Category Archives: Kid Stuff

Don’t Kill the Wonder.

Wonder

I receive these texts every morning with some sort of positive affirmation or healthy advice for the day. Today, the text read, “Unapologetically seek bliss today.” The text link led me to an article called “‘Ikagai’ is Japan’s Secret to Living a Long, Happy Life.” The author writes that ikagai is “the happiness of always being busy, but it doesn’t mean a schedule packed with mindless errands and activities. Rather, the thing that makes you want to get up in the morning, makes you want to work hard, and colors your life with purpose.” She further writes, “When you follow through on things you enjoy and limit the things you don’t, you’re taking steps towards pursuing what’s important to you.” (Anna Meyer)

This came at such a perfect time as my dad and I were discussing yesterday how so many lose their wonder in life. The truth is, we kill it. Or someone else kills it for us. We kill it in our children completely unaware that we are doing it. When we seek after the things that fill us with joy, we inspire that wonder. When we stop, so does the wonder.

We tell our kids things like, “You can’t always get what you want.” We tell them, “Life isn’t always one big party.” I’ve done it. I’m sure you have. I know our hearts behind it aren’t wrong. We think we are teaching them responsibility. And, that lesson is important. We think we are teaching them to be realistic with their wants and goals. Now, THAT lesson isn’t so much. We think if our little ones want too many things, then they aren’t thankful for what they already have. So, we squelch or diminish the importance or value in them wanting something. We kill their wonder.

It’s not that we never use the word “no.” It IS that we become facilitators, teaching them how to create their world. Teaching them that life IS meant to be full of wonder. Teaching them it’s okay to seek happiness. A couple of years ago I read a book by Shefali Tsabary called “Out of Control.” She is also the author of the “The Conscious Parent,” which may be more familiar to you. One chapter was titled, “How to Say ‘Yes’ or ‘No” Effectively.” My conversation with dad prompted me to pull this book back off the shelf. I’m glad I did. I began reading again about how we kill their wonder when we don’t value what they desire. Tsabary writes that we “deliver messages such as, ‘You are being so greedy, you should be ashamed of yourself. Don’t you know that money doesn’t grow on trees? You seem to think we are made of money.’ Shaming our children for their honest desires in this way, we dishonor their feelings. A practical matter has become a personal issue, with the parent feeling frustrated and the child rejected. Our children have every right to want things – this is normal and healthy. It indicates they have a connection to their lives.”

You see our purpose isn’t to run out and buy those things for them. I’m not arguing you can’t. Sometimes, the joy of parenting is saying, “Yes. Let’s go get this.” BUT, the beauty for us as parents is to facilitate their dreams. To teach them to have goals. To help them create ways to work for these things and attain them. To let them know that we are for them and will partner with them. “Our children learn they are active co-creators in their universe, able to actualize their dreams through action. Such children grow up to make good decisions in life.”

I dare say, such children grow up to never lose their wonder for life. Because, we as parents have taught them what it means to truly be created in God’s image – Elohim – creators. Creators are always inspired. And, that inspiration always comes from wonder. So, everyday, they get up and unapologetically seek bliss by actively fulfilling their life’s purpose.

Finally, I would say that this is not selfish. It sounds self-fulfilling. Partially, it is. But, as each one fulfills his or her purpose, the rest of the world benefits. We all gain from each other’s gifts. Am I trying to create a world filled with magic and love and peace and hope and bliss? Am I THAT crazy to think it’s possible? You better believe I am. Now, YOU. Go seek bliss today.

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Filed under Chasing Dreams, Kid Stuff, Life Experiences, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting, Uncategorized

Oh, Jett Man. Can You Slow Time, Please?

