Friday, February 27, 2009

Grace - it's a family name...

We spent the morning at the park yesterday. I piled Drew and the dog into the back of the car, and threw the bike in there, too. It had been too long since I've just spent some quality play time with my kid, and I needed some kind of antidote to my Spring Fever.

With Drew on two wheels, we (me and the dog) spent most of our time and energy chasing him as he wove through trees and up and down hills and skidded to a stop in piles of dirt just so he could leave a skid mark.

The kid is a bike-riding phenom. I don't mean to sound proud. In fact, I will offer up "Exhibit A - as in ART" to prove that ALL of his skills reside in the "Gross Motor" section of his brain.

The "Fine Motor Skills" division... well, let's just say that one of his friends drew him a picture the other day. It was a picture of Drew. She'd drawn him with a face, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, hair, a body, two arms, two legs, and various decorative elements.

This, on the other hand, is what my son drew for me today:

His description of the picture when I asked? "I don't know, but I used yellow TWO TIMES, Mommy!"

Anyway.. So back to balance and coordination. He walked, ran, climbed, and rode everything early.

Which got me to thinking... I'm sure glad God had two pools of genes to draw from when creating this little guy.

When I was a toddler, I fell off the back of some bleachers while watching my dad play softball. My mom says that I somehow swallowed my tongue. I have no idea... except that it was pretty scary for her.

A few months later, as the story goes, I fell out the door of an RV and ate a mouthful of gravel.

In first grade, I sprained my ankle playing "Red Rover".

In high school, I sprained my knee while jogging directly into a parked trailer.

Several years and many mishaps later, I found myself in the emergency room after an unfortunate roller skating debacle that left me with chronic back pain to this day.

"Hello. My name is Jennifer. But you can call me Grace."

So, it shouldn't have surprised my husband in the slightest, when, at 5:15 this morning he was awakened by a cry for help and a loud thud.

It was dark and the dog was being stealthy.

I never saw it coming... but apparently I was moving pretty fast... because I tripped over our 120 lb beast and went down hard. My wrists and knees caught the brunt of the fall, and I just stayed there for several minutes. Just sat there on all fours, taking inventory of what hurt and what didn't.

My husband asked if he could help in any way. But his head never left the comforts of the pillow, and I questioned the sincerity of his offer.

I'm happy to report that I sustained no serious injuries. My sore shoulders should loosen up within a few days.

But it does make me ever-so-grateful that my son seems to have escaped the heritage of clumsiness from my side... (and so glad that my parents didn't buy me a bike when I was 3!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Spring Fever

This happens to me every year. I have SPRING FEVER, big-time!

The beautiful, sunny weather of the past two days does nothing to motivate me to stay indoors and concentrate on things like, oh, work or cleaning.

I really just want to be doing this right now:

When you live in Florida, the beach is such a part of your childhood memories. After all, moms of little ones know the intoxicating effects that sand, sun and water have on little ones. A morning at beach is a surefire guarantee of long afternoon naps.

So I spend many mornings between March and September on sandy shores. And while it may take a few more weeks before the ocean warms up and the spring breakers go home... I'm just going to gear myself up for Spring Break by taking a sandy stroll down memory lane.

Won't you join me???

And one of my personal favorites... I think it needs a caption. I'd think of one myself, but Spring Fever zaps my creativity:

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mama Bear

A Baby Bear climbed into bed with us last night. I could feel his ice cold toes make their way under the covers until they were firmly planted on my back. Too tired to make him return to his room, I inched over to allow some space.

He wiggled and squirmed the way a baby bear does. And I turned my back and buried my head under a pillow, trying to hibernate for a few more hours.

Then he patted my back and waited until I turned my head.

"Protect me," he whispered.

From monsters? From nightmares? From dark and scary shadows?

"You bet I will."

I wrapped my arms of protection around him... just so he'd be sure of it. And then I silently threatened to claw the eyes out of anyone or anything that threatened to rob my child of his security...

