Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Clock Is Not My Friend...

Can I share with you my latest challenges? I am TIRED! I don't know who is more tired at the beginning of the school year, me or my girls? Let me explain my day....

6:30am- Wake girls up to get dressed, brush teeth and make beds.
6:45am- Breakfast and devotions.
7:00am- Shoes on and fix hair, relax with any additional time.
7:30am- Leave house.
7:50am- Drop Tenly at school.
8:00am- Drop Lupe off at work.
8:25am- Back home. Begin To-Do list- watch Today Show in between (HA!).
9:15am- Gianna's snack.
10:00am- Brianna arrives (Little girl I babysit).
11:00am- Gianna eats lunch, Brianna eats lunch.
11:15am- Take Gianna to school.
11:30am- Brianna's nap.
12:00pm- I eat lunch. After lunch, continue To-Do list.
2:15pm- Pick Gianna up from school.
2:30pm- Pick Tenly up from school.
3:00pm- Girls eat snack.
3:30pm- Homework and Reading quiet time.
4:30pm- Start dinner, girls clean up any messes.
5:00pm- Eat dinner, feed Brianna.
5:15pm- Bathe Brianna.
5:30pm- Bathe Girls.
5:45pm- Leave to pick Lupe up.
6:00pm- Pick Lupe up from work.
6:30pm- Home, clean kitchen, Brianna picked up (except late nights, I keep her until 8:30-9:00).
7:00pm- Girls snack time.
7:25pm- Girls in bed.
7:30pm- Lights out for girls, finish straightening house and tying up loose ends.
8:00pm- Hopefully by this time I am collapsing on the couch relaxing with Lupe- if I'm lucky!

I like to be in bed by 10:00 when that is possible (which is happening less and less). 

Obviously, one of our biggest difficulties is having one vehicle- which is why I often feel like a taxi service- but I am so thankful for that one vehicle that I try very hard to stay positive about it despite the challenges.

I absolutely love Blogging, although my "Hot Momma's of Broward County" Blog takes a pretty good amount of time trying to keep all of the South Florida activities and events listed. I am in the midst of trying to  figure out the best way to balance out my Blogs with everything else (the reason I have not been able to update this one as frequently the past 10 days).

After looking at this crazy Monday - Friday routine, I can understand why I have had no problem falling asleep at the end of my day lately.

Next week marks the third week of school, and I am trusting my mind, body and soul are going to more adjusted and accepting to our new routine! My friend Joanne and I are going to start rotating drop off/pick ups with our girls (they are in the same class at school), and I know that will take a good half hour off of my afternoon routine.

Has anyone else had challenges like this? Are you as tired (or more) than your kids? If anyone has any advice, it is greatly taken and appreciated!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Good Moms

One of The Good Moms.....(RePost)

"Okay, I might as well put it out there: I AM one of the GOOD MOMS!
That’s right, along with the many other Mom’s out there potty training, wiping up spills from “non-spill” sippy cups- (can anyone say FALSE advertisement?!), changing diapers, having sleepless nights, reading the same book 10 times, chauffeuring the whole family, balancing 4+ peoples schedules- WE are The Good Moms!

I am talking about myself and the millions of other Mom’s who put everyone and everything else before them.  Who constantly feel ourselves in a tug-a-war between our relationship with God, marriage, children, time, work, and the overcoming feeling of guilt when we dare to have a little “Me Time”! How many times have we neglected ourselves striving for “Mommy Perfectionism”? Ahhh, but yet we STILL…are The Good Moms!

UN-Perfect Christmas Pic
As I awake daily to my incredible job, as a Mother to my wonderful girls, Tenly and Gianna, - I have no exact job description, no exact manual….and no time allotted learning curve to master it all. I fail as many times, if not more times, than I succeed. One thing I am forever grateful for- is God’s Grace-in spite of my constant tug-a-war- His Grace is why I am still one of The Good Moms.

I mean, come on- let’s be real here! I, and all other Mom’s, must admit we are not perfect Women or perfect Mothers. Like, skipping a shower, or getting to work and realizing I, or my kids, forgot to brush their teeth, or put on deodorant! Have you ever walked into the bathroom at church and looked in the mirror to realize that you having hairs growing off your chin or your need to bleach your upper lip- or maybe your hair resembles a skunk with the gray stripe down your roots. I would much rather rejoice over a great pedicure rather than the fact that my husband is out in ironed clothes! But, despite my un-pedicured toes- I’m still one of The Good Moms.

