Love & Respect

Seventy-five percent of the texts I send from my cell phone are to my husband. He'll often tell me how much he looks forward to my short notes, photos and videos, reminding him who he's working for. It's never anything earth-shattering, but these little texts help keep us connected throughout the long work day.

He's busy at work, so most times, I don't expect a response. Plus, Andy doesn't have a keyboard on his phone, so he would have to do it the 'old fashioned way' which takes forever. The text I sent the other day, though, got the response I thought he might have.

"I have so much respect for you, Andy. Thank you for being the man of our house."

He called a few minutes later and asked, "What did I do to receive such a nice text?" You see, we can tell our husbands that we love them all we want. And they appreciate it, I'm sure. But guys don't desire to be loved. They want to be respected.

Paul wrote this in Ephesians 5:22-33:
 Did you catch that last verse?
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Men are to love, women are to respect.

Many women are afraid of the word 'submit' because it conjurs up images of a slave and his master or one of a dictator. But that is not what it was meant to communicate at all; that was twisted by power-hungry men who abuse their authority. The marriage relationship is an equal partnership - different duties, but all serving one purpose. Just as you can't have two people driving the same car at the same time, the marriage relationship needs one person at the wheel. (And we all know how annoying those backseat drivers are!) He's the one steering the vehicle and is ultimately responsible for the care of his passengers. It is not meant to be a relationship of oppression, but rather, of freedom.

When Paul was encouraging men to love their wives and women to respect their husbands, he was ultimately asking them to do the same thing: caring for the other person as they would care for their own bodies. But you don't have to teach women how to love, just as you wouldn't need to teach a man what it means to respect. Each sex does that intuitively - it's how God designed us.

You may think that you do a lot to respect your husband and you're probably right. But I would like to challenge you this simple task: tell you husband how much you respect him. His chest will pop up and his muscles tighten; you have just empowered his masculinity and the role God designed him to have within your family. When he acts shocked and asks where that came from, be sure to have specific things in mind to explain why you respect him. How he helps care for the kids, earns money for your family, works hard at his job, taking out the trash, mowing the lawn, etc. Do this at least once a week in a quiet moment, when you mean it sincerely. Then see for yourself how much more he'll work to show you he loves you :)

If you're interested in learning more, I highly recommend the book, Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs. It has saved and strengthened many marriages!


The Toddler's Creed

My friend, Amy, sent me the link to this page a few weeks ago. It was written by Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director. And let me tell you, it came at the perfect moment. With two toddlers, things can get hairy at times and my patience tested. You begin to wonder if you're doing anything right at all! But it is encouraging to know that this is a phase, it is normal and it will pass. I copied-and-pasted the article for you to be encouraged as well. (Thanks for passing this along, Amy!)

The Toddler’s Creed

“If I want it, it’s mine.
If I give it to you & I change my mind later, it’s mine.
If I can take it away from you, it’s mine.
If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.
If it’s mine, it will never belong to anybody else, no matter what.
If we are building something together, all the pieces are mine.
If it looks like mine, it is mine.”

No truer words have ever been spoken.

The Toddler’s Creed is a long standing “poem” used in working with toddler teachers. It’s also a resource given to parents once their beautiful, bouncing baby learns to toddle and walk, starts to see the world in a whole new way and discovers they have the incredible power to grab and hold on to whatever they see and want!

Toddlerhood is the “Me!” stage – the “I want!” stage – the “I can!” stage and it is highlighted by the toddler mantra: “NO!” This is healthy development!

If you have lived through the toddler stage at your home and both you and your toddler have come out of it as stronger individuals, congratulations! If you are in it now, smile and put away the china! If you have a lovely little bundle still in a crib and buggy, get ready! Toddler time is right around the corner! Hurray!

I love toddlers! They are smart, funny and full of life! Research tells us that from birth to 3 years old, we grow the quickest, our brains develop the detailed wiring that is needed in every aspect of life, our sense of self is established and we truly understand the power of communication. Those totally dependent infants can now run, talk, and take your hand. They want a book read, make choices, look for friends, float boats in the tub and literally grow before our eyes. It’s astonishing!


