Monday, May 30, 2011

Moment to Remember

A conversation I had with Davis this week warmed my heart to overflowing. I know I will forget it if I don't write it somewhere. So, Blog, here you go!

I was relaxing on the couch in our quiet (what!? does that really happen?!) living room with just Davis (ah-ha! NOW I know how it could be that the living room was quiet...!). Davis saw my empty lap and said, "Oh! I think I need some cuddle time." Not a common request by him, I was glad to oblige. Up he climbed, rounded himself into a nine-and-a-half-year-old ball in my lap and just sighed a big contented sigh. I sighed happily with him and said, "Davis, you are turning out to be a really wonderful young man. You know that?"
"Well, YOU raised me, Mom."
"Aw," (big smile) "I had something great to work with, though."
Then he smiled just as big, hugged me tighter and said, "I love you, Mom. I really love you."

Monday, April 25, 2011

"Four" won't last forever

No, this is not a reference to the number of children we are having.

(Yes. I had to go back to
Christmas to get a photo of my kids.)
I need to log something in my brain and in my blog. I need to see it in writing. When I am about to lose my mind with the whining and tears that a four-year-old produces, and when I dream of perhaps putting said four-year-old in some sort of magical all-day preschool next year, I need to remember that Five-Year-Old-Glover-Boys are a HUGE reward. (Most five-year-olds are, by the way.)

They are sweet. They are helpful. They are capable.

You are going to make it, Mom. You are seven months away from the blissful Year of Five. I know it is tempting, but don't start collecting preschool applications. You have one more year with your lion before the days of him being home full time are *poofed* away. Make that final year count and enjoy the blessing!

(And if you are wondering, I have nothing against preschool. It works for lots of families. Maybe even mine someday.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Marriage Savers, installment 3

Here are a few things that Ryan and I together found to be valuable to our marriage.

3. Play together! Invest in activities that you both enjoy; be willing to give activities he enjoys a fair shake (like golfing!). My man really values ACTIVITIES. I really value QUALITY TIME.  So we put the two love languages together and focus on having fun!

4. When he does something that appears insensitive, assume the best about him. A couple of months ago we had this come up, where I was desperate for help inside the house and he knew it but he still did not come in and help. I was so angry and so hurt! I usually try to avoid assuming that "he is just being selfish!" but this time, well, it was the only thought in my mind. I was mad, Mad, MAD! And I let him know. It ended up exploding into a pretty heated argument (something we don't have too may of). The real shame is that it was yet another example when I should have assumed the best about him. My emotions got the better of me (shocker!). When I understood why he did what he did I felt foolish having made such a big deal about it. I was again reminded that Ryan deserves the benefit of the doubt. He does not purposefully leave me to flap helplessly in the wind. He has so many more pressures on him than I am aware of - extending him grace in these moments is the least I can do.

6. Smile when he gets home. Don't unload all the day's junk on him when he walks through the door. Just greet him with a huge dose of dignity and respect.

7. Surround yourself with people who support marriage in general, and who support your marriage in particular.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Penny for Your thoughts? (P90X part 2)

Installment two in this series on making a stronger marriage...

Ask your husband how he would like the kids to be raised.

What values does he want his kids to have deep inside them? Where does he want the family's top 2 or 3 "Big Rocks" to be? (being smart? working hard? faith in God? Grace of God? Good stewardship of time and money? Getting along with others? Sibling harmony? Missions awareness? Athleticism? Being beautiful on the inside? the list goes on and on...)

When I asked Ryan this, I really did not expect him to have an answer immediately. I figured he would need some time to think about it but as it turns out, he HAD already thought about it - I had just never asked. He was glad to be able to share his thoughts and honestly it was helpful to me to have a conversation about where I should (and should not) be focusing my efforts with the kids. There are so many wonderful things to focus on - and in the world of blogging and even in the church community there is a great deal of pressure to "keep up" with the star moms out there. But you are raising your kids with your husband, not with some amazing mom you look up to.

Then, when you ask him have a healthy conversation where the goal is for you to understand HIM on this. So long as his priorities do not cause you or the kids to sin, do your best to represent your husband during the day by making his priorities your priorities.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

P90X for the Marriage: Fight Fair

Ok, first an explanation of the title of this series. P90X is this grueling exercise program that, if you stick to it for 90+ days, promises to give you the beach body you have always wanted. Its intense. Its painful. Its hard work. And, according to its creator, TOTALLY WORTH IT. While I am not convinced I will look like the ripped people I sweat with on that DVD series, can't help but believe I will notice some marked difference when I am through.

