Sick Kids

It is so hard when one of the kids is sick.  It really takes a lot for me to let them stay home from school; they practically have to be on their deathbed.  My four year-old has missed this entire week of school, so you can imagine how bad it has been.  Poor thing had a 103.7 degree fever at the doctor only to be told that it is just a virus and it needs to run its course.  It’s day five now, and we are still running.

Staying at home with a sick kid also means that my life is out of procedures.  Everything happening in my schedule has had to be rearranged, not to mention my six year-old’s obligations.  I have been so thankful this week for good friends and my mom who have stepped up to help.

I had a friend ask me yesterday how I stay so calm most of the time.  This was after a crazy Girl Scout meeting with 15 six and seven year-olds.  It also was probably the first time someone had asked me that.  I told her that it has been something I have really been working on.  Truthfully, I have been practicing my prayers and learning to let the little things go.  Ultimately, God is the one in control.  Girl Scout meetings may not go perfectly, my kids will get sick, but He is the one who has the plan.

Good Things are Worth the Effort

Earlier this week I blogged about a sermon asking me what good thing have I grown weary of and I am ready to fight for it.  I was really struggling with this a few weeks ago with my daughter.  She’s six and it had gotten to the point where I did not want to be around her.  Everything out of her mouth was a complaint, she constantly whined and I was ready to ship her off somewhere.  My husband felt the same way.  He would plan these  outings for the kids and she would ruin them with her crummy attitude.  We had reached the point of giving up on having a nice family dynamic.

Not one to give up, especially on something as important as this, I came up with a plan.  What would motivate her?  Our family has a no iPad policy during the week, but the kids are allowed to use in on the weekends.  Well, this led to binging and we really wanted to cut back on electronics, even on the weekends.  I devised a point system: if the kids were good and had a good attitude for an entire day (with a few warnings permitted), they would each get a check mark for the day.  Each check mark was equal to 20 minutes of iPad time on the weekend.  We wrote the check marks on our family wipe board calendar so they could see how they were doing.

We started this three weeks ago and we haven’t had a single problem with our daughter since then.  Her attitude has completely changed.  She thanks us for things, she says “I love you” unprompted, and is such a pleasant person to be around.  I am truly excited for the trips and activities we have planned in the next year now.  We also have talked to her about her attitude and how it affects the rest of the family and I believe she has noticed the difference as well.

We had tried lots of different things with her before finding something that worked.  Punishing and yelling clearly were not solutions.  Every child is different, but I know it is possible to find something to motivate them.  Children can make you weary, but if you persevere, the resulting good is more than worth it.

Making Mistakes is Okay

My daughter had her dance recital today.  This was her third year of dance and she was so excited to be up on stage with her class.  Last year, I practiced with her to make sure that she knew the steps.  This year, however, she said she was old enough to know them on her own and that she knew what she was doing.

She had the dress rehearsal last weekend and she knew all the steps!  She looked great out there and was having fun.  She was so proud that she did it all by herself. This morning, we got ready and drove to the theatre and I dropped her off backstage.  When she came out on stage, she was just beaming and started the routine perfectly.  Toward the end of the song, instead of doing certain steps, it was clear that she was doing something different than the rest of the girls.  She had started to repeat a few of the steps from the beginning.

As she was holding both her arms up over her head, I could see the moment when she realized she had made a mistake.  To her credit, she found where she was and finished the dance.  As a mother, my heart broke for her.  My husband leaned over and asked if she had messed up.  We decided that we wouldn’t say anything to her.

After the show, we went backstage to pick her up.  She wanted nothing to do with the flower we had brought or giving her brother a hug. She was extremely sullen.  I immediately knew what was wrong, but she insisted she was just tired.  I had driven separately earlier to drop her off, so when we got in the car, it was just the two of us.  I asked her what was really wrong.  “Mom?” she said. “I think I made a mistake.”

I told her that she did a great job and that everyone makes mistakes sometimes.  I told her the dance looked amazing and that she had a beautiful smile.  I praised her for all the good parts she had done.  I could tell she felt better, although she brought it up again later in the day.  I am sure we will continue talking about making mistakes and that it is okay.

I need to remember that it is okay to make mistakes too.  I need to be able to go to God and say, “I think I made a mistake.”  When I do, I know that He will meet me with the same love that I met my daughter.

First Day of Summer

Yesterday was officially the first day of summer for us.  Both kids were home from school and it was so nice not to have to rush out of the house in the morning.  I’ll probably be singing a different tune come late August, but for now, it’s lovely.

