Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

"For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son. That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
John 3:16

Friday, March 29, 2013

THE Video...You Know, The 5TH Grade Video

Jason got the kids early yesterday for Easter weekend. We gave Jordan his new birthday bike, and we were all out in the front yard playing, when Jordan came up to me. "Can I tell her, Dad?" he asked Jason. "Sure," Jason replied.
"We watched the video at school today." he told me.
"Which video?" I said, naively.
"The video." He asserted. "You know, the ones that boys and girls watch."
"OOhhhh." I said. Was I ready for this? I looked at Jason and thought, 'Surely he isn't old enough for this yet!'
"What did you think?" I asked him.
"It was gross! Especially the part about the girls." he told me.
Pretty soon, he isn't going to think it's gross. Pretty soon, things around this house are going to be different. I wasn't raised with any brothers, so this is all new territory for me. Thank goodness Jason is here to answer questions and that he isn't shy about it. They had a conversation in Jordan's room last night and I am not allowed to know what they talked about...thank goodness.
Oh dear. We almost have a middle schooler on our hands. I feel old.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

Today is our 3rd anniversary...

What a great 3 years it's been!
This weekend, we had a kid-free weekend. We went to the Mavs game Friday night - a first for us - and it was great fun. We even took the train out to Dallas and that was well worth it, to not have to park and deal with traffic.

Jason was in hog heaven. I was so glad to see him do something he truly enjoys. It doesn't hurt that this month is also March Madness. He is a basketball player and loves to watch it, so right now, he is truly enjoying life. :-)

What is the secret to a good marriage? There are so many ways I could answer that question. But the one thing I will tell you is that the first thing you have to do is to marry the right person in the first place. When I was single, I had all of these ideas of the "perfect guy" or what my life would be like with the perfect guy. How I would feel about the perfect guy, the kinds of things he would say, stuff like that. I had many, many preconceived notions. Needless to say, the choices I made in men during my 20's was less than satisfactory. You know who I never bothered to ask about what type of man I should be with? God. I didn't want His opinion, so I never got it, and I spent alot of years being treated very poorly as a result of attempting to make my own decisions about my love life.
When I finally told God I give up, and asked Him what type of guy I should be with, He sent me one about two weeks later, in the form of Jason. Jason was not at all like any guy I'd been with. He was actually, well, nice and kind. Oh, and He loved the Lord. Probably the most important characteristic you can find in a husband, and a characteristic I never cared about at all in any man I'd dated. Isn't that sad and crazy? 

I had to really give up alot of the things I was holding on to about a guy to be with Jason. For some reason, I had clung so tightly to characteristics that were so wrong and so against what God wanted for me, that it took me giving up those things before God actually showed me a man who could give me so much more than I ever thought possible. Things like, a "successful career", knowing the coolest placest to eat and hang out, not married before, etc. But the biggest thing I had to let go of is to let the ones go who didn't truly love me, who didn't want the best for me, who didn't treat me well. For some reason as women, we tend to latch on to those men who can't give us what we truly need or want, because we think if we hold on long enough, we will get what we want. "God wouldn't have given me a guy that I love so much and then not eventually give me him!" If I had a nickel for every time I justified staying with a guy for that reason, I would have alot of nickels.
The truth is that if you are with a guy that isn't giving you every thing you need or want, and you've discussed it with him and he has no intention of giving you those things, and I mean, important things like a commitment, a marriage, himself, then you need to tell yourself that God didn't send that man for you. You have chosen to be with that person, despite what God wants for you and your relationships. And if you are single and following God's plan, and you are asking yourself why you haven't found that person yet, you really have no idea what is taking so long???? Well, God might not be preparing your heart, He might be preparing your future partner's heart. Jason was married the bulk of my 20's. That's why I didn't meet him sooner. He was in a marriage that wasn't going to succeed and had some of his own lessons to learn. So, once again, as with many things, it's all in God's timing. I know that's not easy to accept sometimes, but it does all work out, if you let God make the choices for you and let go of the things you think you want. He will give you much more than you could have ever wanted.
That's just my opinion, anyway. :-) I hope I don't sound preachy or condescending. Sometimes, when I write stuff like this, I am writing to that 26 year old me, the one who was depressed and lonely, and couldn't understand why. Who had no idea how great I would have it one day, who had no hope of that at all. And I also hope I don't come across like I am bragging, but I do feel blessed by this man in my life. He has really taught me so much about love, I just really appreciate him so much.

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Playing With Your Kids

Kelly's Korner is doing a series called "Build Em' Up," meant to encourage moms throughout this journey of motherhood. Today, her post was about playing with her kids, so I thought I would participate.

