Another 10-Year-Old. It’s Not Pretty.

It’s been four weeks.  Four weeks since a post about my sweet boy turning ten.  Four weeks, people.  I should have seen it coming.  It happened when my daughter turned ten last summer.  I really should have seen it coming.

I have another 10-year-old in the house, and the climate has drastically shifted.  He yells at me.  All the time.  For everything.  I mean screams.  And then he calms down and bounces around the house looking for food or a toy or a friend.

My son may be the Hulk.

Hey Buddy, we’re not having screen time right now.
WHY AM I EVEN ALIVE???

Hey Eli, you guys are going to have a little quiet time reading in your bedrooms after all the fighting that’s been going on.
YOU DON’T GET TO BOSS ME AROUND MY ENTIRE LIFE, YOU KNOW!!!

I’ve learned in the past week that I can handle being screamed at up to three times by a person to whom I have given life.  At the fourth time there is a quiet, low voice, your disrespect is done NOW talk.  It’s good to know your limits, right?

It’s also good that I realized he is ten, and this is a phase.  It happened to Grace, and she has greatly improved in the past year.  This will get better, and we will come out on the other side.  I will use my calm voice (and continue to grow its perseverance).  I will fight for the heart of my boy.  I will remind him over and over that I love him all the time, no matter what.

But ten may be the new three around here.


 

Anything But Ordinary

HAH-Blog-Hop-graphic-2

This month, Hearts at Home is asking us to “love our ordinary.”

Ordinary.

That’s not always such a pleasant word, especially when we let it land on our own hearts.  What if we took a good, hard look at what we consider to be “ordinary” in our lives, and relabeled it?  Got a different perspective?  Climbed out of the everyday for a moment, and saw a bigger picture?

This is something that I’ve struggled with throughout my life as a mom.  The laundry basket that is never, ever empty.  The counter that always has dishes.  The people that are always hungry.  The clock that I swear has stopped moving.  And tomorrow will be exactly the same.

When I take a look around and see what other people accomplish in their lives, it’s so easy, and so tempting, to label what I do as ordinary.  Really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter?  The laundry, the dishes, the dusting, the grocery lists, the same gentle reminders issued over and over and OVER.

But when I take a look at my kids…they are anything but ordinary to me, and I am anything but ordinary to them.  What I do is so special in their eyes.  I want to climb out of the everyday-ness of mothering and realize that what I do should be special in my eyes, too.  I am the one who plans, buys, and cooks healthy food for them, to feed them.  I am the one who makes sure they have clean clothes to wear.  I am the one who has taught them to make their beds, clean their rooms (whether or not they do it is a different story), sweep and mop a floor.  I am the one who taught them to use a toilet.  I am the one who takes them to the doctor when they are sick.  I am the one the school calls when something is wrong.  My husband and I are the ones who are modeling the love of God, and what it means to be in relationship with Him.

Ordinary.  If teaching my children how to be responsible, loving, caring, compassionate, faithful people…if this life is ordinary, then I will take it.

Love your ordinary, mommas.  You’re doing a great job.  YOU are anything but ordinary.


 

 

When Expectations are Wrong

My oldest was at middle school camp last week with our church youth group.  It was her first time at THIS camp, she has been to elementary camp the three years prior.  While she was away I was pouring through the pictures, searching for one of her smiling face.  I didn’t see her, didn’t see her, didn’t see her.  I finally got one of her in a canoe.

As we picked her up and drove home, she started telling us about her amazing week away – the worship, the messages, her counselors, the friends she had made.  I tried to casually slip into conversation whether or not she had tried any of the more challenging activities – the high ropes course, the rock climbing wall, the giant slip and slide.  Every one of them was answered with a “no”, and her reason why.

Friends, I really struggled listening to her.  She hadn’t tried some of the essential experiences of camp!  But then I really, really thought about her, and what she was saying. She hadn’t missed out on anything.  Our ideas of “essential experiences” were completely different, and it turns out mine were wrong.

