Friday, July 27, 2012

Who Is Your Authority?

I've been sharing this week about a few of the ways that I handle discipline in my home.  It's been rattling through my mind all week as I've read through parenting books, talked to Hubby, and prayed about it.  So I assume that would explain what happened this morning during my prayer time.

I was sitting there with my Bible open on my lap, my eyes closed, waiting for God to speak to me.    He hit me with a whopper.

Lisa, who is in charge?  Who is your authority?  Obey me.  Do not talk back.  

If I were a dog, I would be slinking away right now.  Isn't it supposed to be me who does the discipline around here?  How embarrassing to have my own words thrown back at me!  To be so soundly corrected by God and to discover that I am guilty of the same disrespect as my children!  I'm an adult--shouldn't I be better at this obedience thing than they are?

Of course I had to then think about instances where I back talked.  When have I told God no?  Have I ever consciously disrespected God?  I couldn't think of one time.  So my back talking must be less obvious.  God quickly made it clear what he was referring to as he went on.

Speak my words to your children.  Do not neglect it.  Teach them the way to Me.

Oh.  God was correcting me not for blatant disrespect but for ignoring His direction.  God has spoken to me numerous times to teach His word to my children.  To have daily prayer times with them.  To read the Bible to them.  Which I do, occasionally, sometimes more faithfully than others.  But it has not become a habit yet.

I know that this example is just one of the many times where God has given me a direct command and I have failed to follow through.  While I have not actually stood there with my fingers in my ears singing "LALALALALALA!!!! I can't hear you!" my actions have pretty much said the same thing.  Or rather, my lack of action.

As a parent, I find it very frustrating to give a direct command to my children, to have my children look me in the eye and say they understand, and then to have them walk off and not follow through.  To have to remind them that they are supposed to be cleaning their room, not playing in there.  To have them say their room is clean, but upon inspection to find that their toys are stuffed in their closet or under their bed or against the wall.  Very much not clean.  To have to tell them a third time to clean their room.  To check it again.  To find trash and little things all over the floor that they insist is not theirs (I must have a few extra children I don't know about running around who's sole purpose is to mess up my house).  Sometimes I would like to yell and scream at them to just do it right the first time!

Much like God must feel toward me.

Who is in charge?  Not me.  Who is my authority?  Not me.  Who must I obey?  Not me.

God is in charge.  God is my authority.  God is who I obey.  Preferably the first time.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Meet Bluehoo

This fall in our homeschool we will be tackling My Father's World Exploring Countries and Cultures.  Per the description on the curriculum's website, we will be taking a trip around the world to explore diverse countries while learning geography and being challenged by true stories of missionaries.

I am always on the search for interesting ways to cover mundane topics.  World geography, while important, can have the tendency to be a bit dry.  I have been thinking about it all spring and summer (I bought the curriculum in March) trying to come up with fun ideas of how to make the year come alive for my kids.

I found inspiration in the most unlikely of places--I was reading a fiction book about a woman who helps out the local one room school house by teaching geography.  Rather than just sit at desks learning facts, she takes them outside and invites them onto her pretend magic carpet where they soar through the air to the country they are studying, then turns the carpet into a boat where they paddle down rivers and across lakes to get to where they are going learning interesting facts along the way.

I needed to buy a magic carpet.

While we were grocery shopping today, I had the kids pick out a rug.  After much deliberation and arguing (the girls wanted purple, David wanted black), they all agreed to a nice navy blue rug.  We brought it home, unrolled it, and the kids immediately started playing with it.  It was a magic carpet that took them to Antarctica.  It then became a boat that took them across the Atlantic.  Then it turned into a train that took them across the United States--all while waiting for the macaroni and cheese to be ready.

I asked them what we should name our magic carpet and they all agreed to the name Bluehoo.

Bluehoo will be taking us on many adventures this year as we learn about the people and places that make up our world.  Bluehoo will be turned into an airplane, a canoe, a sail boat, a train, a gondola, a camel, and whatever other modes of transportation we can come up with that would suit the countries we study.

