Oct 30, 2013

From Where I've Been

I haven't posted since the beginning of the month when I posted a fall photo dump of all the fallish things that had been on my mind.  However, soon after that post we flew to Hawaii for two weeks and all thoughts of fall fled my mind for a couple of weeks.  Or rather we tried to fly to Hawaii, but being that we fly standby we had five days of not making flights and had other adventures like a trip to Vegas in between....but that's another story.  In all, we did manage to spend nine nights there after all.  We just got back.

We have taken the kids there before but Tessa was just a few months old last time.  This time she got to experience it all for herself as well.  I have so many photos that I will post later, most likely, well maybe, because everyone loves seeing other people's vacation pictures, right?

I think what is most on mind right now to post about is the fact that I was reintroduced to Tessa and the joy that she is.  Which really sounds strange since I am a stay-at-home mom.  I have to say though, that this kid has, in the past, had the tendency to suck me dry.

That sounds aweful to say...out loud...in public.  But that fact does not have anything to do with the deepness of my love.  It has to do with how my personality meshes with that of Tessa's.

I actually don't know how to put this.  Tessa's first year was a stressful blur as she was a colicky, needy baby.   She was still super high-strung and needy the next year and I adored her and constantly felt stressed by her in a confusing jumble of emotions.  Then last year, I went to work and missed a lot of her and felt the pang of separation greatly.  This year, we are getting back into the swing of things around here at the house, and at three, Tessa has definitely come into her own.  I thoroughly enjoyed her this trip.  Every bit of her without feeling stressed out by her....and that may have just been the first time.

Tessa has a stubborn, loud and demanding and completely endearing personality.  More and more over the summer, I have grown more in love with the little person she is becoming as parts of her personality and mannerisms unfold.  It's a funny thing about love.  It begins wide and grows deeper.

This one morning in Hawaii, I woke up and our window over the bed faces the sunrise.

Tessa was in a little bed by ours and she always woke up first.  But this time I beat her by a couple of minutes.  I watched the sunrise and then her sleepy little head popped up next to me.  I hauled her into bed next to me and we watched it together, totally delighted with the bright morning colors.  That's the thing about Tessa.  She will always let you know how she feels.  Her giggle is infectious, she gets easily embarrassed and runs to hide in my arms, her nose wrinkles in disgust as she makes a little "tsk" sound, she shrieks with anger, she keeps her face very straight when she does not agree with you as if a sign of emotion is a loss for her.  She's got an extremely crazy and bold side.

 One day we went to this beach with crashing waves and a strong undertow.  The surfers were out and only adults were brave enough to swim the waves....and Tessa.  She shrieked as the waves pulled at her legs and tried to sweep her out.  Tone and I just held on to the back of her life vest and let her body surf the waves.  She thought that beach was the BEST fun.  The people around us were very entertained by this bold little three year old who thought strong waves were so so fun.

She has serious thrill issues.

Oh Tessa.  From where I've been with you to now, I am just really delighted to get to be your Momma. I'll be sad when your cute chubby arms no longer fling themselves around my neck in a death grip with the strong command to "tickle me Momma!!!"  She's always draping herself aggressively over me in her enthusiastic display of love and affection.  
I want to bottle up her little three year old self forever.
Except that four was always a favorite age with the other two....I'll bet four will be pretty delightful too.

Oct 7, 2013

Fall Phone Photo Dump

I just thought I'd post some photos that were taken with my phone documenting the glorious return of fall.
This week I've had a not so glorious cold which has meant homeschooling from the couch with a wool blanket and plenty of tea.  Vanilla Chai is my favorite in case you were wondering.  It's a slight addiction this time of year.
I bought new boots and have finally gotten to wear them.  This is a truly awkward photo in which I tried to take a picture of myself.  My hips look really wide.  What do they say about horizontal stripes?  Oh.
I also decorated my mantle for fall.  I truly need to get out my "good" camera and take a half decent photo of this display...but nah.  You get the idea.  Here you go in all it's instagram fuzzy glory.  Squint.  It looks better.
This next little treasure deserves a post all on it's own. Tone and his dad made me a bench for my table.  When I put the leaf in, I am two chairs short, so I requested a bench.  And I received.  Mmm hmm.  Bench loveliness. All three kids like to line up here.  Isn't it a beauty?
Tea and poetry has continued with a few poems and a reading of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  The kids love laughing at poor mister Ichabod Crane and the descriptions of the area around the Hudson River where Hunter was born.  It also felt sufficiently spooky to read in October.
We went to an A's game.  I'm pretty sure I didn't get to watch a lot of it since I was entertaining small people who could have cared less.  Also, Tessa decided a Superman pajama shirt was the only thing acceptable to wear that day.  I went with it.  They won...so I'm calling it a good luck charm.  That's my story about the shirt.

