Posted in boys, Christianity, culture, Education, kids, Mom Confessions, Own your Story, Parenting Ideas, public school, Uncategorized

The day I taught my son the F-word

Teachable moments. You know the ones–they come up out of nowhere and scare the living daylights out of you.

“Mommy, is there a bad F-word?”

My heart stumbled. I cocked my head at my first grader. “What do you mean, honey?”

“Some kids in my art class said there was a bad F-word.”

First grade?! Already? Is this what I get for sending my kids to Public School? “Can you tell me the word?”

He smiled sheepishly and whispered, “Fruck.”

Laughter bubbled up, unbidden. So he’s still a first grader. “Well, honey, there is a bad F-word, but it’s not ‘fruck’.”

“So, what is the bad F-word?” He asked, sticking his pencil in the corner of his mouth.

“Uhhh…”
scarterstudios M018I paused, my heart tripping over itself once again. Is this what the Teachable Moment looks like? Wide-eyed, innocent, and 7 years old?

While my pause was calm and calculated, the tension I felt inside twisted tighter until it was a palpable ache: I wanted to preserve his innocence. I wanted to tell him, “It doesn’t matter. I don’t want you to worry about bad words.”
But as much as I mentally chided myself about the “bad influence” of public school kids, I knew that was a non-issue.

Public school or not, my kids were going to hear things and learn things from others as they grew up, public school, private school, homeschool, or Sunday school. I can’t control the moments they are not with me.

But he was here with me right now. This moment, at our kitchen table, in our home, was a safe, teachable moment.

If not now, when?

He was asking me for truth. And the truth was, “asking Mom” wasn’t always going to be his first choice.

So I took a deep breath and said, “Well…yes, honey. There is a bad F-Word.”

I told him what it was. I said the word and he repeated it, making sure he heard me right. I tried not to cringe at the profanity coming out of my baby’s mouth. Instead I pushed forward, plunging down this new path.

“Sweetheart, I’m telling you this because I want you to know the truth. But with knowledge comes power and just because you know this word doesn’t mean you should say it or teach it to anyone else.

It is not your job to tell kids at school that you know this word. That’s their parent’s job, not yours. I am very serious about this. Do you understand me?”

He nodded, his eyes wide. “Yes, ma’am.”

I looked at his face, at the soft, smooth skin on his cheeks, knowing that they wouldn’t always be soft and smooth. I would be kissing stubble on my firstborn’s face before I knew it.IMG_4869I pulled myself back to the present, savoring his innocence and openness and the questions that he asked without fear or embarrassment. That precious door was wide open and I wanted to keep it that way.

“You know, sweetie, sometimes kids talk about stuff at school. Kids think they know stuff. But that’s not always true. But Mommy and Daddy—we do know stuff. So if you ever have questions about anything that kids talk about at school, you can come to us and we will tell you the truth.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

And then I helped him do his homework.

It was such a bittersweet conversation.

As much as I want to plant goodness into every corner of my children’s lives, the fact is that the world is full of hard, nasty, evil things. I want to shelter them from that darkness. But I also want to help my sons grow to be men who will be lights in a dark world. And if I am going to teach them to be lights, I can’t ignore the darkness.
F-wordI I have to be proactive.

So, when he asked, I taught my son the F-word.

Should I have told him that we would have this conversation when he’s older? Perhaps. Maybe it was too early.

But at 7 years old, his first instinct was to come to me.  As he gets older, that instinct will fade.

The conversations we have now about language, what’s right and wrong, about light and darkness are forming his very soul.

The Teachable Moment is terrifying but, for me, being keeping the door open in order to teach my children the truth is a gift that can’t wait.

PS. House Church, Cussing, and ASD (teachable moments that DO NOT go as planned!)

How do you navigate these terrifying Teachable Moments?
Have you taught your child something huge and scary? How did it go?
Share your story below!

I hope that my story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you. TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?
If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in boys, Encouragement, Mom Confessions, Parenting Ideas, twins, Uncategorized

Sour and Sweet: The Power of a Stranger’s Words

This past week, I’ve had two different interactions with two different strangers concerning my four boys. Both women made short, passing comments to me about my sons. Both comments altered my attitude about sons and my day–if only for a moment–but not the the same way.

On Saturday afternoon, we went on a walk/bike ride in our neighborhood . Benji was riding his bike, Silas was on his trike, and I was pushing Eli in the stroller. Micah decided to walk/run. It was more fun for Micah to chase his twin down on his bike, yelling, “You’re under arrest!” while hitting him with a plastic sword.

At one point, the “you’re under arrest” game was getting a little too serious: Micah had caught Benji and was trying to throw him off his bike.

“Boys! BOYS!” I hollered down the sidewalk. “You need to SETTLE DOWN!!”

Right then, we passed the mail lady doing her daily route. She smiled and shook her head. I caught her eye, hoping to share a smile about the shenanigans of raising crazy kids.

“It only gets worse!” She quipped, walking briskly to the next mailbox. “I have a 12 and 13 year old…mmm hmm! I know! It only gets worse from here.”

My heart sank, and as much as I tried to shake off her words, they sank into me, like little burrs, irritating me with every step on the rest of our walk. I was in a foul mood when I got home (it didn’t help that my twins tried to throw themselves and the bike into the street–while cars were coming–at one point).

She didn’t have to say that. I’m not sure why she did. But it affected me.

