Family PIc April 2015

Family PIc April 2015

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

10 Random Tips for Parenting

When our first child was born, we discovered very quickly that those with the most passionate parenting advice...

Were those who didn't even have children of their own! 

You know, those well-meaning individuals in Wal-Mart who look at you like you're crazy when your kid is pitching a royal fit in the middle of the cereal aisle?  Then they tell you what you should be doing to "control that child."

Or your friends who just got married, but they just KNOW how you should do things.  And they tell you b/c, after all,  they have a masters degree - (in marketing or something).

Well, Gregg and I both agreed early-on that we would never give parenting advice to people with children OLDER than our own.  We hadn't been there, and had no right to start spouting "well-meaning" opinions  - uhhh, I mean advice - to anyone.

Fifteen years and 8 children later, I think we've earned the right to share a few tips. :)  We haven't been venturing through the adolescent phase of parenting long enough to warrant a lot of advice there yet, but the infant/toddler years...

Well, we've learned A LOT about those!

So, here they are (in the order in which they came to my mind).   A few things we've learned along the way.

10 Random Tips for Parenting:

1.    ALWAYS use extreme care when checking for a dirty diaper, and NEVER stick your finger in there!

2.     Introduce veggies as first foods.  Don't worry, they will definitely love the fruit when it comes along next.  If you do this vice might not work out so well.

3.    Let them suck their thumb for the first year of their lives without worry.  Cherish it.  Ooooo and ahhhh about how cute it is when they put their thumb in their mouth.  And take lots of pictures.  And, be thankful you saved money on buying pacifiers, and saved countless hours looking for the things....Then, the day after they turn 1, put a Thumbguard on the favored thumb for 3 days, take it off, and they won't suck their thumb again.  All done! (It's worked for us twice and we're about to try it for the 3rd time.  Pretty confident it will work again.)

4.    Consistent discipline is best and sounds SO EASY in every parenting book you read.  But, it ISN'T EASY!!  Some days you find that you've said your child's name 100+ times when you should've disciplined the first time of disobedience.  Don't give up.  Remember tomorrow is a new day.  Start with clear discipline early in the day and keep pressing on.  YOU CAN DO IT!

5.    Read to your kids - OFTEN.  Teach them to love to read themselves.  The sky will be their limit!

6.    Having name-brand clothes is nice.  They really do hold up longer than some of the others.  Believe me, when they're on your 5th son, and they still look relatively good, I'd say it's a good brand of clothes.  But,  having name brand clothes just to impress others, shouldn't be a priority.  It's okay to buy secondhand, and hand-me-downs are God's special blessings.

7.    Say "yes" whenever you reasonably can.  Otherwise, I have found myself saying "no" to everything - even when I could've said "yes."  Ask yourself these questions: "Is this a moral issue?", "Is it safe?",  "Can our family afford this?"  If it doesn't violate the moral principles you have embraced for your family, it's safe, and you can financially afford it, then you can probably say "yes". 

8.    Let your children help with basic tasks when they are very little, and instill in them a strong work ethic.  Even an 18 month old can help pick up toys, help toss wet laundry into the dryer, carry a bottle of ketchup to the dinner table, etc.  When they're little, it's fun!  When they're's ingrained.

9.    Your little ones will most likely meet your expectations, so EXPECT GREAT THINGS. 

10.    Compliment and encourage your children often.  Don't offer empty praise.  (They will most likely pick up on your shallowness before you do.)  But, find things about them each day that you find wonderful, and tell them very specifically. (ex:  "I really love the way you took your laundry and put it away before I even asked!" or "I know you were really frustrated with your brother, but you did the right thing by being nice to him." or "I really love dandelions when you pick them from the yard and bring them to me.  It makes me feel so special." 

Good parenting is not for the faint-hearted, but I'm holding tightly to God's word when he says, (emphasis mine)

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; The fruit of the womb is His reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.  How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; they shall not be ashamed, when they speak with their enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127:3-5)

And, I know all this work is gonna be SO WORTH IT!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

I Thought About When She Was Three

My mother's birthday is this coming week.

