Thursday, July 2, 2015

There's Always Dirt to be Cleaned

Laundry, dishes, and vacuuming floors.
Wait, the kids want me to make some S'Mores.

Organizing closets, toy bins, and clothes,
Wait, the kids want to spray me with the hose.

Dusting, sorting, and picking up toys,
Wait, the kids want me to dance and make noise.

Tidying drawers, and hanging coats up on hooks,
Wait, the kids want me to read them some books.

Cleaning the sink, shining the mirror in the hall,
Wait, the kids want me to play kick ball.

Taking out the trash, drying towels on the rack,
Wait, the kids want me to make them a snack.

Refreshing the batteries in all of the clocks,
Wait, the kids want me to play in the sand box.

Cleaning the toilet which about makes me gag,
Wait, the kids want me to play some freeze tag.

Sweeping up crumbs, and shaking out rugs,
Wait, the kids want me to give them some hugs.

Scrubbing grime off the stove and in the sink too,
Wait, the kids want me to kiss their boo boo.

Pitching things from the fridge, and wiping the counters off,
Wait, the kids need a Kleenex for their cough.

Straightening up cabinets, and putting shoes in rows,
Wait, the kids want me to play Legos.

Dear mom, your work is never done,
So stop what you're doing and have some fun.

Your kids are growing older every day,
So stop what you're doing and just go play!

Spend your time now being silly
And caring for their needs,
Your kids won't always be in your home,
But there's always dirt to be cleaned.

So put down your broom.
Ignore the mess.
The dirt can wait.
Go play and feel blessed.

Trust me, the dirt will be still be there tomorrow.  

Lord, help us to find balance in keeping a clean home and spending time with our kids.   Tug our hearts when we need to refocus and nudge us when we need to just go play!  Amen. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

10 Things Every Mom Should Remember When They Become a Grandma

I'm not a grandma yet (so will you all please stop asking!), but one thing I've learned from talking to grandmas is that many of them have forgotten what it's like to be a mom of young children.  In some ways that brings me hope that I will one day forget about this exhausting phase of life with a 6 year old, 3 year old, and an ever-so-clingy 18 month old. 

But in other ways, it makes me realize how much I don't want to forget about what it's like--how exhausting it is, how much you really need help but don't want to ask for it, how much you really need a break but don't want to admit it, and how much you really need encouragement because so often, you feel like you're failing! 

I know that I'm thinking way ahead, but I want to remember what my kids will need from me when they are in the "trenches" of parenthood, so that I can be an incredible blessing to them when I do become a grandma someday!   

10 Things Every Mom Should Remember When They Become a Grandma

1.  Always know your grandchildren's diaper size and have extra diapers and wipies on hand when you see them.  Let them keep the extras.

2.  When your kids say that they don't need any help, they really do.  Politely insist on coming over to help or at least just let them know that you are available if they change their mind.

3.  Give them a break.  They love their kids but they are tired and need time to reconnect with their spouses.  Don't wait for them to ask you.  Clear your schedule to babysit at least once a month as well as on your kids' birthdays and anniversaries and encourage them to take a night out...your treat.

4.  Visit as often as possible without being pushy even if you just come over to help fold laundry, clean the house, or just hold the baby for a while. 

5.  Keep a list in your purse of current clothing and shoe sizes of your grandchildren, so while you're out shopping you can help find new seasonal items (especially boy pants because they put holes in them so quickly and snowsuits and boots because they are so expensive and some years they barely wear them.)

6.  Don't give your kids gifts that require any extra work or care.  They are seriously busy and focused on taking care of their own kids and although, they love the gift, they will probably not get that plant in the ground unless you help them do it.

