To my Last Baby

Sweet sweet son, today is your birthday and I am holding on tight. Holding on to the memories, the past present and future. Holding on to you.

When your brothers were younger, life seemed slower, I felt like I was able to catch more moments. But now, sometimes it seems as though life is flying by so fast that I am just spinning. I feel like I am watching life in fast forward, when all I really want is to hit the pause button.

Each time you hit a new milestone I have been filled with excitement for you, but at the back of my mind is a subtle hint of sadness.

You have been my last of all of the firsts. My last baby to take his first step, my last baby to get his first tooth, first busted lip, first word, last to take a first ride on a bike.

You are also the last of all the lasts. My last to breastfeed, last to potty train, last to rock to sleep. And I’m excited to watch you walk through more lasts. My last to go to kindergarten, last to have “muffins with mom,” last to play his last junior high basketball game, last to get your license, last to move away from my home to begin your own. I know you will be great, you will see success and failures, and endure your own loves and your own heartaches.

You are now 3 and I still rock you to sleep. It tugs on my heart to think of the day when 1pm naptime rolls around, and this lap that has rocked you, these arms that have held you, will be empty. Because you won’t need a nap. I don’t know when that last time will happen, but I know that even if my lap is empty, my heart will be full.

When your oldest brother was born, I feel like we stayed home for 4 months. When your twin brothers were born, we stuck around home for the recommended 6-8 weeks. But you, my sweet boy, you were out and about at 5 days old. And your life hasn’t slowed down since.

You entered a world of crazy and busy. A world that already had places filled by 3 other amazing little boys. A world of soccer, and school musicals. Of church camps and vacations. And you fit right in to your spot without complaint. I know it probably hasn’t been easy, but you go with it with grace and excitement. Of course, you do make sure to keep us on our toes. Like the time you dropped our keys down a pipe at a baseball game.

You hold my heart in your chubby little hands. But yet, sometimes I still feel guilty.

I am sorry that some days after I have a long day, it seems that you just get my leftovers.

I’m sorry that I should be a “been there done that,” wise mom, who knows what she is doing, but honestly, most of the time, I don’t. Some days I feel like I have forgotten everything about how to be a mom. Some days I crave that wisdom that I should have, but feel that I am lacking. Please know I am trying with every ounce of my being. And when I fail, thank you for your patience. Your love keeps me going.

I’m sorry if it seems that I couldn’t care less when you eat off the floor, even though I cared when your oldest brother was little. I promise I care. But I’ve learned you will live through ingesting floor crumbs.

I am sorry that a lot of times you get the tired version of me. Sometimes I just feel physically, emotionally, and spiritually tired. Thank you for being willing to just sit, cuddle and do nothing with me. I hope you remember these moments.

I am sorry that your oldest brother has 5 full DVDs from his first 2 months of life. And somehow we seem to have lost our cameras when you were born. I am sorry that I completed baby books, calendars, and scrapbooks for your older brothers. And I think the only pages of your book that is filled out are the pages I did before you were born. I just hope that maybe my cell phone pictures are timestamped- that will be your baby book.

I am sorry that you have gotten the less sympathetic version of me than what your oldest brother got. If he fell, I was quick to scoop him up and cry with him. Sometimes I would even stand close enough that I could catch him before he fell. But you, my tough strong boy, I watch you fall. I let you run to me and I kiss your owies and send you back on your way.
I’m sorry that almost all of your clothes, shoes, toys and books are hand me downs.

I am pretty sure your third word was “poop.” And you love to say it, because it makes your big brothers laugh. And I’m OK with that. I have gotten to witness countless giggle fits from the 4 of you.

I am sorry that sharing is all you have ever known. You share my time, my lap, my arms, my focus, and my energy. Because those things have limits.

But I want you to know something. My love and my heart are limitless. There are no boundaries on the love I can give. You joining our family didn’t make me split my love. My love just grows as our family has grown.

You are my joy. You complete our family in ways I never could have imagined. You have been the perfect addition.

