Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Sea of Stuffies and a Hoarder

I am a bit tired of picking up stuffed animals. One of my children has a real obsession with them. (Did you know boys could be like that? I didn't.) The animals seem to be having babies or something because they are multiplying.

To complicate this growing problem, that same child has recently entered a "please-please-please don't put it in the garbage" phase. Everything from scraps of paper to broken toys that are tossed in the trash is very disconcerting for him. A couple of nights ago he came out of his room (after being put to bed) with HUGE tears welling up in his sweet little eyes. What was the matter? He was very concerned about the tracing paper that his older brother had thrown away earlier that day. The paper was all drawn on and has served its purposes well and the artist himself had decided it was time to toss them. As far as I knew, my little hoarder never even knew the drawings existed until we went to throw it away. He came out of his room clutching the garbage can. I could see his panic rising.

Not that I want to always take to throwing everything away (that's wasteful), but it is nice to give things away, recycle, and, yes, toss. But to him, it is all the same: if it leaves the house to not return, it is painful. "Where is it going, Mom?" "Will it EVER come back?" "Where does the garbage truck take it?"

So with a child who can't part with trash, how am I to control the stuffed animal overpopulation and the mounting scraps of scribbled-on paper? Two words: NEGOTIATION (he is an incredible negotiator, BTW) and PERGATORY.

We lined up all his animals and I told him he could keep two of them and the rest would go "on vacation." (In our house, when a toy goes on vacation it is stored in a bin for a while and then later brought back out.) His eyes lit up knowing he would not lose anything. My little negotiator talked me into doubling the number of stuffed animals he could keep. Eh, I'm a pushover. Actually, I let him know that so long as he was able to manage all four and I was not always stepping over them or picking them up, four would be fine. (I have Diane Moore to thank for that idea.)

What my little sweetie does not know is that this vacation is really more of a PERGATORY. Today, while at his T-Ball game, I scoured the big boys' room. All the trinkets and junk and random collections and extra stuffed animals were sorted through. Much of it was placed in a big box that I marked PERGATORY. If either of my children say, "Mom, do you know where my ____ went?" I can say, "Hummmm, I will keep my eye out for it," and then pull the missed item out of the box a little later. But all THE OTHER not-so-missed items can stay put. At some point, I will trash/give away the contents of that box... when I am fairly certain it is safe to do so.

Honestly, I am "a tosser" and I would rather just send it to the curb right now but out of respect for my kids, I need to not just toss what might be precious to them. I will tread lightly (especially while my one child is in such a "keep it!!" phase) and recognize that while their things might not have value in my eyes, they are valuable in theirs. And that is enough reason to keep something around... for now.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


I shared with you earlier that I have been reading a great book on marriage. I am reading it REALLY s.l.o.w.l.y. Wanna know what is hitting me most?

Here is what I read today:

" 'Allison's' deepest heart's desire is for her husband to make her feel a certain way. Her desires are not necessarily bad. The problem, however, is when they become more important to her than a pure devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. Whenever a wife sets her heart on her husband behaving a certain way, she will likely end up disappointed, frustrated, and hurt. A primary clue to recognize that a heart's desire has become an idol (something more important to her than delighting in and serving God), is that the wife is willing to sin in order to attain that desire. Instead of setting her heart on her husband, Allison's deepest desires should be the same as those of the Psalmist in Psalm 119. He desired, sought after, and longed after God with all his heart." (The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace, p65)

Possible Idolatrous/Lustful Desires
1. That my husband will be affectionate.
2. That he will anticipate my needs without my asking.
3. That he will give me compliments.
4. That he will make me feel special.
5. That he will not hurt my feelings.
6. That he will talk to me and share his thoughts and feeings.
7. That he will put me first.
(The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace, p68-69)

So, I won't say outloud which number is the one I struggle with most, but just know that my struggle is listed above!

Right Desires
1. That I may know God's Word and obey it.
2. That I may delight in Him.
3. That I may seek Him with all my heart.
4. That I may be pleasing to Him regardless of my circumstances.
5. That I may cultivate an attitude of joy and gratitude in what God is doing in my life no matter what my husband does or does not do.
6. That I may have joy in God deciding how my life and circumstances can glorify Him the most, that He can use me for His glory.
(The Excellent Wife, Martha Peace, p69)

Martha lists six things that we wives can do to set our minds on things above. Come back later this week and I will have them for you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Here's Your Coffee, Mommy!

