Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Weekend lessons

We're back home from a very busy Easter weekend in Michigan! We had fun with my family, but it's always nice coming home. The kids are always so excited to get back to their own home, their own toys, their own space.

We spent quite a bit of time with my dad, and spent one day at my mom's house visiting with my aunt, two cousins, and my grandma (one of my favorite people!) 

I was also able to spend an entire afternoon/evening with my best of friends, V :-)  It was such a rare afternoon for us. She is a mom, so neither of us take "time off" too often from our kids.  So we spent the afternoon lying on the couch, watching Americas Next Top Model reruns, and drinking starbucks coffee. It was exactly how we would have spent an afternoon in college (actually, it is how we spent many afternoons in college....)

But inevitably the evening came to an end (at 9 pm.... hey, that's late for us!!) and I looked forward to going home to the kids. It's funny how things have changed.

There are a few people back home, whom I love dearly, who criticize choices I make, who think it's odd that I don't go out more frequently, who think I "deserve" more time out. But the truth is, I enjoy being home with my kids. My number one priority is their well being. My wants and needs are tied up with their happiness. I want my kids to feel secure, I want my kids to grow up feeling loved... I could have a long list of these wants/needs. 

Dying to self should be something Christians are familiar with, but it never seems more concrete than when you have kids. Dying to self is a daily experience for moms. It means choosing laundry instead of a bubble bath. Choosing packing lunches instead of Sex and the City. It's choosing "Cars" over "Step Up". Choosing an evening of wrestling over curling up with your favorite book.

I'm very blessed to have a husband who gives me a break when I feel like I need it, and a God who cares about the times when it gets to feel like a burden.

Happy Easter to everyone, and especially to my friends and family who know the awesome-ness of dying to yourself and coming back to life in Christ.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Changes Around the House

Last week was SO incredibly busy around here. We had so much family around visiting after baby Ryan was born, and the kids' routine pretty much went out the window!

So this week, armed with a fresh perspective on my priorities, I decided to make a few changes around our house.

First, I decided that I was wasting WAY too much time on my computer. It had become a kind of addiction for me to connect with the outside world. With three kids, it's easy to feel isolated at home, and the computer can provide a "break" from the loneliness. I'd find myself ignoring the kids to check my email, or even caught myself telling them I was "working" when I was actually looking up a good bargain on used kids' clothes.... pathetic!

So, from now, during business hours (when my kids are awake and I am the only parent home) my computer is staying off! I can check my email, and do whatever else I "need" to do when they go to sleep at 730.

I also decided that during the kids' nap time my number one priority had to be my bible study. It's the only time of the day when I am feeling quiet and studious enough to actually learn anything and not rush through the study just to get it done.

I'm finding that it's much easier to get work done around the house now that my computer is shut off. Miraculously, the laundry is actually getting done now, my husband has clean socks in his drawer...he's thrilled.  Today, I even washed all of my kids' toys with vinegar water....which I hadn't done in probably two years (gross I know)

Now, lest you think I am bragging about how I have it all together, my house is still rather... unkempt. But my kids are SO much happier! They are happy to help with chores, knowing that after they are done we get to have family play time.  They still have their whiny, right now, won't wait for two minutes to get my juice, moments. But as I become more productive, and have more time to focus on them, I am much happier also, and therefor more willing to overlook their yucky moments.

My play time with them is really focused on the kids now. I'm not waiting and anticipating for a moment where they seem distracted so I can run upstairs and send out that email I wanted to get sent, or skype with my mother in law  (though I still leave time for that in the morning before Gibbs leaves for work)

I'd challenge you to see what simple changes you could make to your routine to make the day a little happier for your family!

Just thought I'd leave you with a sweet picture of the older two "fishing" with dad :)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Raising the Perfect Child

Recently, I have come face to face with some rather difficult, irritating, aspects of my personality. I won't go into too many details, but I'm really trying to change them because I know that my emotions aren't logical. And they really aren't very Christ-Like. But it is NOT easy!

