Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Julie's "5 Things"

I called my friend Julie last night.  She's the friend from church who loans us our Sonlight materials, and I had to share my really cool Monday morning surprise with her.  If you missed it on facebook, I'll share it here...

In this post from Sunday night, I talked about our box from Sonlight arriving and how excited the kids and I are to start school.  In my moment of amazement at how the Lord works and extreme gratitude at His provision and everything that He has done in mine and the kids lives, I sent an email off to Luke Holzmann (and everyone at Sonlight), thanking them for their incredible curriculum and their part in how far we have come.  I figured Sonlight, like every other incredible company, gets bombarded with emails every day.  The best I was hoping for was simply that my email would get read, by someone who cared about what I wrote.  On Monday morning, I received an email back informing me that my email had been posted as one of the blog posts on the Sonlight blog for Monday!!  I couldn't believe how cool that was.  :)  You can read my email/post on the Sonlight blog here.

The other reason I called Julie was that she had a "tip," from one mother to another, that she wanted to share with me.  It was so good, I had to share it here.  :)

I mentioned to Julie, in a brief conversation we had at church on Sunday, that I have really been working with my kids to teach them Love and Respect.  I want them to know that the way you treat others should always be with love and respect (we're focusing mostly on our siblings right now ;-), and I've been working with them to show them what that really means.  When they act out in anger and frustration, we discuss examples of loving and respectful responses instead of hitting or yelling or taking an object from their sibling.  It's been about a month of focusing on this lesson and they're starting to "get it."  More than once I've had one of them run to me and tell me how they acted or reacted with one of the behaviors we discussed, pride showing on their beautiful little face.  :)

Julie's tip, that she used with her own children when they were little, was to discuss 5 specific things every morning before they start their day.  By discussing them every morning, it put those 5 things fresh in their minds to refer to throughout the day.  She said they were also a good thing to go over before leaving the house, to remind them to behave with the same goals while out in public.

This list varies slightly from what Julie told me last night, but the beauty of it is that you can adjust it to fit your own family.

The 5 Things:

1.  We love God and respect God.  We obey Him and His Word, and we keep Him above all else in our lives.  We remember to start our day with prayer and bible time, and we pray (talk) to Him throughout the day.

2.  We love and respect our parents.

3.  We love and respect our siblings.

4.  We love and respect our family and our friends.

5.  We remember our manners all day.

You can expand on each item, especially in the beginning.  I expanded on the first one in my list.  You could discuss a few "manners" for them to remember, such as not interrupting adults, keeping "inside voices," etc.  Explain, more than once, what "love" and "respect" mean.  Give examples.  After time, they will remember what you've discussed.  But in the beginning, it's good to remind them.

I went over this list for the first time with my kids this morning.  We counted each item on our fingers, as a visual reference to help them remember over time.  Julie said that in moments when they needed a "reminder" she would put her hand up, fingers open, and ask, "who remembers the 5 things?"  Now that her children are older (aged 7+), she doesn't need to pull out the list of 5 things as much.  They are beyond familiar with it, and it has made a huge impact on how they treat each other.  She also said to remind them that their siblings are their best friends.  Some friends will come and go, but your siblings are your best friends.  Remember that in how you treat them.

After we went over the 5 things this morning, Andrew asked, "Can someone get me a piece of paper please?"  Amerie jumped up and said, "I will!"  When she handed it to him, he told her "thank you."

And then their faces lit up.  "Mommy!!!  I remembered the 5 things!!  I remembered my manners and love and respect!"

I'm sure it's not that easy, but it was so rewarding to see them "get it" right from the start.  And f we continue to discuss the 5 things every morning, they will start remembering throughout the day, as Julie's kids do.  The simple discussion of love and respect has already made an impact on their behavior.  I'm really excited about the 5 things.

And really, really grateful the Lord blessed my life with people like Julie.  :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A lesson in patience

I lost my patience with my little girl this morning.

I was cuddling in my bed with Amerie and Lexi, watching the Disney Channel.  Amerie decided to jump out of my bed to grab something, and in so doing, she knocked the cable adapter plug out of the wall, filling my room with the very loud sound of "tv snow."

It was an accident.  She's 4.  She saw the object she was after and nothing else, in the moment she hopped off my bed.  I should have just plugged the cord back in and we could have gone back to Jake and the Neverland Pirates.

But instead, I snapped at her to be more careful.  And then I plugged the cord back in like it was a huge effort for me to do.