Many of the moms I'd read about said they didn't play with their kids enough because of all of the things they felt they had to do around the house. I usually don't ever have that problem (I honestly could care less if there is laundry to do, it doesn't eat me up inside like many other moms out there), so that's not why I have trouble playing with the kids.
As you get older, I think your imagination becomes a little more limited than that of a 3 year old. I find it difficult to actually play with the kids and imagine with them. Not only that, but each age and sex of a child comes with different types of play. With Jordan, he used to always want to play Legos, but now, it's Nerf Wars. I am not a boyish-player, so that's always a little harder for me. Sophia is much easier for me to play with (hence the tea parties, I can get on board with that!) and Avery is just getting into the age where she says, "You play with me?" And it usually consists of the same game over and over. So, it can get a little boring.

Sometimes, I feel as though I really have to work hard to find games that we can both relate to (both meaning me and the child in question) so that we can both enjoy ourselves. I hate to be an adult who isn't 100% in the moment because I am not having fun. But in order to do that, you have to allow yourself to let go and give yourself the freedom to think that just maybe, playing like a 3 year old can be fun, if you find the right game for both of you. And doing that requires spending time with them and getting to know them. And it can be something as simple as suddenly, you walk backwards down the hall instead of walking regularly, and your 3 year old mimics you and shrieks with delight, and you end up playing a very entertaining version of Simon Says.

I am a huge believer in Supernanny, and one major theme on every episode is that most families don't play together enough. All of those children with difficult attitudes tend to become alot easier to deal with when you actually laugh with them and do things they enjoy. Each episode, Jo makes up a game that the family plays together. Playing together is just as important, to me, as discipline but it's easier said than done. Sometimes, I just don't feel like getting down on the floor and acting like a 33-year old goofball, but once I am in the moment, I tend to have a really fun time. And kids are only young once, so it's important to soak up every moment.

Jason and I are big fans of board games and dominoes, and I like doing those kind of structured games also. Kids tend to learn to work within rules that way and to understand the value of winning and the graciousness of losing, so we do game nights at our house as much as we can.

What games do you play at your house? What's your favorite way to play with your kids?

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Walking Dead Episode Review - "The Sorrowful Life"

Oh, Walking Dead. I love this show so much.
Before I review this episode, let me just tell you why I love this show as much as I do, especially for those who have never watched this show. I am seriously the most impatient and judgmental TV drama-show watcher there is. I get annoyed with characters very easily, I get itchy for story lines to  end that do not have immediate conclusions, I hate shows with completely unviable and unrealistic plot lines, and I can only watch a show so long that takes too many episodes to conclude a mystery. Examples of shows I attempted to watch but either A) got annoyed with the length of the story arch, B) got annoyed with a character or C) got annoyed with unrealistic situations, would be: Homeland, Prison Break, Breaking Bad, and Lost. I know, all very popular shows. But I am telling you. It takes a show to be very good for me to be addicted to it. Now, comedies, I will watch all day long. One hour cop dramas, like Law and Order and Bones, sign me up. But if it is a show with episodes of a continuing story line from week to week, I am a hard sell. I am currently also watching The Following, but I tell myself weekly "this is my last time to watch it, it's driving me crazy!" And the only reason I am still watching that one is because I love me some Kevin Bacon. But, I digress.

The Walking Dead does two things really well. First, it creates a realistic reality in an unrealistic environment. Obviously, we know a zombie apocalypse is never going to happen. HOPE it won't, at least. And yet, I never think on this show, "That was ridiculous, why did they do that?" Or, "They really expect us to believe that?" This helps because even though I suppose you could ask questions like, "why they can have zombie blood splashed all over them but they actually have to be bitten to turn into one themselves?" You never think to ask those questions because you are thoroughly enjoying every minute of it, that it never evens occurs to you. The second thing it does really well is create a show where anything, and I mean anything, can happen from week to week. This show is completely unafraid to kill off its main characters, and has done so many times in the three seasons it's been on. I love this because, in the case of last night's show for instance, you are so surprised by an ending, that you love it that much more.

Ok, let's get down to brass tacks. Merle.

**The rest of this review contains spoilers, if you have not seen this episode yet, do NOT read this review!**

At this point, I am going to assume you are a watcher of this program. Merle is one I've loved to hate, yet last night, I was actually rooting for him. He is different than the Governor. The Governor is sadistic, really loves to kill (or seems to, especially when showing us his torture chamber or biting off Merle's fingers, ouch!) but there was something about Merle that always said to me, "A bit nuts? Sure. Racist? Absolutely. Realist? Of course. Loner? Yep. Sadistic killer? No." Yet, last night, we started to see that perhaps he just always saw himself as someone who was willing to do the "dirty work" that was necessary, that other people were unwilling or didn't have the stomach to do themelves. When he let Machone go, I knew that he had decided to turn a new leaf, perhaps he learned that he could do the dirty work yet still be on someone's team. After speaking with Daryl (whom I've always loved, especially since the very funny parody commercial for Time Warner Cable, in which the mom tells him "I just had the walls painted" and instructs him to "clean up" the zombies, to which he replies "Yes ma'am."), he began to realize that he has a choice to make, a life of loneliness in which he is capable of turning people over to The Governor for torture, or a life working with others to ensure surivival in their new society, post-apacolypse. I am glad he chose the latter, although we didn't have much time to celebrate in his new-found role.

