Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Humbling Bedtime Story

We snuggled into the couch together, Addie pressed right up against my side as we started reading our book for the night.  

She had picked a Veggie Tales book, and I was not in the mood to read it.  I wasn't in the mood to read ANY book.  

Bedtime had not gone smoothly for the little two, who usually go to bed first.  Chloe's diaper rash had her writhing and screaming and resisting sleep.  Or maybe it was the teething.  Either way, she was cranky.  Brody wet his pants as soon as I got his jammies on him.  It was his third accident of the day, and I was out of understanding and patience for it.  As much as I want bedtime to be this sweet, meaningful time with my kids, there are nights like tonight when I go through the motions as quickly as I can, and put them to bed without much tenderness at all.

Once the little two are in bed, I start the bedtime routines with the older girls.  This night, Emma was dragging out homework as long as possible, which was frustrating to me since it was getting late.  Addie was getting whiny.  As I sat on the couch waiting for Addie to bring me just ONE story instead of the stack of SEVEN she insisted on, I finally just grabbed one out of her hands and blurted, "Come on!  This one will work.  Let's go!"

But just then, the girls started fighting over a balloon.  Lately they've been into drawing silly faces on balloons and playing with them.  It's fine with me, until the ink starts getting all over everything and then the girls forget about the balloons and they just sit around inking everything up (you should've seen Chloe's face yesterday!).  For whatever reason, this forgotten balloon under the coffee table caught their eye and they started fighting over it.  At that point, I lost it.  I grabbed the balloon, squeezed it with all my might until it popped and threw it on the floor.  It was a fine display.  I felt really mature at that moment.  It was somewhat reminiscent of the Pink Plate incident of '08.

Emma was stunned.  Speechless, she walked back into the office to finish her homework.  Addie, on the other hand, was beside herself.  "That was my FAVORITE balloon EVER!!!!!!" she wailed.  I was exasperated.  

"Sit down and read this with me NOW or just go straight to bed," I growled.


We snuggled into the couch together, Addie pressed right up against my side as we started reading our book for the night.  

I could feel her sobbing as I started the story.

She had chosen - or rather, I had chosen, when I grabbed it from her hands - a Veggie Tales book called, "What's Up With Lyle?"

I read through the book, counting down the pages until the end.  Until bedtime. 

Finally... the last page.  Finally, thought Bad Attitude Girl. 

Oh.  Crap.  Like in a scene from a movie, the whole night flashed before my eyes and I realized that I'd acted exactly opposite of how Paul instructs us to in this verse.  Here I was, with a great verse to wrap up this book before bedtime, and I was the last person on earth worthy of helping Addie to understand it.

Except, I was probably just the right person.  

The silence after I read that verse to her seemed to last forever.  I lifted her on my lap to face me and held her chin in my hands.  She started crying all over again before I said a word.  I explained to her how I'd acted wrongly:  I'd been prideful.  I'd not been gentle.  I was impatient and not very loving with her.

She was quick to agree with me.  Ouch.

And then I asked her if she'd forgive me.  She tearfully nodded and threw her arms around my neck.  We hugged for a minute or two, and I felt so inadequate.  But I knew that everything was right.  

Being tired at the end of the night is no excuse for me to get short and snippy with them.  Yelling at them or having unreasonable expectations does not teach them gentleness.  When I start spinning out of control and acting like I'M the five year old, all I'm left with is equally out of control kids, and a sick feeling in my stomach.  

It turns out Addie hadn't picked out the book.  I hadn't picked out the book when I grabbed it out of her hands.  No, God picked out the book.  For me.

It's hard to swallow my pride and admit to my kids when I've been a big ugly jerk (and here I am admitting it to all the internets!).  I know that if I'm not careful, I'm going to crush them and lose their hearts. 

It's time for me to ask God for help (daily! hourly!), print out this verse, and display it where it can be a constant reminder to me.  Anyone else out there in the same boat?  

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."
Ephesians 4:2

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Difference A Day Makes

This was yesterday:

I'm convinced the heart of autumn was residing at this park.  The leaves were perfectly crunchy, a gentle breeze would send hundreds of leaves flying, giggles abounded from kids rolling down leaf covered hills, and the colors were vivid.  I could've stayed there for days.

That is, if this hadn't been the forecast:

Classic Colorado weather!  THIS is today:

Our first snow.  As I'm typing this, We have close to 8 inches of snow and it's scheduled to continue falling all day.

So, what else is there to do besides drag out all the snow gear?  Out from the basement and dusty corners of the closet came coats, hats, boots, mittens, scarves, earmuffs, gloves, and snow pants.  Much of it was outgrown or missing, meaning that the girls went to school wearing rain boots instead, and Brody had some girly purple gloves.  But that didn't stop them.

By the time I bundled Brody up, he was almost too tired to go outside.  He just laid on the floor and it took some major coaxing to get him to go play.

And about 30 seconds later, he was back.

Isn't that how it goes?  You spend 28 minutes getting the kids all ready to go, and then they spend a fraction of that time playing.  So I forced encouraged him to go back out.

Chloe loved watching her big brother and sister play in the snow.  And if it hadn't been nap time, I may have gotten her all cozy to play too.

But nap time trumped snow time.

Can I tell you a secret?

Lean in close, because I'll probably be banished from the club of tough Colorado moms if I tell you this.  I don't like it when my kids play in the snow.  Don't get me wrong, I love how it delights them.  I love that they exercise and use their imaginations and have fun when they're snowing it up.  I love that they're tired afterwards.  But I dread getting them ready to go out and all the effort it takes, and really loathe the pile of wet, soggy snow clothes that sits by the back door when they're done.  I usually suggest 23 other things they could do instead of playing in the snow, before I finally give in.  Puzzles?  Legos?  Computer game?  Coloring?  Play-doh???!?!?!  (On second thought, choose SNOW, kids!!!)