I'm suddenly excited to take Bluehoo out for a test drive.  I wonder where he will take us.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Bucket List Check In

It's hard to believe that summer is over half gone.  We're in the last days of July already.  As I looked at my calendar this morning, I realized that there are still things on my Summer Bucket List that we haven't gotten to yet.  I am making a plan for August to make sure we check off everything on my list.

So far we have done six things on the list.

1. Built a fort out of downed wood.

2. Pack a picnic lunch and go fishing.

3. Fly a kite.

4. Watch the clouds drift by on a hot, summer day.

7. Paint nature scenes while sitting outside.

8. Go on a bird watching hike.

9. Go canoeing and/or tubing down a river.

10. Buy a pup tent that the kids can set up themselves and play in outside.  

The month of August will find us flying a kite, painting outside, bird watching, and canoeing or tubing if I can talk Hubby into it.  We usually canoe and tube when we're at the lake house, but this year the drought has lowered the water level of the river to the point that we would get swamped every few feet.  We would need to find a different, deeper river than normal.  But I'm not giving up hope.  We still have another month of summer!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What To Do About Back Talk

Yesterday I wrote about coming up with effective discipline strategies in my home.  I generally use a consequential discipline policy, or a "let the punishment fit the crime" approach.  I also talked about what happens when something new crops up that becomes an habitual problem and you find yourself needing to come up with a new discipline.

In my home, this new issue is taking back, sassing, being disrespectful, whatever you want to call it.  Thankfully, to date, it has not been anything big yet.  It's more the little times when a child talks back.  When we're eating dinner and I tell a child to eat their vegetables and they tell me no.  When I instruct a child to go take a shower because they've been wearing the same clothes for two days in a row (how did that get past me) and they say some smart comment because they want to keep playing.

Or when I tell a child that it's time to play outside and they respond by saying, "Why don't you play outside?" in a disrespectful way.  And my personal favorite (can you sense the sarcasm?) is when I ask a child to do something and rather than just do it, they respond with, "Why do I have to do it when [insert other siblings' names here] doesn't?"

Like I promised yesterday, I had a discussion with Hubby about what we should do to address the problem.  Unfortunately, Hubby was less than helpful.  And I quote: I came up with the last idea about the stairs, it's your turn.  Thanks, honey.

Seeing no help from that avenue, I turned to the internet.  Ideas ranged from the hands off approach-ignore it-to the more hands on approach-spank them.  One site suggested duct tape, but only if it wouldn't land you in trouble with Child Protective Services.  Hmmm....  I decided to continue my search.

All five of my parenting books--a rather eclectic collection

I pulled out every parenting book I own.  All five of them.  Again, nothing that really excited me.  I don't want to ignore it and send them to their rooms until they're ready to be respectful.  I don't want to spank them.  One book suggested chores.  While I may end up resorting to chores, I want something that's quicker, easier, and will leave a more lasting impression.

This morning I turned to God for inspiration during my morning prayer time.  I first flipped through the Bible a little and didn't really find anything.  So I sat there and thought about what would happen if someone were disrespectful to a king.  He would grovel and beg for forgiveness, praying that he wouldn't end up in the dungeon.  So now I had this image of a man on his knees crawling across the throne room, begging for forgiveness.  Which led to my inspiration.

The punishment for back talk will be having to crawl up and down our hallway as many times as their age.  So four times for Joy, etc.  Upon completing this, they will come to Hubby or me and ask for forgiveness.

I know that this idea will never make it into any parenting books.  It's silly, it's not Biblical, it doesn't involve pain (spanking) or misery (chores).  But it's easy, enforceable, and hopefully it will be effective.  If not, it's back to the drawing board.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Let The Punishment Fit The Crime Discipline Approach

One of my favorite quotes from the original Parent Trap movie is when the camp director says, "Let the punishment fit the crime."

