Saturday, June 14, 2014



I think many of us think of this as another four letter word.  We're too busy to rest.  Resting is bad.  It means you're not doing anything.  Rest means you're sitting on  the couch doing nothing when you should be playing outside or cleaning your bathroom or going to the aquarium because it's a free day.  Rest means missed opportunity.

I have been struggling a lot with this concept lately.  I am not naturally inclined to rest.  I'm someone who likes to constantly be moving.  I like to fill my days with things to do.  I always have a to-do list that is two sided.  I love a full calendar.  If we have a day without any plans, I make plans by planning some sort of learning activity for the boys.  A day with nothing to do, no structure is like a nightmare to me.  But ever since I had kids, I've been learning that's not the way we were intended to live. 

We were made to rest.  In the Bible, God created the world in six days and then he rested.  Do you think he rested because he was just too tired to do anything?  NO!!  He rested because it was good.  He rested so that he could enjoy his creation.  And if the Creator of the Universe can stop and take a day to rest, then who am I to say that I'm too busy to do the same?  But that's exactly what I do when I decide to let my calendar rule my life instead of my God.

Our pastor just finished a two-part sermon, and I'm not sure if this is what our take-home was supposed to be or not, but I was struck again by how important that stopping to rest really is.  He talked about how complicated our lives are.  We think it's impossible to stop.  And God just doesn't understand.  This is the one instance when the Bible is just outdated.  I mean, it was so much easier back in Bible times, right?  They didn't have to deal with soccer games and birthday parties and yard work and grocery shopping and everything else that comes with our busy, complicated lives today.  Things were just simpler.  But that's just not true.  They had their own struggles.  Their own things vying for their attention, keeping them from resting.  They, just like we, had to make the decision to stop and rest.

How do we do that?  My pastor suggested that we seek first His Kingdom.  He said that we need to learn how to make choices so that even a complicated world can be made simple.  It's like we're telling God we're too busy to do what he wants us to do.  How is that even possible?!  If God has called us to something, how can we be too busy?  Doesn't he know better than us what we should be doing?  How much we can handle?  Maybe the soccer games aren't as important as we think.  Do you ever hear of an opportunity to serve and think, "I'd really like to do that, but I'm just too busy"?  Do you ever feel like God is telling you to do something, maybe as simple as sending someone a card, but you ignore that feeling because you just don't have the time to do it?  Doesn't that seem silly?  How can you be too busy to do what God wants you to?  We need to seek FIRST his Kingdom.

Maybe our decisions should resolve more around "God, is this what you want me to do?" and less around "This is how everyone else is doing it."  I'm not trying to sound like I have it all together, or that I think this is easy.  Trust me, I don't.  This is something I struggle with daily.  But that's not how I want to live my life.  I want to seek FIRST.  I want to set an example for my boys that shows we're never too busy to do what God wants us to.  And that sometimes we make the decision to say no to something that is good so that later we can say yes to something that is better.  I want to be focused on the things that truly matter, not fill my life with the things that don't.  And I'm ready to start right now. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Parenting in the Pew

This post has been stirring around in my head for quite some time now and I've finally decided to just get it all down.

I've always been a firm believer that children belong in the church service.  My thought was two-fold.  First, how will children learn to sit and pay attention to a service if they don't actually do it?  And second, I think it is so important for children to see adults worshipping and join in with them.  I know this is difficult with young children, and I understand that even more now that I have my own, but it's still something I believe in.

When Micah was born, Brad and I were faced with the decision of what to do with him during the service.  It was very natural to just keep him with us at first.  I loved holding him in my arms while singing praise songs and nothing could top him sleeping on my shoulder while listening to a sermon.  Then, he hit about six months old and started to become more active and interested in everything else going on around him.  Brad and I would pass him back and forth between the two of us the whole service.  He became a distraction and I wasn't focused on the sermon anymore.  So, we decided to put him in nursery after the singing was over.  Micah loved singing with us.  I think it was around the time that we started putting Judah in the nursery that Micah wanted to be in the nursery the whole time and not join us for the singing.  In order to honor his wishes, we put him in the nursery full time.  Once he turned three, his class started joining the adults during the singing and then leave during the sermon.