When toddlers are egocentric — be patient.
When toddlers want to dress themselves — give them time.
When toddlers are curious and want everything they see — be sure it is safe.
When toddlers are running all over the place — run with them.
When toddlers are defiant — don’t take it personally.
When toddlers want only you — hold on to them and enjoy each moment!

-Written by Kate Dust, EduKids Education Director


Brothers of the Bible

I like to look to the Bible for wisdom on how to live. Stories include real-life events about other people and how they struggled in their quest for God. They lived much different than we do - geography, social norms, traditions and time period were all very different than what we're used to - but as you strip those details away, we do have a lot in common.

When I was pregnant with the boys, I began to look through the Bible for stories on about brothers. Let me tell you, though, my findings were not very encouraging.

Take the first two brothers of the Bible: Cain and Abel (Genesis 4,) sons of Adam and Eve. Cain was jealous of the offering Abel had given to the Lord and so he killed him. So much for brotherly love. Only four people on Earth and Cain decreases the population by twenty-five percent! Geez.

Onto twins, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25.) Again, not very encouraging. These twin boys were born to Isaac and Rebekah, who was quite old and had been told she could not have children. Isaac favored Esau, the oldest of the two and an avid hunter, while Rebekah favored Jacob, who was "a quiet man and stayed among the tents." Jacob tricked Esau into giving him the birthright over a hot bowl of stew and then his mom assisted him in tricking his father into giving him the blessing! His own mother! Another reason not to play favorites.

Jacob grew up and had twelve sons, the youngest being Joseph (Genesis 37.) Now, you'd think that Jacob would have learned his lesson about not playing favorites, but apparently, he didn't learn a thing. Jacob gave his favorite son a beautiful robe, making his other eleven sons burn with envy. When Joseph started bragging about the dreams he was having, including one where his entire family would someday bow down to him, it was the last straw for the jealous brothers. Rather than killing him, they decided to make a buck and sell him as a slave. Now, God ended up using this story for good... Joseph was sold to one of Pharaoh's officials, was sent to prison for being falsely accused of making a pass at his wife, and was then celebrated throughout Egypt when he correctly interpreted Pharaoh's dream! He eventually forgave his brothers for their dirty deed, though they were still shocked that their brother had actually survived! Again. God used it for good, but it certainly doesn't paint a rosey picture of brotherhood.

Probably the most encouraging example I can think of is of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 4.) God had chosen Moses to free the Israelites being kept as slaves in Egypt. Moses, of course, did not want to go and came up with every excuse possible... they won't pay attention to me, they won't believe me, I don't talk well... but none of his excuses were faring well against God Almighty. Finally, God suggested that Moses take his brother Aaron who would do all the talking. Out of excuses, Moses gave in and with God's help, freed the Israelites from the mighty and oppressing hand of Pharaoh. The Lord used their individual gifts to serve eachother and ultimately, other people, too.

I think one of the biggest differences within each of these stories is parenting. How will we guide our sons toward success and away from evil? How will we encourage them to make good choices, support their brother in his endevours and back him up when the need arises?

I don't necessarily know the answers to these questions, but I do know Who holds the answers.

The Creator of the Universe.

The loving Father who created my boys and knit them together in my womb.

The One with a plan, a good plan that will guide them toward success.

This is the God that has never let me down.

I pray that He will help me in teaching my boys these stories so that one day, they will live by their truths and learn to follow in their Heavenly Father's footsteps. After all, the alternative is not so pretty :)


My New To-Do List

I know I've said it before, but it bears repeating. I love lists. And for good reason, too! Us moms have a lot going on in our lives!

On any given day, my to-do list could include something of the following:

  • Load/unload the dishwasher
  • Wash/fold the laundry
  • Prepare three meals
  • Send my friend a birthday card
  • Mail my other friend a gift for her new baby
  • Bake cookies for our family get-together tonight
  • Don't eat (more than half of) the above cookies before tonight
  • Respond to my other friend's message on Facebook
  • Burn bridal shower photos for my cousin onto a CD
  • Mail the CD to my cousin
  • Download the videos from my digital camera onto the computer so I have more memory to take more!
  • Keep two busy toddlers clean, fed, and out of trouble
Honestly, I rarely make these lists anymore. Well, I do, but not exactly like that. I try and only write things down when I'm preparing for an event in which other people are counting on me or when I feel like there are so many extra things floating around inside my head that I need to write them down before I can start thinking rational thoughts about anything different. Phew. That was a really long sentence. I'm going to leave it, though, since I'm not sure I want to make it shorter and I'm pretty sure you understood that anyway.

