Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shifting from Independent to Dependent Children

I know one of my strengths: raising independent children. At probably 9 weeks, I had all of my kids sleeping through the night, because I had followed routines that taught methods of self-soothing. Starting from pretty young, I got the kids in routines that had them getting dressed, making beds, and getting breakfast mainly on their own. (To be fair, I've always cooked my kids breakfast and probably always will for as long as they let me. But they know how to get themselves a bowl of cereal or make toast or whatever.) When I go out of town, they rock their morning routines and can make it out to the bus on their own. They know their night routines of pjs, potties, brush teeth and can easily get themselves and each other to bed. It makes it very nice when we have a babysitter because they're independent.
The other day I was reading this blog about someone's adoption story. The family has adopted multiple kids. Anyway, the mom was documenting the following weeks after adopting another child. She talked about how important it is at the beginning to establish dependency with the new child. She said kids coming from orphanages know how to do everything for themselves- soothe themselves through discomfort, hunger, pain, know how to put themselves to sleep, etc. The challenge becomes to teach them to let people into their lives and create a dependent relationship.
It has been so interesting to think about that, especially in my own realm at home. One reason I'm such a hound for raising independent kids is because it makes my life a lot easier. But reading this really stopped me in my tracks and made me think about areas I could improve on to create more of a dependent relationship with my kids. With all the kids being between the ages of 5 and 10, we've entered a different stage where needs have shifted from less physical to more emotional. And emotionally, I want more of a dependent relationship with the kids. I want them to approach Yosh and I when they are having problems with friends or image or decisions or just figuring out life. It's going to be something interesting to think about over the next little bit but it's definitely an area where I want to make strides.
Anyways, food for thought and I love food of any kind. 

On Enduring

When we first moved to Texas, I remember this one specific morning taking off to run a couple laps around my loop. I got to moving and was quickly aware of my sloooow, heavy pace. Not a single step was easy, smooth, or fast. So at the very beginning of my run, I fell into a rhetoric of positive self talk that I was oh-so-familiar with, "It doesn't matter how fast you're moving, what's important is that you're out here and making forward progress. Trajectory. It's all about trajectory, not pace." I've mentioned so many times how running has acted as a conduit for so much learning in my life and in  
  the next 30 minutes I came to understand life and God better. I'd always been pretty unclear with the commands in religious contexts (whether in scripture or church meetings) to be perfect, yet with also understanding that the purpose of life was to come here as very imperfect people and get better. I was very confused about the gap between one's knowledge and one's discipline to implement said knowledge, and other things that related to that. Other things also being life and goals, etc. As I was pep-talking myself about things I knew to be true- i.e.: go forward the best you can even if it's slower than it used to be, move forward even if you don't want to, just move forward. I thought as life as a marathon and definitely knew that God could care less if we  finish that marathon in 3 hours or 16. He's there waiting at the end, so proud. No prouder of the first finisher than the last finisher. All he cares about is that we don't give up and keep moving. 
That parable, if you will, made a lot of sense to me. There are a lot of things in my life that I need to and want to get better at, whether it be a characteristic trait or other physical habits. Sometimes I am going to make fast and furious progress in an area before it slow's down to snail pace. It's very hard to be satisfied with a snail's pace when I was just sprinting and getting far fast. In fact, it's hard for me to be okay with going at a slow pace. It makes me fall into negative self-talk, how I'm not good enough, not disciplined enough, and too lazy. I'd been failing to remember trajectory. Am I on the right path going in the right direction? That's what really matter. Is it as exhilarating going slowly? No. But it's getting me where I want to be.
So, that was like part 1. Fast forward to about a year later. It's somewhere around May or June and I'm out running as I had been for many previous months. But all of a sudden I felt like I could barely breathe, after runs I was having major headaches and seeing double vision. Convinced I had a brain tumor or something (not sure I'm exaggerating....) I was googling my symptoms and found an article where the writer was saying many people had been writing in with similar concerns and that there was an answer...heat and humidity! She then showed a humidity chart that illustrated certain paces and then put that same effort level in different humidity percentages and how the same effort translated to much slower paces. And it all made sense! Last year I assumed that I was out of shape (and probably lazy and undisciplined) when really there were these unseen forces (heat and humidity) applying pressure and making forward progress harder and slower. It added an even deeper understanding to the previously learned lesson! There's often reasons why our progress pace is slowed (added obstacles, more responsibilities, less time, etc) and we rarely see the why, we only feel that we're failing. We remember the sprint portion of progress and realllllyyy liked that and feel that we should be able to maintain it. None of us would try to maintain a sprint pace for a long distance race, but it's hard to apply that to real life as well and be okay with it. I struggle big time with this.
Just a couple weeks ago, it also hit me what all this really was. And when this was the topic in Church today I knew I needed to write it down! All this lesson is enduring. I think I've always had a negative connotation with the word enduring. Like, it was a very tangible, miserable state of being. That's what enduring was. Now I don't see it like that. Enduring is just committing to forward progress even during the un-gratifying (not to be confused with miserable) times. It's learning to be ok when you have to downgrade from running to walking. It's finding the value of not giving up and staying present even when things are unpleasant. It's giving time for processes to take place. Enduring applies to a lot of things.
Anyway, this insight has been very valuable for me. It's helping me with things as small as getting through 3 hours of church when I don't want to or am super tired and know I won't get as much out of it as potentially available. It's helping me to keep towards goals as simple as cooking dinner at home more, and laying with the boys at night, and I could go on and on. It's helping me not beat myself up when I'm struggling in different areas. Some day we may have the luxury of seeing and understanding why certain periods of our life were slowed down, just like the unknown of the heat and humidity that is now so obvious to me and makes me completely shift my expectations. 
Just got to keep on keeping on aka enduring and the bonus being that it's not all that miserable of a thing to do.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Rainy Days