Last week, my oldest son woke up early and, yup, made me a cup of coffee.

The next day, boy #2 was on the counter, looking for the coffee beans to grind. And for no other reason than they know how much I love my morning coffee. What a blessing these boys are to me.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Main Ministry: Ryan

I have been convicted lately to look carefully at how I am doing in terms of my marriage. I spend a TON of time thinking about how I can be a better mom but not nearly enough energy considering where I might improve my ministry to my husband.

I have a book on my bookshelf, The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace, that I read about 5 years ago. And I have known for a while that it is time to pick it up again and do a personal "check up." It is so interesting what stuck out at me five years ago verses what is sticking out this time. My initial read-through of this book gave me permission to follow and submit to Ryan, even when I thought I had a better (read: right) way to do things. I honestly thought that if I had a better idea than him, that it would be wrong to follow his lead... that I was supposed to "follow" my spiritual leader, so long as he was spiritually leading well. After reading the book 5 years ago, I learned that I needed to follow and submit to his leadership regardless of his ability to lead, and regardless of whether or not I had a better idea. This revolutionized my concept of submission in a really good way. I saw that it was not my responsibility to make sure we were doing the best thing. What freedom I found in letting that go!

In my current read-through of this great book, one sentence has really impacted me more than any other (so far):
God's will for every Christian wife is that her most important ministry be to her husband.
This is something I have known for a long time but it is sinking deep into my fibers this time. Am I running my hours, days, weeks, and months as though this is what I believe? What am I doing that communicates this truth? If I am doing something intentional to minister to Ryan, is it something Ryan actually values, or is it something I merely THINK he values?

I am convicted to answer these questions. I want Ryan to believe that he has no bigger advocate on earth than his wife; No more enthusiastic cheerleader than the woman he married.

Have you given this any thought? I know that for a long time I felt like I could not be the kind of godly wife I was supposed to be "because he...". I played a blame game, believing that my role was stifled when he did not fulfill his role. Martha's book reminds me that there is only one thing that keeps me from being a godly wife: my own sin. One sin I see I have committed over and over again is the presumption that God will help me even when I am neglecting His truth. Why would God answer my cry for help when I am using my tongue to cut Ryan down, or allowing my mind to dream what it would be like "if only..."

Martha's answer to this problem: Because God has so richly provided for a Christian wife in her battle against sin, she is without excuse. Her loving, merciful, and holy God has truly provided everything she needs to become a godly wife - to become the excellent wife that God wants her to be. And even when she falls short, she can be forgiven. 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (1 John 1:9).

I want my life and my relationship with my husband to glorify You, Jesus!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

How Are We Doing

Thank you so, so much for everyone who praised the Lord right along side us after our scary bathtub incident. Many people have asked how we are doing so I thought I would answer that question here as well.

As frightening as it was to have it happen, Jackson does not seem to realize just how serious the incident was. I asked him if he thought about it much and he said no, not at all. I, on the other hand, have relived it many times. Though my tears have dried up, I get a nervous pit in my stomach still when I find myself with a quiet moment. Mostly, though, we have all just moved on as normal.

I have alerted the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Please pass our experience on to as many people as possible.

Thanks to everyone for your care and concern for our family, and for your prayers!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

We Almost Lost Him Today

We have one of those bath toy holders that is a net with two suction cups to stick it to the side of the tub. Today I cut the suction cups off of it and if you have one, I hope you follow suit.
You see, this morning, while taking his bath, Jackson took that net (which was not attached to the tub wall), held it by the two suction cups and put it around the back of his neck - so it laid on his back like a cape. He then dunked his head underwater to see how long he could hold his breath for, and suctioned those cups to the bottom of the tub. When he tried to come up for air, he was stuck underwater. He pulled against the suction with his neck so hard that he has a rope burn on his neck. By God's Tender Mercy, he was able to get a breath and call for help. I came running, only to find him back under water.
He was already starting to inhale water into his lungs. I quickly figured out the problem and released the suction.
He is a very independent bather. He is 5, after all. All day today I have run through the what if's: What if I had been drying my hair in the other bathroom. What if I had gone downstairs for something and could not hear his call for help. What if...
I have cried many times today, thankful to have received such mercy, thankful for the Lord's rescue. This could have been "that day" that changed the rest of our family's life. Just moments away...
Thank you, Lord, for sparing my son. My sweet, wonderful Jackson Douglas

