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Relive, Remember, Redo

I was making my usual rounds to the boys’ rooms, saying final good nights and giving sweet dream kisses; secretly excited to have a moment with my husband after a full day.

Leaving my oldest son’s room I heard, “Hey Mom? Can I talk to you about something?”.

I’m embarrassed to admit it – but for a split second I wanted to just keep walking down the hall as if I hadn’t heard him. I was exhausted and I just wanted to cuddle on the couch with my man…

Thankfully I did what was right.  I turned around and became keenly aware that this was going to be one of “those” moments – one I’d remember for a long time – and I was right.

“Mom, I’ve been thinking about some days that I would want to relive.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.  I think I’d like to go back to my 8th birthday party at the pool.  Remember how Tyler couldn’t pass the swimming test?  I just wish I could go back and I would have waited for him longer instead of going ahead and getting in the water with all my friends.”

My mind was racing.  What made him think of this, what did it all mean and how could I help him release this guilt he was feeling?

“Honey, it is so sweet that you are worried about Tyler, but I think there’s one detail you forgot about that day.”

“What?”

“Well, after Tyler failed the swimming test he was embarrassed and a little frustrated.  So we asked everyone to give him some space so he wouldn’t feel like everyone was staring at him and putting pressure on him.  I think I actually told you to go ahead and start swimming.”

He sat there thinking everything through, gave a half-smile and a satisfied, “hmmm”

I asked if there were any other days he’d like to relive and he said yes –

“The day we went to Disneyland.”  I think he could tell I was struggling with that one…what in the WORLD would he want to redo about that day?  He went on to say, “I just had so much fun and we were all there together and well – that’s one day I’d like to have again.”

I sat there looking at this sweet boy who is already processing regrets and memories.  He’s NINE! What’s he going to do when he’s MY age?!

There are certain moments of my mothering career that I would LOVE to redo, even more that I’d like to relive and a million others I will always remember.

I guess that’s the most beautiful part about life, mothering and kids.

We’ll have moments that are so beautiful they leave an impression on our memory and bring a smile to our face.

We’ll have experiences that are so full we’d be thrilled to live it over again and again.

We’ll make decisions and respond in situations when we’re simply trying to do our best…and when we look back we think about how we would have done things differently.

No matter what I’m dealing with or how I respond I keep remembering Psalm 37:5…”Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him”

If I’m constantly committing my ways (words, thoughts, actions, plans, goals) to the Lord, I can trust that He will guide me and hopefully I’ll have less and less days I’d like to redo.  As we commit our ways to the Lord and trust in Him he “will give us the desires of our hearts” (Psalm 37:4).

I’m not perfect – I’m just trying my best.  But even my BEST isn’t enough without the direction and leading that comes from the One who created me and wants the best for me.

Do you have any days you’d love to relive or that you’ll always remember?

Maybe a day when your kids discovered something about God or applied a trait you’d been teaching them for quite a while.

Would you take a moment and brag on your kids and leave a comment below?

Here’s to enjoying each moment and memory along the way!

Kasey

1…2…3…Go!

And so it begins – here’s the first post in our Summer Series.  Each post will support a certain theme or time during the summer months.  I hope you enjoy these and that they are helpful.  Thanks for passing this along to your friends and spreading the word about the Smart Moms community 😮  Remember – to get these posts automatically sent to you, just subscribe on our home page! 😮

PLANE AND CAR RIDES

Sandpaper Play

What you’ll need: square of coarse sandpaper, yarn in various colors & thickness, cut into different lengths, gallon baggies

How it works: place a square of sandpaper and yarn into a baggie, when needed children can place the yarn in different shapes and patterns – the yarn sticks to the sandpaper and creates a colorful, clean and quite masterpiece.

Aluminum Foil Fun

What you’ll need: squares of aluminum foil, a pair of hands and a big imagination

How it works: whether you choose an item for the child to recreate or allow them to make their own this is a chance for them to squish, tear and draw on the foil while they are sitting in their car seat.  Think of this as play-doh without the doh. They can combine pieces of foil together, squish it into a ball, roll it into a snake, or try to recreate a passing truck or car.

