10 Signs That Your 4-Year-Old is Smarter Than You or Your Spouse

10. During lunch your 4-year-old informs you that the strawberries you are eating are the only fruit that has seeds on the outside, and you realize for the first time that those little things on strawberries are seeds.

9. When you tell your 4-year-old that you’re not exactly sure how the doctor got his baby sister out of your tummy, he replies exasperated, “Mom!  You were there!

8. Your 4-year-old has tested your understanding of the Trinity by asking, “How did Jesus make people when He was a baby here (as in ‘not in heaven’)?” You are tempted to just tell him about sex instead.

7. When his sister says she sees a cow as you drive by a pasture, your 4-year-old exclaims, “I see a Yak!”  Your husband and you then spend five minutes debating with each other what a yak is.

6. You scold your four-year-old for disconnecting the wires from his daddy’s speakers and then watch attentively as he rewires them.

5. You didn’t know how to use the ipod on your iphone until your four-year-old showed you.

4. You thought you showed your four-year-old who’s boss by throwing out the rest of his Easter candy after he repeatedly snuck treats only to find out that he anticipated your moves and hid his own reserve stash.  He’s the boss.

3. You try to avoid a temper tantrum by not telling your four-year-old that your husband and you are going to a baseball game for a date.  When he asks where you are going, you reply, “It’s a surprise” to which he replies, “But I’m not going to be there!  How can I be surprised?”

2. Your four-year-old still knows who ran for president from both parties in the last election; meanwhile, it takes you three chances to call your children by the correct name.

1. When your four-year-old asks his daddy if the foot he is holding up is his left foot, your husband holds up his own thumb and forefinger on each hand to see which one makes the ‘L’ shape.

Check out more Top Ten lists every Tuesday at ohamanda.com!

Learning the Hard Way

I quit teaching a few years ago.   I could tell you all the reasons that I quit, but really, there was just one–teaching wasn’t my passion.  If it were, I could’ve dealt with all the problems that caused my frustration.  With that being said, one of the biggest frustrations for me during my time as a teacher was the lack of responsibility that the students (and parents, too) wanted to take for their own success or failure.

I didn’t enjoy carrying all the responsibility for a student’s failure, especially if that student missed eleven days in my class and failed to turn in every major writing assignment.  However, when I thought about this issue further, I realized that responsibility wasn’t the whole issue.

If my students were in a class that they enjoyed, they were happy to take responsibility for their work.  Likewise, when they did well, they wouldn’t hesitate to take credit for their success.  The issue wasn’t responsibility so much as it was this underlying idea that school shouldn’t be hard; if a class were difficult, then the teacher was doing something wrong.  Nothing in life worth doing should seem hard.

I remember feeling shocked after calling a parent whose daughter’s ‘A’ average was suddenly plummeting.  He informed me that she was very stressed from soccer.  And that was it.  He didn’t say that she needed to turn in her English assignments, that she needed to find a way to balance both.  He simply explained away why she wasn’t turning in her work without any reassurance that she would find a way to do better in my class.  Balancing her schedule demanded too much effort, was too difficult; therefore, not turning in assignments would make juggling priorities easier.

This tendency of my students to avoid the difficult shouldn’t have surprised me; our society perpetuates this idea that people shouldn’t struggle.  From government programs to weight loss gimmicks–even to different childbirth options–our society embraces fast and easy. I’m not suggesting that any of the above are bad, but finding something is hard isn’t necessarily bad, either.

In fact, many times pain, whether physical, mental, or spiritual, has a specific purpose. If  I grab a pot whose handle is hot, I will feel pain and let go before I severely burn my hand.  I know from my own life how Matt and I struggled when we couldn’t sell our home in Oklahoma.  As a result of those difficult four years, we arrived at an understanding about our finances that I’m not sure we would have had we not lived on so little for so long. Would I ever want to go through that experience again?  No, yet as a result of that experience, we learned lessons that we never would have learned had we not faced hard times.

