I know it will be fine but…..

downloadIt has been a long long time since I have posted. Life has been the same ole busy thing. There have been big big bumps and easy care free moments. We hit our 21st wedding anniversary. and we had our #1 cherub graduate high school.

He has 71 days until we drop him off at his college dorm

There are a thousand articles and blogs out there that talk about how hard it is but……

it is healthy

it is such an exciting time

it was the plan was all along

God loaned our babies to us to raise into good God loving, gospel spreading young adults

How would we feel if they didn’t leave, didn’t become independent young men & women?

Every one of those things is totally true. I agree with them 100%. My son is a good man. We are incredibly proud of him. We have raised him to be independent and to be able to thrive in the world. He is so excited about his future and we are excited for him.

It doesn’t change how sad I am. It doesn’t make me feel better that in 71 days my son will only come home to visit.

Day to day life will be different. We will be a house of 4 instead of 5.  I will miss listening to the boys chat at night. I love going to sleep listening the hum of their whispering. I will miss our Saturday morning tradition of watching the latest super hero television show together. My #2 son will be driving to and from school by himself from now on. The brothers have always been together. This will be the first time in their lives that they are apart. My #2 son told me his heart hurt yesterday as they drove home from school for the last time together. Family dinners will be different, Family day will be different.

Everything will be different.

I will miss him so much.

I blinked and it was over. It seems like yesterday (honestly) that he would run out when I got home and wrap his little chubby arms around me or beg me to rub his back so he could fall asleep. I would give anything to have back the moment in the picture above.

I am sure in a few months I will be able to write about the joy of watching my child become an independent person in his own element, The satisfaction in seeing the evolution of the young man to the more mature man.

But for today I am just sad. My good friend gave me some great advice, “Don’t ignore or repress your feelings. You have to acknowledge them in order to move forward” So here I am, fully acknowledging my feelings, a weepy sad mess.

For all the mommas out there that have been through this I know it is temporary. We have many friends whose children have left the nest and their new normal is just fine. I know we will get there too. But for today I just want to have a pity party and a glass of wine.

 

 

Letting Go of Your Teenager

imagesAlmost 18 years of  guiding, going to seminars, going to church, getting my cherubs mentors, having them go to youth group and bible studies. I felt we had given our babies every tool to make good decisions.

That is why it is so devastating when they choose the wrong path. We gave them everything in our power to guide them down the right path. They chose poorly.

The decision was life altering. It is a no take back situation. They have to deal with the consequences. The consequences will rear their ugly head many times over the course of their young lives.

And honestly I feel pretty helpless. As your babies get older the decisions they have to make get harder. Every single part of our culture leads our children against God’s plan. What is good is, at best, critiqued and ridiculed. What is bad is celebrated and encouraged. Parenting morals and values is an uphill battle. I have this visual of the 2 of us pushing a giant rock up hill and the rest of the world pushing that rock with their feet and hands back down.

As parents, we just have to sit back and watch. We are not mad, we are just sad.We all want what is best for our children. The guidance we give them is an attempt to save them from heartache and suffering. As they get older you realize, no matter how much guidance and how many right things you do, they have to suffer. They have to have heartache. They cannot learn from their mistakes unless they make them.

At these times the natural reaction is to grab a hold tighter. To set more rules and monitor more closely. But that isn’t going to work. At some point in their life you have to let go. You have to let failures happen.

The only path I can see to take is laying out consistent expectations  and talking about the bumps in the road. This makes your home a safe place for your children when they mess up. Grace and mercy are our friends during these times. Using these times to re-emphasize God’s word. To gently let them know that these choices are not part of what God wants for them.

Even though I think we all feel helpless sometimes we have to remember that we have the power of God in us. That makes us far from helpless.

Romans 5:3-6 reminds us “ Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.have

God’s in our corner. Nothing is a surprise to Him. Each moment in our lives serves a purpose for His plan.

So you can let go with confidence. We were only stewards of our children in the first place. They were never really ours, they are His and He loves them so much more than we ever could. We can continue to guide but ultimately their path is already set. God has His arms around them.

 

“Spiritual Parenting in the First Five Years”

41sprIJdN6L._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_When I was pregnant I read so many baby & pregnancy books. As time passed I read a variety of parenting technique books. Everything from Ferberizing (which i hated), to Love Languages for Children, (which I loved.) Honestly I never thought about developing my child’s spirituality in the early years. I read how to get them to sleep, play nice, share, eat blah blah blah. In retrospect, Spiritual Parenting seems pretty important

I just read an eBook titled “Spiritual Parenting in the First Five Years” by Callie Grant

This is a quick easy read with some great tips. You can purchase Callie Grant’s e-book here on Amazon!

