Poser

As I'm sure is common with most kids, my boys detest smiling for the camera.  They like to make their own poses.  I just thought I'd give you a taste of all the great pictures we've taken in between the cute ones in the past few months.

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These pictures may actually be more precious to me than the "precious" ones.  Though they will grow and change, their preschool personalities have been captured in stills that will last a lifetime.

Silence is never good with Two Boys

Remember when I did some research on how watching TV affects kids?  One thing I learned is that it can disrupt good sleep habits.  All research I read suggested that kids should not have access to television in their rooms if you want them to sleep well.  My kids don't go to sleep watching TV but they do wake up in the morning to go play Lego Star Wars on our PS3.  I think it's about the same as waking up early on Christmas morning.  Isaac gets so excited that he's up before the sun every day ready to play Lego Star Wars.  We have tried hiding the game, but he'll just get on Netflix and watch a movie.  I gave him a severe warning to not get on Netflix without our permission and he's been obeying that request, but he'll still watch a whole movie before we get up in the morning.  

Today he and Asher woke up around 5:45 and ran downstairs to start their routine search around the house for the Lego Star Wars game.  When they couldn't find it they came to wake us up and ask where it was.  We sent them back to bed and told them they couldn't get up before the sun (something we tell them everyday…)

When we finally woke up to start our day, the boys had completed a whole movie, Bambi 2.  Which apparently is hilarious.  I've never seen it…

We'll continue to try to get the boys to stay in bed until 7ish.  We've fixed their alarm clock and we'll make sure they don't take naps anymore.  We just couldn't pass up our first ever family nap time yesterday.

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By the time Randall took this picture:

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All four of us had been asleep for over an hour.  The clicking camera didn't even wake us up.

Anyway, that was yesterday.  Today the boys woke up before God himself, and this is what I found around 9am today:

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I was downstairs and I asked the boys to start cleaning up a mess they had made upstairs.  After five or so minutes, I heard a door slam and then nothing.  Silence is never good when two boys are playing together.  So, I was sure to make some noise as I skipped up the stairs (to give them fair warning to start cleaning up whatever mess they had just made).  When I got upstairs every bedroom door was open.  Including both bathroom doors.  I looked and didn't find the boys.  They still weren't making any noise, so I called their names.  Isaac responded, "What?" from inside the linen closet.  They were in the pitch dark closet ready to take their nap for the day.

I am a firm believer that you should never wake a sleeping baby.  I'm sure you've heard that common saying, but you may have never heard it in its entirety, "Never wake a sleeping baby, but always wake squirley preschoolers that like to get up before dawn."

 

 

My boys, my heart.

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I just told Asher that his shirt was on backwards.  He stuck his hands down his shirt to check for a tag and got distracted.  His hands were pressed against his chest and he said, "My heart is beating.  I can feel it!"  I said, "I hope it is because if it's not then that means you're dead."  To which Isaac said, "Yeah, because you don't love anybody.  If you don't love anybody, you'll be dead."

I laughed and made a quick mental note to write this post and then told them all about how a heart is a muscle that pumps blood throughout your body.  If your heart stops working then the blood quits flowing to your fingers and toes and most importantly, your brain.  I gave them information about how the brain controls everything in your body and if it stops working, so does the rest of you…

I've always struggled with the meaning of the word heart.  I help teach a class at my church based on the concepts found in the book, Sacred Romance, by John Eldredge and Brent Curtis.  The book is full of great concepts for everyone to live a fuller life.  The class we teach can best be summarized as a place where you can find out who God created you to be and how you fit into his Great Story (insert shameless plug here: Take this class!).

I was asked to teach the class before I knew anything about the book.  I quickly read it and found some of the concepts life changing, but hated the book in general.  It was full of flowery words and ideas that made me want to throw the book and give up on it.  Concepts like getting involved in a "Sacred Romance" with the "Lover of your soul" made me want to puke.  I even struggle with commonly used phrases like "asking Jesus to live in your heart."  What do those phrases mean?!  What is your heart?  It's a muscle pumping blood throughout your body!  Those phrases were meaningless to me.

