Let’s Tessellate!

I faced a big scary last week! I got all four of my wisdom teeth out. Ten years too late and not a moment too soon. Which is a big deal because it means we spent time and money on just me and even had time and money to spend on me. It’s also a big deal because my mouth can’t be trusted to not embarrass myself on a regular day so all bets were off with it under narcotics and the cutest doctor in town. The good news is if I was ridiculous, the office staff were all professional enough to let what happens in room eight stay in room eight. According to Nate my only codeine-inspired moment was the over-waving, over-cheering, Hercules clapping I did for Jamba Juice as we stopped on the way home. Although let’s face it, that’s nothing Jamba hasn’t seen from me before.

I process best through creativity plus I’m also a little impulsive. So although I was heading in for minor surgery last Monday, I needed to paint an accent wall in my daughters’ shared bedroom two days before. I love the idea of small equilateral triangles, but I know I’m not patient enough for the mathematical meticulousness that requires. I AM however just type-a enough that the mistakes would scrape my eyeballs.

So we went with triangles. All sizes, all kinds.

Step 1: Paint the entire wall white. I actually used ceiling primer because that’s the white paint we had in the garage and we’re all for starting projects without actually going to the hardware store around here. White now gets to be the negative space between triangles.

Step 2: Tape Triangles. If you remember fourth grade math, triangles tesselate so it’s not hard to fill an area with them. I started in the center with a few shapes and sizes that I liked then worked in sort of a spiral motion around, trying to balance the “weight” of large and small triangles.

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Step 3: Paint! Eventually the girls’ room will be predominately teal and purple so I threw a few varieties of purple plus a teal, along with the six year old crowd pleaser of melon-y pink, hot pink, and shimmery light pink in a mix of interior paint samples I already had and small acrylic bottles from the craft store. Plus a metallic gold because I like it. If you have four or more colors there’s no need to get scientific about which goes where, you’ll easily be able to splash them up without fear you’ll be left with two of the same color next to each other. My husband informed me that left brained people call this “map theorem”. I called this “using lots of colors”. However, map theorem never had an 8yr old, 6yr old, 4yr old, and 22 month old “helping”.

Step 4: Peel Away! (And touchup, but this is truly optional)

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Ta-Done!

Facing a new scary this week, but it’s still a secret so I can’t quite share with you yet. But if I’m lucky it might just catalyst some crafty-ness!

 

 

 

Allowing Little Sister to Find Her Own Limits

We have this child. She’s not quite two and she always looks slightly disheveled like she just ran with the wolves and tickle-wrestled a mob of meerkat cubs. If you throw dust or a feather towards her, it will adhere to her sticky self. One might assume that by the third child you would have this parenting gig down. Not true for our joyful and fearless toddler who sees herself as a peer to the olders. As we guide her through the frustrations and infuriation she experiences when her one year old physical ability does not match the goals in her mind and heart, I am left glaringly aware of the words I am speaking over her. Limiting words. Boxing in words. Yes, there will be an amount of motherly caution. Although, as I hear myself I am reminded that my words must also be a blend of encouragement and affirmation of the attributes that she has been given and is exploring. “Don’t you know you’re too little to…” seems to be sliding off my tongue too often lately. It takes more courage for me to step back and watch her figure out what she is and is not capable of instead of immediately moving her to away, stop, can’t, safety.

 

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This is their new game. She stands on the chair and he chucks a pillow at her head. Familiar sounding big brother/ little sister game that they love.

The Art of Out and About


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We all know marriage takes maintenance. If you’ve been in any sort of relationship dynamic with another person ever you know this. By the time age-appropriate discussions are had at dinner and little hands are held at bedtime, there’s barely the space/time/energy/desire to drink a beer and watch an episode of Friends together. There’s certainly little to no margin left to communicate needs, hurts, dreams, and thank-you’s. Here’s where we have a bit of a leg up; we live in a beautiful city. We have a circle of people cheering us on, who let us go on daytime dates so we can weed the marriage garden. There’s no way to have these conversations other than gently when sitting on sandstone cliffs a couple hundred feet above green-gray surf, sighting dolphins, and feeling the bigness of God’s love for us. What feels like histrionics at home after midnight gets placed in perspective in the salt-air riding in from a horizon that has merged seamlessly between sea and sky. Next week is our ninth anniversary. I’m thankful for a friend and husband who is committed to re-falling in love each season and for Voskamp’s quote that grace is the biggest brave.

And now a barrage of pictures celebrating the art of being out and about as well as a few of fun times at home! We do best as a family when we go places during the day, because I do best when we get out of the house. Again, we’re pretty spoiled with our out and about options and I know it.

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The YES is more important than the PERFECT

The yes is more important than the perfect. That’s what I’m trying to remember these days. These days of bike helmets slung at the entry mat and footprints in path of sunlight and sand from front to back door. Days of more multi-colored, kid plastic-ware than countertop space, but never a clean water bottle to be found when you need one. Days of forever opportunities for welcoming people into our home, our life, our chaos.

