Fred, George and Goldilocks

Christmas 2012 Kolby 4

Fred and George still haunt me.

Not in the way they used too, I mean I’m not afraid of ghosts anymore, but their names still bring back delicious terror.

You see…daddy told me when I was a wee tot that two ghosts lived inside the walls of my bedroom and if I dared to climb out of my bed they would get me.

Let’s not even bring up how demented this is.  When I’ve suggested it was a form of child abuse to my dad he still falls over laughing. 

But one day I realized, like Jim Carey in the Truman show, that no apparition appeared if I defiantly stuck out a toe or a limb.

I caught on pretty quick that my reality was not REALITY.

Eventually I worked up the courage to run like a bat out of hell out of my room and sneak over to my mom’s side of the bed who always let me in for a cuddle.

I thought a lot about Fred and George last night because my toddler refuses to stay in her bed.  And after two weeks of not sleeping and now fighting off illness (probably from massive sleep deprivation) I’m almost ready to ask Fred and George for some advice.  They keep appearing in my feverish hallucinations taunting me with a whole night of un-interupted slumber.

Kolby moved into the BIG GIRL BED a few weeks ago.  We took the crib down, stored it in the garage and unknowingly kissed sleep goodbye.  Most of the time I take the hit for Tim, because out of the two of us I do better without sleep, although he had to step up last night as I borderlined pneumomia.

It’s the second time we’ve tried the BIG GIRL BED.  After a failed attempt a year ago, we aborted mission and put her back in the crib.  Last time it was because she potty trained and needed help to use the restroom in the middle of the night.  I couldn’t handle waking up every three hours to help her tinkle, so up went the porta-crib again in our room so I could at least keep the lights off as I guided her tiny butt to the potty.

But now she is physically too big to stuff in the porta-crib.  The fact that she was complaining about her legs and arms hurting might have been an indication we had played out that card a little too long.

In goes Kolby into the BIG GIRL BED and within one hour she has snuck back into our bed to go horizontal on us and kick one of us in the head or the kidney.  She lies on me, throws elbows in my chest and breathes her sweet baby breath in my face.

I put her back to bed.  Tim puts her back to bed.  Press repeat over and over until we are so exhausted that Tim goes to the sofa around 3:00am to salvage any sleep whatsoever and then Kolby kicks the crap out of me until 6:00am when I have to get my teenager ready for high school.   

I am a ZOMBIE and I am way too old for this.

I’d toss her out like a sailor if not for the fact that I love her soooooo much.  This third baby of mine has both daddy and I whooped, sucker tied and wrapped around every phalange. 

She is terrifically spoiled and we are wimps when it comes to her little grin and Goldilocks.

Is bribery the next option?  Will it take a puppy to get her to sleep in her bed?  I’d gate her in but she shares a room with her sister with an adjoining bathroom to her brother’s room.  She’ll just walk right through into his room and find us.  She’s smart like that.

This kid needs incentive…

What makes a toddler want to stay in bed?

All advice will be considered except ghosts and spanking.

 

The Agony of Finals Week

P1020004

It’s Finals week and all the crazed and neurotic mothers have come out of the woodwork.

I know I am not alone.  I can see it in their eyes and Facebook posts.  Mom’s are on the edge.  (It’s when kids secretly text that mom has turned into a big bad word starting with a B)

Somehow we mama’s must make our kids buckle down and STUDY, a challenge not unlike removing a wad of sticky gum plastered to the bottom of the dryer.

Help! How do I channel the vision of a first-class college degree and the impact of a strong GPA onto a fourteen-year-old who just wants to get buff so he can sack quarterbacks and score hot chicks. 
 

I see him graduating from Stanford.  He imagines himself running out of Autzen Stadium in Oregon.  I see Summa Cum Laude.  He sees Grabba Thigh Beta.

I suggest he is a student/athlete,  while Kyle see’s himself as an athlete/student. 

