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.


Boy moments.

My little Brooksie is becoming such a boy.  Yes, at 4 it’s not surprising that his toddler-isms are nearly gone, but lately I’ve seen new ways he’s turning into a smart, complex thinking, coordinated little boy.

When he talks, he uses these adult-like phrases for being such a little thing. (“Actually, I think Jesus would want me to listen and eat my dinner.” “I like vanilla, mom, but my alternate choice is cookies and cream.”)

He’s started asking about situations and people he can pray for.  Like when we rode down the highway and a car was broken down. Brooks wanted to pray that their car would be fixed and they would stay safe.

This week when we played baseball outside, he started hitting daddy’s overhand pitches (a first!) and looked good out there doing it. It wasn’t his usual whiff at a few balls and then go ride his bike.  Instead, he had this all-boy coordination and focus that I haven’t seen from him yet.

He rattles off these math problems that I don’t think he should know the answer to yet.

He’s losing the few remaining toddler traits he had and is becoming all big kid.

If I’m being honest, I’m just a little sad about it.  As my baby, I notice these last things fading away and it’s a reminder that my role as mom is constantly evolving and he continues to become this bright, fun little man.

He’s needing me less and less as he grows. And I’m conflicted – because I love his little boyisms so much, but I’m also so proud of who he’s becoming.

The Proverbs 31 Wife/Mother

One thing that is very helpful for me is memorizing bible verses.  Because I have to repeat them over and over to memorize them, I often hear other sub-messages in the text that prompt me in life.  Lately, I’ve been memorizing Proverbs 31.  I love these verses.  It reminds me what a great responsibility I have as a wife and mother.  Here are some of the portions that stand out most to me:

“he trusts her and she will greatly enrich his life” – I love the reminder that a good wife makes her husband’s life better.  I want my husband’s life to be better because I’m in it, not in spite of it.

“her lamp burns late into the night” – I love that she’s got a lot to do and is a hard worker. I’m also a night owl and completely agree with getting things done at night! 🙂

“she extends a hand to the poor, her arms are open to the needy” – This really resonated with me.  I want to do a better job of serving others.  I want to listen for opportunities to give my time to those in need and just generally be more like Jesus was on this earth.

“she laughs without fear of the future” – This is an area that I got another prick.  I laugh a lot but typically not around areas where I’m concerned about my ‘what if’.  It’s hard for these to go hand in hand with me.  Either I’m easy going and fun but if I’m stressed about something, watch out. I’m easily rattled. (Ask my husband.)  I want to be more faithful and confident in my future, even when ‘what ifs’ arise, because I know that God is at the center of it. I want to be able to truly laugh without fear of what I’m facing.

Has there been a scripture that’s really spoken to you lately or prompted you to action?

Seeing the blog in paper form.

While we visited MD last month, I was doing laundry downstairs and noticed something I’ve never noticed before.  My mother in law has always noted that she prints off all my blog posts and keeps them in a binder, but for the first time, I saw them.

They were sitting next to her computer in the basement. A stack of 5 or so large three ring binders with another in process.  Filled binders. Stacks of papers.blog1

I started this blog over 6 years ago.  A week before the birth of my firstborn.  I figured it was a great way to keep a mini journal of our life since it was about to be shaken up.  Our first baby was arriving and I knew there would be plenty of funny stories to share, pictures to post and memories to record.


And I’m so glad I started it.  There are plenty of times I look back on the blog to remember when a milestone occurred. Or when people ask at what stage my kids were doing something.  So much has happened in 6 years and over two very different kids that I tend to forget.


Especially the little stories.  The pictures that evoke a memory in time.  When they were little and I never thought they’d make it to 1, let alone 4 and 6.  Nights where I thought I wouldn’t survive newborn-hood.  Or the amazing moments I got to share with my sister from having our firstborns just days apart and the gift it was to experience that together.blog4 My mother in law has always said, she wanted to keep it printed out so that if something ever happened with the interwebs, we’d have it. But I realized the blog has been so much more than that.

It’s been a way for her (and other family members) to know the special small moments we experience each week. For her to see the big days that she doesn’t get to be part of because she lives 8 hrs away, and while she gets here for a lot, she can’t get here for all of it.

It’s been a way for friends and strangers to comment with a “me too” on a particularly transparent or honest post where I bare a little more of myself than even I expected.

It’s been such an amazing record for my kids so that when they ask me what they were like when they were babies, we get to go back together and relive some of the stories I’ve since forgotten.

Stumbling across that stack of binders was a reminder of the hours and hours of time that have been put into this blog over the past 6 years but also a reminder of the sweet memories our family has spent together – growing and changing but always kinda the same. #TeamDean


Another reminder

Just another reminder of how quickly time is passing and how much my boy has grown in just one school year.