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IMG_6633 Selah Grace is becoming the ambassador of our neighborhood (which I love). She eagerly invites adult neighbors over to celebrate stuffed animal tea parties, and uses any free space in the afternoon to bring other kids over to play. Riding bikes quickly turns into playing in the garage, turns into board games on the living room rug, turns into staying for dinner and a movie. I love this for her and our home. But, it’s easy for me to focus on piles of laundry or the projects strewn across the dining table and want to say “not now”. That we aren’t “ready” for company. Real-life invitations are spontaneous. They don’t wait for perfect and they don’t care about freshly steamed floors or the fact that we haven’t gotten around to dealing with that 60′s paneling on the walls. I want Selah to experience the blessing of community found and forged when you step out with the bravery of invitation.

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Our neighborhood had a little Saturday potluck the other week.

IMG_6378Instead of stopping her or immediately turning my eyes toward all the mess, I try to move past my immediate fear of my parenting being equated with the (un)togetherness of my house and my desire to show our neighbors a fake perfect. Instead, I try to say yes as much as possible. Yes, even with that sticky spot under the highchair. Yes, even though every couch cushion is in a pile on the floor. Yes. Because the yes is more important than the perfect.

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What IS the magic of Disney?

The magic is about their eyes. The way their eyes widen and sparkle in response to the wonders of Disney. Let’s face it, there’s nothing extraordinary about the rides and waiting in line for three hours in triple digit weather to meet Elsa and Anna could be described as insanity.

Each time is a new trip for our family as our children and their interests grow. This time we had a six year old wanting to explore big kid adventures like Thunder Mountain’s roller coaster-ness under daddy’s protection and Disney dollars burning a hole in her pocket for shopping Main St. There was our curious and loving four year old who’s heart and thrill for adventure is bigger than his below 40″ frame where he measured below the cut-off each time he tried for a big-kid ride like Cars Racers, who we then distracted from this disheartening short-kid news with shopping and meeting Super Heroes. And then there is the tiniest child of all. A one year old whose spirit for life is her fuel. She thought it was all for her. The rides. The shows. The characters (at a safe distance).The parades. The joy. And the spinning. What a discovery to  watch her happy-laugh on the tea cups.

So enjoy the pics. Forgive the fumblings of out-of-focus, in-motion selfies and doublies on rides. And for an absence of pictures. At some point, I just have to set the camera down and live it because 1) I am not adept enough to fully focus on enjoying it with my family and fully focus the photos 2) my daughter asks me to put the phone away and I think that’s reason enough.

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We enjoyed our SoCal resident discounts and spent two days; one park per day. Two full days turns out to be not enough time to experience it all but also too much time. Teagan was SO excited about it all she didn’t go to sleep until almost 11pm each night. Josiah spent his whole time talking/processing to us that “Mickey is ALIVE!” and “Captain America is ALIVE! I wonder if Captain America has to brush his teeth. I will ask him next time. I will see him and ask him if he goes on a mission to save the day and comes home and” …..(lots more processing Captain America) and crashed mid sentence on the way to the parking lot. And Selah now has Scarlet Fever. No joke. I’m thankful to live in the day and age of penicillin so this Oregon Trail of life won’t be cut short by bacteria. We are home. We are resting and rehydrating since we somehow chose the only over 100 degree weather southern california has seen in years to go for our trip. The expense and the heat and the arranging work and school and yes, even the feverish rash afterward was all worth it for Nate and I to nudge one another on the arm as we redirected eachothers’ attention back to the faces of our children.
Any way you approach it, taking three mini humans to Disney without backup is hard. But their eyes make it all worth it. We can’t wait to do it again!

May Day Birthday Buddies!

The best sort of days begin like this…

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…while some of the best evenings end like this. IMG_6469We will just selectively choose to forget the very last hour of the day of teeth-brushing power struggles and overtired meltdowns. We’ll leave these happy feet as the end-cap. 
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May 1st is birthday buddies in our home. Selah Grace turned six while Josiah Benjamin turned four! Six and four feels so old most of the time, especially compared to little sis who is still a toddler. But we know the truth is four and six are still so little. SO little, especially when the distance is narrowed by requests showing the tenderness of their age; holding hands for safety in parking lots and safety at bedtime, leaving the “big” light on to fend off the darkness, joy and pride in reading a book together. The little cues that they want to be independent, but still want you near. I’ll take it. Plus I’ll take some killin’-time-silly-face-selfies with Little Man at school pick-up.

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The “I’m SO EXCITED I STOLE THE JELLY BEANS” again smile eyes.

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The “Are you seeing how proud I am that I stole the jelly beans again?” giggle.

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The “don’t take my jelly beans away from my toddler clutches” stare-down run.

As parents, we know our little ones better than anyone. They are their true selves right now within the safety of our family. We see them in ways others don’t, especially our Josiah who hides under the brim of his hat in public and is too shy to hold eye contact or speak to  people outside the family, or the chosen few he has invited into his “framily” circle. 

