Sunday, December 16, 2012

grace filled Christmas

i don't do Santa or elf on the shelf. not due to theological reasons, it goes deeper than that. the concept behind both is that if kids are good enough, on their best behavior, they will get gifts. it sounds good in theory, but i battle a lifelong struggle against this exact mindset. if i'm just good enough, things will be ok. however, this is not how God works. before we were ever deserving, He made the ultimate sacrifice for us. we didn't earn it and we never will. but Grace doesn't stop there.

James 1:17 Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

notice it does not offer the disclaimer "if we follow the rules" or "if we are deserving" or "if we are good enough". He bestows His gifts simply because He loves us. He already knew we didn't deserve them and we'd never be good enough. He gives them anyway.

many times, we confuse the blessing that comes with obedience with reward for our actions. we are blessed when we obey God because His way is right, therefore it blesses our lives. He's not rewarding us for following the rules. He's showing us the fullness of life that abides in Him. sometimes, it's when we are at worst that we really get this concept. when we are entrenched in sin, staring up from the pit, knowing with every fiber of our being how wretchedly undeserving we are. then He will pour out incredible blessing on us in the midst of it. and we really get that we didn't earn it, we've never earned it. He just loves us. no strings attached. He loves us when we're good and He loves us when we're not.

i have battled this erroneous mindset for most of my life. that i have to strive to be good enough, while never feeling i can achieve it. that i just have to keep working harder and trying more and toiling in vain. it hasn't been until i felt so depleted i was totally incapable of working any more, that He reminded me of His grace. that He blessed me beyond measure when i was so undeserving. by definition grace is unmerited assistance. i don't have to be good enough, He loves me anyway. just the way i am.

so what does this have to do with Santa and the Elf? i don't want my children to go 34 years before getting this. i want them to know that they are loved no matter what. they don't have to earn my love, my gifts or my time. they never have to be good enough for a savior to redeem them. that Christmas is to celebrate the most precious gift of all and one month of "good" behavior is not warranted to receive it.
it's free. it's grace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

changes...

i just realized i haven't written since i announced the house situation. i am so sorry. our crazy life has gotten crazier and blogging has been way down the priority list. so let's get all the updates out of the way first...

the House:

we started looking at houses immediately. it was depressing. they were either filthy, very small or way out of our price range. not to mention, who wants to rent to a family of 7 with a foreclosure? i was trusting that we would be taken care of while simultaneously terrified of where we may have to live. after several promising leads fell through i was really starting to panic. then a good friend called and mentioned that a house on their street had been empty for a year. she wasn't sure if they were open to renting it but offered to get the owner's number for us. i called him the next day and talked to him for an hour. the house was his parents and his grandparents before that. it had been empty since his mother went to a nursing home. he hadn't rented it because he was "waiting for God to bring him the right people." we got off the phone after agreeing to meet and see it that night. after we hung up, my stomach was in knots. i had been somewhat evasive with him about our situation and i felt sick that i hadn't been totally honest. i immediately texted him what was going on with our house and told him i would totally understand if he wasn't comfortable with it. he was fine. we met that night and the minute Eli and i walked through the door we knew this was our house. it's far bigger than we ever hoped for (almost double square footage of our previous house) and right in our lower price range. we were floored. the owner is an amazing man and he seemed confident that we were the people he had been waiting for. we made plans to move the first weekend of December. it has four bedrooms, three full baths, and lots of room for small people. it is literally a dream. it is in a beautiful neighborhood, some of our best friends are a few houses away and we couldn't be happier. here are some pics....

 Master bedroom... on the main floor, behind the kitchen. AWAY FROM THE KIDS! ;)



 Opposite wall of our room, our bathroom on the left and the door to the laundry room on the right!


 TV room... which means NO tv in the living room, yay!



 dining room which will hopefully have a table eventually :)


 kitchen, which was originally pale blue with a birdhouse border. 



living room with gas fireplace. 


 View from the dining room. those double sets of french doors go out to a porch :)


next up... the Job:

so to add to all the changes, i started a job today! my first job out of the home in ten years. the position is at an agency here called Marriage Resource Center. it's a really incredible agency. they aim to lower the local divorce rate, enhance marriage relationships and build stronger families. i would encourage you to check out the website, i'm really blessed to be a part of it. it means a major change in our household, especially for esme. she's never gone to a sitter and is used to being with me most of the time. add to that moving in the same week. a LOT for a three year old to process. she is not napping and rarely sleeping but i hope she will adjust soon. thankfully i have really wonderful people watching her and it's only part time.

lastly, thank you to all of the people that have been praying for us, support us and generally bring encouragement. i may not get to respond to all, but know that it means so much to us. we continually ponder how we are blessed to have the people in our life that we do. it amazes us. thank you!

