Thank You

 

Every day you work hard to provide for our family but that’s not what makes you amazing.

You get down on the floor to wrestle, change the princess dresses, play hockey in the drive and run around the playground but that’s not what makes you a terrific father.

You help me demonstrate every single day what a loving, healthy marriage looks like, that fun and love, apologies and respect are all part of the daily give and take but that’s not the thing that makes you such a titan among dads.

What makes you the example I thank the Lord daily for is the bible verses in your email, it’s the passion for understanding God’s will, it’s the desire to do what he calls even when it’s not what you “want”.

Our children are so blessed to have you, science can show the impact of a father on almost every area of a person’s life from self esteem to education and earning potential but it can not quantify the impact a Christ following father has on eternity. The seeds you are sowing in our family will sow seeds in their families and so on through the generations. I am thankful for the quanitifable impact you have on our kids but more so for the things that can’t be seen, those are the true treasures.

 

Finding Beauty in the Mess: Week 2

This week my moment of beauty came as I tried to clean blood out of washclothes and off my bathroom counter. I found myself reflecting on my gratitude for my children’s health and safety. Shortly before I had been holding a wet washcloth on my toddler’s mouth trying to slow the flow of blood gushing from her teeth. She had slipped on the bench at our table during dinner and her two top teeth connected with the edge pretty hard. I was upset and worried for a moment but once it was clear there more blood than anything I settled in to grateful. The minor injuries of my children’s lives are just that minor, small, momentary discomforts and for that I am tremendously thankful. It’s beautiful to have a healthy child, even one covered in blood.

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Success, Parenting & the Gifted Child

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If you clicked this link hoping to get insight into all the ways to make your gifted child even more awesome or even to hear some parenting tips for those “unique” challenges…you clicked the wrong link.

First, I want you to understand my qualifications for writing this and to do that I need to tell you a little story:

Let me introduce you to two real people and where they were at various life stages:

Elementary School: 

  • He is a good student.
  • She is an excellent student in gifted programs, winning every award under the sun.

High School: 

  • He is now a poor student maintaining a GPA only high enough for athletic eligibility and not much else, his plans include moving from McDonalds to UPS and briefly attending community college before dropping out.
  • She is a 4.0 Valedictorian graduating early and offered numerous scholarships to many schools, including the full ride she will take.

Post Graduation: 

  • He finally tires of menial jobs, joins the USAF and goes to a four year school along the way, surprising himself with the fact that as a more mature adult he is able to maintain a very high GPA and graduate with honors.
  • She lands an internship her freshman year which leads to a job as the youngest paralegal in state history by sophmore year. When she determines it’s not her passion she changes colleges and majors and graduates a few years later with the highest honors wearing enough cords and sashes to look like a Christmas tree.

Career: 

  • After the Air Force, he goes on to write a book for a national publishing agency and become employed by one of the most prestigious organizations in the country.
  • She goes on to become a Kindergarten teacher…before staying home with her kids and occasionally writing an unpaid blog for fun.

Student Loans: 

  • He has none, the few thousand not covered by the USAF has long since been paid off
  • She had no loans those first few years when she was pursuing a degree in something she wasn’t passionate about but transferring to the right school meant no eligibility for incoming freshman scholarships and the tiny transfer ones left most of her tuition unpaid. She will be paying on student loans for years to come.

Which one was the genius? Well she is…or… I am. I have a genius level iq and spent my entire life in gifted programs, told by every teacher and professor what a gifted mind I possess. My husband, the “he” in this story, I contend is actually as smart or smarter but aside from pointless academia there’s rarely a reason to take an iq test so I guess we’ll never know (he is far to humble and claims it not so).

We have two children of our own and I can assure you I don’t plan on commenting on their intelligence levels publically now, if ever. I don’t care if they have iqs off the charts because at the end of the day, intelligence is only one tool. Today “gifted” is thrown around, every parent believes their child to be abnormally intelligent and yet… they can’t all be. But so what if they aren’t? So what if they are? Does a child need to be labeled “gifted” to succeed? By society’s definition my husband is FAR more successful than I am or possibly ever will be. (By my own definition I am successful because I am happy but that’s another story.)

If your child is gifted…don’t make that their defining character trait. Don’t let them get by with murder because you think they are the future Bill Gates. Don’t ride them and pressure them because you want them to win a Nobel prize. Remember that their intelligence level IS a gift, it is part of them but is not them, were a head injury to take that from them tomorrow I can only assume you would still love them the same. If they are gifted that is great but it does not guarantee, or even strongly correlate, to success (check out the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell if you don’t believe me).

If your child is NOT gifted, at least by society’s scholastic standards (and there are so many other ways to be gifted and talented) then take heart, that IQ score, those test grades, honors, awards, even high school and college GPAs…well they tend to come out in the wash. Don’t let them phone it in and purposefully underachieve but don’t stress if they aren’t the “best” either. Success is not measured by those scores or grades. It is something far more complex, but guess what even by the most shallow and superficial of standards your child may still blow those others out of the water (my husband did, and is a good person to boot). I say again to you: success is not caused by or even strongly correlated to iq, if you don’t believe me either just read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)

I want to end by saying: Your children are listening. When you talk about them to others what are they hearing first (i.e. most important)? Are they hearing how smart they are? How successful they are going to be? Or are they hearing about their character? Who they are as people? Your well meaning praise of them may be putting undue pressure on them, your focus on the type of intelligence measured by a test may make them feel like less of a person, more of a number. Is that what you want them to hear? 

