New Year’s questions for your kids – 2019

Here’s my list of questions to ask your kids sometime around the New Year. We always love this time of hearing their thoughts from the previous year and thinking together about the new one. Use it as a starting place for your own family or friends.

  1. What was your favorite memory from this year?
  2. What was the hardest thing about this year?
  3. What was your favorite book of the Bible that we read together? Why?
  4. What was your favorite other book?
  5. How have you grown this year?
  6. What is something you learned that you didn’t know or couldn’t do last year?
  7. What was your biggest disappointment or failure?
  8. What is one thing you want to learn this year?
  9. What is one thing you want to be different this year?
  10. What is one way you want to grow in loving God this year?
  11. What is one way you want to grow in loving others this year?
  12. What is one thing you’d like to do with the family this year?
  13. How can we pray for you?

This year I have the questions written down in my journal with places to record the answers. I hope these provide opportunities for some great conversations!

What the fly on the wall heard

So many funny things have been said in the last months, but these are the three I remembered to write down. Enjoy!

We were reading one of our favorite books with the girls when we saw the page with the taxi on it. (There’s a taxi with all of one number here in town that the girls love to spot as we drive.)

“Hey girls,” I asked, “do you think that’s a 999-9999 taxi?”

Gracie hunched over the picture. “No,” she began slowly, “it’s a T, A, X, one – taxi.”

Oh the giggles!

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For breakfast one morning I cut up a good amount of oranges for the girls. While we were eating I had to take Zoe up to her nap. I found the oranges all eaten when I returned with a huge pile of peels on Mckayla’s plate.

“Uh-oh girls, you ate all the oranges already.”

The girls began to pipe up,

“I only had two.”

“I only had five.”

“I only had three.”

Mckayla joined in, her voice just as disappointed as her sisters,

“I only had fifteen.”

****

The week after Christmas we enjoyed a family hike at a nearby walking trail. I led the pack pushing Owen in the stroller with Gracie behind me and Mckayla behind her. Paul pushed Zoe in her little stroller while keeping up with Hope and Sophia who were in explorer mode complete with hats, backpacks, walking sticks, pencils, notebooks, and rulers.

Anyways.

Gracie piped up as we walked, “I’m a shepherd and you’re a star!”

That was funny enough, but she really got me when a few minutes later she added, “Why am I following a talking star?”

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Thoughts for when you’re late to church on Sunday morning

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I trust that at some point in my life being late to church on Sunday morning will be a thing of the past.

But with multiple small children and a husband who usually has responsibilities at church before the girls even get up, being late on a Sunday morning is a semi-regular part of my life. I will say for those who may be brand new mommies and are about to be completely discouraged, I have a way better chance of being on time now with four small kids and another on the way than I did when there was just one or two. Life really does get easier.

Because being late is now semi-regular instead of constant, I’ve started to see how much being late can influence your mindset going into corporate worship.

(This is not about how to NOT be late, it is about how I try to think WHEN I am late.)

For those who follow Christ, Sunday corporate worship is essential. It’s something we look forward to all week long. On a completely temporal level for moms with little kiddos, it can be a chance to drop them off in the nursery or Sunday school and fix your mind on eternal truths while briefly leaving behind the immediacy of diapers, feedings, discipline and endless questions.

Bottom line, we have every reason to want to be on time or even early for church.

But… sometimes we wake up late. Sometimes we’re completely unprepared from Saturday night. Sometimes a toddler chooses an inopportune time to decide he doesn’t like eggs. Sometimes fixing four heads of hair takes longer than you planned on. Sometimes you have to take a different route because of a bike race. It seems like every force in the universe is plotting to thwart your plans to be on time.

It happens.

#1 – Being late happens.

The most discouraging mornings for me are the ones where I had everything completely prepared, where I got up ridiculously early, where nothing catastrophic happened… and still I was late. How many times I have complained in my mind, What’s the point of trying so hard if I’m still going to be late?

No, you’re not a failure. No, it will not be this way forever no matter what. No, it was not a waste to try hard. Easy to write on a Monday night, but very hard to tell yourself on a Sunday morning.

Which brings me to the next thought.

#2 – Every truth that you’re going to church to celebrate and rehearse is changed NOT AT ALL by the fact that you’re late.

Just recently I’ve learned to think about this as I get the girls ready and drive to church on a morning where I know we’ll be late. The glory of Christ’s work on the cross, the grace of God in forgiving and adopting His enemies, the comfort of the Spirit teaching us every day, the hope of an eternity with Jesus as King of Kings – all of these are steadfast truths that will never change. To imagine that somehow my little being-late escapade has any impact in eternal matters is laughable. I have to make a concentrated effort to think on things that are true and good.

To beat myself up over such a thing is really just an odd symptom of self-centeredness. Believe me, on many occasions through the singing or teaching at church, the Holy Spirit has gently shown me where I was wrong, or careless, or uninterested, which caused the circumstances around being late. But I have to let Him do that. Punishing myself over being late just clouds my mind from the One who can truly search my heart. And sometimes honestly, God just gives you a peace that it was just the way it was that day and it’s okay. See #1. = )

#3 – Being late is not an excuse to sin against your children.