Don’t get me wrong, my son is a sweet and Godly kid but puberty has hit hard.  He weighs 182 lbs and is just shy of 6 ft.  He looks and smells like a burly man.  And yet he is still an impressionable child in many respects.

Can someone tell me how to get through the layers of muscle and hormones to reach the logical side of the brain?  I’ve heard teenagers are  brain-damaged (AKA immature) until they reach their early twenties.

How do I teach rational thought to Jello? Every nugget of wisdom bounces right off him. 

“Mom, barely any of my friends even study for finals.  Stop stressing.  I’m way ahead of the game,” he says with a laidback smile.

Inside I freak out some more.

Right now I’ve improvised with complete and utter bribery.  I ply him  with food, protein and what we call “party grades.”  This means Kyle has to get good grades to attend all social events.  There is no iPhone this week. FaceBook is off limits.  We force him to make flash cards and actually review them.

So far it’s sort of working although it’s a VERY painful process.

We’ll see how he (and mama) survives Finals week.  Two more days of torture!

How do you motivate your teen to study?

 

 

“Why” You Need to Read the Labels

Love 2“Mom, my eye is killing me.”

From a far off distance, I heard Kyle’s plea for help. With a groggy groan, I roused myself out of the first waves of sweet sleep and sat up to examine him. Indeed, his right peeper appeared bloodshot and his cheek below was red and irritated from scratching.

I hopped out of bed, ran to the bathroom cabinet and searched for the eye drops. I found the tiny bottle and ripped off the wrapping. Sitting Kyle down I dumped a few drops in his sore eye.

I waited to hear, “Ahhhhh, thanks mom,” but it never came.

Instead Kyle started howling, “It burns, mom, it burns.”

Confused, I turned on the light and looked at the bottle. It said “Otic” Solution not “Optic” Solution.

“Otic” means ear not eye.

“Abort, Abort!”

We rushed Kyle to the sink to flush his eye out with water. Tim searched online for medical treatment and I prepared to go to the hospital and then the slammer.

Tears choked my stutters of rambling, “sorry, sorry, sorry.”

I patted Kyle’s back and ached with his every moan.

I could see the headlines. “Mother accidentally blinds budding football star with Otic Solution. Abuse Charges filed.”

Suddenly Tim yelled from the bedroom, “It says it’s a common accident. The medicine “neomycin” actually the same, just in a higher concentration for sensitive eyes. He’ll live. Just wash it out good.”

My son playfully glared at me with his good eye. “Nice mom, thanks for the love!”

Kyle went to bed and I fell back to sleep exhausted. It had been a long week. Kolby had a high fever for almost five days in a row and I was running on fumes from nursing her. But my sleep was troubled.

Mommy guilt was setting in. The fog of inner torment settled on my shoulders like a backpack.

Kyle’s eye was better in the morning and I sent him off to school somewhat relieved but feeling like a big loser.

When I sat down with my Bible I needed grace more than ever. My prayers went something like this: Jesus, I suck as I mom. I failed my kid. In my weakness and exhaustion I slipped. I’m supposed to be his rescuer. I remembered the day when I accidentally nipped his tiny finger as a baby with the nail trimmer. Every drop of blood tortured me. This moment felt strangely familiar.

Please, please, please help me climb out of this hole of self-abuse.

And then my solace came. Slowly, quietly and with stillness. Psalms of praise, thanksgiving and love.

I felt my shepherds gentle pat and knew everything would be ok.

I am so thankful for God’s unending grace and mercy to a troubled mother’s heart. It was just enough to get me through the day, although a few tears of remorse continued to cloud my vision.

Do you ever struggle with “mommy guilt” when you blow it?

We’ve Got (the) Spirit ,Yes We Do! We’ve Got Spirit, How About You?

Sometimes the title of “Christian” makes me cringe. 