This morning I took all four boys to the Dollar Tree. It’s the first day of Spring Break and we were in dire need of some Essential Items.

We loaded up with sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, bubbles, water guns, and other plastic crap, and made our way to the check out.

Bags in hand, I made an attempt to herd my little kittens out the door when a clerk caught my eye. “Are they all yours?”

11539035_10102113386324218_888264570455143371_oI always smile when people say this, hoping that my smile will make them think Happy Thoughts! towards me, but I braced myself for her response. “Yes! They are!” I said, a little too cheerfully.

“You were blessed with four boys! That’s amazing!”

I smiled again, this time genuinely. “Yes, and four adorable ones at that!”

“That’s the truth!”

We started toward the door but suddenly, I turned back to her. “Thanks for saying something encouraging. So often people…don’t.”

She didn’t have to say that. I’m not sure why she did. But it affected me.

It takes the same amount of energy to say something sour as it does to say something sweet.
Words have power and encouragement is a powerful thing.

Let’s use our words and power for good. You never know how your words will affect someone.

Has a stranger ever said something sour to you that ruined your day?
Has a stranger ever turned around your day with a kind word?
Share your story below!


I hope that our story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you.
TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know?

If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in ADHD, Autism, Benji's Story, boys, Mom Confessions, Parenting Ideas, Self Care, Special Needs, twins, Uncategorized

Should I medicate or NOT medicate my child’s ADHD? Answer: Yes

When we were going through the Child Study process and Autism diagnosis with Benji, one of the steps was to “test” for ADHD.

I put “test” in quotes because diagnosing ADHD is not a test, per se. Rather, the diagnosis is based on observations and meeting certain behavior criteria.

We got a Parent form and two Teacher forms from the developmental doctor at the Autism Center and my husband and I answered 55 questions. Here are a few examples:

Avoids, dislikes, or does not want to start tasks that require ongoing mental effort
Is forgetful in daily activities
Is “on the go” or often acts as if “driven by a motor”
Interrupts or intrudes in on others’ conversations and/or activities”
Is fearful, anxious or worried
Blames self for problems or feels guilty
Rate relationships with peers (1-5)

His regular ed and special ed teachers filled out these forms too.

We turned them in our doctor but they kind of got lost in the middle of the Autism diagnosis and we decided to focus our attention on therapies to help Benji’s Autism challenges.

But while we were going through the questionnaire for Benji, I turned to Aaron and said, “Seriously, Micah (Benji’s twin brother) seems to have more of these issues than Benji does.”
My husband agreed.

But we needed more “proof.” One of the criteria for diagnosing ADHD is that it has to manifest itself in two settings, like home and school. So I printed off a general list of “symptoms” from good ol’ Google and took it to our parent teacher conference at the beginning of the year.

We sat in small plastic chairs at a low table. I pushed the paper over to Micah’s teacher, a very experienced educator with a special education background. “I was wondering, are you seeing any of these behaviors in the classroom?”

She quickly perused the list, smiled a little, looked up at us and said, “Yes.” She then explained that she adored him as a person and loved him as her student. But we knew, as well as she did, that he was getting in trouble on a daily basis for impulsive behaviors.

IMG_4386
The day Micah got a Character Award at school

He would come home, crestfallen because he “lost another letter” that day at school. It became a daily announcement. When I would gently ask him what happened and why he acted the way he did, he just looked at me, wide-eyed and baffled at his own behavior, “I don’t know.”

So, I made an appointment with our pediatrician and we filled out the same forms for Micah that we had for Benji.

In addition to turning in the parent and teacher questionnaires, Micah also had a physical, a hearing test, and an eye test, just to rule out any physical challenges. He was healthy and could see and hear perfectly.

Our pediatrician agreed that Micah definitely showed strong tendencies of attention deficit disorder, as well as hyperactivity.

Next, we scheduled an hour-long, two parent consultation with our doctor about “options.”

The million dollar question was, of course, “How do you feel about medication?”

The whole diagnosis process took about a month, so I had been contemplating this question for about this long…in reality, probably longer.

For a long time, I didn’t really know how I felt about medication. Like a lot of people, I thought ADHD was primarily the combination of strong-willing (naughty?) kids and poor parenting.

And I “treated” my son…and myself accordingly.

But disciplining my son more or even trying creative and alternative approaches didn’t work.

So I looked for other solutions:

More exercise provided a momentary outlet but didn’t help his insatiable energy levels long term (I wished I had a recording of myself hollering “STOP WRESTLING GO RUN AROUND THE HOUSE!”).

IMG_7866-2594328906-O
Taking out artificial dyes and greatly reducing sugar in his diet didn’t do anything.

Essential oils helped him to focus on homework some days, but not on others.

Nothing helped him with other challenges:
Listening (I often wondered about his hearing!)
Following multi-step directions (sometimes completing one-step directions was impossible without 4-5 reminders)
Forgetfulness
An inability to play by himself
Ordering his thoughts and speech into coherent communication

These may seem like small issues but, when taken all together, every day, in simply trying to communicate simple directions (let alone having meaningful conversation) the impact was crushing because healthy communication often felt impossible.

But even more than all these exasperating behaviors was the fact that I knew that our relationship was suffering because I was so frustrated.

I confessed as much to our doctor, embarrassed and ashamed.

And his response hit me in the gut.

“Sometimes medicating ADHD is better than screaming at your child all the time.”

