Friday, May 28, 2010

summer break

Today is our first day of summer vacation, and my boys would rather be in school.

They don’t want a break. They want to keep going. Even the promise of science summer camps and unlimited books at the library isn’t enough to persuade them.

They’d just rather be in school.


Lest you think I’m holding huge chore fests over here, let me set the record straight: I’m a fun mom, folks. We went bowling yesterday. We’ll host water balloon fights and sleepovers and go to the zoo. I’m fun, I’m fun…really I am!

We’ll balance all this fun out with chores and math facts, but mostly, we’ll hang out at the pool.

That’s just the way I roll.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad my kids enjoy school. And I’m trying not to take it personally that I’m more excited about summer break than they are.

Once I get past ME and my own insecurities, I can see this isn't about me at all. It's about them. The noisy boys are growing up. They have their own interests and friends and lives. This is a good thing. A healthy thing.

Do you savor summer break with your kids? I do. I figure I only have seven or eight left. Less than that when you consider how busy teenagers are.

Will my house be loud? Yeah. Will I get tired of washing wet beach towels and wiping up the muddy kitchen floor fifty thousand times every day? Yeah.

Will we create memories that the boys will remember forever? Yeah. Will I have the opportunity to teach them new things about life and the world and relationships? Yeah.

Will all the hard work be worth it?


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

missing out

I really wanted to give the kids ice cream cones tonight.

It was hot. 84 degrees to be exact. The kids were playing outside, running in the sprinkler and making our play structure into a “water slide.” It was the first real water play of the season, and all three boys were loving it.

I served dinner outside to my soggy boys, and thought to myself I’ll let them play a bit more, then give them ice cream cones before they come in for showers.

That was the plan anyway.

I cleared the dinner dishes and was taking out the garbage when it began.

“He pushed me!”

“He put water on my face!”

“Mom! He pushed me again!”

The fighting and bickering and rude talk continued, even after a warning. So in they went for showers. No ice cream cones tonight.

And I was disappointed. I really wanted to watch them enjoy the first drippy, all-over-their-tummies ice cream cone of the season. They never knew about the ice cream, so they weren’t disappointed. But I was. I wanted to bless them, but had to hold back because of their behavior.

I wonder how often God feels this way about me? If you follow this blog at all, you know I’m a big believer in grace. God doesn’t treat any of us as we deserve, but instead, lavishes grace on us, in spite of us.

And yet I’m sure there are times when He holds back His blessing, just waiting for me to give up my stubborn pride and stop bickering already so He can bless me. I'm sure there are times I've missed out because of my selfishness or arrogance or addictions.

And God just waits. He wants to bless us and He waits.

Thank goodness for ice-cream-cones-tomorrow kind of grace.

Monday, May 17, 2010

and that would surprise me because...?

I'm the mother of three boys. So I don't know why I was surprised to find this sitting on my kitchen counter recently...

Hmmm. Tupperware. And inside?

Rocks. Of course. Who doesn't need a few tupperware containers full of rocks sitting on the counter?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

teacher gifts

At different times during the school year, we give gifts to the boys’ teachers. The end of the school year is one of those times.

I always do consumable gifts. No mugs or ornaments or chachkas. We usually include a small gift card (Starbucks, if they're coffee drinkers), a yummy homemade treat and a handwritten thank you note from both the student and me. I try to include specific examples of things I appreciated, like “Thank you for calling me right away when Johnny started picking his toes in class.”

Nobody was really picking his toes, but you get my drift.

The boys usually keep their notes short, but a simple “Thanks for being my teacher this year. I enjoyed the field trip to the math museum” is nice, I think. Even the preschooler can draw a picture.

A few days ago I was on Walgreen’s photo website when the inspiration struck: photo collage cards. It’s perfect. I pulled a few pictures from each of the 3 boys—including one of them with their teachers taken at an open house—and arranged them on the card along with the caption, “Thanks for a great year!” (If you do the cards at Walgreens, click on the "folded cards" section. This allows you to buy only one card, instead of 20.)

It only took a few minutes and each card was only $1.99. I picked up a few treats at Trader Joe’s along with gift bags, we’ll do our handwritten notes in the cards, and call it good.

