Tuesday, March 31, 2015

19 Months-Kai

Missed the milestone, 18 months.  (Or at least I think I did.)

I love the way he giggles when you tickle around his collarbone and the inside of his thigh.  It's a wonderous belly laugh.

I love how his face lights up when he sees his siblings.  He is quick to run to them and give them a hug too.  While it is easy to doubt your sanity when you have four clustered pretty close together in age, seeing them love each other is one of the true joys of being a parent to these four.  They are not so much older that they are too busy for him but not too young to really "get" what it means to be siblings.

Kai is really interested in Bo.  He often pets him (pat, pat) and will deliberately interact with him by sitting down beside the dog on the floor.  If Bo is sitting at the patio doors wanting out or in, Kai will come get a grown up and show them that Bo needs out.  He also loves balls and climbing.  He is a dare devil who is always trying to figure out how to climb higher and who doesn't have much fear.  The bath and water are also still favorites of his.  He rarely gets out of the bath without a tantrum because he is not ready to get out.

At his check up this week, the short genes have apparently caught up with him.  The kiddo who was in the 75% for height is now back into the 35% which seems much more likely given who his parents are.  He is also in the 25% for weight, weighing in at not quite 24 1/2 pounds; he is just not a chunky guy at all.  He only has seven teeth.

He is definitely getting to be more of a two year old.  When he's mad, he's mad.  When he is mad, it is almost always over being told he can't do something.  When he is doing something questionable, he looks to see if a grown up is looking.  When he likes a food, he likes it.  When he has decided he doesn't want that food anymore, he is so over it.  He likes to eat eggs, yogurt, cheese, and raisins.  (Nothing you want your toddler eating in great quantities.)  He was also quite fond of graham crackers but that love affair appears to be waning.

Kai is still kind of a man of few words.  He babbles constantly.  He has said about 15-20 words (Bo, dog, woof, no, owie, Nay Nay for Conleigh, Kenson, Papa, Mama, hello, bye bye, more, ball, and all done) but may only say one word during any given day.  And some of those words that he has previously said, he hasn't used in months.  He understands lots of things and it's fun watching him understand more and more, to be able to tell him to go get his shoes and see him pull open the right dresser drawer or to ask "where's your head?" and have him point at his head.

The hair is still in question.  It's much thicker in back and he doesn't have much hair across his forehead.  In the sun, it is decidely redder.  But inside it often looks dirty blonde.  His blue blue eyes often get compliments.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Photo Dump Quiz

Name one pitfall of being the dog in a house with small children.

If one brother is in the tree, what does the other one want to be doing?

What happened to the little monkey just after I snapped the picture?

Zeke's family portrait...can you figure out which one is Zeke

Any guesses as to what Bo might be thinking?

Friday, March 20, 2015

First Haitian Tap Tap To Race in Pinewood Derby

Extra!  Extra!  Our church's Awana club hosted a pinewood derby a few weeks ago so we spent that Saturday racing cars and eating chilli.  We definitely won no awards for speed but they had a great time.  The track set up was super high tech so you could actually watch each race play out on the big screen in the sanctuary, complete with sound effects, a timed finish, and instant replay of the finish.

Conleigh wanted to do a Haitian tap tap.  I am sure about 99% of the people at church had no idea what hers was because so few people actually know what a tap tap is.  Tap taps are Haitian taxis.  Usually it's a pick up truck or bus that has been reinvented to cram as many people on it as possible.  They are always brightly painted and sometimes sport portraits of people.  And they always have a unique name, often written out in English, things like S*xy Lady or Mesi Jesus.  

Conleigh thought Happy Jesus seemed like an appropriate name.

No surprise that Zeke wanted a shark.

And the ever consistent, pretty predictable Kenson wanted a police car.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Truth in Parenting

A few highlights (or low lights) from the week...

Kai has a new love of toothbrushes.  Unfortunately, this new love is mostly about everyone else's toothbrushes.  So far this week, I have caught him using Conleigh's, Zeke's, and Kenson's.

4-7 is like crazy time at our house.  Between the kids getting home from school, Kai getting fussy because he is hungry and tired, and me making supper, chaos abounds.  I was trying to quell some of this by setting forth the expectations for the kids and going over what I wanted them to be doing.  I called all the kids into the kitchen for a pow wow.  As I was explaining things to them, I asked the question, "What is Mom going to be doing at 5 o'clock?"  To which Zeke replied "Yelling!"  Perhaps, perhaps, but the correct answer was cooking supper.

Discovering the real reason your sons have no clean pants is because they have been unloading their clean laundry into the dirty clothes basket and creating a lovely rat's nest of clean and dirty clothes that it literally about 4 feet high in their closet.  Also finding out that one son (probably not the one most would guess) has worn the same socks for three days in a row.

