Tuesday, August 30, 2011

When am I old Enough?

There have been lots of discussions this past week in the Royal house about age. And when someone is old enough to do something. Okay. Really, they’ve all centered on Hope. She is now in 4th grade and will be 10 in a few short months. And I am amazed. I won’t go on and on here about how the time has flown, but it really has!

The latest conversation is “When am I old enough to walk home from school?” But, as I’ve been pondering the question, I think it really boils down to me. Hope is ready. Her school is right down the block (seriously, I could stand in front of our house and watch her walk most of the way). She even has a sister to keep her company and lots of other kids who would cross the street at the same place—not to mention the crossing guard.

So the question really is, “When am I going to let her walk home without me?”

And I still don’t know the answer.

As I think back to myself at her age, there are some major differences. I was a very independent and responsible child. In fact, looking back, I was too responsible. And most of it was my own doing. Hope’s personality is so much like me that it’s often scary. And I try to protect her from herself more often than not.

But am I doing her any favors? Am I protecting her or am I protecting me?

Have I told you how hard it is to be a parent?

Monday, August 29, 2011

More Learnings from the Laundromat

Yep, we are still without a washer and it looks like it may be a while before we get one. Not a bad thing, really. Just inconvenient at times. But, oh, so nice to get all my laundry done in a 2 hour period and not have to worry about it the rest of the week (unless you send your daughter to soccer practice in the wrong uniform because you didn’t read the email…grrr).

The girls now think the Laundromat is a fun place to go. They seriously beg me to be able to go with me. And I make them help fold, so they are working (even when one is folding and the other is sliding it down the table so that it is all messed up by the time it gets put on the pile). So, Saturday night, I let them go with me—even though they would be up a little later than I would have liked them to be.

Here are some of the things I learned this time around:

• There are big lessons you can teach about sharing and treating others the way we want to be treated. Especially when they try to “hog” all the baskets and feel the need to guard a whole side of a table so nobody else can use it.

• It’s much easier to teach my girls kindness toward other people than toward each other. They love to help people by opening the doors when they have a full load--even when they are fighting over who's gonna do it.

• No matter where you, there will always be rude people. You can choose whether you want to let them affect your experience.

• When the triple load machine that has all your soccer clothes, pants you wanna wear the next day and most of your hubby’s good clothes doesn’t work, but the door locks and you have to wait 32 minutes for it to finish before you can move them to another machine, it’s a great lesson in patience.

• Your kids will notice the way you talk to the employee—whether he’s being effective at his job or not.

• Using the change machine is almost as good as a video game

• When strangers comment on how well your girls get along (even when they are running, being way too loud and not focusing on the task at hand) it makes you re-evaluate the ultimate goal of doing laundry together

As crazy as it sounds, I think I’m gonna miss taking them to the Laundromat with me in the coming weeks (I’m gonna have to do it while they are in school). They make me crazy and every time I leave there, it usually ends with me talking in the “mean voice.”

But then I reflect on the entire experience and I realize that crazy as it sounds, these will be some of their favorite memories of time together when they grow up. My challenge is to get out of the momentary task at hand and be willing to see the big picture.

Neatly folded clothes are not as important as giggling girls.

Consistency Ain't Easy, Folks

Consistency is hard. I think it’s the most difficult thing for me as a parent. It’s so much easier to change the way I do things—I like to call it “adapting” and being “flexible.”

But really, most of the time, I’m just being lazy. I don’t want to enforce the new chore system, or schedule or rule about watching TV during the week. I want a break, so I “give in.” It’s something that all parents are guilty of at one point or another.

And the first step is always the hardest. For example, I came home last night, utterly exhausted. Thankfully, Brian brought me some dinner left over from his date night with Caroline, so I didn’t have to cook anything—I just had to warm it up in the microwave (which I’m still convinced is tied with the dishwasher for the best invention ever for a mom who works outside the home).

So I ate. And when I was done, I just put my plate in the sink. The dishes in the washer were clean and I didn’t want to unload it. My plate wasn’t alone in the sink—there were a couple of cups, a bowl and some silverware.

This morning, when I went into the kitchen, the entire side of the sink was filled. Guess I wasn’t the only one who didn’t feel like unloading the dishwasher. And, since there were already a few things in the sink, it made it easier for everyone else to add to the pile.

If I would have taken the time to empty the dishwasher last night, rinsed my dirty dishes and put them in there, my job this morning would have been much simpler. Instead, I still emptied the dishwasher and now filled it back up with dishes that others would have put in there themselves if they had not seen a sink–full of dirty dishes.

I’m not doing anyone any favors by being inconsistent—not myself and especially not my girls. But it doesn’t make it any easier. Or exciting. Consistency is rather boring.