When expectations are wrong, it can lead to heaps of trouble – hurt feelings, miscommunication, disappointment, disapproval, and more.  Expectations can be too high, too low, and unrealistic.  I wonder if when they’re just plain wrong, we didn’t really understand the big picture in the first place?

I’m thankful for my girl, that she experienced what she wanted and needed to, that she  shared about her week, and she shared passionately.  I’m thankful I had the opportunity to see her instead of my idea of what camp should be.


 

Enjoying Sports in a Musical Family

I was contacted by Fanatics.com to write a post about our family enjoying sports.  Fanatics.com is a site that sells sports apparel and merchandise, with a wide selection of baseball hats from the MLB and college.  No worries – they sell both IU and Purdue gear.  Plus all the others…

I’m not going to lie, I really had to think about a time when our family went to a sporting event together, big or small.  Now concerts.  Concerts I have in spades.

onetiredmomma1

But when you live in Fort Wayne, you probably go to Tin Caps games.  That place is made for families, whether you really enjoy baseball or not.  Here is what I have learned about going to a game with our musical family: our kids need to be taught how to sit through a game, just like sitting through a concert.

We have this great opportunity to EXPLAIN baseball to our kids when we go to a game.  “Isn’t it cool how it sounds when the bat hits the ball??”  Sharing enthusiasm with my kids is one of the most amazing feelings.  They may not catch on the first few times, but just keep trying.  Infield, outfield, strikes, runs, jersey colors…all of it.  I tend to forget that kids don’t come out of the womb knowing all of these details, and we get the teach them!  And eating a funnel cake or two along the way never hurts.

We also have the opportunity to teach them about sportsmanship.  We choose not to yell at a bad call, heckle a player from another team, or cut down a fan from another team.  Our actions go so much farther than our words.  Little eyes are always watching, and we get to choose what they see.

Our goal is just to get them to last longer than the last game.  The best opportunity for success is when the game ends in fireworks.  And the best, BEST opportunity, possibly a dream come true for a boy who is just learning… is running the bases after the game.

Be still my heart, I love that boy.onetiredmomma2


 

Taking Off Pride

My small group is currently reading through Jill Savage’s No More Perfect Moms, and it’s really, really good.  Except Chapter Two.  Chapter Two kicked me in the gut.

Chapter Two is where God showed me that I am a prideful parent.

My kids wouldn’t get away with acting like that.
I would handle that situation differently.
I would handle that situation better.

I know, you’re probably wondering what took me so long to realize I have an issue with pride.  I’m also stubborn.

It kicked me in the gut, and I think God let me marinate in that feeling for a while to make sure I didn’t shrug it off.  I couldn’t.  I felt so sick.  How could I think these thoughts?  I was so ashamed.  “Pride is comparing ourselves, knowingly or unknowingly, to others with the result that we come out looking better than they do. … Pride raises its ugly self in our relationships with other moms.  Most of the time these comparisons stay in our heads, but they consistently put distance between us and another person,” (pp. 27-28).  And that, dear friends, is what I was doing.  I was comparing myself, and installing an ever-increasing distance between myself and other women in my life.

I decided I needed to take off pride.  Pride doesn’t come off easily like a pair of flip flops.  It’s more like a wet swimming suit that has suddenly and inexplicably melded with your skin.  Or like taking a bandaid off of a toddler.  I don’t even think it wants to come off.  But it MUST.

If I’m going to love others well, love God well, love my family well, it must.


 

Oh Potty Training

I’ve always said, if there was one job in parenting I could pay someone else to do, it would be potty training.  No, I’m no longer dealing with this (unless you count the endless occurrences of unflushed toilets).  But I can still share my story :)

First, here is the best, most amazing advice I got from my friend Christine. “They don’t ask on a college application how old they were when they were potty trained.”  AND exhale.

Second, I didn’t start until my kids were dry through the night.  I was lazy and wanted to just be done all at once.  So they were all 3-3 1/2 when they were potty trained.

