Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Love on the Skids

I read these two blog-entries from Nancy Wilson's blog "Femina" this week. They've been challenging and encouraging me in the focus and direction of my mothering. I want to share them here even though they are "only text" and kind of long. Sorry -- but they are important to me right now. The first one is from Nancy Wilson herself and the second from her daughter Bekah who has 5 kids roughly aged between fifth grade and kindergarten.

Love Metabolism
by Nancy Wilson

All our children need our love and attention; that’s a given. But some children seem to have a greater need. You give them lots of attention and love and it seems to last five minutes before they need more. They need reassurance, encouragement, understanding, correction, praise, and plenty of hugs sprinkled in. My husband described this the other day in such a helpful way, I thought I would pass it on to you.
Just like adults have different metabolisms, kids seem to have different love metabolisms. Some adults can eat vast amounts of food, and they burn off the calories as fast as they eat them, never gaining a pound. Others can just walk past a picture of a doughnut, and they gain two pounds. In the same way, some kids can get a hug from Mom, and that holds them for the morning while they run out to play in the backyard quite happily. But little sister may need a hug every twenty minutes because she has already burned off the last one. So it just doesn’t work to hand out the affection equally, everyone getting a fair share.
Unfortunately, the ones who have the biggest needs (with the limitless tanks) can become the most demanding, which can make them the least lovable. And if Mom doesn’t just pour on the love anyway, it will only get worse. Many of the bad habits or bad behavior that little kids develop are the result of insecurity and neediness. If parents would determine to pour on the loving, they may be surprised to see some of the bad behavior or bad attitudes disappear. Kids’ needs fluctuate as they grow, so their tank size may change just when you thought you had it figured out.
So parents need to ladle in on thick, or dump it on with a snow shovel, or pour it on with a fire hose. Whatever suits you. And just like food nourishes the body, love and attention nourishes their little souls. And fat souls are what we want.

Steering into the Skid
by Bekah Merkle

If I could just chime in here for a second . . . (hope you don’t mind Mom!) . . . I had a thought regarding a few of the comments on the last post.I think there’s a difference between “responding” and “initiating” that is critical here. If you find yourself perpetually having to respond to your child’s pleas for affection (in whatever form those pleas take – whether it be fussiness, or outrageous behavior, or annoying clinginess, or whatever) then it means you need to really step it up and try and get ahead of the game. It means that you need to start initiating the hugs and affection FIRST – before the child realizes he needs it. That’s frequently quite a challenge, trying to beat them to the punch! However, if you’re the one initiating, that means you’re filling up their little tanks and you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re reinforcing bad behavior when you do so. And, quite honestly, if you make a concerted effort on that front, you may be very surprised to see what other “discipline problems” clear up on their own. Think of your hugs as pre-emptive strikes, rather
than as responses to manipulation.
My husband compares this phenomenon to steering into the skid when your car starts to slide on the snow. Your first impulse is to yank the steering wheel the other direction (“No you may NOT sit on my lap because you’re being whiny and that’s a sin and God hates it.”) You frequently feel like that should fix the problem – but in fact it just takes the skid to a whole new level of out-of-control-ness. It often feels counter-intuitive, but you need to make yourself steer into the slide and get ahead of it. Often that takes FAR more patience, grace, self denial, and self control than it does to insist on having your standards upheld.The tricky part is that when a child is being all needy, the form it takes usually is one that tends to rub all your fur the wrong way. You don’t want to give the love, because they’re not being cute; they’re being unlovely. But remember to stoop for these little people. Give out the hugs when you don’t feel like it. Give out the hugs when the children are not acting very huggable. (Golden rule here: how do you want your husband to treat you when you’re being all needy and frazzled and generally un-cute?)

Friday, May 21, 2010


Isn't this outfit by Caramel Baby & Child so very nice. Mm.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Goofball Graduate

Tomorrow is my silly, affectionate, curious, enthusiastic 4-year-old's last day of preschool for the school year. Love you, Atticus!!!!!

Ohorilkos Visit!

Brad's sister Kara & brother-in-law Brian with their two kids, Max & Ivy came up from Des Moines for a few-hour visit Saturday night. They weren't able to make Atticus' birthday party so this was kind of for him, but really a gift for our whole family! We all ate outside at the new patio "venue" and then let the kids stay up way too late playing together.

