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Cousin Love

August 22, 2014

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Every single day my kids tell me how much they love hanging out with their cousins and playing together.  It’s such a blessing for my kids to have cousins who are close in age to them, who they get to see all week long at school or with the nanny, who we get to play with on weekends, and who get to enjoy sleepovers and evening fun together.

Yes our family is so blessed with these sweet little babes who will be the next generation for our family.  My hope is that we instill some awesome traditions together in these early years that will last their lifetime.

And… there aren’t just 5 anymore. Isla became a big sister August 9.

#6 – Laylin is here:

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Oh, these cousins are so much fun and love each other sooo much!

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I always back daddy.

August 21, 2014

I have made an unspoken rule to myself when it comes to parenting our kids.  I always back daddy.

What does that mean?  That means that no matter what the discussion is or what is going on, if we are in the heat of the moment parenting, I will always back Dean.  Even if I don’t necessarily agree 100%. And he always has my back.

There may be times where in the heat of the moment, I am laying down the law at meal time and requiring the kids to eat X amount of food before they can go out to play.  Even if he feels differently, he will back me.  Maybe later on he’ll address it and say – he probably wasn’t very hungry because I gave him a pack of peanut butter crackers on the way home.  But in the moment, we have each others back.

And it works vice versa.  Even if he is handling things in a way I might not do it, in the moment, I am 100% behind him and whatever daddy says goes.

Then later on, we can talk about it between the two of us and decide if we want to handle things differently next time.

We can also take the conversation to decide if we need to apologize to the kids for how we handled it and commit to do it differently next time.

With two little “angels” trying to negotiate mom and dad against each other, it’s important that we stand united and the kids know that they can’t go around us.  What one says, the other agrees.

Hopefully doing this from a young age sets a precedence for how things will always be handled in the future. With dad backing mom and mom backing dad.

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God’s Signs

August 20, 2014

This week I’ve been praying specifically for a member (I’ll call him The Guy) of my couples eGroup (our bible study through our church – Elevation).  He is going through a health issue and they are in the very early stages of diagnosing the severity, etc.

In any health scare, I think you are always anxious to know your options, the procedures, etc. and I know his family is no exception.  We’ve been praying for their family as they go through this process and make decisions.

During his appointment time, I specifically sat down outside and prayed to God that The Guy and his wife would see clear and specific signs from God during their appointment.  That they would not just hear Him or feel Him, but see a visual sign of clarity to give them a sense of confidence right there in their appointment.  I didn’t share my specific prayer with anyone, but I know that all of the people in my group were praying for him during his dr visit.

Later that afternoon, a text was sent out to our couples group from The Guy and the first thing it said – “Nurse walks in our room and pulls out an Elevation pen… nice!”

Wow – if that isn’t a direct and visual sign from God, I don’t know what is.

I’m so thankful for the ways God shows signs and brings peace in moments of anxiousness, worry and doubt.

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How I’ll raise my kids differently than I was raised…

August 19, 2014

Last week, you saw the top 10 things my parents did when raising their kids… they are super awesome parents and amazing grandparents.

Today, I’m going to share 5 things I’m going to differently than I was raised.

This isn’t meant to be a bashing session on my parents… trust me, they did a superb job. This is just me recognizing areas of my childhood that I want to make different for my kids.

It’s like breast or bottle… kids turn out good both ways, right?!

1. Making everything a competition between siblings.  Growing up I was compared to my siblings all the time.  To the point that even as adults, I have to sometimes remind myself that this is not a competition and I don’t need to “beat” anyone in life.  Who would have the fastest swim time, who could get the best test scores, who got the season reward, etc.  We even had set wrestling matches at the house where we were pitted against each other.  While it does harbor a sense of competition, I don’t want my kids competing against each other. I want them to be each others biggest supporter. The Dean boys against the world!  I want Landon to love cheering Brooks on in his sporting events and I want Brooks to help Landon study for his big test.  I want them to want the best possible outcome for each other and not to feel like they have to one-up each other in everything they do.