I fought with the other teachers to rephrase the concepts and even to rename the class altogether.  The first night of the class I teach a concept all about your heart and how to know if it's alive.  As I was preparing my notes for this class I decided to make sure it was clear with everyone what we mean when we say the word "heart."  I did some research and the word "heart" is used 876 times in the King James Version of the Bible and 558 times in the version I use most often, the New Living Translation.  I don't think it is ever used to describe a muscle.  

As I struggled to understand this concept with another pastor at our church, he explained to me that we are a highly scientific society and when the word was coined, it came from people who didn't know there was a muscle inside them keeping them alive.  They coined the term to mean the essence of a person's being, their life, their passion, their dreams and fears, their thoughts and longings, pain and laughter.

The Bible uses the word in contexts such as:

Deuteronomy 4:29- Search for God with all your heart and you will find him.

Deuteronomy 10:16- Change your heart and stop being stubborn.

Joshua 23:14- Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true.

1 Samuel 16:7- People judge by appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

1 Kings 3:9- Give me an understanding heart.

Psalm 26:2-Test my motives and my heart.

Proverbs 4:23-Guard your heart for it determines the course of your life.

Luke 12:34-Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.

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So your heart is the place where you can know, find, and understand God.  It holds your desires, motives, and future.  It's the place God looks to find out who you really are.  It's important and even if blood is still being pumped throughout your body keeping your brain alive, your heart, in the Biblical sense, can be dead.

I began to realize that shrugging off these beautiful concepts and being scientific about own heart, was a sign that my heart was on the verge of a coma.

How do you know if your heart is alive?  Because moving, working and doing while, they are signs that your blood is flowing, are not signs that your heart is alive.  Are you feeling anything these days or are you numb?  Are you being creative and having original thoughts of your own?  Writing, painting, singing, meditating and praying are all signs of a heart that is living and thriving.  And Isaac was right, do you love "anybody" and are you loving them well?  That's how you know if your heart is alive.

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Creativity and TV

I know I've said this before but being a mom is so hard.  I always feel like a new mom.  Every new phase that my boys enter is new to me as a parent as well.  So far, I've really enjoyed every new phase!  I loved the baby phase where I could hold my precious babies and they depended on my completely.  Then the boys entered the talking phase and the talking back phase came sooner than I thought.  But I love that they come up with ideas on their own and it never ceases to amaze me where they get the things they say and do!

Last fall Isaac had crazy hair day at school, but he decided on his own to make it crazy everything day.

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There are things I try to regulate as a mother, like "Screen Time" and sugar intake, but I've always tried to teach my boys confidence and good decision making by giving them choices at home.  They get to choose what they want for lunch.  They get to choose what they want to wear.  Usually, I'll let them choose from a few preapproved choices.  But lately, I've stopped choosing to battle over clothes and hair.  Isaac has always been particular about these things.  When he was little we would spike Isaac's hair because, well, it spiked on its own…

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Then Isaac's hormones…or something… made Isaac's hair look like this:

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That was an interesting phase to say the least…

But a year or so later, Isaac was SO over the spiked look and only wanted flat hair.  So we eventually found a way to cut his hair so it wouldn't stick up in the back.  Nowadays he tells the stylist at the haircutting place that he likes his "top hair long and the sides short."

Isaac really enjoys picking out his own clothes and he comes up with some interesting choices.  This is the choice he made the other day.  He also chose the pose and the "Blue Steel" expression…

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I told him that the shirts didn't really go together.  He said, "That's okay because I look pretty cool."

He's such a creative kid.  Last week at school, Isaac had a substitute teacher who told them that they were going to make Leprechaun traps if they had time.  Well, they ran out of time and never got the chance to do it.  So Isaac asked if we could make one at home.  I said, "Absolutely," but told him I didn't know how to make one.  He said he figured if we had a can and put a piece of paper on top with a piece of candy on that, then the Leprechaun would jump up on it and fall in.  Then we'd catch it!  So, I got him a can and he cut the paper and unwrapped a Starburst and placed it on top.  Then he was worried that the Leprechaun wouldn't be able to reach the top of the can so he made a ramp and a step out of paper and a plastic bowl.  We waited a few days but never caught one.  Maybe it's not quite Leprechaun season yet…

Randall and I had an interesting discussion the other day.  He said while he's all for limiting the amount of time our kids sit in front of screens, he's not sure what damage they do.  It seems that educated parents are led to believe that the TV is a horrible thing.  Without doing any research but knowing my own experiences, I told Randall that TV takes up time that should be used doing better things.  Kids should be playing outside or reading instead of watching TV.  