I want you to know him and see him the way we do here. 

I want you to know big sister, and see her the way we do here.

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But I can’t do that. Only they have the power to do that for themselves. To stand in the raw and the realness to show you who they are. I think about how often my own retreat is to be silent, to blend in, to fly under the radar where no waves are made and consequently no judgements about me can be made either because I haven’t offered anything to be judged. It is the social equivalent of pulling my hat low over my eyes like a certain new little four year old that I know.

My prayer for our birthday buddies this year is that our family continues to be a place of safety for them to reveal their true selves. Yet, further I pray they will teeter and tiptoe into revealing their true selves to the rest of you. To the world. To share the joke, the short story, the home play, the smile, the worry, the song, the hurt feeling, the pride of their new bike-riding or buckling-my-own-carseat-straps accomplishments without worrying about the world’s response. Or, maybe there will be fear, but the test-run of grace and encouragement and being-there-to-turn-back-to-in our family will be strong enough that any worry of the response will be overshadowed by the worth-it of the reveal.

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The amazing of all amazings out there right now, or as I like to call her – my buddy brene – has a breathtaking parenting manifesto to this end. Sometimes my children find me in the hallway where it is hanging in our home as I re-read to remind myself of what everydayness of the Spirit looks like. It is eloquent and inspiring and visually propelling. Print out your own and stand in front to re-read as often as necessary: http://brenebrown.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/DaringGreatly-ParentingManifesto-dark-8×10.pdf

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As ever, I am learning how to do this with my kiddos. It is one stumbling small step at a time of heart-molding, internal ah-ha’s, leading by example, coaching them along. They will do it. In their own time and own ways. I only ask one thing of you. Be gentle. Four and six (and one) are still so, so little.

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Sometimes there are God-stories

“That’s NOT true!” she exclaimed indignantly at the dinner table. “They CAN learn about God!” Topic of discussion; whether toddler and two year old children’s ministry was babysitting or a deeper opportunity. Our daughter has a strong opinion about this.

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My kids love when there are interactive stations during “big church”. Big sister marched us all up to the front where she wrote her heart of wanting the kingdom to come “in my skool” and “at home”. The bubble figure is courtesy of Josiah and apologies to whosever prayer got scribbled through by Teagan!

My perceptions and former understandings of what children can know about God and others have been completely wrecked by a five year old. MY five year old.

I used to think it was our job as parents and teachers to tell our kiddos about the history and hope of Jesus so that when they grew older it would be there. Little drops in the proverbial bucket of faith. But now I know that was incredibly faulty and allowed only a shred of the real power and beauty of the Spirit. Thankfully Selah is much stronger than the box I was allowing her to be in.

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Didn’t Jesus himself say let the little children come to him and that the Kingdom of God belonged to them?  Didn’t Jesus himself say that the Kingdom of God is here, now? Not when my children turn ten. Not at some magical moment of adulthood on their eighteenth birthday. But in the here. In the now. I’ve known this. I know this. But it feels like I’m only just learning it.

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We’re taking a new approach in our home. Instead of “raising the next generation” we’re living it now. We’re looking for the innate strengths of our children and speaking it over them so they begin to recognize these giftings too. Instead of asking How was your day? or Did you have fun? we’re learning to ask more specific questions. What’s one thing that was hard for you today? What did you do about it? What’s one thing that gave you joy today? What did you do about it? When did you hear God’s voice?

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That last question sounds a little out there to be asking a five year old, even to me. But do I believe that Selah only gets to access dialogue with God at 6th grade youth camp or freshman year of college? No. It’s the magic and mystery of the Spirit that she can be in communion with God now. Her parameters of faith are far less guarded than my adult ones. So, at school drop-off it’s a kiss and some sunscreen and a reminder to be on the look out for someone God asks her to be kind to today and an invitation to listen when God is requiring her to be courageous. Sometimes we check in at the end of the day and there is nothing, or an I don’t know, or a blank stare, or a cranky, tired comment. But sometimes there are stories. Stories of writing a prayer for a classmate who she wants to know Jesus because she can tell that this little girl’s life is hard. Stories of having her feelings hurt that a friend chose another classmate as a partner but how she forgave quickly because she could tell that chosen partner was scared and needed that friend more.

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These are God’s stories in her life and I tell her. It means that at five years old, Selah has been given her own little communities of influence; her kindergarten class and our neighborhood. It means that at five year old, Selah pushes me beyond my evangelical comfort zone. I want to shush it sometimes, keep it on the down-low, not get labeled as “that family” because I know we are so much more real than peoples’ perceptions and past hurts by Christians.

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I’m telling her to listen for God and live courageously, accordingly. But this five year old of mine? She just lives and shows me.  Because of her, I believe in the power of the Spirit living in children and their influence on their own sphere of impact. And I’m in awe. And I’m terrified. And I, myself, pray for courage and listen more intently for the God-voice beckoning me forth.