Friday, January 31, 2014

beyond compare

This is the Square Beyond Compare. Delicious.
We are having it tonight in honor of this guy. He is also beyond compare.
He can manage to look incredibly hot while sporting a silly, mid-shave mustache and soul patch.
He is silly, and funny, and the best husband I could ever have asked for. After nearly 12 years, I still love to spend time with him. 
He never fails to stop and absorb the amazing things he sees, and inspires me to do the same.
He is an amazing daddy; his boys adore him. He can be crazy, sporty, outdoorsy, scholarly, literary. He is a chameleon. He meets their needs. I love watching him in the act.
photo credit jill heupel photography
Tonight our hats are off to him for all of those things and more. He works incredibly hard for our family. He also takes care of our family by working outside the home. He works hard. He takes pride in doing it well. He takes to heart Colossians 3:23, which says, "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

Tonight he was recognized by his company for the hard work he puts in. Based on his performance this past year, he has won awards at a district, area, and national level. And we are proud.

Love you, B. You are truly beyond compare.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

There are no Stupid Questions

I've heard the expression "there are no stupid questions," and I beg to disagree.

We don't use the "s" word in my house. We tend to use the word "ridiculous" to describe these types of questions. The unacceptable "s" word is definitely in my head, though, as I am faced with an onslaught of questions every day.

Many of which are legitimate.

Some of which are funny.

Others are just downright stupid ridiculous.

Before you judge me too harshly, I ask you to consider a few recent conversations I have had with the little men in my life.

child: Mommy, are these vegetables good for me?
me: Yes, they have lots of healthy vitamins and minerals.
same child: What? What have lots of vitamins?
me: ...

Sorry, folks, that one was pretty stupid.

Or what about this scenario?

All 3 kids are in the same room, apparently paying attention to me.
child 1: Mommy, can we have some candy?
me: No, we are about to have dinner.
child 2: Mommy, can I please have a piece of candy?
me: No, we are about to have dinner.
child 3: Mommy, I was wondering if I could eat some candy.

Can you guess what my answer was? Because apparently it came as quite a shock to child 3.

This next one was asked recently. You might say it was more obnoxious than stupid. Let's not split hairs, though. We have all been sick for a few days, hacking and nasty, myself included. So one could say that I had run out of patience for this kind of stuff. Here we go.

child: Mommy, you forgot to give me my medicine.
me: Okay, I'm sorry. Let's go get it. (heading toward the room where we keep the medicine)
child: Mommy, could you give me my medicine? You forgot it.
me: Right. I'll get it. (grabbing the medicine basket and beginning to dig)
child: Mommy, can you give me my medicine?

At that point, I may or may not have shouted something to the effect of, "What do you think I'm trying to do right now, child?" To which he might have responded, "Getting my medicine. Can I have it, please?"

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go scream into a pillow for a minute.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Gross Motor isn't always Gross

One thing about homeschooling is that you don't have to take a snow day if you don't want to. So, while the rest of the country is having an extended holiday, our school is back in session, undaunted by the weather. In fact, it makes for short but effective recess when you can send the kids out to play in the snow.
As much as they love it, after 30 minutes, they are more than ready to come in and warm up with some cocoa and math facts.

I've spent some time talking about the more precious moments of homeschooling my 3 little men, as well as some of the difficult lessons we have learned along the way. I've even admitted to some ugly days we've had already this school year.

I'm hoping to have a little more fun as I attempt to describe what recess and P.E. have been like for my little group of rowdy boys. I have to say, one of the best parts about teaching them at home is being able to adapt to their needs. If I can tell that a lesson just isn't working, if I sense that one or more of us is getting tired of sitting and politely discussing whatever lesson we are on, I can declare that it is time for recess or P.E. It really is amazing what 30 minutes or so of physical activity will do for my boys' ability to concentrate. Granted, it might take us another 15 to slow down again, but it is well worth the time.

A lot of times, our physical education looks an awful lot like that of kids in school. We learn how to play sports like baseball and soccer. Shorty likes to sit in his official chair and be the "whistleblower" for his brothers, since he sometimes gets frustrated that he can't keep up with them.
 Or we hit the playground for some fun and exercise. A favorite game is for one brother to sit at the edge of the merry-go-round while another brother runs laps trying to catch him. It's rather like a dog chasing his tail.
There are times when I am not their teacher. They all love taking gymnastics at the local YMCA. Shorty is here, surrounded by girly girls, showing off his athletic skills (ahem). At least he is listening in this picture. He often says his job is to make people laugh, can imagine.

