Extra Coffee Required Day #3 “That’s no fair!”

Kissy face 2013 Real life – real tears – let’s talk!

(This photo is compliments of Daniyle Weir Photography from 2 years ago – thanks Daniyle!)

Do you ever feel like you are the only one following the rules, the only one trying your best, and so many people these days don’t hold up their end of the bargain? I’ve been there, and so have my kids. You are not alone! My kids, once again, taught me a valuable lesson recently. Push aside the pile of laundry and/or toys on my couch and sit down and drink your coffee with me…

“That’s no fair!” Ethan (age 6) shouted as I gave Shawn (age 3) something different for dinner, again, because of his allergies.
“Well, actually, it’s not fair to him that he can’t eat lots of the foods that you love because of his allergies. He can’t eat our dinner tonight because of the eggs and cheese.” I stated, completely satisfied with my answer and proud of myself for handling the situation.
– well – I was wrong –
Ethan sat there grumpily eating his casserole when what he really wanted was a plain hot dog like Shawn had. I could see in his eyes that he was plotting how to get back at me somehow.
Just to thicken the plot, Shawn chimed in on this game later that day. “That’s no fair!” he shouted when Ethan happened to get to open one side of the curtains before he did.
“Actually, that’s completely fair, he opened one side, and you can open one side.” I again patted myself on the back a little too early.
“No! Not fair” Shawn stomped his foot in disgust, because he wanted to open the curtains first.
This is when I had to give myself a mommy pep talk. “Walk away, Aubree, don’t lose it – he’s a three year old – you can’t explain fairness to a three year old”. Then I decided to skip the lecture and just give out the discipline as the boys had been fighting and had several warnings already.
“Okay, you go to that room, you go to that room, no toys, you’re both in time out, and you will have to go to bed early if you can’t stop fighting.”
Ooohhhhh, if looks could kill, I would have been a goner for sure. Both boys cried and whined, “That’s not fair – he did it – I didn’t do anything!”
“Whining will not help you, but it does make you go to bed early!”

Isn’t it funny how tantrums in your children seem to bring out your own attitude that you forgot was still lurking deep inside somewhere?
What’s the first thing I do when God convicts me, when he shows me a sign and reminds me that I need to be kind, that I need to be honest, that I need to be loving? I always point out the sin or the fault of the other person. I always point out ‘who started it’ and never accept blame for my part in the argument.

“But God, it’s not fair that I have to be a good wife, a good mom, a good cook, a good housekeeper, and still be nice to whining adults who act like 2 year olds to get their own way.”
God says “I’m not talking about what everyone does, we’re talking about you right now, and your voice is sounding whiny as well. Give me back control, I will handle those other whiners in my own way – you are not in charge of handling everyone else’s attitude. It’s a good thing, because right now, you can’t even handle your own.”

“Well he started it!” I say to God – then cringe as I realize how horribly whiny I do actually sound. Wow, yet again, I realize why God is in control of things and I am not. I crave control almost as much as chocolate most days.  But then when I do have control, I don’t always handle it the right way. I sometimes mirror things I’ve heard and seen from my three year old that I thought were ridiculous when he did them. Lesson learned, again. I guess there’s one more reason that God put my little loves in my life. They teach me more than anyone else ever could, because they tend to act just like me.

I am so sorry for whining, God! Your patience is astounding!

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.  Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7

” For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Have a blessed day, guys! Please share your lessons with me that God has taught you through your children! I love hearing about them!

Aubree

Extra Coffee Required Day #2: Word power

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Ah, Spring break, that glorious time when the kids are running free and the parents are staggering into work like zombies, because the kids are driving them looney and they got even less sleep than usual. This is the perfect time to think about the power of words and how they affect all of us. So, before you ground everyone for being too noisy and take away their favorite toys because they are annoying (or was that just me?)- pour your coffee, think about how beautiful those kids are while sleeping, and ponder word power with me.