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I Don't Want to Forget

Little Language-less Weston is finally bursting with words. He is copying tons of things we say, just to try and see if he can say it. You really don't know how much a kid is absorbing until he finally busts out with a sackful of words. Like, the other day when I was not sure where Jackson was... We were all outside and it was time to go, "Jackson!" I called. Weston, who playing outside as well, looked up at me, pointed to Jackson and said, "Ah Kip!" And indeed, he was chatting with our neighbor Skip. I was astounded that he knew Skip's name. Its not like he has seen him much this winter.

So here is my little list (that promises to grow, if I can just remember to write it down):

wa, do, tee, wa, dive! (1,2,3,4,5!)
I pay gay-gay (translation: I want to play with My First LeapPad cartridge "Jay-Jay the Jetplane")
hey doo-en? (translation: How are you doing, or what are you doing)
Wets doe De-De, wets doe! (Let's go Davis, let's go! - think baseball dugout chant, here)
bok-ki-ki (brocoli)
Oh my goog-guk, La-La! (Oh my goodness, Lindy!)
Ah wee hop-op-hop (Translation: I want you to read me the book Hop on Pop)
Bobby geans (jelly beans)

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Cleaning Schedule

By request, I post my declutter/cleaning schedule!

To create this, I sectioned my house off into 5 zones and assigned each region a day
1. Monday - Living room, Hallway & Stairs
2. Wednesday - Bathrooms
3. Thursday - Kitchen, Dining room & Family Room
4. Friday - Playroom
5. Saturday - Bedrooms

On Tuesday (notice it is missing from above), I take care of laundry for the week and do miscellaneous chores. Sunday I don't have any chores assigned. The goal is to have that be a rest day, or at least a catch-up day if it was a crazy week.

I work part-time, plus my husband works late many nights so I need to have enough energy to put all the kids to bed when he can't be there so rather than try to clean it all in one week, I give myself two weeks. I also switch it up so that the harder chores (like mopping the floors in the living room) don't fall in the same week.

Lastly (and here is my favorite part), now that the kids are trained on how to do these things, the actual amount of time spent cleaning is about 30 minutes or significantly less. Not bad! Oh, and since you will see that I rely upon the kids quite a bit to help, the counter in the bathroom, for instance, is not perfectly wiped, nor is the mirror wiped perfectly clean. But that is not the point in inviting the kids in on this part of being a family.


"Sweep, Mop & Wipe Day"
Jackson - put up all toys, misc things in prep for vacuumming; wipe glass tables, sweep hallway
Davis - vacuum carpet, sweep stairs and landing
Mom - Mop hallway, stairs & landing

Tuesday: LAUNDRY
"Laundry Day & Misc Chores"
Jackson & Davis - empty all trash cans, sort/put away kids clean laundry, round up and put away all outside toys
Mom - Laundry & misc chores or catch-up on cleaning that got missed

Wednesday: BATHROOMS
J - wipe sinks & counters
D - wipe toilets, bring in garbage and recycling bins from curb
M - scrub tub & sweep/mop floors in main bath

"Declutter & Dust Day"
J - dust TV stand
D - dust bookshelf
M - clear off kitchen hot spot, dust TV and high bookshelves, declutter
All - clean windows

"Dust & Declutter Day"
J - put toys away
D - sort toys into proper bins
M - declutter high shelves, sweep & dust

Saturday: BEDROOMS
"Change Sheets Day"
D&J - clear floor
All - strip beds
All - make beds

Sunday: REST!


"Declutter & Dust Day"
J - dust railing, sweep stairs & landing
D - put away toys, dust desk, window sills, fireplace & tables
M - declutter

Tuesday: LAUNDRY
"Laundry & Misc Chores"
D&J - empty all trash cans, sort & put away kids clean laundry, de-spiderweb porch/decks
M - laundry, sweep front porch &/or decks

Wednesday: BATHROOMS
J - wipe toilets
D - wipe sinks & counters, bring in recycle bins
M - Scrub shower, sweep & wipe floors in master bath

"Sweep & Mop Day"
J - pick up all toys, socks, shoes, etc (prep for mopping)
D - Sweep under all chairs
M - sweep & mop

"Dust & Vacuum Day"
D&J - pick up toys and put in proper bins
M - dust and vacuum

Saturday: BEDROOMS
"Dust and Declutter Day"
J - Pick up toys on floor, wipe window sills
D - put away toys on shelves (i.e. declutter shelves), dust shelves & dresser
M - declutter & dust master bedroom, little kids' rooms

Sunday: REST!

