Monday, December 8, 2014

Save the Worm!

I brought the kids out to play in the dirt and within five minutes they found a dried up worm.  In my first few years of raising little boys, this may have made me cringe.  Now, it is simply one more discovery.  "Just throw it over there guys," I said distractedly.  I looked up and my eyes met theirs.  Apparently I had said something very very wrong.

"We can't just throw him, Mama!  He need a house!" my three year old said.  
"Yeah!" my oldest jumped in.  "He's just thirsty and hungry and cold!  Do you feel how windy it is?  He must be so scared!  Let's make him a house, Drew."
They set to work on the perfect worm house while they discussed what kind of habitat he would need.  
"He's gonna need some grass, Drew.  Go pull some grass.  A lot of it," my oldest directed.  As he waited for the worm's rations to arrive, he built a little nest in the dirt.  "Worms live in the dirt, right Mommy?"  
"Yes, the dig holes in the dirt and live there."
"I have the food, worm!" my three year old yelled as he ran for the dirt pile. "He need a roof!"
"Drew!  He doesn't need a roof!  He's got the dirt!" my oldest countered.
"Yeah but it going to rain.  He will get wet."
"Let's build a roof!" my oldest said, swayed by his brother's fantastic argument.
They worked together to save this already dead worm for twenty minutes more and then, satisfied with their work, went back to doing somersaults.

"Do you think that worm is okay, Mommy?" my oldest asked as I tucked him into bed that night.  "I think he's in a much better place now that you helped him.  I was really proud of you for taking care of him."
"Well, God made worms too, right?" he said.  Right, I thought.

Simply put and so wonderfully right.  We have to care for all things that God has made with love, even if they seem undeserving.  We must think of what they need and provide it, even if it takes us away from something we really want to do.  We should remember that our job is to help, even when it may seem hopeless.  That is why we are here.

How can you care for something or someone today that you wouldn't normally help?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Baby's First Christmas

We unpacked the Christmas decorations before we even reheated our Thanksgiving leftovers; That's how excited we were.  We packed ourselves in the car and picked out the perfect Christmas tree before 10 AM on Friday and got to work decorating it before we even let the branches rest.  (Getting up at 6 AM does have its benefits).

Most of our ornaments were made around our kitchen table or given to us by loved ones.  Our Christmas tree decorations wouldn't win any beauty contests but they are such a strong symbol of a loving family - One that is messy and crazy yet calm and soothing all at once.  As we opened up each ornament, my oldest son would tell a story.  "Remember Mommy!  This was my very first ornament when I was a baby.  The Pooh bear one was my very first ornament."  
My three year old joined the game.  "Mama!  This was was MY very first ornament," he said as he pulled out a mini wedding dress ornament given to me at my bridal shower.  
"Well, that one is mine but we can definitely find yours," I said.  
"Oh!  Drew!  Here it is!" my oldest said as he pulled out the baby picture of his brother.  My youngest looked at it lovingly.  
"Awww, that was me when I was a baby." He stopped for a moment, and looked at me.  "Mama!  It OUR baby's first Christmas right now!"

And so it is.  I gazed at our baby as she explored all the ornaments she would soon be yanking off the tree and I got a bit misty eyed.  It's our family's last "baby's first Christmas" but the beginning of so much more.  It's the beginning of messy Christmas cookie baking sessions that end with more flour on the floor than in the cookies.  It's the launching pad of vital life lessons like, "giving is more important than receiving" and teaching them to celebrate the gift of Jesus.  It's hours of dreaming about the magic of Santa and his little elves.  It's a glorious excuse to spend lots of time with people we love.  It truly is magical.  Children understand that.  And if we pay attention, we just might let some of that magic rub off on us. 

How can you ignore your Christmas to-do's and embrace the magic of Christmas today?


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Messy Again

My oldest has been absolutely against moving.  We try to explain that it will be better. You will have a yard to play in!  (I like the yard we have now.)  You will have your own room! (I like sharing with Drew.)  You will have more room for your trains! (I have enough room here.)  Nothing we have said has made a difference.  Until we started cleaning up the house.