Friday, October 26, 2012

it's that time again...

you all know how i feel about halloween. we don't have to rehash it every year. in the interest of compromise, we are attending my sister in law's costume party tonight, with the kids. it's guaranteed to be a fun time for all and will hopefully water down the "why can't we trick or treat" whining tomorrow.  however, that means SEVEN costumes. for real. so i posted on fb that i needed costumes and within 24 hrs had offers of them for all four of the younger kids, score! but today i realized i didn't have one for Ari. no big deal, right? wrong. i went to three stores. do you know what costumes for teenagers are like? all slutty. seriously.  slutty witch, slutty cheerleader, slutty BUMBLEBEE! how do you make a fat, furry insect slutty? just head on over to target and you can see yourself. sigh...

i will post some pics of them this week though. i may hate halloween but i love kids in costumes :)

p.s. i should have some house news to share by tomorrow!

p.p.s. when looking through my old posts to find the one about halloween, i realized i was a lot funnier last year. sorry!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

keepin it real

well, when i posted that i was taking off the mask, i didn't realize how quickly that opportunity would come! so in the interest of being real and vulnerable and whatnot, i'm going to share with you the news we received tonight...

we have to move in two weeks.  two weeksand we don't know where we're going. 
                                  (i'll let that last sentence soak in for a moment.)

so here's the deal, we have been in a bitter battle with our mortgage company for over two years over illegal practices. we have known for a bit  that we may have to lose the house before it is settled. we did not know that such companies can set an auction date, not inform you of it, and take your house. we certainly did not know that we would have two weeks to find a place and move with five children in tow.

i'll be honest with you in saying that when i got this news, approximately 7:30p tonight, i flipped out. i went into full on panic mode. the wheels in my brain  were spinning so fast smoke was coming out of my ears. at this point, my husband said  "i think we should pray. right now." so we did. then he put the kids to bed and i headed up for my nightly hot bath to have a few words with the Lord. i won't share those words here (this is a family blog!) but have no worries, he's God, He can handle it.  when i was done with my ranting and threatening and begging, He decided to speak. (he's such a gentlemen, never interrupting. letting me get all my crazy out :)  and He reminded me of what i've come out of in the last few months. what i have walked through, how dark my pit was, how desperate and undone i was at many points of it. and then He said to me "If I can get you through that, do you really think I can't provide a house?"

huh. i guess i was thinking that. i wish my limited brain could convey to you the feeling of peace that washed over me. He's got this. He's had it all along. i just have to keep trusting Him.

so as of right now, i cannot tell you where my little people will laying their little heads in two weeks. i have no idea. but someone bigger than me does, and He's got it.

if i have learned anything in the last years of my life it is this: a house is only important in that it is where your family is together. otherwise it's just bricks and mortar. wherever we end up, we will all be there together. that alone is a miracle. the address on the mailbox is just a little perk.

Monday, October 15, 2012

the mask

i've written, rewritten and discarded this post a million times. wanting to express my thoughts and my journey, unsure how to protect our privacy. instead, i've just not posted. it's not that i haven't wanted to, it's just that some stories are not for public consumption. i apologize in advance for some of the vagueness i'm about to convey. i'm in a season of my life that is one of the most trying yet. i had a crisis hit in early august that i never saw coming and i'm slowly trying to find my way back. i can honestly say it hasn't been pretty or easy. it's been messy and confusing and heartbreaking. but the thing about a crisis is that when it hits, who you really are comes to the surface. those parts of yourself that you thought you'd already gotten under control come raging outward. you find yourself looking in a mirror and sometimes you don't like what you see. when we are faced with trials, even when we may be the "victim", we have to reevaluate who we are and what we trying to become. it's a rough journey. in a world that is constantly feeding us lies about who we should be, we need reminders of who we are. but how can you be who you are if you don't really know? you see, i've worn a mask all of my life. it says "i am ok". it says "i'm strong, i don't need help." it says "i have it together". i wear the mask so others will love me, but they just end up loving the mask. therein lies the problem. underneath the mask is fear, insecurity, pride and the lie that if i remove it people will run screaming. so when life throws  you a curve ball that is so extreme the mask falls off, i'm faced with a choice. put back on or learn to live without it?

i'm choosing to keep it off.  i'm choosing to believe the truth about myself and refute the lies. the truth is that i am a weak, sinful human. but thankfully that's not all i am.

i am a daughter of the most high king.
i am fully forgiven and covered by grace.
i am uniquely created for a purpose set in motion at the creation of the universe.
i am full of gifts and talents that i only need to access.

i am a woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a cheerleader, an encourager, a singer, a person prone to laughter, a worshipper, a believer in miracles, a lover of words, a visionary. 

i am not defined by what i've been delivered from, but what i am being delivered to.

i'm facing the traits about myself that i have believed my whole life are "just how i am" and realizing that i don't have to be that person any more. i am an overcomer. 

i'm taking off the mask. and it feels good.

