Little Helpers

“What are you doing?” I asked sternly, as my son walked up to me, soaking wet and holding a child-sized broom.

“Cleaning the bathroom,” was the short reply. I hustled upstairs, leaving my daughter to tend to her schoolwork, and surveyed the “clean” bathroom with dismay. The sink was filled to the brim with murky, greenish water, which I later decided was from the natural bristles of the broom being dipped repeatedly. Almost every square inch of the bathroom—the floor, the vanity, even the mirror—was dripping. I was upset.

“Markus, this is NOT okay,” I said, and grabbed him a rag to begin wiping up. After a full change of clothes, he was put down for a nap with a hug but without a story. Later that evening, as I moved a lotion bottle and found water pooled beneath it, the Holy Spirit nudged my heart. “He was trying to help; he didn’t mean to make a mess.”

I repented. So often I assume my children are making messes, throwing tantrums, or fighting with each other just to get to me, just to make my day harder. This is usually not so. They are just being kids. Sinners. Like me.

1 Corinthians 13 comes to mind, two parts:
“When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.”
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (ESV)

Part of their behavior is just that: childishness. I resolved next time to ask questions before getting mad.
“Can you tell me what you were trying to do, Markus?”
“What is making you so upset?”
“What is causing you to treat your sister in this way?”
In seeking to understand my children’s heart motivations better, I think I will find that they often ARE trying to please me, but they just have trouble processing the outcome of their “helping” until they find themselves in a big mess. I will be much better able to show them love, to not be irritable, resentful or rude, to endure all things, if I remember that I am in the same humble place: dependent on God’s mercy.
Lord, help me to have the same grace with them that You daily have with my messes.

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Anja, 6 1/2

Oh, the years, how they fly! I can never believe it when my kids hit their half-birthdays and birthdays, and this one is no exception. I’m a month late in even posting this! Anja, at six and a half, you:

  • Are challenging me in new ways. I wasn’t prepared for the flip that switched on your six birthday. You are more mature, yet sassier as well. And tantrums have begun anew. That could have something to do with the fact that you finally gave up naps around that time, or it could just be what you’re going through developmentally. Growing is hard. You have big emotions. We’re here for you, even when it’s tough.
  • Are still tall. In fact, you’ve grown another inch and a quarter since October. You are often mistaken for a 7- or 8-yr-old. And you wear size 7 and 8 clothes, except when the waists are too big for them to work. It’s hard, because you have the bodice size of a 5T or 6, but you need an 8 for length. I buy you dresses and have to return them all the time because the bodice and arm holes are too big.
  • Are an artist. At least, that’s what you tell people. We chuckle, but you do produce a lot of art, usually in the form of crayon/pencil drawings or cards made for others. We love your sweet spirit that is always thinking of how to bless others with your words. You made cards for each of us as surprises the other day. Mine said, “I love you more than ever.” Dad’s said, “Dad, you are rocking love.” And Markus’s said, “You are racing love.” Mine was clearly the best. Haha!
  • Have really gotten a good grasp on reading. We started The Bobbsey Twins series a couple weeks ago, and you are doing great. I remember reading those at your age and loving them, and it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be poring over them on your own. Your handwriting has improved immensely, and it has been both a trial and a blessing to walk through learning with you this year.
  • Are loving Classical Conversations. As with every year, it seems, we had another big decision to make for next fall, and when asked you chose to stick with that. It is a good fit for you, and you have a much easier time with the memory work than I anticipated.
  • Are still incredibly creative in your playtime. Storytelling remains a favorite activity, though you’re much more likely to stop now when someone walks up on you. I know this self-awareness has come with age, and I should’ve expected it, but I don’t like it. I miss being able to eavesdrop on all that is going on in your world.
  • Are engaging your brother in play more and more often. As he gets older, I think you see his potential as a character in your plots, so he is sometimes given a role. OR I’ve even caught you playing cars with him and doing things he likes, which is great. Big sisters can be so bossy, and you are, but you are also so tender with Markus at times.
  • Are still learning how to tidy up. You’re always willing to pitch in and help, especially with Markus’s things, but your own room…well…let’s just say it’s not very neat (and that’s being VERY polite). We’ve had to revoke some privileges and pare things WAY down to make it manageable for you, but I’m confident that if we keep after this together, you’ll be able to be tidier than me.
  • Have favorites (though they are ever-changing). Color: purple. Food: c. Sport: ballet. Book: Redwall. Movie: Aristocats. TV Show: Jake & The Neverland Pirates. Holiday: Easter and Christmas. School Subject: art. Best Friend: Markus (awwww….).
  • Want to be a dancer or a gymnast when you grow up. Considering you have taken tap/ballet for about 3 years less than the other girls in your class, you’re doing quite well!
  • Have a great understanding of the gospel, but aren’t sure yet if you want to call yourself a believer. We keep praying that God will get a hold of your heart and that He will become your ultimate treasure!
  • Love playing with friends. You are often a ringleader and have a hard time following, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’m trying to teach you about listening to others’ opinions and being a little more diplomatic. Hard things for a firstborn, I realize (from experience).
  • Still favor your doll Malia and your dog Sherman. Coco, and a few other selects are out most of the time as well. I’ve taken you to the American Girl store a couple times and asked if you would like one, but you always decline. I’m glad you’re self-aware enough to resist the materialist pull, because sometimes I kind of want one. 🙂
  • Loved the Olympics. You got very into it, and your understanding of different countries and sports grew as well. We went to a high school basketball game with Grandma, and you asked, “Are either of these teams American?” We all had a good laugh.
  • Lost your first tooth! One of the bottom front ones. You were extremely excited.
  • Love to laugh. You ask to be tickled, make terrible jokes, and sometimes just get tired-silly. Those are some of my favorite times with you.

Anja, I’m so glad you’re my girl. I say that to you all the time, but it’s true. So I’ll keep saying it.

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Post Alpha Bits and Little Free Library

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Recently I was contacted by Post Foods and Little Free Library to see if I would consider partnering with them to host a Little Free Library and promote literacy. I just so happened to have a conversation with a friend during that same window of time, and she mentioned that she has always wanted a Little Free Library in her yard. So, she and I are partnering together to make this happen for our community!

Little-known fact: I used to be the Literacy Coordinator at a YMCA before- and after-school program when we lived in North Dakota. I am VERY passionate about reading good books to my children. Teaching them to read and reading good books myself (so they see me enjoying learning) are on the top of my educational goals for them. So this should be fun!

We received some Alpha-Bits cereal in the mail. The kids are always excited to get a package, but when they found out it was for them, it turned to all-out glee. I asked if I could take pictures of them with their cereal, and Markus started trying to bust into it within seconds. Haha!

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I used to eat Alpha-Bits as a kid, so of course I had to try some. It doesn’t taste quite how a remember it, but thankfully I have my own Post cereal that I treat myself to sometimes: Great Grains. The kids had Alpha-Bits on their yogurt for snack.

The next day we shared some with my friend’s daughter, who doesn’t even know that she’s going to have a library in her front yard soon. The kids did some Snacktivities (fun little word coined by Post) like sorting letters and writing their names. And then they gobbled down handfuls of cereal. 🙂

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(Markus had trouble finding an “M” in his pile.)
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Next time I think we’re going to separate vowels from consonants before eating, and then I might bring out the big guns: construction paper and glue. So many fun things to do with edible letters!

To learn more about Little Free Library, visit them on Twitter or Facebook or their website.

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I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.