A few years ago I came across the book Love and Logic by Foster Cline.  The school that David was attending used this approach to their discipline policy so I figured I should read the book and know what it was all about.

I found the approach refreshing and creative.  I call it the "let the punishment fit the crime" discipline approach.  As I first started out with this approach to discipline, I had to really think about appropriate consequential discipline.  What should I do when my child hits someone?  Breaks something?  Knocks down their sibling's block tower?

As time has gone on, it has become a lot more natural to come up with interesting punishments.  For example--last week one of my children (and I'm not going to name names to protect the guilty) thought it would be fun to urinate all over the toilet just because.  I, being in a hurry, did not even think to look before going to the bathroom after said child until it was too late.  Said child earned the privilege of cleaning both toilets in the house every day for a week.  My toilets have never been so clean.  I'll almost be sorry when the week is up.

A few months ago a different child thought it would look like snow if they shredded a large piece of styrofoam all over their room.  ALL over their room.  And the time before that when they wanted to play bead fight and threw a large box of tiny beads all over their room.  I made them pick every single piece of styrofoam and every single bead up without any help.  Despite the tears and crying and insisting that it was too much work.

Or the time when another child squeezed their sibling's squishy frog so hard that the gel came spurting out.  I made them use their own money to replace it.

For regular offences, we have a set consequence that is easy to enforce.  Hubby came up with this policy about six months ago and it has proven to be effective over time:

If you physically hurt someone, you run the stairs your age.  So David would run up and down the stairs eight times.  If you verbally attack someone or wreck their stuff (knock over their block tower, etc), you run the stairs half your age--if you're in an odd year, you run it the larger number so Lizzy runs the stairs four times now that she's seven.  After you are done running the stairs, you have to go to the person offended and ask for forgiveness and if appropriate, make restitution.  If you knocked over their block tower, you have to build it back up for them, etc.

When my children do something out of the norm, I don't immediately discipline them when I can't think of something that fits as a natural consequence.  I wait and sometimes discuss what should be done with Hubby first.

When something new crops up that becomes an habitual problem, I talk with Hubby to come up with a consequence together that we can both enforce.  Our current issue is sassing back.  The first few times it's happened, I've immediately corrected my children, explained that their speech was disrespectful and had them ask for forgiveness.  It has apparently not been enough because it's happening more regularly.  Just this morning after being sassed at, I told Hubby that we needed to discuss it tonight and come up with a policy.  Since then I've had to correct two of my children, so we definitely need to come up with a good consequential discipline that will be both effective and easily enforceable.  I'm sure inspiration will strike and we'll come up with something great and imaginative.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Little Interior Decorating

I've slowly been adding some finishing touches to the girls' bedroom.  The first purchase was the cool bench we found at Volunteers of America.  When we bought it, I promised Lizzy that I would sew a cushion to go on the bench so she could sit there more comfortably.  Back in May, we bought some great corduroy fabric and a mattress pad from Walmart.  I cut the mattress pad to make a double layer foam cushion, sewed the fabric into a slip cover, added velcro to the end so I could wash the cover as needed, and voila!  I had a bench cushion.

Last week I sewed up a sling book shelf out of some left over fabric from the cushion.  I followed this tutorial right down to buying the curtain brackets from Lowes.  At first, Lizzy was skeptical of the shelf, but she has since decided she really likes it.  She now stores her books and other random toys in there and has asked for a shelf for the rest of her many toys that she keeps in her bed with her.

My final finishing touch to the room was something I'd seen on pinterest a long time ago.  We were at Hobby Lobby buying the dowels for the sling book shelf and we walked through the drawer pull aisle and I noticed the half-off sign.  I told the girls to pick out a nob that they liked and I would use them for curtain tie-backs in their room.  The girls picked out blue flowers.  This morning I got out the drill and finally installed them.