As I was thinking through all the ways my students and society avoided anything hard, I had to do a little self-examination.  For all my preaching that difficult times are what really refine us,  I realized that I was no better than anyone else. While I might know, even experience, the good that comes out of the hard, I don’t want to deal with it.  I want my marriage to be perfect now, but I don’t want to bite my tongue before letting an unnecessary criticism leave my lips.  I want my children to respect me, but sometimes I want to look away when they do something wrong, leaving the discipline for another day when I have more energy. I can’t avoid difficult times, knowing they will find me, but I sure do try.

One night, I was praying over my baby as I rocked with her in her room.  For some reason, I remembered a poster that used to hang on the wall where I did gymnastics.  Nadia Comaneci was on the balance beam, holding her body in a pike position with all her support on her hands. On the poster the words read, “Don’t pray for an easy life.  Pray to be a strong person.”  I began praying those words for my daughter.

I need to repeat those words to myself every day, remembering that my reaction to the hard is what makes me better. And when my children see a mother who didn’t quit, who was tough and persevered when life was difficult, they will be better, too.

“We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us”  (Romans 5:3-5).

Sweaters and Rabbits

Today was a beautiful spring day. The sky was bright blue and cloudless, and the temperature was perfect.  The kids had their good and bad moments today, but the time we spent outside playing baseball while admiring the flowers and little buds appearing in our vegetable garden helped those bad moments to fade…

…until bedtime.  As the day came to a close, my level of fatigue rose, and my patience level dropped dramatically.  Knowing that Matt wouldn’t be home to help with the bedtime routine made the day seem that much longer, added to the fact that the kids seem to unravel after 5:00 p.m.  No one was listening, and I was tired of going up and down the stairs, corralling the kids back into their rooms.  How I miss the safety gates that were screwed into the walls prior to putting the house on the market!

I felt helpless as I was nursing Chloe in her room, trying to settle her into bed.  I knew every minute I spent in her room was one more minute that a sly child could sneak downstairs for Easter candy.  There was one of me, and three of them–what could I do?

As I prayed with Caleb and Hannah Grace in their respective rooms tonight, I felt burdened and fought back tears.  Why couldn’t I make my children obey?  Why did I struggle–even my ‘fun’ clean-up games failed–repeatedly when others seemed to triumph?

Caleb finally calmed down and was reading on the floor in his room, so I propped myself against the wall across from Hannah Grace’s room.  I knew she would try to escape many times. As she took a nap this afternoon, I didn’t expect her to actually fall asleep before 10:00.  True to form, she made her appearance in the hallway a half-dozen times or so, and I, as patiently as I could, redirected her to bed.

The last few times she came out of her room, she requested that I go rest in my own bedroom.  I assured her I would as soon as she stayed in her room.  That answer did not satisfy her.

A few minutes later, this little two-year-old appeared in the door frame with a heavy, crocheted sweater buttoned up to her neck, her strawberry-blonde hair falling in her face.

“Mommy, you make my feelings,” she stated matter-of-factly.

I had no idea what she meant.  Many times she had told me that I hurt her feelings, typically when she was in trouble, but she had never said this particular phrase before.

“Hannah Grace, I don’t know what that means,” I answered.

With a straight face, and without missing a beat, she replied, “I don’t like rabbits. Because you make my feelings; that’s why you need to go in your room.”

I immediately started to giggle. What in the world was she saying?!  And at that moment, I realized she didn’t have a clue.  Her brother and she were little and probably had as much an idea of why they did the things they did as I.

In that moment, through her cryptic message, I had a moment of clarity.  The good of the day, the accomplishment of beds (finally) being made by all, sweet moments when the kids all played nicely together, baseball outside in the warm sun, was still there.  And tomorrow would be another day full of more good, and probably a little bad, too, because, after all, there are three of them and one of me.

I pulled Hannah Grace to me, and we snuggled together down on the floor in the hallway. And as we lay quiet, together we drifted off to sleep.

Ten Indications that Your Husband is Away on Business for the Week

10. 15 minutes after stumbling out of bed, you catch your son sucking down Infant Tylenol–you know, the one with the child-proof cap.

9. You run down the stairs dressed but in bedroom slippers with your make-up half done in order to take out the trash, hoping to catch the garbage truck as it loops back around–a job your husband normally does when he is in town.

8. When you come back inside, you find that your daughter has the other half of your make-up on her face…and the new carpet.

