I tend to expect a lot from my children. My husband and I look back at video footage of Vivienne’s childhood and we laugh in disbelief at our expectations. “She was only 2!” we exclaim to each other, “What were we thinking?!” It hasn’t always been negative, but just a little… surprising. We genuinely want to strike that balance of preserving childhood while building adulthood. Here’s a funny little thing: Sometimes, when I’m unsure about a decision, I think about what it would sound like in the form of a newspaper headline.

For example, let’s say it seems perfectly reasonable to me to allow the girls to play outside by themselves because I trust them and feel like they are big and brave. Besides, I have some indoor projects that I need to do and it’d be a lot easier to let the girls play by themselves. But then I envision, “MOTHER LETS 6- and 3-YEAR OLD PLAY OUTSIDE BY THEMSELVES“. I remember that they are still so young and I tote a project to the picnic table or don my garden boots and keep an eye on my babies.

Or, let’s say I think it’s perfectly reasonable to teach my 2-year old to read despite her tears.  “MOTHER REQUIRES 2-YEAR OLD TO READ AND DO MULTIPLE WORKSHEETS EACH DAY” just sounds oppressive. Poor little baby. I tell that mother to cool it.

Even when I think the girls are perfectly able to watch the baby for several minutes while I cook dinner, I need to hedge them in carefully so that their pure childishness isn’t mistaken for carelessness. Think about it: “MOTHER BAKES BROWNIES WHILE 3-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER BABYSITS FAST, STRONG, and HUNGRY BABY BROTHER” is down-right negligent.

It works just as well when I err on the side of babying the children: “MOTHER DOES ALL OF THE WORK ALL OF THE TIME DESPITE HAVING COMPETENT 6-YEAR OLD DAUGHTER TO HELP” is equally eye-opening.

So, that’s how I think sometimes! A peak into my crazy brain. Here’s hoping it is helping me to make better, more reasonable decisions. :)

 

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Two Free eBooks to Check Out

This past month, I’ve had the honor of writing articles for two different eBooks – both, as it turns out, purpose to bring you hope.

Hope Renewed: Real Stories of God’s Promises Fulfilled is a beautiful compilation of stories from the Sisters in Bloom writers. Click here for your free copy and let God’s promises fill you with hope.

Hope After Porn: 4 women share their stories of heartbreak . . . and how their marriages were saved is available through Covenant Eyes and offers hope for the marriage that has been affected by pornography. Click here for your free copy and, by all means, send it along to a friend who needs a dose of hope for her marriage.

 

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A Valentine for Dads and Moms

 

A tradition you might want to snatch up:

One of my favorite memories with my Dad occurred every February. We’d come home from school with our white paper bags full of Valentine’s cards and we’d snuggle up to Dad on the couch as he would read our Valentine cards aloud.  Dad would take each one out of the bag, unfold it, read it aloud, fold it back up, and return it to the bag. This was like a liturgy to me; it connected me to the other students in my class as I listened to their kind words over and over again (even if they did just sign their names at the bottom of a Strawberry Shortcake card), and it connected me to my Dad as he learned the names of my classmates (and could probably recite them to this day), and took an interest in my childhood community. In my memory, we read through them every night, many nights in a row. I’d keep my little white bag close by and jump at the chance to savor Valentine’s love over and over again.

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After much cavorting around the house, Rapunzel and Sir John (aka Flynn Rider) were finally wed in the living room on a wintery day in 2012. Perhaps you will be bored by my many photos, but I was so delighted by their union (and by the adorable wedding planners) that I just have to fill up my blog with snapshots today.

The Guests Take their Seats…

…and talk amongst themselves.

The Bride and her Attendants Prepare in the Dressing Quarters

(At first, Lia was withholding the bouquet. We asked why? She thought “the bride receives the bouquet after the wedding… if she does a good job.” Viv and I explained that, unlike a ballet performance, Rapunzel should carry the bouquet down the aisle with her. The flowers would simply be a beautiful adornment… not a reward, ahem. She was shocked by her misconception and quickly decided she’d rather “do it the way it’s usually done.” Rapunzel received her bouquet gratefully.)

Cue the wedding music!

(Selections from the Suzuki 4 Cassette Tape: some peppy, some slow.)

The wedding party enters.

Sir John (aka Flynn Rider) eagerly awaits his bride…

Everyone oos and ahs at the “Flower Girl Mouse”. And then…

Father Bunny gives away his daughter… his dear Rapunzel, who did not inherit his long ears or long feet, but did turn out with long hair. Sir John is delighted.

You may kiss the bride…

…and carry her down the aisle. (An unconventional pair!)

The bride and groom at the Reception.

Just Married!

Posted in Early Elementary Education, Homeschooling, Laugh About, Motherhood, Preschool | 9 Comments

From the day we brought Malachi home, folks have been asking if I notice any difference between “girls and boys”. Until recently, I only noticed the differences in personality. But since Kai has been up and moving (everywhere), I can confidently say, “Yes! I notice a gender difference!” In fact, I’m so confident that it’s a gender difference – and not just a personality difference – that I’m writing about it over at the “Mother of Boys Society” (MOB). Come on over and check it out!

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Pray and Plan

Recently, Ryan and I took a weekend to pray and plan for the upcoming year. Some friends of ours sent us a template of topics to work through – everything from finances to intellectual growth. Our friends have enjoyed their annual Pray-and-Plan Retreats and inspired us to begin our own. It was encouraging to our marriage and I think it will prove to be fruitful. The girls enjoyed an overnight stay at Grandmom and Grandpop’s while we talked about our family’s 2012 mission, our gardening plans, our homeschooling dreams, and lots of other things.