Where else can you do math in jammies on the couch?  I'm just pointing out a perk.

Welp, so there is fall so far around here.  It's looking like a pretty good one.

Oct 4, 2013

Teaching the greatest truth

I asked my kids why they thought were born.  Seriously.
Yep, I went there with an 8 year old and a 6 year old.  I know, I know.  You're thinking, "Geesh.  That Plumb lady doesn't mess around."
And that's true.  It seems kinda deep for just a 4th and 1st grader.  But honestly, it seems to me like a kind of obvious question. Because it seems to me that that question drives everything else that we do and all the fundamental questions of our lives.
So what is the single most important reason for us being born?
Is it to be a good person? Be successful?  And what is successful?  What is good exactly?  Is it to fill a place in this world in a positive way?

Out of the mouths of babes, Ainsley nailed it with her answer.
"That's easy Mommy.  It's because God loves me and wanted my love."

And there you have it.  The reason you and I were born.
Simple. Profound.

You were born because God loves you and desired you.  That's it.  You exist to love Him.  That's it.

Anything else is just, well, extra and unnecessary.
So I've been thinking a lot about how this translates to how I raise my children and how we interact as a family.  Because this simple truth can turn my goals and focus inside out.

It seems to me that I sometimes make rules for the sake of "goodness".  Whatever that is.  But sometimes I want my children to be "good" and somehow that doesn't translate to loving.  It just translates to following some rules and being obedient.  Now I'm not saying that rules and standards aren't important, because they are, but sometimes I feel like I get caught up in teaching my children the "right" way instead of the "loving" way.  It seems to me though, that if I just teach standards and rules, then I am teaching them that following those is what gives my children their value.  Meaning that only if they are "good and obedient" then they have value.  What a false message this is!  When it comes to God, following a set of rules is NOT what brings us our value to Him.  We have value simply because He created us and then He bought us with a price.  A very expensive price.

I've been reading a lot lately in the New Testament.  In fact, I'm doing this class where I have to read all the way through the New Testament in about three months.  It's a lot of reading.  What I keep coming across over and over again is this simple fact that love trumps everything.  It trumps rules and systems, it trumps "should's" and "oughts", it trumps success, and it trumps culture, race, age, and anything else you could tack on to that.  It means taking each moment and looking at another person and meeting their needs and treating them with value.  It means being wise and discerning towards others in the moment.  Quite frankly, you can't always boil this down to a set of rules.  Sometimes it's harder to parent this way because it means discerning and teaching to the heart and seeing each moment as unique.  It means teaching a set of morals and values (which don't change) and applying them to unique situations which do change in a discerning and unselfish way which communicates to the other person that they have value and are loved.

Sometimes I wake up and my heart just seems armed for battle that day.  I trip over toys on the way to the kitchen where I find lazy children lounging around with breakfast cereal all over the floor and their favorite cartoon blasting.  Do you have those days too?
  Hey, I'm not going to tell you that it wouldn't be OK  to say, "Come on guys! Put away the toys!  Clean up, get dressed, TV off."  But I am going to say that you should have probably checked and explained your reasoning ahead of time.   And by checking, I mean your own heart.  
Having a way you do things as a family shows love, value and respect to everyone living in the home as long as those systems are made with serving each other in mind rather than selfish serving of self.   Do these systems show everyone that we value them and their unique personality?  Are we patient and helpful when those systems clash with a personality?  
I kinda have a new rule for myself.  And that new rule is about making house rules.
One: I cannot lay down a new rule or system without first explaining to the kids how this will help the family show each other that we are caring for and valuing each other.  If it doesn't show the family love, and it's only because of my personal preference, the rule has to be discarded.
Two: The rule has to be somewhat flexible.  Rules can be tweaked to fit and changed as we work them.  I realize that you can't keep changing them because that would be confusing to kids.  What I mean is that after doing the rule for a while and I find that it isn't really promoting a loving atmosphere or action towards each other, then a pow-wow needs to happen.  We discuss, "What needs to change about this?  How can we do this different so that we are loving each other in this area?"  But once agreed, we stick to it.  I've found that arguing about it when an infraction incurs usually stems from selfish reasons anyways.  Then we have another pow-wow.  "Hey remember why we are doing this?  Are you thinking about loving the other person right now?"
I'm finding that teaching to the heart is difficult.  Our hearts don't like to be molded.  We resist loving.  We embrace selfishness.  The child that nailed that answer at the beginning of this post really stinks at loving.  In fact, we all do in this family compared to God's love.  But when we catch that glimmer and begin to show it to each other....Wow!  It's transforming and powerful like no other force on earth. Showing love with no strings attached is tough. But more than anything, I want my children to catch this message:
"I love you for who you are, and not the rules you obey or don't obey, and so does God.  You were made because of love, and you were made TO love. If you learn to love, there is nothing else that truly matters."