7.  Bring meals often.  No one will ever turn down a home-cooked meal from their mom!

8.  Before you leave the grocery store, call and see if your children need anything.  Even if they say they don't need anything, you can always drop off milk...and chocolate.  :-)

9.  Know your children's love language.  Even when they are adults, they still need to feel loved by you. 

10.  Listen to them.  I understand that moms want to fix everything, but just know that sometimes your children really do just want you to listen, offer them encouraging words, and give them hope!
Lord, give us ways to love, respect, comfort, and support our kids in every phase of life but especially when they become parents of their own.  Help us to be a blessing to our and always.  Amen!

What other ways could you be a blessing to your kids as a grandma?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Why I Hate It When My Kids Run

I hate it when my kids run--especially when they're little.  Their steps are so awkward.  They are incredibly uncoordinated and let me get to the real reason....

They always fall! 

I hate it.  It always happens.  Then there is the inevitable tears, crying, any number of ouchies, and the obligatory hug from me-- when really in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "I told you not to run." 

I do.   I literally tell my kids not to run.  My youngest started running for the first time at the park and all I kept saying to him was:  "No, no, no."   "Don't run buddy."   "Go slowly."   "You're going too fast."  "You're going to fall down."  But off he went.  Running as fast as his little feet could go.  Giggling.  Laughing.  Loving this new freedom. 

I wanted to stop him.  I wanted to protect him, but I smiled and let him go.  There was nothing I could do...except pray (and take pictures). 

And so, I let him run!

But sure enough...just as I had predicted...knew what was coming...dreaded all along, he fell! 

Captured just as he was starting to fall.  I can't believe I captured it. 
Helplessly, I watched as he put his hands out in front of him and fell flat on his face.  There was nothing I could do to stop it from happening.  He cried and cried.  I ran over and picked him up to survey the damage.  He appeared to be ok.  He kept holding out his hands to me and I kissed them.  I wiped away his tears. 

He sat on my lap for only a moment.  He got up, walked a few steps forward, and looked back at me and smiled.  And then off he went again...running as fast as his little feet would go. 

I cried.  I realized in that moment that this was how life was going to be with my kids.  As a mom, I can love them, teach them, guide them, warn them and try to stop them from getting hurt.  And all those things are important and I need to do them.  But eventually, they are simply going to run on their own.  They're going to fall down.  They are going to get hurt.  They are going to experience pain and disappointments. 

I know at times I'm going to feel so helpless.  Sometimes I won't be able to stop them from falling flat on their faces.  All I can do is love them there to pick them up...hug them...kiss their boo boo' them get back on their feet...let them them run again...and pray!

And continue to take lots of pictures!

Lord, our kids are in Your loving hands.   Protect them.  Help them to make wise choices.  As moms, guide us to train them the way that they should go and help us to trust You more, worry less, and be more joyful as they run through life.  In Jesus' name.  Amen!

Monday, March 9, 2015

50 Shades of Crayons: Preparing Little Ears for the Big Talk

I watched my kids color today.  They are so young and so innocent.  Their only focus in the moment was the 50 shades of crayons that they had to choose from.  They have no clue about the "50 Shades of Grey" controversy.  They have no clue about the dark and crazy world we live in.  They have no clue about the difficult choices, or the peer pressure, or the confusion, or the temptations that this world will soon present to them.  I'm so glad. 

I'm so glad that their only worry right now is what color they should choose out of the pile of crayons on the table.  Soon the choices they make will be so much bigger...colors of crayons will turn into kinds of friendships.  A broken crayon will turn into a broken heart.  Which picture should they color with their crayons will turn into which decision should they make for their lives!  Whether it be choosing healthy relationships, not cheating on a test, protecting themselves from pornography, saying no to drugs and alcohol, or waiting until marriage to have sex, they have so much ahead of them.

And just as I start to ruin this beautiful moment of them coloring quietly together by panicking, I have to regroup.  I can't focus on the thought that the colors of crayons that they are so carefully choosing right now are the least of their worries in life.  I can't focus on the thought that I'm not ready.  I'm not ready for them to make big decisions.  I'm not ready for them to even know the word sex let alone learn about it.  I'm not ready. 