What Would You Be?

What you’ll need: your imagination and a child above the age of 2

How it works: begin by asking your child, “If you could be any kind of  __________ what would you be?  You can fill in the blank with the word “animal”, “plane”, “plant”, “car” or anything else you can think of. Be ready to ask a follow-up question for more details – whether you ask about the color, size, shape or purpose behind their choice this can be a fun reversal of roles where YOU ask the questions and THEY come up with the answers.

Estimate This

What You’ll Need:  Paper, pen, children old enough to solve basic math problems and understand the concept of distance, quantity and time.

How It Works:  Thinking about your trip, choose some items that can be estimated by the people in your car and can be precisely measured by an instrument in the car or on your person…Some examples might include: before you fill up the car with gas for the first time, have everyone estimate how much they think it will cost – write down everyone’s answers – the winner gets something small like a treat from the gas station.  When looking at road signs for how many miles are left  to the rest stop or upcoming city, guess how long it will take to cover that amount of miles.  You might have to help younger kids think through the speed limit to mile ratio, but this is just fun – not strict math problems. Another estimation might include how many times the members in your car will sneeze, cough, ask “are we there yet” or how many hours will be spent sleeping…

The secret is to keep things fun and not get too confusing or complicated.  Older children can keep track of their own findings to compare with their estimation, but sometimes the simple push of the odometer button can keep everyone from being hyper-focused on “catching” others or counting things so they can be proven correct or prove others wrong 😮

My Father/Mother Has A Store

What You Need: Your imagination and listening ears

How It Works: There are two ways to play this game.

1. One person tells about the store their mother or father own.  They choose something within that store and give a clue, everyone else tries to guess what is in the store.  Example: “My Mother has a grocery store and in it she sells something that starts with an N” OR “My Father has a pet store and in it he has an animal with a long tail.”  Sometimes more clues are needed, keep giving them until others guess what food, pet or item you are talking about.

2. One person starts a list of groceries, items or pets (stay within a theme).  The list is “passed” to the next person who must repeat what they’ve heard and add their own item.  A person is “out” if they cannot repeat all the items in the correct order or come up with a new item to add to the list.  Example: “My Sister owns a grocery store and in it she sells apples.” (next person) “My Sister owns a grocery store and in it she sells apples and oranges.”  Etc…

Edible Jewelry

What You Need: rope licorice (the kind that can be pulled off in single strips) and cereal (like fruit loops or Cheerios) in a baggie

How It Works: you might need to supervise younger children as they create by giving them one or two cereal pieces at a time.  An adult ties the end of the licorice to a cereal piece to create a knot. The child then strings the licorice through the middle of a cereal piece to create a bracelet or necklace. They can wear and eat their creation when finished! Depending on their fine motor skills this can take quite a while (which is sometimes a blessing) – for older kids, let them braid the strands of licorice or create their own ways of stringing and tying things together.

Bag of Goodies

Visit your local dollar store or value mart and pick up cheap, small toys and trinkets.  Fill up a paper bag with the toys and crafts or activities you want to bring.  Show the bags to the kids.  These are not bribes – these are celebrations!  maybe you celebrate no one having an accident while driving a long distance, perhaps we celebrate getting to our 1/2 way point or even as simple as seeing cows on the side of the road…you can tell your kids about what will denote a celebration or keep it to yourself – just have fun!

Have fun touring the country and seeing all the fantastic sites!  I hope these ideas are helpful – if you have time, pass this along to your friends and leave a comment telling us what you used and how it worked!

Kasey

Fear

Last night, around 11:30 Matt and I were sitting together, watching TV, when suddenly the tornado sirens began to blare.  We are lucky enough to have a siren perched on a pole across the street from our house.  When it goes off the windows rattle and there’s no escaping the siren’s cry.

My mind started racing and my feet joined in the rhythm.  I grabbed pillows and blankets, woke little boys with an urgent, but soft voice and we all made our way to the basement. Lying there with the boys I tried to keep things light.  I tried telling stories, imagining we were on a campout – even resorted to the cheesy recitation of the 24th Psalm.