And then having your daughter tell you that she can't brush her teeth because her toothbrush is hard.  Upon inspection, you find a crustified toothbrush that hasn't possibly been used anytime in the last week (s).

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Mama Lovin'

For Valentine's Day, I left D notes around the house, spelling out Happy Heart Day.  The kids obviously knew about it and so this week, Zeke and Kenson decided that Mama needed to receive the same treatment.  So they made 6 notes and hid them around the house for me to find.  I've only found 5 so far, so one more to go.
D stuck his notes in the mirror and that's way they've stayed so Zeke thought one of his notes needed to there as well.
That's it, on the back of an old word search.

This actually says "Octopus".  And the D means "Dear Zeke".  He almost has it down.

And this?  Well it's just a random picture of the baby, that definitely makes my heart smile too.  He loves this old Easter hat.  I've also resigned myself to having mostly blurry pictures of Kai because he never wants to sit still for a photo.

Monday, March 2, 2015

And Yet: Parenting Potential

I wrote a bit the other day about parenting challenges.  I personally think most parents find it very hard to be vulnerable and authentic about their parenting struggles.  It is hard to say "my kid is struggling right now and so am I."  As some Facebook friends added to my bloggy conversation, it reminded me of so many things I have often thought about regarding parenting challenges.

Let me share one of the things I think my husband and I both struggle with in terms of parenting.

It is so hard to walk the line between holding your kids to high expectations and letting them be individuals who fail, who make mistakes, who ultimately learn from those mistakes.  We both are teachers by trade.  We see a wide variety of kids who are being parented with a wide variety of parenting styles, and it is really hard to watch kids struggle daily because there is no structure and consistency at home.  We don't want that for our kids.  We also have a Biblical background that says learning to live within boundaries and learning to live under authority (ultimately God's authority) matters.  We don't want our kids to become adults who struggle with rebellion and make bad choices, who assume the rules don't apply to them.  We also view life through the lens of loving others, that loving others is the second greatest commandment and that how we treat others matters a lot.  We don't want our children to treat others poorly be it a friend, a family member, or a stranger.

Yet, we know that discipline has to take into account individuality.  We believe that each of our kids was created in a unique, purposeful way, where certain traits are innate within them.  So often those personality traits are also their Achilles' heels, an easily manipulated weakness.   For me, I also maintain a strong belief that discipline is not about punishment, that it is instead about learning, that discipline is always about a child's heart.

So how do you let your kids spread their wings and make their own choices, albeit poor ones, while guiding and training them to be a loving, responsible adult?  It is so hard to correct without crushing, to limit without boxing in, to offer consistency and yet grace.

Throw in a child who is struggling, who repeats and repeats and repeats a behavior and it is easy to doubt yourself as a parent.  We want our kids to "get it" right now.  We see a child's struggle with repeated sin as indicative of our ineffectiveness as a parent.  In a sense, our parenting becomes a source of pride, where we puff out our chest and attribute our child's great behavior to our own genius and our child's failures to our ineptitude.

We forget that our kids are spiritual creatures who struggle with sin just like we do.  I am quick to anger and yet I want my children to always respond with gentleness.  I am careless with my words, quick to blurt out something that has not been thought through and yet I want my children to tame their own tongues and stifle their initial responses.  I am apt to criticize rather than encourage and yet I fault my children for finding fault with others.  I grumble under my breath and complain about small inconveniences and yet I hate it when my children whine or get huffy over things that frustrate them.

This Sunday, we did a bit of family time where we talked about sin and guilt.  Part of my motivation in choosing that was because I have a couple kids who can easily take sin and internalize it as shame and guilt.  We did a quick race around the house with a backpack.  The first time each child raced with an empty backpack.  The second time, I dropped in two five pound weights to symbolize guilt and talked about how guilt changes the way we operate.  We shared the story of Peter and his denial of Jesus and then read the story of Jesus confirming Peter's love for His savior and friend as well as confirming Peter's new purpose to feed His sheep.  I had never really thought about Peter as someone who should have been a prime candidate for guilt and shame.  How easy it would have been for him to have looked at his denials with intense guilt, to assume that his failures marked him forever?  And yet, Jesus saw it differently.  Jesus didn't look at Peter's behavior and abandon him.  Jesus didn't lecture, ask questions, or assume that Peter was destined for a life of apostasy.  Instead, Jesus loved him.  Jesus knew his failures, which were pretty big, and looked not at that, but instead at Peter's potential.

"Feed my sheep."

Do what I have created you to do.

And so for my kids, may my heart be more like Jesus.  More of seeing the potential of who they were created to be.  More of recognizing that failures, even big ones, even failures in a series of failures, are not fatal.  More of knowing that they are fighting some of the same battles that I am with my attitude, my tongue, my heart.