when you blink…

and your littlest one…IMG_3412

turns one.

DSC_0659

 A boy who generously shares his smile…

knox one year

plays fetch by himself…

DSC_0621

survives his adoring brothers…

DSC_0654

and

stands on his own.

DSC_0502

you try to open your eyes a little wider between blinks.

we love you Knox David. happy birthday baby!

DSC_0687

*thank you aunt andrea & aunt christina for the encouragement to celebrate this milestone with y’all.

**thank you mr. Dallas police man for showing me grace. Next time I’m driving home from the grocery store, running late to my son’s first birthday “party”, and talking to my husband on my cellphone about what outfit he should put on my 1-year-old for his party, I will make a full and complete stop before turning right. I promise.

Advertisements

What We’re Reading {William Bradford}

(I know I didn’t post a book last week, but I didn’t want to interrupt your Pinterest perfect Valentine’s Day. Hope you enjoyed time with loved ones instead of reading blogs about books.)

On to the topic at hand…I started the new series “What We’re Reading” and shared a fun picture book to take on a picnic. To shake things up a bit, this week I’m going to share a chapter book…a non-fiction chapter book. I know…I know.

Whatwerereading

Remember how I shared my MOB Society post (sorry the link was broken…fixed now). I wrote about casting a godly vision for our children. One way to inspire our children to do great things for God’s glory is to read biographies of others who have followed & been used by God. This week’s story is just that…

DSC_0546

William Bradford: Young Pilgrim

Synopsis:

“Orphaned at a young age, he was formed by forces which were providentially preparing him for the great call upon his life. Follow his life from his boyhood in Scrooby, England through the years when he led the Pilgrims as the first governor of Plymoth Plantation.” (200 pages)

–Read aloud for ages 4-6 (may be hard for them to keep attention…but if you take time to talk them through the chapters…rephrasing for little ears they will enjoy it);

–Chapter book for ages 7-9 (depending on child’s reading level).

Why I love it:

The first time I heard about this book was when I observed the school my boys now attend. As I entered the 1st grade classroom the teacher just finished reading from the chapter book, “Squanto” and asked the children to get out paper & pencils for spelling. Then she paused and looked at one of the boys, asking him, “Are you okay?”.

The little boy started to ask about what will happen to Squanto. Apparently in the chapter they had stopped reading, men took Squanto from his village and sold him into slavery in England.

This teacher calmly & patiently reassured this young boy, “I know it seems like Squanto is suffering greatly. But God will make it right. Remember William Bradford? How his parents died & God provided William Brewster as a mentor? That relationship brought William Bradford to the new world. God will use this trial to bring about His purposes in Squanto’s life. You will see. It will be good.”

So when my son brought home this chapter book, I looked forward to reading this redemptive story…God making right the wrong of William’s life.

I also love the mentorship relationship. Just like I wrote about with casting a godly vision for your children, W. Brewster guided W. Bradford to seek God in his life.

“You have a good mind & an earnest one.  We don’t know yet for what purpose God gave it to you.  But let us make it ready for whatever work He gives you.”

Enjoy!

**Disclaimer: we may be a little biased in loving this book since we discovered my husband is related to William Brewster. 😉

Filling up my Momheart

Two years ago while ill with flu, I stayed in bed and followed the Momheart conference on Twitter (via @SomeGirlTweets). Here I listed all the wonderfully inspirational tweets.

Last year I headed to the doctor’s office instead of the conference hotel, thinking I was going into labor. Fortunately it was a false alarm & I was able to attend Momheart after all (contracting every couple of minutes the whole time). But the 5 mommy tips I gained at last year’s conference I’m STILL using.

momheart conference

This year I sat & enjoyed the inspiration and wisdom of Sally & others without physical discomfort. It was glorious! It would be stingy of me to keep all this hope & encouragement to myself. Here are my “takeaways” from the weekend:

HOPE

1. “Hope is the energy that inspires you to pursue your ideals.”-Sally Clarkson

This quote sums up the feeling I gained from Momheart. Seeing Sally’s grown children pursuing God in various ways, gave me hope to keep pursuing my ideals. Knowing that the daily training & tangible love is worth the effort. Continuing to seek God early in the morning, so I may be filled with patience, joy, kindness, gentleness, self-control which can only come from His Spirit.

