“Inventors Station”

 

inventors hat

My son had turned his room into a recyclable center in the course of a week. Between the door and his bed was a thin path with looming boxes, egg cartons, milk jugs, t.p.rolls galore (!), and misc. rocks, sticks, feathers, beads, etc.

I surveyed the situation “arising” and began a plan. This is how our “Inventors Station” came to be.

inventors station                        inventors box

 

Rather then stifle his creative juices; I adapted to his way of thinking and set up a small desk that now houses all his “supplies”. It’s sort of like a tool bench, only better! There are nooks and crannies to stockpile bottle caps, rubber bands, clothespins, popsicle sticks and duct tape. (You must have lots of duct tape!!)

Many Robots, Crazy Hats, Boats and oddities have been created by my budding inventor.

robot 2   robot 3  robot

If you’re not thrilled about giving this idea prime real estate in your home, or space does not allow it, then a box is a great compromise and is portable! Once the space allotted is full of exciting aspects, no more can be stored until the ones on hand are used for a masterpiece. (This was learned the hard way when I discovered cardboard and styrofoam popcorn being hoarded in various places!)

Giving space for creative freedoms in youth will pay big dividends down the road in the life of a child! (He says he will build me a house someday!)

Yay for Inventors!!!

 

Saying Yes

As parents, we set limits and boundaries for our children every day and throughout the day. Saying “no” can be tough on both sides. Redirecting and reframing takes more effort, especially on sticky summer days.purple flowersToday I said “yes” to boys asking for a donut stop in between morning activities. I observed how each of them made their unique choice of  glazed gooeyness. Amidst their boy chatter I heard about a high school teacher who likes maple bacon donuts. I learned that two of my sons pass this particular shop every day on their way to school, casting a yearning peek out the schoolbus window yet never mentioning it. As crumbs fell during a flurry of eating, they also dropped little tidbits of experiences they’ve had at their new schools this past year. They showed me a new videogame as they teased each other about milk mustaches and amateur frisbee skills. I soaked up these bonus glimpses into boyworld as they gobbled up their donuts.donuts

Later in the day I got to say “yes” to a request for a movie night. I wasn’t thrilled about the specific movie, so I dabbled in new territory…the kids going to their movie while my hubby and I went to another. [Win-win, people. If you still have preschoolers, hang on. Your time will come!] Since our movie finished early, we slipped into their show to catch its flavor. I watched the boys’ faces as they reacted to the movie, their expressions more animated than the movie itself. Slumped down in their seats and leaning in toward each other unaware, they were mesmerized by the colorful characters on the big screen while we were captivated by their shared brotherhood.

twinkle lightsMy last “yes” of the day was to rootbeer floats when we got home from the movie. I propelled my tired momself out on the dark patio and sat with them under the twinkly lights, listening to their happy slurping. A contented sigh escaped from my blue-eyed boy as he cradled his sticky cup, savoring the last drop of this hot summer day.

All these little moments crept into my heart, softening the grumpy interactions about delayed chores earlier in the day and pushing the agenda of tomorrow a little further out of mind, all because I took the chance to say “yes.”
sun peeking through tree

What can YOUR “yes” be tomorrow?


“However many years anyone may live, let them enjoy them all.” –Ecclesiastes 11:8

 


Making Felt Buddies

“COLORS PURSUE ME; INTO MY VERY DREAMS” -MONET

felt buddies

 

As the last Nerf dart went whizzing by, and the whoops and hollers were trailing, I grabbed a rare opportunity: boys setting their motion down for a brief rest.

We wasted no time and “dove”  into a calm activity that makes my heart so happy. My hope in sharing, is that you and yours will enjoy such sweet moments too.

As we laid out felt, sequins, ribbon, feathers, thread, needles and scissors, our imaginations took flight! This was very hands-on for me; but the conversation and laughter that came as we worked together was so worth it!!

felt supplies

 

All sorts of Felt Buddies emerged from our craft session. We stuffed them with batting before stitching them closed. They are colorful and crazy, and we love seeing them all piled together looking back at us.

Since that inspired session, we have set up a basket that holds all the components for new Felt Buddies that may arrive on a whim. Sometimes a grandparent has stopped by and joined the process. Occasionally one child has needed a quiet retreat, and lingered at the basket to begin a new friend. Some have capes, others have feathers, a few have sequins and initials stitched in, and all have become priceless to us.

Continue to explore this summer with your children; the views are beautiful.

Family Motto

Getting away from home and reconnecting with everyone that lives under its roof can reveal some unexpected family insights and add some humorous depth to family lore.family dog

Some families may be very intentional about having a family motto or even a family mission statement. Perhaps a family meeting is called and potential options are discussed with great energy and passion. An artistic member of the family may even document it in some way so that it can be boldly proclaimed to visiting guests. We are not that family. Sure, we discuss a lot of things at the dinner table and share goals for different seasons of our busy family life, but we haven’t gotten our act together enough to identify “a family motto” let alone agree on one and put it into any kind of action plan.

So, we all got a good laugh last week when our youngest blurted out what sounded like a family motto. We were trouble-shooting some logistics on vacation, attempting to squeeze out the last nano-second of margin between one activity and another. Somebody pointed out how the timing would have to be just right, each person take care of their stuff, and everything else fall smoothly into place (as in no flight delays during a heavy storms). A brief stress-filled silence filled the rental van and maybe a grunt emitted from somewhere near the driver’s seat. I tentatively murmured some hopeful comment, clinging to my fervent prayers all week that this particular transition would pass without a hitch. All of a sudden our youngest announced emphatically,

“We are good at stuff!”

