Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wrestling Privileges and other keys to sanity

If I could make a button, which would repeat a key phrase to prevent me from uttering it ONE.MORE.TIME
the button would either say
"Please use your walking feet"
"Please tell Mommy if you need to go potty."

I really can't decide which one I say more often, but each are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1295766252 times a day.

Shortly followed by:
Please don't throw/bounce/kick that in the house.
Please use your big boy/girl voice.
Please wash your hands.
Please go get a Kleenex
Please do not put that in your mouth.
Please give the baby some room to breathe.

I would like to eliminate some of this repetition.  I know some of you agree because we've given each other that knowing look on more than one occasion.  And not just because I'm tired of hearing my own voice.  At least partly because I bet THEY are tired of hearing my own voice, too.  Especially if that voice is in an octave usually reserved for phrases that I've already repeated 10395863 times that day. 

At the top of the list of successes right now:
I have (nearly) eliminated "Please don't wrestle" from my every-day-broken-record-vocabulary.
How, you might ask? (and you definitely will ask if you have little boys)
I feel like you are going to want to write this down.  I did when someone suggested it to me. 

totally backwards, I know.  But let me tell you, this is genius. 
(sure wish I could remember who was behind this genius tip- it was either Dr. PW  or my mom.  both brilliant in child rearing) 
Anyway, that brilliant someone suggested that I give the boys "wrestling privileges".  Each family would have to have their own parameters, but ours looks a little something like this:
You can wrestle absolutely ANYTIME you want. As long as:
-Mommy or Daddy have not asked you to do something else.
-You are in your room with the door closed.
-Your room is completely cleaned up (you know, to create good space for wrestling).
-You do not complain about injuries (you are allowed to tell an adult if there is blood).
-You only wrestle your brother and only when he is consenting.

If any of the above rules are not followed for wrestling privileges, the privileges will be revoked.  This is absolutely NOT a privilege I ever revoke as a consequence for other offenses.

Another success for us has setting a parameter for "technology time" (TV, Ipods) on the weekends so that the kids don't even ask for it during the week.
Saying YES has led to a lot fewer NOs at our house.  A lot less wrestling in church, restaurants and other people's houses (I know you are shocked that this was a problem for us).  A lot less quick decisions from Mom and Dad about whether now is a good time to play electronics.

In the interest of full disclosure, wrestling privileges also led to a black eye and a tooth (that was loose) coming out.  Neither of which did I know about until after the fact (refer to above rules).  In fact, after the black-eye incident, both boys came casually walking in to the kitchen like nothing was going on and asked when dinner would be ready.  KJ's eye was already visibly hurt so I asked what happened.  KJ's response- "I'm not complaining about it, because it happened while we were wrestling."
And I'm totally cool with that.

I'm also cool with knowing that while I may have found a solution in this one area, for every one- 12 more will arise.  And I will be on to finding a new solution.

Because here is the point:
I'm starting to believe that raising children should not be a war- us against them. It shouldn't even be a bunch of battles. Instead it is like players and a coach. I'm not on the opposite team, I'm trying to mold MY team. I've got to figure out what strategies work, not to beat them, but to help them WIN. And maybe sometimes to keep from blowing my whistle one.more.time so that I can actually have some ungritted teeth LEFT at the end of this game.

I'm all for consistency.  Really, I have a whole soap-box about that.  But sometimes my consistency of the lessons gets confused with my consistency of the methods.  And when the method isn't working, I've gotta learn to PULL THAT PLUG ASAP and regroup on the strategy.  Most of the things I repeat 23098575625 times a day can be linked back to a lesson I'm trying to be consistent about.

  The key is to figure out what the original lesson was.  With washing their hands/not putting them in their mouths it is really about taking care of their health.  With not throwing/kicking/bouncing in the house it may be about taking care of the blessings we have in our toys and our home.  With wrestling, the real lesson is teaching the boys that there is a time and place for having fun together.  The method (which was not working) was constantly reminding them of all the places that were NOT appropriate to wrestle.  So instead of abandoning the LESSON,  I abandoned the METHOD.  And it worked (for now).