Jett

This is the third “I Can’t Believe You’re Seven” birthday blog I’ve written, and my heart can hardly take it. I’ve been mostly okay writing Jett’s previous birthday blogs and mostly okay embracing the fact he’s another year older. Until now. I mean….I’m okay. And, I LOVE exactly where he is, who he is, and every single thing these seven years of learning and growing have given him. But, seven seems not so little anymore. SEVEN SEEMS SO BIG AND GROWN AND SELF-SUFFICIENT. Seven is realizing that these tender, amazing years of raising little ones are quickly becoming these heart-wrenching, amazing years of coaching and guiding three incredible expressions of God in the earth. And, the fact that God has entrusted me to nurturing and guiding three remarkable beings makes me want to shout “THANK YOU, JESUS FOR THIS LIFE WITH THESE PEOPLE!” My heart pours out gratitude. Because, being their mom is my greatest joy.

I have loved every single second with Jett Takle. He is the third, the baby, the one who can convince to me buy the Oreo Blizzard (and eat the Oreo Blizzard.) The one who can leave rocks and Lego minifigures in his pockets and make me smile every time I pull them out of the dryer. The one who can say, “Can I snuggle with you?” and melt my heart in two seconds flat. The one who can almost convince me to do whatever his little heart desires. Almost.

Jett - mom

And, the amazing thing about all of this? The other three people in this house pretty much feel the same way about this youngest spark of light and joy living down the hall.

Jett Takle, you make ALL of our hearts melt.

There are so many things I love about you and your FUN self.

I love how you can break out into a dance at any given moment if you think it will make us laugh.

I love how you say, “Hot tubbbbbb, hot tubbbbbb. Oh, how’s that hot tubbbb lifeee?” We don’t even know where it came from, but you do it every single time it’s hot tub time, and it makes us all smile so big.

I love how you’ve made it your daily goal to make me laugh every single day. Not once. Not twice. But THREE times. It’s just your thing. And, you count every time until you hit three.

I love how you tell me, “Mom, I looovvveeee your laugh.”

I love how even at seven years old, EVERYTHING is still so amazing. Please, don’t ever lose that. Don’t ever stop being in awe of how beautiful everything is. How intricate and unique every detail is in all of the things around you. Keep the wonder. I will help you fan those flames.

I love how you have named Pastor Will and Jenny “Paw-Paw and Nanny.” Who knows where you come up with these things. But, I love that you recognize the village around you and how loved you are.

I love how you LOVE to read. I love that it compliments and fuels your incredible imagination.

I love how you love Legos and can put them together with both determination and commitment.

I love how it takes you a long time to let me throw away your collection of empty boxes, because “they are special.”

I love that you love going to bed as much as I do. Seriously, I do.

I love how you love to be prayed for every night.

I love how you loved Bigmama and hugged her every time you saw her.

I love how you love all of your grandparents and think they are hilarious and perfect.

I love how you especially think everything your Far-Far does is hilarious. And, how you think Cathy knows “every single thing” about animals.

I love how you think nobody bakes better cookies than Farmor.

I love how you love fishing with your Ga-Ga. And, I love how you yell, “NANNNN!!!! And run to her every single time you see her.

I love how you love working with your daddy on the farm.

Jett - tractor

I love how you think John Henry is the coolest guy you’ve ever seen and light up when he wants to shoot hoops with you.

Jett - JH

I love how you love your sister and still call her “Sissy.”

Jett - Anna

I love how you make me appreciate every second of being a mother.

You are a gift to this family, Jett Takle. You are a gift to the world. You have enlightened the way we look at everything these past seven years. I cannot wait to watch the years ahead unfold for you. They will be amazing. Because, YOU are amazing.

Happy 7th Birthday, Jett Man.

I love you so very much.