I know that tonight when I tuck you in I will kiss your squishy cheeks and say “I love you baby Beau.” And you will say “I not baby. I Beau.” And you will be right. You are not a baby, but you will always be my last baby.

 

Be sure to find me on Facebook and check out my Children’s Bible reading journal here.

It’s a Twin Thing

Chocolate and twins

Legit #twinmomprobs

You might be an identical twin if:

Your health insurance MIGHT just deny the birth of one of you.

We battled the insurance company and had to prove that we had twins before they would cover the cost of 2 nursery bills.

Your mom has to pull the car over, get you out of your car seat, and check to make sure she is bringing the right twin to a sick visit at the doctor.

How totally embarrassing would it be to show up at the doctor and find out you brought the wrong one.

You master the age old strategy of divide and conquer.

Once I took my boys to the park to feed the ducks when they were about 2. I figured I could handle taking them off their leashes. Yeah. Wrong. First thing they did was split. One went towards the water from the shore. The other headed to the dock and started climbing over. I ran after the one climbing over the dock -that would have been about an 8 ft drop into deep water. About the time I grabbed him, I heard a splash. His twin brother had jumped in the shallow water on the shore. I have had to learn to pick who to run after based off of who is headed to the most danger.

You had to wear toenail polish on your big toes for the first 3 months of your life.

The fear of switching babies at birth is a real fear.

Honesty is sometimes a battle too easy to lose- You know how to pull a successful switch-a-roo

This year at a t-ball game, one of my twins didn’t hear his name called as next batter, but his twin brother heard! Sneaky twin told the coach that he was his brother and walked up to the plate to bat. I was the 3rd base coach and knew the line up, so I caught him. But man. Honesty. Yeah.

We have friends whose boys are geniuses (like literally) and we get tickled and nervous every time we hear the story about one time when they switched, one of them gave the same speech twice and the other took the same math test twice. One of mine has already threatened to switch on his teacher. He’s only in Kindergarten!

I have also caught them cheating on their eye exams! The chart was at the end of the hallway, and one twin stood around the corner close to the chart and would look at each letter and whisper it to his twin taking the eye exam!

Your mom might just accidentally put 2 individual pictures of ONE of you and 0 pictures of the other one on your Christmas cards.

Not going to admit to doing this though 😉

You can really confuse the school picture company.

Recently, my twins had school pictures. I totally did the twin mom thing and dressed them alike, gave them each a check and an order form and then sent them on their way. Both of their checks were deposited. But only one of them brought pictures back. The other one just had a proof sheet order form. Yeah. I am 99% sure that the photo company mistakenly thought “I’ve already done this kid” and skipped over one of them.

Same has happened at church. Last year they were getting pictures taken and their teachers skipped one of them. (I myself was a teacher haaha)

Pinterest may become your moms best friend and your worst enemy.

Ohh the twin picture ideas! I played dress up with my boys all the time for photo ops that I saw on Pinterest. But every one of them was a Pinterest FAIL!

twin pic

You might freak your mom out by talking to each other in your sleep.

I have heard mine talking to each other and laughing simultaneously while they’re asleep. Once they even laughed at the same time while they were sleeping in separate rooms. Creeepyy.

You try to one up each other. All. The. Time.

You are squeezing the shampoo all over the floor? Well I will squeeze out the conditioner AND body wash!

You are super gluing paper to the wall? Well I will super glue my MOUTH!

You are going to climb to the top of the fence? Well I will climb OVER the fence!

You get blamed for your twin’s offenses.

                Self explanatory.

Only one toothbrush in the bathroom? It’s his? Oh well. What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.

One of my twins is somewhat a germophobe. The other one would brush his teeth with a stranger’s toothbrush if he had to. I regularly have to break up a fight when germophobe kid discovers his twin using his toothbrush.

Twins

Other babies may play in their own poop. We will play in each other’s poop!

