20 June 2018

These are the Good Old Days!

The Good Old Days

On Father's Day we desperately wanted to find a family outing that all the kids could enjoy, wouldn't be expensive, and would be a memory maker.  John really wanted a bonding time with the boys so he took them fishing with his Dad early in the morning at Long Branch, and the girls went to church.  We still wanted to do something special with all of the kids...we didn't want to drive too far and we really wanted them to be excited about our choice.

Life with four kids is very overwhelming if you focus on the noise, mess, and fighting and even being in the car with them for a long time it makes you not want to do anything.  But if you really sit back and look at it from a different perspective, you do get to realize that these are, "the good old days."  Years from now John and I will probably look back and say, "Wow, we had it all, it was so great, yes, it was a lot of work, and chaotic and stressful.   However, we are healthy, we have each other, and God has provided too much for us to complain about the inconveniences or difficulties of managing a large family.

We finally decided to take the kids to Princeton and go kayaking.  We've done it a few times before.  The kids like it there and they were all promised ice cream at Bent Spoon.  We go to the rental, we pick out our life jackets, we get our paddles, and as we get in the boat it starts...the fighting, the unkind words, the shaking the boat, getting each other wet with the paddles.  Mia is mad because she isn't sitting where she wants.  Micah wants a different paddle.  UGH

Life with kids is so unpredictable.  No matter how hard you try all the kids will not be happy all at the same time.  There will be always be conflict.  As a parent you are always doubting yourself.  Maybe we should've just stayed home.  (you may think to yourself)  See, these kids don't appreciate us (you say under your breath).  We do all these fun things and no one says thank you. But really these moments are just a blip in their life.  They might not remember the kayaking.  They might not remember exactly how we spent Father's Day.  But I will tell you what if you lose it on them or yell, they will remember that.  Kids remember how you make them feel.  Do you make them feel loved and safe?  Do you let them have fun?  Are you up tight and tense (that is my weakness).  It is really hard sometimes for parents to let go and relax and have fun.  That is the beauty of being a team.  My husband is everything I'm not.  He's so carefree and fun that he completely balances me out.  He makes me look good.  And hopefully I make him look good in other areas (like the planning or organization or being on time area).

Living life with kids isn't easy but there are so many good things.  And having a family helps you to see your faults and work on them.  You learn quickly your weaknesses and strengths and you realize how much you can't do anything without God!

I created a list of things that get me through each day with my kids.  A list of things to remind myself to be grateful.  A list of things I want to be more like.  A list that sums up how we do what we do, and how to keep doing it well.

Here it goes:
1. Be flexible always.
2. Life will be loud, get used to it.
3. Give yourself and your kids a lot of grace.
4. There will be times you feel very overwhelmed, don't be afraid to reach out to your favorite people.
5. Pray through the tough moments and praise God for the easy ones.
6. Learn to ask for help and delegate when possible (housekeeper, babysitter, etc.)
7. Pay for things (like lawn care) so that you can enjoy family time, because time is precious.
8. Quality time does not have to be expensive (a trip to the farm is free...all you need is money for the donuts!)
9. Create lasting memories so your kids can look back and remember time with you.
10. Tell your kids all the time: I love you, I like you, I see you, I hear you, I am proud of you!
11. It's ok for your kids to have to wait for things and work for things they want.  It teaches them patience and good work ethics.
12. Teach your children that you are not perfect (or a superhero) and that you will make mistakes.
13. When you do fall short or make mistakes (yell too loud, or go too far in discipline) tell them you are sorry.  It teaches them what to do when they make mistakes.
14. Pray as a family together.  Let your kids see you praising God and asking God for your needs.
15. Read the Bible together.  Children are watching everything you do.  They know what is important to you.
16. Have deep talks...let them ask questions, even if it is inconvenient.
17. Take time for just you and your spouse.  Don't stop dating!!!
18. Remember there is always grace for today....give grace generously.
19. Enjoy every minute...when you are snuggling, prepping meals, cleaning the house, do it all with joy...because they are watching...because the days are long but the years are short, because life is too short to be a grump or cranky all the time!
20. Don't sweat the small stuff.  Pick your battles.  Love your kids.  Kiss your spouse.  Smile.  Give long hugs.
21. Ask God to help you appreciate every little thing.  Especially when they say, "I love you, or You are my best friend, or Thank you."
22. Only discipline your kids for: dishonesty, disrespect, defiance, or disobedience.  Don't get mad about being messy or spilling a drink...or wearing clothes that don't match...!  Heart issues are the main issues.
23. Love your spouse well.
24. Appreciate your spouse.
25. Become a team.  Have each other's back.  Be on the same side.


