Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grace, Mercy & Discipline

About a week ago, our family made a quick stop at the grocery store on our way home from dinner. Instead of lugging two tired girls into the store, we just decided that Kevin would run in to get the few things we needed, and I’d just wait in the car. Kate begged to go in, and I told her that she just needed to be patient and wait with in the car with me. She continued to beg, so Kevin got her out to take her into the store with him.

As they were walking in, Kevin was trying to grab Kate’s hand. She was frustrated and she jerked away. And then they had this little conversation…

Kate: “She is SO ANNOYING.”
Kevin: “Who is?”
Kate: “My mom. She never lets me do ANYTHING!”

Ouch. (And by the way, we have a 3 year old, but doesn’t it sure sound like we have a 15 year old?)

Let me be honest. I am struggling. Struggling to know how to exercise grace and mercy with my 3 year old, while still enforcing discipline.

You see, Kate is strong willed. She is VERY strong willed. Even that adjective might not be strong enough for Miss Kate. The definition “threenager” completely applies to her.

In her mind:
She knows it all.
She can do it all.
She makes the rules.
She is in charge.
She has an opinion on everything.

Who knew you were a grown person at three years old? She really thinks this. She tells me all the time “When I was a little girl…” and is just beyond shocked when I tell her “Kate, you still ARE a little girl.”

And, you know, she is really good at trying to convince us that she IS right:
She is a negotiator.
She is a manipulator.
She is stubborn.
She is independent.
She is so very smart.

She is what we will affectionately call “spirited”, and I love her so much it hurts.

If we give her an inch, she takes not just one mile, but 50 miles. And I am not exaggerating. Not even slightly. So to say that we have to be diligent in our discipline is an understatement. We cannot give in to her, or she thinks that she really IS in charge and she completely takes advantage of it.

However, I don’t want her to perceive us, her parents, as dictators and punishers. Yes, we do punish her, but we don’t want her to think that is all we do. We want her to understand mercy and grace and what that means. How much easier must it be for a child to understand God’s mercy and His grace, and what that means for them, when they have received mercy and grace from their own parents?

But how do we accomplish that? How to we let her experience mercy and grace without just letting her get away with whatever she wants. Because that just wouldn’t work.

In my opinion, the best way to show our kids mercy and grace is when they mess up.  If they mess up, or if they accidentally do something that causes negative consequences, they might deserve to be disciplined, but it is a perfect time for us to show them mercy and grace. It is the perfect time for us to explain “Yes, you did this and you deserve to receive some type of punishment, right? But I know you did not do this on purpose. I know you made a mistake. So this time, I will not give you any consequences. But, what can we do to make sure that this does not happen again? You’re not getting a free pass. You can learn from this. What have you learned?”

You see, we can still learn while receiving grace and mercy, and isn’t that the point of discipline? Focus on the Family has a great chart that shows the purpose of discipline. It specifically defines the purpose of discipline as to “train for correction and maturity”.

I am thankful for a Creator who freely gives us both grace and mercy, if we choose to put our trust in the Son, Jesus Christ. We are bestowed mercy when we are not punished for our sins, as we deserve. Mercy is NOT getting what we DO deserve. We deserve hell, but we are delivered from judgement through Jesus Christ.

But when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:4-5

I’m thankful for God’s grace, and for the blessings and kindness that He gives us, though I am not worthy. Grace is a gift, it is getting something we DO NOT deserve.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

I want my children to experience grace and mercy from their parents. And above that, I want them to know that they have parents who mess up and daily receive grace and mercy from our heavenly father. As parents, we’re to lead by example. And leading a strong-willed child is no easy task.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Family Lake Day 2015

Each year, my Aunt and Uncle rent a house for the week on an upstate lake near Clemson. Different people come and go throughout the week, but it seems like one Saturday ends up being "the day" that most people gather together. We have been the past few years and always end up having a blast.  Last year, the lake day kicked off our family vacation. 

I don't think anybody had more fun than Kate did.  She was on high-speed the entire day, and never took a break.  It all started out with paddle boarding with my cousin, Mark, who became her favorite person of all time by the end of the day. (Sorry, Davis!)


I was worried about how Karsten would do, since we left our house at 9ish and knew she most likely wouldn't get a morning nap. She did awesome and for the most part, smiled all day long. I think she had fun. :)

Those curls. I heart them so much.

See? She's not having any fun at all.

And more paddle boarding.  We spent time with family that we don't get to see very often, and in typical Kate fashion, nobody was a stranger. She made herself right at home with everyone.  We had two boats for the day, and Kate purposefully chose to be on whatever boat Kevin and I were NOT on. 

After lunch, Karsten took a good nap in a pack-n-play that we'd set up in the house. And then she was back at it for boating.  She was still tired, so she kicked back most of the afternoon and didn't mind to be held. 

 We headed over to the big rock wall where everyone jumps off.  As we drove up to it, some of the guys in my family swam over.  They climbed off and jumped off of the rock, which was probably 30ish feet high, maybe higher.  Kate saw what they were doing and immediately started yelling at me "I'm a good jumper Mommy.  I'm a GREAT jumper. I'm a GOOD jumper.", thinking that we would let her go jump off the rock.  My little daredevil.

 We did let her jump off a slightly smaller rock. :)

You can't really tell it, but she is arguing with Kevin in this picture, because she wants to go up higher, where Joe and Christopher are.  She wasn't happy jumping off of her little rock.

Two minutes after we were in the car to drive home, both kids were asleep.  Sign of a great day.

And today was Father's Day!  Of course I had to get a picture of the day.  These two girls are so lucky to call him Daddy.  He loves them more than they will know, and I love seeing the three of them together. 


