Saturday, February 26, 2011

Just fun stuff we are doing

We are always busy around my house, but lately I've been trying to be busier with a purpose. After subbing in the preschool for a few days I decided that I was not putting enough effort into my stay at home mom routine. So, I found a great great website (thanks to a good friend/teacher)

http://www.makinglearningfun.com/

It's so great for preschool age kids!! They have TONS of ideas for easy crafts, math ideas, reading ideas.... I really love this website. I've tried a lot of them out for ideas for preschool curriculum planning, and this so far has been my favorite.

So this week we made cow masks, read books about the farm... then made policeman finger puppets out of toilet paper tubes and then watched a movie about policemen (yes, andrew loves movies, i'm a terrible enforcer of no tv time)

Thanks to being at Grandma's house, we also made many many forts. Forts are my MIL's specialty, and the kids get a big kick out of it that Grandma lets them jump on, off, and around her tables.

K and I got to take a special girls shopping trip (to once upon a child...another of my favorite things.)  and she LOVED it. She just loves shopping, and getting one on one attention :)

We spent a fun four days in Minnesota, and are heading back to WI tomorrow and looking forward to a visit from my mom this week.  It's so much easier parenting when someone is around to help and distract the troops :-) 

My quotable moment this week from D:  "Mommy, being at grandma's is kind of crazy. She lets me run around and mess up her things. I think she likes me messing up her stuff."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Location, Location, Location

As you may or may not know about me, I have a longing to be living closer to family. This wasn't a problem in my younger days, but now that I have children, it's completely different. Anytime I meet a new mom friend who lives near her parents, or her husband's parents, I am instantly jealous, thinking of how much different my life would be if we lived near a set of grandparents!

Having my sister in law move here and marry my husband's best friend was definitely a blessing, and life has changed for the better! Someone to love my kids, WANT to be around them, support Gibbs & I in our parenting endeavor...it's amazing. But I want more (shocker eh?) 

For the first three years of our marriage, I begged my husband to find a job in Michigan, where my family and friends live. Not really a possibility with the economy over there. So now, I have switched tactics, and tried convincing him we should move to Minnesota, where HIS family lives. He has two brothers, a sister in law, and parents all living near the Cities (and numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins)

Location, Location, Location.... I think my life will change for the better if I can only change our location. Basketball games with Karen & Warren attending and cheering on the kids, someone to help babysit while we attend small group bible studies, aunts and uncles in the audience when our kids are performing in their preschool plays....  but a friend recently shared a metaphor with me that really has me thinking and reconsidering my attitude.

Jesus compares us to sheep. Sheep (apparently) have a need to be surrounded by their flock. If they find themselves alone, they often panic. If the flock travels one way, the sheep will follow. Now, if only there were a shepherd guiding them in the right direction.... ah yes. I do have one of those....  A pretty good One.

I have trouble handing over the little decisions in my life to Him.  But to follow the metaphor along.... if the sheep were ALL listening to the Shepherd, there would be no need to panic. God would always make sure they were surrounded. I know that if I can find a way to release these little decisions...like my physical location, school districts, preschool choices.... to Him, somehow I will end up on the right path.

I don't need to hold so tightly on to the steering wheel. If I am seeking first Him, I can trust that God will guide my husband in the right direction, and that He will make sure we are surrounded by a flock that loves us....    and I think it's ok to still pray that eventually our flock includes more of our family ;-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Judgement and Parenting

I've been writing this blog over and over in my head since Monday (the day of K's psychiatric appointment) but it's so... emotional, touchy, embarassing.... that I struggle with how to put it into words....especially without offending anyone. But, I think it's important enough to write about regardless of all of that.

I've made a lot of judgements about people in the course of my christian life (a relatively short period of time, but still, somehow the judgements have really piled up!)  Especially in regards to parenting. What other moms are doing right, what other moms are doing wrong. Big decisions, small decisions, for whatever reason, I would like to think that I know best. And when people do it differently....well, usually that means that their way is wrong. I hate to admit this, it makes me sound terrible... but I hope that most of us can admit that we've all done it.

A few examples so that this posting is more clear: Crying it out, Organic vs. non organic foods, co-sleeping, nursing on demand, medicating young children.  I have positions on all of these issues, although they have become more fuzzy and gray as time has went on. Ironically, I thought I knew all of the right answers before I had kids. (crying it out: of course, how else will they learn to sleep?   Co-sleeping, no way, how will they learn to be independent?   nursing on demand? no, children need consisitent schedules.  Medicating young children= failed parenting)  

Now, I find myself with three young children. One sleeps at the bottom of our bed. Another comes in around midnight and sleeps on a mattress we keep next to the closet. Oddly, my baby C actually DOES sleep in his own bed.  I did nurse C on demand, and have never successfully let him "Cry it out" (although last night I made it six minutes before giving in and going to cuddle him)   Judge me if you want. I am putting it out there. But why bother?  You aren't living here. You don't have my kids. These decisions aren't made out of lazy-ness or selfishness.... they are borne out of a desire to do what is right for my family.