Ephesians 1:3-8  Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

life of leisure

i've been daydreaming all summer about what bliss it was going to be when school started and it was just me and esme at home. how we were going to color pictures and shop and live a life of leisure together. did you hear that?? it's reality knocking. spending all day with a two year old is like spending with an unmedicated, psychotic hoarder.  that talks a lot.
 she's happy,
she's sad.
 she hates the blue cup.
 she only wants to watch "the shortcake show".
 she wants to narrarate it even though i'm sitting right next to her.
we can't leave the house without her plaid purse, saltines, her matchbox cars, a comb and her plastic transformer that she named "daddy".
 we've discussed her mood swings before. this girl is loco. sometimes i pretend i have to use the bathroom just for a few minutes of peace. the first week i planned all of these fun playdates so she wouldn't miss the kids too much. except now she thinks we are supposed to do something fun and exciting every day.  so when i tell her we're staying home to do laundry and organize my nail polishes, it's full on meltdown. until she sees the nail polish. then she's happy. until i tell her she can't paint her own nails. back to meltdown. until calliou comes on. overjoyed! but wait...she needs a chocolate snack while she watches... we don't eat chocolate at 9:30 a.m. (well, children don't. adults do. but only in the pantry where children can't see.) it's like a toddler emotional roller coaster that NEVER ENDS. you see what i'm saying??

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

the power of words: a top ten list

10. words i never thought i'd say: "we don't call each other uteruses"

9. words every wife loves to hear: "you were right"

8. words every mother loves to hear: "i'm tired. i want to go to bed."

7. words every husband dreads: "we need to talk"

6. words every child dreads: "tuna noodle casserole for dinner!"

5. words i'm tired of saying: "because i'm your mother, that's why"

4. words i need to hear more of: "let me help you with that mom!"

3. words i need to hear less of: "that's not fair!"

2. words that i hope to never say again: "i'm late"

1. words you can never say too much: "i love you"

Monday, August 13, 2012

10 things no mother wants to hear...

"did you see what i did on my wall?!"



 "look mama, i cut my own hair!"

 "dad said we could"



 "mama, guess where i peed?!"


 "i was gonna clean it up but i remembered you would be home soon."


 "mom, where's the mop?"


 "we just wanted to see if he would land on his feet"


 "mom, your butt is really big!"


  "mommy i made an experiment!"



 "don't worry mom, i told the guy at the door you were going potty."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

the bean turns 13



 today Ariana turns 13. i'm sitting in a hotel room with her and her best friend. we're on a weekend trip to celebrate her entrance into womanhood. and have lots of fun ;) while i'm sitting here, sounds of giggling coming from the next room, i'm a little overwhelmed at thinking she is 13. i had her when i was in college and i had no stinking clue what i was doing. young women in college are not supposed to have babies. they are not equipped for it.  her conception was (obviously) a huge surprise. the shock was soon followed by joy, i knew i had always wanted babies. i was just getting an early start. i was a full time college student and a full time worker through my entire pregnancy. i had her in a birthing center that actually acted like a birthing center. i was allowed to lay in the grass outside while i labored and have all of my friends there. i was supported for my choice to go natural and encouraged when it got really bad and i thought i wanted to quit. but after 28 hours of labor, that blessed midwife finally said "PUSH!"  by that point i would have done any crazy thing she asked if it meant the pain would stop. i did push. after a bit of that, they laid a beautiful, screaming baby on my chest and told me she was a girl. the second big surprise she gave me. while i stared at her red, wailing self, i had no idea my whole world had just changed. really, irrevocably, changed. i looked at her perfect face and said "hi" and she immediately stopped crying. as soon as she heard my voice she remembered that we know each other. we just sat and stared at one another, while chaos ensued around us from all of the people in the room.  (we've learned with subsequent births that having everybody in the room isn't always the most relaxing ;)
     because it was the middle of the night, soon they were all gone and it was just me and her. Eli was passed out on the couch. the lights were dim and she was wide awake. i can remember just staring at her tiny body.
 i had never in my life felt so overwhelmed with love.
 i had never felt this new foreign devotion. that i would literally slay a dragon for her.  
that i would annihilate the person that  caused her tears.
 that i was her mama. 

if someone had told me the kind of young woman she would be at 13, i'm not sure i would've believed it. her father and i were so very flawed in those early parenting things. i could spend weeks telling you everything we did wrong with that one and still not have enough time. when i think about that i realize that she turned into this incredible thing because it's just who she is. it's not her parenting. it's HER.  she just really is an amazing being.


she is compassionate to a fault.  she loves deeply and wholly. she is a lover of souls and she never fails to show it. 