But here's the thing. How many times do we make these lists and then grow frustrated that we didn't get ANY of it done? There have been numerous times where my husband came home and said, "So, what'd you do today?" Thinking about my huge list with nothing crossed off, I would immediately say, "Nothing." He would laugh, knowing full well that I did A LOT, even if none of it were things I had hoped to do.

So here's my new thing. Rather than making a list of things I know that I won't be able to accomplish, I'm going to fill my to-do lists with things that I DO do during the day. Maybe that way, I'll feel better about how I'm spending my time throughout the day, knowing that I am, in fact, accomplishing a lot.

Here's a sample of my NEW to-do list.

  • Get up with the boys at 6:30am
  • Change at least twelve diapers
  • Cook three meals (bonus points if I eat, too)
  • Clean the food off their faces, hands, the highchair and the floor beneath them
  • Kiss all bumps, bruises and scrapes
  • Watch the neighbor kids get on the schoolbus
  • Point at the dogs outside the window, saying, "Do you see the doggie?" and then making woofing sounds, much to the amusement of my boys
  • Go to the bathroom (bonus points if I do it by myself!)
  • Break up a fight. Or two.
  • Take the boys for a walk to the park
  • Pack their bottles, diapers, hats, bubbles and blanket into the stroller for our walk
  • Dress the boys for a trip outside complete with sneakers, sunscreen and perhaps bugspray
  • At the park, make sure they keep any foreign objects out of their mouths that Mother Nature did not create (and yes, I have given up retrieving sticks and rocks from my boys' mouths. I just couldn't keep up. It didn't take long for them to learn that these do not taste good and have since, slowed their experimental tasting to only a few an hour. Mostly sticks. That's their favorite.)
  • Send my husband a picture of the boys eating sticks
  • Chuckle at his reply
  • Chant the days of the week or months of the year on the way home to keep my boys awake
  • Follow the boys up the stairs, closing the door before they can try walking back down and turn on the air conditioner (if I didn't remember to turn it on before I left)
  • Find the matching toy the boys are fighting over
  • Explain that biting is not nice and separate the two fighting toddlers
  • Go to the window to see the afternoon schoolbusses dropping off the kids
  • Wait a while to see people coming home from work, walking their dogs and talking in their yards
  • Help Jonathan put the square in and out of the block fifty times
  • Assist Benjamin in putting the straw through the hole and then back out at least two dozen times. Maybe more.
  • Read at least one book with each boy (bonus points if we can all read one together)
  • Put them down for a nap. Sit at my computer for a few minutes and take a breath. Maybe comment on some of my friend's pictures on Facebook.
  • Go to the bathroom
  • Put the clothes from the washer into the dryer and fold the dry clothes; put them away
  • Think about what I'm going to make for dinner (bonus points if I can start it before Andy comes home!)
Ya see? I DO do a lot! All this time, I was writing the wrong things!


Why I Don't Like the Deli

What things get under your skin? What things drive you crazy? For me, it's not when the boys put sticks in their mouth, try to nose-dive off of the couch or throw their grilled cheese. Those things I can handle. No, the thing that's really driven me crazy is going to the grocery store. Namely, the deli.

Here's why.

I went to grab some groceries between activities on Saturday with a full list in hand. My mission? Get everything I could within 45 minutes and home in time for a birthday party (which, of course, I had not yet wrapped the gifts for!) And I was focused. I weaved in and out of each aisle, crossing things off my list and anxious to be done. Thankfully, my mom had come over to watch the boys so I could get what I needed; grocery shopping is so much easier when you're not swerving to keep them from pulling everything off the shelves and in two different directions.

Anyway, I walked toward the deli and grabbed a number. You know, those little tickets that come out of that little red thing? I love that thing. I did not push anyone over to get my number. I was not in a rush, but my steps were confident and defined. No one was within twenty feet of me. I know this doesn't seem important now, but it will be in about thirty seconds. I stood at the counter and waited for the girl ahead of me to finish her order. She had a baby girl sleeping in her cart; I admired her little pink outfit and said another prayer, thanking God that my babies were at home.