A few months ago, I read this book, Parenting in the Pew.  The author talks about the importance of children participating in the church service both as a way to learn and also in order to join in with their own worship.  She discusses  her ideas of how a church should embrace children during their service as well as gives tips to help parents train their children to participate in the service.  I read the book in about two days (it's a short, easy read so don't be too impressed!) and wanted to start putting ideas into practice right away.  Brad and I both agree that it is important for our children to worship with us during service and this book was great for helping us do just that!

It can be really hard sometimes.  Micah is an active three-year-old (and Judah is a very active two-year-old) and it can be hard for him to sit still during the sermon, paying attention to words he doesn't understand.  But I want him to know that that part is just as important as the singing.  Even though he can't completely understand, we can help him understand in his own way.  For example, this past week our pastor talked about how none of us are an accident, we are each unique and special, created the way God wanted us to be.  I told Micah to listen for the word "special" and every time he hears it to tell me.  I also told him it was like a book he loves, You Are Special by Max Lucado.  Relating it to a book he's already familiar with really helped him.  But that doesn't mean he sat in his seat sitting nicely and quietly listening the entire time.  Far from it.  Several times I had to tell him to be quiet, one of us had to pick him up off the floor, or ask him to stop spinning/crawling/laying down, etc.  Sometimes I worry about what a distraction he is to those around us.  But, honestly, too bad.  He is just as important as the adult behind us and it is important that he know he is accepted into the Kingdom of God as he is.  And it's important to me that he join us in worship and see other adults worshipping, too.  We do practice good behavior with him but it's so much bigger than just sitting still and listening.  I want him to feel free to raise his hands while singing if he wants.  He often dances to the music, and I think that's just as pleasing to God.  And I know he's paying attention because he often asks me questions about something he heard Pastor Ron say or about the words to one of the songs.  In his own small way, he's getting it.

Let me repeat, this can be really hard sometimes.  I wasn't sure how others would respond.  I wasn't sure if it would just end up distracting me and Brad more than helping Micah and thus we would leave church unsure of what the sermon was about or not really feeling like we had worshipped at all.  But that isn't true.  Yes, I spend a good amount of the sermon whispering to Micah to be quiet or trying to think of a question to ask him to get him to pay attention for two more minutes.  But I'm also paying attention more.  I have to model what that looks like.  And I have to be on my toes so I can ask him questions!  But, most importantly, I feel the support of my pastor.

Micah is kind of obsessed with our senior pastor.  I don't know how it happened, but he always insists that we find Pastor Ron and he has to say hi to him.  If we're in the church during the week we have to go to his office to see if he is there.  And now we have to sit in the absolute first row so that Micah can sit by him.  And Micah watches him so intently.  If he catches him not singing, he asks me why Pastor Ron isn't singing.  If Pastor Ron is clapping to the music, Micah claps to the music.  Honestly, I wasn't sure how our pastor felt about all this.  I was happy he at least tolerated it but I hoped that he didn't just see Micah as the annoying preschooler who runs around the front of the church and always shakes his hand.  At our Maundy Thursday service, I discovered that was not true.

Maundy Thursday is our church's version of Good Friday.  It's a very somber service: candlelight, acoustic music, dramatic reading, communion.  It was very important to me that Micah be there for the service this year.  He's finally starting to understand things and I wanted him to be part of this service.  During the whole service, Micah had lots of questions.  There were times he was somewhat loud (I am certain the people around us could hear him several times...he may or may not have yelled his best friend's name at the very beginning of the service also).  He most definitely did not sit still.  But he was very interested in the service.  At the end, I felt terrible.  Maybe we should have left him at home.  Did he ruin it for those around us?  Was he too much of a distraction during this very serious service?  But afterwards, Micah ran up to our pastor, as he always does, our pastor scooped him up real quick and gave him a high five.  Then, I heard him say, "Micah, I'm glad you came today."  Honestly, thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes.  That was the affirmation I needed that we are doing the right thing.  It's hard most weeks, but it's the right thing to do.  And to know that others support our efforts, even when Micah was obviously a distraction means that he is just as important to them.  And isn't that the oath we take at their baptism?  To help them grow in the Lord?  I love being part of a church where those words mean something, they're not just empty words.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I'm Baaaaaack!

