Bug & Bear

Get Your Crafty On: Easter Chocolate Bowls

Posted by on Mar 21, 2013 in Bug & Bear, Cooking | 0 comments

Get Your Crafty On: Easter Chocolate Bowls

Today, I amazed myself. I think I amazed my family too. I did something crafty with Bug and Bear and it turned out cute. It was also fun AND no tears were shed. It’s a first. It’s an Easter miracle.

I’ve been brutally honest here about my incompetence with crafts. It’s just not my thing, crafting. I purpose to do creative things with my kids because they love it, but I always choose non-traditional activities, and the finished product is never attractive enough to post pictures.

Recently my friend told me about the fun recipes, activities, and crafts that Imperial Sugar posts in the Kids Kitchen section on their website. I can only imagine that crafty mamas would love Kids Kitchen for all of the adorable kitchen craft ideas, but for the craft challenged, such as myself, it enabled me for the first time ever to wow my family with my craftiness when they did not believe it was possible. Feeling inspired looking through all of the recipes and ideas, I decided to attempt Easter Chocolate Bowls with Bug and Bear. We had so much fun, they were easy to make, and they turned out photo worthy.

All you need for this craft are chocolate chips and small balloons for the bowls, plus powdered sugar, an egg, and a lemon for Royal Icing. Since Bug and Bear are too young to help with melting chocolate chips and blowing up balloons, I gave them each a balloon to play with while I set everything up.

They probably could make a day of just playing with balloons – they LOVE balloons, which is part of what made this so much fun. Since Bug doesn’t like chocolate (?!) I melted white chocolate chips for her and regular chocolate chips for Bear in small bowls in the microwave. I was warned to be careful in this step because if the chocolate is too hot it will pop the balloon and launch melted chocolate all over your kitchen. I put each bowl in the microwave for one minute, stirred, then one more minute, and that was long enough to melt the chips without making the chocolate too hot. Then I spread waxed paper over the counters, blew up several balloons in different sizes, and let Bug and Bear get to work.

They loved the messy work of spreading softened butter over the balloons so that they can be easily removed from the chocolate shell when it’s time to pop them.

Even better was dipping them into the chocolate, and of course, taking a little lick.

Obviously we won’t be handing these out as gifts. They’ve been marked.

I found that a 12 ounce bag of chocolate chips covered about 3 small to medium balloons. Bug and Bear had great fun dipping their balloons in chocolate, but there were a few flaws in their work, so after they finished I spooned a little extra chocolate on the balloons and smoothed it out to make sure it was thick and evenly applied.

Once the balloons were all coated, I put them in the freezer and we made the Royal Icing. Bug helped sift the powdered sugar and Bear added the egg white and lemon juice.

After the chocolate covered balloons hardened in the freezer for about an hour, we took them out and decorated them with the Royal Icing that we made pink and blue with food coloring. It would be fun to pipe different designs onto the bowls, but since Bug and Bear are too little to do that, we rolled the Royal Icing into circles and lines like play-doh, then arranged it in different ways using our hands. They had great fun doing this. After we decorated, we put the bowls back in the freezer to harden again. Later I took them out, popped the balloons and carefully removed all pieces from inside the bowls, and then filled them with Easter treats as a surprise for Bug and Bear.

Then choruses of “You’re the best mommy!” and “This is the best Easter surprise chocolate bowl EVER!” resounded through the house. And for the first time in the history of my mothering career, I felt crafty.

This post was sponsored by Imperial Sugar. All opinions are my own. For more fun kid’s crafts, gift ideas, printables and coloring pages, click here to visit the Kids Kitchen on ImperialSugar.com.

Motherhood: The To-Do List

Posted by on Mar 16, 2013 in Bug & Bear | 0 comments

~Motherhood~

~ is when, at the end of a long day, you don’t want to play one more game of hide and seek, or chase, or tickle monster, or dress up, or spinning around and around in circles until your back might break, but you do it anyway because you do want your kids to feel loved, attended to, cherished.

~ is when, at the end of your emotional rope, you don’t have the energy for one more tantrum, or power struggle, or display of disrespect, or critique of your fabulous dinner, but you dig a little bit from deep down anyway because you do have your babies best interest at heart, their feelings are important to you, their hearts are so tender.

~ is when, in the wake of your worst mistakes, you don’t feel like facing yourself, or facing your children, or letting your heart be changed because it’s so very hard, but you do it anyway because you do feel your weight of responsibility to protect their spirits, to model good choices and behavior, to guard their well being in every way.