Because that's what Mama Bears do.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hide & Seek - Philippians 1:6

We have two dry-erase boards hanging in our home office. I purchased and hung them so my husband would have a place to brainstorm or jot random notes. Across the bottom of one of the boards, in permanent black marker, I wrote out the words of Philippians 1:6. I wanted him to see it every day, to be encouraged by the words that Paul penned in his letter to the church in Philippi.

Since I spend a lot of time in the office now, too (that's where we have the computer and all it's accessories), I find myself looking to this verse a lot lately. And to be honest, I pretty much already have it memorized, according to the NIV version. But today, I've needed a dose of encouragement as I plunge into a couple of new opportunities.

I'm so tired of those same old, tired lines of self-doubt fighting for some space inside my head.

"You're not good enough."
"You're not ready."
"You'll never be like ________."

So, today I decided to look up Philippians 1:6 in a few different Bible translations to get a fresh perspective on what God really wanted me to grasp from Paul & Timothy's letter.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until (A)the day of Christ Jesus.

"...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

The Message
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.


And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

Oh whew! I'm still a work in progress. And you are, too! Until the day Jesus returns, He's still working to bring us to a flourishing finish.

So, technically, the thoughts that fill my mind are kinda true. No, I'm not ready (He's still working). No, I'm not good enough (He's still working). No, I'm not like _______ or ____________, but He's making me more like HIM every day! My words don't have to be words of self-doubt any longer, but instead they can be words filled with the hope of God's promised plan.

I hope that's an encouragement to you today. Oh, and I'm committing the Message version to memory this week!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Because "It Brings Out Their Character Flaws" might not be a catchy slogan...

We began a new semester of Kindermusik classes about 3 weeks ago. Unlike last year, when I got to participate in more of a "Mommy & Me" format with my son, this class is structured in a kids-only format.

On the first day of class, Drew and I decided it might be helpful to role play a scenario in which a child might not be comfortable with his mommy leaving the room.

He chose wails, sobs and tear-stained cheeks to best convey his feelings.


The teacher used the unfolding scene to gently remind all the mommies that Kindermusik was first and foremost a place for fun and learning, so if children would like their mommies to stay in the circle throughout the remainder of class, that was just fine with her!

So, I sang and danced and swept imaginary dust and rode up and down imaginary elevators and found my steady beat with wood blocks and resonator bars.

(After Class #1, I took the opportunity to talk to my son about new situations and the proper way to express feelings and my personal desire not to participate in the next 12 or so weeks of Kindermusik.)

During week 2, Drew thought he was brave enough to participate without my assistance. As long as I sat on an organ bench in the middle of the room. Again, at the teacher's prompting ("Whatever makes your children comfortable, moms!"), I demonstrated the "there but not really there" example of mommy-placement. This option was particularly enjoyable, as it let me watch AND hear my son yell, "HEY!" to the teacher every single time he wanted to speak.

(After class #2, I took the opportunity to teach my child a little about manners and raising hands and waiting his turn to speak and most-assuredly NOT yelling "HEY!" at his teacher or any other adult for that matter.)

By week 3, I was given permission to sit in the hallway, as long as I craned my head around the corner to maintain a constant visual connection with my child. When I momentarily ducked out of view, Drew excused himself from class to come looking for "MOMMY??!?!!"

I was fascinated to watch him interact with the other children since he was feeling so much more comfortable in this environment. But I did keep noticing one quirky little trait. My son has never enjoyed being around a crowd of people. When he was younger, he'd just bury his face into my legs or begin to whine. Now, he just creates his own space when necessary.

For instance, the entire class of children and teacher piled into the imaginary elevator to ride uuuuuuuuUUUUUUPPPPPP and DDDOOOOWWwwwwnnnnnnnnnn, practicing their "Glissandos" (uh huh). So, about 7 other little people and one teacher are standing in a huddle just staring at Drew, who's now standing about 10 ft away. "C'mon Drew, get in the elevator so we can go to the top floor!"