Love, Mom

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Make Space For the Season.

blog-space

The other day, I sat in mom and dad’s living room and began recalling my childhood Christmases. The subject came up when I told Anna about the time each of my parents thought the other was buying my presents. We call it “the Christmas my parents forgot me.” Their only child. Just one. Me. It’s actually one of my dad’s favorite Christmas stories to tell. Well, besides the one when dad asked me when I was a little girl to tell him if the lights on the tree were working. “Now they are. Now they aren’t. Now they are. Now they aren’t.” I didn’t realize they were blinking lights. My mom, however, hates the story of forgetting me. She was a flight attendant then, and her schedule was crazy. But, dad and I have laughed about that Christmas so many times. I was older, and I got it. I wasn’t hurt or disappointed. But, I laughed. (And, I caught my dad later that day writing a check to stick inside my stocking.) I wasn’t disappointed, because everything I ever could have needed or wanted from my parents I received. I’m not talking about the things. I’m talking about the relationships. The love. The real stuff that doesn’t get old or break or fade.

After I told Anna that story, I began remembering all of my Christmases when I was a little girl. I remembered the Christmas morning I got Dolly Pops. I had wanted those for a solid year. I remember the Christmas where Ken and Barbie were sitting on their Barbie horses, and another Barbie was taking a dip in her pool that mom filled with water. I remembered the Christmas I opened up a my burgundy velvet blazer and navy blue tie. I guess I was channelling my inner Diane Keaton that year. I began to tell my parents and my own children that while I knew my Christmases weren’t “big” by most standards, they always felt big. Dad was pastoring a small church on a very modest income. They couldn’t do the big. But, I told them, “It always felt big. They were the best Christmases.”

I watched tears stream down my mom’s face. Did she not know that they always felt big and were so perfect to me? Did she not know that I never felt slighted growing up but, instead, only loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the smiles, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the blinking lights?

Last night, I sat in my own living room with my two oldest children who are hardly children anymore. John Henry looks at me and says, “Mom, can you give my big presents to another kid this year or is that not an option?” Later Anna says, “Mom, last Christmas was great. Don’t get me wrong. Everyone loves presents. But, I don’t want so many gifts taking up our time together.” Then, in her hilarious Donald Trump voice she said, “I’m going to build a wall around the tree and gifts.” (Seriously, her Trump impression rivals only that of Alec Baldwin.)

“I want to make space between the gifts and this,” she said, stretching her arms toward John Henry and me. “There is nothing I need. I just want this.”

Did I not know that my kids simply loved every part of what the season brought our family? The peace, the joys, the laughs, the hugs, the thank-yous, the lights that do not blink? Not the things that get old or break or fade. The relationships. The love. The real stuff.

In all of your hectic shopping, your worry over if you have bought enough, done enough, given enough….Pause, stop, breathe. Your kids will have more than they need or want because of YOU. Because, you laugh in the kitchen together while making Chex-mix. Because, you put away your phones and look them in the eyes and listen to them. Because, you take a break from homework and laundry and cry together watching This Is Us. (Have mercy, that show is everything right now.) Because, they watch you say something encouraging to their dad. Because, they watch their dad bring their mom coffee. Because, they see stockings for John Henry’s dad and step-mom hung at my parents’ house. Because, they see what love looks like. How it walks, how it talks, how it moves, how it pauses, how it gives.

Make space between the gifts and this. Fill that space with everything you are. Fill that space absorbing everything your children are. That’s what a big Christmas looks like. Make space for the season. Make space for the real stuff that doesn’t break. But for the stuff that gets you through your hardest seasons. The stuff that assures you that God is always for you and will not fail you. The stuff that reminds you to always make space for forgiveness, for gratitude, and for loving well. The stuff that reminds you that YOU ARE ENOUGH and you are amazing and you are INSANELY loved. Make space for that stuff. Nothing else matters. It’s all about your relationships. I can assure you of that.

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She Turns 12 Today.

anna-vote

I wish I had started doing birthday blogs before her 4th birthday. Because, let’s face it. There are three years worth of hilarious stories that have gone unwritten. But fortunately, there has been enough recorded to keep us reading and enjoying for years to come.

Every single day Anna Takle makes me laugh. And, who would’ve thought years ago that I would be going to her for fashion advice one day? Seriously. The girl who wore fleece in the summer, tanks in the winter, printed tights with ripped shorts, and dressed like she was trying out for the NBA for a solid year. Even yesterday, she questioned my attire for family pictures.

