Everyone Makes Mistakes

I was working on the farm with my construction team today as we were putting up a sunshade over the swimming pool.  I had given detailed instructions complete with detailed drawings, measurements, calculations, etc.

I stepped away for a few moments to tend to another project underway and when I came back, my team had welded a 24′ steel crossbrace onto 14′ uprights sideways (at a 90-degree rotated angle from how it should have been attached).  We laughed about it and spent a couple hours cutting it down and re-doing it correctly.

The lesson is that despite the best preparation, unexpected interruptions come up and things don’t always go perfectly smoothly.  A day-to-day example for Moms is lunchtime, when an unexpected phone call might divert your attention just long enough for your little one to dump a bowl of yogurt or rad, saucy food onto your chairs.

That is why Everyday Elegance Chair Covers help us manage those little speed bumps with grace and style and not lose our cool.  Because they are waterproof, the chair underneath the cover is protected, and because they are easily removed and washable clean-up becomes a snap.

With all the rest that life throws at us, isn’t it good to know you don’t have to worry about some of life’s little unexpected accidents?

Gripsterz Child Leash Alternative

We do a fair amount of traveling as a family.  At the moment we are traveling abroad with all the children.  So I thought this might be a good time to write some a blog post or two about keeping children close when traveling.

If you have ever had to bring your children with you through a busy airport such as Miami International Airport or London Heathrow you know how hectic and hair-raising it can be.  Multiply that be 100 and you know the feeling of taking your children through some of the third-world airports missionary families encounter on a regular basis.

Now imagine being in line for the security checkpoint with all your kids, your carry-on items and travel gear.   You definitely want to keep your children close, but sometimes when you use a traditional child leash or harness your child will realize they are being tied up or involuntarily restricted.  Does it help to have them sit down in the middle of the causeway and start bawling their eyes out since this restriction makes them feel like they are being punished when they haven’t done anything wrong?

Gripsterz child tether alternative at SJO San Jose, Costa Rica

Keeping children close with Gripsterz child harness alternative during international travel

Gripsterz Stay Along, which is comprised of a walking rope and voluntary character handle, helps alleviate that stress.  Children hold on to the handle because they like the monkey character, and they do not get upset since they are not being involuntarily restricted.

Gripsterz also gives children a feeling of security and ‘connectedness’.   They don’t have to cling to Mom’s leg because they are in a strange new environment.  Decreasing stress and anxiety for kids helps decrease stress for parents.

While there is no silver bullet for all people in all situations, we have used Gripsterz as an alternative to a child leash extensively during international travel and have found it works wonderfully for our family.

Activities for children–cold and wet weather

I recently published a blogpost about activities for children during nice weather.  But the weather doesn’t always play along.

When the weather is cold or wet or both, there are still plenty of fun things to do with children.  Here’s a list of some of our favorites.

1) Family reading:  we love to read.  Frog and Toad books are perennial favorites of the children (and myself).  We read these to each other a lot.  When two little ones get into a fight, I put them on the couch next to each other and have them read Frog and Toad to each other.  You can also do quiet family reading time, Bible reading, or “Daddy reading”–I like to read a chapter of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, time permitting, each day.  J.R.R. Tolkien has such an incredible writing style, the tales are entertaining and adventurous, and he paints a setting like none other I have known.

2) Board games.  I have always loved board games, and I think the children take after me in this respect.  Board games are perfect training tools for how to deal with winning and losing in life, as well as being good sports, and learning to take calculated risks and not be afraid.  Whether you win or lose in board games a few things always hold when you are through:  1) you are still alive, 2) Mom and Dad still love you, 3) God still loves you.   Never forget that.

3)  Baking and making.  Whether it is simple dinner rolls, pancakes, or desserts, it is always fun to do some baking on a rainy day.

4) Clean up.  House chores can be fun with the right attitude, especially if everyone chips in and helps out.  Many hands make light work.  We like to put on some groovy tunes to keep the mood and motion peppy.

5) Help Mom with laundry.  Folding is a good thing for children (and Dads) to learn.  Doing it together makes it fun.

6) Story telling.  Children have the best imaginations and come up with the funniest things.  With all the reading we do, they also learn to create settings and give characters “voice”.

7) Making juice drinks or smoothies.  Frozen berries with yogurt become an easy treat and are fun to make on a rainy day.  If it is cold, warm it up and make hot cocoa or spiced cider instead!

8) Spa treatment for Mom.  This is one of the favorite things the little ones love to do!  A towel on the couch a few helpful children and a little lotion and Mommy gets one great foot and leg rub!  Throw in a hairbrush and an aspiring salon artist and Mommy gets a scalp massage and new hairdo at the same time!

9) If all else fails, wrestling always works.  Note:  for aging Dads and adolescent/preteen children–approach this with caution!  Once the youngsters reach 2/3 of your body weight it might be time to throw in the towel!  But while they are still small I like to cover the room with pillows, get on my knees, and play “Daddy takes on all comers”.  The couches are ‘safe zones’ for the kiddies, they can’t wrestle each other, and Daddy can call a time out when needed.

Activities for Children–warm weather

We had a brief warm spell here in the Carolinas recently.  I like to take advantage of the break in weather whenever we get a chance.

Some ideas for activities for children if you have a brief warm spell include:

1) Going for walks!  This is my favorite.  Our street is a mile long and we have a great sidewalk to keep it safe.  The walk is pleasant and trees over-arch the street from both sides making nice shade, even for the hot sunny days.  The tree canopy is high enough to allow breezes so it always feels just about perfect.

