Training Your Eyes

I wrote this a couple years ago and for some reason it never made it on the blog. I was reminded of this struggle and lesson as the Halloween decorations started appearing this weekend. 

I don’t know why but for some reason people in Utah LOVE Halloween.  So many people here full out decorate their houses, plan elaborate costumes for their kids AND themselves, and even get off work early to get ready! The haunted houses and haunted-themed events abound for the whole month of October.

Because we are attempting to raise our kids to be able to relevantly relate to their culture and not just build a christian bubble around them we’ve chosen to celebrate this holiday in certain, thoughtful ways rather than just excluding it from our lives and vocabulary. We try to find ways to redeem and reclaim that which sin has darkened and perverted. So on this particular night in the past we’ve let our kids dress up and we go to the local senior center. We walk through the halls and greet the residents and talk to them. We talk to our kids about trying to bless others with their presence and I’m not gonna lie, they get a ton of candy too. I’m not saying that everybody should do what we do, it’s a personal decision that has to be made with lots of evaluation and prayer.

Recently we moved to a new neighborhood. We’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of our neighbors and are really enjoying getting settled into our new surroundings. As this holiday approaches we’ve watched as a few houses here and there have put out hay bales, pumpkins, and the occasional spider or scarecrow. Pretty much just cute autumn stuff. Then this week it happened. Down around the corner from us the little house and well manicured yard overnight turned  into an evil graveyard. Now, one of my biggest pet peeves in the blogesphere is exaggeration for poetic flair and I try really hard to write honestly and realistically. So I hesitate to say that our neighbor’s decorations are “evil” but honestly I can think of no other accurate way to describe them. These decorations are beyond the typical Halloween scary stuff you see, they are just horrible, dark and, well….evil.

The first time I drove past this transformed house I shuddered, shook my head in disgust and then got irritated. I thought, I have to drive my kids past that house every day. Thanks a lot jerks!  All that morning that stupid house was on my mind because I knew later that day I would have to drive past it with my kids in tow. What was I going to say when they saw it? Then an idea popped into my head, we don’t have to drive past it! There are other routes to our house. I can just use those routes until those decorations are gone. Yes, no other route is nearly as direct. Yes, I will have to drive out of the way, multiple times a day, for the next 30ish days…ugh. This is not looking like such a good solution. Back to the drawing board.

So I continued to pray about this irritating house. I contemplated paying these neighbors, who I’ve not met yet, a visit and just letting them know how offensive their decorations are to me, my children, and probably any other family with young kids in the area. I can just visualize how well that would turn out: Hi, I’m the new neighbor down around the corner. Well I just wanted to let you know how I feel about your horrible Halloween decorations…

So my next solution, I pray that God would blind my children’s eyes to this house for the next month. God, you can do that right? I’ve heard stories of bible smugglers in other countries who have watched in amazement as police have searched their bags and literally not seen hundreds of bibles and study materials. So God, please blind my children’s eyes to these decorations so I don’t have to deal with them seeing them and don’t have to drive out of my way.

Fast forward to that afternoon when I pick my daughter and her friend up from kindergarten. My son is also in the car with us. We drive by the house, I silently pray and hold my breath. Then I hear:

“MOM!!! DID YOU SEE THAT HOUSE!?!!?

I look in the rear view mirror and see all three kids with their faces practically plastered to the window visually sucking in all the horrible things on display. So no blindness, huh God?

Then, amazingly instead of freaking, out of my mouth come words that I believe had to have been from God, because I certainly wasn’t thinking what I was saying. I listened to myself as I told the kids that sometimes there are yucky, scary, or icky things in this world. It is sad that some people chose to like those things and sad that they chose put them out so that everybody has to look at them. So what we have to do, I told them, is to teach our eyes to not look at those yucky, scary things. We have to tell our eyes, “I know you want to look at all that stuff, but it isn’t good for you, so you need to look away.”

The kids responded so well. They said, “Okay, we have to not look at that stuff cause it isn’t good for us?”

“Yes, that’s exactly right.”

And that’s what they’ve been doing ever since. We don’t drive out of our way to get home, we don’t talk poorly about those neighbors for liking that stuff, we simply look away. The more I think about it, the more I see the need for this at other times in our lives. Down the road I know there will be times when my children will need to choose to look away from something. A website, a photo in a text, a billboard, etc. There are lots of things they will be exposed do that I can’t control or protect them from. I hope this simple exercise of training their eyes will give them strength to make the right choice when the consequences are greater.

Even now every time we drive by this particular house we talk about training our eyes. The other gem that has come up from this house is that we cannot control those people and what they put in their yard. But we can control our own bodies and what we allow our eyes to look at and our minds to think about. So I guess in the end I should be thanking these neighbors for the good life lessons. 🙂  

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Dramatic Much?