Past teachers have told me how much they appreciate the encouraging words from both me and their student. We all need encouragement, so even if you can’t afford a fancy gift, do write a note.

Thoughtful teacher gifts for a great price works for me! For more great tips, head over to We are that Family.

Walgreens did not ask me to write this or give me anything free. You could do these cards at any photo center. Walgreens just happens to be convenient.

Monday, May 10, 2010

the guilt

As moms, we all have it. We feel guilty if we work too much; we feel guilty if we don’t work. We feel guilty if we drag our kids out to run errands; we feel guilty if we leave them home and run errands by ourselves. We feel guilty if we’re overweight and out of shape; we feel guilty if we take time for ourselves to exercise.

We just plain feel guilty.

I was sitting with a group of women last week, and the subject of guilt came up. Everyone chimed in, and a mom with grown kids even suggested that this guilt was a good thing. After all, maybe a “good mom” does feel guilty if she takes time for herself, even if it is at the grocery store buying food for her family.

To which I say, in a nice Christian way, of course, BULL.

I just don’t think we need to buy this, ladies.

Whatever your situation in life—working, not working, whatever—do your kids a favor and get over the guilt. And if you leave the kids with a neighbor or sitter or their (GASP) Dad for a few hours to get out alone? Celebrate those moments and come home refreshed. That will do your family a lot more good than the guilt does.

It takes some practice, but let me tell you, life on the other side of guilt** is really nice. It still comes calling once in awhile, but I find that a hunk of dark chocolate shuts it right up.

** I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that I’m not suggesting moms become uber selfish and shirk their responsibilities to their households. Not at all. But, come on. I know moms who work forty hours a week, stay up until midnight baking twelve dozen cookies for the church bake sale, and feel guilty on a Saturday afternoon for sneaking off for a pedicure or, heaven forbid, lying down and taking a nap. That’s what I’m talking about.**

Thursday, May 6, 2010

community garden

Our peas are coming up. The preschooler was so excited when he saw them, and told everyone who walked by, “Look! I planted these little thingies and now, look! It made a plant that will grow vegetables.” You really just have to hear him say the word “vegetables.” It’s adorable.

We’ve met most of our gardening “neighbors” now, and it’s a lovely group. There’s a newbie family next to us with three kids, as well as a veteran gardener with three plots on the other side.

The preschooler and I spent the better part of Tuesday afternoon at the plot, and enjoyed chatting with “Doc.” He’s a retired trauma surgeon who just returned from a month in Haiti. He has stories we all need to hear.

And, thankfully, he enjoys listening to the preschooler’s stories too. Thank goodnesss, because that boy is a talker.

I’m hoping to get my tomatoes and peppers in this weekend or next. We’ll see what the weather looks like.
It’s interesting to watch the other gardeners. I don’t think any two garden plots look the same, and I’ve been given so much conflicting advice, I’m learning to just follow my instincts.

And as Doc says, “It’s good dirt. Add some water and it will grow just fine.”

Twin A. and the Preschooler planting sunflowers

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Weird Christians

Every day, I walk past a house in my neighborhood that makes me uncomfortable. The curtains are drawn, and for a long time I wondered if anyone lived there. Then, a few weeks ago, I saw some kids outside, bringing groceries in from the car. I said “hello” and asked if they were new to our neighborhood.

They’ve lived here longer than we have.

To each this own, I suppose, but this family also has a big sign in their window protesting Planned Parenthood. And a little fish on their car, symbolizing that they’re Christians.

Of course they are.

This bothers me because I’m a Christian too. So, it's kind of like we're on the same team, but, well, we're not.

Don’t advertise you’re a Christian then never come out of the house or let your children play outside or walk to school with the rest of the children. In case you haven't noticed, this is a vibrant neighborhood. We live life together and rely on one another. We celebrate together and grieve together.

And if the only thing your neighbors ever know about you is that you’re a Christian and you hate planned parenthood? Yeah. Skip the advertising. Please.

I'm tired of sharing my faith with people who have experienced nothing but Christian weirdness. So, please. If you want to be weird, fine.

Just don't blame it on Jesus.