Anndd on that note,

Last but not least, my biggest #twinmomprob—

SYNCHRONIZED POOPING.

Like, all the time. Guess similar bodies eating the same meals means that it all runs through about the same time. No biggie as long as there are 2 toilets around. But when there is just 1 toilet. Let me just tell you. The twin fight that commences is nothing short of a battle scene.

I hope you will add your own unique twin things in the comments. and tell me about it on facebook!

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The cute newborn pictures are found here and here

5 Reasons I’m not Buying my Kids Christmas Presents this Year

5-reasons-im-not-getting-my-kids-christmas-presents

I spent some time this week sorting through “stuff.” And by “stuff” I mean  the 1.78 million toys that my 4 boys have collected through the years. As I was sorting through it and putting it in give away or throw away piles, my mind wandered to presents, gifts, and Christmas.

Christmas. A time when my kids who already have too much stuff, get more stuff. And I started thinking about alternatives to getting more toys. Last year my husband ran the Rock n Roll half in San Antonio and we took our twins. They loved it. They were 5 at the time, and when we got home, they did their fair share of bragging to our 7 year old who missed out on the trip. They still talk about San Antonio.

But do you know what they don’t talk about?
They don’t talk about that 1500 piece Lego set they got from Santa. They don’t talk about that nerf gun with torn up bullets. They talk about the river boat ride and the Children’s museum. They talk about staying in a hotel that had a playground with it. They talk about our memories.

Once I realized this, I immediately texted my husband and said “Hey! What do you think about not getting any presents for our kids or each other, but instead we could take a family trip? We already have too many things.”

And he said “YES!”

So guys, I would like to share with you 5 reasons that I am not getting my kids Christmas presents this year. (Although we may draw names and let the kids get each other one small thing)

Too Much Stuff

As I have already mentioned, we already have too many things. They don’t need any of the big things- bikes, trampoline, fort, etc. We already have like 2000 legos, 100 magnatiles, 250 lincoln logs, 500 train tracks, and more. And quite often my boys think it’s a great idea to get dump everything out and mix it all together like ingredients in a cake recipe. We do not need more of that.

Grandparents and family

Now, I don’t know about your kids, but my kids definitely love going through the magazines and picking out things they would like. And I am not going to stop them from doing that. I plan on just giving their Christmas lists to their grandparents. They have awesome grandparents and family members who spoil them, so my kids won’t be missing out. But Ryan and I will be using our money on a trip instead of a gift.

Our time is a gift

Time is so valuable. It is priceless. I know my kids might not remember their zip line trip, or first time to see a lion. But I will. And they will remember that I was there. With them. Giving them my time. And time is what is most important. Distraction free. No house to clean, neighbors to visit, basketball practice, no work- just family to focus on. That time is something we will never get back. I can always go run to the store and grab my kid a gift, but I will never be able to go back to the time when they’re 8, 6, and 2 and take them on a trip.

Memories over materials

That imaginext batcave? Yeah, that is something that will be loved and played with, then thrown away in a couple of years. But those family memories. Those moments spent strengthening a bond, a relationship with my children are precious. When I reflect back on my childhood Christmas memories, I can’t remember one toy that I got. But I can remember going to Colorado and stopping on the side of the road to play in the snow. I can tell you about going to the mountains and going fishing. I can tell you about the many hunting trips we took when I thought my toes might fall off. I can remember the time I spent with my family.

Money

I know that life shouldn’t revolve around money, but when you have mouths to feed and needs to provide for, money is definitely a factor. I did some searching and found that thanks to Groupon and a Children’s Museum membership, we can stay 3 nights in San Antonio and do 3 fun activities for about the same amount of money that we spend on gifts each year. And to me, that is money better spent.

I am anxious to see how this turns out. But I am more excited than anything. I can’t wait to see their faces when they open their tickets to go do the Natural Bridge Caverns and Zip line. I can’t wait to hear their squeals when they pack their bags the morning we surprise them and say we’re leaving. I know that they may initially feel disappointed to not have gifts to unwrap, but I know in the long run that they will love the fun they will have on our little trip.