When none of those approaches worked I thought of the animals stuck outside in this awful weather.  I asked the boys what they thought the birds, rabbits and frogs were doing during this storm.  suddenly they weren’t as focused on the sirens blaring, the rain pounding and the wind blowing…they were thinking about someone else…the animals.

So we talked about how the animals were safe.  In fact – the animals didn’t need an annoying siren – they knew the storm was coming before the meteorologist!  As we talked about how small the birds were compared to how big the storm was and how they didn’t have a basement, just outside.

I think it was easier for them to believe that God would completely protect the birds than believe that they were safe in our basement.

What is it about our humanity that allows us to believe God will provide, lead, heal and protect others and yet we crumble under the weight of our own fear the moment it whispers of possible failure or hurt?

I will immediately pray for the mother whose child had a seizure, or the family on the news that lost their belongings in a house fire.  So why, when my own children are struggling with their emotions or my work situation becomes more than I can bear do I start to strive and fret and reach for anything around me that feels productive & secure.

My Creator, my Heavenly Father…He gave me everything I need to deal with whatever comes my way – I do not have to be afraid!

We sing a song in our church and the words are simply: “Have no fear for God is near us. Have no fear for God is here.”

I’m learning how to be a woman, mother, wife & friend that senses when God is near – even in the midst of a crazy storm in my life – I want to believe that God IS with me.

I hope that fear is far, far, FAR away from you and your family.  I hope the storms stay far away from you – but when we are tempted to fear I hope each of us have friends we can lean on and a faith we can believe in!

God is near. (Closer than a whisper)

God is here. (He always has been)

God is enough!

Discovering Lent

I had planned on the kids staying behind while Matt and I took turns moving to the front of the room.  I don’t know if it was the dark room, the soft music or the crowd; but our boys wanted all of us to stay together.

Matt and I had decided to attend the Ash Wednesday service at our church, but I truly thought that our kids weren’t ready to receive the ashes or to take communion.  I assumed that the boys would have had to make a confession of faith, be baptised, etc…I put a lot of my preconceived ideas into a service that I had only attended once before. From what I understand, Ash Wednesday is a tradition on the church calendar and I love that it bridges across denominations, but it was (and is) still kind of new to me.

So when I found myself standing in line with my husband and ALL the kids I began to panic.

Was this okay?

Were we breaking any rules?

Were other children coming forward to participate?

I felt like people were staring at the back of my neck with judgement and displeasure in their eyes.  (“Paranoid, party of one!”)

My human desire to look, act and be perfect in front of my pastor, my community of believers and my friends was starting to take over. 

Thankfully, my fears and anxieties were silenced as I approached our Pastor.  I saw love and compassion in his eyes as he made a cross on my forehead with the ashes and said, “From dust you came, to dust you will return”.  The room faded away as he spoke this truth to me and I realized that I almost missed the point of this service. 

I stepped to the side, ready to apologize for my 8-year-old’s presence with me in line.  Before I could speak I had tears in my eyes as I watched Pastor kneel down in front of our son.  Pastor looked into his eyes with the same love, spoke words of truth, and spread the ashes on his forehead.  Our middle son was next in line and experienced the same thing, but our youngest guy – James – didn’t want any part of it and so we simply kept moving to the side.  

After having the ashes placed on their forehead in the shape of a cross the boys were given the communion elements and we returned to our seats. I kept watching the boys as we listened to the music and waited for the rest of the congregation to move to the front of the room. 

While we were waiting our 6 -year-old, Tyler, looked up at me, held out the cup and wafer and asked: “What are these for?” I began to explain the symbolism of the bread and the cup.  I explained that this season was a time to remember the sacrifice Christ made when He came to earth, His willingness to die on the cross and our response to live a life of sacrifice and self-denial.

I looked into the big, brown eyes of my son and was shocked that he was hanging on every word I said.  In the middle of my explanation I was overcome with emotion.  I couldn’t hold the tears back…suddenly it hit me…I thought of my Savior hanging on the cross, the spotless lamb who knew no sin – dying FOR ME!!!!!