He’s right. I thought. Because that’s me.  What we’re doing is NOT working. Something needs to change.

I was trying to do all the right things. I was trying to be patient and loving and give him a healthy, happy childhood. But I had reached the end of myself.

Our relationship was failing. Not because I was a failure as a parent or because he was a failure as an 8 year old boy, but because we needed to address his very real mental challenges with new solutions.

So after much research, many conversations, prayer, consulting with our doctor, and considering what was the Best Thing for Micah and our relationship with him, we decided to fill the prescription.

I’m glad we did.

The medication didn’t turn him into a zombie or change his personality. Instead, it helps bring his state of being down a few notches: Instead of operating on a scale of 8-10 on a daily basis, the medication brings him down to a reasonable 5-7 range.

He and Benji still wrestle, but when I tell them to stop, they stop (most of the time). The manic I-must-slam-my-body-into-something-or-someone is tempered.

When Micah comes home from school every day, the first thing he tells me is this: “No letters lost today!” And he smiles, proudly.
IMG_4389The most significant aid the medication gives him is his ability to capture and order his thoughts and words, to listen and follow instructions, and to be able to attend to a conversation for a productive length of time.

I can actually tell when the medication is wearing off in the evenings (it wears off daily. It is not an addictive substance), mostly because his speech transforms into one non-sequitur after the other. His ability to follow directions (put your shoes away) crumbles too.

Other than a reduced appetite at lunch (at breakfast and dinner he is a hearty eater),  a few days of disrupted sleep the first week he took the meds, and a bit of evening moodiness every now and then, there have been no other side effects.

Medicating our son’s ADHD was not a simple or easy solution. In fact, the way our health insurance works right now, it is crazy-expensive (over $5 per day).

The medication doesn’t replace the discipline, training, redirecting, love and patience he needs every day. It doesn’t control my son or replace good parenting practices.

But treating my son’s ADHD with medication helps me to have a better relationship with him on a daily basis. The end result is more love for this precious boy I’ve been given.

And love is always worth it in the end.

This isn’t the end of the story. Remember those forms we filled out for Benji’s ADHD? We just revisited his diagnosis…with a very different decision.

To be continued…

 

I hope that our story can bring hope, healing, and happiness to you.
TheBamBlog is trying to grow! Did this post encourage you or would it inspire someone you know? If so, please share! Thank you! 🙂

Posted in Autism, Benji's Story, boys, Expectations, kids, Mom Confessions, Uncategorized

You are exactly the right mother for your child (and why you should believe it)

 “You are exactly the mother that your child needs.”

Since I became a mother, this phrase has grated on my nerves because I have struggled to see myself as the “right” mother for my children. If I hadn’t ushered them into the world (I was there, I promise!) I would really wonder if they were mine.

They don’t look like me (God bless those strong Daddy-genes!).
They don’t act like me.
Most days, they don’t want to do the activities I want to do (see FB post from 2011 below, when my twins were 4).
Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 7.54.24 AM
Even deeper than activities, looks, and actions though is that, in my struggle to connect with my sons, particularly my twins, I constantly came up short.

I felt like we were two magnets, pressed together at opposite poles, something invisible keeping us apart.

When we got Benji’s Autism diagnosis, the felt disconnect made more sense, but it was replaced with a rush of “I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this?” insecurity. Many days, I feel a profound hopelessness, my bag of parenting empty as I keep trying to connect with a little boy whose brain works differently than mine.

Benji and I don’t have a lot of things in common. I’m not an “activity person.”Even physical connection is hard sometimes.

My connection with Benji is especially tenuous because I am a words person.
I thrive on language. But Benji struggles to communicate.
Talking exhausts and frustrates him…and many times, because it is so difficult for him to share daily events, tell me about his feelings, and sometimes even make sense, I get frustrated too.

My strengths don’t translate to his needs.

The other day, Benji had a meltdown at school. His primary teacher wasn’t around when it happened so I had to piece together what happened. Our conversation went a little like this.

“Benji, what happened at school?”
“I was really angry.”
“What made you upset?”
“I was upset because I was angry.”
“I understand. But what made you angry in the first place?”
“I was just really upset.”
“Can you tell me what happened?”
“Mom, did you know that the fire Pokemon can shoot fireballs?”
“I did not know that. But I don’t want to talk about Pokemon right now. Tell me what happened at school when you got angry.”
Pause. “I didn’t want to play the game.”
“Ok. What were you doing when…wait! Come back in here! We aren’t done talking!”
“Hey check out this Lego rocket I built! Pretty cool, huh?”
“Very cool. So, why didn’t you want to play the game?”
“Because I threw the cards.”
“Ok, so why did you throw the cards?”
“Because I was really so mad!”

And so we went on. For twenty minutes I probed, pushed, use different word combinations, asked different questions, pulled him back to the topic, and finally, finally realized that he got upset because he didn’t understand the directions.

“So, when you didn’t understand the directions, did you ask your teacher to explain them again?”
Pause. “No, I did not.”
Ah! A lightbulb! “Honey, I understand why you got upset. Sometimes I get angry too when–”
“Like Anger! Graaaaaaahhhhh!” he screamed. He loves Inside Out. “I went down the Anger Path!”
“It’s true. But when you feel confused, you don’t have to go down the Anger Path. Instead, you can ask your teacher to repeat the directions. You can ask for help.”
“Can I go play now?”
“Did you hear what I said? You can ask for help. I want you to try that the next time you feel frustrated…”
And he was gone. Like most of our conversations, I wasn’t sure if this one stuck.

