Tuesday, June 24, 2014

 Hi. I'm a stay-at-home-mom with a child training hangover

Every year we put our backpacks away. We smile the giddy smiles and we are fresh.

 I say, "This year, I will enjoy them. All of the moments, all of the everything. It will be different because I am in a different place and they area older... and it will be different".

We do our big camping celebration and then we enter our New Normal with confidence and excitement.

...And it's not that different. The adjustments are the same, which lead me to the guilt and the "what's wrong with me?!" and the disappointment.

There's plenty of good, and alot of hard. It's just life. I'm begging God for extra strength and extra grace to offer these boys. None of us are used to all being under one roof all day every day. We are navigating the togetherness.

The second day we were back home from camping I ran out of milk. No biggie. We always run out of milk. I'll just jump in the van... and.... Wait. I'll make sure every one is dressed and ready to go. K will need his braces on. And... he's too big for a cart, but doesn't quite have the endurance to walk through the entire store to the back where the milk is. And they will want things. I just need milk. I don't want to hear about all of the things. 

Milk is overrated. Who needs milk anyway? -Not me.

My brain knows stuff - Like the fact that my time has never been my own. How selfish to think otherwise.

I live for higher things. Eternal things. I want to serve my family. It's my ministry.

Truth? - I want to... want to serve my family. But right now?
 I'm rarely alone.
I'm getting up early,
staying up late,
and my time not being my own is taking on a whole new definition.
I'm battling this bigger/uglier desire to be affirmed and to be served.

Just like every year. Oh human nature...


Today K is at Grandma's. And I am grateful. Grateful for her patience with him. Grateful she has been highly involved in his care since birth, therefore is comfortable and used to all that having K entails.

I am grateful for this grace, because I needed a break. And I can either hate that I needed a break, or I can simply say,"Thank you", and breathe. He blesses my socks off and he needs alot. As he gets older, personal care needs take more. He learns so differently, and feelings of inadequacy are never too far under the surface when I am in the trenches of parenting him.

I'm getting used to the noise level, and I am learning when I need to step away for a minute.
Before I feel that rising heart rate and smoldering frustration escalate.
Before the unkind words and ugly little creature of self  reigns.


So much God is teaching me. I am not a fan of being shown my weaknesses, and that is right where I am at now. Trying to humbly see them, having the courage to hit my knees, and repent. To truly turn from selfishness.


Trying to give the tools for "working things out" when the fighting starts (this seems pretty constant right now), disciplining the disrespect, unkindness, and disobedience - I feel a bit like I have a child training hangover....

One thing that has been coming into my heart - loud and clear - is that I need to address gender differences with much more gentle grace.
Because you guys, I have never felt more keenly the fact that

I AM OUTNUMBERED.


The lone female in a home with 5 guys will want to aggressively attack things that seem wrong. That do not make sense to her. That annoy her.


Asking God to open my eyes to what needs to change in my parenting, to see my boys as unique and valuable creations, and nurture my relationship with each one has resulted in.... well, just that. He is answering. He is stopping me in my tracks when I begin to "discipline" that which is not wrong doing.

"It's a boy thing. Leave it alone" - I swear God is whispering that in my ear daily. ;)

The competitive EVERYTHING. What the? I do not care who finished their cereal first.
Or stayed up latest.
Or got up earliest.
Or kicked tail in Mario Kart (Kicked mom's tail in Mario Kart? No.Big.Deal. Everyone does it. Yes, even the baby) ;)
Made the biggest Lego battleship.
Jumped the highest on the trampoline.

WHY? Why does it matter?

Because it does. And much is accomplished when guys are pushed by a drive to do better. Does it need to be channeled and managed? Yes. But it doesn't have to be squelched.

The silly? The loud? The imaginative? The endless talk about

Space
Mine craft
Their imaginary friend
Legos
What-would-happen-if _______________

I know it's investing in deeper relationships with them as they grow up. I know it's good. And sometimes? My brain feels like it is about to melt.

K asks me 10,000  several times a day what I am going to do tomorrow, what I am going to do right now, and what I am going to do after breakfast/lunch/supper/the laundry/bedtime. I know this is his way of having a connection with me. He is communication and ordering his world. But after the fifth time......


My mornings are fresh and I have new resolve. It's after about 8 hours I am done.
Need to breath, need some me time. 
Must.have.quiet.
Overstimulated.

What if we are ok answering 15 questions, but by #16 we start to snap back?

What is we are super fresh and full of self control and kindness in the morning, but after 8 hours or so we have used it up. Can't do it anymore?

And that scripture that talks about our entitlement to "me time"..... oh wait.

Renewing our minds? Yes. Refreshing our spirit and coming up for air? Indeed. But I am challenged with where I think I need to get that refreshment.

I know the answer. I know where I need to renew my strength. I know I can't do this alone. Practically "getting this" and really applying it is the process I currently find myself a part of.


I've always been the "stay at home mom who is hardly ever home". -During the fall and winter I am there with the guys in the morning, and when they get home from school. But other than that - I am constantly on the go. Imagine that. A stay at home mom who.... stays home. ;)



Thursday, June 19, 2014

 The camping thing, and why it's worth it



Our newly created tradition, started only one year ago, is now cemented in McCallum family forevers. 

It's the last day of school camping expedition.

Last year it was a surprise, and that can not be recreated. But the fun and excitement lives on. We went to the same place we did last year. Nothing really stands out about this simple state park nearly an hour and a half north west of here. Nothing spectacular, and yet it's a niche we have carved out and it means something to us now.

