Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reminder of Differences

Girly Girl ready for day 3 of school
I was reminded again this week about the vast difference between girls and boys. It came in the form of our 6 year old girl and 7 year old boy. They started school this week and our start to the school year is a little different. Both Toads and Girly Girl are in a Spanish Immersion Program at their school and there is only one class of it offered at this school. When you commit to the program, you are committed for 1st through 5th grade. This means there are not the usual first day of school surprises....there is only one teacher, so you know who you have; the same kids are in your class each year, no new faces; and for us, your older brother is only a year ahead of you - same year, different child.

And the differences are immense in only the first few days. Toads had a wonderful year last year in Sra. Rudd's class and we could not have been more pleased with our experience. I had no idea what we had missed until the bigs got in the van on Monday. I did the usual 'how was it?' and Girly Girl could not get her words out fast enough. She gave me a minute by minute, blow by blow detail of every last bit of her day. She described her classroom and all that Sra. Rudd did in elaborate, storied details. She went on and on with such excitement that we were a little fatigued when she finished. Toads turned only resulted in a "I don't remember." That's not uncommon for him. He just doesn't have endless amounts of enthusiasm for recounting to his mother the intimate details of his life. He keeps it all to himself unless I pry some of it out of him. I remember thinking in the van how nice it would have been if Girly Girl was the older one so that I would know what all is happening in his classroom. I obviously did not have a clue about what was happening last year.

These two are a perfect example of how unique and different each one of us are - especially the male/female comparison. Our girl is all girl and our boy is all boy. They communicate differently, they respond to stress differently, they require different interaction with me. They are just wired very differently. God created them both with unique personalities and I am slowly learning to effectively navigate the parenting waters with a boy and not just this cute one, but three little girls. The little two talk just as much and with almost more dramatic flair than Girly Girl. Toads won't have to worry long about having to answer my questions as the girls fill in all of the air time. They are all four such a joy to parent.

Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day Without Kindergarten

August 22, 2011
After two years in a row of dropping off a kindergartner the first day of school, it was a little different this year. First grade and second grade. Old hat. No big hugs. No help finding your name. No problem. We took Toads to his class first and then settled Girly Girl into her class which is Toads' class and teacher from last year. Their classrooms are right across the hall from one another, so they will be in view/ear shot of each other almost all the time. Toads probably could have done without the parental escort but Girly Girl was still a little interested in having us there. They have each other and for now, big brother is not too troubled by little sister being around all the time. I can already tell that they won't want us around much longer. They are confident, independent little Linos. I wouldn't have it any other way. I did manage to get a few pictures before they dismissed me.

1st grade and 2nd grade
Pine Forest Elementary - Sra. Fabela's class

Pine Forest Elementary - Sra. Rudd's class

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How We Made the Big Transition

This past Sunday, Nathan and I had the opportunity to see some sweet little NEHBC faces and talk to them and their parents about joining the NEHBC family in worship on Sunday mornings. It was so fun to see the new 4 year olds with wides eyes about what was happening and the looks on the parents’ faces too. Transitioning to big church can be very challenging for some families. It was for ours. It is also one of the most important things a family can do for the spiritual development of the children.

Nathan is long gone to prepare his heart and mind to preach by the time I wake up and start getting the Four Little Linos ready for worship each Sunday morning, so I have experienced this three times practically on my own. Toads, Girly Girl and Samoosa all transitioned to big church right at their 3rd birthdays. If I could visit with each family like we did in the group setting this past Sunday, this is what I would tell them about my experience…………..

The motto is “train and model.” Training and modeling requires sacrifice. In order to train and model worship of the living God to my child, I must be willing to put their spiritual well-being before my own. For a season, I will not hear every word of the sermon. I will not have any idea that we prayed for a particular people group in worship. I will miss the report of life change on a mission trip. I will not have all of my needs met in worship. The thing is, it’s not my needs that are important. Worship is not for me. It is not my break from my children. Worship is what I give the the King of Kings and what I am giving to Him right now, in this season of my life, is my children. My sacrifice of training and modeling is actually what He expects of me in my role as parent of the children He has entrusted to me.