If anyone else does a trip instead of gifts, I would love to hear from you!
How do you do it? Do your kids enjoy it? Give me all your tips!

*In addition to giving them a memory instead of a toy, I am also hoping to start a tradition of giving them a gift that they can give away. I want them to be more aware of others needs than focused on their personal wants. I am still working on ideas for this, so I would gladly welcome any suggestions!

As always, sharing is caring and I would love to connect on Facebook!

Parents of Sinners- Telling Your Christian Parents that You’re Unwed and Pregnant

to-parents-of-sinnersNine years ago, today, was a day that completely changed my life. Completely. As in any plan I had for my life was completely shattered. Changed. Those plans became something of the past. You see, 9 years ago today, I found out I was pregnant. I was 19 years old, a sophomore at a Christian University, not married, jobless, and scared. (You can read more about that here.)

our announcement

Probably one of the hardest and scariest parts was having to tell our parents. How would they react? What would they think of me? What would they think of Ryan? His dad was an elder and my dad a deacon- now preacher (enter preacher’s daughter jokes here). Our families have Christian reputations. They are administrators/educators at our hometown schools. We were about to stain that clean white reputation. Our sin couldn’t be hidden and was going to be made public. The weight of our sin was suffocating. We were going to have to announce our pregnancy. Our unplanned, out of wedlock pregnancy

Pregnancy announcements. They are so fun aren’t they? And so creative. Thanks to Facebook, I love seeing all of my friend’s cute and creative pregnancy announcements. There are a lot of fun ways to tell your parents that they will be becoming grandparents.

But how do you announce an “unwanted,” unwed pregnancy? Instead of joy and excitement, you might feel shame, fear, and guilt. I know I did.

Telling our parents

I couldn’t bear to face my family.  On a Wednesday night towards the end of October in 2007, Ryan and I parted ways and both headed to attend church at our hometown church. I remember asking my mom to go for a drive with me after church.

I drove to the city park and turned my car off. Then I gave her the letter. The letter that was life changing for me, her, and our entire family. She said “what’s this?” And I asked her to read it and not say anything until she was finished. I was already crying by the time she read the first word, and she was crying by the time she read the first paragraph.

Then she did something I will never forget.                

She hugged me. And she said “I love you.” And she meant it.

Ryan is a little more gutsy than I am. He said he just flat out told his parents after church that night. I know there were some tears shed at his home with his parents too.

And his parents reactions were the same as mine were.

Love and encouragement first, and I would assume followed by a feeling of inward disappointment.

The reactions of our parents to our pregnancy announcement are probably the most important part of our story. These reactions could be game-changers. These reactions are what could make or break us.

Their reaction to this less-than-ideal situation potentially could have broken and shattered our faith. But instead it strengthened our faith in a loving God. It strengthened us.

Growing up in Christian homes, Ryan and I were lucky to hear Bible stories over and over again.

The Prodigal Son and sufficient grace

One of those stories forever etched in my heart is the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

Instead of just teaching us about the Prodigal son and the Father who still loved him and showed him grace, our parents got to live that story. They welcomed us, sin and all, with open arms.

They showed us love and support. But they didn’t try to take away the responsibility that resulted from our choice. We still had to be responsible. When we got married, I went on Cobra insurance, and Ryan and I paid the nearly $400 for coverage for 3 months until I could get on his. As a young couple, we got our own phone plan, paid our own rent, gas, water, electricity. We went without cable TV and internet. We grew up.

Our parents were there for us though. If one of our cars broke down, one or both of our dads would come help Ryan fix it. Ryan’s mom made the flower girl dresses for our wedding. She made some of Brocks bedding for his room. My mom would bring groceries and take us out to eat every time she came to visit. And she would also bring me a couple pieces of maternity clothes when she would come. She babysat Brock for free while I continued my college education.

We got to witness, first-hand, the power of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness.