Potty training at our house looked like this: sit them on the potty every 15 minutes, see what happened, repeat.  After a weekend if it wasn’t clicking we’d stop and try again in a month.

Grace had 2-3 months of “not clicking” and then it happened.  It was a breeze.  It was a miracle.  It was a false promise of what was to come.

Eli took 4 years, I’m fairly certain.  2 steps forward, 3 steps back, 3 steps forward, 1 step back, no movement at all, you get it.  I tried sticker charts and candy.  His issue was that he just didn’t want to stop playing for this inconvenience.  Finally I realized that his “currency” was John Deere tractors.  I would buy a big, cool tractor…show it to him…then put it high up on the fridge and tell him he could have it when he actually pooped IN the potty.  It took 3 or 4 times of NOT getting the tractor before he realized I meant it.

Ada.  Well Ada definitely did not want to use the potty because she nearly fell in once (granted she was the teeniest 3-year-old in the land) and so she would not be wearing her new princess underwear.  I bought her a princess potty, she was not interested.  Then I decided Spring Break would be the time.  This was it.  She disagreed.  Saturday morning I sat that little princess potty in front of the TV, turned on cartoons, and get her endless strawberry milk hoping to fill that bladder.  Eli (almost 5) said, “Ada, you’ve been there long enough.  You can get up now.”  I said, “Eli, I’m in charge, not you.”  Ada looked me square in the eye over the rim of her glasses and said, “No, I’M in charge.”  I said, “You’re right, you ARE in charge of going potty.  Can you go potty?”  And she did.  Right then.  That stubborn, stubborn girl.  And she was potty trained.

So, mommas.  There is no magic age.  There is no magic book.  You don’t have to do it the way I did.  You don’t have to do it the way your neighbor did, or your sister, or your mom or your mother-in-law.  YOU are the one who has to teach that sweet darling, so YOU get to decide when and how.

You’re doing a great job.


 

Ten Years

Ten years.  I’ve been his mom for ten years.  Eli 006

Ten years ago I became the mother of a boy.

Ten years ago I became the mother of siblings.

Ten years ago our family grew from three to four.

Ten years ago I learned to love the phrase “momma’s boy”.

Today I see a boy who is learning so much from his father about becoming a man, and I both love it and hate it.  He’s too young to learn about being a man.  Isn’t he?  Oh but I’m thankful for the role models that he has – his dad, his grandpas, uncles, men at church who invest in him.

Chad and I have just this summer reached that point in parenting….that point where we miss those days that older parents warned us we would miss.  And we kind of hated them for it.  But now we’re there.  And he’s only ten.


 

 

Fear on My Child’s Face

I hate seeing fear on my children’s faces.  When it storms, when there’s a big dog, when they were little and they couldn’t find me… it hurts my heart.

But.  There is absolutely nothing worse in the world than seeing fear on my child’s face and knowing it’s because I’m yelling at my child.

I used to yell a lot.  I just snapped all the time.  Grievances big and small, legitimate or small kid stuff, it didn’t matter.  I snapped.  I didn’t have the margin in my life (mentally or emotionally) to handle it in an appropriate way, and I wasn’t giving my poor kids any grace.

Then one day my eyes were opened to those sweet faces, and the fear in their eyes, and the fact that they were scared.  Of me.  I knew I had to change.  I HAD to stop yelling at my children.

I had to listen to them more and respond sooner when they called me, because I got angry when they said, “mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!” when really I was the one not listening.

I had to listen to them more when they were arguing and jump in sooner before it turned into a full on WWE event, because I got angry when someone got hurt.  I could have prevented it if I was listening more closely.

I had to shift my thinking, and I asked myself often, “How would I treat a friend in this?”  No they are not my friends, and I am not theirs.  I am their mom.  But I wasn’t acting like their momma, and I wasn’t letting them be kids.  I needed to extend grace and be nicer.  I got angry when they spilled something.