So now I'm on a quest. 
Which broken-record-phrase can I conquer, um I mean redirect, next?
Watch out, team,. this coach has a new strategy.


and just in case any of you other "coaches" are tempted to believe that I am exaggerating our wrestling problems...in none of the pictures in this post, dating back as much as FOUR YEARS AGO, are the boys "hugging".

Friday, April 26, 2013

Can it be? Is he ONE?

My sweet Baby C-
It seems like only yesterday that we found out you would be joining our family.  And from that very second it has been apparent that our family just wasn't complete before you.  You were always meant to be part of us

I'm so thankful for this first year of getting to know you, our newest team member.  You haven't started really talking or walking yet and we are only beginning to see the first glimpses of your very own personality.  So there is still so much for us to learn about you. 

But there are a few things we do know.

We know that you like to eat early.  Really early.  Our first baby to be a super early rise.
We know that you love to GO places.  One of your favorite phrases (maybe your only phrase) is "Go.Go.Go." and you rush toward any door that you think might be opening for you.
One of the only other things you say is something that resembles "Hey".  You use it to get attention.  Not that attention is something you ever have to work very hard to find.
We know you look AH-MAZING in blue.  Your eyes.  Oh, your eyes.
We know you give the BEST hugs, snuggling your head against us and wrapping your little hands around our shoulders.
We know you LOVE to "pat", you love to pull hair, and you love to try to steal glasses.
We know you LOVE having a big brother that sits by you in the van and takes such sweet care of you.
We know you LOVE have another big brother that can always make you laugh.
We know you LOVE having a sister that plays with you and lets us know when you need something.
We know you LOVE when your Daddy gets home or when he lets you take a nap with him.
But what we really know, is that you love Mommy the very best.
Even though we also know that you won't say my name unless you are M-A-D.  Usually you just say "ha" when I try to get you to say it.
We know you have one of the very best courtesy laughs.
We know you also have the most contagious REAL laugh.  Really, it is the BEST.LAUGH.EVER.
And we know that your "real" laugh is triggered by the most unexpected things.
We know that you might eat baby food FOREVER you love it so much.
WE know that every single member of our family loves to spoil you.
AND we know we all love you.  Every single bit of you.

You are still so small.  At your party we celebrated you with "mini", "pint-sized", "small", and "little" desserts.  So fitting for our littlest man.  But as I was preparing banner with your name on it, I couldn't help but think about your BIG name- all ELEVEN letters of it.  Your sister stumbling over all of the syllables and multiple "r's" sums it up well- it is a mouth full.  And it will be a doozy to teach you to spell.  But for all of the letters, and all the syllables, it is a million times more full of meaning. 

As we begin your second year,
I'm continuing the prayer that began the moment we first named you.  
As we learn more about who you will become this year, may it be that we'll see you continue to grow into this name.  May you continue to grow in love and admiration for the one you were named after, he'll teach you so much. May your Daddy and I continue to mold you in a way that helps you carry this name.  
May you be "One who bears Christ" to others through you smile, through your joy, through your story.
and may the way you complete our family continue to be "Poetic". 
Not b
ecause of one single thing you can do alone, sweet one, but because of the Jesus whose name you'll likely speak for the very first time this year. 

Happy 1st Birthday, precious boy!
I love you more than words can say.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Another ALWAYS Tradition

We have a tradition.
If you've been around DRRF for very long, I know the thought of ME having a TRADITION comletely SHOCKS you (wink).
My general mantra is- If it was fun once, it will surely be more fun to do it every.single.year.  ALWAYS. 

We ALWAYS go to Chick Fil A on "Dress Like A Cow Day".  I ALWAYS go to Abilene alone in the fall.  We ALWAYS watch our wedding video on our anniversary.  We ALWAYS have our pumpkin patch pictures taken by the same sweet friends. 