Motherhood. It is just so full of things to do. With virtually no way to gauge if you’re doing all there is to do well. A mother is a nurturer, teacher, disciplinarian, instructor, role model, playmate, question answerer, booboo kisser, helper, caretaker, housecleaner, cook, minor household repairwoman, major household repairwoman, stuffed animal surgeon, and the list goes on. That’s a lot of responsibilities, and this list doesn’t even touch on other relationships and obligations in her life, much less any time she may need to care for herself. It can be utterly overwhelming. The sheer volume of responsibilities and roles to perform can make a mother feel spread too thin and leave her with a sense of failing at the things she holds most dear.

The thing about motherhood, though, is that while there’s so very much to do, so very little of it is of all that much importance. Oh I know it seems like it’s all important, because if you don’t clean the house who will, and if its not clean then you’ve failed to provide a healthy home environment for your children, plus if the place looks terrible then your friends might judge when they come for play dates, and you might go a little crazy because the mess  – IT’S TOO MUCH. Breathe. It’s not important.

What is important in the job of motherhood is capturing and nurturing little hearts, discerning and calling out great destinies in little lives, building relationships with little people so that your influence is greater than the world’s. Because one day, those little babies so dependent on you are going to step out into the world in independence, and when they do, these are the things that matter. How clean your house was, how great your dinners were, even how perfectly you made them behave will not amount to much as they become their own people.

I have struggled with this idea and the relinquishing of control that it ultimately amounts to. That speech about calm down, it’s ok if you don’t clean your house this week, that was all for me. A couple years ago I started to notice that while juggling all of my responsibilities and all of my stress, I was failing at relationship. I was staying relatively successful at all of the peripherals like cooking, cleaning, rule enforcing, and routine, but I was too busy, too tired, too stressed to just be with my kids and really know them. I knew I was missing the whole point and I had to make a change.

I’ll confess that I don’t read much in the way of parenting books anymore because it took me so long to get out of my psychologically savvy head when I had my first child. Instead, when I face a parenting dilemma, I pray and ask God for an answer specific to my kids and our family. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with reading parenting books, I have personally just struggled with relying on head knowledge more than heart connection when it comes to raising my children. So in the wake of this realization that I was failing at relationship when I knew that relationship is all that really matters, I took my To Do list to God and asked Him to show me how to manage. I prayed through the overwhelming weight of responsibility and exhaustion that was crushing me, and this is how He reordered my list:

1. Clean the house on Monday each week, and only on Monday. I felt like I was caught in a never ending cycle of cleaning that never resulted in anything actually being clean. As insignificant as this sounds, it was stealing my time and energy from my girls, not to mention my sanity.  I’m not saying this is the right plan for everyone, just that when I asked He gave me the perfect solution for me that unloaded a ton of pressure. Now the girls and I clean the house together on Mondays, and whatever doesn’t get done waits until the following Monday. If you visit my house and it looks like a 2 and 4 year old cleaned it, well, now you know why.

2. Include the girls in my day to day activities. It seemed like in all of the busyness of taking care of my home and children there was no time for any of the things that keep me sane, like praying, running, and cooking. God showed me that there’s not much on my To Do list each day that my girls can’t do with me, and that involving them in all of my activities was a way to mentor them. They help clean the house on Monday, they’re involved in cooking dinner each night, they exercise with me, we pray together, and I even built in some time that we all quietly do our own thing. At times this is harder than doing my favorite things by myself, but most of the time we all enjoy doing these activities together and I see my girls’ confidence bloom when they realize they can be a part of things that grown ups do.

3. I only have two parenting objectives:

1. For my relationship with my kids to model what a relationship with God is like

2. For my parenting to cultivate God’s destiny in each of my children’s lives

Number 3 is what really turned my To Do list upside down. Gaining that understanding, that my job as a mother really just boils down to a To Do list of two things, revolutionized my mama world. It changed my focus and perspective and completely reordered my priorities. It’s a list of just two objectives, but they are abstract and non-specific, which is so perfect for me because it forces me to be dependent on God to reveal what this looks like from day to day.