I'm pretty pleased with my little additions to their room.  As a child I was always sewing something or repurposing something to decorate my room--pillows, night stand table clothes, curtains,  old vases and dried flowers.  I loved to make my room homey.  I thought I'd lost that desire a long time ago but it reappears every now and then.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Family Adventures

Getting ready for the 3D movie

My cousin and his family are visiting this week.  Whenever any family member visits, we throw a party.  We take day trips, we go out for dinner, we spend lots of time together.  This visit has been no exception.

The girls looking through Galileo telescopes

Tuesday we all went to the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  My children love that place because they have rides.  They have a hot air balloon ride, a ferris wheel, a paratrooper jump, a 3D/4D movie theater, and a full motion flight simulator.  This was our third visit to the Air Zoo.

Joy and Lizzy and a screaming Grandma

The first time David went, it was just him, my dad, my uncle and my cousin.  The boys went on the flight simulator with no idea what they were doing.  They spent the whole time flipping upside down, around, over and under.  David swore he would never go on the ride again!  We have since avoided the simulators because the idea of spinning in every direction held little appeal.

David riding the Ferris Wheel with me

This trip I talked David into going on the ride with the promise that we would definitely not go upside down.  He agreed.  The girls then decided they wanted to try it and talked my mom into it as well.  David ended up riding by himself because Lizzy needed a partner.  David went first.  His flight started out with him barely, barely moving at all.  Just a tiny little dip to one side.  The operator ended up stopping David's ride to show him how to use the controllers.  The next thing we see is David flipped upside down.  Oops.  I missed the end of his ride because it was my turn--but we got smart and asked the operator to put it on demo mode which she promised would not go upside down.  My mom did the same thing with Joy.  While David looked a little green after his ride, the girls declared it their favorite ride.

Joy on the hot air balloon ride all by herself

Wednesday we met up at an outlet mall with my sister and her family.  (The mall is halfway between our houses)  The kids and I shopped until we dropped.  Lizzy got 2 dresses, a pair of dress shoes, 2 pairs of stretch pants to wear under her dresses and a book.  Joy got a dress, a pair of dress shoes, 2 pairs of stretch pants and a book.  David got bought 2 t-shirts, swim trunks, and a book.  For myself I bought a pair of yoga pants.  The prices were great and other than the books, they were all things on our list of needs (I made a list ahead of time so I wouldn't be tempted to buy things on impulse).  We all met up for lunch and enjoyed lots of laughs and conversation.

Joy testing out her helicopter flying skills

Joy training to be an astronaut

Today is back to normal--daily reading and math, lots of cleaning on my part, laundry to catch up on, and children who are begging to go do something fun instead of being cooped up in the house with mom who has to do chores.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rain in a Dry Land

I woke up this morning to a sound I haven't heard in a long time.  Thunder.  Lots of lightening and thunder.  The sky was flashing, the house was booming, I was excited that we were finally getting some badly needed rain.  Yet, when I looked out the window, the driveway was completely dry.  All this thunder and lightening wasn't doing anything except look and sound spectacular!

I took my shower (hoping I wouldn't get zapped in the process--I always assumed the advice on not bathing during a lightening storm due to the chance of being electrocuted was an old wives' tale until my utility company sent me a flier claiming the same thing).  I sat and had my prayer time.  More lightening, more thunder, not a drop of rain.

A whole hour went by and I started wondering if we were going to get any rain at all.  It was almost like finding fools gold when you are down to your last dollar.  And then it happened; drops of rain pinged on my roof.  Finally!!!  I looked out the window and saw a bunny drinking the first bits of water out of the gutter, something I've never seen before--even the animals are feeling the effects of the drought.  I went out into the sunroom with the surround windows and skylights so I could enjoy listening to the rain.  Next thing I know all three of my children were out there with me enjoying the rain.

We all thanked God together for sending us a good soaker of a rain.  So far it's been forty-five minutes and the rain is still coming down.  My cousin who is here visiting from Colorado Springs where they just endured evacuation due to a wildfire might even stop calling our neighborhood a tinderbox just waiting to go up in flames.