Our parents are great. They raised us in a way that makes me want to follow their footprints. God was at the center of our families from the time we were born. They read us the Bible, prayed with us, taught Bible classes and preached at our churches, and took our youth groups to activities.

Yet I still messed up. Ryan still messed up.

To you

So to any parent of a Prodigal, I know that inwardly you you may be broken and crumbling, but I want to say something to you.

The sins of your grown children do not reflect your success or failure as a parent. Just like the sins of the Prodigal Son don’t reflect the success or failure of his father. And just like your sins, my sins, and the sins of any other person don’t reflect on the success or failure of our God and Father.

Awhile back a fellow momma, Janet Stafford, and I were discussing our similar stories and she mentioned something that has really stuck with me– There is no mistake that isn’t redeemable by God. Every piece of the puzzle is completing His glory. And while being pieced together may be hard and at times not make sense, it is so awesome to reflect back over time and see how those pieces have been fit together.

Parents- remember, you may be witnessing the beginning of your kid’s story. An incredible testimony. This isn’t the end of their story it’s the beginning. Your reaction will be part of it.

The choices of your children are their own. Please don’t chain your child’s choices to your success as a parent.

You know your situation. Some Prodigals don’t come back home. Some Prodigals come and go like a revolving door. Sometimes the best way to parent is on your knees in prayer. Sometimes the best way to parent is by encouraging your kids to grow up. You know your kid.

But remember, likely when your pride in them is at an all-time low, is when their need for you is at an all time high.

Give them grace.

*If you are a young girl who is walking this hard path, and your parents haven’t been supportive, I want to encourage you. Find support. A close friend, a welcoming church, a pregnancy crisis center (I found one that did some counseling and talked to me about what steps to take regarding health care) are all great ways to have the support you need to make it.

You are strong. You are loved. And you are His.

You can do this.

I would love to connect on Facebook and be sure to check out my Children’s Bible Reading And journal schedule on Amazon here!

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It's positive!

Kindergarten, Twin Individuality, and this Momma’s Anxiety

My twins are starting kindergarten. Kindergarten. And I am anxious.

Not only am I anxious for that first day like any other mom. That big step. Making friends. Sitting still, taking turns and lining up. Earning grades. A full day of school. Wondering if the teacher will love him like I do. Is he going to get picked on? Will he be the one picking on others?

No, I am also anxious because I feel like it’s the first day of their independence. Not just independence from me, but independence from each other. The first day of a road in which they won’t just be “the twins.” Their names won’t always be stuck together “Ryder and Camden.” Now they will be “Ryder,” and “Camden,” separately.

In the 2000ish days of their life’s, they have only spent 2 days apart. Only 2 nights in separate bedrooms. And they had an incredibly hard time saying bye to each other on those 2 days.

They are beyond best friends. Their bond can’t be explained. And while I know their bond won’t be broken in kindergarten, I know it will change.
Now they will be competing against each other. Because, let’s just face it, I am raising competitive boys, and who are they most competitive with? That’s right, each other.

Twins baseball

I am anxiously awaiting that first report card, when one of them brings home higher grades. I am anxiously awaiting team tryouts as they get older when one makes the team, and the other might not.

I’m anxious.

I’m anxious that one will thrive, while one sinks back into the shadows.

I’m anxious that one will be known as “the good kid” while one is known as “the handful.”

I’m anxious that one will have loads of friends, while one has none.

I’m anxious about comforting one of them when his brother gets invited to a birthday party and he doesn’t.

I’m anxious that they will be constantly compared. Not just by their teachers and friends, but by each other.

Deep breath.

I have been anxious about this, for their whole life. And now it is here. Looking me straight in the face.

I know that kindergarten will be great for them. I know they will each be able to develop their own skills and start seeing each other as individuals. I know they will probably miss each other and that at the end of their day apart they will have a lot to talk about- and hopefully fight less! They have a total love-hate relationship right now, and I hope that time away from each other will just strengthen the love part of that relationship.