 She is so very smart.  smart and wise beyond her years. i would say she's an old soul, if i believed in such things.









she is a kind and loyal friend. one that any young girl would be blessed to have.


she's fun. lots and lots of fun. 



she has a beautiful smile that she gives freely.



she is meant for amazing things.  just amazing things.





i am honored to be her mother. i am more proud of her every day. she changed my life by simply being born.  she changes my life each and ever day by being who she is. there is nothing i wouldn't do for her. she's my bean.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

an overdue top ten

is anyone still here?  i think this is the longest period i've ever gone without posting since i started this blog! life is busy, you know how it is. i think of a post, i start it in my head, it never gets any further than that. good thing i'm not getting paid for this...i'd be broke!

i thought i'd try to catch up on our summer for those who are not my facebook friends.

top ten most noteworthy events of summer 2012~

10. theMrs is officially done potty training...kinda. except when she decides to hide and poop in her pants. other than that we're golden!

9. we are obsessed with the olympics! the other night the bean and i stayed up until midnight cheering on the girls gymnastics team and watching them receive their medals! there have been lots of somersaults and head stands around here!

8. i don't want to ever talk about chik fil a  again. i'm saddened by both sides. if you want to know my view, read here.

7. we got fleas...again. which is doubly irritating since we don't have any pets. $250 later they are hopefully gone!

6. Za turned 10, the Princess turned 8 and theMr and i celebrated our 12th anniversary with a trip alone!

5. the bean is turning 13 in a week! we are celebrating her entry into womanhood with a girls only weekend away for her and her BFF! 

4. safe families has gained some steam and i'm just trying to keep up with the momentum! i'm developing a team of people who believe in this vision and im excited to see it coming to fruition. while i struggle to manage working while home with five kids, it's coming along. i'm hoping things will be a bit easier once school starts. 

3. theMr has been working like a maniac. his business has really taken off this year. he's super busy but works hard at juggling his time with that and at home. you can "like" his business facebook page to see pics of what he's been doing all summer!

2. we may be moving! i can't go in to a lot of detail at this point, but this is pretty huge for us. we bought this house 10 years ago and have more than outgrown it. i'll keep ya posted :)

1. we are preparing for another year of school to begin! pencils to buy, uniforms to try on, silence to look forward to! it is a LOT of work for four kids to start school... but oh so worth it! we are blessed to have the opportunity to send our kids back to Emmanuel Christian Academy again. it is an amazing school and we are thankful to be a part of it.

that's all we have going on... what about you?!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest post from the Bean

Hi, it’s me again, The Bean! (I really hate that nickname) Mother asked me to do another post, so here I am.  My last guest post was on mom so it’s naturally time to do one on pops.
  Here is a list of five things you don’t know about him:
1.     ~ He is in love with cartoons, they are mostly superhero and is you try to delete one on the DVR he will freak
2.       ~Mom has told how he has a good fashion sense, he does but that’s a mild version.  He has hooks on the wall for his hats (there are like seventy, you can’t see the wall) he has a million shoes, and is the biggest fashion diva/shopper out of all of us
3.      ~ He is in love with his body, I have caught him multiple times flexing in front of the mirror or telling me to feel his muscles. Yeah.
4.      ~ He is very smart.  He has an idea on how to make, solve, and/or fix something in way that no one else would have. (he gets it from my grandpa who is just as brilliant)
5.      ~ He believes he’s still seventeen. 
 