Yeah, I know.  It's been a while.  It's not that I haven't wanted to blog, it's that I just haven't been able to.  I just couldn't do it.  And now I think I've spent more time wondering how to pick it back up.  Where do I start?  Do I just pretend like it hasn't been eight months?  Do I give an explanation?  I'm going to go with the first option.

So, I've been at this mom gig for almost three and a half years.  I am by no means an expert, but I have definitely learned a lot of lessons.  Some lessons I thought I had mastered by now, but I find myself constantly re-learning them.  One of those lessons has really hit me recently.

I've been struggling a lot recently with finding time to do my daily devotions.  This is a time I've always enjoyed and appreciated.  I know how important it is that I daily spend time in the Word and praying.  I usually spend a lot of time journaling, talking to God about whatever is going on and asking for guidance or understanding.  I pour out my heart during this time and get re-centered for whatever I will be facing.  I've gone through times when I didn't do it regularly and it reflected in my life.  I could tell that things weren't right.  But I've always fallen back into my routine. 

Well, kids change things.  And I need to adjust to the new way things are.  I've been trying to go back to the way things were.  Unsuccessfully.  I used to get up early in the morning before the boys and do my quiet time.  I didn't mind it.  I'm a morning person and the boys slept until at least 7:00, usually 7:30.  But then Micah started waking up before 6:00 in the morning.  I thought it was a fluke. 

I was wrong.

I have a hard time getting up before 6:00am when I have nowhere to be.  And I'm pregnant.  I'm exhausted.  So getting up before 6:00 just wasn't an option.  I tried during nap time for a while.  But really all I wanted to do was nap.  Recently I've decided it's time to do something different.  I have to.  Things can't keep going this way.  I'm not sure yet what's going to work for me during this time of my life but I will be trying new things.  Because I need to adjust to the way my life is right now. 

It happened again today.  We decided to take a walk tonight after dinner.  Brad and I used to love to take walks at night.  Even after Micah was born we used to take nightly walks.  It was so easy to just put him in the stroller and go.  Since Judah was born the walks have slowed down.  The reason could be illustrated by what happened tonight.  We finished dinner and told the boys we were going to go for a walk.  Micah just needed to 1)pick up his puzzles 2)go to the bathroom and 3)get his shoes on.  All with the aide of Daddy.  One would expect this would only take a couple minutes. 

It took almost an hour.

What we thought was going to be a nice family walk outside turned into what seemed to be an endless time getting ready.  The truth is getting the boys ready to leave the house anytime takes forever.  A simple family walk is not so simple anymore.  I have to adjust to our new reality.  I don't want family walks to fall by the wayside just because it's hard to get the kids out the door.  So, instead, I have to lower my expectations.  We have to develop a new routine.  Make some sacrifices. 

Learning the same lesson over again.  And I have a feeling it won't be the last time, either.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summer School

I know I haven't written in a while, but we've been very busy.  We're taking a little break from our Before Five in a Row work to participate in a Virtual Book Club.  Each week there is a theme with several books to read and different activities that correspond with the book/week's theme.  It has been so much fun participating!  Everyone has really enjoyed doing the activities and reading the books. 


The first week the theme was bugs.  We read several Eric Carle books as well as other books about bugs. 
 After reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, we made name caterpillars.  Micah has been very interested in letters lately and the sounds that they make so he really enjoyed finding the letters in his name and making a caterpillar out of them.
 Later in the week, we read The Grouchy Ladybug and made our very own ladybug out of a paper plate.  Micah is also very into painting lately and we've done a lot of painting recently so he loves this.

Another activity we did was spraying letter bugs.  Brad drew a bunch of bugs on the sidewalk and put letters in each bug.  We would call out a letter and Micah would find it and spray the bug until the letter disappeared.  He loved doing this.  Who am I kidding?  He loves anything that has to do with water!


The second week we read books with a garden theme.  I didn't think I was going to like this theme, but the books were actually really good and Micah even tried a few vegetables because of what we read!