The lady behind the counter called my number. I made eye contact and said, "Yep, that's me" and began to give my order when I heard another lady interrupt.

"Uh, I was here first. I don't have a number, but I was before her."


A lady who had been standing on the side, now had both hands on her hips and her finger pointing at me. A big gold chain dangled from her overly-tanned wrist. She was probably about forty years old, her husband was pushing the cart and she still had her sunglasses on. I immediately turned my head and just stared a moment in confusion.


This is the deli. We take numbers. It doesn't matter how long you happened to be standing there, but when you take your number. That's how it works. That's how it has alllllways worked. I had a million things in my mind that I wanted to say, but all that came out of my mouth was, "Oh. Uh, okay."

Once I realized that I had just sustained a cheap shot, I was fuming. I mean, livid. I was sooo mad. How dare she have such little respect for me? For my time? For the system? I couldn't even look in her direction. Her husband seemed to feel a little embarrassed as he slumped over the front of the cart. But I couldn't look at him either. I'm guessing he deals with this sort of thing a lot.

Another lady behind the counter took my order not even ten seconds later. Would it have killed her to wait that long for her spot in line (even if she didn't even have a number?!) It took me a good ten minutes to calm myself down after I received my Swiss cheese and turkey slices. And the worst part of it was that I kept running into them on my rounds around the store. I intentionally changed my path a few times just so I wouldn't be in the same aisle as her at the same time. I just couldn't take it.

Walking around the store, I couldn't believe how much I let that situation get under my skin. I mean, it didn't cost me anymore than ten seconds. Even if it was an additional five minutes, that's certainly not the end of the world. I still had more than enough time, my babies were well taken care of and everyone was fine.

I had to apologize to that lady (in my head, of course) to keep myself from finding out where she lived and paying a visit to give her a piece of my mind. That act of forgiveness was the only way I could shake it off. I had to forgive her. I made up a story about how she really was there first, but she left to rescue a baby choking on a piece of candy and returned just after I did, but didn't take a number. Yeah, it's a little far-fetched, but it works.

Anger is a horrible thing, a cancer that grows and spreads with every incidence. If not completely cut out, it will grow into something horrible and will strike at the most inopportune time.

So, lady with the long pointed fingers, I apologize for getting frustrated with you. But next time, would you mind terribly just grabbing one of those convenient little tags before placing your order at the deli? The next person may not be so forgiving ;)


Handmade Envelopes

When I was in high school, someone gave me a card in a handmade envelope. I've always been a crafty person, one who always hesitated to simply recycle a magazine or calendar, so the idea instantly had me intrigued! Almost fifteen years ago and thousands of cards and envelopes later, I'm still doing it.
A few of the envelopes I made today using an old Vera Bradley catalogue, too cute to simply recycle!

Here's the easiest way I've come to explain it (mostly since I did them with my sixth-graders, so they're basically fool-proof!)

First, choose an envelope you'd like to copy. It can be large, small or medium. (The only limit is the size paper you have to make your new envelope with.) I've made large wedding cards as well as tiny cards for gift bags. Disassemble the original envelope, taking care not to rip its edges.
Next, get a piece of paper to use for your new envelope... or quite a few. I love working with old calendars (yes, even if they have writing on them!) as well as old catalogues, magazines, construction paper, cardstock, or even 12"x12" scrapbooking paper. Wrapping paper doesn't work well, though; my students said so. Be sure your paper isn't too thin or too thick. If it's too thin, it won't travel well in the mail. If it's too thick, you'll have a hard time cutting, folding and gluing it down. I chose a few from an old Parenting magazine. You want to choose pages that are colorful and are mostly covered by a picture. Too many words will be distracting.

Thirdly, trace the form of the envelope onto your magazine paper. (I've done this so many times I don't even trace the envelope onto the paper. I simply hold the envelope against my paper and cut around it.) But for the sake of this 'tutorial,' I traced it with pencil.

