Stroke of Genius!

May 12, 2011

Sometimes it just hits.  And you wonder where such a great idea came from.  You walk a little lighter, feel like giving yourself a pat or 7 on the back, and you call someone to brag.  This happened to me recently, and it was pure genius!  I’ve recently turned the corner, pregnancy-wise, and not just because of “cutting my activity” but mostly because of growing a human being.  I’ll expand more on this when I’m humble enough to post a picture, but let’s just say, I’m almost “over it”.  I’m tired and achy and ready to hold baby Jack.

So I was driving home from work the other day, exhausted and almost dreading my afternoon with my little people.  What was I going to do with them?  How could I keep them busy without using the tv? And how do I make sure it requires very little of me?  Then STRIKE— a pool!  Like the kind from Target for your backyard.  Max LOVES taking baths and Gabe LOVES playing in the water with him– the soak their bathroom each night…. so this would be a huge bath, and they could splash as much as they want, and I could sit.  GENIUS!

Well, it worked!  And it was adorable!  And I got to sit in a chair with my computer in my lap, working, and watching, and laughing 🙂  They played and splashed until I made them come in– and as soon as we were dried off, they were already talking about playing in the pool again.  GENIUS!

I provided the pitchers, cups, toys, balls, bowls, and sunscreen- they provided their own fun and entertainment.  And by the time we went inside, my feet hurt less, my attitude was 100 times better, and I was confident that these two were the cutest things around 🙂

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Bedtime Prayers

May 4, 2011

Chad is working late tonight, so I had the duty of tucking both boys in tonight.  Usually, we divide and conquer– Chad puts Gabe to bed and I put Max to bed, so it’s not very often that I hear Gabe’s bedtime prayers.  But tonight was one of those nights.

I laid Max down first and then headed to Gabe, so that I could actually pay attention to what he was saying… Max thinks when you close your eyes to pray that it means that he should poke them or pull at your face to make you laugh… and let’s just say, it’s hard to focus!

Anyway, once the blinds were closed, his clothes laid out, his night light on, his cover situated just right, and his glasses on his bedside table, Gabe was finally ready to pray.  He bowed his head and prayed about the BMX bike tricksters that visits the 2nd grade today.

He said, “Dear God, thank you for those bike tricksters and that they tried their hardest- thank you that they dreamed in the hearts to ‘intalent’ us kids (no, I don’t know what intalent means…your guess is as good as mine…).  Thank you that we can do whatever we put our minds to, and whatever we dream, as long as we try our best.  Amen.”

UGH!  I was exhausted, I had the finish line in sight, I was almost done for the night- I didn’t want to have the conversation that needed to follow that prayer.  But 5 minutes prior I had just prayed over Max, “God, thank you for blessing me with this baby, help me to be a mommy who makes wise choices, who doesn’t take the easy way out, and is committed to leading him to You”.  That prayer went for Gabe too– but I’m tiiiirrrreeeeedddddd <– that’s how I demonstrate whining while typing.

And Gabe says the “I tried my best” or “I’m going to try my best” or “As long as I try my best” line ALL the time and it makes me want to gag.  I wasn’t sure if I had enough patience in the moment to have a conversation that built him up- made him a better man- instead of just getting on a soap box.  I want Gabe to know the fullness of God, I want him to take responsibility for his actions- his wins and loses, his good grades and bad grades, his wise choices and unwise choices, and I feel like the “trying his best” is just a cop out from all that.  Was I really going to go there, now?  Couldn’t it wait until another time?

But no- I had just told God to use me to lead these boys, I had asked Him not to let me take the easy way out- and I meant it.

So no easy way out for me.  Instead, I turned Gabe’s light back on and said,  “Gabe, none of what you prayed is what we believe.” He gulped. I went on to explain that God gave us every thought, every muscle, every ability, and every talent, and He is the only one who gets the credit– not us.  I tried to gently tell him that believing in your own abilities, dreaming in your heart, and trying your best means nothing– it is God and only God who makes anything AND everything possible– He even gives us our ideas and dreams.  Gabe merely batted his long eye lashes at me.  So I went one step further and explained that is our job to practice hard, and study, and do what we can to learn and perfect our talents- but that it’s only possible with God.  And I ended by saying that God is the only thing that matter– it’s our job to give Him all the credit.