Dad is very different from all my friends dads.  He is diverse too.
This is a list of a few things that make him out of the ordinary (besides the ones listed above):
1.       He is known by my class by his hats.
2.       When I brought him on an overnight field trip last year he made friends, with the boys in my class.
3.       He visibly does not age or gain weight. ( me and mom are always teasing him though about fat that’s non-existent)
4.       He likes the same music as me.
Now, here is a list of things that make him like other dads:
1.       He can be very embarrassing
2.       He teases me constantly (I guess that’s more like a big brother than a dad)
3.       He can be intimidating
That is some stuff about my dear old father.  I hope to do another post after this one on the other kids! (or demon spawn as I sometimes refer to them as) Bye!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

summertime!

i read a lot of happy blogs. i don't like mopey depressing ones. the problem with (some) blogs is that they are so overly happy. summer is prime time for delightful, perfect pictures of all the wonderful activities they are doing...


playing cards when the weather is yucky...

summer haircuts...




swimming...



more swimming....


even more swimming....


going to the fair...

and running on the slip n slide!

do you know what those blogs don't tell you? it's only half way through summer and these kids are driving me crazy! like put on a straitjacket, medicate me CRAZY. the fighting and the messes and the wet grass tracked through the kitchen and the arguments over which movie to watch and the staying up late and being grumpy and the fighting!! i am counting down the moments until that beloved yellow bus makes it appearance. i hope i make it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

DC

i can't even remember if i talked about our trip here or not. whatevs. tomorrow theMr and i leave for five days in DC! woo hoo! this is monumental as it will be our first kid free vacation.  ever.  as in, we took a nursing baby on our honeymoon. (note to self: this is why God intended you have kids after getting married~!)  we have had a few weekends away over the years, but not a real trip. i can't even tell you how excited we are. our 12th anniversary will fall on sunday and we'll celebrate there. yay!! the kids are staying at our house and various trusted friends and family members are staying here with them. it makes things so much easier to not have to pack for them. i have a million and one things to get done before we leave, pray for me!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Guest Post on dating!

i'm so excited to share this guest post. over the past few years, as we've (tried) to prepare for having teenagers, we've given a lot of prayer and thought to how we would handle dating. theMr and i made some really bad choices as single people, including a child out of wedlock and the repercussions that go with it. we made a decision a few years ago to not allow our children to date until they graduate high school. in the time since, we've asked many parents of teens how they handle this issue. one of those i have practically grilled on the issue is my friend Jen. the reason? she has fantastic teenagers. three of them. they are smart and funny and polite and delightful. i find myself gravitating towards people with teens like that and trying to soak in what they are doing. everyone has "advice" on parenting but the proof is in the pudding. find people with great kids and watch them!  in the midst of these discussions, the dating issue came up. as it turns out, they have the same views about dating as we do. i asked Jen to do a guest post because she has a lot more experience in this than i do! i'm just getting started in the world of raising teens. i'm so glad i did, she expressed it perfectly. enjoy!
     