 

newborn twins

When I look at them, I still see those newborn twins who would hold hands while nursing. Or who would poke each other in the face before they could even crawl. I see the little boys who have always managed to make messes and get into things. Together.

 

20160809_114338

I have done my best to raise them knowing that they are different people. With different talents and abilities. With different personalities and strengths. But at the end of most days, they want to be so much alike. At the end of most days, when they are having their nightly slumber party in their bedroom, I can’t help but think about the challenge of parenting them while they’re becoming independent of each other. I’m so nervous.

But I am so excited for them and I can not wait to look that challenge in the face and say Bring It On.

Challenge accepted.

 

Love, AshleyI would love for you to join me on Facebook!

Social Media, Inappropriate Pictures, Self-Control, and Parenting

SocialmediaThis week, I put a picture on Instagram and used a certain #hashtag. I thought it was a cute hashtag, but didn’t think much of it. It was a saying that I actually have in my oldest sons baby scrapbook (that of course, I’ve never finished). A sweet saying. Completely innocent.

Well last night, I decided to click that hashtag to see what cute pictures other moms have posted.

I was horrified.

What seemed like hundreds of completely nude and pornographic pictures popped up. On Instagram. A social media platform that, I know, thousands of young preteen kids use.

It got me thinking. Satan has found an easy way to drag people down. Without batting an eye, women can post sexual pictures of themselves, naked. And with little to no effort, ANYONE can find these pictures. Married men, curious teenage boys who are just starting to battle what could lead to an addiction, young girls going through puberty, dealing with self image or self confidence issues and trying to figure out who they should be. Anyone.

We have passed the times of hiding Playboy magazines in a box under the bed. Or going to Blockbuster and renting a certain type of VHS.

This stuff is now at our fingertips. At the fingertips of our kids. It is readily available and easily accessible to anyone with a phone. Laptop. Tablet. TV. Text messaging. Social media. Instagram. Facebook. Snap chat. Google.

It is no longer something that is hidden in the dark shadows of the bedroom. It is here. 24/7. Anytime, anyplace.

I wish there was a way to fight it. To protect our kids. But honestly, I don’t think we can. Technology has made it available and technology is a part of life now.

Even if we try to limit our sons to flip phones, the boys in the lockerooms will still have smart phones. Even if our Jr. High daughters don’t have snapchat, that slumber party they went to will possibly have a few dirty pictures sent out from someone’s phone.

Even the “good kids” are often involved in sexting.

We can’t put parental controls on everything. Instagram doesn’t even have them. And we can’t always be there to try to help our kids stay strong.

My boys aren’t to that age yet, but I know in the blink of an eye they will be. I’m dreading trying to figure out a way to successfully parent my 8 going on 11 year old son as he comes across these inappropriate pictures and videos that are all over the place. Sometimes I feel like I will be fighting a losing battle. That there is no way to protect his heart and his eyes.

I’m not gonna lie. I have no clue how I will parent through this, but here is where I am going to start.

Maybe I shouldn’t focus on fighting this solely by protecting my kids. Maybe I should focus more on fighting this by teaching them.

The first step in teaching them, is being aware that it’s there. Guys, we can’t turn a blind eye and just pretend it’s not out there. Until last night, I had no clue how simple it was. How just one innocent click and bam. I mean I’ve heard stories of junior high and high school kids sending out nude pictures to each other and boys looking at porn in the locker rooms, but I’ve always thought “Oh that’s forever away. They will have developed technology by then that will help prevent that.” But that’s simply not true. I am now aware that this stuff is real and it is not going away.

We HAVE to teach our kids self control. Starting young. We cannot fight this for them. We have to teach THEM to fight it themselves. And learning self control at a young age is a great way to start preparing them. Give them some freedom and then guide them to make choices using self control.