Honestly, Gabe still didn’t respond much.  He just nodded and pulled his cover up to his chin.  So I turned his light back off, and kissed his head and turned to walk out of the room– and it hit:  “Um self, don’t you think you need to take your own words to heart?”  How often do I “trust” my own abilities or get caught up in thinking I’m in control?  Even yesterday, I blogged about how I was going to cut my activity to keep this baby in… and never once mentioned the Lord, the giver of every breath… the sustainer of pregnancy… um, why yes, I did leave Him out and decided to “try my very best” instead.

And that is why being a parent is awesome– you get humbled often– knocked to your knees regularly, and shown by your kiddos just how much you need God.  So hopefully Gabe “got” some of what I was trying to tell him tonight, but regardless, my sweet Jesus used Gabe to speak to my heart– words I needed to hear!


Boys Will Be Boys…

April 22, 2011

On Monday, mere moments before Gabe was heading out to soccer practice, he and Max decided to play in the mud puddles in our backyard.  Unfortunately, I was on the phone with insurance handling the pre-payment for Jack’s birth and could only watch as it all unfolded.  Once I finally hung up, I instructed Gabe to get Max and carry him over to the door.  From there, Gabe has step by step instructions on how to remove his shoes and head to the nearest bathroom.  And I did the same for Max and placed him straight in the bathtub.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of Gabe, because time didn’t allow it before practice, but let me assure you that it took 2 rags worth of scrubbing on just his legs, 4 different rounds of soap on his arms and hands and a new pair of soccer socks before he headed to soccer.  AND he did go to practice with plenty of mud all over the remainder of his clothes that didn’t have time to be changed.

Max just stood in the bathtub the whole time saying “Mommy, water on, Mommy water on!”– and repeating it louder and louder until I followed his instructions.  But again, Gabe was the priority, so by the time I was able to strip Max down and turn his bath water on, the people in the next county were surely hearing his demands.

And when all was said and done and the child was finally clean, Max looked at me VERY PROUDLY and said “I make mess!”

Why yes child, that you did!

But here is the best part:

About an hour later, when Chad got home, I told Max to tell Daddy what he did.  Max said, “I make mess” with a grin and walked off.  So then I explained the mud fiasco to Chad and he looked at me and said, “That’s bad right?” And I nodded.  Then he asked if Gabe got in trouble and I said, “Yes, Gabe got ‘the look’ “.  So then he asked if Max got in a trouble and I said, “Yes, he got the look and was carried like a sack of potatoes to the bath.”  And Chad nodded and walked away.

And it dawned on me, Chad saw NO problem with the boys playing in the mud- and without ruffling my feathers, was making sure I didn’t scare them out of doing it again… and I’m pretty sure that Chad hopes he’s here for the next round of mud pies so he can join in!

So, boys will be boys, and I’m out-numbered, so it’s pretty obvious who’s going to win the playing in the mud battle…. and the more I think about it, the more obvious it is that that is NOT a battle worth fighting.  Bring on the mud boys…. just keep the worms outside!


All Riled Up!

March 23, 2011

There are days when your children just get you all riled up.  Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is bad.

Yesterday, Gabe had a special field trip to the Atlanta airport to view his art that was chosen for an exhibit.  Art and creativity are Gabe’s things– he’s just stinkin good at it.  My mom gave him an art kit a couple Christmas’s ago that still gets brought out almost daily for whatever he’s working on.  Whether it’s drawing, creating, coloring, or all of the above, he’s good at it! So for his art to be picked like this was HUGE.  He is one proud little man.

Chad took the day and went with him as a chaperone.  For a man who does his own thing all day, this was big– and hour + bus ride each way, during which he had to turn off his cell phone, 3 people to a seat- tons of kids goings crazy all around, the chaos of the airport, and not so organized trip, lunch in the concourse, etc… This isn’t really Chad’s style, but he wanted to spend the day with Gabe, so it was worth it.

