Thursday, May 29, 2008

What's mine is yours

Our new inside-out, backward method:
If one of the boys asks the other for a toy, he has to give it to the asker.
We're all familiar with the concept of sharing. Share, share, share with your brother. Why don't you find something else for him to play with? Can't you give him one of those too? You have three already.
I realized that this is not a very Biblical approach. Yes, sharing is great, but in so many cases, it's glossed over as this gracious attitude of "Okay, you can play with it...don't break it, don't take it home with you, play with it how I want you to, etc. What about turning this on its head? I mean, the concept of sharing is virtually impossible to teach to a 2-year-old or younger anyway, so how about the concept of giving? I think we shy away from it because, well, it's not fair to the kid. That's not biblical either.
So the boys (Sam and Caleb) were practicing with a car tonight.
One would say, "May I have that please?"
The other would give it and then say, "I'm giving this to you because I love you."
The first would then respond, "Thank you, Caleb." or "Thank you, Sam." Have you noticed how the use of a name adds respect and caring for that person?
Anyway, you might think this is a tad too sickeningly sweet, and it was pretty funny watching them practice it, but I figured I wanted them to know the "why" behind the action, not just see it as a new rule.
They both really get it, especially Sam, and have enjoyed this new concept, at least tonight.
I tried to explain that there's the added element of consideration for the person you're asking for a toy from. You want to give them a chance to play with it before you ask for it back. But the rule stands. And I want to not jump in as much as possible. We'll see how it goes!

What was the question?

Caleb, Noah, and I went to Gramma Sue's this morning to pick up much-missed Sam. Here is a conversation - pretty typical - between myself and my second son.
Caleb: "Is it a long way to Gramma Sue's?"
Me: "Pretty long. But remember, I told you we were going to make a stop at the mall first, and then we'll be going to Gramma Sue's to eat lunch."
Caleb: "It's not a long way to Gramma Sue's."
Me: -------------
Caleb: "When's Christmas gonna be here?"
Me: "Caleb, Christmas is a long way away."
Caleb: "Is Kansas before Christmas?"
Me: "Yes, we're going to Kansas in a few weeks, and Christmas isn't until the end of the year."
Caleb: "Is Arizona before Christmas?"
Me: "Yes, Arizona's in just a few weeks too, remember? Christmas is a long, long, long time from now."
Caleb: "Not that trip, the one where we go on the plane, the big plane."
Me: "That's the trip I was talking about, Caleb."
Caleb: "No it wasn't."
Me: "Yes it was."
Caleb: "No it wasn't. Can we eat lunch at the mall?"
Me: "No, we're eating lunch at Gramma Sue's"
Caleb: "Well, they can eat there too."
Me: "Caleb..." I'm at a loss.
Caleb: "Are we almost to Gramma Sue's?"
Me: "No, we're going to the mall, remember?"
Caleb: "Is it a long way to the mall?"
Me: "VERY!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where's Sam?

Sam is at Grandma Sue's until Thursday morning. Caleb has been asking all day, "When's Sam coming home?"
He and Noah helped me make bread today - each helping themselves to a nibble of the dough. Noah spit it right back out again, but Caleb, "Mmmmm!" (add much inflection here), claimed to love it. He also showed his little brother how to eat spilled flour off the counter.
Walked to the park and pretty much sat on the bench the whole time with the two of them. Things just aren't fun without Sam, I guess.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Church discipline

For all our talk about how wonderfully "spiritual" our children are, we got a call today from the Children's Church director telling us how many comments she's gotten from various teachers about our children's behavior.
Apparently, they have the same listening and behavioral issues at church as they do at home.
In other words, often wild, obnoxious, and out-of-control.
So we had a serious talk with them, through which they both repeated "Yeah" every few sentences. Caleb confessed to getting up for a drink when the teacher told him not to. Other specific issues were not claimed. But our solution - we'll see if it's that - was to give them an ultimatum: Either they behave or they get to sit in "big church" with us for the hour. Being that they're affecting the other kids' ability to learn, we both agreed that this was a good solution.
I'm also well aware that when they're alone, they are two very different people!
Another option would be to have them take turns - one week, Caleb goes, and the next week, Sam goes.
We also need to let the teacher each week know that it's okay to discipline them a bit - i.e. not giving them the snack when they misbehave. Knowing their love for snacks, this one might end up being the most effective.
Let me know if you have any other ideas....
And pray for us! Our first call like this and they're not even in school yet!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Lunch and a show

We went to a free Minnesota orchestra concert today outside of Orchestra Hall, with Beckie and her boys. It was packed but still fun.

Caleb and Sam having their lunch - they were actually sitting on top of a garbage can so they could see. Handy!