According to this list, my most important task as a mother is to pray. Not cook or clean or control, but seek His guidance for each individual day and each individual child. For my relationship with my kids to model what a relationship with God is like, I have to have a relationship with God so that I know what it feels like to be parented by Him. For my parenting to cultivate God’s destiny in each of my children’s lives, I have to ask Him what that destiny is and what things are useful in guiding them towards it. Doing this leaves me feeling a lot less like I have to control or plan a certain way and a lot more inspired and excited to build relationships with my kids based on the unique insight and wisdom I’ve been given about them.

This entire process is wrapped in grace. I do this so imperfectly. I mess up a lot. I’m not following a To Do list published in a book or fabricated by an expert, I’m creating one that is unique to my family based on God’s expert leading and direction. I have to discern and listen and obey and sometimes my humanness gets in the way and I get it all wrong. As I take all of my mistakes and shortcomings back to God I am astounded by His great extension of grace to me, by His ability to bless my family in spite of my mistakes. This experience of grace in my worst moments as a mother did not just transform my To Do list, it changed my life. It showed me what grace and forgiveness look and feel like, and how I can extend grace to my kids in their humanness and shortcomings. If in the face of my worst parenting mistakes and failures God can stay in relationship with me, love me, give me grace and forgiveness, gently instruct me, teach me how to to it differently next time, and give me another chance, then I can know how to do the same for my children.

To Do List:

    1. Pray
    2. Obey
    3. Grace

Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 22, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Faith, Marriage & Family, Mental Health | 0 comments

Thanksgiving

The past year has easily been the hardest year of my life. When it started, I thought I would crumble under the weight of it. As it progressed, though, the strangest thing happened. I found joy in the little things. I realized that life goes on, and I had a choice – I could crumble, or I could rise above. All it took was one glance at my babies, my little girls full of wonder and excitement over absolutely everything in the world, and the choice was clear.

Years ago I made a habit of writing down ten things that made me happy at the end of each day.  It changed my perspective. I found myself looking for the positive in my life, job, and relationships instead of noticing the negative because taking note of good things throughout the day made my list easier to construct at night. That simple task changed my heart.  I learned that circumstances really have very little to do with how we feel and perceive life. The choice we make of where to place our focus affects the condition of our hearts, and our heart condition has everything to do with the level of joy and gratitude we experience.

“God sometimes brings joy into distress to give us comfort.” Beth Moore

This Thanksgiving I’m so incredibly grateful for all of the joy that has brought comfort in the midst of distress.  The happiness I’ve found in the mundane of the day to day – my family, my marriage, my children, my crazy dogs, my wonderful friends, the beautiful scenery surrounding our new home, the simple things like cooking and driving and running and praying.  I’m grateful that this year has taught me gratitude as a lifestyle and cultivated an attitude of joy in my life.

 

 

How Will I Know?

Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Marriage & Family, Mental Health | 0 comments

How Will I Know?

“How will I know, if he really loves me? I say a prayer with every heartbeat. I fall in love whenever we meet. I’m asking you what you know about these things.”

Please don’t tell me I’m the only one old enough for that song to conjure up images of dancing around with my middle school friends, belting out the lyrics alongside Whitney into our hairbrushes, daydreaming about “the one” and all the ways we would know he really loved us.

Fast forward to our adult selves. We found “the one.” We realize that it doesn’t look a lot like the Whitney Houston song in real life, but it’s still great in its own real-life way. Now the question has changed from “How will I know if he really loves me?” to “How will I know if I’m ready to have a baby?” It never became a hit song, but I bet that question weighs even heavier on the minds of women contemplating starting a family than the question of love weighs on the hearts of dreamy preteen girls.

After Husband and I were married a couple of years, we started talking and dreaming about adding a baby to our family. We had enjoyed some time of adjusting to marriage, traveling, and just being together. We knew we wanted to have children. We were financially stable (at the time, anyway). We certainly weren’t getting any younger. Everything seemed to line up and point to it being the right time and the right plan. Except there was just a bit of nagging doubt on the inside of me. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to have children, it was just that becoming a mother seemed like the most life-changing, earth-shattering, death-to-self kind of thing I could ever choose to do – and somewhere along the way, I picked up this notion that to have a child, one must be completely prepared, totally sure, perfectly equipped, and fully without doubts.