Working out consistently is not really all that much fun for most people. If you are a smidgen like me, you avoid the hard work of exercising and reach instead for a frosting-covered brownie when given the chance. It is hard to exercise our feeble arms and weak knees. It is even harder to do it over a long haul but that is the only way you will see results, right? (Yes ma'am.) You can't and don't expect to see tight abs after a week of an Ab Ripper DVD. You would never dare to run a half-marathon without spending some serious time on the pavement starting weeks beforehand.

You see by now the parallel I am drawing, right? The morsels I am recording here won't solve a broken or hurting marriage in a week, month, or even a year. But I am convinced that over a long haul the new "muscles" you have worked will start showing in the form of a strengthened marriage. Ryan and I will have been married for fourteen years this September. Some of the things I will bring up are new to me just in the past 18 months; others have been things I have focused on for five years; still others for a decade. So flex those muscles over the long haul - and get those expectations set appropriately!

Even the wisest, coolest sounding tips for marriage are empty caverns without the sustaining help of the Lord. If I were reading these tips and did not know the Lord or did not regularly depend on Him as my Provider and Savior I am convinced that I would fall on my face too many times to bother getting up again. (As it is I fall on my face plenty anyway!)  If you look to strengthen your marriage do it in the power of the Holy Spirit first and foremost. HE will give you what you need in the moment much more than any silly tip I offer here on this blog.

Without further ado, tip #1: Learn how to have a successful argument

If you have been married for more than 10 minutes you know that arguments come with the package. You can't put two humans in a house together and not get under each other's skin! One of the best things that Ryan and I have done for each other is give each other PLENTY of opportunity to practice resolving conflict. (Too bad that has to involve angry voices, adrenaline and boiling blood.)

Anyway you, as one of two grown-ups in the fight, should act like one. Don't make excuses in your head for everything you say in an argument. ("Well he's out of control - I will be too!" "He hit below the belt, now it's my turn!" "He brought this up, so I will bring that up!") Remember the reason you began arguing in the first place: it probably started out in some attempt to solve a problem. Do what you can to NOT escalate the original problem. Don't say things to your husband that you would scold your children for saying to each other.

Instead, begin to give your husband what you really want in an argument: You want to be heard, so make sure you get across to him that you "get" what he is trying to say (even if you don't agree, give him the chance to explain and communicate to him what you think you heard). Show compassion for his side of things.

When you know you messed up in some way, you want to be able to walk away from the argument with dignity (nothing worse than being shamed or made to feel worse than you already do), so give him dignity by not pushing-pushing-pushing until he "finally admits all" that he screwed up.

Any married person knows how to push their spouse's buttons and get them riled up; study up on the other side of that: what buttons can you push that will diffuse his anger and help him calm down? Wouldn't that be helpful to you? Do that for him.

There are lots of good books out there about conflict resolution and listening skills and such. If this is a real problem in your marriage for either of you, check out a book from the library on the subject. Add another tool to your toolbelt!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New series!

I am excited to write a new series in 2011. Last series was on parenting; this one will be all about marriage. I compiled a list of six "marriage strengtheners" last month. Today I shared them with Ryan and he added another six. It was fun to come up with this list together and now I am looking forward to getting it written as I have the opportunity.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Five O'Clock Hour

I don't know what it is about Thanksgiving weekend for me but for the past number of years it has become my prompt to begin preparing for the resolutions I might make in the coming year. While others are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their Christmas tree, I am swarming with thoughts of the New Year. I relish the thought of the fresh start that January 1 represents.

Last year on Thanksgiving weekend I was contemplating reading the Bible throughout the year (OT once through, NT twice). I am thrilled that I am on track to reach my goal (I half thought I would not follow through).
It was a relatively small committment but it was important to me to make and stick to. It has been good for me to discipline myself in a small way, especially in a year that was so full of hard and good things.

This year my goal is a bit more ambitious. It involves seeing a five as the first number on my alarm clock, and NOT seeing a ten the night before. Here I add my caveate: "when it is reasonable." Because it is not reasonable to arise at 5-something when the night was full of sleeplessness. If I do go through with this, pray for Ryan. I have a terrible Snooze Button Addiction. He would frown on two hours of 104.1FM every 7 minutes. (I, on the other hand, find that rather dreamy...)

