Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ever Feel Like a Mommy Failure?

Today was not a good day.  Today I cried and felt like a mommy failure.  Many things broke today.  Things got dirty that made me upset, and I took a three hour nap in the late afternoon. In addition to feeling like a failure I have allergies like I have never had, thus the three hour nap. Apparently the pink colored allergy tab makes you sleepy.
Cupboard door that will not close and will not edit on this page.

Writing on brother's desk. Tsk! Tsk!

Duct Tape art of broken glass.

Starting with what broke. The dishwasher leaked, the cupboard door got hung on and bent the hinge so the door does not close. My one son was angry for having a time out on his bed and threw something that literally cracked the glass in his window. He was mortified that a stuffed animal could do this, except he forgot he had tied a matchbox car around the neck of the stuff animal weeks earlier. So we have dishwasher, cupboard door and window broken.

If that was not enough one child decided to use a blue sharpy and draw a stick figure with big buns on his brother's desk. Then tried to clean it with my fancy expensive bathroom towels.  No one liked the healthy smoothies I made and laundry is everywhere.  Allergies are in fact compromising my coping skills because today I could not just laugh it off. I cried and then slept for three hours. Which was easy since one boy was grounded on his bed, one was lost in Ipad Heaven and another had control of the remote.

What happens on days like today.  Don't we all have a little of this every day.  Of course we do.  I thank God that this is just a day.  I felt like a mommy failure, and the minute little arms are wrapped around you saying I love you it all passes.  The one who broke the window had so much remorse.  I know how he feels. I broke a window once. I can not get mad.  David was calm, and got the duct tape to cover the cracks.  He is getting good at this quick repair. Last summer a flying rock broke another window, and that is still artfully duck taped.

Did I mention this is a house full of boys. I have learned that no size of a home can contain the energy of boys. Thanking God we have space and lots of outside play.  Now it's 2am.  That 3 hour nap was great, but the morning will come....oh wait it's Spring Break and this mama will be sleeping in.  Mommy failure day has passed.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Addition of Sarah

Notice one more in this picture?  Notice David's smile as he stretches his Papa arms across Sarah and Elliot.  This was taken the night that Sarah and Elliot got engaged and our first picture with a new family addition.   I have to be honest in saying that my prayer life is changing and I could not be happier.  I never dreamed what this day might be like.  What a blessing from God,  that the many years of praying for a sweet bride, someday for my son has been answered.

The addition of Sarah is the result of  26 years of praying for that little girl who was growing up to someday be Elliot's wife. That little girl who might be out skipping, and drawing flowers with chalk on hot summer sidewalks.  I prayed for a little girl that she was being loved by parents. My prayers were not deep, long hours daily.  They were moments throughout the past 26 years. Hand written notes in my journals of prayer for her.  Whispers of prayers as I watched Elliot growing up.   Praying that some day a young woman would know how to love, cherish and boldly come alongside his life with an identity in Christ.  The prayers of a mama's heart over who that little girl might be.  Praying that her life dreams would be to wrap her heart first around that intimate relationship with God, that she could understand the holiest of loves which would guide her heart in loving a man.

This precious girls loves boldly and out loud.  Sarah embraces the her newly extended family. She has our DNA.  When you carry the DNA of the Lord most high it's no jumble of emotions in fitting in.  She just does. She is passionate and caring and those around her can feel that care and love.  I sit back and watch her love that man I have raised.  I would be lying if I said I did not cry, with deep emotions over the magnificent way in which God answers prayers.

Sarah, in her fun spirit wrote that she prayed for a pony and prince charming. God gave her a prince.  I prayed for a princess of the Lord most high for my son. A beautiful girl that could come alongside the ministry God had set before Elliot. A girl who would know how to love and serve others right where they are at. Sarah has her ministry that God has grown her into.  She serves others and seeing her love the boys, Ethan, Eric & Emerson, and seeing her wrap her heart of sister love around Emily is a natural addition and progression of family and holy community.Our newest picture of our children.

Mama's don't ever stop praying for those who will someday join your family.  My prayer life has changed in that there is now a name to  young woman. I can now pray with a name a new prayer for both Elliot and Sarah.  God hears the prayers of our hearts.  We often wonder just how long we must pray.  We pray as long as the life we are given.  I encourage a journal of writings, scribbles, notes.  Looking back over the journals of over 20 years ago, I was but the age of Sarah when I started praying for her life.  I delight in the joy of this next season as a mother. 

Thank you God for you beautiful blessings, Elizabeth

Monday, March 17, 2014

Mother of the Groom Diaries.....