Before I go on, I want to be honest and point out that Gabe is in the midst of some struggles right now, in general– trying to figure out who he is, what we expect of him, what he’s responsible for, etc… He has multiple houses, multiple parents, and a schedule- and he’s smart enough to play all this out for his own good!  He wants to do as little as possible, so we’re constantly talking about initiative– he wants to be babied, so we’re constantly talking about responsibility– he wants to manipulate the adults who loves him and care for him, as well as his friends and peers at school, in order to get his way, so we’re constantly talking about being self-less and putting others first– he wants to throw fits and lose control, so we’re constantly talking about self-control and how to handle anger.  This all sounds good and well and clean-cut as a type it, and I wish I could tell you that we always handle this well and use scripture and have wonderful conversations, but sometimes that just isn’t that case– we/I lose our cool, and there goes the teachable moment!

Anyway, one big thing is Gabe’s social skills– they’re kind of awkward.  And to some degree he’s just a goofy little boy (like beyond just the typical 8 year old goofiness).  This is who God has made him to be- there is no arguing that.  His Mom and his Dad are both very good in social situations, make friends easily, can carry on conversations and make others comfortable, etc… but with Gabe, not so much.  Everyone is his friend to him- but not everyone wants to be his friend- which hurts his little heart. Which leads to tears.  Which leads to more people not wanting to be his friend.  The stuff he likes to do and talk about isn’t necessarily “cool” or mainstream– which is a blessing and a curse all at the same time.  We don’t want Gabe to conform to everyone around him, but we do want him to be a well-liked, sought after human being, with upstanding character and integrity that always points back to the Jesus who lives in his heart.  (I want this for myself too!  AND I don’t always do that well– so it’s not that Gabe has to be perfect- he’s just struggling with it a bit more then the rest of us).  HARD!

So in the midst of all this, there are many many conversations and prayers about how to parent through this.  We’re asking questions of older and wiser people.  I’m asking for accountability, and honestly, just begging God to give me a pure and clean heart and intentions in my moments, conversations, and love for Gabe.  But it’s not always easy or feel-good moments. Sometimes it’s really hard and frustrating, and I’m just left exasperated, shrugging my shoulders, scratching my head, and saying “huh”??

Which all leads me back to yesterday….

Chad got home from the field trip- dropped Gabe at home with me and Max, and headed out to work for a bit.  From 2pm-3pm, Gabe was such a pill- not sharing, deliberately making Max squeal, disobedient- that I sent him to his room earlier than normal for his afternoon reading time.  I laid Max down for a nap (that he didn’t take) and proceeded and handle an issue with our insurance that they completely handled and were sorry that they messed up, yadda yadda, but it still took over 30 minutes.  I then got several things done for work, and then decided to get both boys and take them to the park.  A little fresh air would be good for all of us.

Gabe ran around for the full hour, playing HARD, dripping sweat, and enjoying the other kids there– win!  By the time we got home, I was certain that everyone’s hearts were in a good place and I was ready for dinner and Chad to get home, and some family time.  Wellllllll……. Chad was home for about 5 seconds when Gabe knocked his dinner all over the floor because he wasn’t obeying.  About 2 minutes after that he started crying because his “stomach hurt”– his line (lie) that he uses every time he doesn’t want to eat something– but offer something else and magically the stomach ache is gone.  As the meal planner, grocery buyer, and food preparer, this drives me so nuts that I honestly can’t see straight when he begins to pull this stunt.  And after the afternoon we’d had, I just sent him to his room (NOT nicely) and told him to dry it up.

(At this point, I am all riled up- and it’s not the good kind.)

Once he was upstairs I asked Chad about the fieldtrip– what kind of day had Gabe had there?  Chad informed me that it had been a long day and pretty frustrating.  Boo!

(At this point, I’m scratching my head…)

The rest of us finished eating, and we got the kitchen cleaned and then Gabe started yelling for his Dad.  When Chad went up there, Gabe was “starving” and could he please come eat?  Well the boy was most certainly hungry– I can’t imagine the calories he burned on the playground- so he was given explicit instructions to clean his plate in a step by step process, starting with the thing “giving him a stomach ache”.  He gobbled every bite up in about .05 seconds and came into the living room happy as a clam.