I love God.  I walk beside Jesus and I believe his Word to be true, but when I see Christians browbeat others with rules I want to hide my fishy bumper sticker and run.

In a bizarre series of events a girl on my daughter’s cheer team went AWOL.  It’s not a big deal normally when a girl quits a team, but it’s a big deal when the girl quits the team the day after the group has won a spot to Nationals.  Without the sixteen members the team would be forced to forfeit.

The coaches suggested finding another girl to replace her.  The girl was not on our roster although she was of the same age and skill.  There are rules to protect teams from adding a “ringer” or a girl with superior skills, but this instance was not aimed at gaining an unfair advantage.  If anything, the replacement was more of a disadvantage in the added effort and time spent to bring her up to speed—although the switch might not have technically adhered to the letter of the law. It was a gray area scenario they wanted to investigate further.  They acknowledged that if someone wanted to make a big deal regarding the replacement the team could be disqualified.  They asked the parents if we were willing to take the risk.

All of the parents agreed to move forward understanding the consequences.

One mother walked up to the emergency meeting late.  She had not heard the full and detailed explanation but only picked up the last few words of the conversation.  She then interrupted, “I will not have my daughter be a part of anything questionable. I am a strong Christian and I don’t think this promotes the right values.  If we decide to move forward this way I am pulling her out.”

She walked off grumbling about how the Holy Spirit made her speak up in the midst of deceit.

If she had stopped for a moment and turned around she might have noticed the havoc her words left; in her wake of righteousness stood fifteen girls –including her daughter sobbing their hearts out. 

Now missing two girls, the coaches threw up their hands and canceled the rest of the season.  All their hard work went down the drain –in the name of being a “good Christian.”

OUCH!

Now if the Holy Spirit told her to speak up then by all means she needed to voice her concerns.  We are all held accountable to God for our actions. 

But I have to wonder if this wasn’t an example of the spirit of the law vs. the law?  Were these girls hurting anyone? No.  Were they trying to steal or cheat their way into an award? No.  They simply wanted a chance to compete –something they earned. The letter of the law is the rule that is put in place “not to add a un-rostered member.”  The spirit of the law is “don’t bring in a highly skilled cheerleader to get an advantage.”

I don’t know the mind of Christ.  His will is a mystery.  But I do know he was a bit of a rebel.  He healed on the Sabbath; he touched lepers and bleeding women and Samaritans.  He messed with the money changers and turned over tables in a fit of anger. 

And I imagine he might care more for the hearts of impressionable young girls than for a rulebook made up by a bunch of business savvy/aging cheerleaders who charge way too much money to let our girls climb on a stage and perform. 

Was this an issue of integrity or legalism?  While I don’t disagree with the focus on honesty I do take issue with self-righteousness in the name of Christianity.  It seems like what the parents and the girls heard that night was “because I am Christian, you don’t get to compete.” 

Only 16 percent of non-Christian young people under 30 say they have a “good impression” of Christianity, and a mere 3 percent feel that way about evangelical Christianity, according to the Barna Group, a Christian market research organization. As recently as the 1990s a majority of non-Christians viewed Christianity favorably.”

Research reveals that young people today consider their churches as fear-based, risk-averse, isolated, shallow, antagonistic to science, simplistic and judgmental about sexuality, and inhospitable to questions or doubts.

The biggest complaint on the under 30 crowd is that “Christianity in today’s society no longer looks like Jesus.”

Fortunately, our coaches found an airtight and “100% by the cheer rulebook” way to work in a new girl which I am confident they would have done to begin with, because their credibility was on the line too. 

God did provide another way, one I think we are all more comfortable with.  I believe the rules are in place to protect although in some instances I believe the heart trumps being right for right’s sake.

I’m thrilled my kid still gets a chance to compete, but I still have a sour taste for the damage done to young girls who will never forget the night the “Christian lady” crushed their fragile hearts.