I am the mom of 3 teens. They are smart (straight A’s). They are talented (the 3 of them practically have their own band).  They are funny and kind. They’re really good-looking. And none of them has ever been on a date.
            The dating thing? It’s by choice. From the time our kids were little, we wanted to figure out a way to avoid the whole teenage dating scenario. Our own dating experiences caused us to take a good look at what the purpose of dating really is. But how could we raise kids who were ok with not dating? Was it possible to help them avoid the whole dating scene and still be normal? I’m happy to tell you that not only is it possible, but I believe that waiting to date has actually freed my kids up to enjoy their teenage years and helped them be mentally, spiritually and physically healthy.
            I have no problem with families whose teenagers are dating, because every family has to decide what works for them. But in case you’re wondering how & why any teenager would choose to be dateless, here’s some of the philosophy & strategies that worked for us. Just a word of warning, though: if you’re the kind of person who likes to be conventional, you should probably just skip the rest of this post!
            The foundational idea for our dating philosophy is that we believe the purpose of dating is to find a spouse. Whoa, you might say! That’s way too intense for teenagers to have to worry about. What about just letting them have fun, explore relationships with the opposite sex, etc? Well, here’s the bottom line: biology dictates that as soon as kids hit puberty, their hormones demand that they begin reproducing as soon as possible. You can’t fight it. It’s the way we were designed. So when you have a couple of teens alone  for hours, “exploring” their relationship with each other, you have the human equivalent of a spark and a match. It’s just a matter of time before something will ignite. This is not a bad thing. Like I said, it’s the way we were designed.
            So if the hormones of puberty are what kick-starts our path toward the opposite sex, then what lies at the end of that path? That’s easy: marriage. The whole point of becoming interested in someone else is so that we will ultimately find a life partner.
Here’s a radical idea: no one is ready to find a life partner at 12! or 15! or even 17, for that matter! 
            I can almost hear the skepticism. “What about just letting kids have fun? What about letting them go out in groups so they can get to know each other? I dated my husband/wife all through high school and we turned out fine! You’re taking this way too seriously!”
            Let me give you a visual. What would happen if you glued 2 pieces of paper together and then changed your mind and tried to pull them apart? The papers would rip. At best you would have one piece of paper that was really thin in spots where a layer of it was still stuck to the other piece. This is what happens when kids give their hearts away by having romantic feelings and experiences with the opposite sex. Every time your child develops feelings for someone else, he/she leaves a little bit of his/her heart with that person.
            I don’t want my kids offering their future spouses a ripped-up heart.
            So what do you do then? How do you keep your kids from dating?.
            Well, basically you don’t keep them from dating. What you do is begin to build a wise view of dating into them from the time they’re little, so that by the time they’re teenagers, they get it so thoroughly that they have no desire to date (ok, realistically they might HAVE the desire, but they don’t act on it because it’s so not part of who they are, and what your family values are).
            Some practical strategies:
            1. Always link dating to marriage. When our kids were little, whenever we saw a teenage couple on TV or in a movie, we made a joke about it. “Look at those two! Do you think they’re old enough to get married?”... followed by a huge laugh, as if this was the funniest thing we’d ever heard. The kids quickly figured out that the purpose of dating was marriage.
            2. As your kids get older, point out examples that will hit them personally (and if it embarrasses your kid, all the better!). We have relatives in North Carolina, a state in which you can get married (with parental consent) at 14. When our kids hit 14, we of course teased them that they could get married in NC. They were so horrified that they didn’t think this was funny AT ALL! Point taken.
            3. Go on “dates” with your opposite-sex children. Moms, take your sons on dates. Dads, take your daughters on dates. Do not underestimate the power of these times together. For years our girls have gone on an annual father-daughter dance. It has become their prom. They dress up, do their hair, etc., for their dad. It’s the coolest thing ever. Doing these special things builds up your child’s sense of how to be treated by the opposite sex and affirms what is special about their gender. It insulates them against the huge affirmation that so many teens try to find in the opposite sex. Kids who are affirmed by their opposite sex parent won’t need nearly as much affirmation by their peers. If you are a single parent, find a relative or close friend who can help you out in this area.
            4. Don’t be afraid to limit technology. Kids have access to each other 24/7 in ways we didn’t. Remember that technology should function as a tool, not a noose. Ask yourself how cellphones, Facebook, Twitter, and the internet can be helpful to your family. If they’re not helpful - if you’re not comfortable letting your kids  talk/text/facebook with the opposite sex, great! Just say no. You are the parent. However, I believe it is important to explain your reasons to your kids, and even get their input so they feel heard and will know you’re limiting things because you care and not because you’re just trying to drop the hammer.
            4 ½. Some Facebook tips: if you’ve decided to let your kids be on Facebook, one simple way to monitor this is to tell them that whenever possible, whoever is their friend needs to be your friend too. This way you will see all the things their friends post. Sometimes it isn’t possible to “friend” all your kids’ friends, so make sure your child knows you have the right to log onto his/her account anytime you want. In our house this is nonnegotiable. Also, know your child’s password. For that matter, let your kid know your password too. Everyone in our family knows everyone else’s password and can log on to each other’s accounts if they want.
            5. Get some good resources to back you up. One popular book about this subject is I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. Find friends who share your philosophy. This will be really important when your kids are teens and need to know they’re not the only ones not dating. Having a few friends in the same boat will help them not feel weird.
             Ok, I have to throw this in: Don’t be afraid to be different. Being unconventional means you are thinking for yourself. Be proud of that without being obnoxious. You don’t have to go around defending your position, but you also don’t have to make converts, either. People will notice that your kids are happier, more well-adjusted, and allover nice people when you make decisions that promote their well-being even if those are not the popular choices.
            Parents, we have an awesome responsibility. We also have an amazing opportunity to shape our kids’ lives. Don’t be afraid of this, but take hold of it with joy, knowing that whenever you think through parenting decisions, you’re trying to do what’s best for your kids. In the end, that’s what counts.




    

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

our visitor

the kids came and woke me up this morning to tell me there was a rat in the house. we get mice every spring, so naturally i ignored them and went back to sleep! when i got up, i sat in my favorite spot in the sitting room with my first cup of coffee and my laptop. while i'm basking in the few moments of quiet (the kids were upstairs starting their chores) i have a little surprise... something running across the floor in front of me. at first, i thought it was a giant rat. then i realized it was a small possum. so i'm standing on the couch screaming, Aliyah is standing on the coffee table screaming, Esme is chasing it saying "come here, kitty!"  i opened the front door and after a few minutes Isaiah was able to chase it out! i think it was more anxious to get out of this crazy place with screaming females and a toddler hell bent on putting it in a baby carriage!  after all of our adrenalin subsided, i realized i was actually relieved that it was a possum as opposed to a rat. i mean, when have you ever heard of someone having one rat? i have no idea how it got in and i sincerely hope it never manages to do again. i never thought anything would be a more effective wake up tool than my keurig. guess i was wrong!