7. Before the day is half over, you already are searching for the Superglue to fix the first broken object of the day.

6. None of the three children takes a nap today.

5. You get to clean pee off the kitchen counter (yes, you just read ‘pee’ and ‘kitchen counter’ in the same sentence).

4. You discover you CAN remove red permanent marker from the inside of a white cabinet if you scrub with all the fury you can muster from inside your worn-down soul.

3. You utter a prayer to God asking Him to help you find patience and be a better mother at least two times more than you do on a typical day.

2. Your baby runs a fever and clings to your legs all day, as you are pretty sure she picked this particular week to start teething again on purpose.

1. At the end of the night, your blood pressure is 2138/2078.

1 day down, 4 more to go….

For more top ten lists, visit oh amanda and her weekly top ten lists where I have ‘linked up’ this week!  Thanks to thegypsymama for letting me in on the fun!

The Written Word

As I was signing my sister’s birthday card today, I couldn’t help but notice how sloppy my handwriting looked.  “What happened?” I thought.  My papers in school used to cover the classroom as examples of exemplary writing. Now, I wasn’t impressed.

I have never been one to get excited about computers. Technology scares me–the moment I try to do something by using the device that is supposed to make my life easier, I end up taking four days longer than I should’ve.  And crying is normally involved. Therefore, I have no problem blaming my reliance on computers for the deterioration of my handwriting.

On any given day, I can count on the fact that I will type away on the computer, but I don’t always write.  What saddens me most about this fact is that I feel like I am slowly losing a part of myself as the control of my handwriting slips away.  Actually writing with a pen to the paper doesn’t seem as natural as it once did. The thought of writing this blog post instead of typing it causes my hand to hurt, yet, until my sophomore year in college when this method was no longer practical,  I used to write all of my term papers, edit them, and then type as a final step–my papers were better that way.  There was some sort of connection from my brain through the pen to the paper; that thinking connection helped me write.  And now I’m losing that part of me from lack of use.

While I’m not normally a pack-rat, I have trouble throwing away cards from relatives. When I stare at their cards, I am looking at a part of them.  Each person’s unique handwriting identifies him or her right away, and I instantly feel a warmth knowing I’m reading a card from my Nana who had a stroke, each round letter betraying this dignified woman, shouting that her hand was shaking the whole time she wrote.   Yet she filled the bottom half of the card for me, anyway.

Or my mother. Neat and tidy, and full of thought, every letter exudes the care she takes in everything she does. Her family is never far from her thoughts, and the pen never far from the paper. Equally distinct is my father’s handwriting, a little messy, but definitely not careless.  While most words will end in a joke, my father is not void of true emotion that he is willing to share, his words on the page not small and insecure but plain to see (albeit not always clear to see).

And then there are the small letters that cause my heart to flutter every time I rediscover them.  Quiet and controlled, they represent the solid man that has blessed my life for almost ten years.  The handwriting doesn’t shout at me, yet I’d recognize those words from a mile away.

Whether the card be from the slightly scattered-brained aunt with good intentions or my mother-in-law with a joyful heart, I can identify the author right away by the pattern of ink on the paper.  I find comfort knowing that only a pen separated them from me, that I always have a part of them that is tangible, in front of me.

Many times I think of my children looking back on the writings from my blog.  I hope they’ll see my heart and know that my life was for them and any frustrations were that I couldn’t be more.  I want them to laugh and cry and experience a little of me through my writing, letting them in on any part of me they didn’t already know.  Yet sometimes I feel like they won’t see all of me.

Looking at a sterile piece of typed paper, they won’t see the emotion in my letters or know that my hand directly crafted the words in front of them.  They won’t see all of me, the scribbles and corrections, the quick-edits and new ideas that would be visible in a handwritten piece.

And so, as I type, I yearn a little to feel the pen in my hand, to get reacquainted. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not ready to lose that part of me, yet.

What You See is What You Get

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Women have told me that they enjoy my blog because they feel better after reading one of my posts.  At first, I felt flattered by the compliments; perhaps I offered a perspective that helped women get through their day.  Then the realization hit me: I make people feel better because when they read about me, they see they aren’t doing so bad!

I started blogging last May, shortly after the birth of my daughter.  She was my third child in three years.  I wish I could say that I’ve handled motherhood with grace, but I’ve had more than a few stumbles along the way.

