Friday, July 15, 2011

Stepping Up the Organization

4 kids + 4 boxes = peaceful road trip
I have taken my plan-ahead, be organized strategy to a new level thanks to another mom-of-four friend. If you have kids, then you know that a road trip can be exhausting. There are obvious reasons, but most moms spend the majority of the trip passing things back, refilling snack cups and navigating the 'I don't want this kind' waters. Usually, I have a large snack bag in the front of the van with a wide selection of snacks, napkins, etc. This time around, we are trying a new strategy. Each child has a box (the ziploc/tupperware variety) that will fit nicely under their seat that is filled with snacks that are prepackaged or in baggies. When it is snack time, they can pull out their box and choose a snack.

I see many advantages to this plan. Everyone has a choice and complaining is kept to a minimum. . If you eat your oreos at the first break, then you can't complain that you only have crackers later when someone else is eating their oreos. You also can't complain that you don't like picked it out and packed the box with the flavors you like and colors you prefer. The box also includes napkins for quick clean ups. I think peanut butter and jelly sandwiches would be a great addition for the future. We skipped that this time since we are stopping for lunch. In preparation for the trip home, we have already packed the snacks in ziploc bags and they will be transferred to the boxes before we hit the road again. This eliminates the trip to the store to buy more car food because we ate it all in the condo.

Best of all, mommy does not have to work so hard. I might get to the vacation destination with some energy to actually enjoy it!

PS Thanks MD for the great idea!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

No Girls Allowed

Here is the boy - Toads. Our oldest. Our only son. If he has heard it once, he has heard it a thousand times......'you're the only boy'. People say it with such sympathy and often a 'that's just terrible' tone in their voice. There are times that I would have to agree. He is inundated with the feminine side of everything  - all the time. The summer in particular is rough for him. He's home with mom and three dramatic girls that like all things pink.

I have to be very intentional in my efforts to keep the masculine side of things at the forefront for him. Of course I just don't 'get him' on many occasions and I will never be able to relate to him like Dad does, but I can do my part to not let the hormonal female majority at our house overwhelm him. These are some of the things I try to do:
  • Have plenty of boys over to play. The three girls rarely have guests over to play - they have each other. He has nobody! Just having another boy in the house eases many of the tensions among the little people.
  • Let him choose the entertainment. He can only watch Barbie: The Island Princess so many times. We have a nice selection of boy movies, dinosaur puzzles, monster books, war games, and more.
  • Don't worry about his clothes matching. I have to admit that I struggle with this one. I want all the girls in matching outfits with cute bows, so of course the boy should at least have on a shirt and shorts that match each other. I have had to learn to let it go......let him wear mesh shorts 6 out of 7 days, let him have on plaid shorts and striped shirt, wear tennis shoes with everything. I still make him look presentable for church and certain family outings, but I am getting much better about this one.
  • Let him get dirty. Being the oldest, I was naturally a bit cautious with him as an infant/toddler when outside. With age, came dirt, sweat, sticks, rocks, and more sweat. He smells like a boy in no time.
  • No pink or purple allowed. Strong masculine colors only - clothes, blankets, toys, bikes, plastic plates/silverware, etc. All the princess dress - up clothes are for girls only.
  • Never object to Father/Son time. We call it 'guy time'. Nathan is very good about spending time with him and being intentional about building masculine traits in him. I am so thankful for that significant influence! I do my best to never discourage or detract from that time they have together even if it means planning 'boring' things for the girls and I to do so that Toads is not interested in them.
  • Limit the girly activities. If at all possible, I make alternative arrangements for Toads when it's time for me to hit the mall or nail salon. This also means the little girls cannot make him play girly games all day in the playroom.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Seven Together

Leffler - Lino cousins. July 2011
While their parents were on vacation, the three Leffler (Nathan's sister's family) cousins came to stay at Granny and Grandpa's house. We have had a wonderful week swimming, having sleep-overs, boy time, and just lots and lots of play time. The seven kids range in age from 10 on down to 2. Just last night, Grandpa was saying how wonderful it is to have all the grandkids. It is equally wonderful to have amazing grandparents. It is such a privilege to have Nathan's parents so close and willing to spend quality time with the kids. We are very blessed to have them.