Not sure why the serious faces but I didn't get a good photo of baby Ivy...so here's her place in the (setting) sun (-:

Playing football -- Atticus sense Max needs some space -- so he tries to help out. Dietrich is a tenacious little punk.

Dietrich's mad batting skills

Max mows the lawn for us -- very thoughtful.


So this series of pictures was taken right before one of the most horrible endings to my stay-at-home mothering career. Yes, this was one of the truly unspeakably awful failures of mothering and mental health one would ever have opportunity to witness. And yet, despite the layers of building frustration and doom, I was able to keep it together enough that this is the kind of wonderfully joyous episode these poor kids experienced right before Evil Mom detonated into their feral little existences. Inexplicable -- maybe to all but those who have or can remember having this many children this young, this close in age at the end of "One-of-Those-Days" at the end of "One-of-Those-Weeks" while under the evil enchantment of a previous night of very little sleep and a kick-your-butt sinus cold. I am in awe and unable to absorb how insanely wonderful it is that God forgives me of such hellish behavior and that my children forgive me too.

Al Fresco Dining & Tending One's Garden

For Mother's Day, Brad took us out for breakfast and then surprised me by taking us to Ikea and telling me to pick out a patio dining set!! Hurray! This table folds out to 9' and is exactly the style I was looking for on craigslist but brand-new and much prettier than the ones I could find. And Brad thought we needed a love-seat bench for watching the kids play and for sitting out in the back yard on late summer nights -- isn't that so sweet!!

Blank Northeast corner of our yard with the leftover topsoil and compost from our front stepped beds project.
AND for my birthday gift from March with a few weeks of work Brad built me the raised container garden I had designed about two years ago. It is made of cedar and has a low bed for the kids to try gardening and later for flowers.

Strange husband and sister attempting to move box into backyard...didn't work so well.

My awesomely resourceful Dad moved in by himself with logs off of our wood pile. He didn't farm for 25 years by himself without learning some tricks about moving large, heavy objects. Then he proceeded to level the entire box with a couple bags of sandbox sand we had in our garage. AND he and Dietrich filled the thing with the leftover topsoil/compost pile. In less than a day.

And before bedtime that evening my dad took me to the local nursery to buys me plants and seeds to start the garden. We would have planted it but we were rained out. The plants and seeds were my birthday gift from my mom and dad.

Another reason I love my dad -- He left me with a detailed/labeled diagram of the best way to plant the box for the plants/seeds I had chosen. I love diagrams. Atticus & I planted it a few days ago -- but it doesn't look like a garden per se yet, so I will take a picture later in the season.

My mom spent a lot of time reading to the boys and playing with them. And she did all the dishes while they were here. And delighted in a trip to one of my favorite fabric stores over in St.Paul (Treadle Yard Goods) . And spent some quality time with my sister too.

Why are these the kind of family pictures I always get from these visits -- aargh!

Atticus Celebrates His 4th Birthday!

So on May 9th, Atticus turned 4! He was born just a few days before Mother's Day and so sweet was the celebrating. This year we bought Atticus his first real bike. The "opening" of it plays out below:

I wish this was his reaction now -- but sadly he has decided that since he does not know how to ride it, he wants nothing to do with it. We backed off and let it decorate our back yard. He'll get there eventually (in fact, he actually does know how to pedal a bike like this -- because he has pedaled his friend Gigi's, but he has inconveniently forgotten this). Ah well.

Atticus was pretty enthusiastic about all his gifts...this one was from a friend from school who was unable to come to his party.

His bike helmet from Grandma Nancy & Grandpa Tom

Silly Lincoln...

Late Sunday afternoon of his birthday we had a small party over at McRae Park. The Millers, Nixes (from church), Bekah, and my folks (drove up from Potosi) joined us. Here is the absolutely horrible and fantastic pinata from the Mexican grocery store. Brad and Atticus picked it out themselves (-:


Isaac Miller

Peter Nix

Calvin Miller


Then with a big hoe handle

Bekah tries her hand...

That did it...

Eric Miller took the hats off the pinata and spread the festivity.
My mother.

My father.

Thanks for celebrating with Atticus!