Micah was supposed to use these shapes to make shape flowers.  He liked watching me make the flowers, but when it was his turn, he just wanted to make a train.  He told me what each shape was...the track, the "trugger," the wheels, the coupler, etc.  Seriously, my little boy is obsessed with trains!

One day we pulled out the paints again and let Micah paint with some potatoes.  He thought it was the coolest thing, especially after reading Growing Vegetable Soup.  Now, when he sees the bag of potatoes he asks if he can paint. 

This doesn't really have to do with gardening, but one morning Brad made this redneck waterbed that I've been dying to try for a long time.  Both of the boys loved it!  Micah thought it was so cool that it was squishy and the water kept moving around.  This is definitely an activity that we will do again!

 Sunday morning after church, Micah was coloring in a coloring book and he found Dumbo.  He especially liked the pictures with the circus train in them (see?  OBSESSED with trains!).  So, he turned around and asked me if I could make Dumbo's train with his Duplos.  He loved that I used a tall line of the single Duplos to make the whistle.  Once it was done, I told him we should find Dumbo and put him in the train.  He loved that!  Then, he wanted me to make a car for Dumbo's mom, then I had to make more cars for the other animals on the train.  Then, I had to add a track and a railroad crossing.  He even grabbed some cars to wait at the crossing and he wanted a person to be the conductor.  This was the first time that I've really seen his imagination come out like that, I loved it!  Making this train for him was totally worth it!

That's what we've been up to lately.  Keep reading to see what we're doing with our next few weeks of the virtual book club!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Disney Tips

I can't believe it's been more than a month since we left for Disney.  Sometimes it seems like it was such a long time ago.  It always amazes me how quickly life returns to normal when you get home from vacation.  You feel like you should be able to ease back into it, but that is never the case.  Oh well, there's always the next vacation to look forward to!

I know a lot of people think we were crazy to take two young children to Disney.  They will never remember being there, but it was still all worth it.  I will never forget seeing their excitement.  And it could quite possibly be the only family vacation we will ever go on where there was no fighting or major tantrum throwing.  This was a vacation well worth it full or memories Brad and I will always cherish.

We learned a few tips along the way and I thought I'd share them with you.

My Tips for Taking Young Children to Disney World

1. Go to the most important park on the first day.

     The kids will be at their best the first day.  They have yet to be depleted of all their energy and will
     be excited and want to do everything.  So, decide which park is most important and go their first.
     My recommendation is Magic Kingdom.  It has the most to do for young children and really is a
     must see any time you go to Disney.

2. Make time for nap.
     Even if your child doesn't take a regular nap, make time to go back to your hotel and rest.  Get to
     the park as early as you can in the morning, do all o
f your must-dos, then head back to the hotel in
     the afternoon.  After being outside all morning and all of the over-excitement even big kids need a
     chance to re-charge their batteries.  After a couple of hours at the hotel, you can re-group and head
     back to the park for more fun.

3. Bring your own snacks and drinks.
     I highly recommend bringing as much of your own food as you can.  The Disney meal plan is a
     great deal, but not if you only have young children. We stayed in a hotel with a full kitchen, which
     I highly recommend.  Every morning we had breakfast at the hotel.  Then, I packed a lunch with
     lots of extra snacks for us to eat at the park.  We either ate dinner out or made something easy at
     the hotel (usually a pasta dish).  My boys are always hungry so it felt like they were always asking
     for something to eat.  We packed lots of granola bars, raisins, fruit snacks, Mum Mums (Micah's
     new favorite!), crackers, and even some fresh fruit.  I used my thermal lunch bag and it kept
     everything nice and cool despite the heat.  Plus, I don't even know how much money we saved by
     not buying all that junk at the food vendors!

4. Schedule your days beforehand and think it through.
Looks like Mommy kept him up too late last night!
     I researched our trip for a month.  I knew which parks we wanted to go to.  I knew which rides
     we would take the boys on and in which order.  I knew which street shows I wanted to catch and
     any other special attractions we might like.  I even booked us a character breakfast.  I knew Micah
     would be scared, but I hoped that the relaxed setting of breakfast would help him to ease up a
     little bit.  Plus, I knew he would love seeing the characters, even if he didn't want them to get too
     close.  But I made one mistake.  Our first night we went to Magic Kingdom.  I insisted that we had
     to stay for the night parade and fireworks show (which we watched from the parking lot in order
     to beat the rush to exit the park).  And then I scheduled an 8:30 breakfast the next day.  I kept the
     boys out until almost midnight and then made them get up at 7:00 the next morning.  Ooops.
     Don't make the same mistake!  If you're planning a late night, make time to relax the next
     morning.  I fully believe our trip would have gone very differently had we allowed the boys to
     sleep in the second morning (or foregone the fireworks show the first night).

