He Marches to a Different Beat…and that’s okay.

DSC_4420This is my Benjamin.  He is so different from my other crazies.  He is busy and yet highly focused on what he is doing.  He is challenging and very loving and sweet.  He doesn’t follow instructions well but is very sensitive to correction.  He is cuddly and yet has a hard time receiving too many snuggles because he has so much to do.  He is hard to teach and coach but extremely curious about how things work and often takes things apart and puts them back together.  He even answers questions in unusual ways.

Benjamin, what do you want to be when you grow up?

A dump truck.

Do you mean a dump truck driver?

No, I mean a dump truck.

While coloring recently, I got on his case about how he holds his crayon and was encouraging him to try to color inside the lines.  He looked up at me with these big brown eyes and said, “Mama, those lines aren’t for me.”  He’s right.  They aren’t for him.  He just sees things differently.  He challenges me to try to see things from a new perspective.  I want so badly to understand him but he is so beautifully complicated.

He views the world in a very different way than anyone I have ever met.  In 1st Peter 4:10-11  it says, God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.  My sweet Benjamin is a gift to me.  He challenges the way I see things.  He encourages me to seek understanding over judgement.  He draws me in because I want to know him more.  He’s right.  The lines aren’t for him.  He marches to the beat of his own drummer because my drummer is either too fast or too slow.  His differences from me are so beautiful and mysterious.  What a blessing he is, not just as my son, but as a constant reminder of how our uniqueness is not a mistake but a plan for us to better serve others and serve God.  He will grow up to challenge the way we think about the world and for that I am grateful.  Color outside those lines little man.  Love you.

10 Crazy Things This Mom Says Daily

1.  Stop fighting over imaginary toys!

2. Don’t stand there and dance, just go to the bathroom.

3.  I don’t have any napkins, just lick your fingers.

4. That was not a snuggle, you just wiped your face off on my shirt!

5.  That’s nice but you aren’t at grandma’s house right now so NO!

6. Go back in there, wipe your bottom and wash your hands…..and turn off the light!

7. What do you have in your mouth?

8. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.

9. You better eat all your pizza (or insert any other unhealthy kid food here) or you don’t get any ice cream.

10. Did you need that drink 10 minutes ago when I was in the kitchen, or do you just need it now that I’m trying to use the bathroom by myself?

The struggle is real.  What crazy things do you say?

We are NOT our Problems

My sweet 3 year old is struggling with seasonal allergies.  Gross Alert:  Everytime he sneezes he shoots snot down to his chin and little tears roll down his cheeks, not because he is crying about these impressive snot rockets but because they are just so watery.  Poor guy.  This morning we were all snuggling in bed and everyone was coughing and sneezing and sniffling and Christopher sighs, “Mommy, we are allergies….all of us are allergies.”

And although he is correct, we are so much more than that aren’t we?  We are sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, mommas and daddies.  We are hopefully, at least on a good day, helpers, encouragers, hardworkers but goodness, some days I just feel like my issues.  Some days I feel like an allergy.  When my kids have days like this, I try to remind them of their blessings.  I know it’s so sad that I can’t get that cup of water this instant because, heaven forbid, I am going to the bathroom, but look at this nice house we have with the clean water that comes out of our faucets.  Life is not so bad kid.  This never works on them and most times it doesn’t work for me either.  I usually can’t intellectually talk my way out of a self pity spiral but when I try I think about this.

It’s not who you are, but whose you are that counts. -Joel Osteen

There will be days when the snot hits the window in the car when you sneeze (seriously) and the tears roll down your cheeks, but even on your worst day, you are loved by a Big God who loves you just like you are His kid.  You are not an allergy you are a son or daughter of the King.  Mind Blown…..not to be confused with Nose Blown.

 

How to Guide: Making your Family Crazy

If you are thinking, how can I get in a fight with my spouse and make myself and my children crazy, you should totally make an appointment to get family pictures taken.  The fight you ask……was because he tried to be helpful and do the laundry so my “good jeans” were in the washer when we needed to head out the door.  I mean seriously, what was he thinking?  Probably something ridiculous like, I think I’ll throw in a load of laundry because Sara seems particularly psychotic today.  Nice try Gabbard!  After throwing an adult size tantrum I did pull it together and wore only slightly damp jeans to our photo shoot.

Expectation is the enemy of joy.  When I expect things to go a certain way I am left feeling frustrated, disappointed and spent.  This is especially true when trying to do anything with little humans.  They don’t act the way you imagined they would.  They don’t say what you thought they might.  It’s crazy but they are like individuals rather than accessories (wink).  After a denim emergency, quick showers, hair doing, proper actual accessorizing and coordination of outfits we made it to our appointment and got these gems.

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Was it worth it?  I think it was.  The photographer captured each of their personalities so perfectly.  My Benjamin is a little squirrelly and a lot sweet.  Christopher has a lot of feelings and always has a twinkle in his eye.  Abigail is a little sassy (she gets it from her Mama) and is a happy, sweet girl.  Even though our getting ready process did not go as I had expected, the photos turned out far better than I could have ever imagined.  Goodness inspite of my attitude.  In the future I think I will plan as much as I can and go in with less expectation and more hope, it is Holy Week after all.