Next, cut it apart. If the paper isn't too thick, you can easily add 2-4 more papers underneath to get more done at once.
After that, you're ready to fold! This can be the most difficult part of the whole process since you have to match each of the corners together and hope they come out straight. Here's a trick I used when doing them with my study hall kids: trace a piece of cardstock against the middle of your original envelope. Cut it out.
Then use that as a guideline as to where you should fold. Not only does this make it easier, but it's guaranteed to come out as a nice rectangle each time and MUCH faster. Flip your envelope to the wrong side so it comes out the right way when you're done.

Then use glue (or tape) to close the bottom flap onto the sides. Be sure to notice which way is "up" and which side is "down" or your envelope may look lopsided!

All that's left then is putting a mailing label on the front so you can address it to the person of your choice! I get my mailing labels at the Dollar Tree... 10 sheets of 30 labels... score!
You see? Even I can do that during one of the boys' afternoon naps!
Wouldn't YOU just LOVE to get one of THESE in the mail? I thought so.

Time With the Chief

You would think that parents, once their children have grown, would want to relax. Take it easy. Not do any heavy-lifting. Play with their grandkids when they are grown-up and more suited for activities like fishing or baking. Well, not so with my parents.

This is how my dad - we call him "Chief" - spent his lunch hour the other day, with two of his grandsons, Jack (brown) and Ben (blue.) Jonathan discovered the pen my dad keeps in his pocket and created a game of keepaway on their front lawn for quite some time!

There's just something about a boy and his grandpa. We love you, Dad!


Things I Never Had to Teach

As mothers, we spend the entire pregnancy wondering what our kids will be like. What color hair and eyes they will have, what their personalities may be like and what interests they will have. I loved dreaming about each one of these things. Perhaps I speculated even more than the average mom because I was carrying two at the same time... are they identical, will they get along, how soon will we need separate bedrooms... and the list goes on and on.

We take these beautiful bundles home and continue to watch them grow. It's fun to see different traits in the boys that we see in our families. Whose eyes, nose, ears, mouth, tracing back to our grandparents. The boys changed on a daily basis, both physically and emotionally, becoming more and more who God created them be.

Over the past few weeks, I've been noticing things in the boys that made me realize just how much they took from us. From me. And I never had to teach them.

Closet Poopers
I've noticed that both of my boys will do this from time to time. They'll stop what they're doing and go off into a corner of the room, under their highchairs or behind a couch. They'll squat and change their facial expression to one of sheer concentration. Red face and everything. A few moments later, they emerge from their hiding spot and one sniff will prove the inevitable. They pooped. The worst part about this? I did the same.exact.thing when I was their age. Oh, don't worry. I had a diaper on, too. Well, a few times it was in my training pants. But how weird is that? I'm wondering if it's a repressive personality thing. God help them.

Water in the Eyes
The first time we gave the boys a bath, Jack loved it. Ben, however, wasn't too sure. It took him a bit to get used to the water and the idea of being wet. Both of the boys love bathtime now, probably because it's their daddy that's giving it to them (something for which I am extremely grateful!) But mommy can always hear when Benjamin is getting his hair washed. Especially when that little bucket gets close to his eyes. Yup. He screams. I'm the same way. Even at 29 years old, I don't like being wet. And I'm too afraid to open my eyes underwater. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but it's true. I never had to teach that to Benjamin, either. Poor guy. I'm hoping his daddy can help him gain some confidence in that arena (since Andy could spend all day playing games in the water!!)

Night Owls
Perhaps this one is more genetic than I may realize. I'm a night owl. My mom is a night owl. My grandma is a night owl. We are simply more alert in the evening! My husband has paid the price for this one, especially when I'm in the mood for a deep conversation right before we go to bed and he can barely keep his eyes open! I've had to learn new habits with the boys. After all, mommies don't have a choice whether or not they want to wake up at 3am for a feeding. But it would appear that my babies may have some of this, too. Ben especially. He's usually the most resistant to bedtime and waking him up in the morning or from a nap can be very difficult. He is just too comfortable to move! The first few days after we brought his home, I couldn't keep him awake at the breast!! Sorry, Ben. Looks like another negative trait from your mommy.

The scariest part of it all is that my boys are just over a year old. How many other things have I unknowingly passed on that won't even be discovered for thirty years?

The only thing I can think of is to hide the markers and crayons. I used to draw on the backs of the couches and under the cupboards. Perhaps I better interview Andy to find out what other things I should be prepared for... :)