Sometimes I surprise myself with how I react to words depending on who is speaking to me. The same phrase from my 6-year-old could be majorly offensive from my husband, for instance. A joke coming from a good friend may be a major insult, but if I heard it from a random co-worker, I may think nothing of it. Here’s what happens when my son innocently asks about sensitive topics: Ethan (6 years old), had to sit and wait for me to put makeup on in the car for a few minutes one day before we went to a school event…

Ethan: Why do you have to put makeup on, mommy?

Me: I don’t have to, buddy, I just want to.

I could see him thinking about it for a minute and then he came up and peeked in the rear view mirror so that he knew I could see him.

Ethan: “Oh – it’s because you want them to think that you are pretty, right?”

>Okay freeze: if those words came out of my husband’s mouth, we would have exchanged heated, unfriendly words afterwords which may have ended with me in tears and both of us walking away – especially if it was the wrong time of the month – do you know what I’m talking about ladies? Probably something like this “THINK I’m pretty? What are you implying?” As if he were implying that my ugliness must be disguised from all the world to protect the innocent. Anyone out there who knows my husband knows that he is the sweetest person in the world and that he tells me frequently how beautiful I am, but I do tend to overreact if he stumbles on his words by accident:) The innocence of children is their saving grace some days 🙂 ! <

Me: (chuckling) Yes, buddy, that’s why.

Okay, now for the lesson to be learned here… I think that the same rules apply when we speak with our kids, especially young kids. We should adjust our language to them instead of expecting them to adapt to us. It is so hard to tell how they interpret what we say sometimes, but each child is different and part of the responsibility of parenting is figuring out the personality types of our children and how they respond to certain topics and conversation. For example, it’s important to see how they react to our words and the words of other people. Ethan has a natural wild free spirit built in him that is mostly from his father. Along with this free spirit side, he tends to not listen to correction unless he is looking me right in the eye and there is nothing shiny within close proximity, but we have to take the bad with the good, right? When Ethan is speaking with me during free time or play time, he is happy-go-lucky and eager to play and have fun. However, when he is working on something with an end goal, his competitive side comes out.  Whether it is homework, a craft, or a sport, he demands perfection of himself (and others). Fortunately and unfortunately, this trait he got from me. He gets upset if he has to erase something on his homework, which sometimes means he throws the whole thing away in a fit of rage. I have tried explaining to him that it is okay to mess up and that is what erasers are for.      He used to be convinced that he should be able to do homework without erasing anything or else he says ” I can’t do any homework ever again because I’m not smart enough.” It took a long time, a lot of “You’re doing a great job! I love your story!” and hanging everything up on the fridge to proudly display his work, before he started to believe in himself academically. On his T-ball team, he keeps score in his head, even though the coaches do not keep score and nobody gets “out” at their young age. The coaches are always encouraging, and Ethan tries to be, but he gets so mad at the other players and himself if they make mistakes or aren’t paying attention. He tells the kids on the other team when they are supposed to run when he is playing first base position. He can’t bear to see someone “not playing it right” and he often corrects his little brother at home (who barely stands over the size of the tee) when we just play for fun in the back yard.

Obviously, not all children are the same, and I am betting Shawn, my 2-year-old, will be much more laid back about competition and school work as he already is laid back about most things now: clothing optional at home, everyone in the car singing whatever song they want, his favorite activity of the day is generally during a low-key activity such as watching a TV show or listening to music.

As parents, we need to think about our words and how each child will react to them differently. I know I know, hard to do when your 2-year-old wakes you up at 4am begging to sleep with you, but let’s think this through for a minute… grab that extra cup of coffee while the kids are still sleeping – hopefully!

I know that Ethan is going to need an extra dose of encouragement when it comes to competition and homework. He criticizes himself enough for both of us and I don’t need to add to the negative thoughts in his head. I do need to build him back up when he listens to those negative thoughts and gets down on himself.