I really didn't foresee his death coming, but man, he went out in a blaze of glory. His attack was brilliant, from the loud-music-zombie-magnet of a car to masking his own gunshots by the gunshots of the Woodbury residents to hide his attack. We had to know the Governor was going to foil his plan, but not before he took out about 3 men of the Governor's army. The whole time, I was sure Daryl would come in and save him, then plant an arrow right between the Governor's eyes, but then came the gunshot. And alas, poor Daryl finds his brother feasting on some entrails and cries, knowing he must kill him. He looked angry, and I am not sure if that anger is going to be directed at the Governor (I would love to see that show-down) or at Merle himself, for choosing to put his life in danger in such a sacrificial way. Either way, Daryl is going to have some issues in the upcoming episodes, and I am not sure if it's going to be issues I can get on board with or if he is going to turn a direction I am not going to like (this show is full of surprises, I told ya!).

Now, this week's episode and last week's episode are only tied together by the upcoming "meeting" between Woodbury and the prison, but have nothing to do with each other, other than that. I am still very intrigued by the Governor's right-hand-man Milton and whether or not he set fire to the zombies (I hope he did, I want to see him get a little evil) and poor Andrea (whom I didn't like very much until last week and her awesome kick-booty episode) is still stuck in that torture chair. And did you notice Ben got killed? I wonder what that will mean for his dad and survivors back in Woodbury.

All in all, I am very excited to see next week's episode, as I always am on Monday mornings, but I am very sad it's the season finale. This show seems to prove, week after week, why it's so popular and why it has proven to be one of my very favorite dramas to date.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy 8th Birthday, Sophia!

This is my 4th birthday to spend with the kids, I just can't believe they are getting this old!!
Sophia turns 8 on Sunday, but we don't have the kids this weekend, and so we decided to do her birthday dinner last night. (We have the arrangement that every other year, we throw the kids birthday party with their friends from school, so this year, it was just us.)

We have been wanting to get the kids bikes since we moved into a house, but we decided this year was a good time. So, she got a new bike! She was so excited.
This is the infamouse "Cupid Shuffle and throwing tickets" I talked about yesterday.

I couldn't help but be sad - they don't even have a real thing to "whack" anymore. You know how it could be a mole, or an alligator and you have those big cushy things you hit them with? Now, it's all virtual. You just hit the TV.

Avery was a little more into the games this time around.
Especially if it is a driving game. She LOVES to drive!

It only looks like she is actually playing this game. She is not.
I was really surprised - Avery HATED and was TERRIFIED of Chuck E Cheese. I mean, curled up on us, shaking, looking around her constantly, fear of him. When I took her to the bathroom a couple of times, she was afraid he was going to pop out at her or something. I felt so bad for her!!
Happy Birthday Sophia!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Two Biggest Enemies: Chuck E Cheese and Complex Carbohydrates

How I hate Chuck E Cheese.
The only person who asks me to go here is Sophia. And I always say, non-hesitantly, "No." Except for once a year. On her birthday. And today, I pay the piper.
I hate this over-priced, under-delivered, dirty, screamy, loud, worthless place. I do. I would rather just pay $5 for a Little Caesars pizza, shine a bright blinking light in my childrens face for 2 hours, tell them to go run around the house 45 times, then give them a piece of plastic I found on the street as a "prize" then to spend $50 of my hard earned money to do the exact same thing in a confined space with other children.
My favorite part, oh Chuck E, is when you make the children follow you around for 20 minutes every hour to "Cupid Shuffle," then shower them with tickets that they fight over, including the hovering mothers, for prizes that aren't worth the gum on the bottom of my shoe.
How I dread March 24 every year.
But in our day, it was this place.
Well, if this doesn't look like the stuff nightmares are made of, I just don't know what does.
Pray for me as I sit through 2 hours of this tonight.

Do You Have Quiet Time Everyday?

