Sunday, September 22, 2013

First Day of Fall

Happy First Day of Fall

Today was just beautiful.

I really needed to be working on back to school stuff (that I should have completed at back to school time), 

but Mr. Potato Head told me that the day was too beautiful and the children too precious.  Blame him. 

We needed go into Fall with a new haircut of course.

 A sucker helped it go a little better.

My sweetie pie is so loving she shared her sucker with the hair monkey 
(and by hair monkey I mean every kids' hair in the universe was stuck to that monkey... I'm not thinking about it).

Unfortunately, we got stuck in a FALL storm, and it ruined the 'do'.  
Between the black eye, the purple sucker mouth, and the wet hair...
we felt it was time to call it a day.

There was precious time to spend the day with a fellow loving and relatable mom!
Love You T.

More Rain

Life is too short not to feel the rain every once in a while!

Air Show Ready
As you know noise can be scary for this guy, but we prayed together that God take that fear away so he could enjoy his day.
God is Awesome.

It was an Awesome Day.

Pilot in Training

Footballer in Training (with dad for protection)

Fellow Spectators for Leaf Watching

Taking Care of Baby
(I bet her baby won't get a black eye).

Another spectator, 
watching out for Connor as he is about to turn the bend on his bike.

Cool Breeze and Sunny Day

You know what goes with Fall weather?

A perfect day for shopping!

I picked up a few leaves for you.

We heart Fall.

Praise our God, all peoples,
    let the sound of his praise be heard;
Psalm 66:8

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Rule-liness Next to Godliness

Today I was very excited to go to the  Awana conference.
Darren and I have been a part of the Awanas for about five years now.  Connor started as a Cubbie and will be a T&T next year!  This year Carlee is a little Puggle. 


Let me go ahead and preface this whole blog with the fact that I have observed some amazing things come out of this program, including making my ENTIRE family grow in understanding, memorizing, and living out scriptures. I am so proud to see my whole church come together to help our children grow in Christ.  It is a neat experience.

So basically, even though I didn’t sign up to teach this year, I was able to go with the T&T leader because Darren was off to watch the kids, and I had never been before.

The opening was so awesome and inspiring, and then it went a little downhill for me after.  One thing stood out for me (other than the freezing rooms) THE AWANA RULES.
I had hoped to interact a little more and to construct, play, and learn strategies to teaching children how to make scripture reading more engaging.

What I learned was
the rules are the rules.

Do you want to hear the rules? because I know ALLLLL about the RULES!  I learned all of the Rules today-
-don’t be late
-wear your team shirt
-bring your bag
-bring your book
-bring your bible
-say your scripture word perfect
-say your scripture with less than two helps
-record scripture said

Hey, I’m a teacher, a mother, a wife, and an older sister.  That means I was born giving people rules.  I am all about the rules, and I don’t care where you come from...You. Will. Follow. The. Rules.  In just five minutes I made up four more rules for my house- 1. no markers shall be placed near baby Carlee  2. no dog shall be tied to the skateboard  3.  no bracelets will be put in the DVD player  4. and yes, no hitting also applies to your sister when standing near that door too!

But today, the rules were just getting on my nerves.

After the third session of raising my hand (in very non-baptist form) and EXPLAINING that some children don’t learn in the same way, some children are not encouraged in the same way, and this system will not work for all.   I was told- make accommodations for special needs and the rest of the children need to “follow the plan”.   After all it isn’t fair for one to get by with more helps than another.  I was told 99% can follow the RULES.
I heard the whispers of annoyance, as I explained how that didn't work for me and why.
I’m sure I’m in a few Facebook status pages tonight “A wierdo who won’t shut up, one in every crowd, making me late for my Chick-Fil-A”. 
Then there was the not so whispered opinions- children need consistency (thanks lady, I’ll drop out of the circus now), your son is playing you (yes, he is really showing me, I will make him sleep in the dog house tonight for not reading scripture after two prompts), they all get it eventually (don’t worry son, we will study the same scripture until you are 13, you will get it eventually).
By the third session, my temper had risen and I was ready to drop out of Awanas, and just sit on the brick step outside and sing LOUDLY a Dr. Jean song renamed/rewritten ‘No Rules, No Rules, No Rules in the Classroom’.  I am SUCH A REBEL!
I can’t stand it when 100% of the human population doesn’t see things my way.