I remember seeing a commercial in between scenes from Circle Square on the Christian station as a kid.  The commercial showed two kids looking bored just staring at a big box TV.  The doorbell rang and the mom let in the garbage man.  He gaily said hello to the kids on the couch and they mumbled, "huh?"  The garbage man opened up the top of the TV and dumped a trashcan full of garbage into the TV, smiled and closed the top.  The mom asked the kids to thank the man to which they gave another mumbled, "huh?" and he left.  I guess the message was TV is full of crap coming straight from the TV itself.  How the commercials have changed these days.

I guess my worst fear is that TV dampens ones imagination.  We make sure that our kids are watching age appropriate and even educational programming.  We make sure they have plenty of time to get rid of pent up energy and exercise.  But when you are watching TV, you are just force-fed a story and there is no thinking involved.  You just stare.  Our boys have plenty of time to use their imaginations but they are imagining they are Lego Star Wars characters or Angry Birds!  I wonder if they will ever have enough imagination to come up with something new and original to them.  I wonder if I'll ever have that kind of imagination… Then Randall reminded me of some of the most creative people we know who stay up all hours of the night playing video games.  He said that we are a generation who was raised on television and we are still some of the most creative people in history. It got me thinking… What are the issues society has with TV?

Here's what one research website said, 

        Some studies link early TV viewing with later attention problems, such as ADHD.  However, other     experts disagree with these results.  One study found that TV viewing before age three slightly hurt     several measures of later cognitive development, but that between ages three and five it slightly     helped reading scores [11].  

There is some pretty compelling research that shows that kids who watch a lot of violent TV show more aggression and tendencies to act violently later in life.  I wonder if any research has been done on kids who read violent books and their aggression (I am part of a generation raised on R.L. Stine books).  

Speaking of violent authors, Stephen King, in his book On Writing says: 

        …When you stop to think of it, [I am] a member of a fairly select group: the final handful of     American novelists who learned to read and write before they learned to eat a daily helping of video     bullshit.  This might not be important.  On the other hand, if you're just starting out as a writer, you     could do worse than strip your television's electric plug-wire, wrap a spike around it, and then stick it     back into the wall.  See what blows, and how far.

        Just an idea.  (p. 22)

There are links between obesity, drug and alcohol use, and even teen pregnancy and the amount and content watched on TV!  But I'm pretty sure that parents who let their kids watch TV all day, may also not talk to their kids about these issues.

I'm actually less worried about the affects of TV on my kids after doing the research. I monitor closely what my kids watch and how much. Isaac LOVES his screen time and is constantly asking for more.  But he is also currently being tested to get into the gifted program at his school.  Is there a correlation there?

Stephen King also had this to say about "screen time", especially J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series:

        Kids are still perfectly willing to put aside their iPods and Game Boys and pick up a book…if the     magic is there. That reading itself is magical is a thing I never doubted. I'd give a lot to know how       many teenagers (and preteens) texted this message in the days following the [Harry Potter and the       Deathly Hallows] release:     DON'T CALL ME TODAY I'M READING.

This statement is true for me as well as my kids! As much as I love TV I'd happily get rid of it and pursue a fuller life. 

What are your thoughts on kids and TV and creativity?

Lesson Learned.

Isaac started biting his fingernails this year.  I don't know if it's the added stress of school, or if it's just a new habit.  He says he mostly does it when he's bored.  Everytime I catch him doing it, I politely call it out and ask him to stop.  Today I decided it was time to start implementing some consequences.

Today I decided that because Asher told me that Isaac bites his toenails, too.  I didn't believe him.  I still cut Isaac's toenails and most of them are unnibbled, but I guess I just blamed brittle nails for the breaks in the one or two broken nails.  Now I know.

I reminded Isaac that we have a dog.  I reminded him of all of the things Tabby walks on and then pointed out what is on our floor and picked up when he walks on it barefoot.  Asher says, "It's okay that Isaac puts his toes in his mouth because boys eat yucky things."

I blame Randall.  

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Ok, so I can't blame Randall completely.  Please, learn from two imperfect parents.  Don't encourage any bad habits.  Even when they seem precious at one time, they just aren't that cute as they grow bigger…