2. I don’t want my kids to feel treats are these non-existent, off-limit items.  I’m sure for both health and financial reasons, we didn’t have a lot of sugary items in the pantry growing up.  So when we did, it was an all out war to see who could eat it the fastest and get the most.  When we got extra spending money, my sister and I would buy treats at the grocery store with our extra funds.  It was like candy was a this special, hard to get prize.  I want my kids to think of candy and other treats as no big deal. I don’t want them to revolve their rewards around them all the time.  I think if we had treats in our house more often growing up, they wouldn’t have seemed as special.  I think having treats in our house might make my kids choose healthier options in the long run, weird, right?  (always around = not special)

3. I want my kids to be very active in serving in the community.  I want my kids to volunteer through church or school and give time to others in need.  After doing LOVE week again with Elevation, I am reminded of the importance of serving those who need. And through serving I am reminded of how much I already have and how much I WANT when others truly NEED.  I’d love for our family to serve on a missions trip when the boys are older. And I want them to WANT to give back to others – both financially and with their time.

This is something I’ve really felt challenged by in the past couple years – give back to others with money or time, and I know there is so much room for me to grow individually in this area and then also set an example for my kids.  We didn’t do a ton of service projects when we were little… I’m sure at the beginning it’s because we were the recipients of people who were serving, but even as we got older, we didn’t do many projects. And it’s not that we wouldn’t have done them, I don’t know. I just know we didn’t actively seek out service projects and that is something I want to actively do with our boys.

4. I want to do a great job of unplugging on weekends and vacations.  Especially nowadays when it is so easy to be constantly plugged in – on the computer or phone or whatever, I want to make sure that my kids have tons of undivided mom time and dad time and that we also get their attention.  (I’m not naïve enough to think my kids aren’t going to be part of this problem as they get a little older and have their own technology!)  I see too many teenagers looking down at their phone at the beach instead of the faces of the people they are hanging out with.  I want to set boundaries for our family.  I know that growing up, my dad spent a lot of time on conference calls or meetings during our vacations.  And while it was only a couple hours throughout the week, I want to be able to “turn it off” and really plug into my family.

5. And this is one that my parents really couldn’t control… but I want my kids to spend tons of time with their extended family.  Growing up we never really lived close to cousins or grandparents, but most of our other relatives DID live near each other.  Because I live within 5 miles of all my immediate family members, I want to make it a priority to see them a ton. I know that the time may come where a sibling moves away or someone has health issues and I want to take advantage of our closeness – both emotionally and in proximity, while we can.

So there you have it… 5 ways I’m straying from the ‘norm’ of my childhood.  What are some of the things you want to do the same or differently than how you were raised?

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You always need your momma.

August 18, 2014

I feel like as I’ve grown in age, I’ve also grown in appreciation for my mom.  Being able to understand what she went through to make sure our family had a good life.  The way she makes my dad so happy.  The hard worker she is. And just how proud I am of all of her accomplishments.

Today is her birthday and since she’s been on my mind all weekend, I’ve put together a list of reasons I’ll always need my mom.

1 – Parenting advice.  I still call her late some nights when my kids have a mysterious illness or something seems off. I’ll ask her how she did something to parent us when we were little.  She gives great advice that I can choose to use, or may jog my mind for another way to approach the situation.

2 – Encouragement.  There have been several times in my adult years where I felt like things weren’t going as I hoped or things were off and in those moments, she’s always been able to offer a word of encouragement to help get me going again. Sometimes you just need your mom to help you work through a hard time.

3 – Decorating, purchasing advice.  I love being able to ask my mom for ideas on decorating a house or doing a project, tips for gardening, advice on wedding dress shopping and home features to look for.  I love that she often has practical advice and like me, she always wants to do it the most efficient way. (I wonder where I get that from?!)

4 – Just to chat.  Sometimes I just want to have an adult conversation with someone who knows me well and knows all my quirks and struggles.  I love when we get to have lunch dates or hang out together by the poolside catching up while the kids play.  It’s so nice to have someone who knows my personality so well and the conversation always flows so easily.

5 – and probably my mom’s best trait…  Her sense of humor.  There are so many times where we’ve just died laughing over situations or stories.  We’ve had so many fun moments together – from coaching a team of uncommitted volleyball players, to learning how to drive a stick and of course, many flip flop fails, we can always seem to make any situation humorous.  It’s definitely the biggest reason I love hanging out with my momma.

Yes, I’ll always need my mom.  I strive to be like her and I still look up to her (and probably always will).