Husband was feeling really ready to move full speed ahead into parenthood, but with my mixed feelings and ambivalence about it all, I started asking around among the mothers that I knew. I asked a loved and respected mentor at my church who had adult children (and looked to be the poster mama for family life perfection) how she had known she was ready to start a family. Her own story of ambivalence prior to having children, and even after her first was born, shocked me. I asked a professional colleague with two school-age children if she had experienced any doubts about getting pregnant and having a baby. Again, I was surprised to learn that she had questioned whether she really wanted to have children at all. I asked close girlfriends with very young children how they had felt before having a baby, and the answer was that they were unsure and full of doubts. Absolutely every woman I talked to expressed the same mixed feelings about having a baby, the same doubts about their readiness and ability to be a mother, the same nervousness at giving up so much of themselves to care for another. Each of these women decided in the end that the desire to have a baby trumped all of the questions and doubts, and each became an incredibly attentive, committed, amazing mother.

Knowing that my doubts and mixed feelings were normal and did not disqualify me entirely from motherhood, we took the plunge and added sweet Bug to our family, then two years later our beloved Bear. In the years since I had my own children, a great number of friends have come to me with the same concerns in their early stages of contemplating motherhood. They ask the same questions – How did I know? Was I sure I wanted a baby? Did I struggle with feeling like I wouldn’t be a good mother? Did I feel nervous at the thought of the lifestyle change that having a baby would bring? My answers were much like those given to me when I asked the same questions of any mother I could find – I didn’t know for sure, but I knew enough. I struggled greatly with the feeling that maybe I didn’t have what it took to be a good mother, but I knew I would do my absolute best for the children entrusted to my care. I was terrified at the death to self that I knew would come from giving up my body for pregnancy and nursing, sacrificing my familiar life for something I could not in any way comprehend, relinquishing my freedom to focus on myself and my own needs in the interest of someone else completely dependent upon me, but I knew that it was worth it to experience creating a life that was a little combination of my self and Husband’s self.

I’m not saying that this is the experience of every woman, but I do think it’s a far more common experience than anyone really talks about openly. As a result, we are left feeling like motherhood is all black and white – either we know and commit completely with no doubts whatsoever and we’re meant to be mothers, or we have questions and doubts that mean we probably don’t have what it takes. In reality, ambivalence is such a normal state of motherhood, from pre-conception, to pregnancy, to birth, and through childhood, that I think were we not to feel so ashamed and afraid of it as mothers, we would get more comfortable just accepting it as a part of the job description.

Everything I Need to Know About Making Friends I Learned From My 3-Year-Old

Posted by on Sep 24, 2012 in Bug & Bear | 2 comments

Everything I Need to Know About Making Friends I Learned From My 3-Year-Old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mommy! Look!! I made a friend!!!” I looked up from digging through the racks of shirts at the store we were in to see this…

Then she wanted me to take pictures. That’s my Bug, she could make friends with a brick wall. Or a mannequin.

Yesterday I took her to the park and her face fell when she realized there were no other kids there to play. About 10 minutes later a car pulled up and a girl slightly older than Bug jumped out and started towards the playground. Bug screamed, “Look, Mommy, a friend!” Then she ran towards her new friend and threw her arms around her in a long, meaningful embrace. The girl looked uncomfortable. “Sweetie, try saying hi and tell her your name,” I tried to gently redirect. The child is extremely social. Let me be clear – she does not get this from me. I wish I could say she did, but no, it’s just the way she came into the world, so full of life and enthusiasm for people.

Before Bug was born I tended towards shyness. I was very private and only really opened up to my closest, most trusted friends. I would never have inserted myself into a group of people and joined their conversation, not because I don’t love people, but mostly because I thought it would be rude.

Two things changed for me after Bug was born. First, from the time she could move she started moving herself towards people and finding ways to meet them. At the park, she would walk into a group of moms and start passing out mulch as a gift. I was uncomfortable joining the group, but you can’t really unleash a toddler on a group of moms you don’t know without offering some supervision. More than that, I knew that no matter how uncomfortable I may feel I didn’t want to squash Bug’s social nature. I had to get comfortable talking to new people and joining new groups.

Second, I was lonely. The transition from working outside the home to staying with a baby inside my home was a difficult one for me. I felt lonely, isolated, and pretty bored. Reaching out to people, meeting a friend at the park, finding any source of adult conversation throughout the day became a lifeline.