She'll be 54 years old.

She gave birth to me when she was 16 years old, and married my father 3 days later.  I lived in the same house with her for 21 years. 

I remember, when I was little, all of her friends would say how I looked just like her.  She was a brunette; I was a blond.  I didn't understand. 

Over the course of my life, there have been many opportunities for forgiveness and healing.  My mother and I weren't very close while I was growing up. 

Too much hurt...too much blame...too much dissension - too much evil in my home for a little girl to know how to deal with it all.

When my first child was born - her first grandchild - she was so happy, and I understood more than ever the depth and bond of love between a mother and a child.  (And doesn't every woman have a need for her mother when they first become a mother themselves?)

In many ways, we began to grow closer.  I so very much wanted us to grow closer!

Then came more incomprehendable heartache. 

The alchoholism continued...





Heartwrenching emotional turmoil.

More opportunities for forgiveness...

Until I began to shut down my heart (and sometimes even my eyes). 

It's the only way not to be hurt by someone you love.   The only way to not be hurt by someone who says they love you. 

It's the only way not to be hurt by your own mother.

So, in the midst of this, God gave me a gift - so precious, so deep, so dear.  He gave me the idea of a gift for her birthday.

Months ago, I was looking through some things in our storage shed when I found 2 dresses that belonged to my mother as a young girl.  I took them inside and washed them.  And I thought about framing them as a gift for her for Mother's Day. 

I bought the shadow box frame...and then Mother's Day came and went..without me so much as touching the dresses.  The unwrapped frame sat behind a chair, collecting dust. 

I've been praying - for YEARS - and begging God to help me let go of the hurt.  To forgive. 

It's sooo hard!

This week I took out the 50-year-old dresses and the frame, determined that I was going to get that frame out of my way!  And, I didn't know what else to get her for her birthday, anyway.

And, here's where God's gift showed up...

I was ironing one of the little dresses in the quiet of my kitchen (a quiet kitchen at my house is no small miracle in itself, so looking back, I know that God must have orchestrated this moment in time!).

My eye caught the size written on the tag. 


My mother was 3?  And, God and I began a conversation as I ironed those little dresses.

It went something like this...

Me:  "She was 3 once?"
God:  "Yes, crazy girl!  Of course she was 3!"
Me:  "I know, I know. (smile) But I don't think I've thought much about what she must've been like then."
God: "Well, think about it."
Me:  "Innocence.  Beauty.  Starting to talk in sentences - just like I've watched my little ones do.  Bright eyes. Twirling around in her new pretty dress.  Laughing.  Running.  Crying when she was scared.  Wanting to be loved.  Times with her grandma - one of only a few people in her life who really showed her love.  Created and loved by You."
God: "Yes.  I created her - for a purpose.  For a reason.   I love her."
Me:  "I love her, too, but she has hurt me so much, God.  I can hardly bear it!  I wish things were different."
God: "They can be.  But, it's not up to you.  It's my job.  Trust me.  You have to let the hurt go."
Me:  "You know I've tried, but I literally don't know HOW to let it go!"
God: "When you look at her...when you think of her...think of this dress.  Think of her as an innocent child.  Because she is MY innocent child.  She is forgiven by Me.  I know it will take time, but you must think of her this way.  You must forgive, b/c I have forgiven you.  I have a plan for all of this.  You don't see it now...but you must trust me."
Me:  "I don't know if I can do it, but I'll try, God."
God: "I Am right here with you."

And, so, I began to cry as I stood there and ironed a little green, size 3X dress.  And, I began to praise God, from whom all blessings flow, for the gift of forgiveness.

For mine.  For my mother's.

I know it will be a daily struggle to continue to forgive.  I've seen too much - felt too much - to think otherwise. 

But,  I have hope - hope that God gave me...


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ever feel like you just have to GET AWAY??

It's not really been the summer I had hoped for.

I was hoping for relaxing, renewing, and getting a fresh perspective.  Maybe get a few things organized around the house (like that closet in the boys' room that I can't even see the floor!), then hang out in the pool in the afternoons, roast marshmallows with the kids in the evenings, and have long talks with my husband.  Oh, and sewing...I was sure I'd have time to sew some things for the kids.  What a laugh! 