But, God calls us to it. Jesus modeled it. I think it would have been so much easier for Him to just hang out with his 12 friends—they didn’t “get” it anyway, so why keep telling them? Why not just enjoy the time with them? Seriously, this is the man who turned water into wine--think of how much fun they could have had if He had gotten off-course of His purpose for being here.

He didn’t do that. And while His role of teaching the masses and saving the world was and is so much more important than my dirty kitchen, I think the same concept still applies.

Consistency isn’t easy, but it’s what He is calling me to at this moment.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of 2nd and 4th Grade

I'm a creature of habit. I like things to stay the same. I also get stuck in a rut. Seriously—I could eat the same meal for lunch and dinner every day for a week before I was sick of it.

So, while I am sad summer is over, I am glad to be able to get back into some kind of routine. To know that my girls are learning something since their loser mom didn’t really make them read much or do multiplication facts at all over the summer. Just one more reason why I don’t home school—my kids would sooo be the dumb ones if I had to be the one to teach them. We’d start out looking something on the computer and end up on YouTube watching Tim Hawkins’ videos all day. Really. That’s what we did for over an hour tonight instead of doing anything productive, but they now know most of the words to “Fire Ants.” Lovely.

I am not great at capturing memories on film. And if I do, the quality is so poor that I might as well have just enjoyed the moment instead of trying to take a good pic.

BUT, I make my kids pose in front of the school sign every year. Hope hates it. Even Caroline has decided it’s not cool. Thankfully, there were other kids being humiliated by their parents doing the same thing, so I didn’t have to argue too loudly and was able to snap a quick one.

And since you probably can’t see it from the distance, Hope’s shirt says, “Hope.” She wanted to make sure her teacher would remember her name. And Caroline talked me into one of those shirts with the dye that smells like food. So she was going around all day asking people to smell her shirt. Yep...I don't think anyone will forget either of my girls very easily.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

It was the Summer of 2012

Summer will officially be over at midnight. School starts tomorrow and I now have a 2nd grader and a 4th grader. This was a good summer. It didn’t feel too long or too short—it was just right for the Royals.

Here are some of our highlights:

We jumped right into Fine Arts Day Camp our 1st week after school was out. Hope was Snow White

Caroline was a Minstrel

We went to a Royal family reunion in Gruene, Texas and floated the Comal River one day—such fun!

We took an extra day to go to San Antonio so the girls could see the Alamo for the first time.

Brian did some work at the farm for Granny, so the girls went with him and stayed for a couple of weeks.

I joined them to watch fireworks from the roof on the 4th. So sad that the pic came out too dark to show how much fun this was.

The girls spent a lot of time at their Mimi’s. Each Wednesday, she volunteers at a local pet store and the girls were able to go with her—this was always a highlight.

We went to a wedding in Oklahoma and stayed another night with Granny. Hope took pics of us in our “dress clothes” but she only got head shots.

We went to Hawaiian Falls with friends and got really burnt because I let the girls put on their own sunscreen

And, we ended the summer with snow cones from our favorite place—The Snow Cone Lady.

No big family trips this year. No big camps either. Just a simple summer. But a good one.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Like Father, Like Daughter

The other night, we were at dinner and Caroline did this:

Yep, it’s a roll that she hollowed out and put on her nose. There was something vaguely familiar about this.

Oh, yeah—here’s a pic of Brian around the same age:

He used a pickle.
Like father, like daughter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Things I learned from the Water Park

…if you’re not around when your 9 year old and her friends are hungry, that won’t stop them from helping themselves to lunch

…if you take your eyes of your kids, they’ll feed their animal crackers to the birds
…ice cream makes everything better
…there are places that will still give you free ice water
…Hope + wave pool and a tube = happy 9 year old
…Caroline + lazy river = happy 7 year old
…it's always more fun with friends

…when a bird poops on your daughter’s towel, she will take yours
…there’s no such thing as packing too many snacks
…7 year old girls still hold hands when they are running off to play
…when you allow your children to put on their own sunscreen, they will more than likely get burned
...this is what you get at the end of the day:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Moments Like This

I'll just warn you up front. This is really just a bragging, make-myself-feel-better as a mom kind of post. I’m just sayin.

I had to run to the store tonight (yes, I just bought groceries last night, but Brian’s foot is swollen and he wanted some Aleve. Before you go and think that I’m a good wife, just know I went in protest and wasn’t showing him too much love).

Soooo, I came home from the store and Hope’s light was on—30 minutes after she was supposed to be in bed. When I went in her room, this is what I found:

This is not a common occurrence in our house. My girls have been at each other and being trapped in a car with them for several hours this past weekend didn’t help any of us.

