The latest rage in my house is to be first. My two year old still refuses to say more than a word or two at a time…and usually it’s barely understandable…but she will yell, “No, I’m first!” as clear as day at her sister. Nothing seems to stem the tide of this new desire. Pointing out that it doesn’t matter who gets into the van first since it won’t leave before everyone is seated an buckled doesn’t work. Making the kid who yelled that they’re first go last doesn’t work, mainly because I only have two kids who care and they both yell it at the same time. So then I’m left with no one getting in first. Quoting scripture like, “the last shall be first” just draws blank stares. Apparently they have not reached the milestone of understanding the complexities of self sacrificing theology. But one thing does work, and that’s giving them tasks they don’t want to do. They graciously step aside to let the other be first when they are getting ready for bed. They’ll fight over who has to go first when it’s time to get out of the pool, brush their teeth, or pick up their toys. Something tells me this won’t be changing anytime soon. So I guess I should just strap in and accept the battle over first, knowing that it will never be me. ;). Such is the life of a parent.
I have rambling and very random thought patterns. I had read an article about the dangers of praising your kids too much (the basic gist was if you praise kids all the time, even when they fail, the words become meaningless to the kids. So only give specific praises, only for successes, blah, blah, blah). But it got me randomly thinking about a book I read for married couples called “The Five Love Languages”. Basic idea is, everyone feels love differently. The author (Gary Chapman) breaks it into five categories: acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, and receiving gifts. The names are self explanatory, and you can read the book yourselves if you want more in depth explanations. But I started thinking about how this is useful with all relationships, not just marital ones. Even with our kids. Granted, people don’t just fall into cookie cutter categories, many are more than one. Our languages can also change. Right after I had King Toot my energy was very low so acts of service was my language but before, and now after, I am quality time. Also, little kids are just developing their personalities which makes figuring out what their love language tricky.
But after pondering this, I started watching my kids more closely. If anything else, it has started making me more aware of what my kids want and what makes them happy. Do they prefer acts of service? Well maybe, since they seem to expect me to cook, clean, wipe their bottoms, and basically do everything for them. But I doubt it. Both my girls seem to lean towards quality time. They want me near them at all times, and want to share any new discoveries and accomplishments with me as they happen. They don’t seem to care about gifts too much. They would rather go with me on a trip to the grocery store (believe it or not, Sasquatch requested it this morning) or play with a cardboard box. Urpling seems to be physical touch as well, she always wants to be holding my hand, sitting in my lap, etc. Sasquatch could care less if you hug her (unless she has an owie). They all love words of affirmation. They light up when we tell them what a good job they did. Overall, I have found looking for their love language useful because even if I never figure out what category they fit in, my time is never wasted when it is spent finding new ways to show love to my kids.
Today our family went to see the movie Brave by Pixar. As usual, it was awesome and the girls loved it. We went to Studio Movie Grill (none of these companies paid me to endorse them by the way, but I wouldn’t turn down an offer if they gave me one) and had lunch while watching the movie. It worked out really well. I have to say, we rarely take our kids to the movies for two reasons. First, they are still little enough where about half way through they get fidgety (if we can even make it that far). Second, I am firm believer in previewing movies before letting the kids watch them. Even with kids movies, there tends to be a lot of things I find inappropriate. I do let this rule slide if I rent something, as it’s never more than a dollar and I just shut it off if it gets inappropriate. But over five dollars for a movie (for the kids…then add in the price for Sir Smiley and I it adds up to way to much)…I want to see the whole thing. Our exception has been Pixar, as every movie they have made has been fantastic. (and yes, that includes Cars 2… I loved it).
I digress. The main point I have been mulling over today is how God picks the oddest things to convict me. I won’t give away the plot of the movie…but it is family themed and especially revolves around the relationship between mother and daughter. This morning both the girls woke up in a mood, and thus I also woke up in a mood. So the wonderful happy morning I had planned in my head, where we all get up and sing happy songs and declare endless love to each other while we ride off into the sunset to watch a movie together, didn’t happen. It more revolved around constant whiny sounds from the girls, screaming from the boy (and maybe a bit from the mom and dad) and a bit of crying from mommy, while she yells at everyone, “Why can’t we all just be happy and nice to one another!!!”. (yes, I glimpse the irony). The only reason we still went to the movie was because it was a groupon that was about to expire.