And just when I start to panic even more at the thought that maybe I am not adequately preparing them for what's to come, God steps in.  His voice calms me and He shows me how I am thinking ahead more than I realize.

I am already taking steps to prepare their little ears for the big talk...their little lives for the bigger "pictures" to come. 

And then I realized that He was right.  I am setting a foundation.  Of course at ages six, three and one, I'm not talking to them about the specifics of sex, but I am creating an environment of trust, open communication, love, and respect.  Let me share with you...

Here are 4 helpful hints to get you started on the right path to talking to your kids about sex:

1.  Set Boundaries:  Teach them the correct names for their private parts.  There is no shame in the fact that they have a vagina and a penis.  That is what they are called.  Even if they shout in the grocery store that the check out lady has a vagina...that is ok!  :-)  Emphasize that their private parts are indeed that...private.  Don't just talk to them about that once either.  Every chance you get, remind them about the importance of respecting their private parts and someone else's too.  Establishing appropriate touching boundaries is healthy and necessary.

2.  Communicate:  Create an environment of open and honest communication.  Don't expect that this will just happen.  You have to work at it.  Kids don't just naturally continue to trust you.  You have to build it, maintain it, and make necessary repairs as needed...always.  Every night, I take a few minutes with each of my older kids and talk and pray with them.  I ask about their day.  I see if they have any questions to ask me.  Sometimes they do...sometimes they don't, but I hope that giving them that invitation to ask me anything every night will soon become something that they wait for and expect.  It is my prayer that when the appropriate time comes, having already established a level of openness and questions being exchanged, that my kids will be less uncomfortable when we do talk about more serious or uncomfortable topics like sex.   

3.  Love:  Kids need to be loved!  More importantly, they need to feel loved unconditionally!  If they know they are loved, talking to them about sex will be easier.  If they know they are loved, they will feel more secure and confident in who they are and be able to love themselves and how God created them to be.  They will be able to better understand the meaning of love in sex when the time is right.

4.  Pray:  The most important thing you can do is pray!  Ask God to give you wisdom and guidance in how and when to talk to your kids about sex.  He will be there to direct you and even give you the words to say!  And begin praying for their sexual experiences and their sexual health too.  Pray for confidence to protect their bodies.  Pray for purity and for them to value their first sexual experience saving it for marriage.  (Even though I didn't wait doesn't mean I don't want that for my kids.)  It's never too early to pray over all of the big and little decisions that your kids will face in their lives! 

The bible says in Isaiah 64:8- "But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."

As moms, we have to trust that God will be there for our kids when their crayons break.  He will guide them in choosing just the right pictures to color.  He will show them when they color outside the lines, and He will help them choose just the right crayons in life to become the beautiful works of art that He created them to be!   

Our job is to set healthy boundaries, communicate with them, love them, and pray for them.  Cheer for them.  Encourage them.  Respect them.  Hug them.  Laugh with them.  Enjoy them.  By doing these things, we are not only preparing them for the big talk, but we are preparing them for their big masterpiece in life...whatever that may look like. 

Lord, thank You for our children.  Help us to establish a firm foundation in loving our kids and teaching them to love themselves.  Help them to love and respect their bodies and the bodies of others.  And guide our words when the time comes to talk to them about difficult topics.  Give us confidence in our parenting and help us to model healthy relationships in our lives and in our marriages to set a good example to our children while You mold them and shape them into Your beautiful masterpiece!  In Jesus name.  Amen. 
 Life-changing book for showing your kids love!

Great for introducing open communication about your kids' bodies!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Best/Worst Valentine Surprise

It was 5:30am.  I wanted to surprise him.  While he was in the bathroom getting ready for work, I raced downstairs.  In the pitch black, I grabbed the first little bag I could find and a little notepad.  I wrote "An early Valentine."  Perfect, I thought. 