Fixing the dress with a glue gun!
What about all of our secret mommy confessions? You know! Like- think back to when your kids were babies- past or present- do you remember “not noticing” your child’s dirty, sagging diaper so your husband would be the one to have to change it? Who’s done the unforgivable thing of letting Disney Jr. or PBS babysit your kids? Here’s a classic, skipping pages or rewriting your kids long books? Who writes children’s books with 5 paragraphs on a page anyway? Of course you come to church to grow in God, but who would admit that occasionally it’s the only peaceful time in a week that your kids are in a safe environment with someone else besides you! Guilt and all, still we are The Good Moms!

I was thinking recently of “SOME day”- the day I will do some AMAZING things, like… “SOME” day, I’ll go back to the gym faithfully and get all of my body parts back where they should be! “SOME” day, I’m going to take a dream vacation to Hawaii! “SOME” day, I’m going to finish my degree. “SOME” day, I will have time for everything. “SOME” day, I will get a pedicure again. “SOME” day, I will get a full body massage. “SOME” days- will come faster than others. BUT, on THIS day- I’m going to watch my 5 year old walk into Kindergarten all by her self and my 3 year old discover that she can swim under water. I’m going to watch these 2 precious girls, who started out as 6lbs 3oz and 7lbs 6oz, I am going to stare at them in total awe of the beautiful miracle that they are and I am going to think, “My GOD, THIS is amazing!”
Yes, I am A Good Mom.

I struggle with feelings of guilt and unworthiness and disappointing others. The house doesn’t look perfect enough, the ironing is building up, I haven’t read my girls enough books, my dinners should be more spectacular and healthy, I shouldn’t of bought myself that pair of shoes, I should of prayed longer today, I haven’t read my Bible enough. My list could go on forever. Aren’t you glad that others do not see us the way we see ourselves. Why do I focus on these things instead of capitalizing on the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given me?
How do we, as Mothers, forget about ourselves-we always end up lost in the shuffling of schedules and people- we are not a priority?  But, I’m reminding myself, and anyone who will listen, that taking time for ourselves as Mothers and Women makes us better Moms, Wives, and Friends!
Balance- WOW, what a word- it means “An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. To keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.” Easier said than done, right? Schedules, kids, toys, meals, church, soccer, ballet, dance, gymnastics, family, school, doctors, groceries, laundry, cleaning, ironing, friends, work, bills, budget, marriage, dates, your “love” life (or lack there of)…Balance and Priorities!
A Good Mom- That’s ME! 

We celebrate our children’s triumphs, anticipating every milestone, and struggling to document EVERY memory so that we never forget them. Isn’t it amazing how instant the love for our children is? Before we even see them, and feel this little alien moving inside our bodies, we love them. Then the doctor hands them to us as soon as they leave our bodies, and this overwhelming, unconditional love, that is almost impossible to explain, instantly grips us upon looking into our child’s eyes for the first time. If you think about it, it’s a perfect reflection of Christ’s love for us.
I am A Good Mom- my heart aches with love for my children, and knowing I’m their first teacher, example, and primary role model, brings out wonderful God-given qualities in me like patience, kindness, faith, trust, and empathy. Because being Tenly and Gianna’s Mother has made me want to be my very best self- the Woman and Mother- God has called and challenged me to be- not just for my girls, but for myself too. Yes, I will continue to make mistakes. I will get angry and yell at times, and have to go back and ask for forgiveness. I will serve “lazy dinners” to many times, and even keep my girls up a little later than I should because I just want to hold them a little longer or because I am completely oblivious of the time. I will make wrong choices and struggle to find balance. But, I will always strive to demonstrate and teach the Love of God in all I say and do. I will bring my girls to the House of God, I will teach them the Power of Prayer, I will demonstrate a Godly Loving Marriage, and I will teach them the Word of God, and surround them with Godly People. BUT, here I am the good, the bad, and the ugly…………….
AM a Good- NO- I am a Great, Loving, and Spectacular, and Above Average Mom!"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Drama Queen Has Taken Stage...

Here in South Florida, we are back in school! Tenly is going into first grade and Gianna is beginning PreK (only 3 hours a day).

About a week before school began we went back to rigid 7:30 bedtimes and began going over our "Morning School Routine". The girls wake up around 6:30, potty, brush teeth, make their bed, get dressed and then we all eat breakfast together while we have our morning devotions.

Monday morning arrived and just as I was about to get out of my bed a little before 6:00- two perfectly dressed little girls greeted me as I sat up...WAY to early!

Typically I may have sent them back to bed until 6:30, but they were so excited and proud that they had already completed everything on their schedule...I was quite proud as well.