If I were being true to myself right now, do you know what I would do?
Have all my kids at home with me on this rainy day. We'd cuddle and watch TV and play cards. We'd look up show times for The Jungle Book and have our pick of seats at The Alamo Drafthouse to watch it because everyone else would be in school. 

But alas, I only have one kid at home with me due to a tummy ache (sliiiiggghhhtttt) and one still in bed. Which is going to lead to one of two scenarios: 1) I take Deeter to school when I take Kaia or 2) Kaia tells me she's taking the day off because how come sometimes Vance's mom doesn't make him go to school so I'm not going. The argument will be pretty close to verbatim. Deeter being home will only strengthen her argument. At least in her head. My resolve in the exact moment this all plays out will determine the outcome.

As for the big boys, I don't think I can pull them out. I asked them what they had going on at school today and B reminded me it's day 2 of the puberty talk. The anticipation of this puberty talk has gotten a lot of publicity in our home in the last week. Who knows if nerves, curiosity, or genuine annoyment is the springboard but discussions there have been and I LOVE it! Any opportunity to make those kids squirm just a bit and/or get into their heads and see what they're thinking about is more than welcomed here.

Yesterday was day 1 where they talked about the boy anatomy and all things boy and puberty. I asked Dallin if he learned anything new and his answer was quite funny. Although probably not blog appropriate. Today's topic is the girls' anatomy and puberty as it applies to us. Not a chance I was letting him miss out on the conversation. So at school he is and will stay! I guess Porter is guilty by association- he'll be forced to stay at school too.

And that's about where we're at.

post edit: The sun came out and not a chance anyone was staying home. Mama's got things to do.