"Alright then. We'll see you at the top!" she graciously responds.

(Note to self: Have conversation with Drew about participating with classmates and obeying the......)

Aw.. forget it. I'm pretty sure the teacher was right about the intended purpose of the class. To have fun while learning basic music theory. It certainly wouldn't be catchy if they adopted my slogan:


I'm going to stop worrying about every little thing that poor child does. Because my problems with his behavior as of late have a whole lot more to do with my desire to be seen as a good mommy, if I'm perfectly honest.

So, if you're ever looking for me on Tuesdays at noon, I'll be sitting on an organ bench, enjoying every moment of this fun, musical adventure with my sometimes-shy, always-loud, quite-independent little man.

Friday, February 13, 2009

HE'S ONLY 3 - 4COL!!!!!!!

So, I learned this week that the standard text abbreviation "4COL" stands for "FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!", which I find I've been using as the punctuation to many, many thoughts this week.

Mostly, my 4COL's have been preceeded by, "He's only three years old...."

For instance, I kept Drew home from preschool on Monday and Tuesday because of a little runny nose and a pretty big case of the grumps. On Wednesday, as I helped him brush his hair for school, he became quiet and withdrawn. "What's wrong?" I asked.

"It's just... what if my friends at school don't like me anymore?"


I mean, don't you just remember feeling that way? Feeling like you were left out of the loop or you weren't sure if you'd fit back in with your "crowd" when you missed a few days of school? How you wrestled with insecurities? When you were, oh, maybe THIRTEEN!!??? So, why is this amazing little three-year old's mind already plagued with this stuff? And what's a mom to do?

He's only three years old, 4COL!

Then, we had a little Valentine's party at school today. It was adorable. I got to meet all his little friends, and I took particular notice of one little girl whose name is mentioned quite a lot when Drew gives his daily recaps of school. I even mentioned to the teacher that my son seemed awfully fond of said little girl. She nodded her confirmation.

So... halfway through the party... after the songs and the story, the children were instructed to sit down for their snack. As my son walked behind his little friend's chair, she turned around and asked,
"Drew? Would you please pull my seat out for me?"
"Sure!" he answered, and proceeded to act like a true gentleman. He pulled her chair out, waited until she was properly situated, then kinda shoved her toward the table with all his 3-yr-old might.

What a sweet moment it would have been -


So.. on this Valentine's Day, my hope is that my son finds his security in parents who love him unconditionally. In this, we'll show him the first glimpses of a God who loves a trillion times more than we ever could.

And I hope he finds a sweet someone to love... in about twenty or so years.

If it happens any sooner, you're probably going to find me CRYING OUT LOUD!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Praise Baby!

So, a few weeks ago, I mentioned how excited I was about blogging for the new Praise Baby blog.

And I started to tell you about how much their products have meant to me as a mom.

And then I stopped because I was worried I'd have nothing to blog about over there...

So, if you were anxiously awaiting my deep thoughts about a wonderful, wonderful company, head on over to the Praise Baby site today (or you can just click on the button below).


Here for the first time? Welcome! Make sure you come back often. I just realized that this little blog will be turning 1 pretty soon... and I do like throwing parties!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

P is for Peaceful

When you're three years old
and you're in preschool
and you learn one letter per week...

By the beginning of February
you've made your way pretty far through the alphabet
and you've learned what sounds the letters make
and that certain words start with certain letters...

And by the time you get to the letter "P"
your teacher thinks it's just a delightful idea
that on Friday, in order to make learning a little more fun,
you can wear your PAJAMAS to school

And your mommy thinks that idea is just fine and dandy
because when you have a few less things to worry about in the morning
like "getting dressed" or "brushing your hair"

Then... Mommy learns that "P" stands for Peaceful.

And that's a good way to begin a day!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Hide & Seek - I Chronicles 29:11b-12

This week, I'm seeking God's will by hiding the following verse(s) of Scripture in my heart:

I Chronicles 29:11b-12
"Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the One who is over all things. Riches and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and it is at your discretion that people are made great and given strength."

