Tag Archives: kids

Quit feeding these kids! (They’re getting too big.)

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I’ve probably said it a thousand times, “These kids have got to stop growing!”  You don’t realize how much your own kids have changed because you see them every day.  But you notice when other people’s kids are growing.  We went back to Minnesota for Christmas this year.  We haven’t been home in a year and a half.  Aside from the shock of the temperature difference between Costa Rica and Minnesota, I was totally shocked at how big all my nieces and nephews had grown in 18 months.  Everyone came to the airport to greet us.  When we walked through the security doors all these tall, gangly teenagers came running down the hall at us!

It reminded me of when I take my dog to the groomers.  I always tell them to cut Nacho’s hair very short because shih-tzus are long haired dogs.  It buys me time between visits to the “Peluqueria”.  Every time they bring out my freshly shorn pup I don’t recognize him.  But he seems really happy to see me, so this must be my dog.  I take him home and in a few days I again recognize my own dog.  The change is just so shocking at first!

Well it was the same with my nieces and nephews.  I didn’t recognize these kids.  But they seemed really happy to see me, so they must be my family.  In a few days it wasn’t so weird that most of them are taller than me now.  And I was once again recognizing my own family members.  The change was just so shocking at first.  I told them all to quit growing so I don’t have to go through this again when we come back next time.  I doubt they’ll listen to me.

Homemade Creative Kids

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While the kids are creating crafts, I am crafting creative kids.

If you come to our house on any given Saturday morning you will find the TV off and the living room vacant.  In the kitchen/dinning room you will hear us rocking out to super stimulating music like Coldplay, Jamie Grace, Toby Mac or sometimes Christmas Carols on an internet radio station if the season is right.  The table will be covered with newspapers.  There might be wads of paper towels tossed on the floor.  We will all still be in our jammies.  My coffee will be cooling in the mug off to the side.  There might be paint under my fingernails or glue in my hair.  It’s a beautiful scene of creative mayhem.

The craft of the day will be spread all around the room.  Sometimes we paint.  Sometimes we cut and glue.  Sometimes we draw. And sometimes we sew.  I try to keep the craft to a level that they can manage with success.  My goal is to help them create something they can be proud of with as little help from me as possible.  Ultimately I want to help them become creative individuals.  While they are making a project for the day, I am making a project for a lifetime.

I really think that children have great creative potential.  It needs to be encouraged.  It needs to be exposed to resources like paint and glue and paper and glitter.  It needs to be stimulated with new ideas.  It needs to be challenged with inspiring surroundings.  Creative potential should be unleashed and set free!… all over the kitchen table.  Then the results need to be praised and admired because that primes the pump for more creativity to flow.  The potential to create something fantastic is in each of us, I believe.  It only takes a little planning and a little tolerance of the messy process for each child to find what they love and what they are good at.  I love that process!!

So if you drop by my house on a Saturday morning, the place will be a bit of a mess.  But we are working on creating a masterpiece- we are making creative people.  And it’s a whole lot of fun!

Making homemade Valentine's cards

Potty Training in the Car

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Not my kid but she sure is cute.

We all have heard cute potty training stories, funny potty training stories, and nightmarish potty training stories.  But unless you’ve tried to potty train while driving a car, you haven’t really lived!  When one of our kids was in this delightful phase of life we were in the itineration phase of missionary work.  That means we were driving all over kingdom come raising money for the next 4 years of missionary work.  Every Sunday and most Wednesdays we were in a different city or town preaching in churches and sharing our vision with congregations.  I was a stay-at-home mom and my husband was a work-out-of-an-office-in-the-basement dad.  So we were able to travel together as a family.

This traveling together really had it’s ups and downs.  Most churches were really happy to see the children.  Let’s face it, my kids ARE kind of cute.  I never put my kids up on the stage to perform, that’s just not my style, but we would stand at the table in the back where we had our pictures and trinkets from Mexico displayed for folks to enjoy.  I would shake hands and talk with the people while my children played around (and under) the table- sometimes peacefully.  But traveling with children is no picnic.

