Why I said yes (Shaping my kids)

Over the weekend, I asked Brooks to go upstairs, shower and get ready for bed, then he could open some gifts he received.  (He’d been begging to open them for hours, but we were trying to get the house in order, clean up, etc from a busy weekend at home but never at home).

About 2 minutes later, he comes upstairs to my room and says, “Mom, can I open one of my presents now and then right away I’ll go take a shower?  I’ll be really fast and hang my towel and get pjs on.”

Normally, my answer is no when my kids push back on something they are asked to do.  I don’t like to have gray area where they think that every time they whine or ask me to change my mind, I’m going to do it. That’s a slippery slope that’s hard to recover from.

But the way he came up and almost presented it as a business option made me smile inside.  (Gosh, this boy is just like his papa – a master negotiator.)

I said yes and the reason I did is because I want him to recognize when he chooses to take a little risk in a negotiation, sometimes it will pay off. Especially when he approaches it the way that he did – a reasonable compromise and a win-win for both of us.  (He did in fact, take a quick shower, hang his towel and get PJs on right after he opened the gift.)

I also want him to experience WINS.  I feel like I can often come across as a NO mom.

Can I bring all my pokemon cards to the grocery store? No.
Can I have a piece of candy tonight? No.
Can I play outside after we come back from dinner? No.

I want to have my kids feel like they win, too.  That if they approach things reasonably (without crazy whining and complaining), they may be able to argue their case.  I don’t want to turn my kids into little Gingers because I like them better as one-of-a-kind Brooksies (or Landons).

I’m trying to do a better job saying yes.  And letting them figure out what approaches result in success in our house.


Sweet dad moments.

My boys lucked out with their dad.  He really is a hands-on daddy who is constantly shuttling them to their activities, cheering them from the stands and involved in what they have going on with school.  He just loves being the dad of Landon and Brooks.

The other night, I came home to the sweetest images:

Yes, those are our boys uniforms cleaned, laid out and ready to go.  Complete with their belts and socks.  Courtesy of my husband.

Dean takes so much pride in being a baseball daddy – he takes special care to clean their uniforms just so (just like his mom did for him when he played), and always making sure they have all the gear they need and are ready to hit the field with plenty of warm up time.

Seeing those uniforms laid out just reminds me how much he loves his boys.  I see it in the hours they spend in the driveway playing catch, ,throwing pop ups, or taking some swings.  I hear it in the excitement in his voice as he sneaks into the dugout between innings to give a high five or word of encouragement.  And it’s evident in the time he takes to not just show them the skills, but also to teach them the nuances of the game.

He’s a proud dad of two growing ball players.  And I love that I get a front row seat to all the action (and the behind the scenes highlights, too).  Because all that action is the result of lots of behind the scenes work.

Parenting battle: Leaders vs. Followers

On a recent run, I had a realization about my parenting. (I think most of my realizations in life come on runs. I think that’s where God likes to talk to me.)  Lately, I’ve noticed my firstborn is really starting to “follow the crowd” at school.  He’s skipping out on participation and theme days because all of his friends aren’t participating.  This same boy who just a few months ago loved to do all the “extra” activities has now decided that he’s too cool to participate because his friends don’t want to.

I’ve tried to reason with him that it’s actually great practice to stand up and do what you do, even if your friends don’t think it’s a “cool” choice.  After all, the battles he’s facing now with peer pressure are nothing compared to what he’ll face in the next 5-10 years.  I want to set him up for success in life by being able to confidently make his own choices, even if no one else is making that same choice.  The ol’ “if your friends are jumping off a bridge” conundrum.

My realization came less with how things are going with Landon (my firstborn), but more with how I’m handling my secondborn – Brooks.  Brooks is the epitome of “leader” – that boy doesn’t follow any crowd.  When everyone else is playing a game, he’s completely content to go do something else he wants to do.  He has this cool confidence with his choices.  And the challenge is trying to “break him” of always doing things his way.

I realize that I have to be more careful with what I’m teaching him.  He’s a leader and outside of the box thinker, and I don’t want him to learn to “be part of the crowd”.  It’s really the balance of pushing him to lead but also helping him recognize times when he needs to follow (i.e. when the class is working on an assignment is not the best time to ‘do his own thing’).

I admire Brooksie’s confidence and the way he doesn’t do the same thing that everyone else does.  But with that means he’s going to defy my directions more often and push harder to do things his way.

Alternately, while Landon is a rule follower and often very quick to obey anything I ask him to do, I’ve also found he’s quick to follow the guidance of his friends.