It is a worthwhile purchase at $5.00

Here is a brief synopsis. I hope you mommas enjoy it.

Expecting parents have nine months to plan and attend classes before the baby arrives. Traditionally, most of that time is devoted to preparing for the child’s physical needs. But what about the baby’s spiritual needs? Callie Grant, founder of the Christian publishing company Graham Blanchard, lays out five Bible-based principles for the care and feeding of a new child’s inner life. The first few years of a child’s life are developmentally the most important. Parents can maximize this vital window to teach their children about who God is, and how they are made to be in a relationship of peace, joy and love with him.

 

 

August Is The Sunday Of Summer

Summer-Sunday-e1407858845935The end of summer elicits two very different responses from mommas. In one camp there is the  group that thinks, “Thank goodness.  I cannot wait for school to start.” The second group is more of the clinging by the your fingertips to the last moments as they are dragged out from under you.

I have always belonged to the latter group. If you have read any of my previous posts you will know that milestones are not my favorite part of parenting. I may rejoice and beam with pride as each cherub reaches a milestone but I silently grieve as they pass them. (Ok, not all that silently.)

Each year the end of summer is just a slap upside the head to me. We have spent summer in a blissful, relatively nag free state.  My big rule over summer is that everyone must brush their teeth twice a day. Otherwise it is pretty much Lord of the Flies over here.

I know there are tons of families who thrive on the routine of school. To me, summer is sooooooo much better than the day to day of school life. Let’s face it school sets us up for failure. How can a day start out peaceful when everyone is waking up while it is still dark outside? No one in our family is really a morning person. Most of the time 3 of the 4 are crabby. It rotates which of the 3, but it is usually at least three. Then there is the homework grind, the after school stuff, nagging everyone to get to bed on time. It is this exhausting ritual that last nine months. Plus it is cold and dark out early and I am not at all tan, I mean really come on…..

Summer is a serenade of beautiful long days at the beach or better yet vacation. Bedtime is flexible, showers are flexible, vegetables at every meal are flexible, heck even waking up has some flexibility.The end of summer also means my cherubs are one year older, one grade higher and one step closer to being all grown up.

As the last moments of summer come to a gentle close I will miss a ton of things.

I will miss my almost grown giant children waking up starving at 11 a.m, hair all amuck, still looking like they are just really tall 8 year olds.

I will miss meeting one of my cherubs for lunch during my lunch hour at work.

I will miss the constant barrage of friends that come and go. The week long sleepovers.  I love coming home to eight cherubs sprawled all over the furniture watching a movie.

I won’t will miss following up on homework or running to the craft store to get stuff to do a project. Heck, I have not stepped into a craft store since June.

I will won’t miss feeling like everyone has to be in bed by 10 p.m. or the next day will be a disaster

But the thing I will really miss is that this is my second to last summer with two of my babies. They are seniors this year. It is a big year. They have already taken senior pictures. The first football game of their last year is tomorrow. In fact almost everything is the last of something.

For someone who never wants her babies to fly the coup, and yes, I totally understand how dysfunctional and unhealthy that is. Senior year is just a great big emotional roller coaster. Full of peacock proud moments and teary eyes. Next summer is our last summer together as a whole family before they begin the journey off  whatever path life takes them on.

Sure I know they will come back and visit but that is the key word. It is just a “visit.”  They won’t live here anymore. I totally get that, that is the goal. God only loaned us our cherubs. We are their stewards. Our job is to raise independent, God loving, gospel sharing adults. If we have done that then we have fulfilled our commitment and God’s purpose for letting us have these amazing humans for the past eighteen or so years.

So sayonara summer. Hello fall. Lots of exciting moments to experience this year. Forward progress mommas.

Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

 

 

 

I Am Praying, But I Really Don’t Mean It.

vain_young_woman_072709_m-234x350Vanity is one of the more yucky parts of me. I am often concerned with how I look and how people see me. This is getting to be a slippery slope as I age.

I have entered what I call the age of invisibility. This is the age when you can walk through a crowd at a water park and no on pays a lick of attention to you. It is liberating in some ways (you don’t have to suck in all day and you  can wear your 3 year old one piece) but very difficult in others. I used to get a lot of self worth and affirmation from that kind of attention.

I know the whole thing about getting our self worth from God etc. That He is enough.  I wish so very much that could be enough for me? I know how narcissistic this all sounds and I am really not as self involved as it reads. But as I get older the lack of affirmation is much more noticeable. Thus making me grasp for things that will help.I don’t want to loose weight for health, it’s for vanity as is dying my hair, getting eyelash extensions (I really loved those) or buying new makeup.