So what does training and modeling look like? The idea is to let them see you worship and train them to do it for themselves. As a family, it requires a team approach. It requires planning ahead and being consistent. The attitude that Mom and Dad have about worship is what they will pass on to all the kids. Mom and Dad need to actively participate and communicate with each other. Let each other know how you think it’s going, what’s working, what’s not. Be excited about worship and talk positively about being with believers to worship your God. Get everyone on the same page and worship together as a family.

Lino training and modeling goes on all during the week. We have expectations for our children during that one hour of worship and we have explained what the consequences are for not meeting them. Some of ours are: not distracting others, not leaving the worship center to go to the bathroom, not fighting with siblings, standing and sitting at appropriate times, and so on. I always remind them of these expectations in the van on the way to church. There are no surprises or excuses. We talk about worship throughout the week and begin our ‘Sunday routine’ on Saturday. My goal is to do whatever it takes ahead of time to get us in our seats in worship with open, happy hearts and leave with happy hearts that have worshiped God in a way He wants to be worshiped.

To meet my goal of happy hearts before and after worship, these are some things I do:
·         Set out church clothes for everyone on Saturday night, even mine
·         Give ‘church baths’ to kids on Saturday night
·         Play worship music while getting ready on Sunday
·         Serve the same breakfast every Sunday (no time for discussing or disagreeing with the ever-changing requests)
·         Decide which service is best for your family – for us, it is easiest to arrive at the NEHBC campus and go straight to worship so that I don’t make us late by getting sidetracked in the hall talking or rounding up three children from different classrooms
·         Everyone goes to the restroom before finding seats in the worship center
·         Find a seat with a good view for children to see and know what is happening on the stage
·         Have a seating arrangement for the children that gives them the best opportunity for meeting the expectations and experiencing worship – for us, this means that the lefty of the bunch needs to sit to my left and all others on the right so that they don’t get in a fight when she continually elbows them with her writing hand; two personalities need to be split up because they talk a lot.
·         Decide ahead of time a plan for exiting the service if necessary – for what? Ours fall into two categories: defiant disobedience and major distractions
·         Everyone follows instructions of the worship leader and pastor – sit, stand, bow to pray, kneel when appropriate
·         Have a plan for the sermon time…..’big church bags’
o   The bag is only to be used during the sermon. Not at any other time during the service or at home. It is a special bag.
o   The child is responsible for the bag – it’s what they bring to worship like you bring your Bible. Have them carry it, pack it, take good care of it.
o   Using the bag on the floor is ok for little guys - they are probably lost and their hearts are not inclined to sit and listen attentively.
o   Put all kinds of nice, quiet age appropriate toys/activities in it – coloring books, pipe cleaners, stickers, sketch pads, washable markers to keep clothes nice, kleenex are a must. Make sure the activities are things they can do on their own and don’t require an explanation or help from Mom and Dad.
o   Change out the contents regularly.
o   Ensure that the bag is not being repacked during the response time but that children are participating in the response time and not being a distraction to others that are responding to the Lord.
o   As children get older, expectations change for the sermon time – not on the floor, take notes, etc.
·         Let children participate when appropriate – help pass offering bag, open Bible, pray at the altar with you, etc.
·         Whisper instructions or explanations during teachable moments of the service – Lord’s supper, point out instrumentalists, explain looking for references in Bible

Despite my best efforts, worship does not always go like I dream it will. That’s ok. Having perfectly obedient children is not the goal. They do make noises and distract others. We do have to exit on occasion. I am not locked in on those dreams. The hope and dream of having four little Linos that love the Lord their God and worship Him with all of the hearts is the one I’m working towards. My sacrifice, planning, praying, training and modeling is so worth it. Being the one to teach my child to worship their Creator is an awesome privilege. Parent, enjoy the opportunity you have been given and be faithful to your calling as parent of that precious child.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Life on the Beach

Six Linos on Navarre Beach - July 2011
Such good memories were made and lessons were learned on our 2011 beach vacation. Of course there are too many to include them all, but to name just a few...........

  • Heading out at 430am with four young children is the best idea - they sleep for half of the 9 hour trip.