My heart was racing.  I had to hurry.  The note was written.  The surprise was in the little bag.  I placed them both on the kitchen counter and I ran back upstairs and quickly got back into bed.  He was going to be so shocked!  I couldn't wait.  Under the covers, I was smiling like a little girl awaiting Christmas morning.  I couldn't wait for my hubby to get his early Valentine surprise! 

Finally, he opened the bathroom door.  I lay perfectly still as he crept over in the dark to kiss me good-bye like he does every morning.   He walked quietly out of the bedroom and down the stairs.  My heart was pounding.  Any minute now...

What seemed like an eternity later, he opened the bedroom door again.  I sat up with a huge smile on my face expecting a huge smile on his!  There wasn't...

"Oh sh#&!"  He whispers.

That was not the reaction I was hoping for, but he comes over to the bed and we hug tightly.  There were tears of excitement, anxiousness, and a little of how-are-we-going-to-do-this.  We hug even tighter. 

"So, were you surprised?"  I asked.

"Yes."  he said.  "But next time, can you not put it in a Victoria's Secret bag?"


In my mad rush to pee on a stick, write a note, put it in a little gift bag--all in the dark mind you--I had NO idea I had just surprised my husband with a positive pregnancy test in a Victoria's Secret bag!!!  It's hysterical imagining him reading the note, seeing the Victoria's Secret bag and thinking, "Oh yeah!"   I can picture him looking in with high hopes expecting a little something sexy that I was going to be wearing for him on Valentine's Day but instead being incredibly shocked that we were going to have Leeb Baby #3--soooooo the opposite of what he was anticipating!  Instead of a night of romance, he got a wife who was nauseous and tired!

Once he got past the shock, we were able to laugh and be joyful.  We were so grateful to be blessed with three children when at one point in our lives, we didn't think we would have any. 

Even today, we still laugh about it as we recall the morning two years ago when daddy was surprised with an early Valentine!

Lord-thank you for surprises!  Thank you for the gift of children.  They are such blessings to the world.  Thank you for the gift of laughter and joy when we least expect them.  Amen!

What fun or creative way did you tell your husband you were expecting?  Does anyone have any "Oops" stories like mine?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

There's Nothing More Important Than What You're Doing Right Now

All three bedrooms were quiet.  Ahhh.  Finally.  Peace in my day.  Now, I actually have some quiet time to get all the stuff done that I need to get done.  Yeah-that's right.  Now it's my whatever I want time. 

I walk down the stairs.  My mile-long checklist is racing through my head of all the stuff I'm going to do before I collapse exhausted into my own bed tonight--clean off the kitchen table, wash dishes, sweep the kitchen, finish folding laundry, straighten up the family room, get caught up on emails, continue working on the newsletter, and on and on. 

Just when I got everything off the kitchen table and a giant pile of dishes washed, I hear it...a cry from one of the bedrooms. 

Oh man--which kid is it?  I huff.  It's my 15 month old.  Daddy tries to go in.  No good.  "No, no, no!" he shouts.  He just wants mommy.  But I have so many other things I need to be doing, kid.  Did I mention that this is my whatever I want time?  Oh yeah and I'm tired and just want you to go to sleep!  I need my space.  I've been taking care of you all day!  Please just go to sleep and leave me alone!

But I go back up.  Roll my eyes.  He quickly leans from daddy's arms to mine.  He wants mommy right now.  And more of mommy's milk...of course.  Mommy's magic milk...and he's quiet.  Nursing.

"Hurry it up.  Mommy has so much work to do!"  I thought to myself. 

And then I heard these words...loud and clear...

There's nothing more important than what you're doing right now.

But I have dishes and laundry...

There's nothing more important than what you're doing right now.

But I have to straighten up and sweep...

There's nothing more important than what you're doing right now.

But I have to get caught up on emails...

There's nothing more important than what you're doing right now.

But I have to work on a newsletter...