 Source of Photo: http://pinterest.com/hannahschliep/

Moonlight, Mistletoe and Faith

My daughter Faith and I have discovered a new favorite seasonal pastime.  It’s ridiculously girly, involves loads of tissue and about two hours of cooing and sobbing between the two of us.  What’s our new find?  I’m embarrassed to admit (cough, cough…ahem…) but we have become obsessed with the Hallmark Channel.

In an effort to save dollars, my ever frugal husband negotiated a smoking deal with Direct TV.  What remains is nothing but the most basic of channels; excluding the NFL channel he somehow worked into the deal. 

(I know …right? I lose my favorite shows and he gains about another 25 games a week)

Who knew after we lost Bravo, the Style Channel, “E” and anything of interest to a chick that we would find the secret jewel of Hallmark?  I can only assume in the absence of all decent amusement, sappy love stories involving Santa and Elves start to look good.

A Bride for Christmas…Moonlight and Mistletoe…Naughty or Nice…

Only Hallmark could come up with low-budget movies this good.  I get to see all my favorite actors stage a comeback while being emotionally hijacked in the process. 

But the best part of wasting my time on mindless entertainment is doing this with my daughter.  I sit by her side; play with her long hair and cuddle close.  We share a fleece blanket, toast our toes by the fire and sip hot tea while munching on animal crackers. 

There are rules: We don’t argue.  We watch the whole movie.  We fast-forward through commercials and we simply hang out and do nothing–together.

It’s a much-needed reprieve from the daily grind of Faith pushing the envelope to grow up fast, fast and faster and me standing by with a blinking yellow “slow down” sign.

Push-Pull…it’s our daily battle of growing up and letting go.

But Hallmark, oh glorious and cheesy Hallmark allows us to push pause and simply enjoy each other. 

Do you have a special holiday pastime?

About William

There’s one thing I can count on for sure each and every evening –my two-year old Kolby’s non-wavering answer to “What was the best part of your day?”

She can barely contain herself as we start Peak and Pit during dinner.

“Mama, mama.  What about me? Best part is…”

“Sshhh sweetie, wait for your turn,” I reply gently.  “Try not to interrupt your brother.”

Finally, it’s Kolby’s turn.   “What is the best part of your day Kolby?”

“William!” Kolby says with a grin.

“What did you today?” asks daddy.

“William…”

What game did you play?” big brother Kyle inquires.

“I play hit William,” giggles Kolby.

It’s the same scenario every night, though sometimes the details about William change.  There are days he gets put in time-out.  Sometimes he gets a boo-boo and band-aid.  Occasionally William is absent and Kolby is sad.

But one thing never changes –Kolby’s epic love for her friend William.

Ms. Maggie (Kolby’s pre-school teacher) says they have to separate the two at times because they are so overly affectionate.  Kolby and William hold hands, rub each other’s back and sit as close as possible. 

There is something so precious, raw and innocent about the love these two-year olds have for each other.  Kolby can’t contain her emotion for her beloved.  It spills out of her.  Her love for William interrupts life.  She bursts with joy at the sound of his name and William is always the best part of her day, even when she doesn’t see him –he is still so close.

I think Kolby is on to something.  This tiny girl of mine knows innately how to love with abandon. 

No image.  No games.  No William in a pre-school box.

It’s all about William.

And this is how I want to be with Jesus. 

I don’t want to evangelize at the mall, have an agenda with everyone I meet, or have to bother with fishing out the four spiritual laws out of my dirty purse and drawing a cross and a bridge on a napkin at Starbucks.  I don’t want to share formulas about my faith or even rules about sin –though I am the worst of these.  I simply want to wear Jesus on my sleeve.  I want my love for him and his people to squeeze out at the seams.  I want it to be so obvious people know something is different about me before I even open my mouth. 

In a seminary class on evangelism many years ago the professor’s first words were to us, ‘We will spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and use as few words as possible.”