They want 5 cookies but only eat 3. They really want to take that one dollar they earned to the store and buy an easily breakable toy, but instead they decide to save fifty dollars and buy something awesome later. They really want to hit their brother when he breaks their toy, but instead they walk away. They see $20 laying on the floor and really want to just sneak it in their pocket, but instead they give it back to the owner. They really want to look at those images that popped up on their tablet, but instead they close out.

We need to talk about it. Not just with our kids. But with their friends parents. See where they stand. Talk with their coaches and teachers. I know that if I have concerns of things going on at school or athletics, then I will definitely be (respectfully) letting my voice be heard. Talk about it at church.

We can’t ignore it or try to hide it and just wait for our kids to discover it on their own. We have got to let them know that this is out there and that sometimes it will take every ounce of strength they have to fight the urge for our sons to look. Or for our daughters participate.

And just as important, we need to listen. Let our kids talk to us. Be a safe place for them. Sometimes bringing our struggles into light is the best way to allow Jesus to conquer them. We need to let out kids talk to us.

We have to teach the importance of friendships. Good friendships. With good people. Looking back, and watching kids now days, I have decided that probably one of THE best solutions for kids to be able to stand firm in their morals isn’t necessarily parenting with rules. It is encouraging the kid themselves, to surround themselves with friends who have strong morals.

You are who your friends are.

I had several best friends in high school. And one was on the basketball team with me. I still remember our junior year, sitting in the hallway outside of the locker room because we didn’t feel comfortable with the language and stories and music on the other side of that door. There is no doubt in my mind that if I didn’t have a friend who shared my morals, that I wouldn’t have been gutsy enough to distance myself from it.

My prayer is that my sons will have that friend with them in the locker room growing up. We are stronger when we aren’t alone.

Which leads my to my last “battle plan” so to say.

Prayer.

Pray protection over your children.

Pray for them to be able to learn to put on their full armor of God and stand firm against the devil.

Pray for God to place awesome friends in their life so that they can stand firm together and hold each other up.

Pray.

And encourage your kids. Let them know that you have high expectations for and confidence in them. Let them know that you are there and you trust that they are strong enough to stand up to the devil. In whatever way he is tempting them.

And when they fail, love them.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16

 

If you have any strategies regarding this topic, I would love for you to share your advice in the comments section!!

My Goal this Summer- To Ground my Kids from Outdoors, Not from Electronics

Old School SummerIf you haven’t already read it, I would encourage you to read a somewhat entertaining, and very honest article I posted at the end of last summer, I Miserably Failed my Summer To-Do List. It serves to be a great reminder for me, and I hope for you too, to realize that the time we spend with our kids is far more important than checking any items off of a to-do list.

This year, I am beginning summer with just one goal.

My goal this summer is to teach my kids to fall so in love with the things God made for them to enjoy, that they don’t mind being grounded from the things that humans made for them to enjoy. For them to experience old-school and pre-electronic summer days.

The disciplinary tool of the 21st Century seems to be a “digital grounding” type consequence. And that’s ok, I do that myself, but this summer I am wanting to go old school. I want my kids to fall in love with the 1990’s type of summer that I grew up in. I want being grounded from playing outside with friends to become a more meaningful consequence than being grounded from their indoor screen time.

I want to be able to say “you’re grounded from TV today,” and my kids not care at all, because they’d rather be outside anyways.

I want discipline to have more of an impact when I say “you’re grounded from your friends, and playing in the mud.” I want them to love being an old-school, outdoor kid so much that they absolutely hate when that is taken away.

I want them to spend their time outside in the fresh air, doing sidewalk chalk with me, and wrestling with their dad. I want them to discover secrets of nature, to see God’s beauty in everyday life. To climb 15 feet high in trees, to have picnics. And to love it.

To love it so much, that they would rather have the privilege of playing a tablet taken away, than the privilege of being outdoors taken away.