It is bothersome that hundreds of people were being taught that the main strategy is to follow the outlined plan.  I can’t think of a more terrible way to teach children than to follow a black and white plan.  That is like coloring inside the lines (puke).

You would be surprised at what children have to go through and what they feel when
...they are hungry?
...have family stress?
...failing a grade?
...struggle with confidence? be a boy or girl with more energy than body?!?

Jesus picked the the loving spirit over rules.  He declared food as clean although the rules said it wasn’t (mark 7:18-20),) allowed the wheat (Luke 6:2), healed a woman on the Sabbath (Luke 13:10-17), He took a drink and ministered to a  Samaritan woman (living in sin)  (John 4), etc.

The end of the day went a LOT better.  My Awana director (who is A for Awesome) ate lunch with us and reassured me that we are most concerned about the individual child.  It is about the children growing in God for us and to not lose focus of that.
 After lunch I won the sponge toss (so I did get to play games after all).  whoop!  whoop!  Sponge TOSS Champion (while following the rules).

A few Awana presenters spoke to me throughout the rest of the afternoon.  Telling me stories of themselves or their children who struggled with the standard memorization, and some gave me further suggestions to help get children to learn and be excited.  I felt a lot better the last hour.  

As soon as I went home I applied a visual strategy that helped Connor memorize his scripture for this week (and as you can see he was super excited about it because I interrupted his race car adventure, the rule is ‘Break for Mama’! )

I think of the story of Richie.  Richie doesn’t have any arms.  His parents didn’t feed him his whole life. They provided him with a special tool to feed himself.  They didn’t stop him from riding a bike though it was hard.  They provided him with a different bike. They didn't say, sorry Rich, same rules for everyone.  They made him the successful man and engineer he is today by giving him accommodations.
The same concept applies.  If you are working in a children’s ministry, coaching, teaching, volunteering PLEASE consider always challenging but stepping outside of regulation and using different things to teach those concepts.  Everyone can feel good, successful, and be pushed to work hard with the God given tools (not the rules).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

F is for Fail (and D is for Doughnut)

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged.
There are good reasons for no blogging.
Life has been kind of “interesting” (*whispers while rocking 'I’m going crazy- interesting').
Not in a ‘big life, terrible event, stressful, depression event’ kind of way.
More like a ‘build up of daily situations that has made me think I’m better suited for singing the blues in a night club’ kind of way.

You know before each blog entry I often think to myself- ‘if my  adult children read my blog after I get way old, what will they think about this?’  What technology footprint am I leaving for my family (because the good Lord knows I’m not leaving any money)?

I'm beginning to get an idea of this whole adult child thing.  You see when I’m old-old and my children are adults, I will have figured things out, so then I can tell them what to do and make them feel inadequate.
But for right now they can refer to today’s entry:  Kids I’m having some EPIC FAILURE moments this week. That’s right. Again.

Oh believe me, I’ve read all the mommy blogs out there that say- you are enough, you do enough, you rock, you are awesome!  All the blogs that talk of self confidence, kicking self doubt to the curb, screaming WOMAN hear I roar, self love, no negativity.  I’m telling you that all those uplifting blogs sometimes make me feel worse because I don't always believe them.   Have it all?  how about Have a Seat (with Cheetos and tissues for tears).

Let me count the ways-

See this picture of the perfect classroom.  
It's a fake bunch of junk.
I bet those people are not even real 
(and who uses chalk)?

Do you ever feel like you've got the pieces, and everyone is looking to you to work the puzzle?  You are trying like heck to make those pieces fit, but then you realize you were looking at the picture upside down? no.  just me then?
F on Puzzle Working

Step 1:  place in bag
Step 2:  place more in a bag
Step 3:  place even more in a bag
Step 4:  where did I put that?
F for not having a bigger bag!

Only 1, 
I swear I am stopping at 3, 
where did all those go?
F for Resisting the D for Doughnuts.

My child's leg got stuck in a bed.  
I ignored her crying because I thought she didn't want to nap.
F for Quick Reponse

Double oops.

I am really sorry. :(

What is wrong with you?
I'm dropping you off on the side of the road in 3...2...
You can find another MOTHER!!!

F for Patience

Scriptures Memorized- 0
Fart Jokes Memorized- 100

F for Creative Motivation

Ending in you falling into the couch leg...
waking up with a swollen black eye.

F for Catching

If only you worked as hard at reading as you did at this:

I would be happy.
F for not reading while spinning.