The trouble with these things is  that we are not exactly rolling in dough. Anytime I do something fluffy like that it comes straight from some other part of the budget. There is no stroke Kris’s ego fund.

Mommas I am not saying you shouldn’t try and look your best, but there is a line that I cross sometimes. The line where I will sacrifice in one area to get some unnecessary fluff just because I am feeling low about myself. That is where the rub lies. If I really felt that God’s love was enough I would be far less wrapped up in me.

So I pray that God takes away this part of me. I pray that He painlessly zaps it out of me. I am hoping one day I will wake up and look in the mirror and just be content. Sadly I don’t think that is the way it works..To make matters worse at the same time  I kind of don’t want it to change. I still really like the compliments. I love getting a new outfit or hair style that causes my friends to say, “You look great.”  I get this temporary high.

So what happens when you pray but as you are praying you know you really don’t mean it? You want to mean it but you just don’t. You feel like you still need whatever the thorn in your side is?  Let’s face it God knows what is going on. No one is fooling Him.

I am tackling this by acknowledging the fact that I don’t mean it and I still need whatever it is to make me feel good. Then I ask God to at least take away the part that still wants it. My prayer goes like this;  “Dear Heavenly Father, you know how I am.  I don’t really want you to take it but I would love for you to change my thinking to more of you and less of me. Please make my heart more like yours. Let your ways be my ways. Please let me know you are enough in my heart. And even though I don’t mean it I really want to be obedient. But Lord it is going to take some extra help from you because I cannot do it on my own.”

I am one weak sister mommas. I am just hoping the good Lord appreciates my efforts. Whatever your struggling with,(vanity, unwillingness to forgive, anger, addiction etc.) the thing that you know you shouldn’t be doing but it just feels good. Ask God to intercede on your behalf. Even if you don’t mean it I fully believe God will change our hearts.

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through him who gives me strength

How Can We Love Them in the Moments We Really Want to Strangle Them?

6397Last night was sucky. The cherubs were in prime summer agitation mode. They have been home too much, around each other too much and just off schedule all together. They were bickering, nitpicking and just being all round rotten. One is passive aggressive, one is aggresive aggresive and the other two do a variation. I had reached my limit.

When I reach my limit I usually do this thing where I feel that since I have been patient enough I now am justified to let loose. Honestly, it always made me feel better to yell. I come from a long line of yellers. It is a comfort zone thing. I am making progress on breaking that pattern but every once in a while….

Anyway, as I lie there in bed fuming, getting more and more irritated I prayed. This is my favorite prayer for these times. It goes something like this, “Dear God, I would like to beat all my cherubs right now. I am really mad and fed up and frankly I do not like them at this moment. Please help me to love them the way they need to be loved right now”

The end part of this prayer always keeps me from jumping over the ledge. It gives me perspective that this is temporary and that my cherubs need something specific.

I take a deep breath and go into the living room. I, relatively calmly, ask them to separate and leave each other alone. They argue, they defend their positions, but I am silent. (Silence and prayer are the two most powerful parenting tools around.) This is followed with some hugs and more of me insisting they leave each other alone. It is truly amazing to watch. When I yell and get in the mix it turns into this ridiculous moment of explosion and strife but when I am silent and hug the situation just fizzles. Don’t stoke the fire mommas. Let it die.

I may not get the initial satisfaction I get when I yell, but this ends up being so much more peaceful and effective.

I figure God is always loving us the way we need, even when we act up, so I should try and extend that same love to my family.

Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

 

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Nerf Bullets and Other Things I Miss

download (1)Yesterday I passed a home that had about 100 Nerf bullets lying around the yard. A veritable shrine of harmless shrapnel left behind from an afternoon of fun by some little family. It made me sigh as I realized how much I missed seeing Nerf bullets spew from every crevice in my house. When the cherubs were little it used to drive me crazy. Everywhere I looked I would see Nerf bullets, legos, super hero action figures and pellets rolling around. I used to cajole, beg and nag them to pick them up. I even provided color coded buckets. They would comply to the best of their 6 & 8 year old ability. But let’s face it they had the attention span of a gnat. There was still stuff everywhere. We would sit on the couch and get a little batman hand in an uncomfortable place or step on a lego on the way to the bathroom

It got me thinking of all the things that used to irritate me. In retrospect they were really precious fleeting moments. I wish I could have appreciated them at the time.

That is the funny thing about parenting. Almost every moment is precious, you just don’t know it until it is gone.

