Apollo

I let you go Saturday little buddy. It was such a hard decision. I prayed the Lord would just take you in the night. You were my best little companion.

I haven’t let myself cry since Saturday, but I guess it’s time to write about who you were to me.

I got you after my dad died, in the aftermath of the tumult. There there many times I held you and cried. You didn’t know why I was crying but you were just my little snuggler. You helped me welcome all my babies into our family and You loved playing tag with my first cat Willow. Then you welcomed Zappa into your life with ease. You hopped like a bunny as a puppy and I loved your tiny fluffy happy body. You read my moods and fit in perfectly. When I picked you up, you jumped up into my arms. You never took a treat from my hand. I always had to put them on the floor for you to sniff them alone.

I carried you with me everywhere so proud to have you with me.

You loved your toy duck and you were so funny with him Jolie got you another one just like it. You were the most well-behaved dog in your puppy training class. Even the mean dogs liked you.

You didn’t complain about anything except at the end. You must have had back pain and some arthritis. I’m sorry you had any pain at all Apollo. You were a silent sufferer.

You went on all our road trips with Stinky. You didn’t like that we got her at first, but she kept you good company, didn’t she?

You didn’t like dog parks. The dog fights scared you. When you were scared you sat right under me between my feet.

You used to love being groomed. You used to fall asleep as I brushed you.

I miss you a lot, and so do the kids.

Kade says how you were so fluffy. And Micah says he will miss your sweetness.

Love you so much.

Advertisements

A strength and a weakness

I’ve known for about 12 years that our greatest strength is our greatest weakness too.

My firstborn is strong. He has always been strong. His feelings are big, and he carries his intensity on his sleeve. The worst thing you can do for a personality like this is to ask him to hide or tame his big, big feelings. Instead of stuffing our feelings away, we have learned how to use them and articulate them. This word “articulate” is a big word for a little guy who is not even 7 years old. But we were all made differently, and this 6 year old can handle needs these big conversations.

Tonight we went to go get a fish. What an exciting fun thing to do as a family! Getting a pet is always fun! When we got home it was reading time and time for our evening routine. I had told my kids earlier they could have ice cream for dessert, but by the time they remembered, it was almost 10pm. No ice cream is served that late at night in our home.

The tantrum ensued. Stomping feet, crying, slamming fists, and a grunting attitude. My 58 pound son had feelings so big he lost control. We have all been there.

In the midst of the mess, I told him to go try again, to go get his discipline from dad, and gave him a warning about his attitude. We adults do our best not to lose our own tempers. It is uncommon for us to raise our voices in our home. A stern look, a stern voice… yes. But more often, just the issue of some kind of discipline followed by prayer and a discussion about what happened.

Tonight’s discussion was long. He said some things that concerned me. Here’s how I handled it.

I gave him examples of when I’ve felt the same way as him and when my response stank too. I helped him form words about how he felt. I named the behavior that we don’t accept and have him some alternative options he could try in the future: a respectful appeal… something he learned about all last year – he knows what this looks like.

I reminded him that we don’t make decisions about our behavior based on our feelings – we ask the Lord what we should do about things.

I reminded him about the great power the Lord has given him, and how he needs to understand that power.

I told him what it meant to have the heart of a parent, and how that means I feel all his feelings twice as big as he feels them. When a child feels joy, we feel twice as much. When a child feels pain, we feel twice as much.

I counseled him to ask the Lord about his position in the family and what that means about his behavior. He asked the Lord and the Lord told him that his position in the family is to be kind and gentle: this is a reflection of a phrase we often repeat in our home. I told him the special position of a firstborn as the lead child, and the place that holds in a mother’s heart.

We discussed how the attitude of one person impacts the experience of those around him. I used myself as an example.

I enlightened him on the strength of a mother’s love, and that a mother’s love surpasses that of friends and even a child’s desires. We talked about the danger of always giving a child what he wants, and how children have a limited view of what’s right for them. We discussed how many adults have not learned these basic lessons, and so they go on making poor decisions in their lives. We imagined how I would feel and how he would feel if he didn’t know how to make good decisions as an adult and how limited I would be to help him if he didn’t seek council. I allowed him to recall how many times I call my own mother for council and understanding even though I’m an adult. We even talked about how parents are not always around all the time, and how I can no longer ask my dad questions because God took him to heaven. I reasoned with my son, that this is why it’s important to learn as much as possible now.