FAITH

2.  “If you only live by works, you will live by works the rest of your life. But if you live by faith you will depend on God for the rest of your life.” –Sally Clarkson

Seeing how it wasn’t Sally’s works which produced awesome grown children…it was her faithfulness to pursue her God. It is not my efforts or my works which matters, but my heart thirsting after the One who holds my children’s souls.Praying for wisdom only He can give in helping shape the ones only He can draw to Himself. 

“If I want to be an expert in the hopes & dreams & faith & fears of my children I want to go to the one who breathed life into them & created them. ” -Kat Lee

FREEDOM

3. “Your children are complete according to heaven. View them as fellow beautiful ones.” Sarah Mae

DSC_0613

Sarah shared her personal story of brokenness & how she did not believe God could ever love her because of her faults. She discovered freedom (Gal 5:1) and learned God already saw her as perfect because of Christ’s perfect sacrifice on the cross:

“For by a single offering he has perfected (completed) for all time those who are (being) sanctified.” Hebrews 10:14

In the eyes of all-mighty God you are already perfect…believe it!!

GRACE

4. “You are doing a good job because you are there & you try.” Kat Lee

Oh I’m just going to record this & put it on repeat. Good stuff. She is also known for saying, “You’re a mom. You’re kind of a big deal.”

Despite doing a good job & being a big deal, if there was anything I felt I wanted to work on…being more patient, more organized, less reactive. Kat’s advice was to:

“Make a list of the things you want to work on…put them in order most important…focus on one thing a month.” (Kat Lee)

LOVE

5. “Law created in love provides protection. Law without love is legalism.” Sally Clarkson

DSC_0596

Sally reminded me the importance of not getting my boys to behave because “I say so”. But maintaining a loving, trusting relationship with my children so they desire to listen to instruction. Creating an atmosphere of love. Treating them as I would like to be treated. Be respectful to be respected.

JOY

6. “Bring life to your puzzle.”-Deb Weakly

Deb Weakly is a dear friend of Sally’s. Deb encouraged us the best gift to give our children is a strong marriage. Having come from a home with divorced parents, she spoke with encouragement instead of condemnation.

Since life will always be a hard, bring life & joy to your puzzle (your children, your husband, your circumstances). Whatever challenges are present in your home…embrace them. Remember who you are, do the things you love. Remember why you love your husband…tell him why (she said if you don’t remember why you love your husband…ask God & He will remind you…then write it down!).

“Instead of being negative…lean into your marriage. Think positive thoughts. ‘I’m in this. No matter what.’ Commit your plans to the Lord. He will establish your thoughts. ‘I love Him. This is a bump in the road.'”-Deb Weakly

My prayer is these words will inspire you to keep up the good work in your home. When the days are long & you are weary, remember God sees your faithfulness…it matters.

welcomesign

One plan for dealing with misbehavior {aka “the time I forgot about consequences”}

When I had Knox, the older boys were just finishing up the second half of Spring semester. A month after he was born, I attended parent-teacher conferences. During one conference a teacher asked me, “When ____(insert name)___ does something he’s not supposed to do, what is his consequence?”

Crickets.

Oh shoot! Consequences? I had completely forgotten about consequences.

What I wanted to tell her, but wisely didn’t, was when the boys got too wild or broke a rule, their “consequence” was an angry mommy… or the command, “STOP IT!!!!” or choice words yelled across the house.

Feeding a newborn every couple hours made it challenging to remember the importance of an effective discipline system. Meeting the needs of a baby was all-consuming. Providing for physical needs of 3 other boys, then possibly meeting some emotional needs AND executing thoughtful discipline on top of it all? Forget about it.

But her question, “What is the consequence…” stuck in my head for several days. She reminded me how off-base my discipline had tilted. Maybe it had just fallen off the wagon all-together.

For me, discipline swings on a pendulum swinging between too-strict and too-permissive. When things get too permissive, it gets too chaotic in our home and it robs the joy.

James Dobson gives a memorable analogy (this is my summary…) Suppose you are going 90 mph on the highway and pass a police officer. What if the officer could only stand next to the highway and yell as loud as he could, “Slow down!!” & blow his whistle…would you stop speeding?