BUT, once in a while, they love each other well. And I’m choosing to celebrate this moment—whether I ever get to see a sweet picture of a big sister reading to her little sister (and using fun voices for the different animals) again or not.

I wonder if this is what God thinks as He looks at humankind. We spend a lot of time in conflict with each other, but every once in a while, we come together in a sweet way.

I can totally imagine Him running to get his camera so that he can capture it.

Knowledge is Power

Today was one of the most looked forward to day of the summer. My girls have been asking about it for weeks—actually, even since before school let out in June (yes, we were the school district that thought it was a great idea to have class until the 2nd week of June).

So, what was today?

It was the day that we found out which teacher each girl has for the coming year. These days, we get a recorded message from the teacher. Back when I was a kid, they posted them on the school doors. I remember riding my bike up to the school the day before and even the morning of the day they said they were going to post them—hoping they would do it earlier. I was so excited—even though I didn’t always know anything about the teacher. For me, I was more excited to see who was in my class. Would I get to be with my best friend? Would that boy who annoyed me be in close proximity all year? Was I gonna meet any new kids?

I got the calls a little after 5pm—about an hour before I had to leave to go pick up the girls from their Mimi’s house. Actually, they were at their Mimi’s neighborhood pool—not my favorite place to pick them up from. I already had to make them leave a birthday party (also at a pool) the day before. Being the party-pooper once again was not something I was looking forward to.

BUT, I had ammo this time—thanks to the teacher announcement. I knew who their teachers were…and they didn’t—at least not until I chose to tell them. And I had the power to tell them when I wanted. Knowledge is good—especially when you’re dealing with kids and a pool.

As I expected, I was not met with excited cries of “Oh, Mom! We are sooooo glad you are here! We were getting bored with Mimi—we only got to roller skate and swim all day with our cousins. The thought of going home, taking showers and brushing our teeth sounds so much more exciting!” Nope. I got the glares and mad stomps (thankfully, my sister-in-law saw me pull up and got them out of the pool so I didn’t have to do that part and be even more of an enemy).

So, I did what any good mom would do. I told them that I knew who their teachers were and I wasn’t telling them until we were in the car (insert sing-songy voice here). And they weren’t allowed to be mad at me for taking them home-where there is no pool.

And a funny thing happened. Their attitude IMMEDIATELY changed. No longer was I the bad guy. And, again, I did what any good mom would do…I dragged it out as long as I could so that I could bask in the glow of hero worship—which was approximately 3 minutes.

And the best news of the day? I don’t have to drag them from the pool tomorrow—that’s Brian’s job.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Vision from God?

A couple of months ago, God gave me a vision. I won’t bore you with the details, but I will tell you that there was no doubt in my head it was from God. It was one of those, can’t sleep, wake-you-up-in-the-night kind of visions. The kind that you finally get up and make a list of all the reasons why it can’t work—and you come up with 3 pages full.

But there’s still a voice, whispering, saying, “What if?” What if you took a risk? What if it doesn’t make sense? What if I have been growing this passion in your heart "for such a time as this?"

But it was such a stretch. It totally didn’t make sense. Regardless, I acted on it. I pursued it—knowing that it would probably never take flight.

And this was big for me. As far as I’ve come in the last few years, I still live a lot of my life fear-based. BUT, I felt like I HAD to be obedient to pursue it—acknowledging to those around me that it was crazy.

And, while I wish this could be a story of how God blessed that obedience and made everyone around me jump on this crazy idea, He didn’t. And I was disappointed. And truthfully, angry as well.

Disappointed that I didn’t persuade anyone with my eloquence (ha!) to take a huge leap. Disappointed that this passion that I felt like He had been building in me, no longer had the outlet I had envisioned. Even disappointed that I was angry.

Initially, I thought hte anger was at people. After a talk-through with a friend who refused to let me wallow and called me out on my petty-ness, I realized my real anger was at God.

Why would He put such a clear vision in my heart and mind if it were not going to happen? Why would He allow me to put myself out there in a risky way, knowing that when it didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, I would probably hold a grudge? Why now, when I was on a roll before this happened and this only served to slow down my momentum?

It took me back to the time when I prayed fervently for the life of our friend of mine’s baby. And I truly believed He would heal her and there would be this miracle story about how she was saved because God heard all the prayers going up on her behalf. But He didn’t heal her, and on her 2 month birthday, she entered heaven.

I remember feeling so betrayed by Him. How could he allow me to believe He was good and that He wanted to answer my prayers? I wish I could say that I have figured out what He wanted me to learn out of both of those situations, but I can’t. This is like one of those books you read that doesn’t end with the pretty red bow.