5. Babywear.
      Get yourself a good baby carrier (I recommend an Ergo) and wear your baby as much as possible.       We brought our double stroller with and parked it as we entered each world.  We knew Micah
would want to walk most of the time so we wore Judah and let him walk.  It was much easier than
      fighting the crowds with our massive stroller.  We actually got around much quicker and were
      able to get in the lines very easily.  

6. Distinguish your stroller.
     I do recommend bringing a stroller, too.  We had to have something to carry our diaper bags (we
     brought one for each boy and filled it with their snacks, an extra set of clothes, and their diapers),
     lunch bag, and other miscellaneous items in.  Not to mention, Micah did eventually get tired of
     walking and needed someplace to rest.  But there are thousands of strollers at Disney.  And
     everyone else has the same stroller as you. So, do something to distinguish yours.  I meant to bring
    a scarf to tie around our handle, but I forgot it so we grabbed a bungee cord cable from the car and
    wrapped it around the handle.  Worked great.  We were never left wondering if that was our
    stroller or not and never accidentally took the wrong one.

7. Dress your family in similar clothes.
    I know this sounds corny and it is.  Kind of.  A wise woman told me many years ago that whenever
    her family goes somewhere crowded she made her boys dress alike so that if one of them went
    missing and she was asked what he was wearing she could point to another child and say, "that!"
    What a great idea!  Not to mention it makes the pictures look great, too!  I ordered us all matching
    Mickey Mouse shirts from Etsy because I am corny like that.  We got so many compliments on
    them, though.  Workers, other vacationers, even Mickey Mouse pointed them out in the parade and
    "said" he liked them. :)  Next time I will probably order shirts for every day we go (because I'm
    corny like that).

8. Be prepared for anything.
    Don't have high expectations. We're talking about young children here.  They are like loose canons.
    You never know when they're going to go off.  You might think they'll love a ride and instead
     they're deathly afraid of it.  That's okay.  Don't push.  Be willing to say that's okay and try
     something else.  Know your child well.  Know when it's okay to push them a little bit and when
    it's best to back off.  If you're constantly forcing your child to do things he/she doesn't like it's not
   going to be a very enjoyable vacation for anyone.  There was a lot of things Micah was afraid of,
   but there was also a lot of things t
hat he loved.  I think we rode every possible train ride there was.
   But to see his face every time we stepped on a train was priceless.  And that's what the trip was
   really all about.  No fighting.  No tantrums.  Because we followed him.  And in the end, we all had
   a great vacation.

Those are my tips for taking young children to Disney.  Do you have anything to add?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Before Five in a Row: Corduroy

Summer is supposed to be a fun time filled with lazy days and no cares.  But for a two and a half-year-old, summer is really no different than the rest of the year.  With the exception of a few days spent at the beach or pool it's all the same to Micah.  So, Brad and I decided that even though it is now summer we are going to continue tot school with Micah.

We do want summer to be more laid back, however, so instead of structured time we decided on two things.  First, we will do one "fun" activity every day.  This activity can vary greatly.  It can be a learning activity or not.  It can mean going to the park or staying home and playing with sidewalk chalk.  I have a calendar of the month and filled it in with all of our "obligations" such as Micah's gymnastics class and playdates we already have scheduled.  Then, I fill in the rest of the days with an activity that I want to do.  At the beginning of the week I look at what I have planned and make sure I have all the supplies.  This has helped us already so much.  It helps with the "I don't know what to do" that can often happen when staying home all day.  Micah would be perfectly happy playing with his trains all day long, but he's always very excited to do whatever activity we have planned.