Thursday, March 3, 2016


Dang, I got sucked into the vacuum of reading old blog posts and you want to know what I miss?
Some funny stories.
Man, I used to have funny stories coming out the ying yang.
And now? Like, in this very moment NOW?
You couldn't pay me a million dollars to write a funny story because I CAN'T THINK OF ONE.
I'm sure that's a direct result of trying too hard, trying to force creativity, etc. but I'll tell you what, I need to start capturing funny moments again because if there's one thing in life I appreciate, it's humor.
And do you know who else very obviously appreciates humor in life?
Porter Pope.
Last night was Pinewood Derby which means the last week or so has included prepping.
Porter pretty quickly deemed Hello Kitty the design inspiration for his car.
My first response?
How many questions did I ask?
Yosh's first response?
If I were to guess, frustration and being annoyed.
A couple days later, I asked Porter why (of all of the many things that interest him in life?) he went with Hello Kitty? Which mind you, I've never heard a single mention of Hello, Kitty-anything from Porter.
What kind of answer did Porter give?
He thought it was funny. And that coy little smile that I'm oh-so-familiar with (strong DNA y'all) accompanied his reply.
When I say his response was completely satisfying, I'm not exaggerating even a little bit.
I get it.
Like, I GET IT, deep in my bones, in my blood, in my DNA, I get it.
Can't anybody argue with funny.
And if it's funny, we want in.
So that was that.
Unfortunately I have a total of 0 pics from last night.
That's what happens when you're in charge of the event. Children suffer, families suffer.
But suffice it to say, Porter and Dallin were in an 8 way tie for last place in the speed division of the derby.
Porter's car got awarded "most girlie" and Dallin's "most likely to be Mormon". 
Can you guess Dallin's design?
His daddy through and through.
At this time, I have to close this post.
I'm getting dramatically yelled at by Kaia for being a loud typer and she absolutely cannot hear her movie.
A loud typer and a loud pee-er.
I'm winning in all the right departments. #not 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Deeter Lucas

Gosh I feel like my blog posts are pretty one-sided these days but so be it. I'm documenting all of my success stories/learning moments and not the frustrations or hard parts.

Anyway, I've mentioned before Deeter has not been the easiest person for me to connect with. From 11 months to about 5, he was a pretty demanding sir. And while him and I spent a lot of time and even more energy together, I didn't usually have the big sense of bonding. It was simply necessity and a matter of what it took to get through the day to day routines. After 5, he definitely got easier. Mostly because he started wanting his independence which left little room for me. While I appreciated having more space (read: less tantrums, fewer power struggles, less me doing all his routines with/for him), I noticed I was getting inched out of his world. It's not my favorite place to be- raising a kid but really not feeling like I have a personal relationship with him.
I had tried a couple different things without results. Like asking him to read together or do some other things, can't remember specifically what-->easy to forget when you never actually get taken up on your offers. I tried to talk to him but usually got shut down, etc etc. ( This is when Yosh let me know that Deeter was exactly like him. Hence the silence when I asked him a question he didn't feel like answering. Imagine that! But I actually hadn't put two and two together how much alike those two were and having that tidbit spelled out for me helped a lot.)
Now I can't remember the first time this happened and how/why, but I went and met Deeter at school for lunch. Actually I just remembered. I was at the school for a meeting (have I mentioned I'm Deeter's room mom? First for me. But that's a different story for a different day...that I'll never get to but whatever.) and it ended right at the time when Deeter was in lunch so I popped down to say hi. I sat with him while he ate and he chatted me up and was giving out all kinds of love. I definitely noticed the contrast in energy from him that I usually get. So I decided to go back a different day. This time he wanted me to walk to recess with him and when we got to recess, he was all, "Mom, should we sit somewhere and chat?" Oh, the boy who usually tries to not even answer my two questions a day? Yes, I will sit and chat with you, Deeter Lucas.

Now, the other interesting tid bit to this is Deeter would come home from school and still treat me like crap. Bipolar- love bug at school, completely wound up and bothered at home. Which is why I committed, like FOR REAL committed, to going to lunch with him once a week. Y'all know discipline in a lot of areas is not my strength. For me to consistently do something, I have to believe and feel the necessity and really want the outcome I'm going after. 

Well, I knew I really wanted a better relationship with the Deetz and I knew that this was the only time/place I felt an in. So I began showing up once a week. And I've been consistent. And Deeter has no idea that I've made this commitment so he's never commented on expecting it or anything else, but it's been happening and there hasn't been a single disappointing occasion. And now, here we are however many months later, and guess what has happened? Deeter and I get along at home too. Can you believe it?!! He's finally relaxed and let me into his world! And his world is amazing. He is a unique, creative, pensive person and it's so interesting to have a glimpse in his head. 

These little triumphs make me hungry for more. Motherhood is small, slow progress. It takes a looooong time to see improvement or results if we're lucky enough to get that validation. So when they do come, it's gold. 