Jack - he tried to say "cheese" for the camera, but what can you do with a mouthful of food?

A rare picture of all 3 of my boys looking at the camera.

As I said, rare. Or was that rear?

Ahhh...a place to stretch out and relax

The skin below my nose

I was reading the current Readers Digest today and came across a blurb on meditation:

"Sit in a quiet space and focus on the skin below your nose and above your upper lip. Feel the sensations of your breathing. Aim for 15 minutes a day, building up to an hour."

A different version: "Sit in a quiet space and focus on the magnificence of our Saviour and Creator and praising Him and talking to Him and being silent before Him. Feel the sensations of His Spirit responding within you. Aim for 15 minutes a day and be amazed at how this turns into an hour."

Be different!

Monday, May 19, 2008

A boy's treasure

Things I found in the wash today:

4 rocks
numerous wood chips
a deflated balloon
bits of broken plastic
2 pennies

I have a hard time remembering to empty the pockets - maybe now I've learned my lesson!

Dig in!

Noah loved helping Daddy fill the gardens with dirt. Mmmm!

No mowing the flowers!!

These frogs got rocked and fed, and Caleb's even got to ride in a dump truck!

My Kinder Garden

Find out what your kids are interested in, and allow them various experiences within these interests.

Sam attended our church's end-of-the-"year" choir concert last night and claims he liked it "as much as the David Phelps concert". He told someone there that he likes all kinds of music.

Music is one of the interests we've discovered in Sam, so we try to give him these little opportunities and experiences with music.

I think that one of our responsibilities as parents is to discern our children's God-given gifts in order to nurture them. It's so fun to see these things in my child that God "planted" there - I'm reminded of a dormant perennial that you have the fun of seeing grow after the previous owner planted it.

Maybe this is just parent common-sense, but thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

We haven't figured out what Caleb's interests are yet - other than puzzles. Maybe in another year or so...

And Noah's a little young - unless his interest in desserts counts. We do try to offer him a nice variety of those.

Friday, May 16, 2008

One more...

"Me and my boys" or "My boys and I"
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Yes, it was a happy Mother's Day!

My mom, my brother, me, my boys

Searching for the perfect gift

Geese are mothers too!

Me, Caleb, Sam
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Gay Marriage in California - Are you Happy?

California has overturned a ban on gay marriage. This news will have Christians everywhere up in arms. Why? Because the Bible, which states TRUTH and is the inspired Word of God, teaches that marriage is one man, one woman. God has designed this so intricately and beautifully and homosexuality is an obvious blatant lie straight from Satan to desecrate and pollute what God has declared holy.

So, that's my official stance. God's stance.

However, WHAT SHOULD WE EXPECT??? The couples running off to California to get married (a lot won't have far to go!) are spiritually blind and for the most part are not claiming to be part of the body of Christ.

I believe that yes, when appropriate, we should make our voice heard, but I do not think that we need to start signing more petitions, writing more letters, etc. We should all be in constant prayer over the state of our country, but I think that the best work is done through loving a spiritually needy individual and showing them Jesus. This is what Jesus Himself did all through the Gospels. He had encounters with individuals. His parables were even designed for only "he who has ears, let him hear". It is not our primary (and I use this loosely) responsibility to change the laws, keep prayer in school, keep the pledge of allegiance from being God-less. As followers of Christ, we have given up our "rights". We have no rights. We simply should do what is right in God's eyes. Pray. Share Jesus. Live by the TRUTH. And love. God knows that the "heathen" aren't following His laws. How can they? Those laws don't even make sense to them until their spiritual eyes are opened! So "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces." Matthew 7:6

So if you're concerned about the state of our country (and as a follower of Christ, you should be), pray, and seek to affect individuals with the TRUTH, don't waste your time "campaigning"!

Comments and feedback welcome.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Wave

Noah has recently learned to say "Hi" and "Bye", both usually accompanied with a wave of his hand. No finger wiggles, just one of those wrist twists you see often from parade floats. Today in the car, he was looking out the window and for the first time seemed to notice the passing traffic. So he was waving and saying "Bye!" at everyone we passed. A glimpse at a social personality?

Monday, May 12, 2008

God bless you!

I've been thinking more about "life decisions" and our freedom in Christ and all that at times, confusing stuff. Being one who likes things black or white, as in, no, this is not right, and yes, this is wrong, I sometimes struggle with not laying a defining line. I need to remind myself that our God delights in each of us and is a very personal God. Areas not necessarily spelled out as "right" or "wrong" in the Bible can be a wonderful way for the Lord to reveal Himself in a personal way, in His time, to those who desire to follow Him.