To share this incredible truth with my son was NOT something I was expecting or prepared for.  We went on to talk about what the bread and juice represented and he asked with concern in his voice, “But this isn’t real blood is it?” (Leave it to a 6-year-old boy to lighten the mood 😮 ) I assured him it was not – only a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice.

As I lay in bed that night the Holy Spirit whispered a question to me, “Would you be willing to sacrifice your children for God’s kingdom? Would you sacrifice your expectations, your hopes and dreams for these boys in order that GOD’S will would be done?”

It was a tough question to hear and to answer.  I’ve always thought of lent as a time to give up something almost trite or convenient in order to focus more on my prayer life and devotion to Christ.  But I’ve discovered a new kind of Lenten season this time around.  I’ve been challenged to not only “give up” my expectations and claim over my children – I’ve been challenged by my Pastor and the Holy Spirit to “take on” something new – a life that is lived for something bigger than myself….

A daily, hourly, minute-by-minute effort to focus on the Creator’s voice, HIS direction and becoming more comfortable with what it means to truly “die to self”.

I don’t know how your family celebrates this time of anticipation as Easter approaches, but I’m happy to say that my preconceived idea that children can’t and aren’t ready to recognize and appreciate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is GONE and I hope it never returns.  I’m claiming 2 Corinthians 5:17 during this time of waiting and anticipation:

     “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

I hope I never stop discovering the “NEW” parts of my life as a mom, a wife, a friend and most importantly a follower of Christ.  Easter morning I think I’d like to add something to the phrase, “He is RISEN!” I think I’d like to say to people as I greet them, “He is RISEN! And so is a new part of me!”

I hope each of you finds peace, joy, purpose and comfort in knowing that even Christ – the perfect Son of God – suffered while he lived on earth, but He knew it was for a purpose bigger than Himself.

We might be living moment-by-moment, feeling as though we’re in the muck and the mire of motherhood – but living a life of sacrifice is a beautiful, peaceful place to be. 

You are an amazing blessing and you are doing a great job – trust yourself, lean on your Savior and reach out to your friends – let’s see what new things God wants to show us as we sacrifice ourselves to Him completely! 😮

Kasey

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I’m struggling with when and how to cut James’ hair.  You see, I love his hair…I mean I REALLY love it.  James has the most beautiful red hair.  It’s thick, gorgeous and gets attention from strangers.  People have asked if we highlight his hair and if he knows how beautiful it is.  Both questions receive a reply of “no” but it is nice to have people complement what God created.

I love running my fingers through his hair and I know from experience that once we cut his hair short he’ll look like  a kindergartener instead of a toddler…they grow up so fast…I’m just not sure if I want to help speed the process along with a “big boy” hair cut.

When I think about the REAL issues in life (finances, physical health, job security), hair length seems pretty low on the list.  I guess it’s because he’s my last little guy.  James will turn four in December and I’m excited to discover more about him.  He doesn’t have a strong opinion about much, but when I ask him about cutting his hair short he says he wants to leave it long – let the debate begin.

I am encountering more and more people (most of them older) who call him a girl and well – that’s just not cool for me or for him.  So this isn’t one of those life-changing, mind-rattling issues…but it is something we are talking about at our house.  For now we’ve got his 4-year-old pictures at Picture People and then we’ll decide…one last picture with long hair – it’ll be a great memory I’m sure :o)

When/if we cut his hair I’ll be sure to post pictures :o)

Kasey

On Your Mark, Get Set…

You probably wanted to finish that statement with a loud, resounding – “GO!” … Right now I feel the same way. 

I’m excited, I’m ready and I’m anxious to see what this new school year brings. This is new for me. I’ve never had two kids gone all day at school and for the first time James will be headed to preschool.  I’m not really thrilled with James leaving me – he’s my last boy, my last “baby”, and the only one that doesn’t have knuckles yet (knuckles are a serious milestone in my eyes – they mean all semblance of baby fat is gone).

