Helping clean!

Nana and Papa are on the way here!!

So, J is helping get the house ready for them to visit. She’s loving getting to clean her bathroom.

“This should be my job Mama” she just told me.

That works for me.

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Prayers of a 5 year old

Today in Bible class the preschoolers had a lesson about prayer based on a book called Praying in Color.

As you’d imagine, some of the kids were more into the activity than others. The idea was that instead of talking out loud to God they can doodle. As they create a shape and decorate it they’re thinking about the person they write in the middle and those thoughts become the prayers as their pencil does the drawing.

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It was so cool to see Joanna share her prayer with Morgan tonight before bed. She worked on it the whole time she was at the table. First she asked how to spell Kelly, as we went to her funeral last week so Joanna wanted to pray for her and those who are missing her. Then she asked how to spell Uncle Ben, I just gave her the letters for Ben and that was good enough. She prayed that he’ll quit smoking and make good choices. The blue letters going up on the right spell Grandpa -she’s praying that he’s healthy because he had a fever today. Next she moved on to people she’s thankful for and did Mom and Dad all on her own on the bottom. She finished it up with the blue and orange, spelling Uncle Tom. She has lots of aunts and uncles but he was on her mind today.

While the kids worked on their own pages I did one too. It was a surprisingly good experience for me. I’m thinking that today’s lesson may inspire on a new habit for me and Joanna. We could spend some time together working on our own booklet of prayers, taking a bit of time each day to doodle and pray. I love that it’s something that we can do individually and together at the same time.

Snow Fun

Our girl has been hopingng to make snow angels for months. Her wish came true today!

As soon as she knew there was snow outside she wanted to go out. She suggested I get up, get dressed, brush my teeth, read my Bible, and go. After listing all my activities she said “you know, do all your steps so we can go out”.

She was so excited I decided to roll with it. Even though other activities are cancelled or at least on a weather delay we got up and got after it. Morgan even joined us as photographer, I’m sure his pictures are much better than these, but I just don’t want to wait 🙂

Her 1st basketball game

We made it to our first basketball game today. 

Before today we’d been to 2 practices and missed 2 practices and 2 games (both games were on the Saturday we were in Indy), so our girl is a bit behind her teammates. Not only is this her first year to play, she’s only made it to 2 of their 6 gatherings prior to today. 

She was excited to be there, but unsure what to do. It was tough for this Hoosier to watch my girl lost on the court! 

During a break I asked if she knew what to do out there. She said no. That pretty much summed it up.

I’m hopeful that a few more practices will make a big difference at this stage 🙂

Suicide: don’t do it!

Thirty years ago today my mother successfully ended her life.

There are lots of phrases people use when saying that someone died: “she passed away” “she moved on” “she died” “she killed herself” “she committed suicide” “she’s no longer with us” and more.

It’s interesting to note that years ago one of my brothers and I discovered that we both have responded the same when people push us about what happened. We were talking with a stranger and we mentioned she passed away and the other person said “what happened?” and we respond “she killed herself.” In those moments we aren’t trying to be gentle with the truth, we’re no longer protecting the nosy conversationalist or ourself, you asked and we answered. Chances are you have now learned a lesson and in the future let the one telling the story decide how much to tell. It may be we were protecting you from the harshness of the reality, or maybe we were protecting ourself from saying again what happened. In any case, when talking with someone, especially a stranger – let them tell their story their way! If they want to share details they will. If they’re leaving details out chances are they have a reason.

So, I have no idea what she was thinking. I can imagine some of what could make a woman who is 3 days shy of her 34th birthday decide being all done is more appealing than carrying on. But, as in any situation like this, she is only one that truly knows what motivated her decision. I do think that if she had any idea of the scope of difficult things that could follow her choice she may have reevaluated and decided to hang in there.