  • Cooking in your condo is much better than going out all the time. Yes, I know it takes effort. I cooked some food ahead of time and took it with us. I also had a menu for all three meals each of the 14 days we were gone. We made several trips to the local grocery store. The trade off is that you don't have to spend them time getting the family of six ready to go out and risk poor service and bad food. We had great family meals around the table or on the patio that were not interrupted by waiters and trips to the restroom.

  • Ask the locals where to eat. We had super recommendations from the locals at Navarre....Shrimp Basket and Flounder's in Pensacola were our faves. Flounder's has great atmosphere and enormous amounts of good food!

  • Lino family walks on the beach are never dull. We usually don't go anywhere unnoticed. How can you when you have four young children? But our walks along the beach definitely turned a few heads. In the evenings, were were loaded down with buckets and nets to catch whatever was swimming by and all of the crabs racing around on the fine, white sand. There was often a spectacle when one of us spotted the smallest of crabs and then the boys went dashing to catch it. I know Samoosa and String Bean enjoyed the evening walks better than the laborious half mile walks to the pier. Those walks to the pier with this family of six took forever! You could see all the sympathetic moms sighing in exhaustion with me as I carried or urged the little girls to keep up with us. The promise of ice cream on the pier was the only motivation for Samoosa.

  • Vacation does not require doing 'stuff'. Over the course of two weeks, we managed to 'entertain' ourselves quite well. We made one outing to the Gulfarium in Ft. Walton where me met our friends from Arkansas who were also on vacation at the same time and then we went on a drive one afternoon where we found a British specialty store that made Nathan's day. Other than that, our family time was on the beach or in the pool. Each of the kids went on outings with Dad - to get a sno cone or watch the pier fishing. I went armed with library books and a DVD library with microwave popcorn for the rainy days.

  • 4 little Linos and 4 little Piles at the Gulfarium
  • Reading on the beach is only done without children. I tried to read on the beach. It's much more fun to play one-on-one volleyball with the 7 year old boy than read about Hillary Clinton's time in the White House. I'd pick building sand castles with the two year old or floating in the waves with three little girls over any of the books on my night stand.

  • There are many more memories to be made on the beach.....I can't wait for the next family vacation!

    Tuesday, August 9, 2011

    Happy Birthday Girly Girl

    I have just been thinking back on the past six years with this little bundle of joy. What a marvelous gift from the Lord she is. I love this Girly Girl! Happy Birthday to the first of our three little girls.
    in the hospital - August 2005

    One Year - 2006

    Two Years - 2007

    Three Years - 2008

    Four Years - 2009

    Five Years - 2010

    Six Years - 2011

    A Glimpse of the Future

    My husband has the future all planned.....on the beach. I am not fully convinced yet since I really like to be in the snow, but two weeks on the beach was pretty amazing. The Six Linos made the trek over to Navarre Beach, Florida for the last two weeks of July. Just the six of us. A condo on the beach. Sun, sand and tons of fun. After thinking about it some, I think this was one of the best things we have done for our family. We had originally planned a one week vacation for just the two of us and then a shorter family vacation.
    Six Lino crocodiles
    After some debate, we decided on a full two weeks for all six of us. I knew going in that it was not going to be weeks of sleeping in and reading on the beach. I was still going to be in mommy mode and wiping noses. I was in mommy mode the whole time and it was fabulous. We did not have the routine of work and responsibilities that often call Nathan away. Our time was uninterrupted by phone calls, house maintenance, responding to mail and just the normal demands of life. The stage of life that our
    kids are in (2, 3, 5, and 7) made this so important because of the relationship building that came so easily on long walks or over sno cones. The benefit of the undivided attention that the kids got from us in this two weeks will last long into the future. We had two weeks of togetherness that is something I think we will all remember fondly.
    Sno Cones at Tommy's

    Back to the Real World

    It is such a shocker when you have to get back to the real world. School starts in less than two weeks. There is precious little time left for us to enjoy our time together as a family without the pressure of schedules and numerous appointments. I have been lagging on the blog because we took a much needed two week vacation to Navarre Beach, Florida and the icing on the cake was the private stay-cation that I had for the week following the family vacation. More to follow on that one! While routine will be nice, I have thoroughly enjoyed our summer.
    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...