Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Big Deal

Today I needed to get a lot accomplished. The house had been neglected all weekend and it really needed some attention. I was determined to be focused and put all distractions in their place.
My 2-year-old was my little helper with chores the other day. It wasn't necessarily intentional. He woke up early from his nap. He followed me around the house like Pig-Pen, from the peanuts cartoon, in a cloud of dust.

As I was vacuuming one room, Bryce came in, sat on a chair and proceeded to shred a few corn chips with a butter knife.
I moved on to mopping the kitchen and he put his bare, summer-dirty foot in the water. He didn't just step on the freshly mopped, still wet floor. He stuck his bare, summer-dirty foot in the bucket of soapy water, splashed a bit and then walked around the kitchen.

At this point, I had a decision to make and I decided to love it. All things in perspective....BIG DEAL! So I make one more run with the vacuum or one more swipe with the mop. This little boy is full of discovery and exploration. Every part of his life right now is a grand adventure. I might as well enjoy the JOY of life with him.

Recently, my 9-year-old son joined me on my run. He rode his bike and I tried to keep up. Most of the run, he would pedal ahead and then skid to a stop. He would point out how long or dark or curved his skid marks were. He bragged about being able to turn while he skidded or how long the mark was when he was going downhill. He was thrilled with the whole process. Halfway through I had the mature, parental urge to explain to him that doing that much skidding was probably wearing down his tires and he'd probably get a flat sooner rather than later and then we'd have to buy new tires and new tires cost money. As soon as the urge came and those thoughts raced through my mind, they were followed with a brief memory of my own carefree childhood. Feelings I haven't known for ages. For a few brief minutes, I remembered what it was like to not have to worry about things like money and consequences and practicalities. So I held my tongue.

And I decided to love it. All things in perspective...BIG DEAL! So he wears out his bike tires and has to learn how to change a tire with his Dad as his teacher. This energetic boy of mine is so full of discovery and exploration. I might as well enjoy the JOY of life with him.

My children are growing up with a mom who lets them explore and to me,that is a big deal!

Reading list

Sterling is building some beautiful new shelves for me downstairs. I'm so excited. In the meantime, my books and other assorted items are covering the basement floor. I'm hoping everything stays in one corner until we're finished. Camille organized everything into nice tidy piles. But this morning, it looks like several children, ages 4 and 1, went swimming in them this morning.

I have book club tonight. This month we read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand. May I just say, it was AWESOME!!! I recommend it to anyone. Even Sterling is reading it. Can you believe it? The story is a true life story about a young man, who grew up a hellion and then focused his energy on running. As a record breaking,one-mile runner, his olympic dreams were put hold with the onset of World War II. His story is an amazing tale of survival as he survives his plane going down, sharks and weather in a raft, and POW camps in Japan. It is almost unbelievable what that man went through. Iin fact, I kept saying to Sterling. "I think some of this is made up. This cannot possibly be true. People just don't survive stuff like that. I'm not sure this is real." Its inspiring, that's what it is. Truly a must read.

Here are some of the other books I've been reading.

"Kira-Kira" is a Newberry Award winner. Its about 2 young japanese sisters and their struggles growing up in America where Japanese resentment is still strong post World War II. After reading "Unbroken" that takes on a new weight. Its a nice story but a little depressing. I'm not sure Sydney would enjoy it because its sad and a little slow moving.

"Book of Mormon", cuz its the best book.
"Founding Mothers".  This is the book for the library book club. The last one they chose, "The Last Cowgirl" was an interesting book but the language turned really bad the last 1/4 of the book. Rated R bad. I wouldn't recommend it. But I'm not talking about that book here. "Founding Mothers" I've just started and its a captivating look at the lives of the women who raised and supported the founding fathers. These women were extraordinary.

"Whispered Secret." I've also been reading the Leven Thumps books. I'm not in love with them. They are a little too outlandish for me and I feel like the story could be told in fewer words than 5 long books. I've made it through 3 and honestly, I'm not that compelled to finish the series.

"Midnight Pearls" and "Wild Orchid". These are re-tellings of The Little Mermaid and Mulan. I love fairy tale re-tellings. Love them. And these are good, quick, entertaining reads. Sydney is currently reading "Midnight Pearls" and is really enjoying it. I think she like the love story. :)

"Linger" is the 2nd in a series about werewolves. What can I say? Fantasy, anyone? The whole time I'm reading the first and second books I'm thinking, "Haven't I already read this story?" It kind of feels recycled. Its interesting and I must finish the series because at least its a strong enough story to make me want to know how it turns out, even if I don't think the writing is that great. But I'm weary of the high school/young adult love fest where you can't survive without each other. Life stops and all hell breaks loose if you have to be separated for more than a day. Give me a break. Life is bigger than that. And the protagonist guy is always writing lyrics to songs and sharing them with us. Boring. But, like I said, its a good enough story that I want to know how it turns out.
"Death Cure" is the much anticipated finale to the "Maze Runner" series and it is fantastic. I couldn't stop reading. I read it in 1 1/2 days. My only regret is that I didn't re-read book 2 before I started book 3. Dashner didn't do much background to catch me up to date so I'm sure I missed out on some of the intensity. But it was awesome. Exactly what any science fiction book should be. LOVED IT!