I'm not proud of myself.  I don't even want to admit it here.  But even though I pray daily that I can have an abundance of patience with my kids, especially during times of "childish immaturity,"  sometimes I'm really glad there's no one in the room to see me drop the ball.

After my lovely display, she started to cry.

"Mommy!!" she said, "I'm just a kid!!  I don't know what I'm doing."

Wisdom from a 4 year old.  And words that convicted me quicker than anything else could have.  I've been losing my patience with her a lot lately.  She's my "accident prone" child.  And (one of) my "I hear you, but I'm choosing to ignore you" children.  As much as I'd like to be SuperMom, sometimes I lose my cool.  Even when she's not acting in defiance, just childish immaturity.

As soon as she said those words, my heart broke a little.  I immediately scooped her up onto my lap and told her I was sorry for losing my patience.  I told her I knew that she didn't do it on purpose, and I asked her to forgive me.  She gave forgiveness freely, along with a hug and a kiss.  And then she jumped off my lap like the incident never happened.

I pray every day for the Lord to help me be the best mother I can be for my children.  I pray for patience in all circumstances, wisdom and insight into every situation.  He has provided it more than I had ever hoped for.  I still have moments like this morning, when I behave differently than who I want to be.  But thankfully, I see it for what it is...just a momentary screw up on the road to Christ-likeness.   And an opportunity for me to learn a new lesson. 

And I'm even more thankful that the Lord is a lot more patient with me than I sometimes am with my own children.  He's an awesome example for me to follow.  :)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Box Day

I should be in bed.  :)  My babies are asleep, and I'm exhausted after a long week.  But I've been wanting and wanting to get this post out and it's so hard to do when all of my kiddos are awake and "needy."  ;-)

Our school supplies arrived this weekend.  :)  God is ever faithful and true, and He has been so good to the kids and I.  Last year was so hard, but He assured me that this year, and the years to come, would be so much better because I clung to Him through it all. 

One of the blessings, in addition to being able to use free Sonlight books, was the ability to put some money aside and order everything that I needed to have a "complete" curriculum.  Last year was great for what we could handle at the time, but this year I really want to dig deep and challenge the kids and their ability to learn.  I ordered workbooks in areas they struggle, consumable items (those don't get loaned to me), and a few missing items from my shelves.  I even ordered a few books for Lexi that are part of Sonlight's nursery school program. 

Today, after hearing me talk and talk about how much better this year will be and how excited I am about our curriculum for this year, Aimee finally said, "'ve got me wanting to start school.  I'm excited now.  I want to start now."  She has to wait one more week.  :)  I want to have my To-Do list empty before we start, so I have no tasks hanging over my head when we're busy learning.  I've already pulled out and washed all of our winter clothes, and this week I will find room for them in our closets.


Andrew came across one of Aimee's schoolbooks for this year.  It's a chapter book for 4th grade and up, about the Wright brothers and how they came to invent the airplane.  It has a bi-plane on the cover.  If you know Andrew, you know he loves bi-planes.  And jets.  And bombers.  :)  So he asked me to read it to him.  I honestly thought he would be bored after the first few pages.  It's a chapter book, with no pictures.  Just words.  And he's 6.  And a boy.  And easily distracted. 

I ended up stopping after two chapters so he would go to sleep.  He begged me, "One more page!  Just one!  One more page!!"  He learned about wind resistance and the importance of aerodynamics.  And that if you draw your design out on paper, and work from that, your model will be significantly better.  He's already planning on drawing the "perfect bomber" tomorrow on paper, and we'll work with measurements and build it from scrap wood. 

I loved seeing his brain work as he listened to the story.  He asks such well-thought questions.  He truly amazes me.  I thought he would be bored, but instead sparks were lit.  I'm so excited to dive into our books this year and watch my kids learn.  Aimee is studying American History this year, and Andrew and Amerie are studying different world cultures.  I love our curriculum.  :)  I love Sonlight.  I love my kids.

And above all, I love the Lord.   I know I let Him down every day, even though I try my best.  But He loves me anyway.  And He has been so faithful and so good to us.  I'm amazed at how perfect life can feel in the middle of so many "imperfections."

We serve an awesome God.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A story...

I tucked Amerie into bed, being careful to lay the blankets "just right."

I leaned in, kissed her forehead, and then her cheeks.  As I sat back, I smiled.

"I love you. baby girl."

"I love you, too, mommy," she said with a sweet smile.

I smiled again.  "'re beautiful."