Here’s a free pdf of an example outline. Maybe you and yours would like to try it out? Just click right here to get started!

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Our Sunday School class just finished an incredible book called The Praying Life by Paul Miller. Ryan and I are still reading it aloud together, so we’ll be savoring it for a while. One of the most powerful take-away points for me was Miller’s encouragement to pray about the things that seem as unchangeable as the color of the sky. He says he nagged his daughter about something for years before it dawned on him to pray about it. Once he finally thought to pray about it, things finally changed.

I’ve taken his encouragement to heart and am blown away by the way in which God grants my requests! If I notice a sadness in one of our children on Tuesday, I pray about it Tuesday afternoon. By Wednesday, she is back to her happy self again; that glimpse of darkness gone for days-on-end, and never-to-be-seen again.  If I feel concerned about my husband’s workload on Thursday, I talk to God about it on Thursday. The workload doesn’t go away on Friday, but I get some ideas for ways in which I can help him. Maybe a meeting is rescheduled and a project goes well for him, or he shoulders the responsibilities better than ever before. These are just a few examples of the many prayers I’ve prayed over the past few months: when I think I see a sign of sickness, when I am afraid, when I want something, or when I fail, I’ve learned to pray. The way in which God cares about these things and truly intercedes on my behalf has made me so deeply happy. Sometimes I’ve been just bouncing around the house, so full of gratitude to our caring Father.

What has really captured my attention is the fact that God grants most of my requests! You probably already know this, but I’ve been learning that when we come before Him with lots and lots of prayers – all of the “sky is blue” things that we otherwise simply accept – we get to see that He loves giving us the desires of our hearts. When we only come to Him with 2 or 3 big requests a year, He might have to say “no” to one of the them, “have patience” on the other, and we might miss the opportunity to witness His daily generosity and care.

Pray! Pray about the “sky is blue” things. Pray about everything.

 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:19

art4linux.org

Posted in All Posts, Healthy Living, Motherhood | 6 Comments

“My New Uncle”

In a matter of moments, Kai apparently had a variety of thoughts about his new uncle.

 

 

I think he likes him!

Posted in Laugh About, Motherhood | 3 Comments

Not a Machine

I was buzzing about my day, accomplishing everything on my extensive to-do list, when one thought changed my life. It happened the day I pulled the car into the garage after grocery shopping – keeping within our budget, mind you – and using a handful of coupons. I had selected the finest fruits and vegetables, bought all-natural snacks, and befriended the glum cashier. I parked the car, pulled the baby out of the car seat, grabbed five bags of groceries, kindly helped my little girls inside while keeping the kitten outside, and crafted a brilliant paragraph for my upcoming eBook. Wow! I was doing everything at once. I was so tickled by my Type A-ness that I smiled and encouraged myself with the cheer: “I’m a machine!”

Something about that happy-yet-crazy statement stopped me in my tracks. For one moment, time froze. The grocery bags balanced precariously in my arms, the baby waited for the next bounce, the disappointed kitten condescended to the nudge of my foot, and I felt an epiphany fall into my heart:  I’m not a machine… I’m a human being.

That one thought was so heavy, I almost dropped the groceries.

(In fact, I’ve been staggering under its weight ever since.)

Time unfroze. The kitten scampered down the steps, I closed the door, and slowly unpacked the groceries as I mulled the news: I’m not a machine. I am not a machine! I set the girls up with an art project and nestled the baby in bed (you can’t expect a Type A to stop completely, ya know), and then I poured myself a cup of tea and read an article in WORLD magazine. And that’s all I did. I didn’t cook dinner, listen to the phone messages, and crochet a scarf at the same time. I just sat there and read. And drank. But that’s all. It felt very… human.

The days after that just got wilder and wilder. I read a fabulous book called Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl (I have a weak-spot for books about etiquette and fancy-things.) While it’s definitely not the next John Piper epistle, it was like a glass of lemonade on a summer day. It reminded this American go-getter about the Latin ethic of life over work… the importance of truly savoring and meaning the food I eat, the politics I preach, the clothing I wear, the children I raise, and (okay) the make-up I wear. I was in such a dry place, that I read it as a devotional book and actually felt the Holy Spirit sighing peacefully inside of me as I remembered what it means to be human. (Warning: If you read it as a devotional, you might be sorely disappointed. It is not biblical per se. But it sure helps a girl to breathe again.)

So, am I a machine? Non!

A “chicken”? Maybe.

A human? Decidedly so.

(I must admit that I related this story to my non-A-type friend and she sighed wistfully and said, “But you’re such a good machine! You’re like the best machine I know.” So, in case you can’t relate to this post, just know that you do have good company out there.)

Posted in Farm Life, Healthy Living, Laugh About, Marriage, Motherhood | 10 Comments

So, the other day, I was telling Ryan about The Chicken Principle and he added this brilliance:

When we are struggling with lust (for self-pity, food, s*x, attention, stuff, etc.), often our way out of the temptation is found in The Chicken Principle. It’s in making ourselves useful and producing something that we turn away from temptation. When we have time on our hands and we find ourselves thinking fondly of the very thing we don’t want to do, maybe we could instead embrace the work we were meant to do. There’s victory waiting for you in The Chicken Principle.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Posted in Marriage, Motherhood | 2 Comments