We all do what we think we need to do in the moment. I'm doing the best I can do for my children. I'm making decisions based on what I can physically and emotionally handle and what I think my children need in the moment balanced against what they need in the long run. Maybe I'm not always making the best decisions. But maybe, sometimes, I am.

I am embarassed by the amount of judgement I have passed in my short tenure as a Christian Mom. After a great conversation with V this week, I realized that I am not doing anyone any good by being overly confident in my parenting choices. Do I REALLY know I am making the "right choice" in every decision I make? No way. I pray over the big stuff, sometimes over the little stuff, try to follow what I think the right thing is to do...and am guided by who I know my child is. I pray that it all turns out ok, and have to trust that God will be able to fill in the gaps that I am leaving.

I think we all need to try to be a little more graceful when it comes to each other. Open minded even. You don't always need to change your mind, positions, opinions, but Jesus teaches us not to judge others, lest we be judged. I know I wouldnt' want God using the measuring stick on me that I have too frequently used on others.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Terrifying

My best friend said yesterday that she isn't considering having three kids because I make it look terrifying (to be fair to her, it was about 10 minutes after I referred to her as a 'little crazy') But the comment made me think a lot about my attitude, my comments on raising kids, my attitude WITH the kids, etc.

This is what I've come up with after a really late night with not a lot of sleep

1. I'm an open book. I always have been. With God's help, I've changed a little since my days in high school when I was a bit more volatile. But I'm still an emotional person. When I'm up, I'm up, and when I'm down, I'm pretty down. I know some women are made a little more stable than this, but it's just not how I'm made.

2. I don't think it helps anyone if I pretend like life is always perfect. I think there's a lot of damage being done by women (unintentionally) putting on a good face and pretending that they have everything under control. I'm not perfect, my husband isn't perfect, my kids aren't perfect, but we all love each other and keep trying! I do think there's value in honesty. An example:  I have a friend that recently shared with me a struggle she was having with her boys. It REALLY Encouraged me because I had always thought she was this "perfect mom" who never raised her voice, or lost her temper! Knowing she had bad days, and how she got through them, helped me tremendously.

3. I do think I need to try to change my attitude at home. I think the kids need to know how much I value being able to raise them myself. How lucky we are to have someone who can provide well enough for us that it's possible for me to stay home. I need to change my attitude about Gibbs "always working" and try to teach the kids more about the value of hard work. 

4.  My final point (And most important) Raising three kids IS terrifying! Shouldn't it be? I think if it's not, then you aren't realizing what a HUGE responsibility raising children should be! You are shaping lives. It's no less terrifying than being a doctor, or running a huge corporation. Lives are in your hands, decisions have to be made instantly, small choices in the moment can turn into unforseen consequences in the future...  I take my job as a mom incredibly seriously. I love my kids. I fall down sometimes (ok, a lot of times) but God always takes the time to stand me back up on my feet.  I don't see a need to downplay the scary, hard, exhausting times. These just highlight God's grace and provision all the more in our lives.

I think my kids would all attest to the fact that we are doing ok. Today, D and K ran around our church gym while C hung in my hubby's arms clapping and cheering the two older kids on. They all had big smiles. On our way home D told us "you are the best mommy and the best daddy. I sure had fun today"   That's a good enough endorsement for me

Friday, February 11, 2011

Finishing Things

Ugh, my struggle has always been finishing things I start. I am great at the beginning, ok in the middle, but I really fall apart in the day to day follow through.

I don't have enough energy to list ALL of the ways that this is true, so I will try to keep it to the funny and most honest things that I'm struggling with. 

This blog! I can't believe I am struggling to write a blog. If you knew how many words I say to myself in my head every day, you would think writing them down would be so simple! I love writing, I love thinking, I love sharing things, but still I struggle with sitting down and just ...completing this thing that I started. I will continue doing it. If for NO other reason, then just to finish something. So my goal is this: At least stick to it until my birthday. At least once a week.

The other way I'm struggling is just child rearing day to day stuff.  This is not eloquent today. We have been sick for TWO long weeks. I'm lucky to have functioning brain cells at this point.  Some days, I just miss having adult professional problems. I miss adult conversation. I struggle with finding meaning in laundry, dishes, vacuuming, endless amounts of cooking for picky eaters!

I know God will give me the strength and patience to get through these preschool years.  He gives me gifts of small moments.  Today, as I put D down for a nap today he asked me if I would nap with him. I asked why he always wants me to sleep with him and he said "just because I love you so much"  and yesterday when Gibbs came home from work, K jumped to him and said "me missed you, me really really missed you."   I'm trying to find peace in just letting those moments be the motivation to get through the not so fun moments.

Other fun moments this week: Painting hearts for our bedroom door.  Playing in the snow and seeing C eat his first little snowflake (soo cute, but wait, yuck, germs! --my in the moment thoughts)  Building a castle out of chairs and blankets. Having an "australia" day. We woke up, I made "airline tickets" for the kids. The couch was our airplane and when we landed, surprise! We were in Australia. We read a book about animals that live in Australia. We played three games I had looked up that are native to Australian children. It was pretty fun (for about 40 minutes until the kids were bored)

I hope your family is able to find something fun to do in the cold :-)