So of course I had to draw a comparison between the drought and the rain and the fools' rain to my spiritual walk.

Psalm 42 opens with:  As a deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.  My soul thirsts for God, the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?

I went a long time without having a regular prayer time.  Months, years.  I opened my Bible just enough to make it look like it was finally going to rain a good soaking rain that would make my life green up and prevent my leaves from shriveling up and falling off (my poor baby tree is not enjoying this drought at all).  I prayed every now and then-just enough to keep my life from being a complete tinderbox ready to go up in flames at the first sign of trouble.

All that time my soul was thirsty, it was parched and baking in the sun, yellow and brittle and dying from lack of rain.  Now that I am praying almost daily, my soul has greened up and is so much happier.  I am like a deer that pants after God, who daily drinks from his Word.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Someone Pooped in the Pool

My mother-in-law took the kids and me to her gym today to go swimming.  My kids had been looking forward to it.  They always love to go swimming with Grandma and ask her often when she will take them again.  I usually stay home and use the time to do some project around the house, but today it was hot and the kids really wanted me to go.  So I went.

We played in the water, we splashed around, we had swimming races--David against me swimming with Lizzy or Joy on my back.  We went down the water slide.  The kids practiced their swimming skills.  And then the unthinkable happened.

Someone pooped in the pool.

Everyone had to get out for an entire hour while they shocked the pool.  The kids were so disappointed.  I was disappointed.  We switched over to the "grown-up" pool and played in there for a few minutes, but it wasn't nearly as good for the kids as it got over their heads very quickly.  So we went home early.

My children learned a valuable life lesson today.  Life is full of disappointments.  Sometimes they are really big--we've cancelled more than one trip to the lake house due to inclement weather.  Missing this past Christmas due to illness.  The deal falling through on the house Hubby and I were going to purchase before we found our current house.

Sometimes the disappointments are small--not getting dessert every night.  Missing your favorite TV show because you have a meeting.  Finding a hole in your favorite pair of sandals so you have to buy new ones (this happened to me last week).

I always look for opportunities to use real life lessons to teach my kids.  Yes, it was disappointing to cut our swim time short, but we had a lot of fun during the hour we did have before we had to get out.  Yes, it was disappointing that we had to miss the family Christmas parties because Joy threw up, but that just means we get to spend more time together as just our family.  Yes, I was annoyed when I found holes in my sandals, but I do like my new ones and think they are a lot cuter.

Yes, life is full of disappointments, but rather than dwell on the disappointing situation, instead, I tell my kids to focus on the good.  While you can't have dessert tonight, you did have food to eat for dinner and you do get dessert many nights.  While we can't go to the lake house this weekend because it's supposed to rain the entire time, we will get to go some other time.

It's an important lesson for my children to learn early because the stakes will only get higher as they get older.  I'm sure that at least one of my children will have their heart broken by some "horrible, mean, awful" boyfriend/girlfriend.  (Anyone who would break my baby's heart is for sure horrible, mean, and awful, right?)  They might not get into their first choice college.  They might not make the cut for the basketball team.  They might lose their job due to downsizing.  They need to learn to handle disappointment in a positive way if they are going to have a successful life.

Whenever they are tempted to get overly upset, I can remind them about that time that we went swimming and had to leave early because some kid pooped in the pool.  If they can handle that disappointment, they can handle anything!

Friday, July 13, 2012

How Much Exercise Does a Child Need?

On the 4th of July, David started the morning running a 5K race with his Grandpa.  This was his second year running it.  An hour after the race, he road his bike a mile in each direction to watch the parade.  He then spent the afternoon playing and swimming in Lake Michigan.  In the evening we went to the beach to watch the fireworks and while we were waiting for it to get dark, David ran up and down the dunes while the rest of us sat in the sand.  After the fireworks, he walked a mile back to our car.