For Shawn,  he needs extra encouragement to go on the potty and will love the praise and attention afterwards, but he could care less if he plays baseball according to the rules or even finishes the game he started (two-year-olds, God love them!) I can already see the pattern. I’m going to have to remind him frequently that clothing is not optional in public, that holding mommy’s hand is not optional while crossing the road, and that throwing food at the table is still not tolerated, just like yesterday. He will most likely hear the word “no” more frequently than Ethan did even at age 2, because sometimes “no” is required regardless of the mood Shawn is in and at this stage, it’s taking more for it to sink in with Shawn than it did with Ethan. Shawn is not mentally traumatized by the word no, he just doesn’t understand how far he can push the limits yet and likes to test us frequently to see what he can get away with. It’s kind of like how we keep trying to test God.

Proverbs 18:21: “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”

What are some of your experiences with word power and how it has affected you and your children?

Have a blessed day!

Aubree

 

Getting on the Same Page

 

"So we are all in agreement here, right?"
“So we are all in agreement here, right?”

Getting on the Same Page

The human mind is a wonderful thing, but everyone has one of his or her own and each one interprets things the way it sees fit based on previous experience, genetics, levels of stress, levels of sleep, etc. Let’s take a look into how putting two or more brains together to reach a common goal can be a very messy business….

As co-workers:

I have been working with people on a daily basis and let me tell you what, it is hard to work with the general public in any capacity! Whether it is; sales, education, customer service, bagging groceries, etc., you will interact with a few crazies every now and then. The crazy people are actually not the hardest for me to handle, because I can generally not take offense to what they are saying, I can dismiss it with the thought that “Um, yeah, they’re crazy, it doesn’t matter…” What I get disturbed by is the little mistakes and mishaps and misinterpretations that occur just naturally when you work with a large number of people… the things that I cannot control. Yes, for anyone who reads my posts regularly, I think we have established that I am a control freak…moving on…

In our meetings at work we constantly strive to “get on the same page” and review and explain processes and policies and procedures over and over. While sometimes review meetings can seem boring, there are times when there are about 4 different interpretations of the same policy or procedure, so it is a good thing that we discussed it in further detail and clarified what it means. Many people in the meetings argue that we all have different viewpoints and are not going to see everything the same way. I find myself frequently reminding everyone that policies and procedures in the workplace are not optional, they are required, and if we are not all on the same page, then we need to review them and get on the same page quickly for the sake of our company. Stress levels are higher at work during busy times, of course, so we try to have these conversations during the slow times of the year. This prevents many fist fights in the break room, I’m sure!

As a spouse:

If you are married, I’m sure that you have experienced this with your spouse. My husband and I will have a “budgeting date” (that’s what we call it to fake ourselves into thinking it will be fun and not skipping out:) in which we have to “get on the same page” with our finances and it sometimes turns into heated discussions. Sometimes it is about what to spend money on, sometimes it is just about the pure math of budgeting. I have recently learned that I should not budget on only 6 hours of sleep after a long hard Monday when all I want to do is go back to sleep. I got easily offended when he wanted to double check my work after balancing the checkbook and finding something off between out bank statement and our checkbook. However, I would have probably done the same thing if he was the one balancing the checkbook. I can fully understand, a day later, that he had good intentions and just wanted to balance the budget and get things straight, but in the heat of the moment, when the chocolate had run out and the math was staring me in the face, I got so ticked I wanted to scream at him and prove him wrong. My brain then told me “hey – it must be his fault – he didn’t do his part right – I always do it right”. My heart said “Okay, let’s take a step back, he always has good intentions.” Then my brain told my heart to shut up and leave the room and I started yelling and crying and getting offended at his words and assuming ill-intentions. I know – that escalated quickly right? My husband’s face alerted me to my overreaction instantly.

If you haven’t had a discussion like this with your spouse over budgeting, perhaps it was a different weak point for you. Regardless, it ended up being my fault. I had entered a bill into our checkbook twice which made our numbers in our checkbook off by close to $250 and once we found it, I felt horrible. I am a stubborn woman, so I did not admit that it was all my fault right away. But my husband is a patient man, thank God! He did not fight me about it. He told me that he knows it is stressful for me and that it’s okay to get upset and then work through it together. I melted into a puddle before him and apologized and then went to bed shortly after. Why do I do this to myself? Why do I let my emotions get the best of me? As usual, we reconciled our differences quickly, but I can see how this could have spiraled into a horrible feud due to my stubborn attitude.