"Elements of Style" and "Bird by Bird".  The final two are just books about writing and I'm wanting to explore that talent and interest a little. Bless my mom's heart for encouraging and getting me these books for me for my birthday. I'm just now starting to think about opening them. I've scanned through them already and they look fantastic. Much more interesting than I thought they would be.

So there you have. My book list as of late.

Do you have any suggestions I should add?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bedtime Prayers

Raising boys is not my forte, I must say. It is a struggle for me to understand and accept the noise, dirt, mess, jumping, throwing, yelling and general windstorm of raucousness that is termed "BOY." I'm slowly learning to not battle the natural disposition of my boys so much anymore. But it’s hard. I feel like I'm failing regularly because I feel like I'm losing my cool regularly. I don't like to feel either way. Many nights I lay in bed, looking at the ceiling, confiding to my husband that I have no idea what I'm doing. And the things I am doing don't appear to be making a difference...

...until I pray with my boy. Suddenly this busy, little body, who hasn't stood still long enough for homework, reading or dinner; who has made his sisters cry and picked on his little brother; who consistently "misses" in the bathroom; who leaves a trail of dirt, food and stinky socks in his wake, takes my breath away with his prayers. As he prays, his walls come down and he asks for help to be better in ways I didn't think he realized he was lacking. He has yet to offer a rote or routine prayer. It is always sincere and specific. He asks for help to be nice to his sisters. He asks for help to listen to his teacher in school. Last night he asked for help "to not be so hyper." Simple requests but heartfelt to the core.

I don't say bedtime prayers with all my children. Mostly with Parker because he insists on it and I am so grateful he does. I know I'm missing out with the other kids and that needs to change. It’s so easy to overlook those quiet, heartfelt moments and let them pass without much thought. They are as elusive and fleeting as a gentle summer breeze. Unless I am deliberate in capturing and appreciating the moment, it’s gone before I can even recognize it. The following three ideas have helped me hold on to tender moments before they’re gone.

Slowing down to enjoy special moments with my children is often like trying to stop a sled on a steep, iced over hill. But slowing down is exactly what it takes to make the most of the short time I have with my children while they are young. I was once challenged by a friend to not say, “hurry up” to my children or to “hurry” them through activities. Often times I am usually rushing from one chore to another and from lessons to games. Then it’s on to dinner and homework. As I accepted her challenge, it was hard to not hurry them into seatbelts or hurry them through snack or lunch. I had to hold my tongue while they brushed teeth and put on shoes and finished coloring their latest work of art. As the day wore on, I found that much of the contention I usually expected as we transitioned from one activity to another had disappeared. I firmly believe that was because I wasn’t constantly in hurry mode. I slowed the pace down and the tension level followed. This slower pace allowed me to be more present in the moment and to enjoy my nurturing role as mother.

My nurturing role as mother sometimes gets lost in the business of being mom. Someone has to make sure meals are prepared, assignments are finished and commitments are kept. However, making sure the family is managed doesn’t have to mean we can’t have fun. The other day I let Parker listen to music through headphones as he finished his homework. He didn’t realize how loudly he was singing along. I stood back and watched as he would shout out words every now and then like, “it makes me feel good” and “like its dyn-o-mite.” Soon enough, he was out of his seat, shuffling his feet, still with pencil in hand. When he noticed me watching, he gave me an unapologetic grin and sat down to finish his homework. Much to my surprise, he finished in record time. I don’t let him listen to music every time he does homework, but sometimes we just have to have a little fun.

Most importantly, I need to take the time to give my time. There are countless ways I would like to spend my time. Unfortunately, time can be as fleeting as those special, quiet moments I crave with my kids. All too often, I’m required to make a choice in the way I spend my time. My greatest rewards come when I am able to spend one on one time with each child and they are able to open up. Those moments come in many forms, like a car-ride, a late night talk on the edge of the bed or spontaneous karaoke in the kitchen. Regardless of the circumstance, it is up to me to find the time and willingly give it over to my children.

If I had not taken time to pray with Parker, I would not have the same insight and understanding I have now. What a difference it makes to get a glimpse into his heart and the way he really feels about things and people and actions. As I pray with him, I realize how hard he is trying to improve himself. I also come to recognize his unique spirit more as I see him pray with confidence and sincerity. Suddenly everything that irritates me about little boys dissipates as I peel away the mortal mask and see him truly for who he is. And when he closes his prayer with, "thank you for my mom," I couldn't love that little boy more.