It doesn’t matter if you stay in a hotel or in the pastor’s house, the children don’t sleep well.  It doesn’t matter if you eat in a restaurant or in someone’s home, the children don’t eat well.  And just when you feel like you can congratulate yourself for packing enough toys to keep them quiet in the church service, a fight breaks out on the front pew and you are the referee.  These difficulties are only compounded if one child gets sick on the road OR one child gets constipated on the road, as was our case.

In the midst of our travels, I was trying to potty train the child who shall remain unnamed.  But this child has a will of iron.  She did not want to poo.  So all week long she would hold it and refuse to poo.  Then on Sunday night, in the church bathroom, she would camp out for a half hour or so.  It wouldn’t have been so bad except that being constipated meant that letting it out hurt quite a bit.  (Why her pediatrician never told me about children’s laxatives, I will never know.)  So every Sunday night my child would sit on the pot and scream, “I’m pooping!!”  And the little old ladies in the church would cluster around the door of the bathroom and ask me if I needed any help.  I’d smile tensely, “She’s constipated,” I’d explain, “It’s just something we’re dealing with being on the road.”  Well have you tried giving her cranberry juice? or more water? or castor oil? or taking her to the potty more often? or reading books to her while she sits? or offering her candy when she goes?  or giving her an enema? or cutting back on dairy? or… YES!  Let me save you a suggestion.  I have tried it all.  But the child hates to poop and that’s that.

When we finally arrived in Costa Rica for a year of language school our lives became more stable.   We moved into an apartment building with 3 other missionary families also studying Spanish.  All of our bathroom windows vented into a common air shaft.  That meant that we could basically hear everything that went on in our neighbor’s bathrooms and they could hear us too!  We felt we should warn our new neighbors that our child screams once a week.  The first few times it happened, our neighbors would shout encouragement into the air shaft.  We heard, “Way to go!” and “Good job!” and “We’re proud of you!” and “Everyone poos!  You’re doing great!”  With all that cheering and a stable home life once again it only took a month before everyone in the family was on a “regular schedule” again, if you know what I mean.

I don’t know why the Parenting books never mentioned this little gem, but this is my advice to all of you:  Cheer.  Everyone needs encouragement now and then.  Works like a charm!

Dissonance

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You know what really bothers me about being a missionary?  So much of daily life is taken up in doing ordinary daily living tasks.  It’s not like living on a missions trip.  People always glamorize missions life and think that we are always telling someone about Jesus, praying and fasting,  seeing great miracles, leading masses of people into the kingdom of God.  But it’s just not like that.

This last week I did absolutely nothing ministry related.  I stood in line for days and days at immigration.  I took my kids to the doctor’s office and the lab and the pharmacy.    I drove back and forth from home and school and gymnastics and soccer about 4 dozen times (it felt like).  I went to two of the five grocery stores that I normally shop at.  I bought two gifts for new babies and went to one baby-shower.  I cleaned my house several times.  I grounded my kids for fighting.  I helped my daughter finish a book report and memorize her Bible verse.  I washed countless loads of laundry and made 3 meals a day- except for yesterday when we went to lunch with friends and I made leftovers for dinner.

My point is, daily life is just so ordinary… no matter where you live.  I used to think that I’ll wait until I’m a grown up to do something big for God.  Or maybe when I’m a missionary then I’ll get my devotional life into some kind of regular pattern.  But if you don’t do it before your daily life takes over, it just won’t get done.  No matter where you live, life must be done daily.  That balancing act between Earthly and Heavenly is draining, straining, and complicated.  My heart wants to live every day in the Heavenly.   I long for my Heavenly home.  But my feet are here in the mud.  I’m grounded.  And it’s not glamorous.

Here I have the opportunity to give myself my usual pep talk and bring it back to a positive note.  But I think I’m just going to leave it on a note of dissonance because I still feel the discord between my body and spirit.  That’s just how it is sometimes.  Life doesn’t always have a pretty harmony.  And that bothers me.