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Category: Parenting

Our Biggest Calling

Dear Mom, is it, that somedays your job seems insignificant? Somedays do you question your journey? Do you wonder if any of it matters?  Let me tell you mama; it matters.  It all matters. You are significant and what you are doing; THIS IS SIGNIFICANT.

“The enemy wants to convince you to leave your assignment because it is insignificant.”  I recently heard such a statement and I took pause.  You see I had begun to believe the lie that the mundane tasks of motherhood weren’t as important as I had once believed.  I started to feel envious of those that were adventuring overseas, adopting another child, fostering and diving in to full-time ministry.

What I forgot was that I had been given an assignment to make disciples, just like my friends that were jetting off to foreign lands, gaining university degrees to serve the least of these, and opening their homes to orphans and widows. And then I heard someone say, “Plan to do something so big for God that without Him you would fail.”  I was feeling defeated, but I had lost my focus.

Being a mom; this is a big gig and this was what I had always wanted.  What I didn’t know, was how big this was going to be. I had prayed for blessing, for a miracle and now here I was in the pouring rain of “blessing,” but instead of dancing in the rain, I was running from it.  The enemy had tried to convince me that I was just a mom; that what I was doing wasn’t really making a difference. My patience was thin.  Most jobs around our house came with dread and frustration.

So my friends, if you are like me, feeling like maybe your call to motherhood is less than significant.  Let me tell you, that is a lie! We aren’t only parenting we are discipling, and we have been called, “for such a time as this.”  It is time for us to stop running from the rain and start dancing in it, so we can launch these little world changers off into the great unknown.  Heidi St. John says this, in her new Becoming MomStrong; “We need to surrender ourselves to what God wants us to do.  We need to be willing to do what He says is best, not what our flesh wants or what the world says we should do… My greatest accomplishment as a mom may not be something I do-but someone I raise.”

In her book, Becoming MomStrong: How to Fight with All That’s in You for Your Family and Your Faith Heidi St. John says, “The journey we are on is designed to help us trust God in ways we don’t expect and can’t foresee.”  There are times on this journey where we will feel less than.  The pull is real. It’s not until we are in the moments of complete surrender deep in the trenches of motherhood, that we can see that “God’s purpose is good.” Perhaps our biggest calling is motherhood, and without the Lord I know I would fail at it most everyday.

Why I Took My Kids Clothes Away

There wasn’t usually a day that went by that didn’t start with tears. Either their favourite shirt was in the laundry or the third pair of pants they tried on didn’t feel right. With numerous outfits being tried and tossed aside on any given day, I would find dresser drawers spewing with unfolded clothes and of course the pyjama drawer was now filled with socks, hoodies and the odd t-shirt. Not to mention finding freshly folded clothes in the depths of the dirty laundry hamper! Something had to give. So when my  favourite, Jen Hatmaker wrote about reducing her wardrobe for a month, I latched on to the concept.

 

I sent each of the kids into their rooms with a garbage bag, a rubbermaid tote and a good attitude! 🙂  The garbage bag was to put all the clothes they no longer wanted, that we could donate to our local thrift shop.  The tote was to put clothes they liked and thought maybe they would wear again, but likely wouldn’t need for the next month.  The goal was to end up with seven outfits in their drawer.  These seven outfits would get them through the next month.  I was to hear no whining, arguing or complaining about clothing choices over the course of the month.  If I heard complaining, I told them I would extend our “clothing fast.”  It was a big job.  If you decide to take on this task with your children, allow an hour or two per child.  Once our project of sorting and organizing was complete all three of the girls had seven outfits each in their drawer.  All three felt accomplished.  They could see what was in their dresser and closet now. I believe that a huge stressor was removed from their daily decision making because we narrowed down the choices they had.

 

Once they had their clothes organized I headed into my closet and narrowed down my wardrobe as well.  I picked a pair of black yoga pants and a hoodie, a pair of black jeans and a grey t-shirt from one of my favourite adoption organizations.  I also chose 3 blouses, a pair of leggings and 2 pairs of skinny jeans.  The rest of my clothes got moved to the farthest corner of my closet.  I was nervous about my selection but was bound and determined not to be a prisoner to my clothing.

 

Well yesterday was the end of our clothing fast.  I was allowed to choose anything in my closet to wear.  I stood in front of my clothes for almost 10 minutes.  I pulled several outfits out of my closet and ended up with a huge mess on my bed.  So not only did I waste 10 minutes finding something to wear, I also had 10 minutes worth of work cleaning up the mess I had created.  So I learned something.  My clothes waste my time, my thoughts and my energy.  I have decided that I will choose another handful of outfits for the month of April. I don’t need choice.  I need clothes in my closet that I know for certain I will wear.  I’m certain, I won’t keep the same outfits in my closet from last month as I am quite sick of them at this point! Haha!