It went on the market Friday and we sat the kids down to explain the process.  "Lots of people are going to come and look at our house so we have to keep it really clean.  We have to put toys away right after we use them and clean up messes as we make them.   We can't leave stuff all over the place anymore."
"But I don't want to sell our house," my oldest said.
"We know buddy," my husband said with a sigh.  "But we are going to sell it and we're going to need your help."

We had our first showing that same day and we all hustled to clean up the house.  I carted the baby around on my hip as I directed the kids and grabbed toys under every chair and table in the house.  (How does everything get there, anyway?) We hustled to the car with five minutes to spare.
"Mommy," my oldest said.
"Yeah, bud."
"I'm ready to move."
"Really?  What changed your mind?"
"I'd like to go back to having a messy house.  Let's hurry up and sell this place so that I can be messy again."

Life is so straightforward to kids, isn't it?  I had worried about his emotional state - Would I be traumatizing him by moving and introducing all this change??  And yet, he is on board with moving as long as he can make a mess again.  It's a good reminder to not over think things. I am going to work on that one.

Do you overthink decisions involving your kids?  How can you work on letting some of that go?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thankful Heart

We were having one of those days that makes you want to pull out your hair.  Babies taking short naps, five year olds talking back and three year olds spinning around in circles in the middle of the kitchen while I was cooking and putting aways dishes.  You get it - You've been there, right?  By lunch time, we had all had enough of each other.  My five year refused to clear the table because he, "had better things to do" so he was sent to his room.  I threw in the towel and put on the PBS app for my three year old and collapsed on the couch.

He chose to watch the sweet Mr. Rogers spin-off, Daniel.  We snuggled up and listened to Daniel learn about how to be grateful for all the things in his life and I was glad for the respite.  I brought him up for a nap then grabbed my baby who always seems to wake up exactly when they rest.  I decided to scoop her up and appreciate the one on one time with my spunky little girl.

A few hours later, my three year old came down the stairs with his hair sticking up in all directions.  He walked over to me and sunk down into my lap, still heavy with sleep.  "Mama," he said.  
"Yes, love?"
"I been thinking about it and I so thankful for everything you do."
In that moment, all the stress of the day disappeared.  "Thank you, my sweet boy.  You just made my day.  You don't have any idea how much Mommy needed to hear that.  I love you."
"Love you too," he answered as he wrapped me in a bear hug.

I read today that Jesus leaves beautiful moments for you to discover each and every day.  That was one of those moments.  I picked it up and held it close to my heart.  I will treasure those words always.  

If you are a parent, please know that they are grateful.  They are grateful that you buy them their favorite snacks at the grocery store.  They are grateful that you wake up at all hours of the night to fix their bad dreams/tummy aches/fevers/coughs/fears.  They are grateful that you love them unconditionally.  They are gateful for you.

Happy Thanksgiving to you are your family.  Sending love to you today!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Learning Shapes

My three year old has recently wanted to start trying to draw shapes.  He's great at circles and rounded squares but he mostly just scribbles.  Isn't that was three year olds are supposed to do?  Still, he is not satisfied.

"You know what, Mama?" he asked me one morning.  "I want to draw a heart.  I want to draw a heart just for you."
"That is so sweet, buddy!  I would love that."
"Drew, look!" his brother said as he raced to the chalkboard.  "There's a heart!  See it? It's right there!  See it?"
"Yeah, I see it.  It look really really hard," my three year old answered.
"But you can do it. I will help you," I told him.
"Okay, but it gonna be hard. I have to draw a triangle and a butt to make that heart."
I stopped and looked at the heart and started laughing out loud.  "Well, I never looked at it that way but you are right!  It's a triangle with a butt on top!  Ready to try it?"  And so we did.

Kids are hilarious. They see the world through a completely different lense and they have no hesitation about sharing it with us.  I absolutely love that about them.  We should all take a page out of their book.  Embrace your creative side today and don't be afraid to express yourself.  It just might bring you a great amount of joy.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Storytellers


Driving home from a trip the library, my 9 month old daughter began singing in a monotone voice. "Aaaaaaaah Aaaaah eyeeeee Aaaaah."  She tends to fall into a reverie anytime there is a rare moment of silence.  It's as if she is so delighted to finally get a chance to share what's on her mind that she can't help but get lost in it.  The drone was not exactly musical but nonetheless, I let her know her singing was beautiful.