L K beg end

A reminder that while I’ll be his mom for the rest of his life, I’m already a third of the way through my “official duties” and then he’ll leave the nest and will only depend on me for holiday and summer vacation housing 🙂

I love these reminders of how much he’s grown, but at least once a week I watch him and envision him as my little sweet baby, tucked in my arms and resting on my chest.  The baby cheeks, skinny legs and stoic expression.  He may be six, but in that instant I see him at six months old. Completely reliant on his mom for everything.  And I can’t believe how much he’s grown so much and how much less he needs me already.

Other times, I get a glimpse of ‘teenage Landon’. I glance at him across the yard and he looks older – like I’m looking through a futuristic mirage showing me what he’ll look like at age 14. I blink and the moment passes but it’s just enough to cause a little catch in my throat as I think of him at that age – what he’ll be like. He’ll likely tower over me by then.  The way his voice will be low and strong.  The way he’ll have muscles instead of baby arms.  The way his shaggy curls will catch at the back of his neck.  And I think of how much he’ll need me.  Yes, for food and clothes and a roof overhead, but as the years pass he’ll need me less and less.  By then his values will be shaped and his mindsets created.  He’ll ask friends for advice instead of me.

My most impactful years are now.  Which is why we talk about caring for others in need, loving Jesus, giving back, making family a priority and working hard no matter what we’re doing.  Because when he’s 14, what I say won’t have the weight it has now.

Each day, he’s growing a little more and becoming more of his own person, where his own thoughts and opinions will start to dominate outweigh anything his dad or I tell him.  Each day my influence fades a little more than the day before.

He’s changing and the pictures he created are just a concrete example of what’s happening behind the scenes. A reminder that his little boy-isms are fleeting and he’s becoming a young man.  A young man that I’m really, really proud of.

The change of seasons.

It’s amazing how well Creation works.  Plants grow.  Body systems function in unity.  Ocean currents change and tides go in and out. Life grows inside of another life.

All things that just sort of happen.

I was driving through my neighborhood last week, enjoying the week’s 70° temps and thinking about the season change.  Just two weeks ago I was huddled under a blanket in nearly 40° rain watching Landon play t-ball.  Freezing and waiting to run for cover in the car.  Now my windows were down and the leaves were budding on the trees.  It just sort of happened.

One week it’s cold. The next week it’s not.

The seasons change.  And truly in perfect timing. Once you start getting sick of the heat of summer, the leaves start changing and the evenings get cool.  Then you’re getting sick of the crunchy, dusty leaves everywhere and along comes the cold of winter and the fun of the holiday season.  Then you’re ready for a fresh start and longer days of spring and then summer is back again with weeks of vacation and slower paced days.

As I was driving along thinking of the perfect timing of the season change, I started thinking about seasons of life and how God has perfect timing to change those seasons.  There are weeks or months where life feels hard. Maybe it’s guilt in parenting, a stressful period at work, funk in your marriage, loss of a relationship, a family fight. And just when it feels like it’s suffocating and too much, God sends a release – a fun date night that reconnects you, a great night out with friends, finishing a big project at work, a few especially special days with your kids, a reconciliation that just lifts the weight from your shoulders.  Because life seasons are constantly changing and evolving.

I love that just when you think you can’t handle a season anymore, God brings a new season, some freshness and life into your life that pushes you into the next phase.

Sharpen vs. Dull

Lately, Landon has been on a little tear with our electric pencil sharpener.  That thing buzzes all day.  Sometimes, he’ll be writing 4 sentences for homework and “needs” to sharpen in the middle.

While I was listening to the whir of the machine, God put a metaphor on my heart around the sharpening of the pencils and how that  directly correlates with how I parent my kids.  There is a fine line between how my parenting builds up (sharpens) or squashes (dulls) my kids.

My role as their parent is to be a sharpener.  To watch and guide them from the outside as they make decisions and choices that shape who they are.  I don’t need to get involved in every decision, but I need to stay on the outskirts, helping them define their value systems, learning about consequences and giving them some freedoms to become the men God is creating them to be.  My role isn’t to constantly hover above and make all of their decisions, dulling the “point” they’ve started to create on their own, by pushing all the choices that I want for them.

When I push them to act like me, think like me and talk like me, I’m rubbing the point of the pencil, turning the tip into a dull nub.  Instead, I need to let them know what being a Dean means, while letting Landon be Landon and Brooks be Brooks.

I think this same concept also applies to how I talk to my kids – am I building them up, sharpening them into confident men who know who they are and whose they are? Or am I creating a dullness in how I speak to them – creating fears, anger and insecurities?  My tongue can instill confidence or anxiety, pride or exasperation.

I don’t want to raise boys who are clones of their mom and dad, or boys with no self-confidence and self-worth.  I want to raise sharpened pencils.