But the next day, he came home from school and said:
“Hey Mom! I did what you said. I was confused and I started to go down the Anger Path. But instead, I asked her to say the directions again. And I went down the Joy Path!”
“Benji! I am so proud of you!”
“One Anger orb, three joy orbs.”
“So you were still a little frustrated.”
“Yeah, but I asked for help and I was happy!”
“Good! Good!

It was very Good. I was amazed, actually. It is not often that I see a tangible result of a conversation we have, especially so immediately.

I was relating this conversation to my mom on the phone a few days ago and she said, “See, Brittany? You are exactly the right mother for him!”

All of my old insecurity, doubt and failures rushed upon me when she said that jarring phrase.

But before I could protest, she went on. “Remember when you  were a little girl? Oh, how you made me laugh when you said, “Mom, I like to think!”
And you still do. You are creative and you thought about the way you think and the way Benji thinks. You knew the words to help him communicate and find his words. And see? It worked. He did it.”

I thought my strengths didn’t translate to his needs, but I’ve realized that my strengths are not just in words or communicating. They are in rolling around in another person’s thoughts, in seeing the perspective of another mind and soul, and in really thinking through the heart of the matter.

It’s one reason why I was a stellar English Major. But all those “English skills” are now helping me parent my little boy.

A little bit of faith has crept into my insecure soul, faith that God knew what he was doing when he put me and Benji together.

Right Mother
photo by Sabrena Deal

Being the right mother for your children doesn’t mean that it will be easy. It just means that you–with all your talents, skills, personal history, and strengths–are the right person for the job.

Posted in boys, Learning Disabilities, Motherhood, Reading, Uncategorized

We read Harry Potter!! (and why it’s a big deal)

Once upon a time there was a girl who loved stories. She loved them so much that she “wrote” stories before she even knew how to write (her drawing abilities were not as amazing has her story telling skills but her mother didn’t let her think otherwise).

Her mother loved stories too and she and the little girl spent hours upon hours of her childhood snuggled on the couch reading books together.

The little girl grew up and her love for stories grew up too. She decided to throw all practical thought to the wind and major in reading stories (also known as an English major) not only for one college degree, but for TWO!

Although the girl was woefully underemployed after college, she had big dreams for her future. She dreamed of sharing her love of stories with her sons, who surely would love to read just as much as she did.

Alas, this was not to be.
The little boys she birthed were very different from their mother. They did not like reading.
They did not enjoy sitting still.
Listening was hard for many, many reasons.
They were not interested in words.
They were only mildly entertained by pictures that did not move.

What they really liked to do was wrestle.

The mother felt confused, sad, and, as the years went by, she teetered on the edge of hopelessness. She wondered if she would ever be able to share the same love of stories with her children that she shared with her own mother.

It was a deep, deep desire of her heart.

One day, not very long ago, the mother stood in front of a shelf at the library.
Should I? She asked herself, her hand hovering over a book. It was one of her favorites. Maybe…maybe? Maybe this time…

She decided to keep trying.

She checked Harry Pottery and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling out from the library.

Her boys were not as eager as she was. But the mother used her magical mother-ways to convince them to read, “just one chapter.”

At the end of the chapter, her heart racing with delight, she turned to her sons and said, “Well…? Should we go on?

“Nah,” they replied and started to wrestle.

But the mother did not teeter into that pit of hopelessness. She had become strong in her years of trying. She simply put a bookmark in the book and made them sit down and read the next night. And the next. And the next.

And slowly, slowly, they asked for two chapters. Then three.

The mother felt wickedly delighted in denying their pleas, telling them “No, it’s time for bed. But we will read more tomorrow!” knowing that they were hooked.

And so the boys grew to love Harry, Ron, and “the girl.” They hated Snape and wished to turn him into a toad. They were terrified of Voldemort. (They couldn’t remember who Neville was, and referred to Malfoy as “the bully” but the mother let those details slide).

And last night, they finished the WHOLE BOOK, A WHOLE CHAPTER BOOK.

IMG_5099

It bears repeating: The girl who loved stories was able to share that love with her sons and they read a WHOLE BOOK TOGETHER. And the boys loved it too.

In fact, as one of her sons said, “That was amazing! And now we can read the next one.”

And the heart of the girl who loved stories was very, very full.

The End.

Posted in Autism, boys, Expectations, Family Fun, Mom Confessions, Uncategorized

Stupid Expectations and No Perspective

I like to write these lovely, thoughtful blog posts about my experiences and the perspective I gain from them about my kids, my life, myself.

I got nothin’ today.

Mostly, I just feel really irritated right now.

I do it to  myself, I know I do. I make plans and I build up these little day dreams–expectations–in my mind of how my plans will turn out, the fun we will have, the memories we will make.
And 9/10 it never works out (I would say 10/10 but I am trying to fight my own pessimism right now).

I signed our family up for The Compassion Experience a few weeks ago. It is an interactive walking exhibit where you hear the story of a child from a developing country–their home life, their school, their families, their struggles, hopes and dreams. The stories are based on real people.

I was excited to share this experience with the boys and was hoping that it would open their world up a little bit to the lives of children around the world and also help them to gain compassion for others and gratefulness for what they have.

Good Lord. Right there ^^ Those were my expectations. When will I learn?