On March 10th my oldest son Elliot asked the lovely Sarah to be his wife.  It was a splendid affair.  I could write this lovely event in 1000 or more words, but instead take a few minutes to watch this video.  I am very proud of my son and his love for  sweet Sarah.  Enjoy!!!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hiking Mt. Jeneau in Alaska

Hiking Mt. Juneau in Alaska was not my typical hike.  A dear childhood friend was living in Juneau, AK. For many years sharing her biking, hiking, and snow boarding experiences.  After years of hearing her adventures, this city girl decided to venture into the culture of Alaska.  I am writing about this particular event for the simple reason of coming across this photo and busting out laughing while alone in my home office.  Memories.......!

Kari had to work her Mountaineer bike business that day in Juneau, AK.  She handed me over to the care of her energetic and fit husband, who thought taking me up a mountain was equal to my walk around the block in the city and stopping for a coffee.  He gave me all the right gear, even a nice water pack.  We were up early and started up the mountain.

Within an hour there was a vertical "walk" that was more like climbing. Let's just give meaning to this. You climb a ladder.  One hand above the other holding each rung to give you balance and stability. In my humble opinion we were climbing the side of this mountain. Both hands were required.  It was a warm day,  Each time I tried to sip my water nothing would come out. I was already embarrassed over how out of shape I was. So winded I could not even get water out of my pack. I was not about to ask why I could get no water from a simple water pack, so with a stubbornness we continued our trek.  Kari's husband was always several feet ahead of me.  This is never the good end of hike to be on. Those who scramble faster get to sit, wait and rest, and the minute you reach them, they plunge forward. No rest for the one lagging behind. In this case me.

We finally came to a creek that splashed over the trail. I drank in as much water as I could. Soaked my head and then we continued.  Ray had no ears for any whining or complaining. My stomach started to growl.  I am with someone who is responsible for my food intake. Cleary two hours into a hike required some snack. Nope not at all.  We plunged forward.

We finally reached the top. I tossed my water pack down. Ray looked at me, and said, "Are you drinking water?"  A full water pack was not a good sign. I finally told him I tried but nothing would come out. He started laughing. Really laughing hard at me. I was not amused. I was tired, hungry, thirsty and hot.  He then went on to explain that you have to bite down on the straw to allow water to pass through.  How would this city girl even know this?!

Finally time to eat. He pulled out a bar, unwrapped it and gave me a quarter of the bar. He then explained that this kind of bar was like a meal. I remember thinking, great then give me the entire meal.  That day was one of my best days in Juneau and I had so much fun. I am so glad to have  had this experience and this picture is one that makes me smile. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

5 Ways to Handle Someone Picking On You in Social Media

This past month I received a DM ( direct message) on Twitter from a young man who was being bullied in Social Media.  At first I was not sure why he would contact me. Then he shared that he thought as a mom with 5 kids I might have some ideas on how to handle it. I looked in on what was being said about him. It did not matter to me if any of it was true or false. What mattered is a handful of people were publicly attacking this young man.   I shared with him 5 ways to handle someone picking on him in Social Media.

1.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
2.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
3.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
4.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
5.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.

I told him to completely ignore and don't respond to any comments or tweets linked to his name. I am happy to report that those who were bating him into these terrible tweets went away.  On the heals of this treatment the same happened in a group I am involved with.  Tweets being shared in a negative light on behalf of a group of women. It was not just one person. It was a small handful of people.  It was not easy to see, but then I had to do the same. Ignore, don't respond & block.

Social Media has given people a platform to pick on others. It's sad to watch, and sad when it happens to you.  It's hard to look away and go about your business.  But you must.  I know for the times when I have been picked on. I have had to do the same. Ignore it and don't respond. I personally block all those who engage and join in to such behaviors.

People who put this kind of stuff on a public forum are attention seeking.  It also reveals their true character and sadly affects their own communities in a negative way. Imagine if they are tweeting that about someone who offended them, what they might tweet if you offend them.  No one wants this kind of attention, so quietly people watch, in horror, but say or do nothing to defend the person being attacked.  I agree as those who are bold enough to be tweeting out negative things about another will surely do the same to those who come to defend.

My husband, who comes from years of a therapist back ground has always said you can not argue with a crazy person. No matter how right you may think you are, that person tweeting crazy things will continue as long as they are getting attention.

Pretty hard to ignore when it's hurtful. Pretty hard to ignore when you want to be able to speak what is right and true.  Someone who is speaking ill-will of you is bating you. That bating sucks you into being on the defensive and even your best efforts to defend yourself or a friend only fuels the person who is picking on you.  The best thing to do.....

1.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
2.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
3.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
4.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
5.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.

Social Media, especially Twitter is like a cocktail party. A room full of lots people. Imagine if one person stood in the middle of the room and started ranting about your character.  Do you jump into the center and try to defend yourself or do you slip to the back of the room?  

1.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
2.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
3.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
4.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.
5.  Ignore it, don't respond & block.

I slip to the back of the room, and carry on.  In doing so, you give nothing in return to the person broadcasting discontent of you.  How you handle this kind of situation is the same in real time as online.  It is also how I am teaching my own children.  For those looking in, and believe me, in a public forum like this, others are watching. YOU speak to your character by how you do or do not respond.