Old School Summer MudI want them to play in the water and mud that God created. To use their eyes and imaginations and find pictures in the clouds.  To listen to birds, catch worms, and play in the rain. I want them to use their bodies to run to their friend’s houses and learn to play and sort through disagreements on their own. To ride their bikes to the baseball field and play ball for 4 hours in the heat, and drink from the water hose when they’re thirsty. I want them to use their voices to sing and laugh and yell at each other. To discover gravity first-hand, to learn from experience not to pick up ants, and to scrape their knees in a games of tag. I want to get good at pulling out splinters, and comforting with an ice pack for a busted lip.

I want them to work. To mow, pick up trash, and find ways to volunteer and serve others.

And I want to do all those things with them.

But more importantly, I want THEM to WANT to do those things. To have that desire within themselves, not because it is something I want for them, but because it is something they want for themselves.

I want them to experience a screen-free, and natural fun. And for them to realize, that screen-free fun is the best fun.

We live in a time of man-made entertainment. But this summer, my goal is to help my kids find joy in God-made entertainment.

Let’s Quit With the Mother’s Day Wish Lists

MOTHERS DAY WISH LIST

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and you know what that means. That means that thousands of moms are taking to their blogs or Facebooks and writing posts or sharing articles that go a little something like this.  Husband- here are things not to get me “X, Y, and Z.” And here is a list of things that I want, “A, B, C, D,…”  Moms everywhere are filling out a child-like Christmas “Wish List” or “Gift Guide” for their husbands.  And they try justify it any way they can.

I am not going to lie. I have been that mom before. The one who says don’t get me jewelry. I just want a clean house and a date night. Or I want a massage and some cute clothes. Or don’t get me flowers, I want you to do the laundry. Because, honestly, those things really would be awesome.

But here lately, these posts have just gotten under my skin. And here is why.

Why do we expect gifts?  Gifts do not equal recognition. Gifts do not define us as mothers, or make us more or less worthy.  Mother’s Day should be a day when we recognize our mothers.  When we thank them for, well, pretty much everything. When we show them gratitude, when we honor them, and celebrate them, gift or not.

Today, I read one and all I could think to myself was “Man, I really hope that my daughter in-laws are not as self-absorbed and demanding as you.” Now, I do hope that my sons put thought into their gifts, but I really hope that my future daughter in-laws don’t deem gifts from my sons as unworthy, if that gift didn’t come off their Pinterest board. I hope they appreciate any act of love, no matter how big or how small.

My husband kind of stinks at gift giving. But that is OK.  His gift giving on Mother’s Day does not define me as a mother.  I’m thankful when he writes me a random note, or gives me chocolate, or jewelry.  I’m thankful when he gives me gifts that I don’t really want. Because, to him, that gift was probably special, and it means he was thinking of me.

I really wish that when people would write these posts that they would take into consideration that there are single moms, who don’t have husbands to buy those gifts, or do those acts of love. I wish that they would consider the moms who have lost babies, or families that have lost mothers. That they would consider the women who would give anything to be a mom, and that they would think about their own moms and spending time with their kid’s grandmothers.

I have been a Mother for 8 years. My first year was spent in the hospital, but the following 7 have been spent alternating between my mom’s house, and my husband’s mom’s house.  Having a fellowship meal after worshipping God together. I haven’t had one Mother’s Day to myself, and I am beyond grateful for that.  We get to celebrate with the mom who raised me to be me, and with the mom who raised my husband to be such an awesome man.

I realize that the gift suggestions are harmless. But in the midst of all these suggestions, let’s not forget to show some gratitude.

And really, want to know what I think the best gift anyone could give on Mother’s Day is?

Time.

Time spent with your kids, time spent with your own mom, time spent with your husband, and your family. Because really, in the big picture, those are the things that matter. And those moments and memories are irreplaceable treasures that you can never get back.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

*Here are some ideas on how to spend time together- take up a family project (we redid an entire flowerbed last year), go on a hike, sleep on the trampoline, have a movie marathon and eat lots of junk food, visit grandparents, let your kids make homemade gifts. Those moments will be the things you remember, much more than any diaper-duty free day, or an unlimited shopping spree.  Make memories. And be grateful.