They have continued to do this every day this week, although not quite as early, that is until today.
You want to talk about DRAMA...not only can I give you drama, I can give you a drama QUEEN: Tenly Maria! And to make it worse, I had to have some fasting blood work done...that means I had to endure the said drama coffee-less- that is never a good thing!

The day started with a change of mind about her clothes that was communicated very dramatically, a little to dramatically for her to get her way. She was sent back to her room to continue her routine privately out of my sight.

We then continued to breakfast. She informed us she did not want bananas in her cereal- but for some reason her Dad was suppose to understand that she was only saying that because she was mad about her clothes and should of given them to her anyway.

As Lupe began to talk about the devotion we read out of the Bible, she found it necessary to dramatically say, "I know!" to everything he said.

Of course, by this time- she has had way too much grace and chances and I was trying to stay out of the way because I could feel my annoyance rising and I was about to take my place on that drama stage.

From that point on, Tenly was mad if her sister spoke or even looked at her for any reason at all. Everything I asked her was answered with a sigh, grunt and the one thing that drives me crazy- the rolling of the eyes- WHERE does a first grader get this stuff??!!

I hit the limit while trying to fix her hair- she was disciplined.

I am proud that I held my patience to that point; my grace usually does not extend that far (God has really been working on my heart in those two areas). I just hated to send her to school right after disciplining her- what a horrible way to start the day. I was also very aware that she was adjusting to the long days and new schedule and was tired.. Although those are all reasons for her behavior, it did not excuse it and it was not okay.

After I disciplined her, she was in the bathroom and I was sitting there hating how that morning had gone and wishing I could rewind it. Who wants to send their child into school after crying all morning?

My heart sank as she came out of the bathroom and literally collapsed into my arms, sobbing, telling me she was SOOO sorry.

I gripped onto her as tight as I could about to fall off the edge of my emotions. It was horrible morning, but I was so proud that she took responsibility for her actions and said sorry all on her own. As she walked out the door with her Daddy she was smiling and Mommy was left holding back tears.

The dreaded back to school adjustment period is beyond tough. Praying that this year it is shorter than it was last year. Also praying that tomorrow morning comes drama-less....

Monday, August 20, 2012

She did what in WHAT??

My husband and I learned a pretty fun lesson the other day. We were laughing about it again last night and I though I'd share it today. Hopefully it will make you laugh.....

Our girls have a tendency to flood the bathroom at bath time. I'm not talking a little water on the floor, I am talking the whole floor is flooded to the point of the bath mat being saturated. I was beginning to wait for Noah and the animals to float on by any minute....okay, maybe a slight exaggeration- but the flood was out of control!

We had really been impressing on them to be careful or else there would be no more playing in the bathtub, just wash and out. They really do like bath time, so this seemed to work for a couple of days and then we were back to the flood.

Lupe gave them a good talking to one night and explained that they would be disciplined if the bathroom ended up flooded again. He was very optimistic, they had really seemed to listen.

Lupe had gone in to check on them while I was cleaning the kitchen and came out with a pretty disturbed look on his face paired with a quirky smile. I asked him what was wrong, assuming the bathroom must be ankle deep in water...again.

He suppressed his laughter as he explained how he had talked to the girls before they got in the tub that night. I was like, " I guess they didn't listen?"

"Um, No. I just went in there to check on them and found Tenly peeing in a cup because she didn't want to get out of the tub to sit on the potty because she would get water on the floor", he finally starting laughing as he shook his head.

I was just standing there with my mouth gaping open, "WHAT!?!?"

We both stood there laughing nervously. Proud that she listened and took us seriously, but horrified by the fact that we communicated "..NO water on the floor.." very well and also skipped over some important issues for our very analytic child.

Lupe backed up and gave the little "..NO water on the floor.." talk again with a few more details and examples.

Now we tell them, a little water on the floor is okay- but only a little.

Needless to say, we threw the cup away and learned a little lesson on communication to a 6 and 4 year old. I love learning lessons from my kids....sometimes!

Oh, and I guess I should brag that my girls have not flooded the bathroom since! H-A-L-L-E-L-U-J-A-H!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Shutting Down

What do you do when you get some stressful unexpected news? I am realizing..again..that I tend to not deal with it well.

Yesterday, my husband called with some pretty bad news (I will spare you the details, but just know- it was money related, and not good.). After I hung up the phone, I found myself a bit short of breath and mildly shaking. Over the following 30 minutes I literally found myself shut down.

I was suppose to Blog yesterday, and after the "bad news" came- I just straight up avoided it. Today I can't even remember what I was planning to write yesterday- and to be honest, I had to force myself to sit down and write today. 