AND we ALWAYS go to Ennis (the official bluebonnet capital) for the Annual Bluebonnet Festival.

Unless we don't. Because when you have many small children, sometimes you won't.  And sometimes even the most-tradition-loving-type-A-accountant-mom has to let go a little.  Which is why last year we went to Ennis, but not on festival weekend (which would have been a few days before C's due date). And why we didn't go the year before when our house was full of extra little ones. Which means, we've technically only been to the festival once before.  The year we started the tradition.

But this year.  We resumed this ALWAYS tradition. 
It didn't make a whole lot of sense because we've just been so stinkin busy.  It seemed silly to pack everyone up and head-out for a getaway that would be sandwiched between events.  I seriously debated the merit of it the night before.  But my sweet husband.  My sweet patient, hair-brained-idea-supporting husband.  He knows me so well.  He loves me.  He cares that I'm happy.   And he knows that this ALWAYS tradition is important to me.  He knows that there is an NPR-listening-piece-of-me, that fits in best with those that are about twice my own age.  Of which there is a PLETHORA in Ennis this time of year.  So maybe the sum of all of that is why he encouraged us to go.

I'm so glad we did.
Our adventures ALWAYS start with a quick stop to visit my precious friends at the garden club tent (who sweetly mark out the best routes to take for bluebonnet sightings while calling you "sugar" and "dear" to your heart's content).

And then we were off.  We had the very best time just being together,

laughing at our kiddos having fun at the carnival games

sharing sweet treats

and conquering their fears.

*I have pictures of both KJ and Cbug at the top of this giant rock-climbing wall.  But I love this one of KJ because he was so apprehensive.  And one point even "quit".  But after Cbug made it to the top, he decided to try again, kept going, and got to ring the buzzer at the summit.  I might have cried I was so proud of my little calculated non-risk-taker of an oldest child.
**And yes, Lou, who is afraid of small dogs to the point of ear piercing screams upon sight, rode a live pony.  Because "it has a purple tail".  And she loved it.  There are no words.

We browsed the craft fair, drove the country roads looking at the scenery,

and stayed in a hotel (why do kids think that is so cool?)

Did I mention that we got to take along some special guests, too? 

Or should I say, they took us along.  They always spoil us.  Like when Momma heard me jokingly tell RRL that I could definitely beat him if we raced in rock climbing.  And then she decided to "sponsor us" for an actual race.  Which he won.   There, Babe, I said it.  Without excuse.

And even that was fun.
I loved every minute of this trip.

I'm not gonna lie.
I always under-estimate the stress level of trying to get a good picture of my four kids. 

I mean, really.  Why would i think it would be easy? (mom, what were we thinking in this one)

or fun?  (yes, Baby C was crying)

I kept repeating "It's ok.  It doesn't matter.  It really doesn't matter." But still, I'm pretty sure mid-picture-taking my blood started to boil (and not from the sun, which you can tell by the brightness of these pictures, was super hot).  I'll admit that I nearly lost my patience on more than one occasion.

This one was an "almost".
But Lou's dress was stuck together with the syrup from her breakfast.
And I'm pretty sure Cbug's hand was down the back of his pants.

Or maybe I actually DID lose my patience, checked at the door with my sanity. 

I can't be quite sure.  I'm already a little fuzzy on the details.  Denial has begun in preparation for doing exactly the same thing next year.  When the tradition, whose sweetness far outweighed its sweatiness, will surely continue.  And when I'll once again declare
The Annual Bluebonnet Festival is my very favorite tradition of spring.

And these are my very favorite little people to see in the bluebonnets.