Did you read all the way down to here? Wow! I'm impressed! If you are drowning in clutter in your home, check out for some amazing tips.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Keepin' It Real

Tagged by Ming, to show what a mom of four looks like first thing in the morning.

Keepin' It RealHere are the rules:

Take a picture of yourself right now.
No primping or preparing.
Just snap a picture.
Load the picture onto your blog.
Tag some people to play.

Ginger, Christine, TAG! You're it!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Reading Time

By far my most favorite time of the day is when I sit in our recliner with a chapter book in my hand. And my older boys sit on their "reading blankets" (thank you for making these, Grandma Maryann!) and listen. (Yes, Weston joins in ocassionally...though he has gotten a bit disruptive as of late.)

The rule is that your body stays on your own blanket. You may look at books as you listen (this really helps my more active child - it is remarkable how much BETTER he hears me when he is distracted just a little).

We just finished reading James and the Giant Peach. Oh what fun! To get Jackson (just turned 5) to enjoy chapter books, I started this routine out by reading Junie B Jones books. Oh, they are so funny! From there it did not take him long to become a lover of chapter books. (He is not naturally drawn toward books anyway, so long books without pictures was not exactly interesting to him at first! Now he just loves the time we spend and he is frequently heard saying, "one more chapter!" which is a huge accomplishment in our family!!

One thing that also has helped keep him engaged is that before we start reading each day, we talk about where we left off. Then while we are reading, I stop here and there and ask one boy or the other a question about the story (multiple choice for my 5-year-old, and tricky trivia questions for my 7 yo avid reader/listener. They both LOVE answering questions about the book. (Isn't that funny?)

I have been frequenting thrift stores lately, trying to get a "chapter book library" built up now that I have a reader in the family (Davis). I don't think it will be long before he is ready to read some of them. In the mean time, we are reading from the nice selection of books collected so far.
Our collection includes:
Narnia books (of course)
Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing
Junie B. Jones series
How to Eat Fried Worms
The Trumpet of the Swan
Henry and the Clubhouse
The Borrowers

What chapter books have you read to your kids, or do you remember reading as a kid? I am always looking for suggestions!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Embracing Baseball

I mentioned already that we are playing baseball for the first time this year. And we are in deep, as we have two boys old enough to swing a bat for a team. Someday in the future we will probably limit the number of kids that can play a sport at one time because you run yourself ragged getting to all the practices and games. And with our baseball league there are also mandatory volunteer opportunities (did I just say mandatory volunteer? Indeed.). And then there is fundraising and a tournament at the end of the season and the cost to play and the cost to outfit and gear-up both kids. And don't forget the help that the coaches really need to organize the volunteers, the fundraiser, and other things like that.

What am I getting at? This baseball thing is a significant committment in a variety of realms. As a parent that is completely GREEN when it comes to having kids in baseball, I was pretty stressed out when I discovered that Davis' team would be practicing three times a week. I was glad to know that Jackson's team is only practicing once a week. But he has games twice a week most weeks, and Davis has games sometimes as much as three times in a week. Plus practices. Yeah.

Resentment was building right from the start. I am pretty full already, you know? I mean, I have my safe little life and my wonderful routines. I have spaces in my day to be intentional with each of my kids. But I only have these spaces because I have organized my days and weeks in such a way... I don't exactly have five nights a week to devote to something as insignificant as baseball.

Today I saw in another mom's tone of voice and facial expressions what I had been feeling. Her complaints were pretty legit, if you ask me. She thought she signed up her child to play some ball but she didn't know she was signing up for a change in lifestyle for the next 10 weeks. She did not know that such a thing as mandatory volunteering existed. She did not know that there would be games three times a week and practices on top of that. I totally got it that she was disillusioned and deeply regretted letting her kid play ball.