So this is my last full week with these precious boys at home and we are making the most of it.  I’ve never built so many forts, spent so much time at the pool or enjoyed watching them play army and construction truck so much.  Last week I was really sad that they were leaving me for the classroom – but this week I’m starting to see the light of what my new life could look like.

Suddenly I’m going to have two days a week to focus on my jobs, my house and all the things on my to-do list .  This is HUGE!

I’m ready to GO! I’m ready to run into this new weekly schedule with energy and excitement.  What will this new life be like?  What are the challenges and joys going to be?

I don’t know – but I’m excited to find out.

Isn’t it fantastic!? Right when I think I have it all together – when I know what our days are going to look like – it all changes. 

Change is good…

… it reminds me I really don’t control everything

… it keeps me from being stagnant and dull

… it strips me of my pride and my ego

… it helps me appreciate the moment I’m in and look forward to the moments that are coming.

Change can bring a wave of emotions – so I’m choosing to hang on to the emotions of excitement, anticipation and peace.  While my kids experience new teachers and friends I’ll be learning new things too. 

So here we go – a new adventure is waiting and for now, I’m excited.

Anyone else preparing for a new adventure? 

Share your plan, your feelings, your adventure with us – I’d love to hear  your insights!

Kasey

Just This Section

Tonight I headed off to the outlet store to find some shoes for my boys.  It’s like summer has instigated a mystical reaction in their limbs and everything is sprouting up, out and beyond the clothes and shoes in their closet.

Initially I entered the store with confidence, but soon began to doubt my knowledge and abilities.  You see, I always have a plan.  I knew the style, size and price I was looking for and I was just sure it was all going to come together.  But as I stood there in front of the multitude of shoe boxes doubt began to creep in.  I thought I knew each boy’s shoe size – but did I REALLY!?

So I asked for help (which I really hate doing when I’m in a hurry) and the kind sales associate placed my boys’ heels into a cold silver device and declared their true shoe sizes:   “2 1/2 for this one, ahh yes, this one is a 12 1/2 wide, and the little guy here – well – he’s going to be in a 9 1/2”.  The look on my face must have given it away – my mind was reviewing the events of the last week…I had put at least 10 band aids on their feet due to blisters, sores and other Podiatry-based issues…this was the answer!  My boys were wearing shoes that were too small for them!

After I let the guilt pass I immediately walked over to the far wall where I have always shopped for the boy’s shoes.  That’s when the seemingly innocent sales associate called out, “Mam, all the sizes you need will be in just this section – all the shoes on the wall are too small for your boys” and she kindly pointed to the middle rows of the store.

That’s when it hit me (again) that the tiny shoes, tiny socks and floppy hats were no longer part of my life.  My boys aren’t babies anymore and while I know that is okay and wonderful there is still something very concrete about being told: “YOU CAN’T LOOK OVER THERE ANYMORE! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED AND YOU WILL FIND NOTHING THAT YOU NEED.”

It’s like she announced to my subconscious: “Gone are the days of strollers, pacifiers, bottles and teething rings.  Get ready sister, puberty is coming!”

Even though the initial shock of changing my shopping plan took me by surprise, the second emotion was one of relief.  I’m okay not toting around a diaper bag, a change of clothes (for me and the baby) and having to live off a regimented feeding schedule.  My life is really fantastic right now.  I have little people who, for the most part, are completely self-sufficient with their basic needs – isn’t it great!?!?!

I looked back at that huge wall, filled with precious little shoes and I smiled.  Then I turned to my boys and said: “Can you help mommy find the signs that say ‘SALE’ on them?” 

The boys jumped up to help, we found some great shoes and you want to know the best part?  My mother is in town and therefore the shoes were…..get ready for it….FREE!!!  Yeah us!

I hope your shopping is fun, your transitions are easy and you look back only for a moment so you can really look forward to what’s ahead.

You guys are wonderful!  Keep smiling and please leave comments when you can – it warms my heart and I know others love it too!

Have a great day!

Kasey


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