Anna: “Mom, you wear a cream shirt or sweater EVERY TIME WE TAKE FAMILY PICTURES.”

Me: “Well, dang. I guess I do. Maybe I should change?”

Anna: “Why change it up now? It’s kind of your thing.”

Even though I considered throwing on plaid, because, let’s face it….that’s kind of my thing, too….I just said, “Yeah…it’s kind of my thing.” And, we both smiled and went with it.

She is my girl. My best girl. My best friend. My partner in crime. My tough, stubborn beauty who has evolved into a compassionate, gifted soul, FULL of wisdom and goodness.

And, today, she is 12.

She loves the people in her life fiercely. She is protective, sentimental, and one of the most level-headed people I know. She is also one of the most grateful people I know. She thanks her dad and I ALL THE TIME for EVERYTHING. But, SHE is the real gift.

Anna Marie Takle,

I seriously want to cry thinking about how much I love you. How much I love every single thing about you. You make your dad and I the proudest parents on the face of the earth. Everything you do, you do with passion. You give whatever you commit to 100% of who you are. And, in as much as we are proud of your gifts and of your commitment to your education, we are blown away by WHO you are.

I love the way you love and look after Jett. I remember when you were 6 years old, you said, “Jett is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” You take it upon yourself to care for him, to protect him, to teach him, to love on him. I watch you watch him….and, I see you light up when he does something that makes you proud or when he’s just being his cute little self. And, you smile so big. He is probably the reason why you got the nickname, “Little Momma.” (Clearly, “Big Mama” was already taken.)

anna-jett

But, Jett isn’t the only reason we call you Little Momma. You take it upon yourself to parent ALL of us. And, I mean ALL. Sometimes, it’s really cute. Other times, well….well, just be glad, YOU are really cute. And funny.

I love the way you look out for your big brother. Even though he probably doesn’t know it or want you to necessarily. But, you always want to make sure he is okay. And, when he hangs out with you and talks to you, again, you light up. Because, you love him and care for him so very much.

anna-jh-2

I love the way you love your dad. I love the way you immediately defend him if you hear me complain about something he forgot to do. Because, not only does he deserve your defense, but you are always so good to right my wrong perspective. And, every time he comes home from a trip and walks through that door, you run to him, wrap your arms around him, and say, “Daddy!” And, again, you light up. Because, you are not afraid to show him your love.

anna-kris

I love the way you love me. Anna, I never doubt how much you love me and look up to me. And, I do not take the love and respect you give me for granted. At least, I hope I don’t. You never fail to come up to me, look me in the eyes, and say, “Mom, thank you so much for……” You never fail to climb into my bed and pour your tender heart out. You never fail to make me feel your love for me. And, you never fail to make ME light up.

anna-me

I love how important giving sentimental gifts are to you.

I love how you love tiny things.

I love how you love all animals and treat them with care.

I love how you appreciate really good food, good coffee, a good book, and good humor.

I love how you start laughing at your jokes or funny stories before you even begin telling them.

I love how you can laugh at yourself.

I love how you will suggest we eat ice-cream and watch back to back to back episodes of Friends.

I love how you think Phoebe is your spirit-animal.

I love how you want to learn to as many foreign languages as you can and assume it wouldn’t take much planning for us to “hop over to Paris” to try out your progression in French.

I love how when I send you downstairs to do a chore, the chore is always postponed, because you walk past your piano. Yet, you don’t pass it. And, before I know it, I hear magic happening on those keys….and it makes it really hard for me to get upset with you. (Well played, Anna Takle.) Get it? Well played? (That’s one of the corny jokes I know you’ll think is hilarious.)

I love how you ooze out wisdom and always have such perspective on life and relationships. Oh, I listen to you. I listen to you and John Henry both. You both continually make me a better person by how you see people and the world.