Thanks to Bug leading me out of my comfort zone, I discovered how easy it is to make friends with other mothers. We have so much in common, no matter how different we may be on the surface. More importantly, I learned how desperately we mothers need each other for support, companionship, encouragement, and adult conversation. If you are feeling isolated and trapped inside your home speaking fluent baby talk, you must get out and find some mama friends right away! Here are all the inside secrets I learned from my social butterfly Bug…

1. Lead with, “Hi! My name is ______________.” Everywhere we go, Bug immediately finds someone there and uses this simple introduction. Children and adults usually respond with an introduction of their own, and then connection follows.

2. Invite someone new to participate in an activity with you. Bug’s intro is always followed by, “Would you like to play with me?” Most often the invitation is accepted. If we meet new friends when we’re out, we try to exchange phone numbers and get together to do something fun.

3. Laugh in the face of rejection. Unfortunately, sometimes kids (and adults) can be cruel, and at times Bug’s, “Would you like to play with me?” is met with something along the lines of, “NO! YOU’RE NOT MY FRIEND!” Bug is utterly unfazed by this. The subtitle to this post could be “Everything I Need to Know About Facing Rejection I Learned From My 3-Year-Old.” She just shrugs it off and extends a new invitation to a different friend, usually with great success.

4. When someone new invites you to join them, always accept if you can. Bug always joins the kids who include her in their play. Sometimes they turn out to be wonderful friends, sometimes they’re a little bit of mischief. You just don’t know until you give someone new a chance.

5. Love the ones you’re with. Bug engages with whoever is available when we go out, even if they seem to have nothing in common. They almost always end up having fun, even if they don’t have enough in common to become regular playmates. Even if the mothers around you aren’t who you would choose for your very best friend, talking to another adult briefly while your children play can really save your sanity.

6. Get out of your house. Bug is social, active, and loves change. It seems that the more new people and experiences we have outside of our home each day, the happier she is and the better she sleeps, so we get out quite a bit. Turns out, the more you get out, the more people you meet, and the more opportunity you have to make new friends. Bug and I have both made great friends by going to the library story time, mother’s groups at church, public parks, walks, even the grocery store.

7. Assume people like you. Bug completely lacks shyness or self-consciousness. I adore this about her, as it is just so totally different from my own personality. She just assumes people will like her and be thrilled to know her and play with her – as a result, they usually are.

8. Notice those on the sidelines. Sometimes there is a shy kid who wants to play but just needs someone to notice them and reach out. Bug always pulls the kids on the sidelines into the hub of activity. The shy kids usually want to be included but just need a helping hand. Same goes for the shy adults.

9. Be the leader. It’s hard to hang back by yourself when you’re the one in charge of organizing a group or activity. Bug often organizes games of chase or tag and soon has every child around talking to her and playing with her.  I was shocked at my shy self’s ability to step out of my comfort zone, reach out to people, and open up when I led a mom’s group at one point. When you’re the one responsible for drawing people in it’s a lot easier to be outgoing.

10. Smile and laugh. Bug is always smiling, and sometimes she just breaks into spontaneous peals of laughter. It attracts people and is positively contagious.

Lest you think I’ve completely lost my mind, no, I do not think we should entirely emulate the behavior of a 3-year-old in our adult interactions and relationships. I’ve learned, for instance, that most people do not respond favorably to roar-like-a-lion competitions or tantruming when hungry or exhausted. Those things I do not recommend. I do, however, recommend doing whatever it takes to connect with other mothers and keep a healthy dose of adult conversation and fun friendship in your life if you spend the bulk of your time with young children. It is sanity saving, emotionally encouraging, and fantastically fun!

Find Under Construction Paper on Facebook, or better yet, just click the Facebook icon at the top of the homepage – you’ll get notification of new posts, encouragement, laughter, friendship, and even a little adult conversation!

The Good Enough Mother – Part 2

Posted by on Sep 14, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Faith, Mental Health | 4 comments

One of my least favorite things about writing is that it seems like whatever I choose to write about in a given week becomes an area in which I struggle exceedingly that week. It’s a reason I often want to just stop writing and sharing altogether. When I write about my marriage, then it seems Husband and I fight and bicker more. When I write about trusting God, it seems I struggle with a greater measure of fear and worry. And when I write about my kids, it seems I struggle with less patience and greater feelings of inadequacy.