But it doesn’t mean it’s a bad book. In fact, it’s often intriguing. And it makes you want to read it again.

The anger is gone and while there is still some disappointment, it’s not something that is consuming me--it's pretty small for now, at least (that may change in a few hours or days).

Funny thing is, I still don’t doubt the vision was from Him. And I still don’t know what that means. And I may never. But, for now, I’m okay with that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My Big White Board

I have this big magnetic white board on my office wall. It’s one of my favorite things. Silly, I know since it’s really not very pretty and takes up a good majority of the wall over my desk. Pretty utilitarian.

BUT, it has some of my favorite things on it—the names of all the people who serve alongside of me in the elementary area. Every year, around this time, I pull down the names of the leaders from last year and put up the leaders for this coming year.

And it is bittersweet for me.

There are names I pull down that I grieve because I never got to know them well enough to hear their story. There are others who are leaving because of the season of life they are in or because they feel called to another ministry (I mean, really—is there a more important one than Kids???). There are others I feel that I let down because I didn’t equip them enough or pray for them enough.

And then, after I pull down the names who are moving on, my board has a lot of white space (white space is bad because it means there aren’t names of people to fill the roles).

And I panic.

How are all these spots going to be filled? Who is going to lead these kiddos? Who is going to lead these small group leaders who are leading these kiddos? How are they going to be trained?

And then, I look at the top of my board and see a verse printed that my pastor talked about several years ago which has become one of my favorites:

“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 2 Chronicles 1:10

This was Solomon’s response when God asked him what he wanted. He could have asked for anything in the world and God would have given it to him--just like Cinderella's Fairy Godmother. But he had just become king and he felt the weight of his people and knew he alone could not lead them in the way they needed (not to mention, he probably didn't really want to go to the ball and meet Prince Charming and have to dance all night).

My scope is quite a bit different from Solomon’s—I don’t have a nation to lead. But I do have a group of volunteers who each have a story to tell. Each has a life outside of their service on Sunday morning. And each represents a family—whether it’s just them and their fish or a whole gaggle of children.

And I think I feel a bit of what Solomon felt on that day. There is no way I can lead these people the way they need; the way they deserve. Where do I recruit them from? How do I know when to challenge someone and when to extend grace? I could fill up a book with the questions that run through my head in that panic moment (okay—maybe panic day or week).

And I pray the same thing that Solomon did that day. And I trust that God will answer me. And He does—not always in the way I think He should, but then again, that’s why I need His incredible wisdom and not mine—which is so finite.

And my panic begins to subside. And the weight starts to fall off of my shoulder. And sometimes, right about that time, I get an email from someone new who wants to serve in one of those white spots. And once in a while—they have a friend who wants to serve with them. And I am once again reminded that these are God’s leaders and kiddos and He cares more for them than I ever could (which makes me feel relieved, because I care so very deeply).

While I wish I could leave this on a spiritual high where you think I'm this deep person who really desires to follow God with all of my being, I have to be honest. Just between you and me--the materialistic, fleshy side of me sometimes secretly hopes that God blesses me with wealth like He did Solomon.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm NOT Pregnant

Sooo…I think I did something I’m gonna be regretting for a while. I took a semi-dare. I say “semi” because a friend told me she thought I would think it was funny and might be willing to do it. So she didn’t out-and-out double dog dare me (like I did my friend April when she said she was gonna cut her hair short). But, she planted the idea in my head. And I followed through with it.

I’m not sure what came over me. I’m not a daredevil and have never been. I’m the one who plays it safe.

But, as I get older, I like to stir things up a bit. And put myself out there.

But, I think I went too far this time.

I posted the following on facebook: “We’re expecting!!! I know, I know—pretty crazy isn’t it? I really don’t want to believe it myself. I wasn’t going to put it on here, because it will be obvious soon enough, but I thought I needed to make it official. So, now you know. It’s official.”

And then, in the comments, I wrote: “We are EXPECTING another HOT DAY tomorrow!! Wait!! What did you think I meant?”

Needless to say, many people didn't read my 1st comment. So, now lots of people think I’m pregnant. And that means they will be looking at my tummy. Which isn’t small. And might even grow. But not because of a baby.

Hopefully, the humor of the post will come through and EVERYONE will realize that I AM NOT PREGNANT!!!

And I’ll think twice before I take a dare again. Maybe.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Life Isn't Always Pretty

This picture makes me smile. Despite my fat arms showing and the lack of make-up on my face. And Caroline's visor making her ears stick out. It’s definitely not a pretty picture.

BUT, I love it! I smile every time I look at it.

Life isn’t always pretty, but it doesn’t mean it has to be sad. Enjoy the pockets of fun where you can.