Anna, I am so proud of the young lady you are. I can’t imagine what the years ahead look like for you. Because, in this present moment, I am simply in awe.

Thank you, God, for giving me the beautiful gift of Anna Marie. And, let’s just not talk about how she’s going to be a teenager in a year. My heart can’t bear it today.

anna-nyc

Thank you, Anna, for being YOU. I love you so very much.

Love,

Mom

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We’re In This Together.

You know how you get into a season of parenting and you just love that season you’re in? I’m in one of those. Parenting is fun and exhausting and heart-wrenching and hilarious. And, so many more things. I love it that I’m in a season where I can have parenting fails, and my children recognize it as a parenting fail….and, they are able to shake it off and laugh about it. Yesterday was one of those days. First, in the check-out line at Ingles I noticed Jett put something in his pocket. He pulled out a lollipop.

Me: “Jett, do you know that’s stealing?”

Jett: “Yes.”

Me: “Do you know what happens when you steal?”

Jett: “You get rich.”

John Henry looks away, because he knows Jett doesn’t need to see him lose it. I try to reconcile the situation, and I still buy the lollipop. You may call buying the lollipop bad parenting, but I call it “It’s Monday, and Mom is tired.” So, whatever. At least, he now knows we PAY for candy. That’s my justification, and I’m sticking to it.

On the way home, I get a phone call from Kris filling me in on Anna and her appointment with the ENT. Anna, who has had chronic sinus infections for the past two years, apparently has her adenoids to blame for it. She also has her enlarged adenoids to blame for her inability to breathe well. I cannot tell you how many times she has told me, “Mom, I can’t get a good breath,” and I have responded, “It’s all in your head.” Swear. I am winning. You can imagine the hay day Anna had on the whole, “I TOLD YOU I COULDN’T BREATHE, MISS IT’S IN MY HEAD!!!!” I said, “At least you’re not allergic to chocolate!” She sort of laughed. Sort of.

Then later, I tell John Henry about some friends of ours who recently lost their dog. He knew this dog and loved this dog and spent time with this dog. I thought I was preparing him before he hears from someone else. Instead, he responds, “Oh my word, Mom. Why did you tell me that? You’re awful! I didn’t want to know this! You are having so many parenting fails today!”

I told John Henry I wasn’t trying to win any parenting awards. He said, “Clearly,” then he laughed.

We finally settled into the evening, and after putting the little bandit to bed, I decided to get him out for a family UTV ride across the farm. It was hard getting Kris on board, because he was all tired and acting like an old man. But, I was all I just wrote a blog post on living an adventure, so get up, people. A sleepy Jett got on the UTV and said, “Just so you know, when I go to bed, I’m tired.”

We made a memory. And, we forgot all about my parenting fails that day and took pictures of the beautiful, dusk sky. We remembered that at the end of the day, we are all in this thing together. Homework, projects, attempted thievery, surgeries, losses, wins, celebrations, disappointments, funny stories, doctor appointments, laundry, and even bad parenting moments. Sometimes, you need to pause them all and just be. Be in the moment. Be in something different than the day to day routine. Change it up. Be spontaneous. Be content.

Just be.

utv

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We’re A Little Bit Of Everything.

Anna - school

This year, we made the decision to transition our kids to private school. Let me first say, our kids have thrived in public school, and they have been under the instruction of some amazing public school teachers. Our decision to make the change came out of discussions between Kris and I and then with our children. One of the greatest benefits we’ve seen so far (besides only having ONE carpool line a day…..can I hear a shout?) is that all three of our children have opportunities to catch a glimpse of each other throughout the day. Jett will fist bump John Henry every time he sees him. And, we LOVE that. Seriously. Cutest ever.

Having been in a public school environment most of their lives, they are having new experiences they haven’t been exposed to before (and, we LOVE that, too.) Yesterday, Anna gets in the car and first shares that she thinks she might be Pentecostal. But, she doesn’t know for sure…

Anna: “So, today in Bible we checked what denomination we belong to. You know how our church isn’t ‘normal’ and I didn’t know what to check. I remembered hearing Big Mama was Pentecostal a long time ago, so I just checked that.”