Thus my parenting struggle, pushing one to disobey the rules a little more and gain more of his own voice, while finding small ways to keep my independent spirit in line so he isn’t always trying to run his own show and he knows when he it’s time to comply.

Two sons.  Complete opposites.  Parenting challenge.


Missing the lasts.

It’s hard to know when the “lasts” will occur with my kids.  Some things are on a calendar – like the last time they’ll be part of the preschool Christmas pageant (this Friday) or the last First Day of School (we still have a ways to go for that one).

But some lasts you can’t estimate.  When is the last time they’ll ask me to come tuck them into bed, or the last time they’ll sneak into my bed on cold mornings and snuggle between Dean and I.

With those kinds of lasts, you go about your day and then like a bolt of lightning it hits you – when was the last time ___(insert moment)__ happened.  You rack your brain to remember the last time it happened… when they last asked you for help with their shoelaces or zipping a jacket.  As my boys grow and become more independent, I often find myself thinking about little things I love and how much longer I’ll get to have them.

  • believing in Santa at Christmas
  • giving mom kisses and holding her hand
  • checking their teeth after brushing
  • getting excited to put up Christmas decor
  • unsolicited hugs from Brooks – he just comes up at random moments with arms wide open
  • asking to watch a cooking show with mom
  • packing their lunches
  • sweet, innocent prayers together
  • wanting to go on bike rides with mom
  • sleeping with their special blankies

There are so many sweet Landon-isms and Brooks-isms that have already passed.  Landon no longer says “valinna” (instead of vanilla) and no longer carries Chubby around everywhere.  Brooks stopped kicking stuffed animals out of his bed and his dino obsession is waning.

And it leaves me wondering what will be next to go.  I hope it’s not holding mom’s hand!


As I mentioned last week, our life has been hectic lately.  Well, this post is going to be just as hectic.  Some random stories and highlights from our life lately:

Landon was out of school for Election Day so he went to the polls with Dean and I.  We talked about the voting process.  Then that night, we participated in a much more delicious vote that the kids actually cared about:
Which cupcake is the best?


Brooks loves to look over at the glassed-in parent section whenever he’s doing his lesson to make sure we’re watching him.  I love watching him get more confident and capable in the water.


Somebody decided they needed a haircut, so they took it upon themselves to give one spot in their head a nice tight trim.  He was supposed to be in his room for timeout. Oh, Brooks!


Brooks had to disguise his turkey so he wouldn’t get caught and eaten for Thanksgiving.  He wanted to do a crocodile but we couldn’t figure out how to do that, so we went with a rainbow/leprechaun theme. Mostly because we wanted to use sparkle glitter and glue and that seemed to fit. The best part though, is when I saw them hanging in the hall and noticed the name Brooks gave to his turkey:  “Turtle the Leprechaun”  Seriously, I wonder what it’s like to be in his brain! 🙂


We were recently in the greeting card section of Target. I was checking out the funny cards and the kids were picking cards and asking me over and over to read them outloud.  I did a few and then told them to just let mom do some quick reading of her own so we could get out of there.  While I was reading the cards, Landon started reading a few on his own.  And he can definitely read now…

He starts outloud, “Have a g-ood damun birth-day.”  His eyes get wide as he looks over at me.  “Mom, what does that word say”, pointing to ‘damn’.  I confirmed that it was, in fact, damn.  He replied, “well, mom, I’m not going to read any more of these cards. I don’t know if they have more bad words.”

That’s a lot of random miscellaneous-ness for one post 🙂  And obviously, we’re totally nailing this parenting thing :/

Mirror Messages

Lately, mornings have been rougher than normal.  I don’t know if it’s the whole darker outside thing or the sometimes cooler temps but my normally up-and-at-’em boys have been harder to get out of bed some days.

Insert Mirror Messages.


I will randomly write notes to them on their bathroom mirrors.

When I find Brooks has snuck into his brothers room, I’ll put a note to both of them in Landon’s bathroom.  If they’re in separate rooms, then they each get a personalized one on their own mirror.

It’s nothing complicated – usually just a note like “you are my sunshine” or “good morning Bubba”. Sometimes I sketch faces for them to stand behind (i.e. I’ll add a mustache or beard that will show up when they stand behind it).

It’s the simplest thing – just a dry erase marker directly on their mirror. But they love waking up to find the messages and I love that they have an extra pep in their step those mornings.

What do you do to shake up the morning routine at your house?