I hope this is helpful.  We as parents, must educate and teach our children the confidences and the boldness to just walk away. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Daze

Eric takes me on a hike to a little frozen creek.
 Every mom needs a few good snow days. A time to put the agenda's aside, and be joyful that the snow pants from last year still fit.   I sure have had quite a few of these days. To the point that it feels more like "Snow Daze." I shared with my husband that I am feeling quite accomplished being able to keep up with the three boys.  They are sturdy and are adventure seeking boys. Calling on me to take hikes in over a foot of snow.  One trip that required David to leave work and come and get us. It was a very steep trek to the top and when the 9 years old is tired, you know dear old mom is pooped.
Brothers just hanging out in the snow.
Time to close up shop ( as in the home office) and get out and play.  I stayed up until 2:00am one evening getting all my work accomplished knowing the next day was not just three boys home but the the neighbor boy, too. Snow daze requires some sleeping in, too.   I knew there would be a lot of in, out, coat zipping, boots on and off, and then drying as needed.
Ethan practices snowboarding down the hill.
Just outside our front door we have a big hill that feeds into a feild.  We have plenty of sleds for our kids and the neighbor kids. One afternoon, while taking a break for hot chocolate and lunch, some teenagers came to the hill and started sledding with our sleds.  My boys were great. Yelling down, "you can use our sleds as long as you want." When it's a snow day everyone is outside playing.
This climb is just out our backyard.
I am very thankful for having a job that allows me to be at home.  I am not sure how working families work out these snow days.  My boys understand when I have a phone call or an online meeting.  I save all the electronics for those times and divide them out.  They  love electronics on a snow day.
These faces, a mother loves.
Did I mention baking. We gathered ingredients from the cupboards and together made this yummy mixture of goodness.  It did not look so pretty, but any time you mix chocolate, peanut-butter, m&m's and marshmallows, you know it's going to taste good.

As the days have continued, the melting begins, followed by icy roads and as of this post, I still have the boys home, the neighbor kid over and the kids now asking for cookie dough sandwiches for  lunch.  I decided to make them pb&j's and the promise of turning the extra dough into yummy bars.  Enjoy this time when the kids are home. It gets hard for many as a few days turn into many.  Create memories for your kids and have fun.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Seven Year Old Loaded The Dishwasher

My seven year old loaded the dish washer. 
Mommy Tip: Thank your child when they help out. Let them know what a terrific helper they are. Then after they are out of the room adjust dishwasher as needed. 

Do you ever wonder why your kids might shut down when it comes time to helping out around the house?  Do you ever get frustrated over the tasks you impart to your children and they just don't seem to get it right?
What if their right, is just as it should be?  What if YOU are doing it all wrong?  What if there really was no right or wrong, but a matter of preference or understanding based on your own filters in life. 
I am really glad that I did not have to wait until my 5th child to understand this. For some reason I figured it out when I was six years old and kicked a brand new storm window in.  To this day I actually remember thinking, "but the grown up said it was the strongest window money could buy."  I tested that statement and kicked in the window. I will also never forgot all the grown-ups looking over the railing from the upper porch over the sound of the loud crash of glass breaking.  My mother freaking out for only a moment.  Really, she freaked for a moment and then asked me a question, "Elizabeth why did you just kick in our brand new window." I told her the reason and she understood.  That lesson took me well into my parenting.  My mom, was the mother of 5 kids and she may have been a very young mother, but she had this way of reaching into the understanding of a kid.

I asked Emerson, the 7 year old to put all the hot chocolate cups into the dishwasher. When he was finished she showed me how he had to arrange a few things to get them all lined up. He was quite proud of himself.
I thanked him and let  him know what  a terrific helper he is. I asked him, "Emerson, I like how you loaded the cups, what were you thinking?"  I genuinely saw that there was order in those cups.  He reminded me, "Mama you always say when there is hot chocolate in the cups to soak them in water. This way they all fill up with water, so the chocolate comes off."  Brilliant!!  Brilliant!!
For a seven year old this made perfect sense. I told him he was brilliant and lessons on learning to load a dishwasher were not going to come on the heals of him feeling like mama's little helper.  There will be the rest of his own little life to learn.
Often our reaction to the way our kids do things is what shuts them down. We can not begin to understand the though process if we don't ask. Simply reacting and being frustrated will not help a child, or even a grown up be excited about helping the next time around. How we encourage, how we respond and how we use our facial expressions is very important.
In closing, I want to encourage each person who reads this to really ponder how you are encouraging the steps of another?  How are you understanding their reasoning or filters on how things are done.  Then ask yourself how important your way really is. To this day I will not tell my  husband how to fold the bathroom towels. He does not fold them to fit into the closet correctly.  However he is folding and putting them away. I thank him, and then someday when I have extra time I just may refold and rearrange.