For the next 30 minutes, Chad and I sat on the couch and talked, the boys played.  Gabe again starts bossing Max and making him squeal.  He also interrupts me and Chad 9437685 times while we’re trying to talk. At this point, I’m irritated- feeling like it was a waste of a day and energy, for both me and Chad.  I was feeling sorry for us, that we had “gone out of our way” for Gabe to have a good/ big day and it was a bust.  I’m saying “huh” as assess the situation.  I’m feeling like we lost ground today- instead of gaining it as we had hoped.

At bedtime, I did Max’s bedtime routine and Chad did Gabe’s… and Chad came out with little tear in his eye…

Gabe told him that it was a great day and that he was so glad the Chad came with him.  He then bowed his head and prayed, thanking God for the day and his Daddy– his “very best big buddy”.

And there you go- in a nutshell- your kids can drive you from one extreme to the other in a blink of an eye- they have the power to melt your heart and make it pound with anger or fear- and they can bring tears, and humility, and love with one small sentence.

I know God’s using us to shape them, but I think He’s using them to shape us even more!


Gabe’s morning

November 17, 2010

Gabe loves structure- a lot!  He likes to know how things are going to go down, and when he does, he thrives!  I think this is why me and him get along so well.  For instance, after running errands, as we’re pulling in the driveway, we work out a plan:  “Gabe, I’m going to take Max to his bed for a nap, and then we’ll carry in the groceries.  I’ll put them away if you’ll wash the grapes and pick them off the stems, then we’ll make the cookies.”  And as soon as we’re in park, he is ON it!!

His mornings look a lot like that too.  He has a white board in his room with a list:

1. Shower and get dressed

2. Brush your teeth and hair

3. Make your bed

4. Eat breakfast

5. Put your lunch and snack in your bookbag

6. Be at the bus stop by 7:15

7. Have a super day! (added by my mom 🙂 )

So at 6:30am, Gabe’s alarm goes off. He immediately jumps up and heads straight to the bathroom and runs through his list–  without fail. Sometimes he’s a little faster and sometimes he’s a little slower… but regardless, he’s at the bus stop by 7:15, looking sharp, with a smile on his face.  🙂

We’ve got a good thing going on here, I know this.  But you also know from this blog, that I have a hard time with how fast everything happens in the life of these kiddies.  I swear, it was just last year that I met Gabe– he was three but told me he was 5 for the day.  His eyes were huge, as were his cheeks and his puffy wavey hair, and his hands still had the baby knuckle dimples.  And now, he gets up on his own, he has his own alarm clock, and he gets himself ALL ready. Gulp.

Well one morning last week, I looked outside and he was standing at the bus stop without a coat.  And it was in the low 40’s. Problem!  So I called him back to the front door, ran upstairs to get his coat, and put it on him.  Then he headed back to the end of the driveway (his bus stop) and I went back to my morning routine.  Well, about 5 minutes later, Gabe came back in the house and told me that a neighbor drove by and told him the elementary bus had already gone by.  Gabe was NOT happy about this– he was convinced that the bus flew by him while he was on the sidewalk putting on his coat.  This cracked me up, because the bus is so loud, it’s bright yellow, and it has a large blinky light on top… I was pretty sure it didn’t fly by us without us noticing!   I figured out pretty quickly what had happened– this was the first day after daylight savings time– and he always uses the microwave clock to determine when it’s time to head outside– and he goes out right at 7:15 because the bus comes by 7:17– so obviously, whoever changed the clock, didn’t make it exact, which would cause a glitch in the bus stop timing.  I asked Chad what time his phone said:  “7:25” and then I looked at the microwave:  “7:22″… so his missed the bus way before the whole coat incident.

But Gabe would just NOT take this explanation.  I got Max dressed and drove Gabe up to his school, by this time we were also about 3 minutes late for school, so we had to sign him in.  The lady at the desk greeted Gabe, and he didn’t make eye contact or respond.  So I bent over and whispered to him, “Gabe, when an adult speaks to you, you need to make eye contact and answer them clearly.  That is how we show respect.”  So he looked up, and started to tell the lady about the morning’s saga:  “Good morning, but for me, it wasn’t a good morning, because while I went to get my coat, the bus flew right by me, and I didn’t even know it even though I was outside.  Then this lady stopped her car and I thought she was going to steal me, so I started running to the house, but really she just told me that I had missed the bus.  Can you believe she (pointing to me) made me put on my coat and miss the bus?”