See you next year, sweet grey-haired-friends in Ennis.
Unless we don't.
Because sometimes when you have many small children, you won't.
But we'll call it an Always Tradition.  Anyway.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

The victor and other miscellaneous

These days, our lives seem to be made up of a whole lot of random miscellaneous.  None of it, in and of itself, seems all that significant.  But then I think about the loss in our country this week.  Think about the family memories destroyed.  Pray for children that are living in horror after what they experienced.  And then, I cling to this miscellaneous, this ordinary.  My adorable munchkins, the funny things they say, the innocence of their childhood.  It becomes precious.  Suddenly I have just a smidge of insight into what is behind those eyes that watch us in the grocery store, or sit near us in a restaurant.  Faces filled with wrinkles, hair turned grey, and eyes that remember their own ordinary days from years ago.  Its no wonder they beg me to remember, treasure, enjoy these days of miscellaneous.

So, here is some of ours....

Madness update
I hoped if maybe I buried this deep in a sappy blog post, I wouldn't have to face it. 
But facts are facts.  And I feel it only fair to provide an update to our March Madness.
My child, who can barely read, who has no idea what NCAA stands for, who did bracket selection based on colors...beat me.  beat all of us.  Worst of all- he beat me by 1/2 a point.  One.half.of.one.single.point.  Ouch.  If you would like to take notes on how to win Cbug style- just know that he accurately selected the first round upsets of Harvard, La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast.  And had Michigan going deep.  How he knew?...colors.  So yeah, I've got nothing for you.
Here are the final totals:   Cbug 51.  ABL 50.5.  RRL 47.  Lou 47.  Baby C 42.  KJ 35.

Cbug's Numbers
Speaking of Cbug.  The kid is crazy about numbers.  Anyone watch the show TOUCH? If not, this will mean nothing to you.  But just in case.  This is what Cbug carried out of free-draw-time at preschool this week. 

Yeah, he's no Jake, but he does love him some numbers, dates, and patterns.

Case in point:  On Sunday we walked into church and Cbug got all excited.
C: "Mom, mom, did you see that lady?  Did you see who that was" 
A: "No, buddy, who was it?"
C: "Do you remember number 23 from the Lonestars (the team we played against in Saturday's soccer game)?  That was his mom!"
A: Um, no.  Actually, I do not remember who was number 23 on the Lonestars.

Not all of their Smarts are Safe
Together, the boys can really come up with some crazy stuff.  Like when they got this frisbee rung around a light.  Can you see in this picture how they were planning to get it down?  Luckily I caught them before they stacked enough puzzles.

KJ's Smarts
KJ has some different smarts.  Mostly in regards to safety and rules.  Recent examples:
"Mom, I don't think we are going to be able to work this one out on our own.  I took away Cbug's train privilege and he took away my Lego privilege.  But we are still arguing."

"Mom, you did a good job choosing the soap for the bathroom.  It kills 99% more germs than other soaps.  That was a healthy choice."

And finally, after getting hurt on the playground "Mom, if we have my birthday party at that park, I'm not sure where I'll stand.  But it'll be somewhere that I can remind kids to ask an adult for help if they can't reach."

Mom is not so smart
And its a good thing that a few members of our house are learning and getting smarter.  Because I'm pretty sure I'm getting dumber by the minute.
I tried to "spell check" Ricky- I was 100% convinced that he had misspelled hassle.  I corrected it hastle.  Because that's a word.  no.  no it isn't.

AND.  upon finding that some little friend left a nice wad of green gum stuck to a stone pillar on my back porch (note- my kids don't chew gum).  I decided to try to get it off...with peanut butter.  Hey, it works on hair.  Why wouldn't it work on stone?  Let me save you the trouble (or should I say hastle)- go straight for the Goo-Gone.  (Which is what my brilliant husband recommended when he saw me trying to lather our porch with pb.)

Little Bear = Baby C.  Who had an adventure.
You may remember that I committed to a blog name for baby brother- Little Bear.  But
I never use it.  It just doesn't flow off the finger tips, or work easily into my conversation-style-writing I tend to use on the 'ole blog.  So, back to the drawing board.  Because eventually it will not work to call him Baby C. He's getting so big.  So fast.  More coming soon about him- he'll be O-N-E in just another week.  One of his new favorite things is playing in the playroom like a big kid.