The second thing we decided was to do a literature based curriculum this summer called Before Five in a Row.  I taught this curriculum when I worked at a daycare and fell in love with it.  Basically, you read the same book five days in a row and then do an activity to go along with the book.  The activity can be as in-depth or simple as you like.  I love the wonderful literature that the curriculum introduces Micah to and he has really been enjoying reading the stories over and over again.

Last week we read Corduroy.  This is such a cute book about a bear who is looking for a friend to take him home.  After the first reading, Micah asked us several times to read it to him again, he loved it so much.  Here are the activities we did with it:

By his request, we took out one of our quiet activities.  He loves stuffing the pom poms into his bowl.  To make it a little more challenging, I gave him some tongs to use.  He is really getting good at using the tongs!

We had a rhyme that we said and then he got to color a picture of Corduroy.  He was really interested in coloring at first, but that lasted about 10 seconds and Mommy ended up doing most of the coloring.

After Judah's morning nap, I took out some colored ice I had made the night before.  Then, I filled some containers with shaving cream and one with water and let them go at it.  Both boys loved this activity!  Judah especially loved the smooth texture of the shaving cream.  This kept them entertained for a good 30  minutes.  

After Micah's gymnastics class we came home to find that Daddy had set up the little swimming pool and water table for the boys to play.  Everyone was so happy for the warm weather!  The best part was pouring water!  Both boys thought it was hysterical when Micah dumped water on Judah.  I have a feeling it won't be long before Judah fights back and learns how to dump water on his big brother!

I found some picture cards that went along with the story and printed them.  Micah had a fun time trying to match the cards.  This is the first time we've ever played any kind of memory game.  At first he didn't get it, but he caught on pretty quick and loved getting a match!  He's asked to play this several more time since then.  We might have to buy him his first memory game!

Micah loves doing puzzles!  Here he is putting together his Thomas puzzle.  He can do the whole thing by himself.  He got a new Toy Story puzzle last week.  It's lenticular (when I was a kid I think we referred to them as holograms!) so a lot harder to put together, but he did pretty well.

One day, our baby sitter drew a hopscotch for Micah.  Now, whenever he goes outside he hops on the sidewalk and shouts random numbers.  He loves it!  I decided to challenge that love and draw some shapes on the sidewalk.  Micah loved jumping on the shapes and yelling out what they were.  He didn't even need any instruction for me on what to do, he just did it.  He knew all of the shapes without any help, too.  I really wish we had a paved driveway so that we had more space for chalk--this is one of Micah's favorite activities.

The last thing we did was go for a walk.  Of course, no walk is complete without a stick to carry.  We had a storm earlier in the week so there were sticks all over our yard for him to pick up.  We're still working on being careful with them so as not to poke our little brother, though!

Not all of the activities were geared towards Corduroy, but we had a lot of fun doing different things last week, and as a two-year-old he learns from everything we do!  Stop by next week to find out what activities we do with our book this week.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Everyone has a father.  It's easy to be  father.  A father doesn't have to show up to anything.  A father doesn't have to know his child, doesn't have to support him.  Anyone can be a father

But it takes a real man to be a daddy. 

Daddy.  The word a little boy cries out for in the middle of the night.

The man whose hand that same little boy slips his own hand into as they walk down the street.

Daddy.  A man who chases after his son and when he catches him, nails him to the ground to tickle him until tears are streaming from his eyes.

The man who sits on the floor and for hours pulls a toy train round and round a circle because his son said, "Play trains with me, Daddy?"

Daddy.  The man who pulls his baby into his lap and reads him one more bedtime story and sings him one more song.

Daddy.  The man who teaches his sons what it means to be a real man.  To lead his family by example.  To seek after Christ with everything he has.  To act with integrity at all times.  The man who loves his family unconditionally and completely selflessly.  Who serves not just his family, the his community, and the God who he so loves. 

Not everyone can be a daddy.  It takes a lot.  Sleepless nights.  Long days.  Inmeasurable patience and total sacrifice.  A daddy is someone you should hold on to.  Don't ever let go because they are a real treasure.

I am so glad that my boys have a Daddy.  And I continue to look forward to seeing him grow as a Daddy and every day be more like the man he was created to be.  Happy Father's Day to an amazing Daddy, Brad!