Saturday, April 12, 2014

New Toys

Our neighbors have twin granddaughters who live in Texas but are coming next week to visit.  She cleaned out their playroom and bought new toys before their visit.  She called and asked me if I would like to look through the toys for the boys.  She had lots of girl toys and some gender neutral toys also.  Micah and I walked over to see everything.  He could not concentrate on anything she had because of princess table and tea party set.  YES!  A PRINCESS TABLE AND TEA PARTY SET!  (We got so many other fun toys and books too but he has barely noticed them!)

That was on Thursday night.  It is now Saturday morning.  We have had countless tea parties.  There have been tea parties with mommy, tea parties with daddy, tea parties with each other, tea parties alone.  Yesterday when Micah woke up, Dan walked in his room and with sleepy eyes and a raspy voice, he said "you wanna have a tea party with me?"

At this very moment, both boys are at the princess table enjoying a tea party...complete with a cash register to cash them out.  And, if you were interested in coming to our party and buy a cupcake, cookie or cup of tea, everything costs "ten!"  I don't know if that is ten dollars or cents but it is most always ten!  

Oh, I should probably add that we are also watching Frozen for the 12th time this week!  It is as if I have little girls living with me!

And, before I get a comment, no it doesn't bother me that my boys are playing with girl toys.  Yes, they like boy toys but these are new and something they have never had before.  So, they are interesting to them.  I bought a little bin at target yesterday to keep all of it because we certainly have friends with little girls so it will be nice to finally have some pink and purple around here.  And, just in case you are worried that they might not be all boy, take a look at the nastiness from yesterday afternoon.  

We spent 7+ hours in the yard yesterday.  Not one person in my family enjoys yard work.  All of you people who say it is therapeutic and how you love to get your hands dirty just make me scratch my head.  Dan finished the work in the total dark while I bathed two nasty little boys.  (Who then asked if they could have a tea party before bed!) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Kids in Church

A few weeks ago, we had an issue in church regarding kids and electronics.  It was such a distraction to everyone sitting near me that it sparked some conversations after the service.  One lady wanted to know my thoughts and opinions about kids in church, electronics in church and children's church.  I'm always so careful in those times because people have opinions and they aren't always like mine.  This is a topic that easily offends so I've been careful about writing about it.  But, it came up again last week with a totally different group so I thought I'd put it out there.  I would also like your thoughts in the comment section after you read this.  We are obviously all different and from different backgrounds so I know the opinions will vary. 

I'll start with small children.  I'm a believer in the church nursery.  I believe it is important for children to have a place that focuses on them at the stage of life they are in.  My kids have learned so much over the years in their time in the nursery.  I'm grateful to be part of a denomination who allows kids in the service but also creates an environment that caters to their level of learning and understanding.  The nursery means a couple of things for me.  First, it means I get to focus and pay attention.  I get time to be fed without being mommy.  Second, it means my child is loved and cared for and told about Jesus in a way that they understand.  

I realize that some churches do not have nurseries or they are not places where you feel comfortable leaving your children.  That necessitates kids being in church with you.  I'm grateful for the options I have but even without options, I think I would feel strongly about some of the things parents allow their kids to do during a worship service?  

I had someone (in a very judgmental tone) tell me "we don't use a nursery because it is very important for kids to grow up in church and learn how to sit and behave in a church service.  We don't believe in a nursery!"  Yet, they take electronics and sometimes even headphones every single week!  

Micah came to church with me for the first time a few weeks ago.  He sat through the entire service and did great.  He loved the music.  LOVED it!  He did great during the sermon too.  He has asked to go back a couple of times already.  And, I'll let him.  We will try it again in a couple of weeks.  Here is the kicker though...he did it with zero electronic entertainment.  My belief about most everything concerning children is that kids rise to the level of expectation.  If you go into a situation saying they can't or won't then they won't.  But, if you expect much out of them, then you will get much from them.

(I will say, before I get a comment, I do believe that last sentiment includes children that do not have special needs.  I'm not a parent of a special needs child so my parenting does not come from that place.) 