As a parent:

Do you remember hearing the phrase “Because I said so!” from your parents as an explanation as to why you are not allowed to do something? I remember this clearly and I remember thinking it was nonsense. I kept thinking “What is so wrong with you telling me the truth? I deserve an answer, for crying out loud!” Well, now I am on the other side, and I have definitely used this phrase more than once. It is so hard to explain to a 2 year old why mommy has to make dinner instead of play cars with him. It is so hard to explain to a 6 year old why sometimes we have to do homework even when we don’t want to. It is so hard to explain to both of them why mommy needs a time out now and then, too, but mommy enjoys time outs and frequently takes chocolate with her to the time out corner. Therefore, sometimes, it is much easier and much more productive to tell both of them “Because I said so” when they ask “why ?” for the 100th time about the same issue. Getting on the Same Page as your child does not always mean that they agree with you. It does mean that you have an understanding that you are the parent and they must obey the rules while in your house, even if they don’t understand the rules. This is good training for teaching them how to submit to a boss in the future. I have learned that I have to choose my battles with my kids so that they will enjoy some time with mommy and not always be fighting with mommy.

If you have a misunderstanding about anything big or small, don’t worry. You have lots of company! We cannot let these little mishaps ruin our families, our work, our relationships, etc. We need to keep reviewing, keep discussing, keep cooperating, and get past the tension until we get on the same page with each other.

Matthew 18:21-23NIV Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants.”

Blessings,

Aubree

 

The Time Out Tango

Mommy and Shawn at Aubree's pizza

This is my handsome, smart, funny, and very strong willed child, Shawn. He  will be 2 in May and he has already started displaying some “terrible twos” behavior that make my husband and I have to back track and game plan just to stay on top of it.

Let’s be honest, he’s always a step ahead of us! Shawn, much like myself, wants to do everything himself, wants to show everyone how good he is at something and wants everyone to agree with him. I totally get where he is coming from since, like I said, he is just like me in these ways. However, it is very difficult to watch a toddler struggle to take his coat off and hang it on the coat rack when you have had a hard day, still need to get dinner on the table, and know that he can’t reach or can’t completely do this task alone yet. I can see the wheels turning in his head and I know that if he just had longer arms, he’d get it done. He’s a “Git ‘er done” kind of guy! I’ve learned that I have to pick my battles with Shawn. Ethan was a little easier in the sense that he has never had a hard time accepting help. In fact, he’s the opposite in many areas. He still wants me to get his clothes out in the morning for him and tighten his boots up before we head into the freezing Michigan weather.  Who could blame him for accepting help in some areas? Everyone needs help sometimes, right? Apparently, my youngest has not learned this one yet. He tries to climb up to sit on his high chair, he tries to get his own toothpaste and tooth brush. He has attempted to undo his own diaper before and would probably potty train himself if he could reach the toilet seat with out me picking him up. He would probably want to dress himself if not for the fact that he prefers nakedness over any type of clothing out there.

Lately, that strong willed attitude has snuck it’s way to our dinner table. Shawn has not been a picky eater in the past. However, he has had a battle with allergies ever since I stopped breastfeeding. He was recently diagnosed with the following allergies: wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, codfish, pet dander – oh and we now suspect melon as well! His most frequent reaction to an allergen is puking, sometimes itchy skin, sometimes a full body of hives if it’s severe. With each new reaction and each new discovery that yet another food that he has always loved has something in it that we didn’t notice, he starts to hate trying new things. Poor guy, who could really blame him when so many things make him gag, puke, or break out. The problem with this is that he sometimes reacts by throwing entire bowls of food on the floor, kicking the table or his chair, or screaming at the top of his lungs. These are not the foods that he has reactions to, these are foods that are allergen free, that we know he likes, and that many times were homemade by my husband, Sam, or I, which is new for us!