Below is my list of some things I wish I could have as a do over;

  • One of my cherubs could not fall asleep unless I rubbed their back. I just wanted to go to bed. Exhausted I would fall asleep too. But 9 out of 10 times I would wake up later with a sweet little chubby arm around my neck.
  • GHMILY_homepage_05_fullpageReading “Guess How Much I Love You”? 5 times in a row every night.

Now I get teary every time I look at that dusty book on my shelf and realize no one wants me to read it to them.

  • Brushing their teeth – By the time I wrangled them to the bathroom and had them sit still for 2 minutes I was tuckered out. But my memory is of how sweet their little faces were looking up with such trust.
  • Baths seemed like such a mess at the time, especially when 2 or 3 of them were in the tub together. Actually it was such a sweet time of laughter. The mess seems insignificant now.
  • Playing games in the car or in a restaurant. At the time I just wanted a little peace and quiet.I did not want to play I Spy again. Now I have plenty of peace and quiet. I am not complaining. I appreciate this time but I really wish I had just enjoyed a few more games instead of powering through them to keep everyone quiet.
  • “Mom come in the pool, please mom, it isn’t very cold. Mom get in the pool”  30 times over and over. – for the love all I wanted to do was read a magazine and make sure everyone was safe. Now they drive off to the pool or the beach and give me a hug goodbye. I would love to soak in how tickled they would get when I actually got in the pool.
  • Santa exposed – I have to be honest the first year cherub #3 grew out of Santa was pretty sweet. No more evading the “Is Santa real”? question. It took a ton of pressure off. I wasn’t secretly buying and hiding gifts weeks before Christmas. I didn’t have to sneak home on my lunch break to wrap them. I didn’t have to write the letter of thanks for the cookies in a false writing to throw them off the scent. It was a super easy Christmas. That lasted about a minute and then I realized that it had changed forever. It isn’t a bad change but it is different and it will never be that way again.
  • Little people crawling into bed in the wee hours. Sure it meant an occasional foot in the face or slap upside the head in the middle of the night but it also meant smelling their sweet little toddler smells and kissing their hands that still hadn’t formed knuckles. Now they don’t smell very sweet and they have giant hands with knuckles.
  • 81KLgGUhNbL._SL1500_Those noisy toys. It is not that I miss the noise. I am actually glad that is over, but I miss their delight in playing with them and watching their little chubby legs waddle around pushing or pulling whatever it was. Now it is earplugs in, tuned into technology or studying for school. I miss playtime.

 

. What about you? When you look back what do you want to remember? Think about what bugs you now and project out 10 years when your little cherubs are driving off into the sunset on whatever adventure they are going to without you.

You will have lots of time to cook, keep the house clean, exercise and all that stuff that seems important now and you may realize it was never important at all.

 

 

I Finally Found a Discipline Technique that Works on Teens

imagesNow that summer is here and my house looks like the sloth exhibit at the zoo I have reached my annual disgust/summer hysteria at the laziness my cherubs display.

I always give them a free first week to watch TV, play video games, sleep in etc. It is my no nagging week. After that I set up a list of chores & school mandated summer reading.

Honestly I feel I am pretty easy to get along with, I am not asking them to dig ditches, just basic stuff; do your own dishes, brush the dogs, sweep blah blah blah.

By their reaction you would think they had been sold into slavery and were working 18 hour days with a few saltines as their only snack.

Every summer we go through this cycle of my calmly asking… them looking up from their show or video game and saying sure thing.

Me calmly asking again,,,this time to a slightly disgusted response of; “We said we would do it”

This quickly spirals from my calm request to a much more cranky and insistent demand.

At this point I abruptly (with loud exaggerated stomping and a flourish of hand gestures) turn off whatever they were doing in the middle of whatever game or show was on.

This results in much loathing towards me and just all around teenagery snottiness.

And they still are not getting anything done.

This year after the first dysfunctional week I decided something had to change. I put allowance in their bank accounts at the start of every month. They get x $ amount in exchange for doing chores.

This summer I ask once, I give a gentle reminder and then I am done. I take away a % of their money every week if the chores don’t get done. I just transfer from their account back to mine. I don’t yell. I really don’t care anymore. I am using the extra money to hire a house cleaner once a month to help me out.

When this results in indignation and a general dislike of me I don’t care either. I used to yell or get sarcastic. Now I do not say a word. One benefit is that I am getting great passive aggressive pleasure because it drives them crazy. But it also comes with another benefit. One that I had not anticipated and am just tickled pink about.

Without my nagging and responding to their negativity they go off in a huff, slam doors, mumble things about how rotten and unfair I am. But, 20 minutes or so later, they come out apologize and do their chores.