 As with many times in church, last night, I was convicted.
We talked about "What is God's Plan for My Life?" You know, the questions you ask yourself (like I did Monday, remember?) like, What should I do for a living? Apparently, God isn't so concerned with what you do. He is concerned with who you are. In the Trek book, it was talking about how we struggle alot with what we think we should do with our lives. We worry about it. It asked us to write down everything we could remember that we thought about that day. It then asked, how many times did you think about what God wants for you, or being a follower of Christ? I am ashamed to say, it's less than I'd like to admit.
I often drift into daydreaming or focusing on plans for our lives. What job we should take, what we should spend money on, how to raise our kids. Unfortunately, all too often those are all byproducts of a life that isn't being led my Christ and being the person He wants to me to be. I am not saying God doesn't want you to plan for you life, but how can you truly know what He wants if you never talk to Him about it, or listen to Him?
I don't make time for God in my life every day. I don't even make time for God, true time for God, once a week some weeks. There. I said it. And those are the times I have a hard time solving problems in my life because I don't know how. I keep telling myself, each Sunday or Wednesday, that I will set aside time for God, but I don't follow through. But yet, somehow, you see those blog feeds to our right? I sure do read those everyday. You reading this blog? I make time to write it in everyday. Yet somehow, I can't find 15 minutes to devote to reading God's word and listening to His plan for me? That's appauling.
So, I reconciled this situation as best as I can. I found a blog which offers devotionals every day, so in my feed, I can see a devotional a day. I worked it into my schedule. I think this is a good start.
If you aren't having a quiet time with God everyday, I encourage you to start this with me. I would like to hear about how it's changing your heart, mind and choices. I will share my experiences as well!
If you are having a quiet time, where do you do it? What resources do you use?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Internet Safety for Kids and Why My Kids Will Not Have a Computer In Their Room

This week was really eye opening for me, with the kids, especially Sophia. One of the more disturbing situations for us was internet safety. I read this article this morning on Empowering Parents and it scared me because of what we found out this week.
As you all know from previous posts on electronic games and items for kids, that I am not a huge fan of them. Especially ones that allow children access on to the internet, and especially ones that are interactive. We have one computer in the house and it sits in our "office," which is our breakfast area that has no doors and is in the middle of the house. Anyone can see what you are doing on the computer, and we will be keeping it that way. We don't discourage the kids from getting on it, but they are really only allowed to play on it for one hour a day, that's it. They spend enough time on it during the week at school for education benefits, and I guarantee you Sophia is not going on our computer to do something educational. (Jordan is a different story, one day, just for fun, he researched the Alamo and put together a slide show for us to watch. I love him.) Sophia goes on there to play games. Any game. All games. She mainly loves to do princess stuff and fairy stuff, where you dress them up. But she will really play anything. They had mentioned a couple times playing a game called Roblox. It's a virtual world for kids that allows them to build cities and stuff. Now look. I don't like virtual world games, either. Sims, stuff like that, scares me because the thought of kids getting sucked in to a fake world and addicted really scares me.
To be honest, they had said that they played it at their moms, and I assumed (won't be making this mistake again) that meant it was safe and fine. Well, I guess it can be safe and fine. But it's also an interactive game with Avatars, where you can friend people. NOPE. The thought just chilled me to my core. At lunch one day, we were talking about it and what you do on it and that type of thing. Jordan said, "People request you to be friends, I only have two friends and they are people I go to school with. Sophia goes crazy friending people." My heart jumped into my throat and I immediately had her take me to the computer and had her log in. 16 friends and I had NO idea who they were. I then read reviews and they made me even more afraid. People saying this site is full of trolls, the people running the site didn't moderate stuff so people were asking for addresses and no one stopped them. Terrified me. We immediately sent the kids' mom a message and told her that they are no longer allowed to play this game at our house and we restricted it on our computer so they couldn't get to it. When I started asking Sophia questions about her friends, she had no clue who they were. I don't want to scare her, but in this world sometimes you kind of have to, even if it's just to be honest about what people can say and do on the internet. I said, "What if it's a man talking to you, pretending to be a girl your age?" She said jokingly, "I would just delete him!" She is no longer allowed to play any game on our computer that is interactive because she is just incredibly naive about it. Jordan seemed to only play the game for the fun of the game and ignored the people who tried to talk to him. Even still, I don't like it.
I don't care if I am creating kids who hate me, I really don't. I have seen too many episodes of Law and Order:SVU to feel good about putting kids in positions that are unsafe. If you REALLY want to creep yourself out, copy and paste and picture of your child on your blog into Google. It will tell you everywhere (if any) that picture is on the internet. Talk about terrifying.
Sometimes, people get onto me because our family doesn't have an iPad, or other tablet. Both kids, at their mom's house, have one. I don't think they need it. People say there are games on there that are educational, and honestly, I think they are unnecessary. You start kids playing games early on phones and stuff like that, and all of the sudden they grow into kids and that's all they want to do. I am constantly having to say no to them playing video games or on the computer, or even watching TV, and it's a struggle sometimes to get them to go out and interact in the real world, or God forbid, read a book. Jordan is good about it, really he is. But he, too, will play video games as long as you let him or tell him to stop, so we have to really be careful to pay attention.
Does the internet scare you with your kids? How many of you sit right by your kids when they are on the computer? I will from now on.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Blog I Found