I was as stunned as the rest of the class.  And then I let it wash over me and slowly change my Jesus paradigm.

Kolby has it figured out.

It’s all about the ONE WE LOVE.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

“We had the talk today,” said my ten year old daughter Faith nonchalantly as she climbed in the car after school.

“Oh right, the puberty talk?” I nodded and inwardly groaned as my heart rate started steadily climbing and beads of sweat formed on my brow. “So, do you have any more questions they didn’t cover?”

(Please don’t ask me about sex. Please don’t ask me about sex.)

I looked in the rearview mirror. Faith took a deep breath and glanced up under her long dark lashes shyly. “Mom, why do I have to get a period every month? I mean what’s the point? It seems so terrible? Why did God do this to women?”

Hyperventilating, I thought to myself how this was so much easier with my older son. No curse of Eve, no sanitary items involved. Boners and sex 101, although awkward aren’t as complicated as the implications of the Christian female experience. And while Kyle asked questions much earlier and we had a running dialogue regarding sex –Faith seemed quite content to remain in the land of innocence and childhood naiveté, avoiding the topic altogether.

I paused, prayed and tried to figure out where to start. I don’t actually recall even having a sex conversation with my parents, until after they found a condom in the back of my car my senior year in high school (maybe a little too late…just saying). Sex was a topic, in generations past, we avoided. My husband remembers his mom casually saying, “Make sure to wear a condom,” as he rode over to his new girlfriends house on his bicycle his freshmen year in high school. Nothing against our parent’s methodology, but in our current hyper-sexualized culture, a proactive approach might be the better option.

Being a storyteller, I thought about weaving a tale of great rebellion, the fall of mankind and Jesus’ ultimate redemption and then throwing sex into the mix. But the epic narrative didn’t translate when I actually tried to articulate it, so after a few false starts, I just began with Adam and Eve and tried to stick to the facts without wetting my pants.

Here is what I’ve learned from talking to my kids about sex:

KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid)

Depending on how old your kid is, try and stick to what they ask you about. The details of intercourse are not necessary for a four year old asking about how babies are made. “Daddy helped mommy to put the baby in mommy’s tummy,” is probably sufficient. If they press for more, explain it matter of fact and without laughing. After a certain point –before your kids start school, use real names for sexual organs. Peanuts and Ya Ya’s don’t translate real well into elementary school.

Timing

When I explained to Faith how Kolby was conceived, her horrified face was enough to make me grateful I had waited until she was more mature. The last thing you need is your kindergartner telling his friends, “daddy sexed/humped/nailed mommy and now she’s knocked up.” Choose your moment wisely and then periodically check in to see if they have more questions.

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Explain Puberty in Detail

Puberty is a scary place. Celebrate the changes with your child and make it a sweet passage not a time of insecurity. We had a Man Ceremony with Kyle when his voice started changing at age twelve. Tim also took Kyle away for a dudes camping weekend and used a curriculum called Passport to Purity to start some great conversations. It was a little cheesy but it created openness and a level of safety for Kyle. Many of my girlfriends have also gone to a Puber-Tea, which covers some of the same info for girls and moms in a more feminine environment. (Apparently tea and scones helps a young girl come to terms with PMS and hormonal bitchiness better)

Don’t be afraid to talk about God and Sex.

God made sex. God made us to be sexual creatures. This is your moment as a parent to talk about the beauty of sexuality in marriage. Don’t use shame based language or act as if your kid is abnormal for having sexual desires. Affirm and build up marriage as the place God intended to let us experience this bliss.

Make sure you beat their friends to the punch!

Talk about sex with your child BEFORE their friends do. Talk about porn and sexting and how blow jobs are a sexual act and not a party favor, and all the things they will encounter in Jr. High. Christianity is not a hall pass for avoiding difficult conversations and don’t expect the youth pastor to do YOUR job!

What advice were you given as a kid about sex? Do you have any tips for broaching this conversation with your kids?

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