confide in each other. I pray that they look out for each other and keep up with each other. They can still irritate the mess out of each other because that is sibling right, but at the end of the day I pray that they always love each other. It’s simple but it’s important.

I pray for my children’s future spouses

Yep. And I know many other parents who do the same thing. I pray for my son’s wife and my daughters’ husbands. And I pray for their safety and I pray for God to guard their hearts and minds. That they are immersed in God’s Holy Word and I pray for their health. I pray that God helps them to make good decisions along the way as they are growing. It’s all important…from childhood to adulthood and these future spouses need to be bathed in prayer just as much as my own children are.

I pray for my children’s hearts

I pray that the seeds we plant in their hearts about their Heavenly Father are deep-rooted, healthy and strong. That they will judge everything they encounter with the knowledge they gain each day from studying the Bible and that the world is no match for God’s promises. I pray that they have joy in their hearts that cannot be taken away.

I pray for my children’s sweet dreams

Sweet dreams. Sleep is the place for rest and recuperation from a busy day. I pray for sweet dreams for my children so that their sleep is truly restful. So that their bodies can rejuvenate and be ready for the next day of learning and excitement. Sweet dreams ensure peace whereas nightmares causes anxiousness. So I pray they are able to rest and that their imaginations will deliver wonderful stories to them throughout the night.

I pray for what my children will become when they are grown

I can only imagine now what each child will become or where their interests will take them. So I pray for what they will become because all of that starts now while they are young. What they’re exposed to, what captures their interest, what comes naturally to them…it starts now. I pray that they find something they are truly good at and something that grabs their interest. And I pray they love what they become.

I pray for my children’s happiness

Happiness is a luxury and I pray my children have an abundance of happiness in their young lives. I pray they see the happiness in their world. That they see the joy in the little things all around them. I pray that their happiness is infectious and that they share it with as many people as possible. And I pray that their happiness only grows and that they enjoy being happy.

I pray for my children’s childhood

Their childhood is so very important. So many children no longer get to have a real childhood because they are forced to grow up so quickly. Perhaps it is how fast our world is with technology. I pray my children are able to hold fast to their childhood and that they enjoy their time for as long as possible. I also pray that we are able to protect their childhood and we are able to shield them from whatever seeks to steal our children’s childhood away from them.

So I pray for them all the time. Sometimes with words, sometimes my prayer is simply the thoughts in my mind and on my heart. But I pray for my children. Every day.