So, this has caused me to really think hard about how to raise my children in a way that would preclude so much self-centeredness, selfishness, impatience.... etc. There are so many theories, books, opinions written and talked about by anyone and everyone.

As an example of a conundrum that I faced trying to "teach" behavior that was not self centered, and not attention seeking: Do I focus all of my attention on the kids, so that they feel secure at home, and don't "need" to seek out attention... Or does that cause them to "learn" that they should be the center of attention all of the time?   Maybe you laugh. Maybe this seems like I'm "overthinking"  parenting,  and perhaps that's true. But if you have kids, I'm guessing that you've been there at some point too. 

It is REALLY hard raising kids! And I strongly believe that I should look at my "job" as just that... a career. It's not to be taken lightly, or shrugged off, leaving things to chance that your children will turn out to be Christian, responsible, compassionate....  And (I'm guessing) that in a career you put in time and energy looking at ways to grow better, more skilled, you'd make sure that your work was being done with excellence.

But that is where it gets even tougher! There's no grade, no report, no raises for your doing an "Excellent" job.  So, with a little help from my dad, and a good friend, I think I have come up with the answer to my own problem. 

Living it. It sounds simple.... Living it is the only way to really teach your children to be something or some way with the highest likelihood of success.  I found this quote and really loved it:  "Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners"

If I want my kids to be selfless, I have to become selfless. If I want them to be patient, I have to learn to be patient. And as a friend pointed out..faking it isn't going to work for long. If I "fake" patience for a few hours, maybe even a few days... certainly my temper will end up getting the best of me and the kids will see that I can't walk the walk.

 But trust me, I have been trying to change. And it's not working!  I've thought about giving up (really I have) and giving in to the philosophy  "This is just how God made me"  but then today, during bible study, the obvious hit me.

God can change me. I can't change myself. I cannot make myself change from a person who is self centered, to a person who is others centered (I will stop at this one example instead of writing a diatribe against myself)  And certainly, if God can create in me the qualities I want to see emulated by my children.... I think I will be doing the best that I can do in raising "good" children, and God will take care of the rest.

Romans 12:2  "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think"  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The New Little Guy

This week has flown by. We now have a new addition to our Formo Clan, Audrey and Matt welcomed their firstborn son, Ryan Frederich, on 4-12 at 12:11am.

I can't imagine what the next few weeks will be like. A shifting of focus for my little ones. As V pointed out this morning as I worried about my kids, no one ever was worse off for learning to share some attention :-)

I have a tendency to get caught up in big moments. Weddings, Funerals, Births... I feel as though it creates a tornado effect on my life, and everything else gets caught up in my high strung emotions. Gibbs asked me last night to take a step back and refocus my energy back on our own little family.

It's a tough thing to do, to focus on the little things when something huge, life altering, is happening somewhere else.  I'm trying to find a balance between serving others, doing what God calls me to do for other people, and serving my own children. I want them to grow up realizing that life doesn't orbit around them. That there's a bigger picture, more meaning, more people to worry about then just themselves. But yet, I want them to know that I am always here. They are my first priority in our home. To grow up in a secure family where they aren't worried about what else is taking up my energy.

I know that God wants me to keep busy in my own home before I "borrow" busy-ness from other people's lives. I think there are several verses that speak to that.. But, I think there should be some sort of balance where my kids can learn from me and my husband as well. That they would learn that to follow God isn't just a feeling, or a "belief", but it's a way of life that should change you, that should bear fruit of good works.

I'd love to hear suggestions on how other people find a balance on this! :-)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fun Week with the Boys

This week K is staying with my mom in Michigan. It's a bittersweet experience every time she does this (this is her third time in the past two years) I know she LOVES the alone time with my mom. She gets a lot of attention, a lot of fun experiences that I just don't have the time or energy to do with her every day, besides my mom just has more patience with her than I usually can muster up!