Toads (7), String Bean (2), Girly Girl (5) & Samoosa (3)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dramatic Side of Cousins

I did not make an even swap. I have the five female cousins while the two male cousins are at Granny and Grandpa's house. These four had a sleepover in the media room and much to my surprise, they were not up all night long. Now today has proven to be a little dramatic with lots of dress up clothes and games that are not equally 'fair' for the 2, 3, 5, 8 and 10 year olds. I think I can handle a little more drama just so the cousins can have some fun together. They don't get to see each other often enough, so it's worth it. My husband may beg to differ. He is currently outnumbered 6 to 1. Maybe that's why he was at the office so early this morning.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Kind of Morning

I am really looking forward to tomorrow morning. Mornings aren't my thing, but gathering with the NEHBC staff wives for prayer and a little socializing is definitely my thing. We meet together once a month for the purpose of praying for our husbands and the church. I am blessed each time we are together to hear their hearts' desires poured out to the Lord on behalf of the wonderful church family and our husbands. These women work hard to support their husbands and the ministries they have been called to lead. It is such a pleasure to serve alongside them. Tomorrow should be one of the best mornings of my month!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Almost Gone

It's a sad time around our house, though not all of us will be able to verbalize it. Adam, the current apprentice-pastor, is wrapping up his time with our family and NEHBC. He has spent a year with our family learning all the ins and outs of being a senior pastor. I am not completely sure what all he has seen and learned on that side of things. I do know he has seen the inner working of our family enough to have gleaned some insight. Of course, there are some things in this family of six that he may wish he had not seen. I do hope that we have in some small way encouraged him as we have shown him how one pastor's family walks the ever-changing, often demanding, very rewarding ministry life.

It has been a joy to have Adam with us this year. I am especially thankful for the tremendous role model he has been for our children and I am looking forward to being able to look back with the little Linos on how the apprentice-pastor guys significantly impacted them. One little Lino may miss this one more than the rest of us, but all Six Linos have certainly had a great year with this year's apprentice pastor.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not Completely Different

There are times when the 'preacher' life our family is called to is different from the lives of say, our 'engineer' neighbors. Vacation is not one of those times. It takes me days to get ready to leave. All the buying supplies, washing laundry, packing suitcases, making plans. It happens at our house, too - until the wee hours of the morning prior to departure. Putting six people in a van for a 12 hour drive is the same no matter who you are - brutal. Checking into and unpacking into a condo with small children can only go one way - not fast enough. Spending hours on the beach with the kids never changes - spectacular. People watching in a 'touristy' destination - never dull. Coming home to reality after a memorable vacay - we don't want to either!

This preacher family can't wait for our much needed vacation! It is relaxing to just think about the phone not ringing and not being on call. We won't know what to do with ourselves with a full Saturday to play and not be preoccupied. While we have embraced many of the differences in our lives, we are just thrilled that we can be just like everyone else when we are on vacation.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Sobbing for Sure

I should recent tweet about crying if I was doing what my husband was doing. He was at the airport. Today, our guests from South Africa left after spending over a week with us. Terence and his lovely wife, Michelle, were such a joy to have in our home. The guys grew up together in Africa and remain the best of friends even now. They are two peas in a pod, think alike, act alike often and share a deep love for the Lord.

I will always treasure this past week. Seeing the two of them together was just wonderful. Their friendship has lasted decades separated by vast oceans with only a couple of short visits here and there. They picked up where they left off. You would never have guessed that the wives and our kids had never met. Our week was full of laughter and meaningful conversations. Our kids had a fabulous time hanging out with 'Aunt Michelle' and 'Uncle Terence.' We shared our lives over the past nine days. We made amazing memories. We love those two like family.

I would have been a sobbing mess if I had to drop off the person who has been my friend the longest at the airport for a flight that would take them around the world until who knows when. We miss them already.
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