I had to stop doing less important things so I didn’t always feel interrupted.  Or else I had to deal with being interrupted.  They need me, plain and simple.  Either I can keep fighting that, or I can learn to allow it into my day.  I heard a speaker once say that motherhood is the ministry of interruption.  Amen!  What they need might not really be important, but THEY are important.  I want them to know that they are important.  More important than my phone, my laptop, my book, the TV, all of it.

It has taken a long time to get to this place, but I don’t see fear on my child’s face anymore when we talk.  I haven’t arrived yet, Eli tells me I could improve some more :)


 

Summer Schedule 2.0

Already.  I know.

But we’ve been reading the Money Smart Family System (and you can find more at their website, moneysmartfamily.com) and will be implementing it this summer.  This includes chore charts and point systems, and I wanted to incorporate this into the summer schedule that I already had so that I was setting them up to succeed.

Guys, for real, this book is helpful.  It gives practical advice (with age-appropriate suggestions!) for starting children on chores and earning money so they learn financial responsibility.

Here are my summer documents if you are interested.  Grace gets 15¢ per point, Eli and Ada get 10¢ per point.  That doesn’t sound like much, but they have the potential of 23 points per week.  If they earn all of their points in a day, and have good behavior (earning 2 bonus points), they can double their pay for a day, essentially getting 82 points for the week.  It’s explained in the book :)  PLUS they weren’t getting any money before.  So.

Grace’s Chores
Eli’s Chores
Ada’s Chores
summer schedule
Point System – summer (there will be a new one during the school year that includes a “homework point”)

Here is how it breaks down in a day.  Monday is laundry day, so they are each responsible for stripping their sheets and bringing them to the basement, along with their laundry (except for Grace, she does her own laundry another day).  They also make their beds once the sheets are clean, or help me make their beds.  I do the rest of the laundry.  Every day Ada is responsible for emptying the bottom shelf of the dishwasher, Eli the top shelf, and Grace loads it up.

Tuesday is kitchen day.  I make sure the kitchen is picked up (it’s my stuff anyway).  Eli sweeps, Grace mops, Ada wipes the counters and light switches with a Chlorox wipe.

Basically I’m bringing them into my daily cleaning schedule.

This is plan #372 to teach our children about finances and doing chores.  You try one, tweak it, and if it fails you DO ANOTHER ONE.  You can’t quit on this stuff, guys.  We quit for a long time, then were annoyed that the kids never had money to buy the unnecessaries of life.  So we are trying again.  And tweaking.  And staying committed!!

LET’S GO!!


 

Teaching My Daughter’s Beauty

My sweet, tender Grace.  She’s my mini-me.  Knowing this helps when she comes to me with certain self-image questions.

While we were in the car together recently, she shared with me that her cheek bones stick out a lot, and her face is sort of shaped like a pentagon.  And maybe some kids might make fun of her because of how her face is shaped.

I said, “You know who else has cheek bones that stick out and a face shaped like that?  I do.”  And she smiled, because she knew it was true.  Then I was able to share with her some precious truths from my marriage with Chad.

“You know who thinks I’m the most beautiful woman in the world?  Daddy.  He would never, ever make fun of my face, or anything about me.  If you meet a boy who makes fun of you, that is not the guy God wants you to be with.”  She smiled again, a little embarrassed, and again because she knew it was all true.

Friends, these words would not have meant nearly as much if our actions at home couldn’t back them up.  She sees us hug, kiss, and dance on a regular basis.  She sees us treat each other with love and respect.  She sees us get into arguments, and resolve them, loving each other every step of the way.  She sees us care about each other more than anyone else.

Please know, I am not teaching her that her beauty is tied up in what a man thinks about her.  In this lesson, I want to teach her how to stand strong against the fierce winds of mean words.  I want to teach her what kinds of relationships she deserves to have.  I tell her regularly that she is beautiful not because of what she wears, but because of who she is and who God created her to be.  She is beautiful simply by being.  But let’s face it, the words of others carry weight.  I want her to grow in strength, confidence, and self-worth, knowing that she is worthy of having people in her life who love her exactly the way she is.