Everyone erupted in laughter and our joint tension released as we all chanted his slogan, “WE. ARE. GOOD. AT. STUFF.” This statement certainly is general enough to cover any situation, it’s positive, and it focuses on the “WE” our family embraces. Hmmm…a family motto in the making?

Our connecting flight was on time despite many delays and cancellations all around us. Our departure gate was only 2 down from our arrival (= time for a restroom break and a brief snack). Everything went smoothly once we hit the ground running. My mom even met us at the airport with chocolate chip cookies for the next little road trip. So, a potentially tense situation ended well. Our family did pitch in with all the “stuff” involved and our son made it to his next activity on time. It was in that moment of stress that we connected as a family, stepped up on that foundation of prayer and joined in silly laughter together…that is the stuff we are good at.

woods

All of this was a good reminder that family getaways are important to the soul of a family.

As a bonus, now we have a tension-breaker line to use the next time we need a little encouragement. As far as an “official” family motto? Let’s just say no t-shirts or bumper stickers have appeared just yet.

delphiniums



“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Romans 12:10



Building Bubble Tubs

HAPPY SUMMER!!!

pinwheel

 

 

We love bubbles! To my knowledge, no one has ever become sad from blowing bubbles. They are happiness and fun on a family friendly budget. They scream “SUMMER TIME!” to our family.

Bubbles come with a large dose of stickiness though, if you have young children in the mix. Our bubble wands were getting spilled by toddlers on many occasions. Here is our solution to all the sudsy muck that comes with the bubbles…

 

SUPER EASY

SUPER CHEAP

SUPER FUN

AND NOW THEY ARE SUPER TRANSPORTABLE!

You will need: 1 plastic tub, a pack of bubble wands and a roll of duct tape

bubble tub

This is a great gift for a young child, easy to take on a picnic or to the park, a nice filler-of-time at sibling sporting events…you get the idea!

Enjoy!               

bubbles

Hope you make one!   

Go blow some bubbles!!   

only girl

Recently we had some friends over for an impromptu pizza dinner after soccer games were finished for the day. Our combo of kids resulted in an 8 boys:1 girl ratio. The solo girl told her mother on the way home, “the mom is the only girl in their house.” Oh, so very true! During her visit I enjoyed digging out some “girl stuff” from my play therapy toy stash. I invited her to play with my collection of Lego Friends I’ve received from my boys during their Legos-for-every-occasion phase that lasted persistently for years. I listened to her little girl chatter, noting the lack of crash-bang-argh sound effects that typically accompany boy play at our house. I watched as she fidgeted with her long, tousled hair as she told me stories with vibrant animation. She was enamored with our baby turtle, Pipsqueak. She had so many words and was so willing to share.Salsa

Just as our young visitor had the realization that I was the only girl in my house, I’ve been reflecting on how much I’ve become accustomed to how my sons dole out their words at a slowly measured rate as if they need to conserve their syllables to last the remainder of the day. I’ve noticed how they interact playfully with me and show affection in boyish ways that don’t require stringing all those nouns and verbs together. Much of their communication is through touch and sound.

I’ve got one boy who is my Leaner. As he’s grown taller than me, he’s developed a lean-in stance when he drapes over me for a hug. He stands very still but is so fully present that it seeps into my heart like a soft rain soaks deeply into the ground. Often he will hum softly as his breathing slows and I feel the man-child weight of him pressing onto my shoulders. He releases with a big sigh and we’re both a little more centered somehow.

morning hugAnother son has developed his technique of the hold-and-squeeze. He comes in for a “typical” hug then holds me tight, waiting for an off-beat amount of precious seconds to do a double-squeeze that sometimes takes my breath away. Occasionally I’ll get a few mini-squeezes in before he loosens his hold on me. I can sense the melody of his mood in how he prolongs the hug or stays only for a brief skirmish. Sometimes we’ll finalize with a rhythmic tap-tap of our fingers, drumming onto each other’s backs without saying a word–yet also saying so much. This seems like a foreshadowing of the letting-go process we face when he leaves for college in a heartbeat.

contented boy

My last one I can still tuck under my chin when he dives all-in, often leading with his head and wrapping around me with all of his limbs. I often wonder how many limbs he has because they are EVERYwhere! A lot of swaying and giggles accompany this hugfest, especially if he gets a firm headrub or backscratch out of the deal. He lingers longer if a variety of wiggly movement is sustained in this light-hearted encounter, reminding me that his primary Love Language is Physical Touch. Squirmy love is his forte; I have adapted my reflexes accordingly.

mandevilla bloomSo, yes, I am the only girl in this house, but I’ve learned to communicate “boyspeak” as I’ve grown along with them. They can out-talk me about sports, outrun me in 5k races, and definitely out-eat me at any given meal…yet they can’t outgrow the mommy-son bonds weaved ever so tightly during all these leaning, squeezing, squirmy moments.


“Behold, children are a gift from the Lord… His reward.” Psalm 127:3


“Mother’s day” has passed yet each of us mommas can harvest these little snatches of our child’s affection however they may come. It may be braiding your daughter’s hair for the umpteenth time or gritting your teeth through those first driving lessons. A wink, a nudge, a crayon drawing, a morning grunt or an after-school story…cherish these tokens of your child’s unique interaction with you. We’ve got 50 weeks until the next round of “direct” appreciation the card-makers will remind everyone about. In the meantime, soak up the ordinary love today, my friends.

daily life transformed by God into extraordinary tapestries

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