I guess I feel very vulnerable when dealing with something so personal.

I have been a born again Christian for a very long time, at this point in my relationship with God I should be beyond this shutting down thing. I should instantly begin quoting God's Word, 
When I get really afraid I come to you in trust. I'm proud to praise God; fearless now, I trust in God.What can mere mortals do?" Psalm 56:3-4 (The MSG), 
and stand in Faith in complete Trust.

I must admit I didn't do that. I found myself saying this, "Why are we still here? When are we beyond this? Enough is ENOUGH!", and I said it more than once. Cried a few tears...more than once.

Eventually, I did call a friend who couldn't talk at the moment and would call back. As I hung up the phone I realized, I had yet to talk to God. It was a very good thing my friend couldn't talk at the time. I sat down, cried a few (more) tears and told God I was sorry and began to talk to him. 

There were several things that were brought to light in this situation that I was forced to "deal" with. My faith/trust issues (again), my anger and my husband and I lacking a bit of communication in certain areas.

I put some praise and worship on to help me get my heart and attitude focused where it should be. I instantly went to this song by Ricardo Sanchez, "It's Not Over"- I just let that song take root in my heart.

Financial issues are hard on anyone in any circumstance- it's never fun and can push you into a corner.

The hardest part for me yesterday was thinking of my girls. At first, I was having a bit of a pity party. There are several things I need...(I guess some are wants) to get for them, experiences I really want them to have (and they deserve to have) and we just can't do it right now. 

Every parent wants to do better/more for their kids than what they had/did- I think that's normal. That's what I was dealing with. 

At the same time, we are doing pretty good, especially in comparison with others. My kids have clothes and toys. Our refrigerator and pantry may not be filled to overflowing- but we have food. More than any of that, we have each other and we are surrounded with a ton of love.

We will be okay. I am continuing to learn to humble myself and trust God and put my faith in Him. He can and will do more than I can ever imagine or think if I give Him the chance to.

Keep us in your prayers, one day this will be another testimony of God's Faithfulness in our lives!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Complicating Time With God

A friend and myself were talking about finding the "just right" Children's Devotional/Bible and I found myself referring back to a situation awhile back:

While attending a Women's Ministry get-together at my church, we were talking about devotional time. I guess the majority of the women in the room (about 40 of us) had been "saved" for at least a few years. One of the girls who were rather new in my study was sitting at my table. About 10 minutes into the discussion she looked at me with huge eyes full of overwhelming confusion. 

After I asked what was wrong, she said, "What is a devotion, it sounds so confusing and hard..." I sat there a moment a bit dumb founded. How had we managed to make something as simple and easy as devotion time with God sound so complicated and difficult?

I tried to put her at ease, explaining how all it truly was is spending time with Him and reading/applying His Word. She was still confused, she kept going back to all the things we had been talking about: morning/afternoon/night, word study/topical study/book study, 5 minutes/15 minutes/1 hour, isolated/surrounded, 1 Bible/4 Bibles, Strong's Concordance/Nelson's 3-in-1, Greek/Hebrew, etc.

I laughed at how badly we were messing with this poor girls head as I tried to explain again. God doesn't care; he just wants our time and devotion with Him. As we begin to grow in Him, we start digging deeper and looking more; but there is still not a certain formula that God demands we use when spending time with Him- he only wants our whole heart.

I actually had a devotional with me that day that I frequently used, I opened it up and shared with her the page set apart for that day. It had some scripture to read and then gave a couple of paragraphs that elaborated on it and encouraged, then ended with a short prayer at the bottom. There was such relief on my friends face when she saw it. 

"So, that's it? This is considered a "devotion?" she asked. "Yep, that's it!" I smiled. 
She looked around and said, "But, that's easy, what were all of you talking about? This isn't that hard!"
"Ya, I know- I guess we need to take the "Christian Lingo" down a couple of notches, there is not much in God's Word that's really all that hard to understand- sometimes we are just dumb enough to make it seem that way" I answered as I insisted she keep the devotional and begin using it.

I am trying to keep all of this in mind when studying God's Word with my kids. My friend, Joanne of "Confessions of A Dirty Christian Woman" Blog told of a story where my oldest daughter helped her see she was lacking boldness in her post, "There's A Little Chicken Inside" (click over and take a look). I love (and sometimes hate) learning from my kids.