Bah-humbug, huh?

I know.  But, because I love them, I suck it up and get excited with them.  And if Chloe hadn't been on the verge of nap time, I would've joined them in the snow.  And because I just adore the heck out of them, I wrap them in blankets when they come in and make hot cocoa for them.  Nothing like a cold snowy day when I'd prefer to snuggle up by the fire and read a book all day to remind me of my selfishness.

And if selfishness trumped snow time, I'd miss out on these happy faces and some kids who had the time of their lives playing in the first snow of the season.  Take these memories away from them or from me?  Nope.  Not a chance.  As Gary reminded me this morning, I have the best job ever.  I'm so grateful.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Surprise Date!

We've been back from our "business trip" for a week now... and OHHHH has it been a rough transition.
Even though we had four cherubic faces to come home to, it was still hard to pack up and leave paradise.  Ten days of sleeping in, not cooking, non-stop reading, and quality time with Gary spoiled me.  SPOILED ME!

I'm not going to whine or complain for a single second because, oh my goodness, I'm well aware of how blessed we were to get away for ten amazing days.  I feel like anytime the whining and attitudes seem too much to bear, I can think about Kauai and the ocean waves and the beautiful sunrises and the awesome food and the great adventures and the sleeping in (ohhh the sleeping in!) and I will be able to deal with it.
But here's the deal - our kids had a GREAT time while we were away.  In their little minds, their time with Grammy and Papa trumped any amount of time we spent in Hawaii.  (Please note:  They haven't been to Hawaii.)  And for that, I'm glad!  I never worried about them because I knew they were having so much fun at home.  And what's even better, is that they understand why we went.

They know that we went away to spend time together and just love each other.  They giggle when they see us kiss and hug and call us silly names like "love birds" and "snuggle bugs."  They know we like to go on dates.

So Sunday afternoon, they came to us and said they had a surprise waiting for us.  We had to come into the living room holding hands.  When we did, we were met with a very special afternoon date, set up just for us.

They slid the dining room table into the living room, and decorated the room with streamers and balloons with hearts drawn onto them.  (Please ignore the highly unorganized array of toys.  It seems the maid didn't show up this day.)
They put a framed picture of us in the middle of the table as a centerpiece, with a scrap of crepe paper carefully circling it.  We thought that was a nice touch.
There were colorful, plastic bowls of snacks on the table, including pretzels, M&Ms and cold chicken from Friday night's leftovers.  Date night fare for sure, if you ask me.
They acted as our always-present waitresses, and snacked on our food as they asked what else they could get for us.  We were laughing so hard!
And then they presented us with a sign which instructed us to kiss.  Subtle, eh?
We're not sure that they understand that often the highlight of our date nights is that we're ALONE.  But we are certain that they understand that we love being together.  (But could we be further apart at this table?!)
Expensive shows, fancy dinner, trips to Hawaii... those are all great, but this might have been one of my favorite dates ever!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Business Trip

Sometimes I think I'd feel like a real grown up if only I could go on a business trip.

Gary doesn't think it's glamorous when he travels every few months, and in fact insists he'd rather be home.  Even a friend I was talking to the other day said it might seem "romantic" but it's not all it's cracked up to be.  But in my mind, there's something exciting about packing up, flying somewhere (alone and sans sippy cups and Teddy Grahams in your carry-on), and getting stuff done.

So I've decided:  I'm going on a business trip.

I leave tomorrow morning.  This business trip was previously referred to as a vacation around our house, but as I've been packing in the last few days, I've decided to rename it a business trip.

You are probably saying to yourself, "But, Angie, you are a stay-at-home mom!"

True.  True.  So what business do I have going on a business trip?

I might be a stay-at-home mom, but I'm a wife first.  And Gary is my business.  And so off we go, just Gary and I, on a business trip tomorrow morning.

My suitcases are just about packed.  The dress code for this business trip is business tropical.  Sunglasses, floppy hats, swimming suits, flip flops... it's all in there.  There might also be some gettin'-down-to-business clothes in there as well.  (IfyouknowwhatImean!)

This business trip doesn't have a strict itinerary jam-packed with meetings and seminars.  In fact, I got a sneak peek at the schedule and practically every meeting and seminar is either poolside or on the beach.  And our meetings might look more like quiet times praying for our kids, and our seminars might be more like Surfing 101.  I can deal with that.

See, if I'm not making Gary my business, and if we don't take time to invest in our marriage, we'll just be roommates. And if we're just roommates, it stops being fun.  And the intimacy is gone.  Not to mention we're both better parents when we're really loving each other.  This vacation business trip is an investment in our marriage and in our kids' lives.  You've probably heard the saying:  "The best gift a father can give to his children is to love their mother."  (And vice versa!)  We want our kids to see that we love each other, and that it's worth it to us to spend time together, even without them.

Vacations with our kids are a blast, but when we only have each other to focus on, without the distraction of cutting a small person's food or counting four little heads multiple times an hour, the time we'd normally have to connect is exponentially higher.  The uninterrupted time we spend relaxing together, adventuring together, and talking together will all strengthen our marriage and create new memories to look back on when things get tense.  Because this is real life, and not every day is a business trip vacation.

We're not always so lucky to go on nice business trips like this, but every date night is an investment in our marriage, no matter how big or how small.  A walk around the block.  Wandering around a book store together.  Late night ice cream binges after the kids go to bed.

So if you'll excuse me now, I need to go make sure I packed sunscreen pack my briefcase.  Next time I write, it'll be from a hammock on the beach, next to my hubby.  Just another day at the office, you know.


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