6268234475_4a1566663f

photo credit

But imagine driving with your kids, jamming to your Seeds Family Worship and you see the lights of a police car in your rearview mirror (not that this has happened to me…merely an example). 😉 Your heart beats rapidly as you roll down the window to hand over your license & registration. You wait anxiously for the officer to return to the side of your car and determine whether you will be handed the dreaded ticket requiring you to pay a large sum of money.

For the next month…or year…when you get to the specific road you were pulled over, you make sure to go well below the speed limit. And it worked…behavior changed by a consequence.

For a long time I’ve been the police officer just yelling from the side of the road. My kids called my bluff & there was no change in behavior.

Then I was flipping through the book “Good & Angry” by Turansky & Miller and was reminded of a simple way to deal with misbehavior at home. It gave me a plan to implement in those moments I want to just shout “no!”.

Here is my version of their plan for handling misbehavior:

  1. Unacceptable behavior occurs
  2. Ask the offender to sit on our bottom step
  3. Tell him to come find me when he is ready to talk about his behavior
  4. When he finds me we talk through the following questions:
  • What did you do that was wrong?
  • Why was it wrong?
  • What are you going to do next time?

**End with “Now go try again!” (my favorite part…they leave encouraged instead of discouraged).

Slide1

I’ve found the boys typically know what they did wrong. But they rarely can express “why” it was wrong (a child development issue…most kids struggle with the “why”). Talking through the why helps form their moral code. For example, “Why was it wrong to hit your brother? Because God commands us to love one another. Hitting someone is not loving or kind.”

Then talking about options and ways to respond next time has also proved helpful in reducing bad behavior choices. For example, “If he takes one of your toys and it makes you upset, you could tell him, ‘I was playing with that car. You can have it when I’m finished.'”

I’m not going to lie & tell you life is grand & my boys never fight or disobey. No ma’am. But I have a plan now. When the baby needs to be fed & someone makes a bad choice I have a tool I can pull out instead of yelling.

What consequence system have you found to be useful? I can use all the help I can get!! 

Seeking God’s Plan for my Boys

Only God knows what kind of men my boys will become. And so I seek Him and ask Him to give me wisdom. Wisdom to know His plans. Eyes to see their uniqueness. And then words to direct their hearts towards His calling.

Today I’m writing over at the MOB Society about casting a Godly vision for your boys (also true for girls…but the site is for mothers of boys afterall…). Click here to read the article.

To go along with the theme of my post I wanted to share a video of my two oldest boys we made last week. The only prompt I gave was: “Do y’all want to help me tell others about HelloMornings? Lots of ladies will see it and maybe want to join me in waking up early. You have one minute to talk about why you like when mommy wakes up early.”

This is the result:


So I speak this vision over my eldest son…”God has gifted you with the ability to craft words. You perform well in front of others…with passion. You have a wonderful sense of truth and share it well. I can’t wait to see how God uses these talents for His glory.”

What gifts do you see in your children? Have you sought God for wisdom in how He could use those gifts for His glory?

Such a high calling to take the raw material God has placed in my hands and shape it for His purposes. 

What We’re Reading {Roxaboxen}

This monday a major event began at my son’s school…the Reading Rally. What’s “reading rally”, you ask?

Think of a jog-a-thon…but instead of getting sponsored to run laps around a track, students are sponsored to read books (1-2 cents/minute). Each student sets a reading goal for the month. There are medals to be earned. Big stuff people.

Of course, for Quade there was no other option but go for gold. Which means we will be reading at least 3,000 minutes this month. Whew.

He’ll read aloud and I’ll read aloud and Bruce will read aloud. It’s gonna be epic.

I figured since we would be spending so much time reading it’s the perfect time to start a new series…

Whatwerereading

Being a speech-language pathologist (SLP), I know the importance of reading to your children. But it wasn’t until Quade started attending a Classical Christian school that I understood the difference between quality literature & “twaddle”.

As an SLP my requirements for a “good book” were: simple sentences, theme-based vocabulary, and interesting illustrations. I looked for books with few words per page, ones which allowed me to ask good “Wh-” questions, facilitated further conversation and helped teach story prediction skills.

