Wednesday, July 30, 2014

7 Things that Help Our Kids Get Along

Our kids fight, because we are NORMAL, but the other day, their Sunday school teacher commented on how much they care for each other. This teacher told my husband that she hopes her kids will someday love each other as much as ours do. Her sweet words really got me thinking.

We are just your average family, with three kids, all close in age. They DO fight, but yes, on most days they really DO play together well. They are friends. They look after each other and even though my life feels crazy most of the time, I wouldn't have it any other way. I always hesitate to write posts like this because I never want to come across as having it all together. So, with the disclaimer that we are far, far, very, very, far from perfect, here are my Top 7 Things that Help Our Kids Get Along.

1. Be home together. 
By far, this the biggest one for our family. Nothing makes my kids fight like being on the go too much and if you think about it, this makes sense. To be friends with someone, you need to spend time with them. Yes? You need to learn about them and understand who they are. The same thing is true for siblings. When our kids are home together, they learn to play together. I don't entertain them all day, or hardly at all for that matter, so it's up to them to learn to play well and be each other's friend. Good relationships take being together and when we're home together, we have time to build those relationships.

2. Encourage them to serve each other.
This is another huge one for our family. Service...Oh, I love this one. Once you start looking for ways to teach your kids to serve each other, you'll notice the opportunities everywhere. Every morning, I have the kids make their beds. Not perfect, but acceptable for how old they are. To serve one another, often Judah will make Paisley's bed and Paisley will make his. When they do this, I go crazy praising them for how kind it was! Think over the top praise---me jumping around and clapping (because they need that).

 At lunch time, they serve each other lunch. After lunch, they can clean up the other person's spot at the table. They can help a younger sibling put on shoes. When we get somewhere, I have Judah unbuckle Paisley's car seat, since she isn't strong enough to push the buckle yet. At bedtime, they can get each other's toothbrush ready. All day long there are opportunities for serving one another and every time they help each other, I make a BIG fuss about what a nice brother or sister they are. This is constantly teaching them how good it feels to do something nice and it's also teaching the recipient how to show gratitude towards the person who's been kind.

3. Be okay with giving the older ones responsibilities with the younger ones.
One of the things I've loved about having kids close in age is the opportunity for the older ones (who at our house, are still very young) to learn how to care for the younger ones. Judah who is 5 can do simple things like hold Eliza for a moment, get her cup or bring her a toy. Often when I'm changing her diaper, I'll have Paisley sing her a song or bring me baby wipes. These little responsibilities show the kids that it feels good to help out and that the world isn't only about them.

4. Don't solve all their problems.
At our house, I've been really working with the kids on trying to work it out together first and then come and talk to me, if that doesn't work. I want them to be problem solvers and with practice, I believe they can. If we, as parents are always stepping in, then they don't have the opportunity to learn how to solve things on their own.

5. Let them know that they are part of a team.
When all else fails, I want our kids to know that they are part of a big team called Their Family. No matter what, they have a group of people who unconditionally have their back. These team members are Mom, Dad and their brother and sisters. When they play together, they're playing with a team mate. When they fight, they're fighting with a team mate. Lately, I've been inspired to emphasis that we need to be a strong team and strong teams are built with amazing members who build each other up.

6. Let them have their space.
Sometimes someone needs to play Legos alone or someone else needs to go have some time by herself. We all need quiet moments to least I know I do! Space is good and it's good for a kid to be able to recognize when they need that quiet time alone. I think our job as parents is to help them be aware of those times when they need quiet play time and to encourage it, without making them feel like it's a punishment.

7. Teach them to support each other.
Nothing feels better than when someone you love cheers for you. When Eliza was learning how to walk, Judah and Paisley were over the moon excited for her and she just about bursted with pride when they'd clap for her. It's good to show our kids how fun it can be to support each other. Excitement is contagious and as the Mama, I've been convicted that I need to work more diligently on this one.

