Summer in a Nutshell…Or Two

I was very happy to see the end of last semester. Linguistics was a great class, but very mentally draining, and I was looking forward to the summer. And we have had a good one. Busy? Definitely. But still good. Feel free to continue reading to get a quick overview of life this summer, or just skip to the end for the “Summer By Pictures” section.

Almost as soon as classes were over, I jumped into home school planning with a bang. We decided that in light of the fact that we’re going to be in Oklahoma for a big part of next semester and the kids will be unable to go to public school we would home school. That put us in the position of either trying to get ahead over the summer, or starting homeschooling while doing linguistics studies down in Oklahoma (ick!).

So while summer hasn’t really been a break from school per se, I think the kids have still had fun. We’ve had our good days and our bad days, but overall, I’ve been really encouraged to see how much the kids are learning.

Throw in a couple thousand miles of traveling, between visiting family and friends in Wisconsin and Texas, and you could say it’s been a different kind of summer. We’re enjoying being in “our” house for another week and a half before we start the semester back up by moving to Oklahoma for 7 weeks. The kids are traveling pros by this time.

A few adorable quotes from the kids, when arriving back at their house:

“I’m so happy to be in our big house!!!” ~ It’s a three bedroom.

“Our toys! Look, it’s my stuffed animals!!” ~ One thing about being gone for a long time… it’s like Christmas when you get back.

“It’s our Missouri home, it’s our Missouri home!!!” ~ All of their homes have labels. Wisconsin, Texas, their home-to-be in Africa… love my little mks.

Warning: Potential Picture Overload Following

 

IMG_0526

Our baby spending most of her free time pushing her babies around. Or just an empty stroller. Whatever works.

 

Little man turned six this year!

Little man turned six this year!

 

IMG_0818

Contrary to how it looks, he is actually overcome with joy at the sight of his present. Really.

IMG_0622

Our second visit to Bookworm Gardens was just as magical as the first! Love that place!!

IMG_0737

Beautiful gardens, and books that can be looked at as long as you want them… outside. What more could a little girl want?!

Pool time at Nana and Pawpaw's. She turned into a little water bug.

Pool time at Nana and Pawpaw’s. She turned into a little water bug.

Indoor science project: learning about wind power

Indoor science project: learning about wind power

IMG_1094

IMG_1108 Construction day Saturday, courtesy of Home Depot. The kids working on their bug catchers. So cool to help them create something on their own!…ish

The older two girls also had birthdays, just this week, but I didn’t have pictures of them with their cake. 8, 6, 4, and almost 2… the party just keeps going!!

 

Security

She was lying. I was almost positive, but of course I couldn’t prove it. Her brother was telling me one thing, and she was saying the opposite. Both had lied before so it was hard to know for sure, but… she was lying this time.

Every time one of my kids lies to me, there is this moment where I think to myself, “Now what am I supposed to do? Do I call them on it? Do I just let them get away with it?” Lying is one of my least favorite things to tackle as a parent… at least so far.

We talked for a bit longer and all of a sudden she was a weeping mess, admitting she hadn’t told the truth. I stood there… betrayal, disappointment, frustration, all of these things I feel when they lie to me were there again.

It’s always hard not to take it personally. They lied to me! Their mother; the one who cares more than just about anyone else, and would do just about anything for them!! They should know by now that it really doesn’t get them out of any trouble…

I stood there, as she slumped toward the stairs in tears, knowing that we needed to talk, and I couldn’t leave it at that. But what should I say?

Seriously, at least half of the time as a parent, I am wondering, “Now what?” Hope it’s ok to admit that. 

I called her back, settled on the couch, and decided, holding out my arms and waiting for her to scoot onto my lap. I wrapped her up in a tight hug and reminded her that no matter what she does, daddy and mommy love her. I said a few other things, told her that we wished she had been honest this time, and asked her to tell the truth next time…

Even as I was talking though, I was wondering if anything I said after that opening line really mattered that much. She knew she was wrong, she had admitted it, and what I think she needed most of all was security. Knowing that she was loved and forgiven made all the difference in her world. She relaxed as I held her, the tears dried up and soon her smile was back.