We discussed the signs of addiction to food, and that food does not control us. And how he will need to make decisions his whole life about how things of this world will not control him, and if he starts to see signs of that control on his life, that it’s a sign to make a change.

I talked with him about the decision set I used to provide him with the right answer. He wanted a detailed understanding. We even discussed negotiation skills, and how good negotiators make reasonable requests. We also discussed how the tantrum changes my decision set and how the tantrum changes my available choices.

I talk often about my duty as a parent to my children. I want them to understand they don’t live under an arbitrary system where we impose rules and boundaries for our convenience and preference alone. Even last night we discussed how God sets the standard and I need to make adjustments based on His standards. Likewise how children need to come into line with their parents, because hopefully their parents are getting their boundaries from the Lord.

We noticed together the ways in which his character is already developing well now even though he’s only six. And how through repentance, he is a real man of valor and victory, and can stand righteous and blameless before the Lord. He tried naming people who didn’t make mistakes. I had to remind him the best people from the Bible were full of mistakes. God loves them because they sought forgiveness and truly desired to be more like God.

He told me he was mad and sad at me. I said, I understood. I told him if he’s still mad at me then he needs to ask the Lord to help him tonight. He asked me to worship God. Since it was 10:30pm by then, I told him I would pray for him instead.

I prayed a prayer that addressed and blessed him in a special way. For the anointing of a firstborn, for supernatural strength for self control. We mentioned things we were grateful for, and prayed for help for hard things we are going through. He learned we have to put our dog to sleep today. It will be a tough weekend for us. We asked the Lord for help.

Today, praise the Lord, we learned about the character traits of determination. Determination is enduring hard things for future achievements. The Lord gave us an object lesson tonight.

The Lord is perfect in His timing.

I feel sad to have to work through something hard like this, but I feel fortunate that now we can use words to help understand each other.

This parenting gig is hard. If we are already having these conversations now, I just wonder what they will be when he is 15 and 16 years old! Or even when he’s working his way through a broken heart. Oh my stars!

The smartest pairing ever

Food is an intrinsic reward, and it doesn’t have to be sweet. Another natural reward is being able to move onto “the next thing”.

I have worked hard this summer on our habits. I think I can confidently say now we’ve built a few, and I thought they might help you in your home.

  • Tidy up before X – children must do a tidy up before moving on to a meal, to the next activity, to outside the house. I have consistently required a tidy up.
  • Morning five – before breakfast, you must floss teeth, brush teeth, wash face, comb hair and make your bed. Even my 3 year old (almost 4) knows this routine now. I’m a little embarrassed to admit it has taken us this long to get to this form of order, especially on the hygiene things. I have insisted on it now.

Now I’ll share some behavioral habits we’ve formed.

  • Mop the floor – if my kids flick food on the floor I clap my hands and celebrate the fact that they have the privilege of mopping that night. Yipppeeee!
  • After a fight, we’re routinely apologizing, naming what we did and asking for forgiveness. But we’ve also added this: “God gave me to you as a brother. My job is to help and protect you, to respect and love you.” We chase that with a “brother hug”. We talk about what should have happened instead of whatever response was given, kind of like having a do-over.

That’s all! I hope that helps you!

These are some of the smartest behavioral triggers you can form in your home for your children!

I made my child pay me for his lunch

My first kid is a CEO-in-training. He’s head-strong, has a strong sense of justice, and wants to do what’s right. This is just how God made him.

He’s gotten pickier and pickier over time with his food, so I’ve tried a few things to help him eat. This is hard with a kid like him. Manipulation and coercion don’t work – not that I really want to do that, but he knows every tactic and calls it like it is. “You just want to make me eat these vegetables.” “Yes, you got me. I want you to be healthy.”

For a week, I planned to have awesome desserts available. If he didn’t eat dinner he didn’t get dessert. It wasn’t made to be a big deal, it’s just a consequence. This doesn’t change eating habits, you know. It just makes the adults take on more calories. Haha!

I tried telling him he was in charge of his body and I trust him to want to put the right balance of things into it. This half works since he takes some pride in doing the right things.

Today I offered my children lunch, and he looked at the burgers I was making and asked me if it tastes like Burger King. I said better. He said “I don’t want it with those things in it.” Those things he is referring to are parsley. I told him how highly coveted my burgers are on this Earth and how they are considered a gourmet delicacy. He said “okay maybe I’ll just try one.” Then I said, “well, I don’t know if I can really share this with you. Because you don’t appreciate my food enough. Maybe I’ll let you buy one.” His curiosity was piqued. He said “how much?” I said “I’ll give you a family discount. One dollar. But if you weren’t family, it would be $15.” He said “okay”. And then he went on and on about how delicious it was.