So, what about you, what would you add to this list?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dear Zucchini Pallet Garden

Dear Zucchini Pallet Garden,
I didn't know how this would all work out. It was a last minute thing, free pallets, the need for more garden space and composted wood chips to use, instead of good soil. We went for it though and hey, I really like you so far.

Now we're nearing August and you are like a jungle...a big, thick viney jungle of miscellaneous zucchini, pumpkins, spaghetti squash and butternut squash. When I go hunting around to see what's ready for dinner, it's like the best kind of treasure hunt.

Tonight we had one of my all time summer favorites, Zucchini Pizza Slices. I blogged the recipe last year HERE and it never disappoints. If you're up to your ears in zucchini, maybe this will help you out.

What have you been eating from your garden lately?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Just Because

For every moment that I feel like I should be all caught up on baby books and have perfectly organized photo albums on our shelves....
For every moment that I feel like my words aren't enough or that my photos should be better....
For every moment that I wonder if my life is enough to share in this space....

I remember that EVERY life is worth sharing and I remember why I started this little blog in the first place. 

To document our simple and sweet life. This life with these wonderful gifts. 
If you want to write, take photos and keep track of your memories, can I just encourage you to not let perfectionism stand in your way? Live beautifully and then share it, imperfectly- because none of us are perfect.

Today something happened. 
A complete stranger walked up to me and handed me two quilts. Just like that. She smiled at me and right there in the middle of a tiny little fair, asked me if I wanted these quilts that she sewed. She was short, with gray hair and glasses and she told me that she makes these quilts to give away as baby blankets. Apparently she saw that we have a few small children on our hands.... Um yeah, people tend to notice.

I almost cried, you guys. I mean, who does that? In the news and on Facebook and in conversations, we always hear about the bad stuff. The people we need to watch out for, the scary things. And then we go to a tiny little fair, where we pet ducks, hold rabbits and fall in love with baby pigs and as we walk to buy corn dogs and greasy fair fries, a sweet old lady comes up to us and gives us two quilts that she sewed with love. Just because.
 Her kindness makes me want to be extra kind, just because.

A few moments from our weekend.
The newest member of our dress up clan. 

Friday night, Paisley and I had a date at the Farmer's Market. It had been a long day and I'd planned on going alone, just for a quick bouquet of flowers, after Daddy got home, but when I started to head out, she asked if she could come. Reluctantly, I said yes and I'm so glad I did. Walking with her around the Farmer's Market was way better than walking around by myself. I thought I needed time alone---what I really needed was a date with her.
Flowers from the market will be our new thing.

Today we went to the tiny little fair and enjoyed every smell, snort, moo, neigh, tractor sound, greasy fry and friend that we saw. The kids entered a few little things and were super excited when we went into the exhibit hall today and saw ribbons on their entries.

The rabbits get me every year. I think we need one...hello husband? Hear that?

Hoping you had a great weekend,

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dear Jumping Boy

Dear Jumping Boy,
This afternoon, life slowed down for a few moments while I stood and cheered for you, while you jumped off anything that looked high and exciting. After a week that felt overwhelming full, this quieted my heart. The way you just go for it is such a thrill for me to watch. It doesn't scare me, because I see you learning how to make good choices and learning to be brave.

You know that your Mama tends to get easily overwhelmed and watching you today reminded me that when I'm doing what I know God intended me to do, (like being still for a moment and cheering for you), I find that calmness that's sometimes so hard for me to find. This summer has felt crazier that I intended and being outside with you today was a huge moment of peace. Thank you for helping your Mama find a moment of quiet, when things felt like they were piling on too fast.

Thank you for wanting to jump off high things and for being a crazy boy. Thank you for wanting to run, climb and be adventurous. Thank you for asking me to watch and for teaching me daily what it's like to raise a boy. I'm so completely crazy about all of this. Keep jumping, keep asking me to watch and keep on going for it.


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