With my kids’ ages, it was important for me to come up with a balance between play and organized activities for the summer.  I really didn’t want them just laying around all summer in front of the t.v., but I didn’t want them over-extended in full day camps every week either.  My youngest will continue his preschool two mornings a week, and we decided on three weeks of day camps for my daughter.  We are also doing about 30 minutes of summer workbook work every morning as well as reading every night.

Our first “summer school” session went pretty well yesterday.  My daughter was excited to start the workbooks and earn her stickers (a girl after my own heart).  My son was a little more difficult. He has no interest in coloring, writing and struggles to hold crayons and pencils.  He gets frustrated when he thinks he can’t do something.  I need to be patient with him as he practices, but I don’t want to ignore the issue either.  Right now, I let him color how he would like, basically holding the crayon in his fist, and then I help him hold the crayon the right way and hold his hand as we move it together so he can get used to the feeling.  We’ll see if it goes any better today.  My concern is that if I don’t push this issue with him, he will be so behind in his fine motor skills.

There is always something to worry about with your kids, isn’t there?

Building Community

It was my daughter’s sixth birthday yesterday.  Today was her last day of kindergarten.  She was really blossomed this year and I am proud of the young girl she is.

We live on a peninsula, with the ocean on one side and a bay on the other.  The bay is a perfect place for kids.  The water is calm and not very deep and there is a large stretch of beach to play.  We decided to have a beach party today for my daughter’s birthday and to celebrate the last day of school.  We invited both kindergarten classes and told everyone that siblings were welcome.  Soon the responses totaled over 75 people!

We kept the party simple – pizza, fruit, drinks and snacks – and everyone had a fabulous time.  I took a moment to look around at the group during the party.  We are so fortunate to have a school for her where there is a real sense of community.  Everyone knows each other and even after only one year there, I can truly say that I have made some great friends.  I didn’t realize how important it is when choosing a school, but this shared sense of community is truly something that can’t be replicated.  If you count my son, we will be there for eleven years.  It will be great to look back then and remember our first school beach party.

Enjoying the Moment

One of my greatest struggles is being able to just sit back and enjoy the moment.  My mind is constantly racing, thinking about what is coming next or what I have to get done.  My husband is great about staying in the moment and if you asked him, this would probably be the thing he would most want to change about me.

Today was a perfect example of this.  Our son was invited to one of his best friend’s birthday party at 11:00 am today.  We responded weeks ago and our whole family was planning on going because our daughter is best friends with the older sister.  Earlier this week, we found out that our son’s t-ball closing ceremonies would be at 11:30 am where he would be receiving his very first trophy.  Like the crazy person I am, I was convinced we could do both.  We would hit up the ceremonies and then cruise to the party, albeit a little late.

The whole t-ball ceremony, however, I was worried about getting to the party.  How much longer was it going to take?  Was their mom upset with me that we tried to do both activities?  Why wasn’t the coach passing out the trophies more quickly?

This of course led to snippy comments toward my husband and my complete inability to stay in the moment.  We made it to the party just fine, by the way, just in time for bounce house fun and cupcakes.  Going through the pictures of the t-ball ceremonies later this afternoon and seeing my son’s little face, so happy with his team, I do feel this sense of regret…regret that I couldn’t have had a more positive attitude.  My daughter’s 6ht birthday is this week, and I truly want to not have the same regrets.  It’s something I will definitely be in prayer about in the next few days.

Being Busy and Finding Time to Sabbath

It’s close to the end of the school year and we have had activity after activity with no end in sight.  In Kindergarten, everyone invites the whole class to their birthday party.  While being inclusive is nice, by the end of the year, we are weary.  My daughter got out of school at noon today and went straight to a pool party.  This evening, my son had his end of the year program at preschool.  I am exhausted.  As an introvert, this hits me even harder the more small talk I have to make.

Recently, my family has done a lot of talking about the Sabbath.  Most of the time, we think that honoring the Sabbath (one of the Ten Commandments, by the way) just means that we take the time to go to church on the weekend.  My husband was talking to one of the women in our small group and she told him that she takes an entire day every week to “Sabbath.”  When he came home and told me about it, it was music to my introverted ears.  We need to remember to stop the busy-ness of our daily lives and really take time to connect with God and get back to ourselves.  To me, this means I don’t have to feel guilty if I need a few hours on the weekend to recharge.  I also need to be aware that my husband needs the opportunity to do the same.  Having two young children makes it tough, but maybe we need to not accept every single invitation or try to cram in another activity.  We actually have no plans tomorrow and I can’t wait.