Just a couple of days ago I wrote The Good Enough Mother. The next day, I woke up with a feeling of heaviness, a feeling that I’m doing a bad job with my kids. I’m surprised at my tendency towards impatience and anger. I should know better, for goodness sake, I’m a child therapist. In trying to determine the source of the heaviness, I became vaguely aware that it had to do with unrealistic expectations of myself and children and inaccurate perceptions. When I looked deeper, I saw that when my kids don’t listen or follow the rules I unknowingly let a slew of lies flood into my heart… It’s because I’ve done something wrong… It’s because I’ve been so dang imperfect… It’s because no one in my house respects me. Giving these thoughts real estate in my brain then generates a snowball effect. I end up feeling so inadequate that it negatively impacts my mothering, my attitude towards myself, my relationship with Husband, and the atmosphere in my home. Then, to compensate, I try to work harder and be better. Do more. Become different. I unknowlingly get caught up in trying to change my behavior into something more perfect instead of weeding out the roots of my inaccurate perceptions and giving myself (and my family) grace to simply be Good Enough.

Just so you know, in case these same thoughts ever invade your brain as well, they’re all lies. Your kids don’t disobey and fail you at times because you’re a failure, but because they’re kids. Kids just don’t know all that much, they lack judgement, common sense, and life experience. They’re learning, but it is a long and tiresome process.

As soon as I recognized all of the lies that were leading to my sense of heaviness and feelings of failure as a mother, I set to work evicting them from my mind and replacing them with a better tenant – truth about myself and my children. For me, the truth about who I am as a person and mother and who my children are as little people comes from what God says about us.

Before each of my children was born, I got to know them through praying about them, and felt like I had a Bible verse for each of their lives. For Bug, it was that she would be “full of mercy and compassion, slow to anger and abounding in love.” For Bear, it was that she would have “great peace and undisturbed composure.” Ironically, Bug often struggles with anger and Bear often struggles with fear. Sometimes I think that God gave me these specific verses for them as an anchor to keep me grounded and focused on the truth when I could see no actual evidence of these truths in the children who are actually in my home. It works. When I start to feel overwhelmed with their challenging behavior in these areas, I purpose to stop and speak these words of truth about them. Then I purpose to speak these words to them. It never fails to change their behavior and my perception. Truth will do that. And it serves as a much better motivator than negativity, criticism, and punishment.

As for myself, I am highly imperfect and in need of much grace as a mother. Thankfully, that is okay, and part of simply being a Good Enough Mother. More importantly, in spite of my human imperfection, my heart is home to a perfect God who helps me be better than I am in and of myself when I let Him. Because God lives in me, love lives in me, and this is what love is:

“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful orvainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, Amplified Bible)

In an effort to speak truth about myself as a mother, and because I believe truth is a better motivator for me than negativity, criticism and punishment just as it is for my children, I started saying this about myself in the morning before the children awake and start pulling on my emotions:

I endure long and and I am patient with and kind to my children.

I do not display myself haughtily in my home.

I am not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); I am not rude to my children (unmannerly) and I do not act unbecomingly to them.

(God’s love in me) does not insist on my own rights or my own way, for I am not self-seeking; I am not touchy or fretful or resentful with my children; I keep no account of their mistakes after those mistakes are addressed.

I can bear up under anything and everything that comes, I am ever ready to believe the best about my children, my hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and I can endure everything [without weakening].

God’s Love in my family, my marriage, and my relationships with my children never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].

Speaking words of life and truth about myself and my children in the morning did not magically make me the Perfect Mother, but it did change the tone of the entire day. There was less frustration and negativity, more patience and grace. I know that as mothers we try to speak kind and encouraging words about our children each day, but what if we did the same for ourselves? What if every mother mothered herself with kindness and love? Kindness, love, encouragement, and truth are, after all, better motivators than negativity, criticism, and punishment. An added bonus of filling ourselves with these things is that we are then full of them to pour out to our children – it is hard, if not impossible, to pour into our kids what we are not full of ourselves. Try encouraging and building yourself up instead of tearing yourself down in your thoughts today and see how it lightens everything in your home.  See if it doesn’t give you the grace to believe you’re Good Enough.

Back to School

Posted by on Aug 27, 2012 in Bug & Bear | 0 comments

I read this story, From Jail to Harvard, a few days ago. It’s an inspiring story about the difference a teacher can make in the life of a struggling, hurting student.

My family’s story is far less dramatic, but I wanted to share it with my teacher friends as encouragement as you head back to school. I know you have a tremendous opportunity to reach those struggling kids in desperate situations, but I wonder if you ever know what a difference you also make in the lives of the kids who seem to be fine.