I guess I have to make this kid buy his dinners from now on. Maybe we should have a work-eat-economy around this house.

I mean, my burgers are bomb.

The last 5%

My husband and I just rallied energy for an hour between 12:30-1:30am to tidy up. Since I’ve had small children, I realize one hour of work when children are sleeping is the equivalent of 5 hours of work when they are awake.

I had an emotional day. I thought we might have to put one of our dogs to sleep. It turns out I could choose to spend twice as much money to do a blood panel. If I find out he’s got kidney failure or something, or his treatment plan is too costly, then we will most likely need to put him down in the coming year. Otherwise, perhaps we could just change his diet and some of our care. He will be 16 soon. He has advanced dental plaque, arthritis, some neurological decline, and slight cataracts. He’s more ornery than ever. He’s a crotchety old man, indeed. But he was still my first baby after I left my childhood home.

I’ve been doing a training this week. 1:45 hours of recorded video has taken me multiple hours to comb through, and I have two more to do. I’m glad I’m not just flossing over the information. The last five minutes of the training was good for me to hear.

I’m sharing these vignettes because I’ve come to realize that I believe the last 5% of our effort can make all the difference in our lives.

Perhaps I try to be a person with high standards. I’m distractible though, so while I start great projects with grit and passion, if I’m not done in a certain amount of time, I peter right on out. Like the baby blanket I’m crocheting for my home. I really enjoy doing it. But then I run out of yarn, and I forget about the project. Many drafts I have started… important ones… get left unfinished, and it’s a shame because I think the information could benefit others. My house gets so cluttered and things misplaced because we won’t walk the next five feet to put it away in its proper place. If I don’t model the ethic of “finishing” to my children they will have a hard time learning it.

I finally have formed the habit of making my bed everyday after over three and a half decades of life. I’d like to always leave my kitchen sink spotless and counters clear too. The problem is that when the dishwasher is clean but not emptied, my husband and I leave dirty dishes for later until the dishwasher is clean. It takes about 10-15 minutes to empty the dishwasher, all in, and if both of us work together it takes 7. It takes 15 minutes for me to clear and dirty sink, and 10 minutes to dry and put those new dishes away. However if the kids are awake, it takes 3 hours, because the baby is at my feet, or on the dishwasher door, or taking things out of my drawers.

I wish I could take naps during the day. Since I’ve had little ones my body and my brain just deny me actual sleep. If I could sleep during the day, staying up so late at night wouldn’t be so painful. Also, this is hard because I’m trying to wake up around 5:30 or 6am in order to get a head start on the day. That means shower and get ready for the day, listen to or read the Bible, pray, journal, or work in some way such as prep for homeschool, pack bags for going out, organize something, think through something, or cook or meal prep. I digress. I was just sharing some of my short-comings that result in not completing the last 5%.

In conclusion, I am going to try to develop the habit of finishing the last 5%. Will you tell me about how you accomplish this very critical last step in your tasks and goals?

2nd Ever Annual Family Day

We just got back from our second ever Annual Family Day. I got this idea from Sally Clarkson – you can read her version here. We have “cooperified” our version. If you choose to do Family Day, I would encourage you to personalize your version of it also.

We skip traditional church on Family Day and enjoy church outside in God’s country.

We started with a nice breakfast of french toast, where I teased my family for using syrup instead of peaches like my family did growing up. When I asked him what his family did, my husband sadly said “Who would I have sat around a table eating breakfast with? There was no one there.” He had cereal alone growing up. He said he didn’t regret any of his childhood, but how can you regret something you don’t know you’re missing. We have the fortunate opportunity to give our children the memory of togetherness. We read Joshua 4 and talked about why we are doing family day.

Then we packed for our big day in the woods. Last night on our date night, we stopped into the grocery store to get some treats: chips, cold cuts, & dessert… something we don’t always indulge.  We also went over our list of blessings from this past year (May to May).

On our way to the park, we recalled some of the memories from the family day the year before. What a year the Lord had given us!