Instead, May and June were INSANELY busy. 

I'm not just talking about busy like, "I missed my favorite tv show" busy...I'm talking nonstop, inhale meals, everybody pee and get in the van NOW! kind of busy...

Caleb and Elijah played baseball All-Stars and we literally had practice or game(s) EVERY. SINGLE. DAY - except Sunday - throughout June.  Sundays were filled from waking until afternoon, then we would feed a late lunch to our very hungry kids, and then Gregg and I would beg for a nap - which did NOT happen a single Sunday.  Someone always called, came by, or demanded our attention otherwise.  A couple of weeks we needed to travel to see extended family.

I like being busy.  In fact, I think I might actually thrive on it.  But, after a while...

Well, July came in like a heat wave, and for some reason our family has been plagued with sickness.  For the first time ever, this summer (in late June, actually) strep throat reared it's ugly head at our house.  Our pharmacist said she had never mixed so much amoxicillin in her life!  All 10 of us had to take it...

As soon as we felt safe from that, several of the little ones endured a stomach bug.  It seemed as soon as that was over, the kids and I were running fever again...we passed a cold/flu-like virus around to everybody, except Gregg - despite my best attempts to sanitize.  When you have babies and toddlers and teenagers all living in close quarters - well, what can you really do?

July also brought with it...

...major surgery for Gregg's mom, an extended hospital stay for my dad, and the shingles for my mom.  Really??   I don't do well with germs...or illness...or hospitals...or general neediness from adults.

So, stop my whining and to get on to the real point of this post...Gregg and I decided that our family REALLY needed to just get away - even if it was just for the day!  We set the date for Wednesday, July 18th, and Gregg scheduled to take the day off work. 

Several things attempted to steal our day away, but we held to it like a lifeboat.  A couple of times I even felt flat-out rude when I simply had to say "No, we can't do that.  We will be out of town that day." 

Just us and the kids - just for fun - we couldn't wait...

So we loaded up our 15 passenger van with water, gatorade, fruit, snacks, and sandwich stuff.  Then tossed in the kids and headed to Pisgah National Forest's Sliding Rock. 

Basically, it's a big rock in the middle of a river in the mountains.  People like to come from all-over to climb to the top and slide down the rock.  The water is between 50 and 60 degrees.  So it's quite a chill - I mean, thrill! 

Gregg went when he was a boy, but he hadn't been since.  He had told the kids all about it, and they have been wanting to go for years, but we had never taken the time to go.

I'm not sure if my kids were more excited about sliding down into icy water themselves, or watching their Momma do it!  I don't even jump in the swimming pool until the water reaches 90!  (They normally watch the pool thermometer, and they don't even ask me to swim with them until the red hits the magic mommy mark!)

So, the thought of Momma sliding AND freezing, was something pretty exciting!!

We left a little later than we anticipated.  What's new?

But, we were all still in a great mood.  Middle of the week, Daddy's home, and we're taking a road trip?  Woohoo!

Our first stop...

The "HOT NOW" sign was on and we just couldn't resist (even though we had already eaten a big breakfast, AND it was almost lunchtime) - and we ate the whole box in less than 10 minutes.  Granted, in a family of 10, that's pretty easy to do. :)  I really wanted a second one, but I have growing teenage boys.  Enough said... :)

Next stop...lunch! 

Kedesh wasn't hungry, so she took in the scenery at the picnic area and enjoyed getting pictures of her toes taken while we ate.  Have I mentioned that I LOVE little baby feet?

Our next stop...Sliding Rock!  We got there and the sign said -


Ummm....please, NO!  So, the park ranger told us they had heard thunder and if there wasn't another rumble in the next 22 minutes, they would give the okay for people to slide again.  So, we paid and parked and prayed that they wouldn't hear anymore thunder...

And, they didn't!  So, off to the rock we went!  We had the best time.  Gregg and I traded off watching and caring for the littlest ones while the other went sliding.  I went twice - it really was a blast!