Last year my Bug attended a wonderful preschool that was close to our home. Her start of school came at a time that our family was going through enormous change, transition, and stress. With a needy refluxy baby, Husband working long hours, and no family close by for support, I was feeling a little desperate for help with my kids. I especially felt like Bug needed someone in addition to Husband and myself who would invest in her and love on her as an extra dose of support. Her sweet teachers did exactly that. They invested in her and loved her, and I watched her thrive in response.

Bug started playing school and pretending to be her favorite teacher at home. She chatted happily in the car after I picked her up on school days about her new friends and new found knowledge. She learned so much. I could tell she felt loved.

No one would have known the stress weighing on my family or how much Bug just needed a little extra attention. In fact, I asked in a teacher conference if there were any concerns since our family had been through so many changes in a short period of time, and her teacher was surprised as she told me she never would have known. Bug looks like a happy kid who lives in a stable family where she gets lots of love – she is a happy kid and she does get lots of love, but she still benefitted from the different relationship she had with her teachers in a way that dramatically increased her security and confidence.

These women were so much more than just teachers – they were extra support and care for our entire family when we desperately needed it. They made an enourmous difference for us during a difficult time, without realizing how significant their role was or what an impact they had. I wonder if teachers ever know what a difference they make. I believe all of the kids in your care this year need your influence and love more than you realize, and it means more than you’ll ever know. Thank you for all that you do, and happy back to school!

 

 

 

Guest Post: Our Heavenly Father

Posted by on Jul 18, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Faith | 0 comments

Guest Post: Our Heavenly Father

Have you had that moment yet where you realize… “I am my mother”? If not, give it more time, it will happen. I am not only old enough at this point to admit that I’ve become my mother, but also to say I’m thrilled about it. She’s neat.

On a recent visit to her house, I learned something about my mom that I’ve never known in 36 years – she writes. Another thing I discovered we have in common. She showed me some of her writing and I loved it. I asked her if she would let me share the story below on my blog and she said yes. Enjoy!

~

Bear, 13 months old, stood beside the chair, apparently seeing challenge in the rungs of the legs and felt the call of the flat hard seat. As she began to climb, Celia calmly picked her up to prevent a mishap, surely protecting the petite child. Repositioning herself among the guests at the birthday party, Celia put Bear down. Moments later, Bear, exiting the room of festivities, tiny legs marching in determination, her mother quietly got up to follow. Bear took the long route, and in determination, found her way back to the kitchen zeroing in on the object of her desire. Celia, in her wisdom, stood and watched as the child climbed up and proudly sat in the seat. Once positioned, her mission accomplished, Mom pick up the toddler and returned to the party. Upon putting Bear down, to her surprise, her child was now content, having accomplished her mission.

In much the same way, our Heavenly Father will give us reign to accomplish those things that we see as necessary and important, all the while keeping watchful eye, ready to rescue, to protect; allowing us to exercise our free will and to fall, if necessary. Are we content with mission accomplished? Have we discovered our capabilities once the goal is reached? Are we content to remain with Him, much as Bria was content to stay close to Mom once she was allowed to exercise her own will. Do we know, as the small child shows, without our Protector we are on a mission without the watchful eye; that the only help we have is of ourselves?

 

Momplex

Posted by on Jul 11, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Marriage & Family | 2 comments

Momplex

Dear Crafty Mom,

I know you didn’t mean to because you would never do this on purpose, but you have given me quite the complex about my inability to do crafts with my children. Or scrapbook. Or bake beautiful birthday cakes. Or create elaborate party themes and exquisite decorations. Or sew girly dresses. Or take photos in which everyone is looking at the camera smiling in clean clothes. Or turn those photos into perfect photo collages. Or lead my children in a daily arts and crafts project that’s frame worthy. Or create a gorgeous life size poster of Joseph and his coat of many colors to illustrate the Bible story on a child’s level.

I am writing to say that, while I admire you greatly, I would appreciate you ceasing to showcase your talents in this area. Or at least stop posting it on Facebook. I think it would cure my complex instantly.

Yours Truly,
Not That Mom

As much as I wish I was, the truth is I’m just not that mom, the one who knows how to do all of the traditional mom things with grace and ease. Are you? If so, then know that I really do admire you for your artsy talent. But if you are not that mom either, I’ve discovered something that I think you should know:

Even if you are not good at the “mom stuff”, you are good at something, and that something is uniquely important to your family.