 

My girls have been dressing each day with ease.  The mountain of laundry I am faced with each week has turned into a hill. One declared today that she doesn’t want her clothes back because it made her room too  messy. Another said she thought it was simpler to have fewer clothes in her drawer and the other is begging me to get the totes out of the garage so she can fill her closet back up!  We are going to get the totes out and we are going to go through them again.  The outfits we didn’t miss are going to be given away, and the ones we remember and think we will wear this month will be put back into the drawers.  It is my goal to end up with 14 outfits.  That should be plenty.  It will give the kids plenty of outfits for play and special days but will also be a manageable number or items in their dressers.

 

If you ever felt overwhelmed by the laundry, the untidy dressers, or the time and tears wasted on deciding what to wear, I strongly recommend working with your child to choose 6 or 7 outfits.  Be sure to choose outfits that fit and feel right and your child is certain to wear in a month.  Same goes for you mom!  Narrow down your wardrobe.  You don’t have to get rid of all of your clothes, but chose 6 or 7 outfits for yourself that you find yourself gravitating to most days.  choose outfits that feel comfortable but also be sure to pick something that you can wear out for dinner or a coffee date with a friend.  I dare you to try it for a month.  Maybe you’ll learn something about yourself. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on my wardrobe until I had gone with a smaller one.  I think when I go shopping, I’ll give my purchases more thought.  If I don’t think I could where it every week, I likely won’t buy it.

 

Let me know what you think.  Would you try something like this?  If you have done an experiment like this before, were you able to stick with a limited wardrobe, or is your closet jam packed again?

 

Discovering a Sugar Sensitive Child

Many of you know that we have struggled with the little man’s behaviour around meal times. He could be off the charts joyful and fun to be around but he could also be irrational, defiant and downright miserable. We were slowly learning how to deal with this behaviour and adapting and recognizing when it was time to excuse ourselves from certain settings but I was convinced that if he would just eat his moods would be much more stable.  The problem was, he would eat a big breakfast of pancakes, cereal, or yogurt and then refuse to eat much for lunch, be so frustrated in the afternoon after nap that he would end up with another yogurt, slice of toast or some crackers.  Then we would try our very hardest to get him to take a few bites of dinner.  Meal times were exhausting because he seldom ate.

In eliminating sugars, I have started reading labels.  Low and behold, his favourite cereal, Rice Krispies has sugar listed as the second ingredient! So even though I wasn’t adding sugar to his cereal, he was getting a good dose to start the day!  I was shocked because I thought it was one of the healthier choices in the store.  The greek yogurt was no better!  Loaded with sugar! So basically I was starting my kids out with a sugar high every morning.  I have learned that for some kids, their brain chemistry when added with sugar can create a vulnerability to acting out and frustrated behaviour.

So for two weeks now, we have paid closer attention to what we are fuelling our bodies with.  We are eating oatmeal topped with raisins and apples for breakfast, homemade soups and breads for lunch and limiting the sauces our food is cooked in at dinner time.  It was about 10 days in that I said to my husband, “I think we had a sugar addict in our house.”  We haven’t been having to force feed our little one.  His fits of frustration and grief at every meal have almost disappeared.  He is happy to try new foods and even ate an entire piece of fruit last night  after his dinner!

Two weeks ago, we had a little boy in our house that literally crashed at noon needing a nap because he was so grouchy.  Today we are going without a nap because everyone is happy and playing nicely.  If it’s anything like the last week, he will be ready for bed at 7pm and sleep until 7am.

Yesterday morning we let the kids each have a bowl of  Froot Loops for breakfast at the hotel.  About half an hour later, the littlest one was so upset.  He was grumpy and frustrated.  He didn’t know what he wanted to play with or what he even wanted to do!  It was confirmation that we were on to something with the sugar free meal plans. We hadn’t seen behaviour like this in almost two weeks!

I could go on and on about the transformation we have seen over the last 2 weeks. It has been nothing short of miraculous!  If you think your kids struggle with behaviour and attention disorders, I would highly recommend trying a modified diet and seeing if you notice any change in mood, energy levels or sleeping patterns.  The change has been so significant that we most certainly are going to work on maintaining this lifestyle.

I’d love to hear from you!  Have you noticed an increase level of energy, better sleep patterns or better mood since reducing the amount of sugar in your diet?

 

 

I Hope You Dance

Recital season is upon us and for a family with three daughters that have all decided to dance, I suspect our recital season only getting busier over the next few years.  I often hoped to have a daughter that loved the stage. And now here I sit, after spending a week at the auditorium, thinking about what dance has meant for our girls.

When she was just a wee sprite of two years old she started her first creative moment and tap class one day a week, not because she talked of dancing but because I thought it was just so cute to have her all dolled up in tights and tutus.  Lo and behold she loved it.  It seemed that she would listen attentively to the teacher and “practice” her dance moves most days in the living room.  