John Henry: “We don’t belong to any denomination, Anna. I checked that.”

Anna: “Mom has never told us WHAT we are.”

We actually consider ourselves inter-faith, embracing all denominations. You know….we love grace like the Baptists and missions like the Methodists. Kris prefers the “sprinkling” of the Presbyterians (you will not find him submerged), and now we love the Eucharist like the Episcopalians. The list could go on. Bottom line, we believe every denomination highlights a different and beautiful aspect of the Christian faith. We have never really labeled ourselves, other than “inter-faith” because of this. I’ve sort of taken my dad’s position to always put a comma by your thoughts, because we are forever growing and expanding. We tend to parent our children the same way allowing for freedom of thought and growth. The only thoughts we govern are the ones that surround this scripture:

37Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

Love God, love others, and love yourself.

THEN, Anna proceeds to tell us about her communion experience. We have taken communion. I mean, come on. We are no stranger to the sacrament. We eat our styrofoam wafer and drink our white grape juice, so as not to stain the carpets. We’ve even taken communion as a family together at home, drinking wine from the same glass and breaking bread. Apparently, Anna approached the Episcopalian communion the same way.

“I went up and tried to grab the cup from them. They said, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, trying to drink the wine.”

“We don’t drink. We dip,” they told me.

“So, with my bread in one hand, I dipped my opposite hand, my FINGER into the wine, and then I LICKED MY FINGER. They looked at me like I was crazy. By the time I got back to my seat I noticed I still had my bread in my hand. So, I ate it.”

Needless to say, yesterday’s carpool pick-up was THE BEST. I laughed, and I laughed. Then, I would think about it again and laugh. This is seriously going to be a fun year.

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Create Your Calm.

Jett blankie

Jett loves his little, blue blankie. If you’ve seen Jett, you’ve probably seen his blankie. We are working hard on getting Jett to leave his blankie on his bed every morning. And, by “WE” are working hard, I mean Kris. It makes mornings harder, because, blankie…..you know.

Last night as I was putting Jett to bed and praying over him, I added, “Thank You for a smooth morning. Thank You that Jett is patient and cooperative and full of understanding. Amen.”

This morning Jett woke up happy and cooperative and saying, “yes ma’am” to leaving blankie on his bed. Inside, I was thanking sweet Jesus for such a smooth morning and fist bumping Him in my heart. ‘Cause, we got this.

Then, my sweet, cooperative boy spilled my entire cup of coffee all over the coffee table. All over my phone, my iPad, my favorite books, his Legos, and whatever else was in that line of fire. Jett awaited for scary mom to come out. John Henry left the room to get paper towels and not hear scary mom.

And, I paused. I remembered my prayer of a smooth morning. And, I just said, “It’s okay, bud.”

While, we cannot control every part of our day and avoid trouble, we do get choose our response to the bumps and how they control us. And, instead of it ruining our morning, I was able to be a model of peace and self-control and forgiveness to my children. I do not tout this inner fortitude to do this all of the time. I have failed so many times and went scary mom on my children more times than I care to recall. And, self-appointed Holy Spirit in my life, Anna Takle, is always quick to remind me of how I should’ve responded. Bless her. But, today, I made a decision to create my calm. To CHOOSE a smooth morning.

We can pray for things, and that’s okay. We can thank God for things, and that is necessary. But, in as much as I thanked Him for a smooth morning, it was up to me to create it.

You create your calm. You create your peace. You create your smooth. It’s not the hard moments that wreck us or our day. It’s our response to them.

Instead of coming home from dropping the kids off stressed, I came home noticing a beautiful sunrise. I came home pouring out tears of gratitude for this beautiful day. Creating my calm made thanksgiving so easy.

Make the decision to choose your responses today. Create your calm, and let thanksgiving pour out.

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