We arrived in time for our preregistered time slot. I don’t know why I even bothered to register because the line was almost out the door. We had to wait a long time.

Waiting and my boys do not work well together. They were falling all over each other and trying to use the barricades straps like a sling shot. Benji was determined to unhook the ropes.

Then–

“I do want to do this!”
“It will be fun! You get to wear ear phones–”
“No! I do not want to wear ear phones. I hate ear phones!”
“I know this is new. Can we try something new?”
“No!”
“Let’s try.”
“No! NO NO NO!
“Ok, buddy. If you don’t want to wear the earphones, you don’t have to. I’ll tell you what the story says.”

^^This is life with an 8 year old with sensory issues.

By the time we got to the front of the line, he wanted to wear the earphones. Lots of angst for nothing. That is the story of my life.
We had to wait some more.
More trying to unhook ropes.
Benji asked at least 10 time if if was our turn yet.
The earphones kept slipping off Silas’ head.
I was holding Eli in the wrap, while he flirted with the college girls and tried to eat the cord from my ear phones.

Finally we went in.

You are supposed to push play on your personal ipod and listen to each section in a assigned room of the exhibit.
Benji flung curtains aside and rushed through room after room. We had to chase him down and pull him back to room 1.
In room two, he started touching everything and holding up things he found around room.

“What’s this?”
“Put it down. This is look-only”
“What’s this?”
“Stop touching! STOP!”

Meanwhile, Silas’ earphones continue to fall off every 12 seconds.

We finally reach the end. Thank God. We had to get out of there.

There were 3 more exhibits.

I realized another one of my expectations was to visit all the exhibits and have a discussion with boys, comparing the lives of all the children and then talking about our own home, family and school.

Micah and Benji were pumped up.

“Can we do Jonathan?”
“I wanna do another one! Please? Please please?”

Aaron and I were maxed out. It had been 40 minutes of pure stress.
_mg_2877
We said no.

Our children were understanding and walked calmly to the car.  The boys pitched a fit. Benji started to run away and I ended up holding on to the sleeve of his coat (he pulled his arm out of his sleeve so I couldn’t hold his hand) in order to deliver him to the car safely.

“What did you guys think?”
“It was AWESOME!”
“Well, great! What did you learn?”
“Kiwi lived in China!”
“It was actually the Philippines.”
“Would you like to live in a bamboo house?”
“No.”

The end.

On the way home, we stopped to wash all the salt and dirt of the car at a car wash. The boys begged to try the “New Car Wash” on Wards Road.

We gave in.

This car wash is like the Disney World of car washes. It had lights, graphics, colored soaps, smells, huge brushes.

Benji was in sensory heaven.

“This is the BEST DAY EVER!”

#FirstWorldDelights

All I could do was shake my head, my eyes wide and my mouth shut as we drove home, comparing the Compassion Experiences, which was a huge, fat fail, and the psychedelic car wash, which was a huge hit.

This is my life.

So, the moral of the story is, don’t build up expectations, especially if your kids have unpredictable sensory issues, who hate to try new things, or who are really too small to wear earphones.

We’re planning our next family outing to the Car Wash. At least everyone was strapped down, we didn’t have to wait, and there were no ear phones involved.

Posted in Autism, boys, kids, life, Mom Confessions, Motherhood, Special Needs, Uncategorized, WAHM

A Day in the Life of the Meng Family

I wish there was a numeric formula for a good day. Here’s a peek into my yesterday. It wasn’t such a good day…but it was pretty Normal.

Here’s a Day in the Life of the Meng Family.

7:43. Wake up
How many times the baby woke up last night: 2
Number of children going to school today: 0
Number of showers taken: 0
Number of breakfasts served: 5
Number of Netflix shows allowed for the day: 2

Number of little brothers the twins need to watch while I posts announcements to blackboard in my bedroom: 2

Number of minutes wasted trying to unsuccessfully post a video to my classes: 12
Number of minutes I spend on Pintrest reading articles about High Functioning Autism: 18
Number of minutes it takes to post announcements: 5

Articles of clothing soaked in pee by Silas: 2
Loads of dirty laundry started: 1
Loads of clean laundry to fold: 2

9:40: The time I remember that I am supposed to write a “Day in the Life” post

Number of bounces for this baby boy: 1,000

IMG_4988

Eli: 1
Trashcan: 0

Number of dishes loaded into the dishwasher: 37
Number of good memories from our dinner party with 3 college girls last night: too many to count

Temperature outside: 17
Minutes it takes me to thaw the chickens’ water: 5

IMG_4984

One scale of 1-10, how much this counter top is driving me crazy: 11

IMG_4992

On a scale of 1-10, how happy does this job-well-done make me: 20

Number of texts Aaron sent me this morning: 11

IMG_4991

Number of items Eli pulled out from under the sink while I cleaned: See picture above

11:00
Number of children I try to convince to do a Kid Kickboxing DVD: 3
Number of children excited about said DVD: 1
Number of remotes missing: 1
Number of confessions that missing remote was thrown in the trash because it “had no batteries”: 1
Number of minutes I spend yelling at my child: 1.5
Number of minute I spend repairing the self-esteem of sad child after yelling at him: 10

Number of seconds we all enjoy doing the Kickboxing DVD: 23
Number of children screaming at each other because “he is in my space!”: 3

Number of babies wanting to nurse and nap: 1
Number of THUNKS and STOP IT’s coming from the living room while I nurse the baby: 18
Number of minutes it takes to get Eli to sleep: 7

Number of fits thrown by Benji because the DVD is “not real karate,” the jump rope won’t work” and the daily routine is out of whack: 4

Level of irritation I feel before lunch: 9/10

Number of times I apologize for snapping at Micah: 1
Number of times he “does NOT forgive me”: 1

Temperature set on the oven for chicken nuggets: 400

11: 55.