May you find hope today knowing that Jesus came, loved well, taught us how to care for one another, died, didn’t stay dead and awaits us in a sweet place.  Happy Easter!

 

Starbucks Sermons from my 5 Year Old

Recently while driving through a Starbuck drive thru I struck up a conversation with the employee working the window.  She started to hand me my coffee before I paid, apologized and said she was having a rough day.  She talked a little about it then took my money, handed me my coffee and I rolled up my window and pulled away.  My 5 year old asks, “What did she say Mama?”  I told her that she was just having a rough day.  Without skipping a beat Abigail said, “Wow, she must have even more kids than we do!”

I almost sprayed my coffee all over my window.  I guess she’s noticed that I’ve been a little stressed.  Between the running around from activity to activity, my hubby traveling for work and working myself I’m just about maxed out.  For every crazy moment when I feel like I might freak out, there are moments like this one or their snuggles and unsolicited I love yous that bring joy, unspeakable joy to me.

Sometimes we get so busy that we don’t laugh, experience complete joy or have moment of gratitude for the little glimpses of awesome that happen each day.  I can tell you in detail the last three fights I broke up between my crazies today but I can also tell you that they arranged themselves like they were getting their picture taken and said, “See Mommy, we look like a sweet family.”  After one of their fights, one apologized to the other and got a hug and an, “I forgive you.”  After I dropped dry spaghetti all over the floor, my son called me a silly goose and helped me pick it back up.

So much joy can be missed if we rush.  I’m going to make an effort this week to see the times when God shows up around me and in the hearts of my children and I’m going to enjoy them completely.

Breaking my Mommy Heart

This week I cut my daughters hair, stitched up a hole in her special blankie she has loved well since she was a baby and prepared clothes for a consignment sale.  In short, there has been a lot of cry this week.  It is so true that the days are long but the years are short.  As I think about our oldest heading off to Kindergarten I’m filled with anxiety.  Is she prepared academically?  Have we done what we need to do to prepare her?  I’m also filled with sadness over how fast these baby/preschool years have gone.  As I’m filled with anxiety and sadness she is overwhelmed with excitement.  She is curious about what school will be like.  She can’t wait to ride a school bus.  She is anticipating all the new friends she will make and all the cool things she will learn.

Joshua 1:9 says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

The older I get the harder it is to embrace this idea.  Change is  frightening but knowing that we don’t have to go it alone is comforting.  So as I cry over her curls, patch her blankies and stare at clothes that can’t possibly be too small for my baby girl, she is ready to attack these new experiences.  God, please give me half her courage to not only weather changes in my future but to embrace them.

The Social Media Mommy Lie

Not long ago my husband and I were talking about some of our frustrations in parenting.  He shared that he feels like the kids are so well-behaved all day while he is at work and then he comes home and they are nuts, not listening, acting out, arguing and throwing tantrums.  He went on to reference the happy smiling faces in the pictures I send him on our occasional trips to the zoo or playdates with friends.  With all the sensitivity I could muster, I busted out laughing.  “They are nuts all the time!  It is crazy all day long!”  I just don’t take pictures while I’m power walking out of the zoo with one under my arm kicking while the other two cry in the wagon.  I didn’t snap a quick picture when Benjamin emptied all the books off the bookshelf and pulled all the linens of the bed during nap time.  I  forgot to document it when Christopher laid down in the line at the grocery store because it wasn’t his turn to “pay.”  My husband’s perception of our days are based on the happy pictures I send him as he works.  Perception is reality.

In our house on your birthday we eat sweets, sing Happy Birthday and blow out candles at every meal.  The twins’ birthday comes 11 days before my daughters.  On their birthday, we talked through the things that are hard about other people having birthdays with our daughter who was almost 5 years old.  She struggled but made us very proud as graciously let them have the spotlight, watched them open presents and blow out candles.  Birthdays are hard for little ones but it gives us an opportunity to teach them that while they are very special and important, they are not the center of this big beautiful world.

Fast forward 11 days and it’s my daughter’s 5th birthday.  We wake up and come downstairs where I have a donut with a candle in it ready to sing to our birthday girl.  My boys climb up in their chairs for their donuts and ask for candles also.  I give them the pep talk about how they are very special and important but this is sissy’s big day and she is the only one that gets a candle, just like they did 11 days earlier.  As I begin to sing they begin to scream and cry.  I powered through and took these picture.