Get away from me.
I don't trust this family.

F for Soothing

Hey sometimes you have to just admit failure moments.  A lot of them.  It is a little thing called REAL LIFE.  
People can’t handle failure anymore because we all think we can’t fail, we shouldn’t fail, we shouldn’t tell, and your not a good person if you do speak of failing, instead let’s talk about that other person who failed, don't say anything negative about your experience, your a bad person for speaking of difficult situations, etc.
You can fail over and over and that’s why you either eventually succeed or you change for a better direction.

So if my adult children are reading this- your "all knowing" mother had moments of failure, bad weeks, bad moments, mistakes were made (you remember you told your therapist all about it), words were shared that shouldn’t have been shared, but you still have to pick yourself up by your high heeled straps and move on with it anyway.  This is where I talk about my love and appreciation for you, but tonight appreciate me instead because LOVE is doing your laundry when my back hurts.  


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Welcome to Monster U

Welcome to Monster University, where we are celebrating a special monster....


After watching the movie Monster University this summer, I thought it would make a great birthday party.

Connor and I started brainstorming in the car that day.
With the start of school, the party came upon us quickly, but we were still able to do some of the ideas we thought of that day.

Thanks in large part to my...
Cray Cray Energetic Pal, who made the party this year!
She brought all her cool OT stuff so that we could have the 
Scare Games Relay Race! 
(hugs and I am jealous of your energy)

I made the invites and 'Thank You' postcards on the computer this year.
I really thought they turned out good. 
I made a little book so that the children who couldn't make it were still able to make a Monster Student ID badge and fill out a Monster University diploma for fun.

I am the Dean of Students!
(of course)

 Let the Future "Scarers" Enroll!

The School of Scaring

I found this poster on sale, and it matched the same clip art I used for Connor's invite!

Monster Carlee
Carlee reminds me of the little girl-Boo- in the first movie.

Mock scare station at the School of Scare.
This is for young Monster's In Training.
All of the children practiced their screaming and sneaking skills here.

In Monster's U, all student "Scarers" practice before going through a real door as a portal to collect the screams of children (by the end of Monsters Inc. they realize they can collect laughs instead of screams to get power).

Connor made a few "portal" doors for us.

I thought something was missing, so I looked online, and I added a few scare canisters.
These canisters capture the "screams" at Monster's Inc.  
(I slapped them together using paper towel rolls.)

These are for any bad monsters lurking.

Of course, all we have here are GOOD monsters.


Let the Scare Games Begin.....

Ms. OT. working the kids in the Scare Relay!

Oh dear, there were a few lurking bad monsters somewhere.
or maybe it was the Dean...

(not me of course).

Go Monster Students! 
You want to graduate don't you?

Pin the Eye on Mike
(with a literal spin, you have to roll to him on your belly first...)

Darren said I got all of his good ties out of the closet.
A small price to pay for Mike's eye!

Hazardous Water Bomb Practice
(200 balloons- 2 hours- gone in 10 min.!!!)

Everywhere we go Connor takes his shirt off...
for no reason.  
He says he is 'showing off his muscles'.
I think he must imagine himself as this:

but the shirt had to go back on regardless.

Water Ballon Time with Daddy
(This girl has him wrapped up tight.)

Monster U Cafe:
After all of that work, it was time to eat!


Although this was a lovely and delicious cake, next year I'm seriously thinking of buying the 8.99 kit and Duncan Hines cake mix.  
Cakes are so overpriced!

To Drink:  Monster Energy Drinks (Of Course)
Monster U Water + Purple/Green Hawaiian Punch Mix= 
Wild Monsters

 Although, I think the real GIFT is children playing/laughing together outside,  C. received the most
lovely and thoughtful gifts from friends and family.
He was over the moon.

Somehow he talked us into a skateboard.
A very CHEAP skateboard.


Lucky the grandparents covered the gear.

Monster ...


in the HOUSE!!!

Gift Bags:
we glued a google eye and sketched a smile on a small lime green bag to recreate Mike.

Party Crasher

Poor Frog, he must have escaped to Montropolis through the door portals.
H./C. Grandma and Grandpa made sure it was released peacefully. 

Thank you graduates for attending MU!

As always I thank God for letting us share this treasured day 
with family and friends-
the village that 

Happy Birthday Connor-
We Love You, You Little Monster.