When we arrived at the park, which took an hour to drive, we enjoyed a picnic. At the end of the picnic, I got out our notebook and video camera and we introduced Family Day 2018. The children put beads on a necklace for each blessing we could recall – I decided to use beads instead of stones because I was simply out of rocks – I know, this is amazing in a house with small children, two of them being boys. I worked from my list, and the children spontaneously mentioned things they were thankful for from this past year (and from any year before… I had to bring them back to trying just to think of this year). Our necklace became 62 beads long. That’s a lot of blessings and miracles for a family of 5 in just 12 months! Praise the Lord Almighty!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

When we were done we hiked into the forest. My kids decided hanging a necklace on a tree wasn’t good enough. They wanted to find stones like the tribes in Joshua 4 had done. So they both found piles of stones and built a monument at the base of a beautiful redwood tree. Our Family Day’s memorial stones were both beads in a tree as well as small stone monoliths.

We came home by 5:30pm, in enough time for my kids to enjoy a ‘bubble pool’ outside’ and the baby to get snuggles with me before supper.

Family Day is certainly something we look forward to doing, however it does require some work and preparation. Let me digress for a minute here. The Lord is rocking my husband a bit on the front of developing more family vision and decisiveness, and I’m glad about that. But I want to encourage you mamas out there who think that you are sometimes the ones pushing some spiritual agendas. This last year the Lord had been teaching me about submissiveness, and that was one of the testimonies in our last Family Day that we reread about today. Ian reported to me that he feels more pressure than ever to do the right thing, and it’s been since I became more quiet, submitting my wishes to the Lord. When my husband says something to me, I try not to second guess and question him. Asking the same question several different ways feels like a challenge instead of an inquiry, right ladies? My husband is understanding the urgency of our influence during these young years. This was largely the topic of conversation at our last date night. What a super night we had preceding Family Day. I think these lessons from God have been timely because Ian is taking on these responsibilities with more interest, and I get to do what the Lord told me to do: smile more and be a voice of encouragement. So I hope my words with Ian have been encouraging, always telling him what he is doing well.

Earlier in the week, I asked my husband to write down what he was grateful for and thought we should remember for Family Day this year. He did it, but I wondered how excited he was to stop life and think back so much. Then while we were at the park, we didn’t just explore freely like usual – we had a small agenda to fulfill in recounting our blessings. As our cameraman, my husband’s video is everywhere all at once, panning in and out on various children and scenery. Perhaps I did more of the talking than him, and I think he was more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. That’s okay, I’ll take it. This is what I mean about Family Day being work.

Tonight we will enjoy the leftovers from our shabbat meal from Friday: ribs and sauce, honey carrots, kale and spinach casserole, chicken soup, Challah bread, and salad. It’s really quite amazing.

I had to amend this, because the Lord gave my husband some words for my children. I asked him to see if he could come up with a scripture for each of them this year.

For our whole family, he gave 1 Samuel 2:2. “No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.”

For my oldest, Micah, he gave 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 which corresponds to the fire in his spirit: “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”

For our middle one, Kade, he gave Hebrews 10:22 which corresponds to the water in his spirit: “let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”

For our baby, Hope, he gave Psalm 96 which corresponds to the ground, the Earth in her spirit: “Sing a new song to the LORD! Let the whole earth sing to the LORD! Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! He is to be feared above all gods. The gods of other nations are mere idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Honor and majesty surround him; strength and beauty fill his sanctuary. O nations of the world, recognize the LORD; recognize that the LORD is glorious and strong. Give to the LORD the glory he deserves! Bring your offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in all his holy splendor. Let all the earth tremble before him. Tell all the nations, “The LORD reigns!” The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. He will judge all peoples fairly. Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice! Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise! Let the fields and their crops burst out with joy! Let the trees of the forest rustle with praise before the LORD, for he is coming! He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with his truth.”

This means my family will commit to learning these verses this year.

The Lord also gave my husband a word for our children. He said “Siphon. The water will be there, and the children will be like a siphon to draw it out. And the Lord gave me another picture. Imagine a cup with the liquid cupped over on the top held together by surface tension. It spills when you just tap the cup. So there job is to tap the cup.”

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!! The Lord is good!! Praise Him forever!

Not cutting it

Today I am just not cutting it. I am defeated. I called my husband to ask him for help. He came home without complaint, and did some house work for me, sent me for lunch and then to sit outside with the kids for a while.

He didn’t place blame.

I’ve been down this week. I’m anemic. And I have some inflammation going on inside.

So I’m reaching out to My Creator for help. Yahweh reach down and pick me up. Place Your crown on me and remind me of my name. I acknowledge You in all my ways. I walk beside You. Place me near quiet waters. May I be still before You. How I need You. Amen.