Number of minutes Eli naps before waking up again: 25
Number of minutes I nurse Eli to get him back to sleep: 9
Number of articles of clothing soaked in pee by Silas: 2 (4 if you count a hand towel and bathmat)

Level of sweetness from Benji when he asks to help me peel carrots for lunch: 10/10

IMG_4993

Number of lunches served: 4

Level of handsome for my husband before he goes to an interview at 1pm: 10/10

IMG_4995

Level of cute for me in this picture (taken by Benji): 2/10

IMG_4997

How much I am looking forward to naptime for both Silas and Eli: 10/10
Number of books I agree to read to Silas: 1
Number of books I really read after feeling guilty for being irritated at him about dragging his feet about going to bed: 2

1:00

Number of pages left in Silas’ book when I hear Eli wake up again: 1
Number of minutes I spend trying to unsuccessfully get Eli back to sleep: 14
Number of minutes spent on facebook, trying to regain my sanity: 10

1:23.

Number of minutes spent on the phone with Aaron after his interview as he drives home: 10
Number of minutes we spend rehashing all the good moments of the interview before he goes back to work: 30

Level of sweetness in catching Micah reading “Harold and the Purple Crayon” to Benji: 10/10

IMG_4998

2:00
Number of minutes spent picking up the living room: 12
Number of minutes spent watching “Worst Cooks in America: 30
Baskets of laundry folded: 3

IMG_4999

Number of minutes spent picking up the living room again: 10
Number of times Micah and Benji ask if their friends, coming over at 3pm, “are here yet”: 37

3:15
Number of boys playing at my house: 6
Number of tea mugs sipped by myself and my friend: 2
Number of Legos on my living room floor: 1,000,000
Number of minutes all the boys play happily together: 60

Number of fits/meltdowns Benji has in the next hour: 7
Number of times he runs out of the house without coat or shoes: 2

Temperature outside: 21

Level of patience I have for Benji: 9/10

5:15: Friends leave and Aaron comes home from work.

My level of exhaustion before dinner: 7/10
Fits thrown by Benji before dinner: 5
Level of patience I have for Benji: 4/10

Minutes I spend making dinner: 25
Number of children who say “YUCK! I DON”T WANT TO EAT THAT DINNER!”: 1
Number of children who refuse to eat dinner and would rather go to bed instead: 1
Number of children at the table who refuse to eat broccoli: 1

Number of teeth we notice Eli has coming in: 1

Number of minutes Aaron spends with Benji lying with him in bed: 15
Number of minutes I spend with Micah, who tearfully tells me that Benji is a “selfish jerk”: 60
Level of sadness at hearing him say this: 10/10
Number of times I disagree with Micah: 0
Number of times I urge Micah to pray for Benji, love Benji, and seek to understand Benji: 15

7:15
Number of baths given: 3
My level of exhaustion: 10/10
Number of stories read: 0
Number of hugs and kisses given: 8

7:48
Number of children in bed: 4
Number of minutes I try to write a blog post: 90
Number of times Eli wakes up while I try to blog: 4
Number of milliliters of Advil we give to Eli: .5
Number of blog posts published last night: 0

Number of chapters read in The Sword of Summer: 2
Level of thankfulness that tomorrow is a new day: 10/10


So, how does a day in our life compare to a day in yours?

Posted in boys, Christianity, kids, My Motherhood

Planting Seeds

I am terrible at growing plants. I have killed every plant I have ever tried to nurture.

I mean, I KILLED A CACTUS, ya’ll. True story.

I am a terrible plant mother. I am a better real mother. I mean, the jury is still out…but to date, all my kids are still alive. 😉

I think a lot about being a good mother, not just in the clothes/food/exercise/school/sleep departments but in raising my boys to be good men, men that love others and love God.

I want them to know God and follow Jesus when they’re ready. So I take them to church, and we fold our hands before meals, and talk about how Jesus lived and loved, died and rose again.

Most of the time, I feel like they aren’t listening, like somehow my “preaching,” and praying, and showing The Way isn’t reaching their hearts.

But I keep trying.

Like for Easter this year, I decided to try Something New. I had high hopes for Something New, like the Something New would result in this special moment in my sons’ spiritual education and relationship with God.

This is how it went:

Our church put together a contemplative walk for Easter Week. A couple from our church invited families to walk the trails in their woods marked with 14 stops, each with a chair for sitting, thinking, praying, and reading selected scripture from the last hours of Christ, ending with his death and burial. The story, of course, would be finished on Easter Sunday. Our pastor put together booklets with the scripture and invited people to come walk the trail.

Since my boys really are not huge fans of sitting still (or traditional church stuff), I though, “Wow! This could be great! It is really active. We can read the Bible! This is gonna be good.”

So on Good Friday, I loaded up all 4 of my little guys in the car: two 7 year olds, a 2 year old and a 3 month old.