"She's not singing, Mama," my three year old said.  "Her telling a story."

"Oh really?  Can you tell what she's saying?" I asked.

"Of course.  She saying, 'There were monsters in the car everywhere.  They were big scary monsters.  But her knew we could get out.  So I opened the door and...'"

"Was the car moving, Drew?  Did we jump out of the car while it was moving?" my oldest asked as he slipped off his headphones. 

"Yeah, we did," Drew continued.  I saw a half smile creep onto his face.  He knew he had a rapt audience.  "We jumped and we ran and we ran. The monsters jumped out too, right Ro Ro?" He looked over to confirm with his baby sister.  

"Aaaaaaaaaaahhhhh."  Apparently she concurred.

"We ran SO FAST that those monsters couldn't find us anywhere." 

"Wow!  She is a great storyteller!  She's flapping her arms now.  What does that mean?" I asked.

"She say that the monsters DID find us so we flew into the sky where they couldn't ever get us ever."

"She's lucky to have a brother that can understand her so well," I told him.

"Yeah.  Her lucky," he said as he stared out the window.  Suddenly, he lifted his head and peered over at his sister.  "I love you, Ro Ro."

His creativity and imagination are so alive.  As he told the story, I could see the events playing out.  I really began to believe that he understood what his sister was saying.  Who knows, maybe he did.  

There are so many times that I wish for quiet in the car.  Time to think, time to plan, time to listen to the lyrics of a new song that I love or a story on NPR.  But if I stop and listen, I get a window into their minds.  I am able to live in their world for a small period of time.  I will not remember that NPR story for longer than a week but I will never forget his animated storytelling and his sweet adoration of his sister. That, in the end, was a gift wrapped up for my heart.

When do your childrens' imaginations come to life?  Be there for it this week and listen.  Really listen.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Tree Huggers


Getting three small children out of the car in a busy parking lot is always a logistical exercise.  My oldest is great about staying close to me but my three year old lives in his own mind.  He will wander away to look at a bird or check out a drain if I look away for even a moment.  I usually will slide open his door so he doesn't suffocate in the Florida heat then ask him to wait in the car while I get the baby in her stroller/baby carrier/sling/hip.  Yesterday he decided against my plan.

I was unbuckling my daughter when I looked up and realized he was out of the car.  I ran to the other side and found him bent down analyzing the paint on the parking lot.  "Buddy, you have to listen to Mommy and wait in the car.  This is a very busy parking lot.  Come and wait over here by your brother."  I walked him over to the other side of the car where he could safely wait in a mulched area and got back to unbuckling.  When I was ready to head into the store, my oldest got distracted by a small tree.

"Why are there ropes on this tree?" my oldest asked.

"Because it's a baby tree.  A sapling.  They moved it here and tethered it until it's roots are strong enough to hold it up."  I tried to stop worrying about getting to their class in time and stay in this moment. I said a quick prayer to help me enjoy their curiosity then refocused on their words. 

"Awwww!  It's a baby!  Look how cute!" my three year old was saying.

"I can't believe it's a baby tree!  Let's see if it' snuggly like our baby!" my oldest said to his brother.  

They proceeded to wrap their arms around the trunk of the live oak until they both fell backward laughing.  "That baby is NOT snuggly at all!  Cute, but not snuggly!" my oldest boomed through a fit of giggles.  My three year old grabbed his belly and doubled over laughing. 

"You guys are so silly, " I said as I grabbed their little hands and headed into the library.

As I walked, I thought about how sweet these guys are.  They delight in their baby sister and have since fallen in love with all baby things.  They have such tender and kind hearts.  Yes, their minds are always wandering to birds and trees and paint on asphalt instead of getting to their classes on time but in the end, what is more important?  I certainly subscribe to the philosophy that this world is ours (and theirs!) to discover.  Who am I to stand in the way of that?  

Does your childrens' curiosity ever get in the way of your objectives?  How can you embrace their creativity instead of your agenda?


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