Conversation three minutes ago:

Korban (as he runs into my room, fake crying): Ow! I hurt my leg!

Me: Oh I’m sorry. What happened?

Korban (still fake crying): I fell on the stairs. I hurt my leg. It’s broken.

Let me interject here that he did NOT fall on the stairs but rather tripped over a toy in his room. Also, his leg is not broken.

Me: Your leg isn’t broken.

Korban: It’s bleeding!

Me (looking at the horrible injury): No, it’s not bleeding.

Korban: It hurts so bad!

Me: You’re okay. You’re leg is going to be fine.

Korban: Oh, okay. (Runs off to play)

This One’s Mine

This one is my sidekick.

This one knows how to strike a match (something Mommy didn’t know he could do until this morning!)

This one regularly tells me that he loves me.

This one is wearing underwear.

This one talks nearly non-stop, even if nobody is listening.

This one is STILL very passionate about tractors and all big machinery.

This one has taken a new delight in pestering his big sister.

This one does not like to be by himself.

This one put onion powder on his oatmeal this morning, tasted it and declared, “I yike it!”

This one wants to try everything he sees his big sister doing.

This one asked a girl out on a date already…no it wasn’t mommy, but it was one of his favorite people.

This one has stolen my heart.

This one is mine. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer 2011: A Summary, Part 2

Here’s more:

We went camping in Wyoming and my sister took us on a trail ride. Jennika got to ride her very own horse!
Korban and Mama's big horse.
Camping
Me and my beautiful sis...in her territory.

While I was in Belize the kids stayed and my parent’s house and had a wonderful time!

Wrestling with Uncle Modi

 

Reading with Aunt Jilly
And even Uncle Stephen...he's not so scary, once you get past all the hair!
While I was in Belize, Kris went rock climbing in Wyoming.
Amazing!

 

We came home just long enough to do some laundry, check our email and catch  up on some reading and then were off on our next adventure…..

 

Two Years Old

My Boy,

Today you are two.

You were so little when you arrived…

but your personality has always been big.

You’ve always been well taken care of by your big sister, 

and by your buddies.

Here’s some things I love about you:

-You are such a snuggle bug.
-You have the most amazing vocabulary for a two year old. There’s nothing you won’t try to say.
-You love praying.
-You can correctly identify a backhoe, bulldozer, excavator, steam roller, front loader, skid steer, and dump truck.
-You, obviously LOVE all things related to construction and farming equipement.
-You will follow your sister just about anywhere.
-You call Jennika “Jackie”, even though you can say Jennika.
-You sing, all throughout the day.
-You can eat an incredible amount of breakfast.
-You are so relational. You often stop me when I get busy, point to the chair next to you and say, “Mommy, sit.”
-Your smile
-Your golden hair…I’ve always wanted a blonde baby. 🙂

Happy Birthday Korban.

Until Christmas

Jennika’s concept of time is growing and developing. She will often ask me what time it is and what day it is. Currently her form of measurement for anything that is or will be a long way off it “until Christmas”. This also applies to anything big–she hasn’t quite distinguished between length of time and amounts. This simple understanding will lead to statements like the follow:

“I’m not going to talk until Christmas!” This is a popular saying in our house. There are times I want to respond with, “Yeah, I wish!”

“You can play with my doll until Christmas.”

When asked to wait for something, “It’s taking a long time. It’s taking until Christmas!”

And my personal favorite:
“Mommy I love you so much…until Christmas!” Which does not mean she will love me a lot until Christmas and then stop or just love me a little less, but that she loves me a whole, whole bunch…or in other preschool terms “a super-duper-duper lot” 🙂

The Talker

My almost two year old son is an excellent talker. He can say almost anything and is talking most of the day. When I tell him to do something he responds with, “Alright!” He has no trouble expressing himself.
Here are a couple of his most recent comments and conversations that have made me laugh.

Jennika is learning ABC bible verses. This week she is learning her C verse. So we say it often throughout the week. Usually when we are saying verses together Korban will also repeat as much as he can. Here’s today’s conversation:

Me: Jennika, can you say your new bible verse?
Jennika: No.
Me: Korban, can you say it?
Korban: No, tractor.
Me: Let’s say it together. Children…
Jennika: Children…
Korban: Tractor
Me: obey your parents…
Jennika: obey your parents…
Korban: Tractor
Me: in all things…
Jennika: in all things…
Korban: Tractor
Me: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Jennika: for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
Korban: Tractor, tractor!
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Kris, a non-coffee drinker except in cases of exhaustion, has a  bad habit of sneaking drinks of my coffee. He knows it irritates me, I usually offer to pour him his own cup but for some reason he prefers mine. This morning my cup of coffee was sitting on the counter and the kids were eating breakfast nearby. I ran upstairs for a minute and when I can back down Kris was in the kitchen and Korban emphatically exclaimed, “Mommy, Daddy drink foffee!”
The look on Kris’s face was enough to tell me that he was BUSTED!