She tucked her hair behind her ears, rolled over, and replied, "I know I am."

Maybe I've gone overboard in telling my kids how beautiful and awesome I think they are.  ;-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

An impromptu drive

I took my babies for a drive last night.  My car battery had died in my van Tuesday morning (after I packed up all 4 kids to head to the beach.  Be glad you weren't in my van when I had to tell them we weren't going!!)  My mama called a towtruck last night to gimme a jump, and I was told to drive it around for a bit to recharge the battery.

I suppose I could have driven for 20 minutes like I was told and headed back home.  But I loooove a liesurely drive, and since I'm so careful with my gas (aren't we all?), I rarely ever allow myself to take one.  I had a little over a quarter tank of gas and about 2 hours of daylight left.  Just this once, I decided to take my kids for a drive "just for fun."

I knew where I would go.  I always head to one of two places when I'm "aimlessly" out for a drive.  If I need to pray and be alone, I head to Jeffereson and drive along the water.  It calms me.

If I'm happy, and just want to enjoy a beautiful drive, I head to Romeo. 

My mom and sis and I were recently asked the question, "If you could live anywhere in the entire world, where would you live?"  Emma, of course, said "New Bern, NC."  Our hearts are all thanking the Lord for blessing her with the move back to New Bern this week.

My mom and I?  We both gave the same answer. 

"Romeo, MI."

When I was in early elementary school, we lived in Washington Twp., just outside of Romeo.  For those familiar with the area, our old house sits right on the corner of 30 mile & Campground.
This is what it looks like now...
I loved that house.  And the 2-acre lot, that held a barn, chicken coops, and a milkhouse.  I'm a country girl (hence the blog address) and these things make me happy.  I was angry for years when we moved away.

So when I allow myself to, I head up there, drive around, and ask the Lord that if it is within His Will for mine and the kids lives, could we someday end up in a house with a big 'ole yard North of 28 Mile?  I don't care so much about the house.  I just want my kids to be able to run and play and climb trees and pick apples and thoroughly enjoy thier childhood outdoors.  :)  I loved heading outside and "discovering" when we lived in that house.

I also love these...

Dirt roads.  :)  To me, they're a sign that I'm where I want to be. 

Two things repeatedly ran through my mind last night, as I drove along the gravel covered dirt...Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" (of course) and "I want to live up here.  Spend my life up here.  Raise my kids and grow old up here."

I don't know what it is about that end of the county.  Maybe it's because deep down, I'm not a city/suburb girl.  I'm a barefoot country girl, and as a child I had a taste of that life.  I've wanted to go back ever since.

Emma is back in New Bern.  I hope someday I can end up near Romeo.  :)  But again, at the risk of sounding like all I do is say the same things, I know the Lord has a plan for the kids and I and I want that plan more than anything.  His plans are always so much better than ours.  :)  And when I am spending eternity in Heaven praising Him, it's not going to matter so much where I raised my family.  What will matter is that I raised them every day to love and serve Him, and that we gave everything (even our simplest desires) to Him.  If He leads us to Romeo, as He led Emma and Greg back to New Bern, I will be more excited than I could even begin to tell you.  But even living in Sterling Heights, in my parents home, I've learned to be content and happy and at peace.  I don't know where we'll be in the future or what our lives will be like.  But He's already working it out for our good, and it's better than anything I could dream up on my own.  :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Photo Shoot

About a month ago, my mom hired a photographer to take pics of our family while my brother and sister were both in town.  Adam lives in Knoxville, TN, and Emma was in Virginia Beach, VA up until this weekend, when she returned to where her heart was and moved even farther away from us to New Bern, NC.  It had been over 2 years since both my siblings had been in Michigan at the same time.  Emma makes it home only once a year, and it was killing my mom that it's was never at the same time as Adam.  So when she realized she was going to have all 3 of her children and their families in the same state AT THE SAME TIME, she hired a photographer to capture this amazing event.  :D

So...I was looking through the pics yesterday, and I thought, "What fun is a blog if you don't upload a million photos of your  family?!!" 

Enjoy!!! They make my heart happy. :)

Just a little something. :)

I have to say that I am feeling incredibly blessed.  My kids are such a joy, and we have been having a really good summer.  God is providing for our needs, and He daily sends little blessings our way.  We're happy, joyful, and at peace.  I may have been dwelling on my "unrest" the other day, but for the past few days I have been incredibly aware of how sweet my life is.

God is so good.  All the time.