For a while, because it seemed like I was supposed to, I tried to be that mom. I researched art projects and set aside a special time each day to congregate at the table so that we could complete our masterpieces. I had the children make centerpieces for Thanksgiving (I was so hoping I had photographs of these to post so that you could really see this is not my forte, but turns out I don’t think anyone found them photograph worthy). After a number of these crafts sessions ended in tears (Ahem. Most of those tears were mine), I threw my hands up in defeat. I wondered how my children would survive my incompetence at crafts. Then it occurred to me that, although I am not crafty in any way, maybe my talents in other areas could serve as gifts to my children. I don’t love and I’m not good at crafty things, but I do love and have some ability to do other things…

I can not scrapbook, I can barely snap a photo (see image at the top of this post, that’s our typical family picture), but I love to write and I can express myself easily in written words. Instead of keeping a scrapbook for my girls, I decided to keep a journal for each of them in which I write down prayers I’ve said for them, things I’ve learned about them, milestones they’ve reached, and just a bunch of love notes. I like to think that one day they’ll treasure these just as much as they would an artsy scrapbook.

20120711-145829.jpg

Journals for Bug and Bear

I am not great at organizing structured learning times, but I do love to learn through hands-on experiences and have been able to share that with my children. We go to museums, parks, zoos, farms, and any other place we can find to learn about things while we explore.

20120711-124807.jpg

Family trip to learn about dinosaurs

I am not the mom who is conscientious about doing family Bible studies or daily devotionals, but I am passionate about prayer and hearing God. My girls and I pray as we drive places in the car, look up scriptures in the Bible as we encounter different issues, and talk about God in the course of our daily activities.

I am not very artistic or creative, but I find a creative process in cooking, and this is something my girls and I do together. It’s our art.

20120711-125039.jpg

Yummy dough that Bug and I made for homemade pizza

While these things may not be the traditional mom things, they are me things, and I think that must be what my children really want after all. Me. A taste of who I really am. Keepsakes and traditions from me that help them remember the person I am and the relationship we share, special times and activities that are unique to our family.

I mean no disrespect to the crafty mamas – if you are good at those things, then they are gifts of yourself packed with meaning for your children. But if you are not, for the love of all that is holy, take the pressure off yourself and give your children the gift of you in the form of your unique talents, abilities, and ways of relating.

 

 

 

 

 

Vicious Cycle

Posted by on Jun 21, 2012 in Bug & Bear, Mental Health | 5 comments

Vicious Cycle

I swear it feels like 1000 times a day I watch this scene unfold before my eyes…

Bug, running, screaming: “Stop chasing me!”

Bear, running, laughing: “Hahahahaha”

Bug, running, screaming, breaking into hysterical sobs: “STOP CHASING ME!!!”

Bear, running, laughing maniacally: “HAHAHAHA!!!”

And so it goes, round and round in circles, over and over and over. Repeat.

It’s a frustrating scene for all involved. Poor Bear thinks its all a big game, and an insanely fun one at that. Poor Bug can not understand, despite my repeated attempts to explain, that running away only fuels Bear to keep going because the more Bug runs, the more it seems like a game of chase. Poor me, no matter how hard I try to throw reason into the mix, I’m powerless to stop this vicious cycle of chase from hell. It will only stop for good if Bug just stops running, just stops doing what looks to Bear like playing along.

The whole scene is enough to drive a mama to the edge. It makes me a little nuts. But today it also made me think.

How many times do we engage in this same vicious cycle in our relationships? Someone is doing something that we desperately want them to stop, we keep trying to get them to stop, but then we simultaneously act in a way, probably without realizing it, that encourages them to keep going. Instead of extracting ourselves from the vicious cycle, getting out of the game, and no longer playing along, we just keep running and screaming, all the while sending a covert message to the other person that we are, in fact, playing their game.

The thing is, when Bug stops running, Bear can’t play chase anymore. The game is over, and Bear very quickly loses interest and moves on to something else. Bug’s unwillingness to react to Bear quickly brings the whole cycle to a stop.

Too bad Bug doesn’t really get this, and large chunks of our day continue to be occupied with hell chase. She’ll get it some day. The good news is, I got it today, identified a few people from whom I will quietly disengage, and decided to refrain from reacting to irritating games. And then I had a glass of wine to soothe my frayed nerves.

 

 

 

© 2012-2017 Under Construction Paper All Rights Reserved