The weather here in Colorado has been glorious. Early mornings are crisp...a little taste of the soon tobe fall weather. The days are sunny, warm, and I'm noticing...a tad bit shorter. The planner in me is already getting together a list of autumn themed crafts and recipes to make mid September - I'm SO excited for fall this year!
First of all, I will be turning the big (well, not really so very big) 30 next month. I feel like I have been waiting for 30 my entire life - it has always been my dream age. No more explaining to people why I am in my mid 20's with oodles of children (I had four kids under five by the time I was 26.)
Yes, now if someone says "wow, you have a lot of kids for your age" I can confidently say "well, I am in my 30's."
I think 30 is a confident number - it sounds like it knows what it's doing. I feel like 30 likes it's personality and it's hair and it's body type. I'm going to really like being 30.
My second reason for being excited for September is that Zac told me to sign up for the women's retreat at our church - last time I was away completely ALONE without either husband or a baby on my hip was almost 11 years ago. I probably wouldn't have been so eager to say "yes" to going if the retreat wasn't going to be hosted at a gorgeous facility in Estes Park. Friends to be made, sleep (if I'm not up laughing and drinking cooca all night), not having to share my food, and gold aspens are calling my name. I'm completely stoked.
With that being said, I feel like at least half of the projects I wanted to complete this summer never got done. I never planted flowers in the kids little flower boxes, I have at least 20 crafts that I didn't get around to... several hikes that never got hiked. Lots of things. Maybe that's the problem with lists - you can look back on them and feel bad about what you didn't get accomplished. At the same time, you can look back at all of the things you crossed off and feel pretty terrific.
I'm choosing to feel terrific. Maybe not everything got done, but I can honestly say that we have been active, we have been pursuing creativity, the kids are learning to work as a team and to help around the house - and we are giving them opportunities to be big.
I'm letting them make their own food, sweep floors, fold laundry....sand chairs and spray paint them! I'm letting go and in the mean time letting my kids be. It's been pretty wonderful to see all of the things they are capable of doing if they have the opportunity to do them. This summer has been a time of transition for our family. Our last baby became a preschooler, we have found ways to interact and connect with our Brady, Trinity has become an awesome reader and LOVES art...has finally made a few friends and can wash dishes as well as me, clean a room almost better then me - plain and simple...she's a little 6 year old grown up. Tristan has begun "pretend play" with his big sister which is a big step for a child on the spectrum - and most of all, he seems to enjoy it. This is the first season of my life that I actually actually see that my kids are growing up. Even though our littles are still little, I have had a glimpse, a taste, of life with older children.
I love seeing my littles figure things out. I love seeing ideas "click." I love watching them grow.
So with the end of August just around the bend, I'm going to squeeze as much as I can out of the remainder of summer. We will use up the flowers, we will be barefoot, we will eat one to many smores and replace meals with cold smoothies. We will play a little longer outside in the evenings, we will feed the birds in our yard, we will try to go for long walks every week (our last walk we found 10 baby toads!) Our littles will climb trees, kick soccer balls, gobble up as many blueberries and grapes as humanly possible....
...and I will start sorting clothes into "too small" piles. I will start collecting warm sweaters and rain boots for 6 pairs of feet. I will buy pumpkin and apples and stock up on hot teas. I will have echinacea ready and elderberry syrup handy. Time will keep ticking on...lists will keep being made and items crossed off - but my goal will remain the same in each season :
9 am ... a not so little boy asked me if he could do a craft. He worked hard for over two hours researching soccer jerseys and creating his own with a white shirt and some sharpies.
3 pm - Zac and I cut the boys bunk beds in half (well, not quite half) and created our own Ikea hack!
I haven't finished the room yet but wanted to show their little cubby hideout.
6:30 pm ... a cool breeze through our window (feels like fall today), dinner eaten, dishes washed, and Daddy's turn to play X box with one of his biggest fans.
*note for all mom's reading my blog - these are the moments today I decided to capture on camera. We are real people - there were plenty of dirty dishes, arguments between siblings, and scraped knees. It's nice knowing that even though everyday isn't perfect, there are always moments of beauty to be found (if looked for) and ALWAYS moments to give thanks for. *
I always thought I hated science. Ok, I didn't think, I knew. All those big words and concepts and for the brain of a creative/visual person --- most science classes that I have ever taken sounded like a tv when it's all snowy without a signal....just a buzz in my head that eventually either led me to fall asleep or stare in confusion. I told myself over and over "I think I can, I think I can" like that brave little train we've all read about. Except, I couldn't. It's was just so very very boring in every way.
Who ever knew that learning about blood could be so fun? Reading about red and white blood cells, the importance of platelets ...sounds boring right? It is, unless you make the words come to life. A simple jar with white lima beans (white blood cells) and some red hot candies (red blood cells) and then a few lentils to represent platelets ...fill with oozing corn syrup for plasma and it's blood in a jar. Pair this with some interesting you tube videos...
... a "scab" model...
...kid's creative drawings of what's in a drop of blood...and you have yourself some real fun.
I've been reading a lot this week, trying to find...what's it called again? Oh yes, the elusive "silence." I found this quote by Mother Teresa and rather love it:
We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.
As a stay at home, silence isn't something I'm use to. I long for it, and then when there are a few moments that I might actually just sit in stillness, feeling peace, hearing God...just being - I turn on music. I watch a show. I hop on my computer - silence can be unnerving. Silence can be uncomfortable. But, if you allow yourself to dive in, take a moment...and just simply be, you can hear. I've made room for quiet...some how miraculously, even if it's only five minutes, and I've already felt just a little bit different. I've been spoken to, I've been appreciative, I've been burdened and been able to voice it to God in a peaceful setting.
One of the things I've been challenged to do, from my quiet and from my added reading (yes indeed, I've made it a purpose to start reading again) is that I need to re purpose as a mom the importance of teaching my kids Good Character. Meaning, I have to also pursue good character for myself. So, I decided to give us a new "class" of sorts in our schooling. We are naming it (once again with great originality) ...wait for it....
Character Building Class (applause is welcomed)
For our Character Building Lessons we are going to base several weeks on this passage :
Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
I found an awesome link that has printables, memory verses, fun ways to teach the kids the fruits of the Spirit and to actually make it to where they can understand with "hands on" lessons. I'm hoping you might enjoy this site as well.
The kids loved the example of eating different fruits and discussing how you can never get an apple from a peach tree, or an orange from an apple tree. We had a long conversation about what "bad fruit" in our life might look like (anger, jealously, greediness) and then of course what the good fruits are (the fruits of the Spirit, love, gentleness, joy, ect.) They colored their little picture and discussed how the boys in the picture can show love for others. Then we did a creative writing assignment and made a list of the ways we can love generally (all people) and particularly (a specific person in a specific way.)
When I was little I loved the Music Machine cassette tape my brothers and I had, so I looked them up on YouTube. Lo and behold, they were on there and there was one episode about Love that I had heard years and years ago and just adored. I played it for the kids while I went to make snack and they were completely absorbed. You can find the episode we watched here.
To end our Love Lesson, we went around the table and shared on area that we think we are pretty good at that represent the Fruit of the Spirit. We also shared one "bad fruit" this is a challenge for us. I encouraged the kids that when they see the other one showing love to speak words of encouragement and to notice and to praise. We also talked about just like a fruit tree needs to be watered and pruned and taken care of to give fruit, we need to pursue good character - it isn't just going to instantly come to us without any work.
I always think that I'm researching and teaching my kids these awesome lessons that will be good for them, and in the end...I think I might be the one who is effected the most.
When God tells us that children are a gift, you can believe Him.