I happened upon this blog while I was internet surfing. The actual article was about this man, with brain cancer, who ran a marathon with his 6 year old daughter in a stroller. The article linked to this particular post about the actual race from his blog "Picking Up A Hitchhiker."
After I read the intitial blog post, I realized that this man wasn't highly skilled writer, but he was an incredibly honest writer. I wanted to know more about him and his journey of cancer, and his blog started at the very beginning. Post after post, I read of this man, who has a very dry, good sense of humor, with his flaws, who received the diagnosis of brain cancer and his fight to reconcile it with himself. During this process, he also lost his job as a juvenile worker of troubled youth (due to his medications, not job performance). He lost the ability to drive a car. He also lost his marriage.
I encourage you to read it. The doctor's told him that he was in the best shape they'd ever seen anyone in who was diagnosed with cancer. He hadn't called in sick to work in 16 years and said he was hesitant to go to the hospital after suffering a seizure (which is which led to the diagnosis) because "the last time he was in the hospital was the day he was born." He is prideful, arrogant, and makes jokes at his own expense, and while he has so very many friends, it's hard to read his journey without cringing sometimes at the choices he makes or things he says. But boy, is it an amazing story to read.
It seems as though even before this cancer, he led his life to the fullest. He was always a runner and played many sports. He had a beautiful daughter. But the cancer just really made him more passionate about spending time doing the things he wants to do, namely spending time with his daughter. Of course, any story you read like this one makes you look inside of yourself and your life and ask some questions about how you choose to live your life. I couldn't help but see the irony that this very morning, I had questioned my life's passions and now, I am reading about somewhat who seems to have passion for almost everything he does.
I always like finding new blogs with people that I actually like reading about. It's not always easy, but obviously his story is one of enough importance to be written about in several places on the internet. Check it out if you get a chance.

Passion - Or Lack Thereof

I got this picture from Jenn, the lady who watches Avery...

She has all girls, yet these girls love to dress up in boys costumes.They all had capes and she said they were being superheroes. SO cute.
I've been giving alot of thought lately to my life and what I am truly passionate about. I feel as though my lack of passion in something is what is missing from my life. I try to be passionate for many things, like working and weight loss, church activities, or reading. But you can't fake passion. While those things are important and things I need to enjoy, they are not my passion, which means, I won't do them well at all.
How do you know what your passion is? That's a hard question. According to Wikipedia, passion is defined as: "Passion (from the Ancient Greek verb πάσχω (paskho) meaning to suffer) is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something."

Last night, I was watching Parks and Rec. I guess I have passion for TV! Ha ha. Anyway, Leslie Knope, to me, is the epitome of passion for her work. She was talking about passion. They were doing a model U.N. thing and was saying how important passion is, to find something you are passionate about, and to pursue that passion.
So, back to the question, how do you find your passion? Well, I think your passion is found when you ask yourself these two questions. 1) What do you do in your free time? and 2) If you could do anything you wanted with your life, free of the confines of money, what would it be? I realized I had two passions in front of me that I haven't pursued fully because of little things like money and education. One of my passions is traveling. I love to travel, experience new things, go places. The problem has always been for Jason and I that we have had other priorities that were more important, like paying off debt, that have taken our money. And while we still have plans for money this year, I have told Jason that eventually, we are going to have to work in spending our money going and seeing new places every once in a while. Not only for us, but for the kids. It's not fair to them that they grow up not seeing new places, just because we choose to spend money on other things. And it's not fair for us that we don't travel. I don't want to wake up as an 80 year old one day, realizing I had spent all of my money on garage sales and going out to eat, when I could have seen Europe or Colorado and had wondeful memories.
My second passion is without a doubt, writing. When I think back throughout my life, I have always enjoyed writing. I have always written. I used to write in journals. I would write letters to express my feelings. I have researched and found opinions in all different topics and wanted to write about it. At one point, I really thought I would want to write a book about my life, although that's not something I think I would like to do anymore. Why am I not writing for a living? I obviously write on this blog regularly, so I know I love it. Well, it's hard to find a job as a writer without a journalism degree. Did you know that when I started college at age 18, I was getting a mass communications degree? I knew way back then what I was passionate about, yet didn't finish and never pursued a career in that field. Not sure what I am going to do about that just yet, but writing needs to be something that is incorporated in my career somehow.
I just think without a passion, we all just drift around aimlessly without a goal in life. Every great thing (and bad thing, even) has started from a passion for something. What is your passion? Are you pursuing your passion in some way every day? I am curious how many of you are actually working in the industry where your passion lies.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Disciple Now, IBC, 2013