That said, I would like to carefully, cautiously bring up the subject of children. Now, in the past, I would have privately labeled birth control "wrong". Key word, privately. I really do believe that this is an area where many believers could be more open to the will of God. We make our plans on this subject often without consulting the Lord, we decide when we will initially have kids, how many we will have, and how far apart they will be. Yes, sometimes God does let us know that our will is not His will - we wait for a child much longer than we were prepared to, or we have them far sooner than we would like. But I would say that the majority of believers (that I've talked with anyway) would say that they are perfectly open to God's will because God could decide for them not to have children, or God could decide when they would have a baby and work around such human "ploys" as birth control. Of course He can. But is this the attitude He wants us to have as followers of Christ?

Remember that in general, a good rule of thumb is that if the world is doing one thing, we're supposed to do the opposite (love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you, etc.).

It would be dangerous for me to label birth control as "wrong". I think this is a very personal issue, and one that the Lord delights in dealing with personally. But this I will say: Scripture calls children a blessing from the Lord. Who are we, His created beings, to refuse any of His blessings?

So those who choose to use birth control (ANY form) may be missing out on blessings from the Lord.

I'm hearing someone say, "The Lord can keep those blessings, thank you!"

Do you trust that God knows you better than you know yourself?

Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight."

*Italics are my own

**I do not always follow this verse either.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The more dangerous animals, the better

The boys watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, half last night, half tonight. They really enjoyed it - ate pizza for dinner tonight, and they were still working on their one piece after watching 1 1/2 hours of the movie. Caleb was actually grinning at the battle scenes and the scary creatures the witch had on her side. I was a little concerned it would be too much for them, but I guess not. Sam is starting to understand the symbolism used, equating Aslan with Jesus. We make sure to stress that Narnia is a pretend story, but Jesus is very real. Brian is in the process of reading Prince Caspian to them, so when the movie comes out (later this month) we'll be making a trek - the boys' first - to the theater.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Who's in control?

When we decide to follow Christ, we relinquish control of our lives over to Him. We desire to do His will, not our own. But are there areas in our lives where God allows us our own control? And to what extent?
For instance, I attended a Christian college. The common way of thought there was, "God, is it Your will for me to marry this person? Show me, God."
A follower of Christ would spend much spiritual energy, so to speak, praying and seeking God on whether they should go ahead and marry a particular person. I have recently thought about this issue in a new light. As a follower of Christ, we are told not to be "unequally yoked" (2 Cor. 6:14). There is much freedom of choice when we stay within this boundary, I believe. God allows us to choose whom we will and commands us to "love each other". So I've come to the conclusion here that it is possible to marry someone within the will of God without having a "THIS is the one you are to marry!" thundered from heaven.
So, what else? Are there other areas that God has allowed us this freedom?

Our primary motivation for all, in all that we do, should be for the glory of God.
Think about that as you answer.
Can either decision glorify God? Or just one?

Here are some to consider:

Occupation: what do I do with my life?
Children: have them or not, how many, and when?
Living situation: should I live in this state or another? should I buy/sell this house?

Also, let's assume that if you heard an audible voice or had it impressed clearly upon you that this is what you should do, you would do it. God can sometimes direct very specifically.
We're talking here about when he doesn't.

What's up to you?

What's up to God?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Spring Break

Doing schoolwork with two young children means that chunks of time off are not a good idea. So we're taking our Spring Break randomly - a day off here, a day off there. Usually we only do 4 days of work per week, but it's been so nice out that this has gotten down to 3 days or so each week. I thrive under the discipline of a rigorous schedule myself, so it's as much for my sake as theirs that we avoid taking more than 3 days off in a row (this includes weekends).
Today we went to a garden center - I think this rates right up there with an ice cream tasting event for me. And we picked up a few annuals. It's finally SPRING!

Watch out!

Yesterday, Sam and Caleb collided on their bikes. Caleb's bike, as you can see, is no longer in working order. He was pretty upset, but he's also pretty big for this bike - we were planning on getting him a bigger one this summer anyway.
To discipline Sam to watch where he's going when he rides, I had him pick up the pieces that broke off and haul the bike into the garage. We actually do have a duplicate of the bike for Caleb to ride while he waits for a new one, but this one has a little horn on it, and he's so big that whenever he pedals, his knee comes up and beeps the horn. Makes for a noisy ride.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

The outing

Why, oh why, do I never learn? Today we decided to skip the schoolwork and piano lessons and do something different and spontaneous and fun. Here was my first problem. I got excited.