I am sometimes jealous of the simplicity through which kids can view things, we adults (ME) can do a pretty good job of making things way to complicated sometimes. Our girls have been studying the Holy Spirit at church and are FULL of questions, so I feel as if we have been doing a devotional 24/7 at any given moment- it keeps us on our toes and helps me to learn to "Keep It Simple Sweetie".

I did happen to find this devotional for kids and found this devotional "Hide (the Word) & Seek (the Lord) Devotional" for kids from Tommy Nelson (preview it here). There is also a free audio download to help kids memorize scripture verses. Looks great, and this is the "chosen one"- the new devotional we are getting- that is unless I win it from The Pregnancy Companion Blog- who I found was giving it away in a contest on my search (feel free to enter, although it is increasing my risk of buying it instead of winning it, lol).

Let's learn to keep it simple Moms- not just for our kids- but for the regular every day people around us- it really isn't that complicated.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mommy Competition(s)

School! The kids are heading back to school next Monday! I am so ready for predictability and a schedule. Tenly will be starting 1st grade and Gianna is starting VPK (Florida PreK) for 3 long hours a day. Not sure how it is going to feel to be without both of them 5 days a week for a few hours- although I am excited to find out. I also love that Tenly has to wear uniforms this year, no more tug-a-wars over outfits and shoes. I am looking forward to these parts.

What am I not looking forward to? 
- The outrageous amount of money to spend on school supplies.
$$PART of the school supplies$$
- The adjustment period for them (averaging 3-4 weeks). You know, they come whiny and tired- pretty much- FRIED! 
- Me losing control- again! I hate not being there to watch and protect their every move as much as I am excited to have them safely out of sight and independent.
- *Learning all of the "new" systems and procedures and people and kids.
- *Being "evaluated" and on display.

Okay, now I will get to the point of all of that.
*Those last 2 I mentioned are the ones that I, as a Mom, hate the most- it's something that my kids must face but it is also something that I face (and I am sure I am not the only one...I hope!).

As most know, I HATE the unknown- change repulses me. That is one of the reasons I am HATING that both of my girls are in new schools this year and I am going have to relearn all of the new systems/procedures: drop-off, pick-up, volunteering, PTO, office staff, teachers, pretty much everything!

I had a horrible situation last year that is haunting me this year. First day of Kindergarten for Tenly, I was both excited and terrified for her and could not wait to pick her up. I felt pretty good about the pick-up procedures, it had been explained and I even asked additional questions to clarify. I felt good until I arrived and something just wasn't making sense- it did not seem like the car line should of been THAT long! I sat in the line anxiously waiting and checking the clock. 

Then, my cell phone rang- it was Tenly's teacher asking where I was...I am IN this CRAZY long car line! She informed me I was in the wrong line, to go around all of the cars and into the loop, as I did what she said I was on the verge of tears! How could I screw up that terribly on my babies first day of Kindergarten?????

As I drove up, there she was- the only kid left standing with the Vice Principle alone. I could see both relief and tears as I got up there. Talk about Mommy guilt, and what a great first impression to leave to the administration and teachers! I felt a pretty big "fail" that day.

You better be sure that even if I know nothing else at the first day of school, I will know about drop off and pick up!

On Friday (for Tenly) and Saturday (for Gianna), we have school orientation. I always feel as if I am being evaluated by everyone for everything. How you look, how your kid looks, what you say, what you do, what you don't say, what you don't do, and every move you and your child make is on display for evaluation. First impressions- yuck- to much pressure.

Who wrote the rules and criteria that goes with this "Mommy Competitions" that we all seem to be on at one time or another? It's pretty sad, as much as we all need each other for support we seem to be always try to "one up" each other. I am ashamed to say that I am not innocent, I have done the same thing to other Mom's that I hate being done to me.

As a Christian it sure is not okay to find myself participating on either side of this unproductive "game". What type of example am I setting if I am giving an unfair evaluation and/or trying to display myself correctly for one- which will usually come across as fake. Most important, what am I teaching my girls as they observe this behavior- because believe me- they notice!

My girls do not have to better than any other, nor do I- as long as our focus is where it needs to be, I think we will be okay. I am really trying to display myself as no one else but Tenly and Gianna's Mom that loves them (and others) unconditionally. I want others to see God's love in myself and in my girls and be drawn to that- not pushed away by me trying to measure up or one-up. Isn't this special time supposed to be all about my kids anyway?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mommy Confessions Series & My "Guest Post"

My friend Annette, of Bleubird Diary, joined me on my "Mommy Confessions" questions and asked me to answer my own questions so she could post them on her Blog. A few weeks back, Annette was kind enough to give us her own "Mommy Confession" on here. 