Now I have new requirements for books we read. I want books which instill values, demonstrate desirable character qualities, encourage creative play, and affirm importance of nature, animals & older generations. The richer the characters, the imagery, the story line…the better.

“What we become depends on what we read after all the professors have finished with us.  The greatest university of all is a collection of books.” -Thomas Carlyle

Thankfully his school provided a wonderful list of books which fall in this category of quality literature.

For the “What We’re Reading” series I will share a book a week, give a quick synopsis and share why we like it. (maybe someday it will become a link-up?)

Our first book is one we love to read while eating lunch on our back porch or at the park.

IMG_5158

Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran (for ages 3 to 8 years old)

Synopsis:

Across the street on a rocky hill children found old wooden boxes, rocks, cactus, and thorny ocotillo (you’ll learn what those are in the book). Adding imagination to these simple materials they create a wonderful world, called Roxaboxen, with homes, ice cream shops, and a city hall. Rocks became currency. Twigs became a steering wheel for a car. A stick and string transform into a horse. Those ocotillo’s become weapons in the great war of boys versus girls. Best of all, no matter the season or the passing years, “Roxaboxen was always there.”

Why we like it:

Having grown up with several acres of woods behind my house, I love the idea of creating a world with natural elements. I remember my best friend and I found trees full of vines and imagined an entire carnival and town in those trees.

This book reminds me of simpler times. All a child needs is a stick and his imagination and unplanned hours of play. Fun to give my boys a vision of what they can create when they play outside.

What are you reading? (have you ever read “Roxaboxen”?)

Do You Trust Me? {lesson from the Horse Whisperer}

When Knox arrived a year ago, my other three little guys experienced chaos and upheaval. For a solid 6 months (2 months before the birth, at least 4 months after) stood a tired and highly emotional mom.

Our relationships suffered. My boys just didn’t trust me. Eyes questioned my harsh tone. Bodies leaned away from my reach. They didn’t believe I had their best interest in mind.

Fortunately I’ve spent the last year rebuilding that trust. But it’s taken a focused effort. More patience and understanding on my part.

IMG_5298

This process of rebuilding trust all made more sense when I recently read, “Horse Sense for People” by the Horse Whisperer (Monty Roberts). This man trains horses in an unconventional way. He does not use harsh methods. Instead he develops a trusting relationship with the horse and establishes he is not a threat to the horse. Then he proceeds with training.

He learned horses are fight or flight animals. “To saddle a horse, for example, is to provoke the sense that he is being attacked by a predator and this leads him to act in self-defense.” Traditional trainers keep the horse chained up and then whip him when he attacks or tries to get away. They work from the principle, “You do what I tell you, or I’ll hurt you.”

The Horse Whisperer realized he had to communicate to the horses they could trust him, and he had to earn that trust. He found he could help the horse to discover the joys of working together, all without coercion and pain.

Even though my boys aren’t animals (a fact hard to believe sometimes), there is something to be learned from the Horse Whisperer’s insight. By establishing trust, my boys learn the joy of partnership and working together. They are more willing to accept discipline because they know I have their best interest in mind (not just for my comfort & convenience).

Isn’t that the approach God takes with us? Our entire relationship with God begins with faith (or trust). A faith He does not force upon us. We are given the free will to believe in the existence of God, to believe He loves us, to believe He sent His son to die for us.

He does not force us into obedience. He provides rules (laws) for our own benefit, safety and blessing. He desires a relationship with us. Not only a relationship, but a healthy, loving, growing relationship.

DSC_0215

Jesus approached the disciples the same way. He did not force them to follow him but proved himself loving and trustworthy. Once they viewed him as a Rabbi/leader/teacher, he trained and corrected them. Take the calling of Simon Peter:

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

(Luke 5:4,5,10,11)

Do you feel like your kids trust you? How do you help foster a trusting relationship in your home? 

*As I was processing this concept of trust, my son brought home the book “Lass” by Roland Gebauer. This story is about a man who gains the trust of a wild sheepdog, trains him how to herd sheep, and the dog ends up saving a single lost sheep. A great story to read with your kids about God’s redemptive work in our lives. IMG_4819