She learned how to point and flex her feet and make somewhat organized tapping sounds with her toes.  She has never pushed to be in the spotlight but she has consistently proven to us her love of dance year after year.  The stage has been her happy place and she always loved getting hair done tightly into braids and buns.

Her love of dance led her two younger sisters to the dance studio.  They would press their little faces up to the glass window and watch the older girls work on routines while their big sister rocked and rolled and  hitchie – cooed her way across the dance floor in the classroom next door.  avery

We are eight years in, and we have seen our eldest grow into a beautiful young lady and when she takes to the floor, my heart bursts with pride.
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The next in line has gained so much confidence this year and she beamed as she kicked off her year end recital with an amazing tap performance.

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Our youngest made her debut this year in the “big kid” recital, as she fondly calls it. She had nothing but excitement to be dancing on the same stage in the same recital as her big sisters.IMG_5903

The reality is that I never forced them to love dance, they grew to love it.  What we have forced them to do, is work at it with all their heart.  It has always been our focus, as a family, that if you commit to something, you work at it.  If you aren’t willing to work at, or you think you are “good enough”  you need to step aside and let those that have more determination have a shot.  Our girls kids may not be front and centre in every performance, but they have grown and improved  with each year.  kitty ballet

You see, more than anything I have seen how dance has shaped their character, or perhaps allowed their character to grow.  Our oldest has taken her practice very seriously and for that I am thankful.  I love seeing her diligence and work ethic pay off in her exams and performances.

Our middlest is fierce and very competitive.  She  is focused and determined to improve her skills so she might have a chance to be on the company team some day.sisters dancing red riding hood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The littlest dancer loves the spotlight at home and beams from ear to ear as she poses and skips across the stage.  I’m not certain if she will choose dance like her sisters have, but for now it is our hope that she develops character traits that make her a good friend, and a joyful and attentive student.

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I have been singing the Leann Womack song, ” I HOPE YOU DANCE” all week.  It is a song, I wish for all of my kids.  I guess I feel that dance has given all three girls a launching point to do what’s not always easy.  It is my prayer, that each one of them will always choose to take risks and never, ever give up on their dreams; that they will live with abundant faith and that they will dance their way thru life and not sit on the sidelines watching others enjoy the ride.

Finding Healthy Mirrors

Now that we have been home for some time and we feel more and more settled as a family of six, I can start thinking about creating a healthy identity for our littlest.  I am not an expert on the issue at all and I am looking to start at the ground level and learn as much as possible for our little African born baby, to gain a healthy racial identity.

We really want him to feel great about who he is, who God created him to be and his importance in our family.  I am learning to encourage all of our kids positively and look at all of their character traits as a special part of who they are, so that when people and situations get rough they are secure in what qualities make them unique and how God can use their character for awesomeness!

My main focus lately though, has been seeking out ways to expose our family to cultural diversity.  The first step I have taken is to provide books, and toys that have black children in them.  I ordered several books from Amazon last week and they should arrive later this week.  I am so excited to read books that have little boys in them with brown eyes and black curly hair like our little mister.  The books we have started with have either black characters in them, or centre around a family knit together by adoption.  Some of the books soon to be in our bookcase are, Whose Knees are These? Whose Toes are Those? Please, Baby, Please,  I Wished for You: An Adoption Story and God Found Us You.  (Feel free to click on the title of any of these books to read the description and add to your own personal library)

I have begun to realize that everywhere we go, we stand out.  Our family doesn’t look the same as everyone else’s and I realize we have a job to do to help each one of our 4 kids feel accepted and loved in our family.  I also want our adopted child to understand that he was loved even before we knew him.  Sometimes favourite books and movies can help children grasp concepts like adoption.  Our very first children’s book about adoption was a gift to us when we got home from South Africa. I wished for you, his mama I would highly recommend this book to give as a gift, for the adoptive family you may know, or add it to your collection of children’s books about adoption.  It is beautiful and can be personalized as well.  It is called, I Wished for You: An Adoption Story.  I believe that books like this one and “Mommy’s Heart Went Pop”  help kids grasp their value as an adopted child in a family, at an age appropriate level.

We have started to consider our social circle and our children’s social circle as well.  It is important for us to seek out people of different races, as our church and extra curricular activities are made up of predominately white children.  It may mean that we send our kids to school and/or extra curriculars in a different catchment so there is a more diverse circle of friends for our children.  We can frequent the parks in town that are more multicultural and we can attend church services that celebrate other cultures.   We should make it a priority to have  families in our friendship circles that resemble our family, and role models that look like our little mister.

I’d love to hear from you on this topic.  What have you done as a transracial family to provide healthy mirrors and friends for your adopted children?