The boys were ready to RUN! The pastor greeted us when we got there and tried to explain the walk  as I squished the baby into the front carrier, kept one hand on Silas, and kept telling Micah and Benji to WAIT FOR ME! THANKS FOR THE PAMPHLET! K’ BYE!

And we were off!

We made our first stop. The boys fought over who would sit in the chair while I quickly scanned the scripture passage (wow! This is really long…ok! Paraphrase! Paraphrase!) Whoops! Ok, we’re off to stop #2!

And speaking of #2….before we were even 10 minutes in the woods, I hear this phrase from my 7 year old:

“Mom. I gotta go.”
“Honey! Pee or poop?” Please be pee…!
“Poop.”

Gah! NOOO! This is the child who coined the frantic phrase “IT’S COMING CLOSER!!!”

I thought we were going to have to squat by a tree while other church members passed us by, contemplating their Good Friday in silent prayer. Don’t mind us! Just a little pooping going on here! But…a miracle happened.

“Don’t worry. I can hold it.”

After asking “Are you sure?” six times, we continued our walk.

Or run, I should say. The boys were going FAST. We kept catching and passing people on the trail.  “Ok, boys.” I reminded them. “People are thinking about Jesus and praying. Let’s….ok! Listen! Let’s BE QUIET!!!”

We got to stop 6….and it started to rain. Oh….great.
It was just sprinkling. BUT I was alone in the woods with four children and we had 8 stops left to go.

“Uhh…I think we should go back, boys. It’s rain–“

“No, Mom! No! It’s ok! Let’s go!

So we went. I kept going, the rain-spattered scripture pamphlet in one hand, and a yellow race car and snack cup full of goldfish–compliments of Silas–in the other hand.

Despite the rain, it was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk.
There was a stream.
There were trees.
There were rocks.
There were big splashes.
There was dirt.
And sticks.
And sword fighting….all while I struggled to read them Bible verses about how Jesus prayed in the garden, was kissed and betrayed, then beaten and mocked, taken to the cross.

“Listen.” I urged. “Let’s listen!”

It started to rain a bit harder. The boys found a big rock and threw it in a mud puddle. SPLESCH! It made a great noise.

This is hopeless. They aren’t hearing anything I’m saying.

Silas kept falling down. Eli was slobbering all over the wrap because he wanted to nurse.

The boys kept running. “Woo hoo! This is the best day EVER!”

I was struggling to keep up. Why did I wear skinny jeans and nude flats for a walk in the woods? What is wrong with me?!

It was really raining now. Silas was crying because he fell down…again.

Ok, boys. Ok. Alright…here. Last stop! ‘And they…um..they laid him in a tomb.’ That’s like a cave where they put people when they die. A man named Joseph gave the tomb to Jesus…ok…and we’re off again!”

We made it back to the car. The pastor asked, “How was it?”

I laughed a little bit. “Well, it was a little–DON’T GET MUD ON THE SEATS–it was a little crazy. I am not sure how much they heard. But they seemed to enjoy it.”

He smiled. “Well, you’re planting seeds.”

And I smiled back and nodded. And then I dashed to put all those little boys in the car because it was REALLY raining by this time.

Planting seeds. There must be a reason Jesus used that metaphor in his parables. Planting is dirty work, and pretty boring. There’s a lot of waiting, and hoping, and wondering if anything is going to come up.

There is nothing super-spiritual about the act of planting a seed.  Just poke a hole, push the seed in, cover it up, brush the dirt off on your skinny jeans, and hope for the best.

I turned on the windshield wipers and backed out of the drive way. I glanced at the clock: we walked for almost an hour.

“That was awesome, Mom!”
“Yeah. This is my favorite day.”

I decided to gamble a question: “Do you guys remember anything we talked about while we walked?”

“Uh…about how Jesus died on the cross?”
“Yes! That’s right! Anything else?”
“Yeah, he healed that guy’s ear that got cut off with the sword! Right?”
“Yes! Right!”
“And he wore a crown of sticks on his head.”
“Thorns…!”
“Yeah, thorns. And then he went in the cave. And then he rose from the dead!”
“Anything else?”
“Uh…no. That’s all.”

I smiled. That’s all.

It wasn’t some big spiritual breakthrough or deep conversations or special prayers or warm fuzzies. There was dirt and rocks, sticks and slow-down, crying and falling, yellow cars and goldfish, shushing and slobbering, poop-scares and rain. There was so much…Human.

And that’s what He came for.

That’s all.

Planting seeds…it’s enough.

Posted in boys, My Motherhood, Valentines Day

EASY DIY Stained Glass Valentines

I really like Valentine’s Day because well…CRAFTY. However, my boys do not like CRAFTY so I have to be really tricky creative to get them to do crafts. The most important quality of any craft we do is that it has to be EASY.

So, I give you the boy-friendly (and beautiful!)…. 

Stained Glass Valentines

Supplies:
Printer Paper (or card stock) This was a what-do-I-have-in-the-house-craft so I used printer paper
Tissue Paper (So glad I am a gift bag/tissue paper hoarder!)
Contact paper
Scissors

 First, cut the printer paper into quarters. Then tear the tissue paper (any colors you want/have!) into small pieces. The boys really liked this part.
Fold each quarter paper in half and cut out a heart. 
  