Monday, June 4, 2012

more facebook... i can't resist!

when i wrote my original post about facebook, i thought it was comprehensive. little did i know that the lovely form of social media would just keep giving me more and more material! i've been trying to fight writing this post for a few weeks now, in an attempt to not offend my last few readers! but i just can't keep my mouth shut any longer! i must let it out!! so in no particular order....

~ is there something in the fb rules and regulations that states this as the perfect venue to offer condescending, unsolicited advice?  here are some things i've seen recently:  a picture of an adorable toddler standing up in their crib for the first time set off a storm of comments about lowering the crib mattress. the mother of this toddler has three children. i think she knows to lower the mattress. take a deep breath! similarly, someone posted a pic of an adorable baby sleeping in a carseat, strapped in appropriately. but wait! one darling "friend" inspected the style of the carseat and determined that it must be an older model and therefore is NOT safe for that child. seriously? you should put those super detective skills to work somewhere else. like maybe where people actually care to hear your opinions.

~vaguebooking.... we've discussed in our last post. but it cannot be repeated enough. this is NOT a status "pray, bad things, can't share more."  followed by three days of nothing. is this person dead? did someone steal their wifi? are they in the witness protection program? if you can't share then ...... DON'T SHARE.
whew, i'm getting really really shouty CAPS over here and we're only on the second one. i better take a few deep breaths.

~ok, i'm under control now. i will not be under control if i'm forced to continually see my mom's friends posting uber cleavage-y pics of themselves taken in the bathroom, with their lips stuck out like they are a cast member on the Real Housewives of the OC.  let's just legislate some guidelines here: if you are over 21, do not take pics in the bathroom. if you are over 30, do not put your girls on fb.  if you are a teenager, just remember that the internet is forever and someday you may want a career. just sayin!

~bashing your place of work, especially when it is a non profit ministry.  it's ok for you to be unhappy there. it's ok for you to vent to your friends about your unhappiness. it is NOT ok for you to bash that institution repeatedly online. it is super offensive to the many parents of students there. it is also not a very good representation of your character. put your big girl pants on and take your issues to the people that can address them. that's called maturity.

~while we're on the topic of bashing, the above rule also applies to spouses, in laws, and your children. don't say terrible things about your family. just don't. keep it to yourself.

~and since we mentioned husbands, let me also clarify that details of your sex life are totally unnecessary. like really. i do NOT need to know that you both had sex when you woke up this morning. nobody needed to know that .  but thanks for sharing.

~and lastly, the business facebooker. look, i'm glad you're making some extra money. i truly am. however, i feel i should disclose a few things. if your statuses are always about your product and how wonderful it is, i will "hide" you. please stop inviting me to every party you have. or worse, asking me to host one. if i wake up tomorrow and want make-up or purses or jewelry or cooking supplies or a vacation package- I'll call you!

have we finally covered all of the bases yet??? somehow i bet not....


Thursday, May 31, 2012

10 ways to stay married

i don't think anyone would deny that marriage can be tricky. we are constantly bombarded by unsolicited advice on how to make it work... some good... some not.  why not get a little it more??  these are a few things i've learned along the way!

10. Lie.  "Do my thighs look cellulite-y in these shorts?" "No, they look fantastic."

9.  Touch each other like you did when you were dating. hold hands, an arm around the shoulder, these things go a long way. sometimes we just need a reminder that we like this person.

8.  Talk about your spouse when they're not there, as if they are.  any opportunity you have to say something kind about them, DO IT. our words are the overflow of our heart. be encouraging, not critical.

7.  Go to bed mad.  some arguments are just not going to be solved tonight. sometimes you just need to get some sleep and things won't look so bad in the morning!

6. Master bedrooms are for parents, not children.  parent's bed is no place for kids. it's for parents. if you want to stay (happily) married, keep your kids out of your bed. if you want tips on how to get them out of there, email me!

5. Men are insecure too.  say nice things to them. they need to hear it as much as we do.

4. Have as much sex as possible. even if you don't feel like it. the more you do it, the more you will want to.

3. Remember why you fell in love. remind yourself when you want to kill each other. if you have them, look at pictures! if things get really tough, go to counseling. this is not a failure or a weakness, it's a determination.

2. forgive, forgive, forgive. and then forgive some more.