 

 

See, looking every bit like the KIND of future success everyone expected from me…

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I’m much happier with the kind of successful I became 😀

“It Couldn’t Happen to Me.”

“I’m a good parent.”

“I always check.”

“I’d never forget.”

“I wouldn’t…”

These things are easy to say. We don’t want to envision a scenario where we could be responsible for our child’s death so we try to reason with reality.

But the reality is you could, you might, and it only takes one time. You could forget your child in a car. It could happen to you. I know there are cases when horrible scum of humans have intentionally left children but normally it is just an accident. A terrible, life wrecking, soul destroying accident.

I am terrified of something like that, it makes me check my car constantly.

But that is not enough.

I have started using the left shoe method (read about it here) and I have to say that it is so simple but so important.

I know it is intended mainly for dads or moms who are out of routine and want to make sure nothing could happen but it should be intended for every parent with a young child in the car.  I want devices that will help prevent these tragic deaths just like everyone else but this is important now and there is a solution available now.

Every time you get in the car with your baby place your left shoe in the back with them. It will help ensure you never have to experience the pain and loss and guilt that so many good parents in our country have.

When I arrived at the mall to meet a girlfriend for shopping I had not planned to take my daughter but she was fussing and I didn’t want poor dad to have a rough evening so in the car she went. I put my shoe back there knowing that the feeling of playing my own music (no 3 year old in the backseat!) and heading somewhere to shop for myself for fun was so out of routine that it would put me out of “mommy” mode and it alleviated the fear I could get there and walk off in a rush forgetting the sleeping angel in my seat.

If we all stop pretending it could never happen to us and instead take steps to prevent it maybe it never would have to happen again.

This year alone there have already been 16 deaths in the U.S., 7 would have certainly been prevented using this method.

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Parenting is More Than Being Present

Merriam- Webster defines being present as being “at a particular place or event”. One of the terms listed as obsolete is attentive. That speaks volumes. There was a time when being present physically and being attentive to the goings on were synonymous. Sadly, in today’s society the pervasiveness of “me time”, technology addictions and constant alternatives to being attentive to your present location means that these things do not often accompany one another anymore.

I am overwhelmed by the number of times we go out as a family and see other families doing the same, except completely different. They are in the same place but Mom is on her phone, Dad is watching a tv, and the kids are on a device of some form. There is little to no interaction.

*Now let me pause here to state that I do no think children need interacted with all the time, leaving them to play alone in their room with only their imagination for company for as long as they can on a very regular, dare I say daily, basis is highly recommended. However, there is also time for them to be with their parents, to interact and engage. Especially when they are small. I also understand that sometimes you have been with them alllll day or alll week and you are exhausted and need a little break but that’s the exception not the rule so i’m doubtful when I go out and see 85% of the parents completely checked out from their kids that all 85% were fully engaged most of the time, if you are truly the exception you won’t take offense to this article knowing that “that one time I did that I had been parenting so stellarly all week that I needed a minute to myself” means i’m not talking about you.

Children crave your attention and support and love and if they don’t get it from you they will be left lacking until they are old enough that indeed they can get it from someone else, most likely the first person to offer it no matter who that is.

Yesterday, as my husband and I took turns playing in the indoor playground with our 3 year old son and holding our 7 month old daughter we noticed a pattern. I went in and an adorable toddler and her sister immediately began asking to play with us, hold my hand or hug me. Why did these little girls want hugs from a strange woman they did not know? What did they see in me that they wanted? A mom that was hugging, chasing, and laughing with her child. Because their own mom came in, bought their wristbands, and plopped down on a couch to stare at her phone for at least the 2 hours we were there. She was still in the same position when we left. I never saw her even glance at her children much less check on them, play with them or interact with them.  Her daughters were clearly used to being ignored as they didn’t seek attention from her, instead they tried to glue themselves to the first adult female they could.

The pattern held on my husband’s turns to play, a little preschool boy who had ignored my son “Jidge” when he was playing with me or playing alone suddenly needed to play with him. The little boy tried to pull my husband by the hand, came around the corner (out of sight of his own dad) where our bags were when we needed to get something for the baby and proceeded to try and touch and love on our baby or get attention from my husband. His dad was there but he was very busy trying to look tough and cool at the kiddy playground. He checked his phone, sighed, and stared around with disgust at wasting his time, when he wasn’t flirting with the teenage workers. All very important. More important than playing with his child, or keeping track of his child for that matter.

This is becoming normal now, everywhere we go we notice that we are in the minority as we play with our children, sit at tables and actually talk to them with no digital devices around. But we also notice that we gather a pile of children everywhere we go who see parents that are freely giving out the attention they so desire so they hop in line.