So off we trudge and get into the theater just as it’s starting. Right when we walk in and find our seats, the girls manage to a fantastic fall where they fall literally on top of each other in a gigantic heap. But to my relief they just giggle and then get in their seats. But watching the movie….I bawled through a lot of it. Whenever the mom and daughter fought, when they played and laughed, when they defended each other, the water works would start. The whole experience reminded me how important my girls were to me. By the end our family was happy and whole, and we rode off into the sunset to head home. (well, not really since it was 1:30 in the afternoon, but you know what I mean). So bravo Pixar….bravo.
This incident happened about year ago, but it is still one of my favorites. Sir Smiley was sitting in his fully marked patrol car in the left lane with his partner, waiting at a stop light. They were just cruising around, keeping an eye on things at this point. Suddenly a car passes them in the left turn only lane with their flashers on, while honking. He passes all the cars waiting at the light and continues through the intersection in this same fashion. A brief pause of shock, Sir Smiley sees all the other drivers watching him to see how he’ll react. The honking driver then takes the next left, and so Sir Smiley follows to pull him over. As Sir Smiley turns on the lights, the other driver makes a u-turn, pulls over, and immediately gets out. Sir Smiley quickly advises him to return to his vehicle, which he does. When asked about his unusual driving style, the man replies that he was doing “emergency driving”. Sir Smiley asks him what “emergency driving” is. The man tells him that when you have and emergency you can turn on your flashers and honk your horn and you can drive however you want. Sir Smiley advised him about what the laws actually were and then asked him what his emergency was. The man then started to launch into a story that started back in 1973. So apparently this was not a recent emergency. After reminding him of the actual traffic laws, Sir Smiley sent him on his way, but also petitioned the court to have his license revoked. Which it was the following week. Thankfully this man will have to retest before he can get his license back.
I had very few health problems until I had Urpling. There was the propensity for high cholesterol in my family. But other than that I was doing pretty good, and since I was young and relatively skinny I could care less that my blood was some sludgy goo instead of a nice liquid. A few months after I had Urpling, I started gaining weight rapidly. About 60 pounds at least. Combine this with the 15-20 pounds I had gained from a few pregnancies and it was not a pretty picture. I also threw out my back so bad that I had to crawl to the phone to call my mom while my 3 month old was in a swing and my two year old was running around. This all combined to convince me to finally go to a doctor. She ran the normal gamut of blood work and found everything was high. My liver count, cholesterol, and thyroid amongst other things. So off I go to see a specialist about my thyroid. I had never given my thyroid much thought. It’s just a small gland in your neck only a few centimeters long, and it doesn’t get much attention. But man, is it important. Turns out mine was all out of whack. It was causing my weight to go up, my cholesterol to go up, my migraines, and my complete lack of energy. Once I got on some medication, (and I started watching my diet and exercising) my weight dropped, I had more energy and my headaches went away. Let me tell you, that was one magic pill.(yes, eating something other than Mac and Cheese and Hamburger Helper, and even eating a few veggies helped too.)
Fast forward a few years and I go in for a check up after having King Toot. Of course they ask me how I’m feeling, have I been extra tired? Well, I just had a baby two months ago and now have three kids under the age of 4…so yeah I am tired. Extra tired? No idea. My levels all seemed okay, so they lowered my dosage and sent me home. But despite working out every day, watching what I eat, and getting plenty of sleep…I was not losing weight and was exhausted constantly. Wouldn’t you know but that pesky little thyroid was out of whack again. So back to my old dosage and no more headaches (again) and my weight is starting to drop (again)and I actually have energy to do things (again). My kids and my husband are especially pleased. So three cheers for a properly functioning thyroid!
Random note that has nothing to do with the post: Today I was writing and my pen ran out of ink. I have now actually managed to hang on to a pen without losing it long enough to actually use it up. This has never happened to me before. I may need to celebrate with cake…or chocolate…or steak.
Balance…something everyone strives to have in their lives. Yet it is elusive and difficult to find. There are physical balances…eating healthy, but still enjoying what you eat. Working out, but taking time to rest. There is financial balance. Saving money for the future and hard times, but still enjoying the time you have now. Being generous to others but still keeping what you need for yourself. There are so many things we think we should do, are told we should do, or wonder if we should do that it becomes overwhelming.