There's nothing more important than what you're doing right now.

And then I had nothing.  Nothing else to say.  Because all of the sudden, I forgot about my check-list.  My mind was blank.  I forgot about dishes and laundry and straightening up and sweeping and emails and newsletters. 

I just enjoyed my little one nursing...snuggling in my arms...content...eyes closed.  I took my hand and I rubbed it gently across his smooth, sweet, chunky little cheeks and across his soft, wispy hair over and over.  I hummed our little lullaby.  I had tears in my eyes.  I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my time right now.

My mile-long checklist will always be there...after all, I'm a mom, but my little 15 month old is only getting bigger by the the the second.  I'm so glad that I forgot about everything else going on, all the things I needed to do, the my whatever I want time and I took the time to savor this precious moment in time--this we whatever he needs time because...

There was nothing more important than what I was doing right now.
Father, forgive me for being so selfish tonight.  Thank you for speaking loud and clear into my heart.  I pray that You will give every mom reading this a there's-nothing-more-important-than-what-you're-doing-right-now moment too.  Help us all as busy moms ignore our checklists and just "be".  Give us balance in our day to be able to get things done but also spend quality time with our kids.  Stop our minds from racing and allow us to savor the precious moments in time You give us to find joy in being a mom...even when we're tired...even when we feel like we have a million other things we need to do.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What To Do When You Forget To Be the Tooth Fairy

My six year old walked into my bedroom this morning with his head down low and tears streaming down his face.  I knew instantly what my husband and I had forgotten to do!  We forgot to be the tooth fairy!!

Still crying, he gave me the details of this devastating event...the tooth fairy took the tooth but she hadn't left anything.  I stood there frozen.   

Don't panic...don't panic.  What do I do?  What do I do?

Luckily it was early enough in the morning that I was able to talk him into coming into my bed for a few more minutes before the alarm went off.  I told him that I would go investigate the situation.

I literally grew a cape as I sprang into action like a super-hero!  I was freakishly fast and surprisingly sneaky.  I wish I would have clocked how quickly all of this took place...

With the lights off, I ran into the his bedroom and found the baggie with the tooth in it at the bottom of the bed.  Score!  

I'm pretty sure I flew down the stairs.  Grabbed a wrinkled dollar bill out of my purse.  Scribbled a quick note on a random piece of paper.  Flew back upstairs and stuffed it in inside the pillow case in order to give a reason why he couldn't find it. 

Realizing that I didn't know where I put the baggie with the tooth in it, I flew back downstairs.  Found it on the counter.  Stuffed it in my purse.  Flew back upstairs just as my son was coming out of my bedroom...head still down low.   

Think...think...what do I say?  What do I tell him?  Ah Ha!  It came to me...

"I was just checking the tooth fairy's website and I found out that sometimes when little boys and girls have trouble finding their money and note, they've discovered it inside their pillow case.  Let's go check." 

He bought it.  Total super-hero moment!

He quickly ran into his room, and sure enough he found his note and dollar bill "lost" inside his pillow case. 

"No wonder I couldn't find it!" he shouts.  "Good thing that website told us where to look."  His face just beamed! 

I was such a proud momma!  Then it hit me.  Although I was quite pleased with my abilities to think on my feet first thing in the morning and I was thrilled that my boy didn't start his day off so sad and disappointed, I realized what a teachable moment this could have been.  Instead of rushing around trying to "save the day", why couldn't I have taken the time to hug him and discuss with him possible reasons why the tooth fairy wasn't able to make it?  Maybe there was a blizzard?  Maybe she was sick?  Maybe she even forgot?   

As disappointing as it would have been for him, isn't that what life is all about?  Learning how to overcome disappointment...learning how to make the best out of a situation...learning that there are sometimes circumstances beyond our control...learning how to give love, grace, and understanding towards others? 

Yes, I saved the day, but maybe I shouldn't have.  What do you think?