25 January 2018

8 More Summers

Eight More Summers

My oldest daughter, Julia,  is now 10 years old...and it has me thinking...I only have a few more years with her before she is done with high school and possibly off to college or working full time.  I only have eight more summers.  

I don't mean to sound depressing.  I just mean to sound realistic.  Time is ticking.  "The days are long but the years are short."  That phrase doesn't really apply to my days anymore.  The days are fast, so fast, too fast.  That wasn't the case a mere 2 years ago...then, when I had a 1 year old, a 2 year old, and a 7 and 8 year old to occupy and teach and raise time went s o  s o  s l o w l y.  

Now, by the time I look up at the clock at work its 3:00 pm, we get home by 4:00 p.m.  Then there's dinner prep, homework, and Taekwondo and showers and next thing you know it's 8:00, John comes home and it's uniform check, books and bedtime.

It's amazing to me how we are given these treasures called children.  Some of them we carry inside of us, we give birth to them, we lose hours of sleep, we invest time, money, and sleep, did I mention sleep?  And then we watch them grow and flourish.  

They start crawling, walking, talking, and then our job gets harder as we try to protect every little fall with gates, bouncy toys, high chairs, pack and plays, I call that stage "keeping them alive" stage.

Then they start their school journey, whether it be homeschool, pre-school, public school or private school, they learn to read, they learn to add and subtract and they start to make friends.  We watch them grow, make choices, and have opinions.  I love the school stage.  Must be the educator in me.  I love teaching them to read.  

I love showing them a new place.  I love taking them on field trips.  I love reading about something and then experiencing it for the first time, like apple picking or the planetarium, or taking them to the library.  

The only part I don't like about the school stage is navigating through hurt feelings and cruel kids.

And my favorite part of being a Mom has always been summer time.  

The walks around the neighborhood.

Slip and slides in the back yard.

Visiting the zoo.

Luaus and ice pops with friends.

Cape May.

Bike rides.

Central park strolls and warm doughy pretzels.

And the beach.

And we only have 8 more summers.  How can that be?

I am thankful for all those women who told me...enjoy every minute because time flies.  So many women told me that raising kids comes in dips and waves and it goes so fast.  At first I didn't believe them.  I thought to myself, "This is taking forever!"  But now that my oldest is almost there I want to slow it down a little and I want to savor every bed time book she asks me to read.  

I want to go on more mommy/daughter dates.

I want to have sleep overs in her room. (The kind where we stay up and talk and giggle and then when she falls a sleep I go back to my bed.)

I want to take it slow and enjoy every minute.  

This morning I found myself letting Amelia put on make up in my bathroom as I got ready for work even though I was rushing and she was right under me, because I looked in the mirror and said soon she will be too big and busy for me.  But now she thinks I'm amazing and wants to spend every minute copying me.  

And I actually said to myself, "Lord, don't let me forget this moment."  This moment when I feel the tug of having to get ready for work but also appreciating the little moments with my kids that sometimes I find annoying now but will cherish later.

Lord willing, I have 8 more summers with Julia, nine more summers with Mark, fourteen more summers with Micah (Help!) and fifteen more summers with Amelia.


I feel... lucky :)

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