I’m thankful that this time I didn’t lecture (sometimes I do, not that it’s always a bad thing), and instead just held her and talked. Because in the middle of it, all of my frustration and hurt feelings drained out, and I realized how much I loved this girl.

And I was thankful that my imperfect little girl still welcomes the security of her imperfect mama’s lap, even though she’s a grown-up *little* eight year old now. I’ll take it as long as I can.

It’s not you, it’s me…

If I had a penny for every time I could say that to my kids…

Let’s be honest. My children are not angels. Most of the time they do have something to do with the situation, but by and large, it’s my attitude problem just as much as theirs.

“It’s not you (that dropped food all over my freshly mopped floor), it’s me (being so caught up in my irritation over wasted time that I don’t see your  eyes welling up with tears).”

“It’s not you (who asked me the same question 10 times while I was trying to get a cranky baby calmed down) it’s me (who was worn out and frustrated with something that had nothing to do with you, and finally exploded with, “What is it?!…“I just wanted to tell you that I love you.”).” 

Yeah. I’ve had some up and down parenting moments recently. And one thing that I really believe God has been convicting me with lately, is: what am I teaching my kids about life, family… God… by my reactions to them? Reactions to their failures or successes.

Yesterday was a rough night for me on the parenting front. Michael wasn’t feeling well, so he went to bed early, after I insisted, and I tackled bed-time. I felt really good about myself before we began… I’d been working on being more thoughtful in my reactions lately, so I was sure I could knock this one out of the park.

You know where this is going… strike after strike after strike. I was not loving, or patient, and ended up spending most of “bed-time” handing out apologies and hugs. (On a side note, my kids blow me away with their ability to forgive my screw-ups!)

So tonight, Michael was gone and bed-time was approaching. I ushered four wild and wiggly children upstairs with fear and trembling. As I was kissing the girls goodnight and getting ready to pray with them Kelsey looked at me and said, “Mommy, I’m just not good… it’s so hard to be good!”

My heart broke for her, because I knew exactly how she felt!! So we talked for a while about how Jesus loves us even when we aren’t good, and how daddy and I believe He is the only one who can help us to do good – not so that God will love us more, but for our sake, and the sake of the people around us. We talked about how that doesn’t just come by trying really hard to do the right things, but by spending time with God and learning how He looks at things.

And while I was trying to encourage my sweet girl with the fact that I’m walking right with her, and working through some of those same things, it was like God was reminding me, “It’s not you, it’s Me. Trust me. Follow me. Walk with me. Know me.”

Good Moments

I’ve been pondering “good” things lately. What makes a moment good? Can we still have good moments even when life in general feels just “bad”? What do “good moments” look like? In light of this, here are a few of my “good moments” of family from the past few days:

~ Snuggle time. Always.

IMG_8940

~ Watching my children run and play on a beautiful, breezy morning.

~ An apology and forgiveness. From me, to my kids. I’m not a fan of the mommy-that-needed-forgiveness, but reconciling is always a good moment.

~ Bed-time kisses.

~ Family reading time. My favorite. Especially on those days when Riley “reads” something to the rest of us. One day she read Green Eggs and Ham. I can still here her little voice, “I DO. NOT. wike SAM AN’ HAM!!!!!!!”

IMG_8929

~ Any moment that the kids demonstrate a genuine desire to do something for their siblings. Like when Kelsey offered to let Dylan play the Ipad first today. So sweet! And slightly shocking.

~ Baby smiles.

IMG_8869

~ The moment where you realize you’ve succeeded in teaching them something! Something good that is.

~ Hugs IMG_8921

Lessons from the Kitchen Counter

I stand at the counter, quickly peeling apples for the apple butter I plan on making today. I have to be speedy because I have a short window of opportunity – it began when baby went to sleep and ends when she wakes up (which is sporadic at best at the moment).

I’m feeling good with where I’m at, making some headway when, “Mommy? Can I help you?”

I stop for a moment, and consider the ramifications of my answer. I said no last time I was making something because I was in a hurry, and the time before… but if I say yes, it will take so much longer!

I take a breath,  “Sure, come on over.”

IMG_1669

It sounds like I’m a terrible mother doesn’t it? But that was me this afternoon. Here’s what I had to relearn from it: The finished product isn’t always the most important thing.