This weekend, we were a host home for Disciple Now. We had the high school boys, so I wasn't super involved in small group and free time at our house, but I was able to participate in their afternoon activity and worship time on Saturday night. (For those parents of the boys who are reading this, they were ALL WONDERFUL, very mannerly, and kind to the kids! I have no idea if they were loud, we have a large house and I couldn't hear a peep, but I don't know if that's good insulation or kids who went to bed early. I am thinking it's the insulation - although it's proof to me that I will host again!)
This is what they spent pretty much all free time doing at our house. Robert and Shari got that for us for Christmas, and BOY has it gotten its money's worth!
They put together bags for homeless children on Saturday...

And here is the youth group!
The man that spoke, Chad, talked to the kids on Saturday about what it means to be a disciple. Basically, it means to "reproduce reproducers." He also said they did a study once to see how long it took for the words of Jesus to spread after His death to everyone in the world. They said, if everyone who knew about him told 3 people and they kept telling 3 people and on and on, it would have taken 37 years to spread across the world. That was a pretty interesting statistic! He also said that most revivals that happen in the world are started by teenagers. This doesn't surprise me in the least bit. Teenagers are a perfect age to be excited to spread the word, it's such a pure love of Jesus, you haven't gone through tons of trials and tribulations in your life at that point. I think when we become adults, it gets harder and harder to share Jesus with others. I wish it wasn't like that.
I know these kids will never understand this until they become adults (in their early 30's with a husband and three children and responsibilities) but I told them today that this will be the best time in their whole life, to be friends with other people who share their same faith, to get to spend weekends and weeks together, worshipping Jesus, and to be fed and led in fellowship. And I told them that there might be so many kids who never know that church can be fun, and what Jesus can do. And to always make sure you invite people to come be a part of it with you. Because you are only young once and to love it now, because it will never be like that again.
This weekend really convicted me that I don't invite people to come to church with me, and I should. I don't invite people to be a part of my church family, and I need to. It can all start with one invitation. What a wonderful weekend and what a great reminder of youth group memories! I told Kim, the host of the high school girls, that back in the old days, either mine or her house would have been covered in toilet paper this morning. Thank goodness it wasn't!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Consequences and Punishment When Children Don't Live With You Most of the Time