 We are also regulars at the Y's swim sessions. I knew from early on that 3 littles this close in age would give me a heart attack in the pool if I didn't make them learn from somebody other than me. Now I fight the crowds of moms in the observation room, not daring to actually go work out or read. I know that as soon as I did, not one, but 3 little men would need help in the restroom. Ugh. But, hey, 2 out of 3 are turning into great little swimmers. Number 3, well, he likes to make people laugh. Especially sweet little girls who are next to him in the water.
 Sometimes we get to take advantage of the fact that a great little children's museum is just a few blocks up the street. It can be a nice change of pace to go spend some time playing there. The pint-size village complete with costumes is a big hit for my little men. We love imaginative play.
Also within a few blocks of our house we have some fabulous bike trails. When the weather is nice, there's not much better than learning how to ride on the straight stretch by the house or taking a little jog or nature hike. 
There are times, though, that our gross motor development takes a turn for the crazy. In my family, stair sliding is an essential skill. I know that some would argue that it is useless or juvenile, but I would have to question the kids' genetics if they weren't enthusiastic about giving it a go. Here the twins are perfecting their head-first belly slide. Thing 2 was bringing up the rear in the race because of the tactical mistake of putting his hands down onto the steps rather than elevating them to maximize his potential. As they get older, and if we locate an appropriately steep staircase, they will need to perfect the art of the backside slide. I will enlist the help of my cousin, who is the reigning stairslide champion of the entire known universe.
 Sometimes a kid just needs to run. And run. And run some more. The weather doesn't always cooperate, but a dining room table makes a perfect track. The kids are no more than a blur here as they speed around, counting their laps as they go. Needless to say, I am running with my mind. That totally counts, doesn't it?
 Sometimes our physical education just involves being SUPER for a while. And why not?
Suddenly I feel like I need to get up off my hiney and move.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Oh, no you didn't...

Oh, yes I did!

I just became that mom.

The one who made a threat and followed through.

The one who took away nearly every single toy.

The week after Christmas. The day after we returned from our holiday travels. The very day that new toys made their unboxed debut.

We try to teach the boys gratitude and contentment. We do our best to drill into their brains that Christmas isn't about getting. They can tell you the Christmas story. They can tell you that we give because God gave; we love because God first loved us. They willingly give away boxes of toys every year to those in need. They agreed to spend Christmas money to buy animals for poverty-stricken families.

It's all in there. In their little heads.

It became apparent, however, that it was not a lesson that was fully in their little hearts.

Let's face it. It isn't a lesson that is in most of our little hearts. We are often bored with what we already have and look for the next thing to satisfy a deeper longing that we have.

As the great sage of our generation Don Draper once said, "What is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness."

The boys were very happy with their Christmas loot. They just thought they might be more happy with just a few more of this and one of those.

So I lost it. I started yelling. And throwing. It wasn't pretty. Not the best parenting moment of my 6-year history.

I left the room, caught my breath, and began to analyze what was happening.

I decided that my reaction was wrong. But not entirely so.

Back in the room, I explained to them that we all spend our lives wanting more. Satisfaction, contentment, and true gratitude are not things that come easily to most people. They had too many choices, too much stuff, distracting them from what is real and true in life. Distracting them from even being grateful for what they had been given.

So I took it.

Calmly, this time.

And boxed it up and took it to the basement.

All of it.

Or...nearly so. I left their books. I left the family games. And I left...the trains and tracks. They would have gone, too, except that the chest that holds the is too heavy for me to move.

In a further act of frustration, I decided that they were also too discontent with the food I put in front of them daily. So now we are eating rice and veggies for 2 of 3 meals every day.

We still struggle. We still have moments when we hope for "more" instead of being grateful for what we have. We still complain.

But I think we are learning. Learning that "contentment" isn't a dirty word that means we have given up on our quest for better. It is a beautiful word that means we can rest in the many blessings in our lives.
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