All the kids went sliding at least once - except baby Kedesh - and the lifeguards commented on how they were all such strong swimmers.  Loved it.  We played for about an hour and a half before another storm cloud started brewing.  They blew the whistle for stopping due to weather, and we made it back to the van just as it started pouring rain!  The kids thought it was great fun!

Here are a few pics...

It was really good to just GET AWAY for the day...we all needed that. 

One of the kids said, "Momma, you look young!" 

Does that mean I normally look OLD? hahaha! 

Maybe it means, when you can just get away from the day-to-day busyness, laugh, and have fun, you tend to smile a little differently...or maybe it was the cut-off blue jean shorts I wore that they were talking about...haven't worn those in years. :) 

I think it's time we did a little more purposeful planning for some "get away" days...IT DOES A FAMILY GOOD!!

Friday, July 13, 2012

What we have been doing for a few days this week...

Painting some of the kids' bedrooms...

Hey, you can't beat how a $30 can of paint can transform the feel and mood of a room!  Plus, all those finger smudges and pencil markings were about to get on my last nerve. ;)  

My oldest son is amazing!  I know every mother must think that about her 14 year old son,  but REALLY!  He IS amazing! 

He painted one of the boys' bedrooms with a fresh coat of white.

Then he proceeded to paint his sisters' room. (okay, to be fair...he DID ask if I could pay him to do the girls' room, but I thought it was worth EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY... and, besides, he named his price, and he was cheap labor. :)

Change was needed.  A clean, crisp, brightening layer for the boys' room and a more bold color change for the girls. 

I don't have all the final pictures taken yet.  We still have the girls' furniture strung down the hallway and into the den until the paint dries and we can do the final touch-ups tomorrow.  But maybe you'll get the idea.

Painting the details of the window moulding

The room in disarray so the walls could be reached.  Little brother supervising, of course.

Girls' room - from a pale pink, to a bright rose pink.  We loved the border too much to get rid of it, so we coordinated with something brighter.  It'll go well with their existing bedding and curtains.

Maybe I'm weird, but I love Nathan's hands! 
There has always been something special to me about a young man's hands.  Nathan's are gentle enough to pick me roses and arrange in a vase, but strong and calloused enough to cut wood, dig a well,  or manage a paintbrush. 

Have I mentioned how excited  I am to have a 14 year old adolescent in my house? 

(Yeah, sure, you can remind me of that when he has one of his moody, disrespectful days...but, today I am rejoicing!) 

So, I'll try to post some final "after" photos soon.

But, don't hold me to it...I'm a busy, I forget sometimes, and I don't always follow through on my intentions.  I have to prioritize - a lot - and this may or may not take precedence on my list of things to do.

Have a happy day!  Teach your kids to do something that will bring a sense of accomplishment - it's good for them (and for us!).

Monday, July 9, 2012

"In the beginning, God was overstimulated."

Okay, before any of my Bible-believing friends decide to hang me up by my toenails for misquoting Genesis 1:1...please allow me to explain.

This was a quote from my second oldest son, Caleb. 

He was age 4.  My husband and I had only three children at the time.  Our oldest, Nathan, would have been age 5, Caleb 4, and our youngest, Eva, was a newborn.

We had recently began our homeschooling journey and the boys were learning to read a little by themselves.

Caleb was excited about reading from the beginning, and one day I spotted him on the couch "reading" his little blue New Testament Bible - the one somebody had given him as a baby gift.  He was reading it UPSIDE DOWN. I just loved that! :)

He was lying on his back, one little foot propped over his opposite knee, reading out loud - with quite a bit of conviction, if I might add.   And I heard him say, matter-of-factly,

"In the beginning, God was overstimulated." 


He had been memorizing Genesis 1:1 - "In the beginning, GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH."

So where did the "overstimulated" part come from?? came from ME! 

You see, my world seemed pretty topsy-turvy with the arrival of our 3rd child. (not that it didn't already seem topsy-turvy...just more so!)  I was crazy nervous about my first year of homeschooling.   And I was taking care of a new baby girl after having been on full bed rest for 7 weeks leading up to her arrival.  We had moved to a new town barely over a year earlier.  I didn't know a lot of people well - and was feeling pretty alone and overwhelmed a lot of the time. 