2) Grilling dinner.  We give the children (or teams of two or three) each a different focus.  The oldest is now 13, so grilling is on the menu for any teenager!  This is a pastime I love to share.

3) Washing the cars.  Our conversion van is nearly 9′ high, so it does not fit in most automated car washes.  But it is great fun for the kids and helps us all learn responsibility and how to take care of things God has given us.

4) Pets.  For us pets now means chickens.  We are learning all about egg-layers and how to feed and care for them.  Warm weather is a great time to do this.

Muddy girl with bike

Muddy girl with bike

5) Gardening.  Even in the ‘winter’ (it does not typically get down to freezing much here in Charlotte so things stay pretty green) we can do some weeding and prepping for spring as well as picking up sticks off the lawn.

Girl in Garden with Banana Tree

Girl in Garden with Banana Tree

6) Sports.  Although I currently have a broken toe and am sidelined until it heals, we normally like to kick around a soccer ball or ride bikes.

7) Fire pit.  If it is dry enough and we can get chores done early enough and plan ahead, it is always fun to roast some marshmallows over the fire pit.

Girl with multiple hula hoops

Girl with multiple hula hoops

Girl with many hulahoops

Girl with many hulahoops

 

 

8)  Go to the park.  Frisbee, hoola-hoops, festivals, carnivals, outdoor concerts or just plain playing in the sand.

9)  Just plain old hanging around and chillin’.  Nothing is better than crashing out after a hard day at play!

Little boy crashed out sleeping

Little boy crashed out sleeping

“A Day” for a hard-working Mom

In the beginning of the movie “Shrek 4-ever”, Shrek was in a rut.  He needed “a day” for himself, away from his normal routine and everyday cares and chores.  He cut a deal with Rumplestiltskin where he could have a day all to himself to do whatever he wanted and be the old ogre he was, without any other cares in the world.

We all need that sometimes.  Even SuperMoms.

Last week Robyn got one of those days as a Christmas gift, which was nice since she could schedule it ahead of time and we all could prepare for it.  She ‘disappeared’ for a day, taking her Bible and her laptop with her, and we managed as if she were away on a business trip.

The kids did remarkably well.  Realizing Dad was at the helm, and it was ‘crunch time’, they buckled down and we did splendidly.  We started out waking up–check.  After that it went sort of like so:

  • Get your body out of bed and get down stairs
  • Eat breakfast
  • Get dressed
  • Brush your teeth if you’ve got em.
  • Four teams were made with one ‘big one’ and one ‘little one’ on each (and little Nick was a bonus helper for a team).  Each team had to clean one easy room (warm up), one challenging room, and one bathroom.  I am not sure how many bathrooms actually were touched but that was the plan.  The teams were carefully crafted by Dad based on personality mixes, and the rooms were in ship shape in no time.
  • Go down to the basement with school books.  We cleaned a little, did a little schoolwork.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  About a hundred times until all the Barbie stuff, LEGOs and various random implements of destruction were picked up and put away.  All homework was completed and Dad checked it over (which is an amazing feat in itself).  It helped that no one was able to go upstairs until it was all done.  And mercifully, we have a bathroom in the basement.

We had a break at about 12:30 – 2 PM for lunch.  Leftovers and pizza rolls are a blessing for Dads.

Afternoon was broken up for different groups:

  • big kids got computer time from 2-4:30PM,
  • medium and little guys got to play board games with Daddy,
  • help fold laundry (we were Mommy’s Laundry Fairies and blasted through 5 or 6 loads throughout the day***see my blog regarding “Thoughts on Laundry” coming up soon),
  • watched TV a while
  • Daddy had a 15 minute nap to recharge his batteries, accompanied by his littlest daughter.
Christmas Kids_a Moms Day away

Christmas Kids_a Moms Day away

Then it was up for dinner, then kitchen chores, and “1-2-3”, which means “jammies on, brush teeth, and use the potty”.  Finally Daddy read some stories to the little ones, we said prayers and they went to bed.

Mommy came home to a spotless house, sleeping children, and one tired but appreciative husband.

 

 

International Travel with Children

Our family with 9 children on horseback in El Valle de Anton

Our family with 9 children on horseback
in El Valle de Anton

As a family with 9 small children, we have had some great away-from-home adventures.  We generally try to take our children with us whenever we travel, from adoption trips to Guatemala, trade shows and continuing education meetings on the West Coast, Canada and Central America, to just plain interesting and fun trips for extended periods.  When we only had 5 little ones we took a 9-day trip around Arizona and New Mexico in an RV  with 9 of us (including Robyn’s parents), when we had 6 children we took them all to Costa Rica for a week to study rain and cloud forests, volcanoes and Latin American cultures.

Now we are in Panama for three months where we are concentrating on learning swimming, Spanish language, and cultures of Indigenous and resident populations of Panama.

9 children jump into pool

Our crew of 9 children jumping into the pool

We are having a great time, and also learning more about ourselves and our children, as well as traveling with children.

As time permits, and I am finding time in short supply, we will try to add more blog posts with some helpful things we’ve learned in order to guide others who may want to visit “Family Friendly Panama”.

Our family with 9 children on an Embera dug-out canoe

Our family with 9 children on an Embera piragua, or dug-out canoe