We are making these Valentines for the boys’ classmates so the boys wrote the name of each classmate and their names on each one.
 Cut a piece of contact paper. Peel off the back and place the sticky side up on a table.  Carefully stick each heart shape piece name-side down on the contact paper. 
Cover with tissue paper!!!
Have fun! Go nuts! Be Valentine-y!
Cover the the cards with another piece of contact paper and smooth down carefully, trying to avoid air pockets.
Cut out each card. 
DONE!
Pat yourself on the back and admire your craftyness and the fact that you tricked your sons into enjoying a craft.  
Give your Valentines to your friends.
Or hang them in the window!
HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
Posted in birthday, boys, kids, life

Happy 2nd Birthday, Silas!

I can’t believe my baby boy is TWO!! Wow, the years fly by.

My handsome little man

Silas is our little sunshine. He is such a happy boy and loves to make people laugh by performing, imitating people, and being silly.

My silly squwinchy picture face!

Just tonight at dinner he did all three:
Dancing to Pandora music (complete with head-wagging, squwinched up eyes, and mouth wide open!)
Imitating Daddy after a big burp (lovely. Also, one of his favorite things to imitate)
Pulling his bib half way up over his face and pretending it was a “mask”

Probably my most recent picture of him. He is going to be a dragon for Halloween.

That’s our Silas!

I actually was a terrible mom on his birthday. We didn’t even do cake and candles! (I KNOW! TERRIBLE MOM!!!) His birthday was on a Friday and I was at the tail-end of two frantic weeks of work and volunteering. I was wiped out.

In a perfect world, I would have made him Shepherd’s Pie (one of his favorite meals) and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. And we would have eaten dinner as a family and sang to him and taken pictures while he blew out his 2 candles.

But, instead, I was laid out on the couch in all my 7 month pregnancy glory, nursing aching hips and back, waiting for my husband to get home from an out-of-town golf tournament at 7:30pm. I ordered pizza and let the boys watch “The Swiss Family Robinson.” (odd…I feel a strange kinship with the mother in that movie). And the batteries in my camera died so no pictures….:(

Wait! I had ONE redeeming moment: I made Silas a puppy for his birthday and he LOVES it.

He named it “Puppy!” and it has become his new essential sleeping partner, along with his “Cat-Cat” and “Ki-Ki” (Blankie). So, win for mommy! (I think I am still -100 though).

So, who is Silas Edward Meng at 2 years old? Here are some of his favorite things:

Food: Scrambled eggs, sausage (or SAUSAGE!!! as he calls it) banana (which he call “la-lan-na”), fruit/veggie pouches, cheese sticks, Lucky Charms cereal (aka. he eats the marshmallows out of the 1/4 cup I give him), chocolate milk (he will specifically ask for chocolate (a tsp of Ovalteen), peanut butter and jelly, and POTATOES! He is a good eater (most days)

I love chocolate…chocolate milk, chocolate chips, chocolate Popsicles…

Shows: Signing Time and SuperWHY (which he calls “Boy-Boy.” Go figure). Also, when we watch Netflix on our Wii, he has to hold a Wii remote himself. Typical male–has to have his own remote.

Favorite toys: “Cat-Cat” (his stuffed kitty), and anything that looks like or can be made into a gun. The child can make his own guns out of lego blocks. Seriously. Make it stop!! 😮

Favorite books: The Foot Book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and In my Little Blue Bed. Silas loves to read!!

Special things about Silas: He is SUPER observant. He will run and tell us if anything is “off” in his world: the oven timer is beeping? Quick! The microwave display is flashing? OH NO! Fix it!!  Daddy shaved his beard? He will mention it 7 times a day for 2 weeks.

I LOVE to help mommy cook! I sit on the counter every day while she is making dinner. I am very good at letting her know that the timer is going off NOW.

He also will bring me or Aaron our shoes when it is time to go (or he wants to go). He is great about finding a matching pair and will bring them to us wherever we are in the house.

He will also tell us right away if he made a “mess! mess!,” whether he spilled cereal or paper clips, or colored on his arms or the wall with marker. Thankfully, he is usually a good sport about cleaning up too (usually).

See the “mess! mess!” I made with mommy’s mascara?

Recent New Words: Saying “Wha-?” when we call him.  
Saying “‘mere! ‘mere!” when he wants someone to come look at something (come here!)
Saying “Shiiiny” in a really funny (and slightly creepy) voice when he finds something sparky or shiny that he loves.
He is saying new things every week! This age is so much fun.

I love playing outside!!

Of course, with a 2 year old, there are the obvious not-so-fun things too. He throws a typical amount of fits for a toddler over the usual things:
My granola bar broke. Woe is me!
I asked for milk and you gave me milk. WAHHH!
I do not want to come. I will run away.
I want to eat all the things 10 minutes before dinner is ready–banana? cracker? chocolate? fruit snack? Please? no? Bahhhhhhh!
Mommy must hold me standing up. It is not the same when she sits. STAND UP, woman!
Brothers want to watch their movie and not Signing Time even though I have watched Signing Time all day long.

Chocolate cupcake eating. Did I mention that I like chocolate? 

You know, the typical things. Thankfully, he has a sweet disposition and takes discipline to heart very quickly (a quick time-out in his bed and he is all “sowwy” and hugs) so that is really nice.

We all pretty much adore this little guy. He is loved 1000% every day by his mommy, daddy, and  big brothers.

I love Micah! He always makes me laugh!
We love you Silas!
Next year, I PROMISE to make you cupcakes, ok? xoxo little man!