I know it’s hard to believe those sweet faces could ever make me lose my mind, but keep reading my blog, and I’ll make you a believer!

My blog has been my place where I can think.  I think through my writing, and typically, I leave each post with a clear head.  When I doubt my abilities as a mother, a wife, or a child of God, I work through my insecurities here. Some of my posts are serious; some are downright silly.  Sometimes I let my mind wander to a future place, and the result has been short stories about “The Crazy Old Bat.”  Whatever I write is absent of any pretense–I started this blog for me and see no point in writing lies to make myself feel better. My hope is that my journey can help you in yours, as well.

If you are visiting from Ultimate Blog Party 2010, I’m glad you’re here!  I hope you stick around and peruse some of my previous posts.  For those who currently read my blog, if you are interested in finding other wonderful blogs to follow, check out the Ultimate Blog Party at 5MinutesforMom.

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

Reasons You Will Not Win Mother-of-the-Year

10. For the second year in a row, you promised to dye Easter eggs with your kids and didn’t get to it.  In order to make up for this failing, you sat your two oldest kids in front of The Ten Commandments at 9:00 P.M. while you boiled some eggs.  Your kids are 4 and 2 -1/2.

9. Your daughter actually DID throw up from eating too much candy on Easter.

8.  After throwing up, she then drove her brother’s Power Wheel into his groin.

7. Forgetting that your children didn’t actually eat their Easter lunch, you did not make dinner.  After all, you weren’t hungry, but you hadn’t thrown up Easter candy, either.

6. You were awoken at 6:00 A.M. by your husband who wanted to show you that a food thief had left the refrigerator open and ham, asparagus, a gallon of milk, and a block of cheese on the floor. Also at the scene of the crime–the identical pink snuggly with which your daughter sleeps. Maybe if you made dinner the night before, your two-year-old wouldn’t have raided the refrigerator in the middle of the night.

5. You didn’t serve your children breakfast until 10:45 A.M.

4. At some point in the morning, your daughter calls, “Mommy, can you help me get off the table?”  At that moment, you realize that your two-year-old has been sitting on the table for a majority of ‘brunch.’

3. Your attempts to get your son to put down the lid to the toilet and flush have failed.

2. Your baby was playing with toilet paper in the toilet.  See previous statement.

1.  Your daughter, who has been potty-trained for months but strong-willed for longer peed on you as you pick her up to take her to the potty.  She then exclaimed, “Peeing is fun!!!”

Alternate titles for this post:

“Reasons You Should Not Host Large Gatherings at Your Home”

“Reasons You Should Take Your Weekend Away from the Family Soon”

Admiring the Weeds

The other day as I was driving along in my minivan, I passed a hillside covered in dainty purple flowers.  I thought to myself how beautiful they looked and smiled as I welcomed the warm spring weather that had recently made an appearance.  As I continued to drive by the hill, I realized my mistake; these pretty splashes of purple on the hill were not flowers but weeds.

I have been attracted to weeds before.  I loved dandelions as a child.  In one of my favorite pictures of myself, I am playing in a field of dandelions, bending down trying to smell one.  I used to love when they were no longer bright yellow globes but instead puffy, white cotton balls that I could blow all over the yard.  Little did I know at the time, but I was spreading weeds all over the grass, weeds that would cover the lawn if left unattended.

All I knew was that they looked pretty.  I was attracted and, yet, deceived by the dandelion, believing I was enjoying a beautiful flower when in fact I was playing with nothing more than a damaging weed.

When I drove by the purple weeds the other day, I couldn’t help but think how sin is very much like those weeds–seemingly beautiful, yet deceitful.  How often have I chosen to do something because it seemed right, harmless, even beautiful to find out later that I was allowing the seeds of sin to spread within me!  Just as I was attracted to the dandelions as a child, there are certain sins that are able to draw me in, and left unchecked, they could overtake me.

As Good Friday comes to a close, I think of my Savior who hung on a cross on a hill, possibly covered with weeds of its own.  I thank Him for His sacrifice, a sacrifice that allows me to see the dandelions for what they really are.  I thank Him for His sacrifice, a sacrifice that plucks the weeds from my heart and draws me to His.