Before we went into the service, I took Micah to potty, gave him a drink of water, grabbed a few books for him and talked to him about what was about to happen.

On the same day that he was with me, on a row near us, there were 3 teenagers with iPads and they spent the entire service playing Candy Crush and on Facebook.  Micah saw their electronic devices and asked for my phone.  I told him no.  If I would have given him my phone, he certainly would have been entertained and I never would have heard a peep from him or had to tell him to be still.  But, what purpose would that accomplish?

Isn't the purpose of being in church to listen and learn?  Isn't the goal to train them to participate in a service?  I find it interesting that many families have a "no phones at the dinner table" rule but allow them for entertainment during Worship?  An electronic device totally disconnects them from the entire service that is happening around them. 

Because Micah didn't have an electronic device, when Dan started reading from God's word, Micah asked for a Bible.  I helped him find his place.  Granted, he didn't stay there long.  But, he engaged some. 

And, no, this next picture is not staged.  When we prayed, this is what Micah did.  If "There's a Monster At The End of This Book" was in front of him on the iPad, there is no way he would have paused to pray along with the rest of the congregation.  This isn't because he is a preacher's kid.  This is because he heard (because he wasn't distracted) a call to pray.

There are times I have let my kids bring electronic devices into the Sanctuary.  We have had business meetings before where there was no childcare.  We brought the iPad.  I'm not a parent who is opposed to electronics.  But, I strongly believe that children need to be taught to pay attention and learn while in a worship service.  There are several things I have done in the past with Jonah that helped with this.

As a disclaimer, while we do bring things to help them engage with the service, all of those things stay in our bag until the sermon starts.  When it is time to sing, we make them stand and sing.  Sometimes we sit next them on the pew and point out the words or tell them what words are coming.  Sometimes we hold them or stand them next to us on the pew.  We stay engaged with them and we sing.  We sing because we want them to understand worship.  Allowing them to sit/play/read while musical worship is happening does not teach them the value of singing praises to a mighty God.  

1.  Busy Bag-  I pack a bag of things that gave him some entertainment but didn't totally distract him or others around him.  This bag has blank paper, crayons, stickers, a toddler Bible and a couple of books.  When I choose books, I try to choose books that have some sort of Bible message. 

2.  Sleepy Toys-  Both of my kids have beloved sleepy toys.  We don't carry our sleepy toys with us everywhere.  The main reason for that is the fear of losing one and not having it at bedtime.  So, we decided when Jonah was just a toddler that our sleepy toys stay in the bed.  (Keeping them in their beds also solves the long searches for them at bedtime each night!)  So, you can imagine how excited they are when we pull that out of the bag at church.  It is just a comfort item for them in an environment full of adults. 

3.  Sermon notes-  As Jonah got older and learned to write and read, we helped him learn to take notes on the sermon.  I've used some pre-printed notes like this or this.  Micah can't do either yet so I encourage him to draw a picture of something he heard Dan say.  His pictures all look like big circles with random lines.  (he's not so gifted with the art- he takes after his mom!)

4.  Sunday School Material- Most every week, our kids come from Sunday school with some sort of activity sheet.  This is usually the first thing they do when the pen comes out.  

I liken things like electronics to clothing for little girls.  When we lived in Vidalia, there was a mom of a teen girl who told me that she wished she could go back to her 3 year old daughter and dress her differently.  She said that when she was 3, the short shorts, halter tops and bikinis were so precious.  There was nothing sexual about them.  Before she realized it, her daughter was a teen and those things were no longer appropriate but she allowed it at an early age and there was never a cut off.  It is just what she had always allowed and they had always done.  The same is true for what we do and don't do in church.  If you use a phone to entertain your child during worship at 3, 4 and 5, then how will you stop it as 6, 7 and 8?  Then, when you are frustrated with your teen because they won't put their phone down and listen when in a worship service, you realize that you perpetuated this at an early age.  It is a slippery slope in many ways.  