Add in some serious extended family the struggle with a MAJOR family decision...and I often found myself exasperated with life. 

My little boys seemed to have testosterone blazing through their veins causing them to act like little wild indians most of the time.  I'd look at my little boys and say (sometimes loudly...okay, so I would SCREAM!) "Ughhh!  I'm so overstimulated!!"

Which meant "please leave Mommy alone for just a LITTLE bit"..."stop bouncing off the walls, stop patting me on the leg, stop asking for something to drink, stop whining..."

You get the picture... 

At moments like that, I'd put my baby girl in a safe place, sit my boys on the couch...and dare them to move. 

And, I'd go the bathroom for a good cry - and a few moments of solitude.  I'd complain to God about how I just can't do this.  I'd tell Him that He must've gotten all mixed up when he chose me for this lot in life - because I was REALLY rotten at it!  I was sure I was ruining my kids for life by screaming and being grumpy.  What kind of example is that??

God would listen to my heart.  He'd hear my complaints, my whining, my weariness... desire to be who He wanted me to be. 

And, then... He would seem to whisper to me and tell me it was going to be okay. 

When I'd say, "I just can't do this, God!  I'm terrible at it!"  He'd whisper to my heart..."You're right.  YOU can't do this.  But I CAN.  You ARE terrible at this.  So, let ME TEACH YOU, my daughter."

So, I'd wipe my face and blow my nose, and make my way out of the bathroom.  And, although I wasn't sure how, I was certain that God could help make me into the wife/mother He called me to be.  

Because deep down, I really loved being a mother.  When all my friends in elementary school were playing the "MASH" game to see if they could marry the perfect boy, live in a mansion, and have 2 kids, of course I always wanted the perfect boy - but I didn't mind the shack and lots of kids.  :)  (After all, the perfect boy makes any house a home, and he would love children as much as I love them, right?) 

I always knew I wanted to be a wife and a mommy. 

So, here I was...God helping me see that my little independent self needed HIM more than ever. 

I thank God for lessons learned...and for still helping me when I am overstimulated!

And, one more thing...I'm so glad God doesn't ever really get OVERSTIMULATED!  He can handle it ALL. 

EVERY.  SINGLE.  PART... of our lives.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beginning This Journey Called Blogging

Here I am...little 'ole me starting a blog. 

Something I vowed I'd never have time for...and, really, I don't!!

But, I always loved to journal as a child.  It helped me to see the positive things in life, to sort through fears, to vent my frustrations and disappointments,
and it brought me closer to God.

Since marrying the love of my life and adding children to our home, I have let many other things excuse me from keeping precious records of life - ordinary (and sometimes extraordinary) events that can be remembered in years to come.  I'm hoping this blog will help encourage me

to write,

to remember,

to reflect.

So, even if no one else ever reads this, or shows any interest in my ramblings...perhaps one day my children can treasure what these pages hold.

Of course, I hope and believe that God has an even bigger plan for this little space.  I'm praying that God will use what I share to encourage someone else.  To maybe...not only encourage...but perhaps somehow

to teach,

to show love,

to say "it's okay to say I don't have it all together!"

Because, let me just say from the beginning, that
I am very far from "having it all together."
Frankly, I hate the masks that we tend to habitually wear.  I can say "we" because my habit is to wear them, too!  You know, the masks that say, "I'm great!"  ...and you aren't really great at all, but you aren't sure anyone would really care or understand?  So, you just hold onto the mask, and move through life with very few moments where you feel that you can be "real."  And, just maybe, you forget - for a time -

what is "real".

My hope in this blog is that I will allow myself to be as real as possible.  Granted, it may take me a bit to remove some of the masks, because, well...old habits die hard!  But, God has been teaching me so much, especially in the past few years, about being real with Him and with those I encounter.

That's a scary thing for me. It's a place of extreme vulnerablity. But, it won't be the first time God has called me to do something welcome to the journey.