Thank You For….

I am prone to turn on the radio or a kids’ CD as soon as we get in the car to go anywhere. However I’ve been challenged recently to spend that time in the car talking with my kids (and husband when he’s with us). From our talks together we have developed one of the sweetest activities I’ve experienced with my kids. It started with suggesting that we pray together in the car. To my daughter prayer always starts with “Thank you for….” So we started doing this, saying “Thank you for __________.”  We alternate and say as many things as we can think of. It looks something like this:

Jennika: Thank you for flowers.
Me: Thank you for sunshine.
Jennika: Thank you for mountains.
Me: Thank you for Daddy.
Jennika: Thank you for Korban.
Korban: Tank uh tractor.
Me: Thank you for grocery stores.
Jennika: Thank you for food.
Korban: Tank uh dump trucks.
Me: Thank you for Jennika
Jennika: Thank you for Halle.
Me: Thank you for red lights.
Jennika: Thank you for policemen.
Korban: Tank uh tractors. 🙂

It’s quite simple and so often we are reminded of something we see while driving that we are thankful for. But for all its simplicity few things in my day bring me more joy than this simple exercise in prayer and thankfulness.  My daughter thinks it is lots of fun so she usually asks to pray as soon as we get in the car. Many times we’re still going when we reach our destination. I am often brought to tears by Jennika’s insightful comments and am saddened when I can’t immediately think of something to be thankful for. Jennika never has that problem. In her eyes the world is full of things to be thankful for, even owies.  Whenever I have to pause and think I hear a little voice from the back seat, “it’s your turn Mommy.”

What a good reminder for my life.

Why My Kids Make Me Cry

Jennika has a list of responsibilities for every day. They are little things like: get dressed, set the table, make bed. If she does them she gets a star on her chart next to each responsibility. At the end of the week we count up her stars and she gets a dime for each star. She is earning on average about $1.60 a week.  She and Korban both have little banks and Jennika also has a wallet. After we have set aside money for giving to God she has decided that all paper money (dollars) will go in her wallet to spend and all coins will go into the bank. I feel like this is a good saving plan for a three year old. 🙂 She has also decided that she will also put some of her coins into Korban’s bank each time she puts some in her bank. Kris and I have told her that she does not have to share her money with Korban since this is money she is earning but she always happily replies, “That’s okay. I want to share my money with Korban.” And she cheerfully plunks half of her coins into his bank, every week.

Korban likes to hold hands with me. He will hold out his hand to me and look at me with his beautiful green eyes and say, “And peeese!” Of course whenever it is physically possible I agree to this. However he does not like to hold hands the “normal” way. He likes to ball his hand up into a fat little fist and then have my hand completely engulfing his. If I try to change this he will correct my hand so that it is all the way around his again. I love the picture of security and rest in this simple action. Often times in the car at night, when it is dark and quiet he will ask for my hand. Then once we’re arranged he leans his head back in his seat and just rests.  I love these sweet times but my heart is already dreading the day that his tiny little fist won’t fit completely inside my hand.

Recent Conversations

Recently on our way to church I said Korban looked so sharp with his dress shirt and tie. Jennika asked what I meant and I tried to explain that people don’t typically say that boys look beautiful like we say for girls. I explained that we usually say that they look handsome or sharp.
So yesterday we were listening to music in the car and I said, “This lady has a beautiful voice doesn’t she?” Jennika agreed. The next song was sung by a man. She asked if his voice was beautiful too and I said that yes it was, just in a different way. She then told me, “Girls are beautiful and boys are poky.”
It took me a while to make the connection between poky and sharp. 🙂
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Korban’s LIFE right now is tractors and dump trucks. So most conversations with him go something like this:

Me: Korban do you want to play with your toys?

Korban: No. I want tractors!

Me: What are you doing?

Korban: Tractor! Tractor!

Me: What do you see outside?

Korban: Tractors! (Singing) Tractor, tractor, harvesting the wheat.
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Super-dooper is a new word that the kids have recently adopted in our house. The usually use it to say they are super-dooper hungry or tired.

Jennika: Mommy, I super-dooper-dooper love you.

Me: (Heart melting) Thank you Jennika! I love you too!

Long pause

Jennika: Mommy do you super-dooper-dooper love me too?  🙂