I know opinions are varied.  One text I received today said "the problem is because parents don't want to parent.  It is easier to let something entertain them."  Another text said they don't have nursery at their church and if they get ANYTHING from the sermon then their kids have to be entertained by phones."  So, where do you fall?  I'm just curious!?!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Jonah's April Fool's Joke

Jonah's teacher played a little April Fool's joke on them last week.  He could hardly wait to trick his daddy.   Unfortunately, we didn't take into consideration the fact that Micah is 3 and doesn't quite get April Fool's Day.  Poor thing.  He just wanted a brownie!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

What is important?

Going back to school after Spring Break makes me feel like school is almost over for the year.  I spent all of last week feeling like we were in the home stretch.  Then, just last night, Dan reminded me that we have two months left.  TWO WHOLE MONTHS!  I tried to process that information while I made lunches for today but it was just too much to take in at once.  I'm still dwelling on it this morning.  I guess I should not have been surprised because Jonah got his 3rd report card yesterday so that means we still have 1/4 of the way to go.  :-(

He did very well on his report card.  So far this year, he has had all A's.  It's interesting to me that he has no concept of grades.  I remember the first term when I told him that he had all A's, he was disappointed.  He wanted "some of the other letters too!"  I'm sure he will one day be super proud of his academic accomplishments.  So far, science is still his favorite part of school and anything that involves handwriting is his least favorite.  

Because Micah has a late birthday, he still has some time before he starts Kindergarten.  When I was counting the years out, I realized that he would be in Kindergarten when Jonah is in 5th grade.  So, they will only have that one year together at the same school.  My mind can not even comprehend Jonah as a 5th grader.  I totally see Micah as a Kindergarten student though.  He will be so ready.  His vocabulary is crazy already.  Kids learn so many big words at such early ages now.  I think his vocabulary is more advanced than Jonah's was at this age.  I think that is due to the "Endless Alphabet" app on the iPad.  Because, I rarely use the words "stupendous" or "gregarious" but he does.  (And in the right context!!!)

In just 5 weeks, Dan and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary.  15 years is a big deal to me.  I keep thinking about that number and I'm so grateful to God for the marriage He has given us.  We are two very imperfect people who are madly in love with the other.  It has been a really good 15 years.  We are planning a getaway and are super excited about some time together.  As I was typing this, I realized that from December to May have been banner months for Dan.  He graduated with his Doctorate, turned 40 and will celebrate 15 years of marriage.  That's big!

The last few months have been crazy busy for us.  Which, in turn, has made me think a lot about busyness.  I remember a Sunday School discussion a few months ago where various people talked about how busy they were and they couldn't make time for ________ or _________.  My friend said "I don't buy that.  You make time for what is important to you!"  It certainly ruffled some feathers because they saw it as judgmental. But, I know that isn't what she meant.  She didn't say that out of judgement for them.  She said it as accountability for herself.  The judgmental feelings came because it is something we all struggle with.   The truth is that we all have the same amount of hours in our day.  We choose the things or people that are important to us.  Life happens and things get in the way but if something or someone is important, we make time.  And, relationships suffer when you realize that you aren't a priority for someone or when they realize they aren't your priority. 

Because of that, I've had to let some things go.  Just last night, I pulled the plug on something that was going to take a good bit of my time this week.  It was something that I wanted to do and actually even needed to do.  But, Dan's schedule has him out of the house a lot this week.  My people need me more than this needed me.  I try to use the time in my car to make phone calls and appointments.  I respond to emails while I'm in the school pick-up line.  I keep telling myself "People Matter- prove it to them!"  So, I'm really working on that.  

In the meantime, I'm spending some fun times with these two boys.  Jonah has had more play dates in the last two weeks than this whole semester.  Micah has ridden his scooter and bike more than ever.  I'm catching up with old friends.  (Hope, return your voice mails please.  Ahem...)  I'm trying new recipes.  I'm just remembering that if it is important to me then I will make time for it. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Life with boys

Jonah:  Can I have a Sprite because it makes me burp LOUD?

Micah:  Mommy, I had a booger in my nose at school today but I got it out and wiped it on the trash!


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