An ipad can not give your child attention. It can not make them feel loved. It will not teach them patience as they wait for food to come out at a restaurant the way good old fashioned conversation will.  Unplug a little. Your phone and tablets and laptops have places, they really do! Right now I type this as my son has his morning playtime and my baby sleeps in my lap, I am watching him play school with his toy dinosaurs and he doesn’t need me, in fact he doesn’t want me, when he catches me looking to long he says “Mama, i’m playing don’t watch me”. I am giving my laptop attention right now, but I am not choosing it over giving my child attention they desire.

Make it a goal to engage your children fully when you take them places this week. Don’t use playgrounds or pools or arcades or whatever summer fun you have planned as a babysitter. Use it is a date! A date with your child. Talk to them, learn about their interests, laugh, make memories, I promise you they want it more than you know and someday that won’t be so true.

 

(P.S. While I am on my soapbox this goes for your spouse too. If you are out together put the phones away for the most part. Check that text if you need (esp. if you have  sitter 😉 ) but then put it down. Those little letters on the screen aren’t going anywhere.)

 

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An Ounce of Prevention

She looked like a nice lady, strolling through the kids section of Barnes & Noble with what I assumed was her grandchild’s little backpack full of toys on her back. But she lingered a bit too long, lurking near shelves and displays to watch children and something just felt off. I kept my eyes discreetly on her as my husband and I sat watching my son at the train table from nearby chairs. She moved our direction and I realized finally that she was alone, she had been here for 10 minutes with no kid in sight. She drifted to a shelf just behind us and pretended to look at kids books but her eyes never skimmed the pages, they hovered for a moment on my little princess, snuggling in a sling on my hip and settled on the handsome 3 year old playing trains. My child. Not hers. She stayed focused on him, momentarily lost enough she didn’t pretend to look at the books even, minutes passed and still she stared. Her odd behavior had now drawn the attention of my equally perceptive husband. Sensing potential for danger he stood and pretended to glance at a storytime paper, repositioning himself so that she was no longer behind him and forcing her to make eye contact. I also moved so that I was now able to see her eye to eye, faced with two attentive parents she suddenly moved away.

At the end of the shelves a parked stroller with a sweet toddler sat unattended, she leaned down and began talking to the girl which caught the attention of the mother, only two feet away looking at the display of new books. She quickly dropped the book and placed her hands on the stroller, asking the woman an indistinguishable question before backing away, clearly uneasy as well. When she turned back to see my husband and I also still keeping an eye on her she swiftly made her way downstairs and out of the store without stopping.

Was the woman dangerous? My gut told me possibly, was there a temptation inside her to have a child at a cost I might never understand? I believe so. Hopefully she will never act on her desires even if an opportunity presents itself but it was clear to me that it was something she may consider. (The fact that myself, my husband and another mom all independently reached the conclusion she way not be safe speaks to the fact her behavior just wasn’t right).

There is no such thing as too vigilant with your child. No one who has ever had a child taken thought it would happen to them (most abductions are not strangers though).  Never feel like its “judging” someone if your intuition says something is wrong trust it, be extra cautious, make your presence known. Too many parents live on eggshells now, afraid to be politically incorrect or stereotype someone but you shouldn’t silence your inner voice when it tells you someone is not safe or something is not right.

Stay at Home Mom: What’s the point?

So I thought it would be smart for me to document some of my objectives for my season as a stay at home mom and some of the practical goals I plan to take to reach them and I thought it would be smart to publish them for accountability sake.

And yes I am totally nerdy enough that I enjoy writing goals, objectives, etc. I am working on a family mission statement but that is a family project so I will need more time and prayer but I will post it when we complete it!


Objectives as a Stay at Home Mom

  • Goals to help me accomplish thesegoals

Continue my walk with the Lord and become more missional in life. 

  • Invite people  into our home no less than once a month with a goal of 2-4 times per month.
  • Begin to build relationships with our new neighbors
  • If possible start or participate in a support program for young/teen/single moms.

Nurture and grow my Children spiritually, emotionally, socially and academically. 

  • Continue participation in church & Sunday school.
  • Join Awana ministry in fall with Joel
  • Participate in VBS
  • Enroll Joel in 1-2 sports per year
  • Home preschool or if God provides financially part time preschool during the school year.
  • Regular family “field trips”, storytimes, devotions.
  • Special parent child/dates once a month

Support my husband and continue to grow our relationship.

  • Have devotions together as a couple on all nights he is home. (We are so inconsistent!)
  • Monthly date night/day
  • Take over preparation of bulk of the weekly meals
  • Maintain a clean home
  • Manage garden & assist with yard

Be good stewards of the resources God has given us

  • Money
    • Make  a workable budget that does NOT sacrifice our giving to missions/the church
    • Utilize the envelope system App to help track our money well and stay on budget (since we stink at the cash version)!
    • Be open to part time freelance positions God may provide me to help support our family
    • Accumulate no new debt
    • Work to pay down student loans/ mortgage
  • Time
    • Give time to the Lord, His word and His work.
    • Limit time used for fruitless pursuits such as television.
    • Plan for exercise, time to recharge and time with friends
    • Place priority on keeping our schedule from becoming needlessly “busy”