Who knew??? It is the craziest thing.

I almost get excited now when they don’t do their chores because I feel like I am participating in some amazing scientific experiment that is working. It is like finding a cure for a rotten disease.

I wish I had stumbled on to this 15 years ago. Better late than never I guess. Just don’t say anything back to your kids when they are snotty. Wow!

 

Talking to Your Kids About Sex…what worked for us

sex_talkDuring our 17+ years of parenting we have come up with an ever growing looonggg list of things we wish we had done differently.

We also have a much shorter list of things we think we did pretty well.

One of those things on our short list is how we approached talking about sex and puberty.

All of our babies (now 17, 17, 15 and 11) have been pretty comfortable chatting with us about most anything from where do babies come from to condoms to other more intimate things.

It is not like they come home and share it at the dinner table but it will be a subtle comment like, “I told such and such that I loved her today” or “Mom, I had my first kiss last night” (usually when just the two of us are driving somewhere so there is no direct eye contact.) This will lead to a larger conversation where you can ask your child to weigh in with their opinion or ask them if they have questions about specifics. One of my favorite lines was from my, then 13 year old, who had his first kiss. He proceeded to ask me if he was supposed to launch into french kissing the next time he saw this girl. I am grateful we could discuss that question instead of him thinking he needed to shove his tongue down a 13 year old girl’s throat.

We started the dialogue about sex as soon as they asked the first “kind of sex” question. Our rule is you can ask anything you want  and we will answer you honestly as long as it is not personal. So they can ask,” What happens when a man and woman have sex”? but not “How many times a week do you and daddy have sex”?  We try to give them age appropriate straight forward answers with just the information they were requesting. If they asked where babies come from we would give an explanation like, “a baby grows inside the mother and that at the right time he or she comes into the world through the mother’s vagina.”  They then scream ewww gross and wouldn’t ask anything for a few months. But the key is that they do continue to ask.

As they got older and more curious they would want more detail and we would elaborate with just the facts.

We also attend Lovefest every year. Lovefest is an amazing program put on by Our Savior Lutheran in Arcadia, CA. It consist of a variety of different topics (cyber bullying, masturbation, healthy body image etc.) You and your child attend certain forums together and then you go your own way and pick the symposiums that interest you.  The beauty of this event is that it throws the doors wide open about any subject. Each presenter tackles the subject openly, many with humor, and more importantly with God’s design and plan for your sexuality.

Our rides home from Lovefest would be full of questions and discussions. It helps instill the fact that sex is a positive, beautiful gift from God, provided you participate in it according to God’s design.

Now that they have serious girlfriends the decisions they make carry much more significant ramifications. We are grateful that sex is not a taboo subject, that they are not learning from their peers. We feel like we have equipped them to make respectful and sound choices.

You don’t have to have a Lovefest in order to have an open dialogue about sex. We didn’t make it a  big one time birds and bees discussion. It is just something we always talked about.

If that makes you nervous start small. If they are little just ask them what they know about sex? What have they heard? You may be shocked what they already know or think they know.

We always felt that giving a child facts about reproduction and puberty, including details about intercourse, does not rob him of innocence. Innocence is a function of attitude, not information. A school-age child who understands the specifics of sex, while seeing it as an act that, in the proper context, both expresses love and begins new life, retains his innocence.

Genesis 1:28 Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.

Matthew 19:5  ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’

 

Now I Know Why Old People Drive So Slow

oldwomandrivingI am one of those people who can be an impatient driver, especially when I am behind someone (usually elderly) who is going slightly below the speed limit with their turn signal incessantly blinking.

But recently I have developed this theory of why the elderly drive so cautiously.

Since my oldest son has started driving I have this hyper awareness of how other people drive. Now every time I drive I feel like I have developed some type of spider sense. It is like I see everything that could happen. There are the people who race up to stop lights, the zig zaggers in traffic, the motorcycles that are going 40 miles an hour over the speed limit. Each situation makes me wonder how my son will navigate the array of dangerous drivers.

Now when I drive I audibly gasp multiple times, even when I am by myself. I drive so much differently than I did a year ago, slower. more cautious, turn signals, basically the way  we are supposed to drive before you have 30 years of driving under your belt and sometimes use your knee to steer so you can drink your coffee.

I can only imagine it is going to get worse.My hyper driving sense is getting more keen each day. My son is getting more comfortable driving each day, which means I am getting more uncomfortable driving each day.

Sometimes the circle of life is funny, not ha ha funny, but dang it funny. I also have a new respect and patience for elderly drivers. Heck they are just trying to survive the ride from point A to point B.

I get it.

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