Running the 5K in 2011-age 7

This day was eye-opening to me.  I have always assumed that a one mile walk through our neighborhood was enough exercise for him.  Clearly I was wrong.

So now I have been puzzling over the much exercise does a child need?  How much exercise does David need???  I don't think the answers are the same.  There is no way my girls could keep up with their big brother.  There is no way that I could keep up with him.

For my girls, and probably the average child, I think a daily walk/bike ride is sufficient when coupled with at least a half hour to an hour of unorganized outside play time.  (I do kick the kids out at least once a day to play in the yard)

Snow shoeing on the sand dunes in 2010--age 6

For those children, like David, who are extremely energetic and athletic, that amount of exercise is just enough to whet their appetite.  They need more than the average person.  David has always been active.  Why walk when you can run?  Why just leisurely ride your bike when you can race against cars?  We just sit and play in the snow when you can snow shoe on the sand dunes with Grandpa?  Whenever there is any physical work to be done--raking leaves, shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, pruning trees, hauling branches to the road, helping one of his grandparents with chores--David is always the first one to volunteer.

Soccer in the freezing rain--age 5

As I was sitting there on the beach watching David run up and down the dunes while waiting for the fireworks, I realized that David needs more.  It's not a want, it's not a desire, but a physical need for activity.  His evening ritual of begging to go on a bike ride or a walk isn't just something he does to annoy us, it's a real need he has to release all that energy he has stored up in his body.

Getting ready to jump in the pool during swim lessons--age 8

So I am pursuing a year round sport for him to participate in.  I considered cross country, but all the teams that I know of in my area don't start until sixth grade (two more years).  Soccer is only six weeks in the fall and spring, so not enough.  Which brought me to swimming.  We have quite a few swim clubs in our area that David can join.  I'm not looking to raise the next Michael Phelps, but I am hoping to provide an outlet for all that energy David has.  If he does show promise, maybe it will take him somewhere in the future, but for now I just want to wear him out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Problem With Playing Too Much...

The summer started with a week of day camp, followed by two weeks of swim lessons and a trip to the lake house thrown in between.  Then we spent last week at the lake house.  Monday we ran errands.  Tuesday we did the grocery shopping.  Wednesday we went to the local beach for playgroup.  Today I invited my friend's four kids over for the morning.

While all this coming and going has been great for the kids, for family time and we had a lot of fun, the end result is that I now find myself having to dig my way out of a very messy house.  Whenever my routine is thrown off and I spend more time out of the house than in it, things at home end up in chaos.

This week I have been doing damage control.  I started with the basement.  I know, not exactly the first place most people would start.  But when we had the garage sale, we pulled a bunch of stuff out of the rec room, left behind a big mess, and I haven't returned to it since.  It was really bugging me.  I first went to the store and bought eight crates.  I then repurposed a book shelf and turned it into a storage unit.  The kids and I purged, threw away a large trash bag's worth of garbage, and organized all the toys into the crates.  I also removed all the wayward toys from the living room and brought them back downstairs in an attempt to keep my living room toy free.

Basement organized and already being played with

Next I moved onto the girls' room.  It is a chronic disaster.  They are in the smallest room in the house and it is almost impossible for them to keep it clean.  I started with purging it and putting everything away.  Next I am going to start weeding things out to put in the rec room so there is less stuff in their room to keep clean.  My final step is to weed through their clothes so they only have what they actually wear taking up shelf space.

My final project this week was to clean up the living and dining rooms.  I just needed to do a quick pickup as I never allow those rooms to get too messy since they're front and center whenever someone walks through the door.

The rest of the summer promises to be just as crazy, so I know it will be a struggle for me to stay on top of things.  I am sure that some people do fine with chaos and will always have a clean house no matter what.  I am not one of those people.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rounding Out Our Homeschool

The past three years I have been homeschooling, we've done little by way of extracurriculars.  Some or all of my kids play soccer in the fall and spring.  We do homeschool swim lessons at the YMCA in the winter.  We have a pass to the zoo and to the children's science museum.  And this past spring we participated in a co-op science class.

