Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dinner Lesson

Having three boys can be challenging, to say the least. Between refereeing fights (both staged and real), playing chauffeur to various events and trying to stave off their seemingly never-ending hunger, I don't have a lot of extra time in my day. What little time I do have I spend either sitting on the couch with an exhausted blank stare or running around trying to make my house look somewhat orderly. As a result, I've started to let certain behaviors slide with Jack that I wouldn't have with Max and Gus. Jack wants to do everything his brothers do and one thing they're always doing is snacking. (remember that never-ending hunger I just mentioned?) Whenever they have a bowl of something, Jack inevitably wants one too. I give him one, knowing full well what will happen. All those little bits of food, be they goldfish, cereal, apples, whatever, every one of them ends up thrown on the floor. By the end of the day there are crumbs all over the house from the various items Jack has chosen to hurl across the living room. I'm constantly telling him "no throw!", but honestly I'm not that consistent with it. It's just a little thing and I've let it slide enough times that he doesn't take me seriously when I tell him no.

Unfortunately that behavior has wandered into Jack's mealtime habits as well. He'll take a tiny bite of something, throw it on the floor and then beg for more. A few nights ago at dinner Jack was being his usual demanding self, throwing food around, begging for food off everyone else's plates and generally making dinner a loud, stressful event. My reaction was to take him out of his chair, sit him on my lap and let him pick off of my plate...anything to just keep the peace. It's worked a dozen times, even though it's not exactly enjoyable for me to eat a meal that has been handled by chubby little fingers. But that night was different. As I bent down to unstrap Jack and bring him to my lap Mark put his foot down. "No. He eats his food or nothing at all." I was taken back by the firmness of his voice, but I put him back in his seat and returned his tray of food in front of him. Jack immediately began crying out for different food and I instinctively reached for the bowl of fruit to give him a few more pieces. Again Mark spoke up. "No. He has fruit. He needs to eat what is on his tray first." I was upset. I wanted Jack to stop crying. I wanted him to eat. He hadn't really eaten a meal in days, just snacks here and there and things he'd gleaned off other people's plates. When Jack refused to eat, Mark picked him up and firmly but lovingly took him to his crib and left him there while we ate. I kept my eyes down on my plate, fighting the urge to rush in and "rescue" Jack. Sensing I was upset, Mark said to me, "If we keep letting this go, if we keep allowing this behavior it is only going to get worse and that isn't fair to us or Jack. He needs to know this isn't okay."
After a few minutes Mark brought Jack back to the table. I went to him and comforted him, putting a bite of pasta on his fork and gently trying to coax him to eat it. He took it from me and slowly ate it. He got another bite on his fork and ate that too. After awhile he had gobbled up nearly everything on his plate. It was the best meal he's eaten in a long time. After dinner I told Mark I was grateful that he'd been insistent and admitted that Jack hadn't been that well-behaved for a meal in a long time. It was hard to do, but I admitted, despite my good intentions, that my tendency to play to Jack's demands was wrong.

As I thought about the events of dinner that night in bed, I realized that Mark was demonstrating love in a very real way. He loves Jack so much that he desires for him to learn right from wrong, to be patient, to be grateful for what is in front of him rather than always wishing he had something else. Real love doesn't just let things go for the sake of peace, not when doing so can potentially lead someone down the wrong path. While my desire to comfort and calm Jack was loving, it was also selfish in that I just wanted a little peace at the dinner table. There's a reason love comes before peace in the list of the Fruit of the Spirit. I'm so grateful that Mark was able to teach both Jack and myself a lesson that night.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Treat

Jack tried his first smoothie yesterday over at my sister's house. Look no further than the front of his clothes to find out whether or not he enjoyed it!

Here he is with his sweet cousins Sofie & Melia:

I love the slow, simple pace of summer.

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I loved watching this small moment happen. Made my heart very happy.

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Friday, July 8, 2011


The backyard is coming along slowly but surely. Here's where we're at now:

Hopefully it will be done in the next couple months.

In the mean time, check out this tent that Mark and I made for the boys:

We followed a tutorial we found at Cakies, using scrap wood from the backyard project and a sheet I picked up at the thrift store. I like to imagine the boys quietly reading books in here on hot summer days, but it's more likely that it will turn into some sort of combat fort.

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Random Ramblings of a Blogging Slacker

Oh poor neglected blog...I'm sorry I have been so terrible about updating you.

It's been over 3 months since I last posted. So much has happened and yet at the same time it's just been life as usual, moving along at its own pace. I wish I had some big news to report or a really fascinating story to share that would explain my absence. I have none. All I have are excuses about lack of time, tiredness, a glitchy computer that frustrates me into silence here.

I can't possibly recap the last 3 months. Or maybe I could but I just don't want to. What I will do is give you a little insight into what's been brewing inside my mind these days.

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a family. What it means to be part of something bigger than myself. I've been trying to understand how it came to be that the God of the Universe, who is infinite and perfect, chose to adopt me into His family and call me His own. Me, this clumsy, selfish, ungrateful girl...God's child. There are days when I don't treat my children with the patience and understanding that they deserve. There are days that I am not a good mother. Sometimes at night before I fall asleep I close my eyes so tight and try to erase the day because I know I messed up. And I think about God and how He must get so frustrated with me. And yet He is patient and gentle and forgiving. All the things I want to be for my kids. It is a huge thing, being asked to raise children. I feel like there are days that I am trying to climb a mountain without any gear. I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, praying that I don't fall.
This summer I've decided the boys and I are going to study the Fruit of the Spirit. Each week we're focusing on a different fruit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Gentleness, Self-Control, Faithfulness, Goodness. It's been wonderful to watch them try to live these out. I made a bunch of fruit and labeled each one with a different attribute and they boys can earn stickers for demonstrating that week's fruit. It's pretty hilarious to watch them orchestrate scenarios in order to earn stickers. I watched quietly as Max whispered to Gus last week, "Gus, ask me if I'm okay," after he had hurt himself.
"What?" Gus responds.
"Ask me if I'm okay," Max repeats with a sense of urgency.
"Just do it!"
"Are you okay Max?" Gus asks, having no idea what he was truly saying.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. Hey Mom! Gus just asked me if I'm okay. Did we just earn a love sticker?"
Max has never met a sticker he couldn't earn.
But in all seriousness, the boys have been learning a lot and earning stickers for genuine acts of love and kindness.
We've been having weekly BBQs this summer where we invite pretty much everyone we know to come hang out with us every Friday. It's been a lot of fun and extremely fascinating to see how each week differs from the next. We've had 3 BBQs and each one has been made up of a completely different crowd. I feel like I want to document it somehow. Maybe a spreadsheet or something. And then I think about that and I realize that is a really nerdy thing to want to do. I'll probably still do it though.

This is my family, bound together through blood, adopted together into God's larger family.
To say that's an overwheming thought is to put it mildly.

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