One of those hard things happened this week. My sweet 5 year-old (who never knew this grandma) and I were making sugar cookies. As she was excitedly mixing the dough with the electric mixed she looked up and said “did you make cookies with your mama?” I didn’t have a good answer. The truth is I have no idea. Chances are we did make cookies together in those 11 years she was present. But, I can’t picture it happening, I can’t recall a memory of standing together creating something yummy to share with others. I just can’t. So I answered as best as I could with an “I think so”. In the joy of the moment I’m hopeful my kiddo didn’t see the tear forming and sliding down my cheek. I believe it’s ok for her to know there are sad things. And she knows my mommy died when I was young, but I don’t want our fun moments to be tainted by this sadness that can pop up from time to time.

As tends to happen on anniversaries I am thinking of her today. Actually I began thinking about it when I reserved a car to be picked up on 12/7. That’s when it hit me that the 30 year anniversary was upon us. We made that reservation to be able to take a quick trip to Indy this weekend. One of my mom’s sisters has been battling cancer this year. Her daughter planned a “Holiday Bash (And F Cancer Party)” for Saturday night (which would have been mom’s 64th birthday). Figuring out how to go celebrate with them was tough. We’re in a period of searching for full-time employment for Morgan and our car just can’t make the trip, and we usually turn that 11 hour drive into at least 16 hours. So, there were lots of reasons that it may just not work to be there. But I kept thinking about it and wanting to make it work. In the end we decided traveling to celebrate with family while my aunt is still living would be better than making the trip once she’s passed. So we hit the reserve button on the car and began making arrangements to be gone for the long weekend.

I just told my kiddo that I’m writing about my mom since she died 30 years ago today. “Are you sad?” “A little bit”. “Ahh, I wish she could have stayed and meet me”. “Yep, me too”.

So, while I don’t have many memories of fun holiday stuff with my own mom and for years this time of year has been difficult due to her death and birthday, I’ve decided that enjoying today is important. I get to decide whether to let the past cast a shadow and take over today or whether I want to have a day of good times. And, I’m intentionally choosing joy. I’ve decided to celebrate this season with my husband and kiddo. I get to make up our own traditions that let us have fun together. With some time and energy we’re having a blast watching movies, decorating the house, drinking hot chocolate, baking cookies to share, decorating ornaments to give, and just relishing the time we have to be together having fun.

It was easy to spend a lot of years just wishing December would finish up so the sadness would pass. But, many years ago I decided that over a decade of that was enough. I took some time processing, thinking, praying, and deciding to move forward with a new perspective. I’m so glad I did! Doing that work on myself made it a whole lot easier/more possible to have a good December. I’m able to embrace the fun of the season like I couldn’t before. And, I didn’t have to figure all that out with a kiddo by my side.

So, if you’re still reading my rambling thoughts and having a tough day: hang in there! We can all choose joy. Don’t give in to depression -deciding to end your life can make life a whole lot harder for others, for some you may not even know yet.

 

Working with Daddy

Our girl is pretty excited to be learning our holiday traditions, and this is one of the best. Making chocolate fudge with Daddy. 

We have a divide and conquer strategy with holiday treats. I do the baking and Morgan does the fudge. It works out quite well. 

The temperature finally dropped here today so we’re celebrating with gluten-free chocolate chip cookies and fudge. Yum!

I love that Morgan finds ways for J to be involved. She’s totally enjoying getting to help him. 

“It breaked my heart”

Here’s a snippet of our after-school conversation today.

Me: How was lunch?

J: It was good, thanks for the delicious lunch!

Me: Did you eat it all?

J: Yes, I ate my cheese, my meat, my crackers. I stacked them up and made a sandwich! When I did that Kid 1* and Kid 2* said “yuck”. When they said that it breaked my heart inside. So I said yum and it healed back up. And I ate my grapes and dessert.

Me: Did you just say it hurt your heart when they said yuck about your lunch?

J: Yes.

Yep, my almost five year old said that it broke her heart when 2 other kids made fun of her lunch. What a reminder that words have power. And, yes, when she was telling me about it my heart hurt a bit too.