We've started a new 7-week study at our church entitled "The Bottom Line: More Than Money" (Hey, you can click HERE if you want to listen for yourself).

The focus for now is primarily on financial discipline (which I NEED more than I care to confess to you); but more than that it's about how God wants me to acknowledge Him as the One who is over all things.

And even more than the financial implications of this Scripture, I want to remember the personal implications this holds for me as it relates to my family and my business.

My Child is His.
My Marriage...His.
My Future, My Talents, My Possessions...Yep, that's right.

Everything in the heavens and on earth is His.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A is for Ambitious

I think it's about time I shared one of my family's favorite stories with you. It's known around our house simply as "Cover Book A".

I was six years old and immersed in the first week of first grade. My mom had plans one evening, which meant my dad was in charge of the nighttime routine. After he'd secured my younger siblings into their beds, he and I turned our attention toward the homework I needed to complete before the next day of school.

My first grade reading primer sat on the dining room table with a note from my mom: "Cover 'Book A'".

My dad and I sat down together and cracked the book open. I easily read the simple words found on the introductory pages. But things didn't go smoothly for long. By the middle of the book, I was having a hard time. There were new and unfamiliar words, sounds I didn't know how to put together. The homework assignment grew more daunting with each turn of the page, and my dad's frustration began to mount. "Honey, we need to cover this whole book tonight. Just keep trying!" he implored as he tried to help me sound out letters and put them together to form words.

As the hours crept by, I grew more and more despondent. I was whining and crying and begging for him to just put me to bed. I had been defeated by my first reading assignment, and my dad's dreams for his firstborn's future educational endeavors began to slowly fade.

At some point in the process, he finally sent me to bed and placed that pitiful, half-read book back on the table.

Upon her return home, my mom was met at the door by a one frustrated daddy. "I'm sorry. We didn't even get halfway through Book A. She had a really hard time with this assignment. I think we're going to really need to work with her on her reading skills..."

My mom cut my dad off mid-sentence. "What are you talking about?" She walked over to the table, picked up Book A, and picked up the book cover, lying nearby. "I told you to COVER Book A."

I can't tell you how bored I was for, oh, about a full semester as my classmates slowly caught up to what I had been forced to accomplish in one night of reading with my dad. Despite the trauma, I really do love to read, as long as I can take it at my own pace.


Now, flash forward about 25 years:

A few days ago, we received a note and picture in the mail from Drew's Kindermusik teacher. Our new semester of music class was about to begin, and we were instructed to bring the enclosed photograph with us to class. In the instructions, the teacher asked the parents to review our photograph with the child before we arrived at class (every kid's picture was unique, so she wanted the children to be familiar enough to talk about their own photo). Some helpful suggestions were made. "Point out different elements of the picture to your child. Ask them what they see", etc.

So, last night before bed, I sat with Drew and his Kindermusik photograph. We talked about the picture. Not knowing exactly how much his teacher would want him to discuss, I asked him many, many questions about the picture. (What do you think the weather is like? Does the man look happy or sad? Look at the buildings in the background?) I was impressed with the amount of information we were able to conclude from our discussion and felt prepared for class.

Today was our big first day, and after a few minutes of introductions, the Kindermusik teacher asked my son if he would like to tell the class a little about his picture.

"Well..." he started, placing his hands on his hips. "I think they are in a big city and it must be cold there because the man is wearing a jacket and it probably rained recently because the ground is wet and shiny and the man's hat has something on it to cover it from the rain and...I think he looks comfortable and..."

Gently, the teacher broke in during a slight pause and said, "Wow! Thanks! Um.. I'm wondering, though. Do you think this is a fireman or a policeman?"

"Oh, it's a policeman on a horse."

"Thank you, Drew! OK, Paige, tell me about your picture!"

That's when I realized that I had totally pulled a "Cover Book A" with my own son.

At least it'll be a good story...

How about you? Have you ever become overly-ambitious about something with your children?