I am making plans to change that this fall.  I have completely neglected the fine arts--so I signed us up to see two plays with my local homeschool group.  I bought acrylic and oil paints and a bunch of canvases so we can start painting.  And I purchased a "learn to draw" book to teach my kids how to draw.

While my kids do play soccer, I want to do more for them with sports.  I have been researching swim clubs for David and found two that look good.  He just needs to pass the American Red Cross level 4 class.  He took it in June and failed--along with his entire class due to them never even working on the breast and butterfly strokes.  I've signed all the kids up for lessons again in August to hopefully remedy this.  I also want to sign the girls up for either gymnastics or dance this winter through our local parks and recs.

All decked out for swim class

My final plan is to start piano lessons for David and Lizzy.  We bought a piano last spring and it's just been sitting there begging to be played correctly.  While the kids are excellent at making noise on the piano, I would not call it melodious or pleasing to the ear.  I look forward to the day when they can actually make music.

One time things I hope to do are field trips with fellow homeschoolers, hopefully another co-op, attend homeschool science days at the science museum, and monthly trips to the zoo where I will have the kids study a few animals through the course of the year to see how they change with the seasons.

My goal for the year is to offer my children a more well-rounded education that goes beyond book learning. I also would love it if my kids find a passion for something, and that's hard to do when they aren't exposed to that many things.  I know that Lizzy loves art, so I want to expand on that and teach her to make good art.  She makes a LOT of artwork now, but she needs skill training to make it look better.  Joy loves to dance, anytime and anywhere, so a dance class would be great for her.  David just likes to compete.  He also has a ton of energy, so something physical that he can do year round is why I am looking into a swim club.

I want to be more open to things that aren't in the teacher's manual.  There is so much more that can be learned outside of the textbook and I plan to open that door for my kids.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Recipe for a Great Vacation

A widespread heat wave + mild drought + lake house = One fabulous vacation  

We went to the lake house last week to hang out with Hubby's family and to celebrate the 4th of July.  Previous vacations taken during the same week have been pretty disappointing as far as the weather is concerned.  One year the weather report promised sun--it rained every single day and was miserable to the point that we packed up early and went home.

This year was the first time that we had great beach weather every single day--5 days in a row!

We had a busy week.  The morning of 4th of July started with David running a 5K race with Grandpa.  He ran it last year for the first time.  Despite a lack of any previous training and horrible heat and humidity, they crossed the finish line in 29:05.

David and Grandpa lining up for the race

Running across the finish line

After the race we grabbed our bags and went to see the parade where the kids raked in a ton of candy while the adults sat on the curb working up a sweat.  One kind float handed out popsicles wrapped in plastic that we put on our necks to help cool off.

We spent the afternoon at the lake.  It is the first time in recent memory that I have ever truly desired to go into Lake Michigan.  Usually the water is frigid.  This time after walking over sand so hot that our feet burned, we tossed our stuff down and ran straight into the water to cool off.  It felt heavenly to the point that we stayed in the water for over two hours and never got cold.  The kids all agreed that this was the highlight of their vacation--when mom and dad played with them in the water the entire time.

The day concluded with a spectacular fireworks display over the lake.  On our way home for the fireworks, God threw his own fireworks show via a lightening storm.  The entire sky was flashing beautifully for a good half hour.

Dressing up for the 4th of July

Thursday we went to the beach again.  Friday we hung around the house until the new dock was delivered.  Hubby and my father-in-law spent the afternoon putting it in with only a little help from the rest of us.  My mother-in-law and I lorded over the proceedings from our lawn chairs while sitting in the shade of a tree and the kids took turns spraying themselves and the guys with the hose (they sprayed the guys off to check for leeches between each dip in the river--ewww).