Come on parents, teachers, grandparents, other adults: let’s keep trying to teach them all to be kind to one another. Let’s remind them that words matter, that they can build each other up or tear each other down. Yes, this means we need to watch what we say too 🙂

It’s possible you’re reading this and thinking that we just need to toughen up -that it’s not a big deal. And, while you’re entitled to your opinion, I’m frustrated to see that already in Pre-K my kiddo’s feelings are being hurt by the ones that are supposed to be her friends. Whether anyone else thinks it should matter or not, the fact remains that these kids saying “yuck” about her lunch hurt her feelings. How we treat one another does matter, our words have power, and if we can help the young ones know how to encourage each other, how to say kind, helpful things instead of mean ones, then I believe our world will be a better place for us all.

* Kid 1 and Kid 2 are also 4 years old, so I thought leaving their names out seemed best.

We got it planted!

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My helper and I got the garden planted before vacation. She had a great time this year helping get it cleared out and digging holes for the plants.

Some of the plants are probably a bit too close together, but I let her help out quite a bit and just went with it. Maybe next year we’ll put more effort into deciding exactly where the plants should go.

We are hopeful for the harvest, looking forward to having lots of tomatoes, squash, and peppers to share.

While I don’t really enjoy the work of gardening, I do enjoy the harvest and the family time we get working together on it (especially when that time happens early before the heat takes over).

Mary Poppins was right!

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down! 

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In our case it’s a jelly bean instead of a spoonful, but the same result 🙂

J had been really struggling with taking the antibiotic for her ear infection. It was becoming a battle that was just kind of awful. So, after 4, almost 5, years of successfully not using candy as a reward I caved.

Yep, I told her if she took it without delay or complaining she could have a jelly bean.

It worked! Amazingly, she took it and then was really excited about the jelly bean. No complaint or delaying.

Some lessons from movies are worth paying on. This one attend to be a winner!

Maybe there is wrong side of the bed to wake up on

Yesterday our girl was just out of sorts all day. It started very early and lasted until she was out for the night. Kinda makes me wonder if there is something to the idea of “waking up on the wrong side of the bed”.

Before we even left the house at 8 AM I had to tell her many, many times to quit climbing on me, touching my face, jumping onto me, and doing all sorts of other things that she knows she shouldn’t be doing. Then, when leaving she decided “I want to lead” and basically tripped Morgan on the way out the door in her rush to get in front of him. Had he not caught himself it could have been a very different day for all of us. After almost falling he deemed it a do-over morning and we all went inside and started leaving the house all over again.

It didn’t improve much from there…at one point near the end of church service I finally had her sit by herself on the empty section of the row behind us because she just wouldn’t quit talking. Talking about what, you ask? Nothing! She was narrating some nonsense to her coloring book and doing it so loudly I couldn’t hear the lesson.

For lunch we joined quite a few friends for a class pitch-in at someone’s house. Her most notable transgression there was yelling “you’re not my mommy” to a friend who was telling her to stop opening and closing the screen door. She made it about 3 steps post-yell before Morgan made it to her in time for some correction. This friend is one she sees weekly and has lunch and/or dinner with each Sunday. She knows it is someone we trust and she should obey. She did make a sweet apology once released from time-out and confirmed that the two of them could still be friends.

Then, in the evening at another friend’s house for dinner and small group I walked into the room she was playing in to check on her (which I did because I’d heard the mean way she was talking to the younger kids from the other room) in time to see her yell no and push on the other kiddo. This all happened in spite of several conversations about how to talk to our friends and what to do with her hands. I scooped her up and moved her to a time-out chair. Not fun for any of us. Once she was freed from time-out (yes, she could tell me exactly what the problem was and what she could do better), I spent the rest of the night in the same room just being present in case further correction was needed.

It seriously was rough all day with her with no apparent reason. Of course, the reason could be she is 4 years old and sometimes that’s just life with a 4 year-old 🙂