Abigail's 5th Birthday Breakfast

The picture on the left captured the reality of the moment however the picture on the right reflects how I hoped it would have gone.  Any guesses on which one ended up on Facebook?Social media is such a delicate balance.  There is so much negativity, criticism and strong opinions on facebook and twitter.  In equal parts there are a whole lot of us pretending to live a picture perfect life that is not reality.  The middle ground that I am constantly searching for is one that shows some of my reality in a way that allows myself and my friends to laugh at how crazy life can be sometimes.  As Christian moms it is not our job to be perfect, have perfectly behaved children, beautifully clean homes and homemade snacks when the kids get home.  All those things are nice, although almost impossible to attain and may even make us hard to relate to isolating us from the possible friendships we could be creating with moms who need some encouragement.  Who are you going to reach out to on a day when your kids are extraordinatoially challenging, the mom whose children look like they fell out of a Pottery Barn Kids catalog everyday?  There is power in being vulnerable.  I see my Christian mom challenge in three parts:

Love my kids with my whole heart, hopefully so intensely that they can begin to imagine how much God loves us.

Model caring and loving others so they become vehicles for God’s love to reach others.

Encourage other mommas that are trying to do the same thing.

As you post on your social media accounts this week, be honest, be real, be positive and use your platform as a doorway for real relationships with real people who are facing some of the best and worst moments of their lives.

When my Children Pretend to be Me

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My little humans have wild imaginations.  They pretend to be doctors, pirates, princesses, performers and chefs but the person they love to be more than anyone is me.  I know what you’re thinking, oh isn’t that sweet?  Well you would be right some of the time but the other times it’s just humbling.  When they are kissing each others’ boo boos or using their sweet mommy voice when asking for something I love it.  When they pretend to tuck each other in and they give hugs, kisses and rub noses my heart sings.

It’s the times when they bark orders at each other that I’m less than proud of myself.  Or when they clap their hands and tell each other in a serious mommy voice to hurry it up buttercup.  I’m never super excited to see them shake their fingers at each other.  Could I have more finesse when getting my kids out the door?  For sure, however some parts of this parenting thing are just not pretty.  Watching yourself played back through the eyes of your children is gratifying at times but also remarkably humbling.

It’s a lot of pressure being a parent.  We are constant teachers, modelers of good behavior, politeness and compassion but sometimes we have an off day and fall short of our own expectations of ourselves.  I’m betting my mom had days like these but I don’t remember them.  I remember the fun stuff she did with us as little ones.  I remember her having a snack ready for me when I got home from school and greeting me at the door.  I remember her sitting through hours of practices and tournaments.  I remember her letting us make forts in the living room.  I remember sitting down together as a family to have dinner more often than not.

Our children give us grace without even thinking about it, not unlike our Heavenly Father.  Now we just have to accept it for ourselves.  When we fall short, Jesus makes up the difference.

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Rainy Day Crazy

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These two have been a challenge today.   It has poured all day today and we are incredibly dependent on our ability to go outside and get our wiggles out.  I pulled out my best stuff today.  We made a pirate ship, went on an umbrella walk, they helped make lunch, we read books, watched Sesame Street, we made telescopes out of toilet paper rolls. 

As I tried to make beds this afternoon they both jumped and pulled on the comforters of each bed and tossed pillows down as soon as I put them in place.  It was like making beds with drunk, belligerent frat boys. In my I mean business mommy voice I told them to go downstairs and play in the playroom.  As I finished up the last bed, I heard uncontrollable giggling coming from downstairs, which usually means someone is playing in the toilet.  I ran down the stairs to find them tickling each other (in a completely nonviolent way). 

It was so sweet.  When we found out we were having twin boys, after I got done freaking out, I reassured myself that we would have moments like these.  Sometimes in my day I let the crazy, not fun parenting stuff outweigh these moments in my mind.  I get so negative in my own thoughts, and then there are moments like these that are so filling and refreshing and humbling.  It still blows my mind that God gave these sweet, challenging, strong-willed, ticklish, screaming and amazing crazies to me.  Most days I think He believes I have more patience than I do, most days my children humble me but everyday with them is a blessing rain or shine.

Not the Good Kind of Slip and Slide

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The scene of the crime.

Let me set the scene.  We bought a new house less than a month ago that came complete with a playset in the backyard.  My crazies think this is the coolest thing ever.  They would spend the entire day outside if this spring rain would just stop. 

Today, after naps, I socked, shoed and jacketed the crew and ushered them outside to enjoy a slightly overcast Ohio spring afternoon on the playset. 

As soon as we walk outside the dog walks over to the slide, lifts a leg and proceeds to pee all over the slide.  The slide, representing at least 80% of what makes the playset amazing.  I yell out to the kids to stay off the slide, run in and grab the dog’s water bucket, clorox and paper towels.  As I’m running back out the door, Benjamin is sitting on the top of the slide as his sister, bless her heart, is yelling, “No, Bubba it’s doggy pee!” 

It was like watching it in slow motion.  I yelled, “Benjamin don’t you slide down that slide.  Sit still.”  He looks right at me, smiles and slides. 

One of many moments when I have been totally grossed out by my kids.  Seriously.  Yeah, you showed me.  Who has got dog pee on their pants?  Not smiling now are ya!

Not one of my finest parenting moments followed but I did get to utter something I never thought I would.

“Now see what happens when you don’t listen to Mommy?  You get dog pee on your butt.”

Can’t make this stuff up folks.