What a weekend!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

We Are Family

For my mom's birthday (and Mother's Day), we gave her a family photo session.  Except for Kristi and Davis's wedding, I don't know if we have ever gotten good pictures of all of us, and definitely not since Karsten was born. Thanks to Casey Mlinar with Blissful Photography for the great pictures.  Get ready for picture overload.  Sorry not sorry.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Not Another Dance Recital

The past two weeks my social media has been filled with pictures and posts of tiny dancers dressed up in tutus and lipstick, either getting ready for a dress rehearsal or getting ready for the big performance - their recital. I love seeing all of my friends kids dressed up and excited for their big day.

But do I wish that was us?  No way!

The thing is, that WAS us last year.  Kate took ballet as a 2 year old and I can honestly say she really enjoyed it.  Kevin and I had fun with it too.  I mean doesn't every parent of a 2 year old enjoy seeing their kid twirl around on stage, curtsey really big, and then love it so much that they run back on stage during the next class's performance?  Oh wait, you mean that's just our kid?  Oops. 

She had fun, she got some exercise, and she met some new friends, so we felt like it was pretty good for her. We actually enrolled her again this past year (in August) in a tumbling class, and she went for about a month and a half.

And then we got Karsten.

And she dropped out.

She didn't know what was going on, but one thing I've really learned in the past 8 months is that you can only do what you can do, and that's it.

For us, adjusting to 2 kids and figuring out how to make it work was just about all we could handle.  And extracurricular activities?  Well, they were OUT.

Some moms (and dads) have superpowers and can handle lots of kids, who each have their own activities, and somehow can get them to twenty different things in a day ON TIME.  Oh, and they eat home cooked meals every night. But that's not us. And I don't feel bad about it.

The past 8 months, it has been awesome to come home from work, and for the most part, be HOME.  We do go to church every Wednesday, but other than that, we have no weeknight obligations. And it is fantastic.  The days of practices are ahead of us, I'm sure.  But right now, our time is OURS.

So I'll look back on those baby ballerina pictures from a year ago and smile...

But I think I'm going to smile just as much (or more!) remembering those summer nights at home with the sprinkler going, riding bicycles in the driveway, blowing bubbles, eating ice cream on the back porch, and pretty much just being silly and having fun together.

Yep.  Pretty sure I'll remember these days too.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Karsten: Eight Months

Another month down.  Let's see... we have 2 more months until Kate turns FOUR and 4 more months until Karsten turns ONE.  Guess we better figure out the party plan and situation pretty quickly, huh?

Anyway, Karsten is now eight months old and I'm just choosing to ignore it and pretend she's still 7 months. :)  This month she has grown so much and has so many new "skills".  It is crazy how fast kids grow and pick up on things.  I think that all the time with Kate, and Karsten is no different.  So, here's what this baby has been up to...

Karsten is growing like a weed!  We've been putting her in 9 month clothes for the past month or so, even though they were a tad big.  She is starting to fill them out a little better, but still has some room.

She's still wearing Size 3 diapers and fits into them well. Huggies seem to fit her the best, though we bought a pack of Target diapers for the first time yesterday and those seem to do well too.  Target diapers ended up working the best for Kate's size/shape, so that's pretty much all we bought for nearly 3 years.  I got pretty familiar with those blue and green polka dots.  Between Kate being potty trained about a year ago, and Karsten joining our family, Target must have redesigned their diapers.  They still have the same polka dots, but they are so much thinner than they used to be!  Maybe I'm just going crazy.  They work though, so I don't really care!   

She started sleeping through the night last month, and so far it has continued. She woke up super early a few times this past month, and she also had a few really fussy days the past week, but Kate has been sick with a cold, that she sweetly shared with Karsten, so we think that probably had something to do with the fussiness.

However, we also think the fussiness might have to do with teething!  So far, this sweet girl has ZERO teeth, and we don't see any signs of them.  I have a feeling that when the first one pops through, the rest will come in like crazy.  So if that is what happens, I feel like she's gonna have some serious teething pain.

See this little face? 

She LOVES to suck on her bottom lip.  She also sucks it in and pops it back out.

And her latest milestone?  Crawling!  Well, sort of!  Karsten hasn't quite gotten down the whole left arm, right leg, right arm, left leg thing down, but she gets where she is going!  She is like an inchworm. She raises up and looks like she is about to crawl, then pushes forward, lays down, slides a little bit, and starts over again. It's pretty amusing. I guess both of my kids decided to just skip the normal crawl and create their own way of moving.

And as soon as she learned how to "crawl", she learned how to climb. She has climbed onto our fireplace hearth, climbed to the foot section of her exersaucer, climbed on top of Kate, and so much more.  In anticipation of the next phase (pulling up), we moved her crib down another notch.

And another big milestone - talking!  So far, she only says Dada.  Tear.  No "Mama" yet.  I will say, I've heard Mama come out, but only at random times and she doesn't know what she's saying. She is pretty consistent with Dada though and will say it when she is looking at Kevin so I'm going to give her credit on this one.

I sure do love this sweet smile!  Oh, and check out how long her hair has gotten!  This doesn't really show it, but the back and sides are finally growing out a bit.  For the past 8 months, she's had curly hair on top, but the sides and back have been so short, there weren't any curls. It's definitely starting to curl now. I love it!

And that's the past month. It's flown by.  We've been on-the-go for sure, which I'm sure made time feel like it was flying by even faster.  And even though it flew by, Karsten made so many changes this month.  It makes me wonder what I'll be writing next month when she turns NINE months old??


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