It was So FUN now to do my first guest post with her! She is also going to do her own series on the questions having some of her friends and members answer them.

My initial objective in doing these "Mommy Confession" was to help all of us Mom's understand each other better, give and take encouragement, value others opinions and methods (whether we agreed or not) and to be challenged- maybe to change or maybe to stand stronger.

Several of the Mom's who answered these questions told me how difficult they were- and after having to answer them for myself, they WERE! Really made me think...almost too much. Although it was fun and I was honored to have Annette post my answers and to run with her own series of Mommy Confessions.

I invite you to jump on over to Bleubird Diary and take a look at my Guest Post. While you are there, take a look at Annette's other posts and subscribe to her Blog- you wont be sorry. Annette has a special talent writing from the heart that leaves you with a smile.

Having said all of that, I am going to post all of the links to my "Mommy Confession Series". If there is one you missed, head over and read it. Mom's shared form every walk of life and so many different perspectives. I still have a couple more I will be posting a bit down the road so keep your eye out.

Mommy Confession Series:

A REAL Mom Living In The Moment: Martha

Chelsey: A REAL Housewife of Glenwood Springs

Joanne: The Mommy Monster

Sandi: SuperWoman At Her Best

Rachel: Chosen To Be A Mom

Joelle: A Praying Mom

Eva: A Real Mom of Incredible Faith

Angela: A Mom Continuing To Grow

Elizabeth: Dreams Come True x2

Annette: True Love Conquers ALL

Tarah: Honesty Is The Best Policy

Stephanie: Determined To Be A Mom

Lanee: Ice Cream In The Shower, Gotta Do Whatcha Gotta Do

Angie: A Mom Restored

Jenn: Failing Mommy Perfectionist

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 4: Time To Let "The MESS" GO!

Before (or after) you read this, you may want to take a look at: What Do You Expect?, then Day 1: Giving Up Control, A Little Bit, then Day 2: Stressing My Kids, then Day 3: Was This A Good Idea?. It will all just make a little more sense.

The Living Room
HALLELUJAH! Today is CLEANING day! My house is going back to being in order, neat, clean and organized! My girls are having mixed feelings about it- they are tired of their mess, but not sure if they are tired enough of it to want to clean it up. OH WELL!

Let me recap. I have been at my wits end for a couple of weeks of my girls avoiding cleaning up, and my constant reminding, nagging, yelling and screaming of reminders to do so. I am a bit of a controlling neat freak, and like everything put in it's place before the day ends (it's wonderful waking up to a clean house). I had a crazy idea to relinquish my control and allow my 2 girls to make the decisions, for 3 days, as to what they would and would not clean up. My objective was to learn their preferences, hopefully teach them an appreciation for a neat house and to also help me realize the world will not fall off of it's axis if I am not in control.

Yesterday was difficult for me, because the girls began to move the mess into the living room at an alarming rate. There has been toys in the living room over the past couple of days, but the bulk remained in their bedroom. I believe they ran out of room to make a mess in their bedroom, so the most logical thing would be  to expand into the living room. There was no looking past the mess, it greeted you at every turn (you should of seen Lupe's face when he arrived home).

Last night, the end of Day 3, we had a bit of a breakdown.

As the late afternoon approached, I tried to subtly remind the girls of the night before (Tenly sleeping in her bed was impossible because of the toys) and that tonight, there would be no getting up to clean after they were in 'bed'. I kept prodding them to think about their choices before it was too late.

They would have a "meeting" and decide that they would clean up some...later. Well, later never came (what a shocker).

Suddenly, Tenly is crying. When I asked what the problem was, she explained that she realized it was starting to get dark out and that meant bed time was coming and she didn't want her bed and her room to be a mess at bed time.

(insert another "Hallelujah Chorus" here)

I calmed her down and tried to reassure her she still had time to clean up whatever she felt like needed to be before bed time got here.

"BUT Mommy- I want to watch a show before bed time!!", she dramatically  cried.

"Well, I guess next time you will make a better choice.", I said as she pushed her lips out in one of the poutiest faces ever!

Needless to say, she did appreciate my response. She cried the whole time muttering all of the reasons this was making her angry as she quickly cleaned up everything (although not nearly enough) she saw necessary.

After Tenly finished, she and Gia came and sat on the floor in my room all calmed down and very relieved that they would both be sleeping in their beds that night.

Tenly said, "Mommy, I'm sorry I was so sad- I just really don't like looking at that mess when it's time to go to bed."

My response (HUGE teachable moment), "Do you understand now why Mommy asks you to put things away when your done playing with them? If you do that, there is no big messes at the end of the day- just a little one."