The thing is, we did sign our kids up. And this is what is asked of all the parents. And regardless of whether or not we should have registered our boys for baseball, these are the circumstances we find ourselves in right now. Suddenly I saw so clearly that she and I both have choices to make.
1. Drop out of the league. Yeah, the $100 spent to play is lost, but at least you have your life back. Who wants to pay for misery?
2. Continue in the league, but make sure everyone knows just how ticked off you are about what a huge committment this has turned out to be. And write dozens of letters in your head to the Little League Board of Directors.
3. Embrace the circumstances. Better yet, use them to glorify the Lord.

I am thankful I saw myself so clearly in another mom's ugly behavior because I was inches from echoing her ticked-off sentiments. I realize now that my witness is at stake. And with that knowledge, my entire perspective has changed. I am finding myself excited for the next couple of months. I see that our lives are going to look very different for a while, and that means sacrificing some things that I don't want to sacrifice (but is that not the definition of sacrifice?!). But it is temporary. We can get back to our perfect lives soon enough. But for a while, it is going to get messy as we develop relationships with parents who don't know God's call on their lives. We are going to get our hands dirty as we permit our kids to work really hard all season long under someone else's authority. I have this mental image of our family really caring for the coaches (who are great, by the way) - serving them, praying for them, supporting them, assisting them, ministering to them.

In a blink of an eye, my mind has been renewed. Rather than fight against baseball all season long, I have embraced it. I see it as a ministry opportunity. I will use it in every way possible to glorify the Lord. I am so excited!

Play ball!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Type-A and Loving It!

If there is one thing that has really changed in my life after adding my forth wonderful bundle of boy-joy, it is in the realm of time-management. I do have so much that MUST happen in a week(feeding the family, throwing laundry into machines, etc.), and so much that SHOULD get done (list appears below), and so much that I DESIRE to do (read to the kids, blog, etc.).

Maybe it is the same at your house as it is in mine: you get your "must's" done and you get your "desires" done, but the "shoulds" fall to the way-side - unless you are really on top of things. A short list of my Shoulds: mopping the floor, cleaning out the car, decluttering "that one spot" in the kitchen, mailing an encouraging note, putting laundry away, meal planning for next week, scrubbing the shower... you know... stuff that you can get away with not doing, but feels great to do (or at least feels great once its done).

So to fit it all in I have made three modifications to my life. And believe it or not, I love every one of them (even the first one!).

1. I wake up most mornings at 5:15AM. I know. I can't believe it myself. But what I REALLY can't believe is that I LIKE IT. I get a workout in, spend some time with the Lord, and shower all before my kids are up. I have tried on many occasions to get up before the kids so that I can have an uninterrupted quiet time. It has been seven years of intermittent trying and giving up. And this time - IT IS WORKING! It is a major victory for me. I will save you the details going on in my brain about this subject, but suffice it to say I have Joy to thank for making me see that getting up early is something you can learn. And it is a learned skill. For some reason, that clicked for me. Maybe I will blog about that some other day.

2. I created a two-week cleaning chart. If my boys and I do the 15-25 minutes of cleaning listed for that day and we do it every day for two weeks, the house stays clean and relatively clutter-free. This is a very new addition to our lives (we are finishing up our first two-week cycle this weekend), but so far it has been great. I have the kind of personality when it comes to cleaning that is best described as "all or nothing." If I don't think I can do it perfectly, I don't have any motivation to do it. And when was the last time I had 5 hours of uninterrupted time to clean the house top to bottom (ugh - that sounds dreadful!)? About 7.5 years ago. And way back then I had a list of other excuses as to why I couldn't keep a clean house. Anywho, this little chart breaks it down so that I don't feel defeated or overwhelmed at the thought of cleaning the entire house because I don't have to clean the whole house today...I just need to sweep and mop the floors.

3. I have a little list in my kitchen that reminds me to do a few things every night before I go to bed, like take tomorrow's meat out of the freezer and make school and work lunches. The list also reminds me to fold laundry on Wednesday nights and meal plan/make my grocery list on Monday nights. And it is on that little list that it says for Friday nights, "BLOG!!"

So, if you are looking for a good excuse to increase your neurosis and want to polish up on your ability to make an astute list, increase the number of children you are raising. It worked for me! But honestly, I am really enjoying increasing my homemaking skills. I like being (or attempting to become) excellent at my job!