AND...Baby C had quite the adventure this week.  Ear infection resulted in sudden spike in fever. Resulted in Febrile Seizure.  Resulted in panicked parents who called 911.  Which resulted in paramedics showing up at our house in the middle of the night.  Just in time to tell us, that while it may have been terrifying (for us),  he was totally fine.  Great.  And we were about to write him off as the easy child.  Thanks, Baby C.

And not to be left out.  Princess Lou.
There are so many things about Lou that I want to remember right now (not including the drama she brings).  1) I love how she convinces the boys to play house with her on a regular basis.  And I love how when they are playing parents they call each other "Babe".  2) If she ev-uh adds huh "ahs" to wuhds, I'll be so sad.  3) I love that she calls sneezes "Bless Yous" and 4) I love how she crosses her legs, puts her hands on her knees, and gets a look in her eyes that almost convinces me she really is 25.  Like she thinks.

Sweet, friendly readers of DRRF-
  As I sort through some of our recent miscellaneous, I'm praying for yours.  May your days be filled with the blessings of the ordinary. May you think your own children are the most hilarious, most brilliant, most beautiful that you have ever encountered.  May you enjoy these glorious days made up of sometimes unenjoyable moments.  And may you treasure them- long before you are old enough to warn someone else that they should.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We're in it for the exercise- Seaside 2013

You might have noticed that I got my momentum back.  Maybe not all the way, but at least a bit of it.  I kicked off this blogging streak at the beginning of March.  There was a sudden flurry of DRRF activity with posts about Little Bear's baby blessing, our Christmas countdown, the kids telling their versions of the Christmas story, our new valentine traditions and Christopher growing up way too quickly- and you may ask,
What in the WORLD was the catalyst?

Welp, It looked a little something like this
(that would be deliciousness imported directly from Nashville- Purity lemonade and momma's homemade bread- and a couple of lovebirds who were enjoying the beach with only one child.  small tastes of heaven, i tell ya).
At the beginning of March, RRL and I left our 3 biggests at home (supervised, of course) to have tons of fun going to the science museum, TCBY, and all kinds of other rumpus with two of their favorite adults (THANKS C&H!!!!).

While we headed out on an adventure with baby C, his first time on an airplane.

We met my parents in Nashville first for coffee, conversation (crazy how much easier that is with 3 less kiddos),

and a show.
At this point I was seconds away from fighting back HUGE tears- we were surrounded by families enjoying Peter Pan with their children.  Not an awesome way to kick off my kid free weekend.  But we pressed on.  Cathy Rigby was incredible and the show was truly delightful. 

Bright and early the next morning, we loaded up and drove to our next destination- the sandy gulf beaches. 

Mom and I were running/walking a half marathon (she walked, I had to run to keep up) and Daddy, RRL and Little Bear came along to cheer. 
That's my baby inside a pillowcase.  It was unseasonally cold that morning (wind chill at 28 when we started the walk)

Seriously- 3 whole hours, just me and my Momma.  In a race which happened to be in Seaside.   And happened to be sponsored by Vera Bradly.


We then proceeded to spend the rest of the weekend doing a whole lot of

Except taking pictures of our family "of 3".

And walking on the beach.

And celebrating a couple of birthdays.

And blogging, reading (I actually finished a whole book), napping, eating, snacking, movie watching.
WITH my parents, my husband and my sweet baby boy.
It was miserable :)

While we were growing up, my mom used to remind us that a parent's primary job is NOT to be their kids' best friend.  And my parents were pretty true to that word- often making hard decisions that wouldn't win them a teen popularity contest.  There are few things I'd thank my parents more for.  And as a result, at 30 (something-ish-cough), I can honestly say that spending a weekend with my parents is one of my very favorite things.  Thanks for an awesome weekend!!!