Putting in the dock

Joy "helping" 

David spraying Lizzy with the hose
Marching across the almost completed dock (more reeds need to be cleared first)

Enjoying the new dock

Friday evening Hubby's parents left and our friends came up for the weekend.  We went blueberry picking Saturday morning while waiting for the clouds to burn off.  We spent the afternoon at the beach, playing in the water and digging gigantic holes in the sand.  We even got to watch a beach wedding about hundred feet down the shore.  Joy asked if she could be a flower girl in the wedding and if we could go to the party afterwards.

Blueberry picking--they were delicous

 We had a campfire Thursday night which Joy missed because she was soooo tired.  She woke up around 11:00pm and realized that she'd missed the s'mores, which led to tears.  I made up for it by letting her roast a marshmallow over the stove and eat a s'more for breakfast.

Roasting a marshmallow over the stove

The breakfast of Champions

The kids had a ton of fun playing with their friends.  They caught butterflies, rode their scooters on the bike path, played card games and cribbage, and a rousing game of corn hole.  There is a resident doe and fawn that walked past the house twice a day every day we were there.  We named the fawn Spots for obvious reasons.


All the kids eating breakfast

Lizzy's butterfly

Joy playing Go Fish

David having a heart-to-heart discussion after riding scooters

Lizzy's got her game face on

Lizzy is a little excited after winning the game

Sunday we left for home via an extremely circuitous route.  We turned a three hour drive into a six hour venture by taking back roads, a different highway than normal, stopping for lunch at a restaurant with a play land, and then stopping again at a big sporting goods store so Hubby could buy some new fishing gear and other random things.  We all had a great vacation and can't wait until we can do it all again next year.

Monday, July 2, 2012

To My Future Sons-in-Law

I jokingly told Hubby that he was ruining our daughters for their future husbands because of all Hubby does for me.  On our anniversary I found a hand-carved heart on my bathroom sink when I got up in the morning. When I went to sit in the living room to have my prayer time, I found a rolled note waiting for me.  When I went to make Hubby's coffee, I found another note on top of the coffee maker.  I found a third note on my computer keyboard (I got the sense that Hubby knows my habits well).  A forth note was waiting on my car dashboard which I found on our way to swim lessons.

Early afternoon a jig saw was delivered to my door (Yes, I did want one, so this was actually a much appreciated present).  Late afternoon a bouquet of roses was also delivered to my door.

Hubby is always randomly doing romantic things for me--he'll come home with a bouquet of wild flowers (my favorite) just because.  He'll leave me notes for no reason.  He's whisked me away on surprise dates and overnights.

When we were dating, Hubby told me that he was going to be so romantic that he would make my girl friends jealous.  I can't tell you if my friends are jealous because I've never asked, but I can tell you that my daughters are noticing.

Joy helped me put the roses in a vase.  As she was helping, she was rambling about how the roses were so pretty, that Daddy must really love me, and how one day she was going to get her own flowers.  She commented on the notes that Daddy left all over the house for me.  The girls both tried to help plan our anniversary date--Joy suggested going to a nice restaurant like Wendys.  Lizzy went a little higher class and suggested Qdoba.  It was the thought that counted.

A few days after I made the comment to Hubby about raising our daughters' expectations too high, he came back to me and said that this was his goal.  That he wanted our girls to see his example so they would have high expectations.  So they wouldn't settle for a man that doesn't treat them the way they deserve.

Princess Lizzy dressed up for Christmas breakfast

I know that all Hubby's gifts, surprises, and romantic gestures are things he does because he loves me.  And I love them.  But after Hubby told that about our girls, all of his gestures suddenly became all the more special.  That he even thought about the long term ramifications of his actions surprised me.  I'd never considered it.  Yet, I DO want my girls to have high expectations when they are looking for a husband.  I WANT them to seek out a husband who will treat them well, who has eyes only for them, who is willing to set aside his own desires for his family, who surprised them with gifts and gestures.  I want them to seek out a man who loves them deeply, completely, and treats them like a princess.  I want them to seek out a man like their father.

The girls dressed up like their version of a princess