Gianna said, "Little messes are much better than big messes. I don't like big messes."

"Do you know what Mommy learned?", I asked. "I learned, that big messes are okay sometimes, especially when you are using your smart brains to use your imagination and be creative. I also learned, that if I get angry, I need to take a deep breath and talk to you- not yell. AND, I will remind you one time to help you remember what you are suppose to be doing- but only one time."

"So, two times is okay- but more than two times- we will be disciplined." Gianna reassured me. Tenly agreed with, "That's a deal, Mommy."

My girls have enjoyed the past few days not having to be told at all to clean up, but I think even they are ready to have a presentable home again. Tenly said this morning as we were making our "Clean Up List", "Mommy, we have to clean up because I can not let my friends come to our house when it's a mess. This is disgusting!" (insert another "Hallelujah Chorus" paired with my Happy Dance)

We made our list, the girls were quite detailed and I am a very proud Momma who is going to revel in the cleaning process ALL day long! Thank You Jesus, for giving me a teachable heart and the ability to endure!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 3: Was This A Good Idea?

Before reading this post, you may want to first read: "What Do You Expect?" Then, "Day1: Giving Up Control, A Little Bit." Then, "Day 2: Stressing My Kids?" It may make a little more sense with the back story to this "experiment".

Was this a good idea? That question kept rolling through my head as I tripped/jumped/avoided toys, markers, crayons, books and  paper spread all over my house. I avoided going into Tenly and Gianna's bedroom to much- they played so nice all day- but I knew with that was coming a tripling of "the mess". 
They sounded so cute, so at one point I went in to see what they were up to- oooohhh my! 
"WOW", I said when I walked in to see Tenly's bed covered with what seemed like every toy they owned. The sting of "the mess" did fade as they both excitedly told me what they were doing. "Mommy, come and take ride with us on our boat raft that we made! We have food to eat, books to read, food for the fish, sharks and alligators, even lotion so we don't get too much sun- aren't we using our smart brains?!" It quickly became a picture of a vivid imagination instead of "the mess"- how can one (me) be overwhelmed by that?

The day and "the mess" went by a bit easier after that moment- of course with the help of ironing, laundry, and cleaning the bathrooms.

By the end of the day as the girls were taking their bath, I took the opportunity to do a walk through surveying the state of our home and "the mess". I was proud that I was less overwhelmed and started to think of how I would approach "the clean up" on Thursday. I knew it was going to be overwhelming- but that was another teachable opportunity- if we clean up as we go every day (I will leave out "quickly without being reminded"- learning patience and endurance) it is not as much and we don't end up crabby and overwhelmed. I think we will make a list together of what we need to do and break it up during the day. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself...

As I stared at the mess in their bedroom (the living room was not even a thought after looking at it), I started imagining what bed time was going to look like with the mountain of toys still on Tenly's bed. I decided that 
just in case they would choose to want to clean it up, I would start the bed time process a little early. 

"How am I going to sleep?" was Tenly's immediate response after staring at her bed.
 I had thought of what my response would be earlier (was not totally convinced it was the right one, but I gave it a shot), "I don't know honey, you guys chose not to clean up after playing- you have a few minutes before it's time to go to sleep- what do you want to do?"
"MOMMY, YOU are suppose to tell us to clean up!", Tenly said with her hands on her hips.
Gianna agreed with her hands also on her hips.
I explained, "No, remember- it is all you and Gianna's decisions until Thursday what you do and do not want to clean up. So, what do you want to do."
Tenly asked, "We get to decide now, too?" I nodded. "I don't think I want to clean up, I will just sleep on the floor."

OH, my heart! I calmed my OCD nerves as I agreed to let her sleep on the floor. Tenly quickly gathered her pillow and blanket and piled it on the floor next to Gianna's bed (which had no toys). We prayed, I dispersed kisses on their heads and left the room with a bit of a heavy heart. I was convinced that my "big idea" was accomplishing absolutely nothing. I realized I was going to have to come to grips with the fact that deep down my girls were the unthinkable....MESSY!

As I was typing at the computer, Tenly comes to me about 15 minutes after I had tucked them in. She looked very pitiful as she told me she didn't know what to do. I asked her what was wrong, and with tears rolling down her cheeks she said, "I miss my bed and I don't like that mess, I MISS MY BED!!" At this point, the Hallelujah chorus was resounding in my head! I explained that they had made a choice and it was past their bed time, it was to late to clean up now. She continued to cry and declare she missed and needed her bed. Okay, just so you don't think I am a heartless Mom with no compassion, yes, she was breaking my heart. SO, I gave her and Gia 10 minutes to get her bed cleaned off, no playing, and back in their beds. Here comes the exceptional part....