We ended up at "Nickelodeon Universe", the former Camp Snoopy, at the Mall of America. They were so excited to go on rides. So I go purchase a ticket that they will share. Surely $20 worth of rides is plenty for a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. Sam wanted to go on the roller coaster - the big one. Not tall enough. We're walking around, and it's like a maze, I'm just thrilled when I come to the entrance to any ride. First one: Splat-O-Sphere! They both met the height requirement - they're both approximately 42", which was the minimum. Both were determined to get on that ride. Description: "This family thrill ride launches you straight up to almost 60 feet, then sends you catapulting down to the ground." Sounds great! Sam was beside himself with excitement. Have you all gone potty? Okay, Caleb, are you sure? Caleb is the more cautious of the two and has not ever enjoyed rides, although he always insists on riding them. Yep, it's a go. I surrender my children. They get all strapped in and barred down. I think, wow, if only I had a few chairs like that at home. Thankfully, there was a mom sitting next to them who helped talk them through the initial apprehension. By the way, Noah is sitting in his stroller with his lips in his trademark "oh" shape, looking up, up, up. The ride starts. Sam, who loves anything wild, has a very fearful look on his face that only increases as the ride goes on. Caleb has a tolerant look and an occasional half-smile. I think the smile was because everytime the ride would bounce, the mom next to them would whoo-hoo really loud. I guess she was having a lot of fun.
First ride down, what now? Sam is begging for a roller coaster, so we go in search of the kiddie coaster that is currently called Back at the Barnyard Hayride. They board. This one's a hit. They both have grins plastered on their faces the entire time. The ride stops. The bar is lifted. They both sit there, grins still in place. Let's go again! I'm frantically waving them off from my spot by the exit gate. They see me and get out, but then they're just standing there by the thing. I'm trying to direct them to the gate, but they're standing there, casually looking around. Caleb walks into someone passing by and trips and falls right onto the track. He's sitting halfway propped up by the stopped coaster car and his feet are in the air. A mom standing nearby (I love moms) helps him to his feet. He's startled but not hurt. Then they try to both climb over the gates rather than come around to the exit. Somehow, they make it out. Of course, the trauma of Caleb's fall and not being able to find the exit has greatly subdued the fun of the ride. And to top it all off, we used our last points. That's right, two rides - kiddie rides at that - have cost a total of $20. My second mistake: "It won't cost that much. Definitely cheaper than going to a rip-off carnival!

And I'm actually thinking, "The poor things! They only got to go on 2 rides. I should get another ticket.

Well, they actually took the news pretty calmly that we were leaving, and I herded them - or tried to herd them - past lego land with no success. "Mom, look, legos! Can we play here?" Don't they look vaguely familiar to them in the least? They left a HUGE pile of legos on the kitchen table this morning! Had to keep them away from Noah.
So I say, "No! We're not stopping here, I'm going to look in a store really quick and then we need to get home for lunch." Yes, I am crazy.

"Are we going to eat lunch here?" Caleb asks. Well, not that crazy. We had a talk about being thankful for going on the rides.

We made our way to New York and Co. I'm looking for a jacket. Well, looking specifically for a jacket, but also perfectly happy to look at anything else interesting I see. The boys are starting to escalate. This means they're in their own happy land where everything is so hilarious and the more I threaten and punish, the funnier things are to them. The store has a crooked yellow line running through it, past the jeans, the skimpy sundresses, the low-rise sweats, ending at the underwear and bras. Woo-hoo! Let's follow the line, Caleb. Look, I'm skipping. Look, I'm galloping! Look....Caleb crashes into the underwear racks. I say sternly "No running!" I then head further into the store. That's right. I actually pick things out to try on in a real dressing room! The attendant takes a look at me and brings out her special key to unlock the handicapped room. "Can you lock me in too?" I say. I'll just yell when I'm done. There's a small bench in the room. I plant Sam in the corner of the bench. They're both giggling uncontrollably. I put Caleb on the floor. Soon, he's under the bench. I tell Sam to put his head down on his lap. He laughs harder. I rush to try on my 3 items. The thought of buying anything at this point about makes me want to throw up, so I don't know why I bother. The boys are making up new words to the retro music playing in the background and repeating them over and over and over...
Meanwhile, Noah is sitting calmly in his stroller. I look at him. He looks up at me and smiles sweetly.

I emerge from the dressing room, decide to purchase 2 of the items because they're on clearance, and head to the counter to pay. There the necklaces hang. I am an expert at sliding those little cardboard holes onto the hooks. I remind the boys to stay off the floor and STAND UP! Don't push your brother! All right, that's it! Fold your hands. Caleb immediately begins to pray, "Dear Jesus..." Sam is in a laughing fit. Stop roaring at Noah! Fine, no more talking till we get to the car! I pay. Then I discover that if I push the stroller fast enough and they need to race to keep up with me, they have no time to act obnoxious on the way out. I'm sure people were thinking I was trying to abandon my children.

The car ride home is subdued. I guess they wore themselves out...