So we went. We started out our summer vacation with the camping trip of yes.  The boys have worked hard this school year, and it has been packed busy. Dave and I talked about how much they have done, how spread thin we had become, and how much we desired for these guys of ours to relax and be able to enjoy this time away. We wanted to say "yes" as much as possible.

To be honest, we very likely had to say "no" as much as we mellowed out and threw around that lovely "yes". We are in that training parenting phase, and we couldn't let that guard down. However,

there were two toasted marshmallows, when there may have only been one.

The moon was rising into the sky before little eyes were closed.

Biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, swimming, and sandcastle making happened multiple times.


It was good. Tiring, and good. Dave and I noted, on more than one occasion, that All Of The Things required a great deal of effort {"Did you get the sunscreen? Go back and get the sunscreen. Life jackets? Oh, we need bug spray. Give me about 20 minutes to load up bikes and kayaks. Ok, we need to patch a tire, nope, need a new tube. There's a Meijer about 15 minutes from here. Oh, did we get worms? Time to unload this and reload that, then reload that and unload this. The anchor is caught around a tree??! Let's unload the bikes. We need to load the canoe. WHERE'S THE BUG SPRAY?!"}


and at times the "effort" itself took longer than the event requiring such preparation.


Worth it. Every single minute. This is our life. The life. Our gift from God that we desire to turn around and become our gift to Him.



At one point we were out on the lake with K, Noe, Kai, and Dave in the Canoe, Jay in his new kayak, and I in Dave's Kayak. It started raining, a soft but steady soaking. I looked around and had to grin. This is it. I was paddling water onto my rain soaked capris and looked around me.

The boy mom life. Defined. Right here.







Really, there's allot of work involved in all of this. Sometimes it feels like we clean up after one meal only to face the beginning stages of the next. We get physically tired, and feel like we need a vacation from our vacation. But this - it's what we do. We've been entrusted with these lives. We only get one shot. We are not investing in high dollar vacations and entertainment. Partially because that's just not us, partially because, let's face it - we can't. 

So, we do this. And we say yes. And we love big.

We make the ice cream




We drown a few worms...





 And that one fish? - The one that just barely squeaks through in crossing the line to "big enough" - it's worth it.


We do the campfire thing over and over...


 And the food. All Of The Food...



-We use any and every teachable moment that we can. We invest our time and energy into these lives. And guess what? These lives give back. Big time.




This mud throwin' dude is a prime example.

Seeing him walking on the beach made me tear up. I don't know what it was. He's been walking independently, sans walker, for several months now - but there was something about watching this big boy navigate the uneven terrain of sand and water....



I don't know, it just got me. 




I was a ways up on the beach, and he repeatedly would find drift wood, shells, and lovely things, such as seaweed, that he would haul up the beach to where I was relaxing.


And every time I watched him make the trek up the beach, walking, My heart would beat,

 "miracle,
 miracle, 
miracle."



So, really - we don't just do it for the boys. There's great effort to make this happen. Planning and toting, lifting and packing, cleaning and cooking, unpacking and refereeing.

But there are some things you just can't see or experience unless you put that effort in. Somethings only become clear when you step away from home and routine and step onto more uneven terrain.





Tuesday, June 17, 2014

 {June} 10 on the 10th

I almost didn't do it this month. I mean, coffee and flowers and food and my kids (a million of Kai, because he's my hang out buddy during the school year) - a selfie or two. ;)

Kind of redundant after a while, right?

But I haven't been using this little space much lately, and my heart still does want to overflow here.

Flowers and food and boys.

It may be repetitive, but it's my life. And my heart. Here they are. June 10 on 10.



Garage sale find. Had only been used a couple of times. Here-being used daily. yes please.


Fav color, fav flower. Blooming in my kitchen window.


Up for some breakfast and Lego play. Only one and a half more days of school. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it!!



Waiting for brother at a dentist apt. Being cute, per his usual. 


My peonies are in full bloom! Be still my heart. God's creativity fills me. 


Look. Kai. And Legos.


Some days, when hubby comes home with these, it's better than diamonds. ;) He knows. 


Us.


We love stuffed shells! 


Packed up and ready to go tomorrow. If you jumped into this photo, you would feel the excitement! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

 {May} 10 on the 10th

This is what 10 on 10 is all about: taking a photo every hour for ten consecutive hours on the tenth of each month, documenting a day in your life and finding beauty among the ordinary moments. 



I tell them to give me 2 hours, because my house - wow - it needed some work. The past week has been pretty over-the-top busy. 
All my choice, so I am not complaining. There was a lot of beauty in the here-and-there-and-everywhere busy. 
But the neglect of the house thing never fails when a week like that happens. 




Jay and daddy are getting a very special date! Early morning until evening spent in Detroit. His first Tigers game. He was over the moon. -And is it just me, or is his facing looking so grown these days? *small tear*




Chores - done! The three littles at home with me did a fabulous job of pitching in and getting little jobs done around the house. Part of the motivation, I'm sure, was knowing what was coming. :) 
We pack up our lunch and head out to the park.





I'm pretty infatuated with my new phone too, but I make him hand in all electronics, as we are committed to a screen free afternoon. :)


 But I let him keep the beads…:)


And oh the fun!




Bliss.




They say, "When do we have to go home", and I revel in telling them that they can have all the fun they want. I have no agenda for the day except being present and loving little people. 


Rawrrr!




After a few hours, lots of fun, ice cream cones, and sticky fingers, we arrive home.
Finish up prep for my 2nd through 6th grade Sunday school lesson tomorrow.




I maybe wasn't 100% unselfish in my limitless park play for these guys…. this is a beautiful thing right here. ;) Hello lashes! 



That lovely evening sun shining through my windows on my Mother's day bouquet from my Mother-in-law! Gorgeous. 



So thankful!