The bitter part is just that I end up missing her! And of course, the guilt! Guilt that I don't have time to spend with her one on one, guilt that I lose my temper with her, guilt that the boys take up so much of my time and energy, especially the littlest boy.

But, I've been trying to make the best of it this week and have a LOT of fun with the boys. It's much easier to get out of the house with only two kids. Soo, here are some of the fun things we were able to do this week!

I've been trying to use up our "garbage" to make fun crafts with D.  So this one is just going to be our recycled paper box, that we made from an old diaper box

These were two really fun wreaths we made. One is made out of egg cartons and a recycled cereal box, and this one is just scrap pieces of construction paper where we traced D's handprints and a lid to an old bucket of coffee that he had fun playing with glue & glitter on.

We also had time to play kinect after C went to bed. Dad & D had so much fun.

A very fun day at the zoo! Usually, I am not brave enough to go to the zoo by myself with the kids. I start fearing a run away child, or temper tantrums, emotional breakdowns....etc. But with just two boys, it was a breeze!

I also had a lot more free time on my hands. The boys typically sleep at the same time in the afternoon from about 1-3, so I used the time to cook and get my bible study done in a much more timely fashion. I made chocolate biscotti (seen above) It's delicious dunked in my coffee!  I also made a cheeseburger soup (VERY yummy!) with cheese, ground hamburger, onion, milk, carrots, potatoes, bacon.... mmm.  Then I also braved a new recipe given to me by a friend. Chicken Artichoke Spinach Calzones. I loved them, as did JS, but D & Gibbs made a pepperoni pizza instead. Ah well! Can't win them all :)

I've really had time this week to enjoy the little things with the kids. I don't feel quite so hurried, or so rushed to get to things. I've been trying to be more realistic in my expectations of myself, and really learning about God's Grace. I find that there's no one who is holding me to the same insane standards as I am doing to myself. God doesn't care if my house is in perfect order, or if all of the socks were folded today. As long as I am happily leaning on Him, learning from Him, loving others... Hopefully, when life returns to normal next week I can hold on to these new revelations :)

Monday, April 4, 2011


As a "grown up" I'm never quite sure how to make real, grown up friends. We have made good relationships at church, some through Gibbs' workplace, but other than that, it's a pretty tough thing to do! We are married, with three kids, so our schedule isn't built for the type of friendships I have grown accustomed to.

In high school, my group of girl friends were... well, we were almost cult-ish. We went to an all girls high school, and my girl friends were REAL friends. We spent a lot of time talking, regularly got mad at each other, expected a LOT from each other, forgave each other, and gave a lot to each other. It was just so nice and genuine, and there was rarely any pressure on us to be something we weren't.

In the real "adult" world, I just think we are all trying so hard to be perfect. I see this so much in the Christian circles (more so than I did in college) and it seems that the right things are always being said, the right attitude is always being conveyed, and to be honest, it's exhausting for me to pretend to be perfect (ok, fine, maybe some of you are closer to perfection than I am, and it's not so exhausting)  I'm not sure what this stems from, but my guess is just fear of rejection or judgement.

I catch myself sometimes leaving play dates wondering if I said one genuine thing the whole time I was there, or if I left bible study having revealed any of the real struggles that I dealt with that week. My fear being that if I was vulnerable, that someone might think less of me. Think I'm less of a wife, mother, Christian...

But I know that God has made me to have relationships. He says that if he could sum up all of the law and the prophets, it would be to love your neighbor as yourself. How can we love our neighbors if we don't know them?  How can they love me, if I don't allow myself to be really known?

A very great friend said to me this weekend that she just always puts herself out there as honestly as she can (and i know this to be true after knowing her for 11 years!)  and if someone doesn't like her for a reason out of her control, then she doesn't worry about it. Ugh! To be that secure in myself, knowing that I tried my hardest to be myself, and be kind, compassionate, and loving, and being o.k. if someone rejected me.... well, I haven't gotten there yet. But I would like to. I think it would result in a lot more "real" friendships and a lot less anxiety worrying about being someone I can't be.