Sunday, November 24, 2013

What I love about his age...

I find myself staring at Strider a lot these day -- which makes him quite unnerved and often annoyed.

 But I think he's at a fascinating age:  In his face right now I can still see traces of the baby he was not too long ago, but also can begin to get glimpses of the man he is becoming.  He's in the in-between stage and I love watching the transformation.

 I also cry when I think about how fast it's going!  And that just annoys him more.  :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Family Pictures: There's always SOMEONE....

Yesterday I dragged everyone we attempted to get some family pictures taken.

Going through the 138 shots we got, the obvious theme emerged:  It is virtually impossible for all 6 of us to look normal at the same time.  There's always someone doing something goofy....

 Even with only 4 in the picture, it was still nigh unto impossible...


That Photogenic Frank Family.... said no one, ever.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A new system -- it rocks

Things had been getting rather, shall we say, completely out of control around here lately.  Certain young people were not listening the first time I told them to do something… or the second time… or the third… or sometimes at all.  So, it was time for some re-training.

I thought about pulling out one of our ol’ behavior charts, or creating a new system based on check-marks or points or a positive-negative scale, but none of them seemed right to me.  The idea that we are ultimately measured by how many good things we do minus how many bad things we do seems to lead to performance-driven people who are keeping track of their “points” all the time.

BUT, we are called to train our children, and they need to be taught that good deeds are right and bad deeds are wrong, so we figured there must be a way to do this, without making them feel that their worth depended on their behavior.

There were two basic concepts, then, that we wanted to address:

1.)  You are loved (by us and by God) no matter what your behavior is
2.) Your behavior still matters because it affects other people, not just yourself.

So here is the system I developed to demonstrate that.

It’s called the “ROCKIN’ MOM’S ENERGY SYSTEM” – because it uses rocks, and illustrates my energy level… get it?

Here is how we explained it to the kids:

You guys are loved all the time, no matter what you do or don’t do.  Just like God’s love, ours is not conditional on what you do.

Your behavior, however, is important when relating to other people.  If you want to have good relationships in this life, you must realize that how you act affects others.  To demonstrate this, in an effort to help shape your behavior, we will be using the Rockin’ Mom’s Energy System.

Here’s how it works:

1. The levels of rocks in each of your cups represent Mom’s Energy Level.

2.  Each time you disobey, destroy something, disrespect an adult, or deliberately fail to follow through on an instruction, you will take a rock from your cup, representing the energy you have drained from your mother by making her repeat instructions, re-do a task, or reiterate the values of our home.

3.  If you desire to put a rock back into your cup, you may try to replenish your mom’s energy by helping her out in ways such as: cleaning something up, helping out a sibling, showing affection to Mom or someone she loves, or being generally encouraging or helpful.  Mom may find her energy rising, and if so, she will tell you that you can put a rock back in your cup.

4.  Each evening at dinner, the levels of the rocks will be measured.  If Mom’s Energy Level has been decreased, she will likely not feel like having a lot of “fun” with her kids in the evening.  She will feel like she wants to relax in a quiet house.   Depending on what level the rocks in your cup are in, you will be given certain privileges…. or will be going to bed early so Mom can get some rest.

5.  Each morning you will begin with a full cup of rocks.  Even if you lost all of your rocks the previous day, you begin each morning with a full cup.  Just like God’s, our mercies are new every morning.

Each child's cup is labeled with 3 zones -- green, gray, and red.  Each zone corresponds to certain results at the end of the day.  For instance, if everyone is in the green zone, Mom will make a special dessert and they can choose a fun activity (read-aloud book, play a game, watch a show, etc).  If anyone gets down in the red zone, they go to bed early, have extra chores AND must write me a letter, telling me about at least 5 things they love about me (to help boost my energy back up, since I'm energized by words of affirmation!).

We've been using this system for a couple of weeks so far, and I've been pleased with the results.  The first day we tried it we had a LOT of rocks leaving cups.... In fact, two children wrote me letters that night because their cups were empty.

And the biggest reason I can say this system has rocked so far is because THIS was one of the letters I received -- from the 4-year old.  It's the very first thing I've ever seen him write!  
"Deer Mom i lov yoo, lov Miles"
I had no idea he even could write, so I wasn't going to enforce that part of the system for him.  But without my knowing he went right into his room, found some paper and a marker, and emerged with this, very pleased with himself that he was following the system fully.

I was so happy with it that I completely overlooked all of the behavior that had resulted in all his rocks being lost all day.  

My energy level was restored.  :)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Another reason it's nice living with Rayna

"Dear Mommy I love you. I love you because I love you very much."
Several times a week Rayna likes to scrawl out notes to various members of the family.  Sometimes they say something specific and relevant to that day, but they always include a sentence about how much she loves the recipient.

This note (on the back of some scrap paper) that I got a few days ago made me chuckle.  Clearly she was in a hurry (or distracted) when she wrote it, but the message is still just about right.    All I could think is this is how Jesus' love notes to us would be:  "I love you because I love you very much."  He doesn't love me because I look good or act good or do good... it's just because He loves us.

I love having a daughter who loves in the same way.

Family Circus Moments

We've had many moments like this.  Good think Rayna's around to help me handle the chaos!