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Happy birthday Mom. You are the BEST! :)

 

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Flashback Friday: Fireworks

August 15, 2014

There are a lot of “f’s” in that title!

During our 4th of July festivities this summer, the kids experienced another first… their first time doing Sparklers.  Like hold-them-all-by-themselves-and-squeal-with-delight sparklertime.

Don’t these kiddos look like they are having a blast?  They were!!

(And how old does Landon look in that first picture?  This 4 year old  looks at least 8 or 9!)

Those kiddos just don’t listen when I tell them to stop growing!

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Why my parents did an awesome job… (part 2)

August 13, 2014

Yesterday, I listed 5 reasons my parents did an awesome job raising us… things I want to instill in my kids as they grow.

Today, I continue the list:

6. We took a lot of family vacations and did tons of activities together.  Even when there wasn’t a ton of money in the budget, my parent saved up for cost conscious trips to enjoy time together.  Two things are important about that sentence… they kept to a budget and they made it a priority.  I want my kids to experience downtime within our family.  Long weekends at the beach or weeklong vacations abroad where we learn more about the world around us and experience new things.  It’s so important to have time together just enjoying each other’s company.

Because my mom grew up in a family where money was very tight, she decided that when she could she would find ways for her family and kids to experience things that she wanted to experience growing up.  That means we got to go to fun waterparks/amusement parks together, we visited Disney, went on vacations all over, took ski trips and more.  It was so important that we get to experience as much from life as possible.

7. My parents were very strict when we were little so we knew what the expectations were from a young age.  As a Bradbury you were expected to pitch in and help around the house, keep your room clean, work hard in school, follow through on your commitments, tell the truth, be home when you were told to, etc.  Because they were strict with us when we were young, they were able to loosen the reins as we were older and make some of our own decisions.  And even with the freedom, I still knew what was expected of me and wanted to make my parents proud of the choices I made.  This doesn’t mean I didn’t make any bad choices, I definitely did, but I always knew immediately afterwards that I’d made a bad choice and I wanted to make better choices in the future.  In the same way, I want to focus on the values and beliefs we’re instilling in our kids from a young age and make sure they are very clear of our expectations as part of the Dean family so that they can have some more freedoms down the road as they get older.

8. I want my kids to know the value of a dollar.  One of the biggest lessons my parents taught us as kids was the importance of being fiscally smart with our money.  That means we saved up for things and only bought them when we could pay for them.  With the number of young kids that get into financial holes, I want my kids to know from a young age the importance of only spending what you have. And saving money for emergencies.  And tithing at church.  And feeling the freedom of being able to sleep at night because people aren’t tracking them down for money they owe.

9.  My parents did a great job of keeping things honest with us.  I know that we could ask them anything and everything. They were very open with us about questions we had and why things were the way they were.  I want my kids to ask me anything and know that I’ll give a real answer.  I want to be open with them about where babies come from, who God is and the other big questions in life.  I don’t want my kids to feel that I’m always going to give them a “not now” response when they come to me.  I want a standing open-door policy.

Some of my favorite memories of growing up were long chats with my dad when he would tuck me in at night.  Even into my middle school years I would talk to him about school, people on my sports team, boys I liked, etc.  It was such a great connection between father and daughter and I want my boys to experience the same connection with their dad and I.

10. And they raised us in a family where it was ok to have a big sense of humor and learn how to laugh at yourself and have your own confidence.  While there were many times growing up that I DIDN’T love the embarrassing stories or the way my dad would be his outgoing self around my friends, I am so grateful for it as a grown woman.

My mom also did a great job of showing us how to be confident people.  She did things her way and didn’t feel like she had to do what all the other moms were doing – it was ok not to have on full make up to leave the house. It was ok to get into the mud with the kids.  She also is one of the funniest people I know and definitely was the source of a ton of laughter in our home.

Being able to laugh at ourselves is one of the best things our parents taught us.  It gives you a thicker skin and really puts things into perspective for what you should really stress about in life.

So there you have it. 10 things that I want to instill in our boys as we raise them. I know it will be no easy feat and my parents made raising kids look easy, but I’m accepting the challenge to raise to awesome, respectful, confident and loving boys.

(And next week, check out 5 things I’m going to differently from how I was raised… no this won’t be a bashing on my parents, just areas that I want to focus on more or try differently with my kids…)

 

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