Why, oh WHY would I consider torturing myself in such a way? Bible Study. Regular, consistent studying of the Bible. I have racked my brain trying to come up with even 20 quiet, uninterrupted minutes in my day to make this happen. Honestly, it does not exist. Oh, it happens now and then - but regularly? 'fraid not. Since I don't want to spend those 20 minutes being grumpy at the kids for their interruption and distraction ("Leave Mommy alone! Can't you see I'M STUDYING MY BIBLE!?!!?" Nice witness, Mommy), I need to invent a new hour of the day. It is called "pre-dawn." I have heard of it, but rarely seen it on purpose.

And if I can squeeze in some exercise before the kids notice I am up, all the better.
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Monday, November 22, 2010

15 Parenting Tips I Give Myself: Let Dad be Dad

Tip#15 Nurture a deep respect for your husband specifically as it relates to his role as father.

I will just be honest and say that I have been guilty all too often of thinking I know far more than my husband when it comes to parenting. The evidence I would point to? (And I point these things out with all sincerity and with as much respect as I can claim when formulating a somewhat disrespectful list of I'm-Better-Than-You-Are's.) For every 1 of his hours of parenting, I have 4; for every 1 parenting book that he has read I have read 8; for every 1 conversation he has had with another dad about discipline, I have had - well, I can't even count that one.

He would whole-heartedly agree that I am the PRDD (Parenting Research and Development Division) in this household. He actually prefers to default to what I know and have experienced when it comes to lots of parenting issues. The problem with me spending time down I Know All - You Are Clueless Avenue is that it goes no where good. My heart fills with prideful hautiness and disrespect toward by husband. Blech. So regardless of the fact that I have more information, experience and support, I must foster a deep and true respect for my husband who loves our kids as much as me.

Making this happen:

Pray for your husband, his fatherhood, his realtionship with the kids, and his relationship with the Lord.

When parenthood is new and fresh and frightening, allow him to learn how to be a dad at a slower pace than you are learning. You think about this child every.waking.moment. He works all day. And does not let milk down every 3.67 hours. And is not tending to every detail of every nap. And did not sprout "mommy ears" the morning of your child's birth. So be patient, kind, respectful and considerate, remembering that you and he will NOT, rather, CANNOT, learn parenthood at the same pace.

Let him have the type of relationship he desires to have with the kids. This might vary greatly from your idea of a perfect relationship between father and child. If you wonder what kind of relationship he wants, ask him. Let him talk and don't criticize. Encourage him, and don't sabotage!

Communicate a deep respect for this thoughts about all things, particularly when he comments on anything kid-related. You might initially think he is wrong on a point (and perhaps he is) but a respectful response does not include a quick "no" or dismissal. Respectful says, "I have never thought about it in that way." I have much work to do in this area. I am known for my quick "No."

Ask him what he would like to see you focus on  and make sure your priorities reflect his. I spend an enormous amount of time talking with other mothers, reading blogs and ruminating on how I will raise our boys - everything from how to get them to do their chores every day to how I will prepare them for college and the real world of pursuing the Lord. My tendancy is to come up with a wonderful idea, think of the 10 ways to accomplish that idea, decide on the best way, move forward with the brilliance I came up with and then - maybe - mention it to Ryan. Or maybe not. Like I said earlier, he prefers to defer to me with most parenting things anyway, so I can get away with this. But BOY does it get me into trouble in the end. Before I invest a mound of energy into my ideas, I have learned that I really need to get a clue as to what RYAN'S priorities are for the boys. I need to take the time to investigate what HE wants me to focus on and pursue those priorities first and foremost. EVEN IF IT MEANS DYING TO MY OWN PRIORITIES. The Lord honors a wife who respects her husband in word and deed. This has been the single most significant way I have gained great respect for Ryan as a father.

Oh, one more thing. Realize that progress in this area (especially if it has been an area of concern) is a long process. Don't strongarm your husband tonight trying to get him to tell you every parenting thought he has ever had. I can't imagine that conversation going anywhere productive in my home. Would it be different in yours? So do yourself a favor tonight and, instead, slip into something nice and light a candle in the bedroom. Atta' girl.