When I decided to become a stay at home mom, it took trying to balance my life to a whole new level. It took it from college level to pro. When I started staying home after I had Sasquatch, I suddenly had all this unplanned time on my hands. (notice, I didn’t say I had a lot of time on my hands…but now it was no longer set up for me). When I worked, I had to be at specific places at specific times. I fit in necessary chores in the little spaces left. But now I reported to no one, no schedule laid out for me to follow. I had to create it all on my own. As the queen of people who over think things, this has been difficult for me and I have been doing this for four years.
My biggest struggles usually revolve around how to spend my time. (I am horrible with money, so I leave balancing the checkbook to Sir Smiley, or nothing would ever get paid). If I am on top of things and keeping up with my chores you would think I would be happy. But then I am sure that I must not be spending enough time with the kids. Am I ignoring them too much? Are they feeling abandoned and unloved? But If I spend all my time with them, I become stressed in a new way. I can’t find anything. If I had kept on top of cleaning, maybe Sir Smiley wouldn’t have twisted his ankle walking across the living room. We can’t go out, the kids have no clean clothes. I guess we’ll eat Mac and cheese tonight, since I forgot to go shopping today. I worry about other things too, not just the kids. Did I spend enough time with Sir Smiley? Am I so cranky because I need to take a break? I should be getting healthy and working out, but how do I fit that in? You get the picture. Being at home does not mean that you suddenly have all this extra time or that things run smoothly now. I may no longer be employed, but I now have kids that eat up more time than a job ever did. So now I take time to adjust responsibilities, making sure that if I take on something new I either abandon a different project or have extra time to do it.
One thing that helps is I make a list of the things I need done, then one of the things I would like to have done. Then I make a rough schedule or routine to follow so I get the things I need done….done. I leave the second list lying around so they don’t bounce around in my head and do them with whatever extra time I have (which isn’t much, but there is something so satisfying about crossing something off a list)
As always, I just muddle along as best I can and pray that God protects my children and husband from my ineptitude. I try to prioritize, God first, then hubby, kids and me. Those first, then fit in other things as I can. None of us are perfect, and I can’t honestly tell you what the perfect balance looks like. But I have learned that I may not have been perfect, I may have been impatient or forgotten something, but I give it my all and loved my family. If I have done that, then it was a good day.
I never fully grasped how dependent I have become on technology I didn’t even use when I was in high school or college. It’s amazing really. A series of unfortunate events led to a few missing items I usually don’t go without. Earlier this week, Sir Smiley left his cell phone in his running shorts, that looked very similar to his swim trunks. I then washed those shorts without checking the pockets. With some loud thumps in the washing machine, his phone died…never to turn back on. Then today I forgot my phone and Itouch at church (for the second week in a row. I’m either a ditz, or I have three small children that distract me often. I’m gonna go with the latter.) Combine this with my hubby forgetting to pay his license renewal, and we have an awkward situation. I was supposed to head to my parents house while Sir Smiley was at work. But now he couldn’t drive his car so I dropped him off at work. Then off to my parents. I wasn’t sure if he needed a ride back, and I realized that I had no way to contact him in order to find out if he needed a ride home tonight. He was in a car all day, so I had no phone number for him and all my parents phone numbers were in his now dead phone. I did make it home in time to get his phone call saying he had found a ride home. But the whole day I felt naked and weird not being able to just call my hubby whenever I felt like chatting or seeing how he was doing. I do wonder, what did I do before cell phones? Driving long distances without one, actually memorizing my friends’ and family’s phone numbers (I have Sir Smiley’s number memorized and that’s it. My sister is 4, Dad is 6, Mom is 7…that’s all I remember….), actually having to stay in the house to talk. It is weird how quickly I become dependent on technology, like a part of me almost.
My kids now try to tap computer screens to get programs running, instead of the mouse. That technology has changed so rapidly, they are beyond using a mouse and expect all technology to utilize touch screens. I remember using those green screen apple computers when I was almost in middle school. Racing the cat paws as I learned to type. Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, those were real games. I remember when my friends first got an Atari and I remember phones with cords. Our first cell phone was the size of a shoe box. After this week I have decided… I grew up in the stone age…