Then he took the pass she had written for him, and walked to class.  Instead of saying anything, I just chuckled and left too.

A couple days later, I went to bed early feeling sickly.  And I also went to bed without fixing Gabe’s lunch or his snack.  So the next morning, when he got to step 5 on the list, there was nothing in the fridge to put in his bookbag!  So Chad talked him through packing his own lunch.  And his own snack.  And after everything was said and done, Gabe looked at his Dad and said, “Now that I know how to do this, and fix my own breakfast, I don’t even need to see you all in the morning.” He was NOT disrespectful at all when he said this, he thought this was a great plan.

And as if that wasn’t enough, this morning, Gabe came in our room is his handsome brown boots, navy cords, and a striped rugby shirt with a collar and I told him he was looking so good that he might get a girlfriend today.  Do you know what he said to me? He said he already knows who he likes.  Excuse me.  EXCUSE ME!  Not too long ago, I was his girlfriend, and anytime that word was mentioned, he would let anyone know that– but not today.  No, the words ‘Lauren is my girlfriend’ didn’t even enter his mind, instead, it was Kelsey.  Kelsey, Kelsey, Kelsey.

This caused me to flair up- it caught me totally off guard… he’s really growing up.  He not only gets himself ready and can fix his own lunch, but he also helps unload the dishwasher and takes care of Max while I fix dinner.  He forms his own thoughts, and troubleshoots to find a better way to do things– he speaks to adults well and explains situations clearly, effectively, and usually with humor!  And he wants to do things on his own– he’s ok with the idea of not seeing an adult in the morning– he’s ok being Gabe, and he’s very comfortable and confident in his abilities.  And he likes a girl. GULP!

Dear Lord, teach me to let go and let him grow up accordingly.  Teach me to encourage independence from us and the world and social norms, yet point him towards dependance on You.   Guide us on how to train him and equip him to be a responsible, respectful man with impeccable character. And God, help me to love ole what’s her name, all the what’s her names to come, in a manner that shows respect for Gabe and leads him to make wise choices about relationships and his heart. But God, if you want to keep all girls from him for about 20 more years, maybe even rekindle his affections for his first girlfriend (me!)- one that promises not to break up with him or lead him on or manipulate him, or any of those other nasty things girls do- then that’s fine by me! Amen!


Happy Halloween!

November 1, 2010

I know this is a day late, but I was so tired when we got home last night, and got the boys to bed, that I just couldn’t bring myself to post pictures!!  SO I’ll do a re-cap instead….

We went to church yesterday morning, and Max’s friend, Haven came home with us while his parents went on a hiking date.  Both boys ate lunch and then slept forever– they never even got to play together, ha!  But I’m so grateful that Max took such a good nap– close to 3 hours!! Then he was all ready for his first trick-or-treating experience!!

The 4 of us headed over to the Prusa’s, with our new garage sale wagon of course, to make our way through the street of t heir neighborhood.  They have a GREAT neighborhood for stuff like this and it’s so family friendly.

We had a cow and a red dragon ninja and little Miss EG was a cute little bumble bee.  She buzzed and said “trick or treat” and Max would “mooo” but only when no one was around, ha!

It was a fun night, and we’re grateful for our sweet friends.  Here’s the play by play pictures….

Aren’t they so cute???

Hope your Halloween was happy…. and now, onto November and Thanksgiving!!!!!


GOAL!

October 27, 2010

Gabe is in the midst of his 3rd soccer season.  And  this has definitely been his best year yet!  He has scored a couple goals and he’s gaining some confidence, and he’s less afraid and more aggressive, too.  This Saturday was a great game– and Gabe got another goal and was so excited about it– but let me tell you about it in his words :

According to Gabe “Well, the first thing that happened was the kid was throwing in and the kid tried to trick me.  And he threw it in and I happened to be close to that guy who he threw it to.  It came straight to me. So I dribbled it down and I dribble it to the side a little bit– the side of the field and I had a shot of either side of the goalie.  Then I kick in the right and score.”

AND then, he turned to his teammate, jumped up in the air, and CHEST bumped him.  Seriously!  He CHEST BUMPED!  It was classic.