In the end, current feels on the subject of Deeter Lucas. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Thinking about the Kai

There's so many things that I want to remember about the day that Kaia was born. I remember Sage calling that morning randomly to ask if she could give Dallin a ride to school. I remember that I had sent my car seat away so that Chelsi could make a cover for it so I had nothing to bring Kaia home in. Christy had to let me borrow hers for the first little bit. I remember driving myself to the hospital because I wasn't sure I was in labor but sure enough Kaia was born four hours later. Apparently I was in labor!

We decided a couple weeks ago to have a tea party for Kaia's birthday. Yesterday I was talking to her and I was telling her that I was going to decorate while she was at school today and that she'd come home and be surprised by all the decorations. But she said she really wanted to help me get everything ready. She wanted to help set the table, put up the decorations, and get everything prepared. So that's what we did yesterday. It was another one of those moments where I was in awe at the difference between boys and girls. I love having a little girl! I love that she wants to help me with anything and every thing, that she wants to plan her own party, and prep for her own party. This is the good life!

        Yoshi with his 5 year old!

Kaia LOVES her cake which obviously makes me feel like a million bucks. She wanted a number 5 cake and then was thrilled with the colors and the gold accents. Bless her because truth be told- it's a roulette roll with her. But this time around I was getting a lot of I love yous and you're the best mom. 

A little Porter follow up

Y'all this is amazing. I'm sitting at lunch, listening to an audio book (The Kitchen Help) and blogging all at the same time. Constanza would be proud.

So I wanted to follow up about the Porter. When he got home from school the other day I casually asked him how things had gone in the classroom that day, only a slight variation from my normal "how was school?"  Porter's face changed and he kind of raised his eye brows worriedly. Porter easily admitted there had been a small incident- he had drawn a poop emoji during math. Apparently that caused a lot of attention and distracted a lot of other students. Is now a good time to interject the factoid that Porter got a poop emoji pillow for Valentine's Day? What can we say, he's a poop emoji fan. 

We talked about it a little more and he said it made him feel embarrassed getting called out, and that he's not used to being in trouble. It was obvious through both his facials and articulation that he didn't like the way he felt when this was all going down. We talked about what those feelings are probably telling him and how to let those feelings guide him to choices that get his desired outcome. All in all it was a good convo and I just left it at that. 

Today I went in and talked with him and his teacher at her request. Let me preface by saying I absolutely love his teacher. She has definite boundaries but is one that teaches with love and is very encouraging of students to be their self and use their innate personalities. She is not a strict disciplinarian in the conventional sense. She uses arbitrary ways to bring out the best in the individual. I really look up to her and have tried to employ both her patience and tactics when dealings with my kids. 

I just wanted to highlight some of the things she told me and/or Porter so that I can remember for future reference.
1) she emphasized his role as a leader and the necessity to use that power wisely and for the good. 
2) she had heard him refer to himself as the class clown and that concerned her and she really felt the need to intercede and help him change his mentality. She said when kids choose an identity for themselves they put a lot of pressure on themselves to fulfill that identity. She wanted to squash that idea of a class clown while in its infancy. 
3) she helped him to see how his decisions/actions made others feel (annoyed, frustrated, sad, angry).  She pointed out that often times the kids they other students feel entertained or think it's funny when in reality their feelings are opposite. 
4) she's helping him come up with a plan to fight those impulsive actions. 

I appreciated so many of these things she shared. I most appreciated that she was choosing to deal with this before it had turned into something bigger. She simply saw the path he was getting on and foresaw the trajectory and knew he was better than where he was going. It was yet another reminder of the important stage of development the kids are in. These later elementary years are so formative and important because we actually can still influence the kids! It was an encouraging reminder to me to identify small problems and take the incentive to help redirect the kids to a better path before the problem takes deep root. 

Another point I really focused on this incident was separating Porter as a person from his actions, teaching and reminding him that his mistakes don't define him and although he made a misstep that in no way devalues him as a person. (Shame vs guilt). 

Anyway Porter is an awesome kid and so glad he has a patient teacher who gifts him the luxury of being himself and encouraging that personal growth.


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