I would love to say that I have always known exactly how to handle these fits, but that is definitely not the truth. Sam and I frequently take turns. One turns around and laughs while the other one handles the fit or the punishment or the mess, whichever is more urgent at the time. For awhile, I was able to threaten sending Shawn to bed early if he didn’t stop and he understood and stopped. On occasion, I have placed him in his crib while he kicks and screams and set the microwave timer for a minute or two just to give myself a break from him while he has his “time out”. There is no verbal reasoning with a toddler – especially a stubborn one! Therefore, we have been brainstorming and just taking it a day at a time. Some days the time out or early bed time works, other times, they don’t.

Another thing about Shawn that will be helpful for you to know is that he is very shy and laid back in public, but at home, he is a social butterfly. He wants to be in the middle of the group, involved in the conversation, and usually the topic of conversation. My wonderful husband, who is king of the social butterflies, had a genius idea one night when Shawn was screaming at dinner. He turned Shawn’s high chair around completely – facing the corner of the room – and told Shawn that he has a time out until he stops screaming and starts eating. We also set a timer just to keep track. Shawn was sobbing by the end of the 1-2 minutes that he was in time out. After we turned him back around he did not scream, just kept eating. Sam and I looked at each other with giddy faces just praying that this was really the success that it appeared to be! It worked great for that night, thank God, but it may not work tomorrow if it were to happen again. That’s just how kids are. They adapt, they play parents off of each other. They figure us out before we even figure ourselves or our parenting styles out sometimes.

I think the lesson we’ve learned here is that we can’t always just default to some parenting manual or some list of do’s and don’ts in every parenting experience. The Time Out Tango is not always the Answer. Sometimes I have to take away toys or games, tell them that they can’t go on a special outing, etc. We have to be on our toes. We have to set a good example, be involved in our kids’ lives, show love first and foremost, pray a lot, and then be ready to change it all the next day if we need to! My mother is the queen of distraction with toddlers. Somehow, when a kid is being a brat, she can get them to sing a song, while actively engaged in a craft and learning their ABC’s at the same time. I guess that if the child is entertained, has stopped the bad behavior,  and can’t remember what they were upset about, that is a win – win. We can’t all be the queen of distraction or the king of social butterflies, but I take notes and pray a lot, so I am on my way!

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Blessings,

Aubree

Parenting by Example

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Hey guys,

I learned a lesson recently from my children. Isn’t that always the case? We, as parents think that we have all the info, all the authority, and the best ideas around and then a 5 year old comes in and speaks truth right when we needed to hear it!

Well, my youngest, Shawn, is normally a big eater. He was sick, though, recently and although the rest of us were eating normally, he had to kind of take it slow, eat some easy to digest foods, etc, so that we didn’t see the food come back up right away:). As he is 19 months old, I was not able to reason with him. I gave him a bite here and there of applesauce or bread or something and he stared at the rest of us eating yummy foods like chips and pizza, etc. He kept begging for the food that we had but I could not give it to him and could not explain to him why he couldn’t have it in a way that he would understand.

It dawned on me later that this is exactly how we are with God sometimes. Sometimes I look up at God and wonder “Why can’t I make the big bucks and get all the cool gadgets that I see other people have?” “Why can’t I be a size 6 like that girl?” “Why do I have a gluten sensitivity and have kids with allergies and have to get all of this special food?”

Well it may be that there are perfectly good reasons for all of these things, but I am not capable of understanding them yet. God reminds us:

1 Corinthians 3:1-3  1Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

I also can remember a time when Ethan was younger and he was convinced that bandaids caused all of his pain. He always remembered having a bandaid when he had an “owie”, so he thought the band-aid was the reason he had pain and was deathly afraid of them. No matter what I said he wouldn’t allow me to cover any cuts with bandaids. He had to learn on his own that the “owie” was the reason he needed a bandaid and the bandaid itself was meant for his own good.

Father forgive me for the times that I am stubborn. Forgive me for thinking that your ways are just like mine and that if I can’t have something right now or if I can’t be or do what I want, you must be keeping me from something good. I know that you are good. I know that you always look out for me and that one day I will understand as you do. Remind me of your wisdom, day by day!

Let me know if you have any other parenting insights that you learned from your children! They could be inspirational, or just funny!

Blessings,

Aubree