I so wanted to get that thing checked off my list. Give myself a pat on the back, feel like a good, “home-makery” wife for making that apple butter. My daughter threw a potential wrench in my plans by offering her slow, but sincere help.

As I stood there peeling and chopping apples with her, we started chatting away.  “What do you want to be when you grow up? Oh that sounds like a cool idea. What if you…” “Make sure you don’t go too fast or you won’t get all the peel…Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what practice is for.” And it struck me how much I would have missed out on if I’d hurried through the job on my own.

I would have gotten it done sooner, no doubt. But I wouldn’t have gotten to hear about a future rancher lady and her numerous horses, or been able to recommend that she use her ranch to help kids who have a rough home life. Or given her a few lessons on a more effective peeling technique. Or gotten a couple sweet hugs because, after all, we are the best team. I would have missed the opportunity to spend time with my girl.

This afternoon reminded me to slow down and make more of the opportunities I have to live life alongside my kids. It reminded me of how blessed I am to be a mommy.

This is one of our past kitchen family endeavors. They are so cute!

This is one of our past kitchen family endeavors. They are so cute!

When my daughter looks up at me from the apple she’s struggling to peel and asks, “Am I doing a good job? and I say, “You’re doing awesome.” I know it makes all the difference in the world to her. Because I’m her mommy, I’m proud of her, and that’s pretty special.

IMG_1971

Am I the only one who often catches myself rushing past the important things?

IMG_1975

Ready to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

A Few Words

I’m pretty sure that 2-3yr olds have the best “isms” around. With every one of the kids, about this time I’ve wanted to follow them around with a recorder.

Here are some of our latest and greatest Riley-isms:

“Megamilk” (Her way cooler word for “oatmeal”. She’s now got us saying it as well. Don’t ask me how she came up with it)

“Attending” (Her version of pretending. “We attending that monsters are coming mama!!!”)

“Baputer” (Her version of computer. It made me smile this morning when she decided to show me her “attend baputer”)

There's our little talker. Looking like the little angel she can be.

There’s our little talker. Looking like the little angel she can be.

 

In other news, you can tell that Riley has a few siblings and is used to watching (or helping) them get into trouble. Now there are definitely times where she has a legitimate complaint against the older two, but we’ve also heard this on more than one occasion…

*Wailing coming from a room that is unoccupied aside from Riley*

“What happened Riley?”

*sobbing* “Dylan hit me!!!”

…”Riley, Dylan is at the store with Daddy…”

“What?”

“He’s not here.”

… “Oh.”

Oh indeed.

A fun afternoon of sun, water and squealing kids!

A fun afternoon of sun, water and squealing kids!

 

Gotta love this girl!

 

The Plunge

I’ve finally done it. I’ve taken the plunge… 3littlecreechers – the blog, is “3” no more.

Since I am almost completely technologically inept (I was proud of myself for being able to complete the monumental task of changing one number on my blog name after all) I have no idea if I’ve done a good thing or a bad thing by getting rid of the old address.

If it causes problems for anyone, I’m sorry!!

That said, hello! It’s been a while. Don’t worry, I won’t try to catch you up on everything that has happened, but I’ll just touch on the past year’s highlights.

We moved to Missouri! (After overcoming a surprising amount of initial culture shock, I have to admit that I love it…or maybe just the people.)

We had a baby! (Aaaand it’s only taken me six months to admit the need to change the blog…)

Kelsey graduated from 1st grade! (That exclamation point doesn’t mean I’m shocked that she graduated; just that she’s almost 7! Not fair)

Dylan experienced his last year of preschool. (I’m trying not to view Kindergarten as the enemy at the moment)

Riley, oh my dear, darling, testing-her-boundaries, Riley… is almost 3. Let’s just leave it at that shall we?

Picture time! Just a few, more recent shots of the kids since we’ve actually been taking pictures this summer. Go us!

The irony of this picture gets me every time. Dylan-the antithesis of a thug

The irony of this picture gets me every time. Dylan-the antithesis of a thug

Sweet, sister moment. Riley only wanted to go into the water if Kelsey held her hand... Awww

Sweet, sister moment. Riley only wanted to go into the water if Kelsey held her hand… Awww

She gets held way too much, but with a face like that can you blame us???

She gets held way too much, but with a face like that can you blame us???