I expected them to both just throw all of the toys on the floor, obviously this would be the fastest and easiest short term solution. Then I hear Gianna tell Tenly, "Tenly, let's put it all in the right places really fast. Bring me the stuff in the closet and I will put it in the right place." Tenly responds with, "Good idea Gianna, then it will be all done when we wake up." Music to my ears, another Hallelujah chorus echoed through the house, and I did do a little happy dance (when they weren't looking).

My girls cleaned up that mess in record time, not even one little break to talk or play- THAT is impressive! Towards the end of the clean up I heard Tenly say to Gianna, "Gianna, we did it, we did it! We are the fastest cleaners ever!" Ten minutes after they began, I tucked Tenly into her bed with her Monkey Boy and she said, "Thanks Mommy, I love my bed."

The night ended very well. We have all learned something through this little experiment, and I think it has been well worth it. Even Lupe said last night that he cannot wait to have the house back to normal. As much as I have learned, Thursday is going to be a very  happy clean up day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Day 2: Stressing My Kids?

Before reading this post, you may want to first read: "What Do You Expect?" and then read: "Giving Up Control, A Little Bit". It will just all make a little more sense.

Here I am! That's right, as of this morning, I have survived this mess of a house thus far!

Yesterday, I had to stop and laugh at myself MANY times. I cannot even count how much I caught myself about to say, "Girls, you need to pick this up.." or "You need to put this away.." But I did catch myself each time and never said a word. 

Girls bedroom towards end of day 1
I really don't think they noticed much until they went to bed last night. I did notice while they were taking their bath that there were toys on both of their unmade beds, it made me curious to see what would happen when they went to climb in to go "mimi's" (what we call bed time). I was actually on the phone with a friend while my husband was getting them ready to tuck them in. By the time my phone call ended, they were in their beds already. I asked Lupe if he had them clean up, and he didn't. I was very excited about this next part that he told me. He said they went to get in their beds and they said, "Daddy, we can't go to sleep- this is a mess and we haven't cleaned up yet!" WOOOOOHOOOOOOO!!!! But before I was carried away with excitement, he told me that it was probably more about staying up awhile longer than about cleaning up. Okay, that did take me excitement down a notch, BUT they DID realize "the mess"!!!!

Girls bedroom towards end of day 1
When I went in to give them a kiss, Tenly told me they only cleaned up a little bit. I explained again, that over the next couple of days it was she and Gianna's decision of what did and did not need to be cleaned up- and whatever they decided would be fine with me. Then she said, "Mommy, I think I like my room clean instead of dirty.." WOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!! 
If you heard screaming and yelling anywhere in the USA last night, it was just me having a party over that last statement my 6 year old said. Now, she hasn't really done much of anything to back that statement up, but she still said it. So, I am left to wonder if she only said it because that is what she thought I wanted to hear- and that is possible (aw, MAN!). I guess am just excited that their is an awareness of the difference in our home without the messes being managed.

Living room day 1. Ironing in background.
I have been pleasantly surprised by my ability to function within this mess (of course it helped that my husband brought me home an Italian Creme Cake last night. Maybe it is because I know I am taking back over being sure everything is put in it's place on Thursday. Or, it could be thanks to my friend Martha instructing me to keep myself distracted. I have been doing that by catching up all of my ironing, working on my other blog ("Hot Momma's of Broward County" for anyone who didn't know) along with this one, and scrubbing my kitchen (I think I will scrub bathrooms today). 

What have I learned so far? Not really sure yet to be honest. I can tell you something I noticed last night. When I went in to kiss the girls good night, I noticed Tenly had made a little "tent" off of her bed for her babies. I feel vulnerable admitting this, but typically I would of insisted that it be taken down and folded at the end of her bed and all of her "babies" be put back in the respectable places. When I saw it last night and again this morning I realized how much joy it brought her to create it and have it be loved and accepted by myself- so is it really that important to remove that joy just so that everything looks "nice neat and pretty"- and no it's not. As much as my kids stress me out with me having to remind them 7+ times to stay on task- am I stressing my kids out by forcing them inside my dysfunctional "bubble".
Tenly's 'tent' morning of day 2.

I am documenting our "messy journey" with a few pictures and may even try to get a little video of my girls on the last day before I implement the cleaning of everything in celebration of my taking back control! So the pictures hear are of last night and this morning. Give me your opinion- how bad is it????