Sometimes I wish I could draw, so I could accompany these quotes with a picture.  But I can't.  So here are our real-life Family Circus moments, sans pictures.

Miles’ Mama’s Mortifiying Moment of the Week:  

As Miles walked into his violin lesson, he launched into a poem that he recently learned.  When his teacher couldn’t understand what his squeaky little voice was saying, he announced, “I think you’re old.  You need hearing aids.”

How I was awakened one morning:

A little boy wriggled into my bed and said, “I’m cold – and wild! When are YOU going to be wild, Mommy?”

“Mmmmmm…. Maybe later,” I said.
“No, you’re never going to be wild,” he said. “You’re a mommy and mommies are nice.”


A  recent question from Strider:

“Mom, you know how they say that if life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade?  Well, what if life doesn’t give you water and sugar?”

Comment from Colsen today:

"Mom, did you know that you weigh more pounds than the number of years the oldest man in the world just lived?"


Overheard conversation:

Colsen:  "I have to put this $25 check from my birthday in the bank for college??  I don't want to do that!"

Strider:  "Yeah, Colsen but every time you put in $25, you can think 'I'll get to spend another 10 minutes in college!'"


And we've had many moments like this

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wingdingers for sale -- now online!

We've taken our Wingdingers to two festivals now, but we still have a lot of inventory left over, so we're hoping to find some more buyers!  Here is a simple web site we've created to show the designs, demonstrate how they work, etc:

If anyone is looking for small Christmas gifts for the children in your life, we hope you'll consider getting them a Wingdinger!  They can be customized, or pick from one of our many unique designs.  You'll be supporting not just our children, but also orphans, since we are giving 20% away to All God's Children International.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Reminds me of the church

This glorious tree in my front yard reminds me of the church.

When you look up close, you discover that all the various parts/leaves have holes or rips or marks on them.

 There is not a perfect leaf among them!

(I discovered this when I went out to cut some to bring in for a table centerpiece.)

But even though we are all broken, marred, and more holey than holy...

Still, somehow God ends up shining his light through...

And the whole thing ends up being pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Colsen is 7

This sweet boy is now a big 7 years old!
 Colsen's birthday, while rather simple, was a big hit.  Half-way through the day he proclaimed it was his best birthday ever!

Since it's an "odd" year, he was not able to have a birthday party with friends, so we celebrated at home.  After doing a little school work this morning (just a litttttle), we hopped on our bikes and rode down to the new bakery in the neighborhood where he was allowed to pick out something for our lunch.  He (wisely) chose a loaf of cinnamon bread.

Together with a yogurt "parfait" (blueberries and chia seeds with a little coconut sprinkled on top) and some veggies, it made a perfect lunch!
 In the afternoon, he enjoyed his art class - -particularly because they were working with clay ("REAL clay like pottery people use!  And they're going to put it in a kiln and fire it!") and he got all dirty.  :)
When we all got back home, the boys and Daddy had a great time out playing with Cole's new presents.  From his sister he got a motorized flying bird ("which combines two of my favorite things:  flying things and birds!") and from his brother he got a chargeable airplane that loops around and even flew over the roof of our house a few times!

 And the cake was a big hit, too....
 .... It was supposed to look like a soccer ball, but then I wrote words on the top and it became a big ol' jumble.  At least the inside looked cool.  :)

We're so thankful for our boy with a compassionate heart.  Even today he was all concerned about others.... For example, when he heard that Miles wanted to blow out candles tonight, too, Cole asked for 8 candles on his cake:  7 for him to blow out, and 1 for Miles.  We love how he loves his siblings!

And we also love his insights about God.  We've seen him praying about all kinds of things lately, and his comment this past week about how he thinks Jesus would dress up on Halloween as a big heart (a perfect, no-smudges heart) made us all think deeper and be grateful.

Can't wait to see what else God does in his life!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spontaneous Zoo Trip

This morning as Rayna, Colsen, Miles and I were sitting down to start our normal school day, I asked the kids if they wouldn't rather GO somewhere.  Of course they all said yes.  So I said, "Well, then, let's go to the ZOO!"  I wish I had videoed their responses.  Needless to say, they were gleeful!

So we jumped in the van and headed out.  As we were driving I asked Colsen if this was a good birthday gift (his birthday is tomorrow).  He answered, "This is a PERFECT birthday gift!  Because it's not even on my birthday!"

And it was a fun day.

Colsen introduced his brother to the giraffes... and the gorillas...

 Miles kept asking me to take his picture with the pretend animals:

In the afternoon we headed across the bridge and took a tram ride to the botanical gardens.

This is always my favorite part.  :)

I'm pretty sure they were daring each other to jump in.
 On the way home, we talked about how we'd seen a lot about God today.  Miles said He was powerful since He made animals that roar and are strong.  Rayna and Colsen both said He was creative because he made so many different kinds of plants and animals. And we all agreed that He must have a good sense of humor to create things like this crazy plant, and baboons with pink butts!

My favorite part of the day was hearing how grateful the kids were on the long car ride home.  All of them kept thanking me and telling me what a fun adventure it had been.  Then, when I took them for ice cream, Colsen said, "This is just like vacation after vacation!!"

Strider wasn't able to join us since he was in classes all day, so I'll just post a picture of him from the first time we went to this zoo:
Weren't they so cute??