As parents who only get partial visitation, we always struggle with effective punishments for bad behavior when we only have kids who are with us first, third and fifth weekends every month. When we have the kids for a week, like this one for Spring Break, it becomes harder and more challenging. We are kind of at a loss, and have been for the three years we've been together.
With each kid so far, 7 really begins the age where kids start to become more set in their ways and their personalities. You start to get more and more frustrated when they make bad choices. Eight is the age that we both feel kids can really start becoming accountable for bad behavior. Not so much stuff like, you aren't cleaning your room or helping with chores. It's stuff like, "You are old enough to understand that what you just said is hurtful." And you start to be more disappointed with things they say and do because you feel like they know better, and are purposely doing things that are either disobediant, irresponsible, or mean. I started getting really upset with Jordan at this age because he has a tendency to run off at the mouth. Before he was 8, you could still kind of blame it on "he doesn't know any better." But after 8, you know that he knows what he is saying is ugly, and yet he just says it anyway. We've grown past that stage for the most part, but it was alot of struggling and spending the weekends getting on to him, which both of us felt bad about. Now, we are getting to that point with Sophia.
She has never been a kid who talks back, or at least when she does, it's never malicious or disrespectful. So, the two of them have had totally different obstacles to overcome, and it's because every kid is different with different personalities and tendencies. So just when you think you've got one down, here comes the next.
Sophia has always been a kid who doesn't keep up with her stuff. Stuff really never means anything to her, not really. If we take her stuff away, she will just find something else to fill that void. Jordan was never like that. We never had to tell him to clean up his stuff, and not because he is just super clean. It's because his stuff was always really important to him. He doesn't want to lose bullets to his Nerf gun because it means he won't be able to play with them. And he knows we aren't going to keep buying him more and more. He keeps up with Legos like a mad man. He always knows where his stuff is, his room is ALWAYS organized. Not Sophia. Not Sophia at all. We are continually finding random stuff of hers all over the house. We find a pile of clothes where she decided to change clothes in the middle of the playroom and just leaves them there. We find shoes everywhere. Her toys are all over the place and she never cleans them up without us having to get onto her. She takes jackets off and throws them hither and yon and when we go to find it again, she has no idea where she left them. Her lack of awareness isn't just with her stuff. We still have to move cups away from the edge of the table because she knocks them over because she really just has no idea her cup exists and that it's right by her arm. It's just like in some aspects, we are dealing with a kid who is still 4 years old and needs to be constantly watched, constantly talked to. We have to make sure she has all of the stuff she had when she walked into the store with, or else it will get left there. Most of the time, if her little candies or toys get lost, I don't really care because it's either stuff that cost nothing or is worth nothing. But when it's jackets we spend money on that we shouldn't have to buy again or soccer equipment or things like that, it gets a little annoying.
This week, I took the kids to the library. The second we walked in, she threw her jacket at me and I told her I wasn't going to keep with up with my stuff, Avery's stuff and Avery and Sophia's jacket to. We left, and went to the grocery store. We came home. About two hours later, she wanted to go play outside and I told her to put on her jacket, which of course, we couldn't find. I told her to go find it, but in the back of my mind I knew she had left it in that library. She looked for about 2.5 seconds and then proceeded to go into her room and put her skates on to go outside. Her dad and I walked in and said, "did you find your jacket?" "No" she said. It wasn't that she lost it. Accidents happen. It was the fact that this was one in a long line of things she'd either broken or lost and didn't seem to care or be scared of consequences, she didn't feel bad. She didn't even fear getting in to trouble. We had both just had it. We tried to find a way to get through to her, to make her feel bad or something, something to make her more aware and more accountable. We yelled. Nothing. We starting taking her stuff away every time we found something she'd left out. Nothing. We made her clean for two hours (mostly all of the messes she'd made around the house.) Nothing. At dinner, it was the same old thing. Tonight, at dinner, she spilled an entire soda after we'd told her five minutes before to be careful with the cup since the lid wasn't on tight, to which she responded to by picking the cup up BY it's lid (after she'd lost the cup in the restaurant somewhere in the first place.)
It's so hard because she is only with us for four more days and you really don't like spending the entire time being mad at a kid for this kind of stuff. You can't ground her, you can't do anything to really upsets her, she is too positive a person so she always makes the best of it. But the purpose of punishment, in my opinion, is to a) make kids aware that bad choices have consequences and b) make them understand how to not do the same thing again. At this point, nothing we are doing is changing her behavior. And I don't feel as though we need to constantly keep up with an 8 year old like we do our 2 year old, so I just don't know where to go from here.
I am the queen of discipline. I HATE being the bad guy, but I am nothing if not consistant. I have struggled over the years, especially with my step-kids with being firm and not feeling like I am always the bad guy, but I would like to think that if anything, at least they understand where they stand with me and what behavior is not OK in my house. I research all the time of different ways I can approach things. The problem is, when it's step-kids that you don't see all the time, NONE of the punishments can be long term. For that matter, none of the rewards can be long term. And if you take something away at your house on a Sunday afternoon, they will just get that back at their mom's house Sunday night. I am sure at some point, we are going to have to start coordinating punishments, but I don't see that happening when you have two households who don't hold the same importance to certain things. So, here we stand.
There aren't that many effective resources for this type of stuff. I would like to think it's probably because most fathers with custody like Jason's aren't fathers like Jason, where they have fathers and step-mothers who care about what their kids do and say. There are some, but I am sure that most kids who see their dads only every other weekend don't have this same problem. Jason and I both feel as though we owe it to the kids to treat them just like any other kids, and that means raising them to make choices we want them to make, that are right, and that they grow into a responsible Christian adult. But sometimes, you just don't have the right answers to be able to do that really effectively. And I think all kids are different so you can't hold them all to the same standard. Each kid has their own pitfalls to overcome, so you have to treat them as such. Both of them have thrown us a few curveballs where we just look at each other and say, "What the...?" Kids. What are you gonna do.
Are any of you in this predicament with a kid who doesn't value his or her things? What do you do to correct it?

Semi-Wordy Wednesday - Playdate

One thing working moms miss out on is playdates. I just have never had one, especially not one during the weekdays. And Jordan and Sophia have never really had friends over at our house, since all of their friends live in Flower Mound. Well, we are glad we are a part of a church with people we are becoming friends with and with kids their age. Today, we had our first playdate! Tomorrow, it will be Jordan's turn to have a friend over (although at their age, I don't think 11 year olds have "playdates" especially boys. They are having Nerf wars and I am hiding in my room with the younger girls for shelter!)
Ester and Marco are 7 and 4, and so they are good ages for Avery and Sophia. Here is Marco cleaning the floor in the playroom (I put all kids who come to my house to work, ha ha!)
And Sophia finally got someone who can play with her nice dolls, so they were combing their hair.
And I also took the kids to McDs today, and of course, whatever Sophia did, Avery had to do. Those two girls are two peas in a very rambunctoius pod.
Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jordan's Weekend

This weekend really was about Jordan...on Friday night, Jordan's soccer team coach worked it out to where his team would lead the high school varsity's scocer team out on the field on their game!