1. there are seasons of life that are less conducive to happy marriage. pregnancy, raising young children, grieving, just to name a few.  during these times, remind yourself that: this too shall pass. and keep doing what you know you should do, even when you don't feel like it. you will never regret investing in your marriage. it is the single most important thing you can do for your children. it's worth it!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

the big announcement

no, i'm not pregnant. shame on you for even thinking it! i've alluded for several months now about a "career change" of sorts. i haven't been ready to announce it here but the time has come! before i dive in, i need to give a tiny bit of background info...
     long, long ago, before i became a professional bottom wiper, i was a social worker. i worked specifically in the foster care system as a case manager. while i loved that field and the people i worked with, i left it somewhat discouraged. quite honestly, the foster care system is deeply flawed.  and it is bad for families. the average reunification rate of children and their families is very low.  the problem? taking children from people who are unable to effectively cope with their lives, giving them a list of changes to make and leaving them on their own to make them does not work. sadly, many families today do not have the support system nor the coping skills to repair their family on their own. add to the mix an underfunded system, overworked case managers and damaged children and it is a recipe for disaster. this is where i am honored to introduce Safe Families.
     Safe Families is a nonprofit ministry who's goal is to help families in crisis retain custody of their children and get back on their feet. families are given the support and resources to raise their children and be successful again. here's how it works: families are referred who are in some form of crisis by other ministries and social services agencies. (not families where abuse is occurring, that is a legal issue) so families who may be dealing with homelessness, addiction, unemployment, medical crisis, etc.  these are families on the brink of losing their children. they are one step away from having an open social services case.  SF would do several things for them. the first is to offer respite care for their children, while they retain legal custody. they would not lose custody of their children. they would allow our host family (very similar to a foster parent) to care for their children while they are getting on their feet. we would help them make a plan to address the issues they are facing and the host family would mentor them towards being reunified with their children. did you catch that? the people caring for their children will be their mentor.  and on top of that? the host families receive no compensation. they are doing it for free. there is no corruption of families simply "doing it for the paycheck". they're not getting one. their only benefit is helping another family be whole again. when those goals have been met, the kids go home. the average placement is 45 days. 45 DAYS. that is a drop in the bucket in comparison to foster care. as opposed to years of children being shuffled from home to home. can you see why i'm so excited?  in addition to the obvious benefit to these families, there is an added bonus.  taking these families out of the social service system frees up resources, funds and workers to focus on the families that truly need it. cases of severe neglect and abuse. imagine if your local children's services could spend all of their time and money on the worst of the worst? if they could soak those resources on kids who desperately needed them? how would that change things?
     obviously i am excited and passionate about this topic. i could spend all day sharing statistics and stories and testimonies of lives changed. i won't do that. but i will ask for your prayers. this is a huge undertaking. i will be opening the first Safe Families branch in Ohio. i have a lot to do! pray for me as i make important decisions.  as i juggle my family life and my career.  that the right people will be added to my team! 
     if you are interested in learning more about Safe Families or if you simply have a desire to be a prayer partner, please join me tomorrow night (Wednesday May 23rd) at the Springfield House of Prayer at 7:30! i would love to tell you more!

Friday, May 18, 2012

10 things i love about theMr





today is theMr's 29th  33rd birthday. although at the bean's science fair last night one of her classmates whispered that her dad looks like he could be her brother. please don't encourage him. anywho, in celebration of theMr....

10. he's a great dresser. now this has been a process. when we were dating, he had dreads, wore skirts and did not shower. all of these are true. i loved the dreads but the skirts and hippie stench had to go. you would never know it today. he is polar opposite. and he smells really good.



 9. no one in this world makes me laugh more. no one.






8. have you seen his abs?


7. he loves his family and he shows it. he still wants to protect his "little" sister. (she's 29) he still wrestles with his brother. he still has a healthy fear of his mother. all good things.



6. he works harder than any man i've ever known. he provides for our needs and many of our wants.



5. he has great tattoos.




4. he has an incredible mathematical mind. which is good since i have trouble with simple subtraction. don't get me started on fractions. 




3. he has this uncanny way of giving his full attention to whomever he is speaking to. whether it's a friend or our kids or the cashier at walmart, he makes them feel as if they are the only person in the world. he talks little about himself and asks insightful questions about others. it is rare in world full of people who only want to hear their own voice.



2. he takes care of me. even when i think i don't need him to.


1. he is kind, gentle, funny, loving, assertive, talented, smart, intuitive, affectionate, loyal and so much more. he is the best thing to ever happen to me. 

happy birthday Elijah! and many more...