 I heard on the radio about CSI Day for kids at the 6th Floor Museum in Dallas for kids. I haven't ever been to the 6th Floor Museum in 33 years, so I was pretty excited about taking Jordan.

I have to say, this was a cool event. They had the entire 7th floor set up completely, with a crime scene, forensic stations, eyewitness accounts, and video surveillance footage. And everyone that worked the stations was so happy to answer your questions and never once did they act annoyed that we kept asking the same questions over and over.

The whole point was to solve a crime. When you got there, they gave the kids a clipboard and papers with an explanation of the crime and questions to ask in each station.

An ambassador had died and you had to figure out who killed him and how. Each station gave you different clues but you really had to think about it.

We were there for over an hour and we did guess the correct suspect!

We learned about fingerprints and how they are different...

We even learned about how they use UV lights to determine differences in handwriting.

 Such a cool day! Jordan told me it was a great "son/stepmom afternoon." Score one for the stepmoms out there!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Open House

Who has two thumbs and forgot about the kids' open house last night? This girl!
I haven't been good about keeping a calendar and it's getting to the point where we have so much going on, that's a requirement. So, we have a car in the shop, I took the train home from work, and Jason had to go pick up all three kids. And halfway home, they say, "Aren't we going to open house?" Crud, we both thought. We knew about this, their mom told us, and we completely forgot. So he drove all the way to Irving to pick me up at the train station, then we had to turn around and go back to Flower Mound. Ugh. But, it was worth it. I love seeing the things the kids have done at school!
They always surprise me because they are asked to do things at school that involve them writing about their families. I always forget that I am one of their "parents" and so when I see my name listed as their step-mom in one of their projects and how much they love me, it's still surprising! I know that sounds weird. It's like, remembering that they still think about me when I am not around.
Sophia wrote about herself and listed math as her favorite subject, which completely surprised me, and that she loves to read, which we can never make her do at our house. It always makes me wonder how much we know them outside of our house. She also wrote about her dad, and I LOVE seeing what the kids write about their dad. She said he was 100 feet tall and 100 pounds, that if she had a million dollars she would buy him candy (she knows him pretty well) and that he loves to play on the playground. She also put together a powerpoint teaches us about different land masses, so I learned a little something!
Jordan wrote a poetry book about so many subjects. This one was especially funny...
And he also wrote a poem about his Poppy which was so sweet.
I am really interested in seeing how Jordan grows up, especially now that he is starting middle school next year. He wants to do band, he loves poetry and art, and he loves creating things. I think Jordan is going to be a kid I can relate to!

Jordan did a poster about himself and wrote about his siblings. The kids NEVER forget that they have three siblings, two little sisters on earth and a little brother, Henry, who is in heaven. That's exactly how they tell people about their brother. Their great-grandfather just passed away on their mom's side and they told us that he is there, watching Henry. Sophia even told us she prays every day now for her family. So sweet.
We went to Taco Bell afterwards, which we hardly ever go to, but maybe the completely unhealthy food made us want to make funny faces.
Can you tell Avery loves her big sister and wants to do everything just like her?!?
I am off with the kids next week for Spring Break, and even though it's not a "vacation" I am still really looking forward to it! I love that my job is flexible enough to allow me time off like this so when we have the kids, I can be off and even work from home if I needed to. It certainly makes like a lot easier.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Daddy's Hair Salon

I always do the girls' hair. But Jason has informed me that before me, he could put Sophia's hair in a mean ponytail, and said once Avery's hair was long enough, he would do the same for her. This morning I was getting ready, so he did Avery's hair. It was too cute not to take a picture of.

I couldn't help but think that not all girls in the world know what it's like to have a dad that would lovingly do their hair, or play with them, or do voices for them, or play dress up for them, or wrestle with them, or bathe them. And a part of me got sad for all of those girls who won't know what that's like. I am so blessed to have a wonderful father for my baby girl, and I hope she always knows how lucky she is to have a daddy who loves her so much. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Did You Know This Had a Name?

Jason swears our house was designed before it's time. There are so many intricate details of this house that are so unique and they are really starting to grow on me.
For one, there is this...
And it was featured on House of Fifty today! Did you know it was called a wheat chandelier? I did NOT.
That is pretty cool, if you ask me!

Brooke, I Had To!

 Brooke posted this...
Which reminded me that I had to post this.
Ah, Sesame Street.

Semi-Wordless Wednesday - Breakfast In Bed

Avery always woken up in the morning, come in our room, and had breakfast in our bed, and has since she was a baby.
Little spoiled stinker, this one is. But I love her!