To ask my three-year-old who is accustomed to thirty minutes for breakfast to hurry and eat in seven is just not wise. Ashamedly, I have been through so many Sunday morning breakfast’s where I have constantly been saying, “Girls, be quiet. We have to eat. Stop talking, we have to eat. Eat faster. We only have two minutes left!” (to finish three-quarters of a plate) Not going to happen.

Lately, the Lord has been teaching me to truly own when something is my fault and not to place the blame or the burden of hurrying in this case on my girls. I need to give them plenty of time to eat. Either that or have a really good back-up eat-in-the-car plan. (which usually doesn’t work anyway) Complete aside: Did you know my kids won’t even Pop-Tarts fast on a Sunday morning? Oh, the strategies I have tried to save time. Seriously! They didn’t even eat the Pop-Tarts. Like I’m giving you sugar you’re normally not allowed to have, but nope.

But I digress. When one of them comes to me crying and stomping because she can’t get her arm through her sleeve (and is not really even trying because of a bad attitude) I still have to respond with kindness and wisdom. Patience doesn’t get temporarily marked off the list from 7-10 on Sunday morning.

One of the biggest reasons I want to have everything ready for Sunday morning is so my girls can remember it as a time of joy, of looking forward to going to church together. I don’t want it to be a time of snapping and nagging, of empty stomachs and rumpled clothes all in the name of keeping up appearances for this weekly event.

When the mornings come where I know we’ll be late, I have to choose to still be like Christ. To still let the gospel adorn my speech and actions inside this house where only the little people see. I hope that His kindness and love is what they will remember.

#4 – Understand that others probably understand.

I have a particular problem with my pride where being late is concerned. I’m a pastor’s wife and I should be able to get there on time, right? I love to be early. I want to see people and talk to them and not have to slip in like a loser five minutes after everything has started. I don’t want people to think that I don’t care. But when I apologize all over myself or refuse to be consoled by people who assure me it was like that for them at this time of life, I’m really just revealing how concerned with my image I am.

Life will move on. Another chance to be on time will come in just seven more days. More than likely I’m a harder judge of myself than those around me. Get over it and keep going.

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One of the biggest benefits of controlling your mind when you’re tempted to bottom out because of being late is that it helps you to enter into the worship service sooner. This is what I mean: when I (89% of the time) am so upset over being late, I have to spend a lot of the Sunday school or worship hour getting over the usual mental clutter that comes with being late. Which means I am completely deaf to the truths being sung or taught. I’m oblivious to the help and comfort that is right around me. However, when I set my mind to rejoice anyways, or maybe to be late rather than getting upset at my kids… I can sit down in the service and begin soaking it in immediately.

This in the long run is much more beneficial than being punctual but frazzled or grumpy.

****

Now, if you think I’m trying to just make excuses for being late, I’m not. There are so many reasons to be early, and I promise I try every single week to be early. In fact, it was one of my New Year’s Goals and there’s actually been a lot of improvement. Yay!

I could write an equally long post about what I do to try to be early; things that have worked and have not worked -like the Pop-Tarts. But one, there’s already posts out there like that, and two, I think it’s important to think through how we respond even when things don’t go according to our desires or plans.

This may seem like a tiny topic, but I have found it to have a huge impact on my Sunday’s, my family, and my week.

Thanks for reading my thoughts; I’d love to hear yours!

 

 

For family and friends: Louisville

In light of today being the Kentucky Derby, I thought I’d try to get these pictures posted.

About a month ago Paul had the privilege of attending a conference in Louisville with some other members of the pastoral staff. The very next week, he had to return to Louisville to physically attend for two days a distance-learning class he was taking there to finish up seminary in time. He talked about the possibility of us going with him, and not wanting to be without him for two weeks in a row we jumped at the chance!

We had such a blast! It truly was a family vacation.

I don’t have pictures of everything, but I’ll share what I have and try to fill you in on the rest.

We really enjoy riding in the car together; mainly because Daddy is so fun!

Our first picture here is at a Dairy Queen. We actually just stopped to use the restroom, but by the time all of us girls were done, Daddy was waiting for us with ice cream. Yay!

Dairy Queen is always a good idea.
Dairy Queen is always a good idea.

When we arrived at the seminary we discovered they had a hotel on campus with really good rates for students. Paul went in to look at the room first and came back warning me to think “dorm room.” But… it was absolutely gorgeous! Two separate rooms for us and the girls with a beautiful, big bathroom in between, what a treat! And the fact that we were on campus made the car situation super easy.

While Paul went to class that night, I took advantage of some girl time and ate at Panera Bread. It’s a very important lesson my girls needed to learn that when it’s cold outside you go to Panera and eat broccoli cheese soup. = )

Broccoli cheese soup at Panera. Only Mckayla was skeptical, but the bread won her over and Mommy didn't mind finishing hers.
Broccoli cheese soup at Panera. Only Mckayla was skeptical, but the bread won her over and Mommy didn’t mind finishing hers.

Actually before that, we found a park really close to the seminary and played there for awhile to get out some car trip energy. It was freezing and Mommy did not pack warm enough jackets. = /

****

The next day our big adventure began. I looked online for stuff to do with kids. Parks, bounce house places, and typical kids museums were all options, but I thought, they could do that stuff anywhere. Since we were in Louisville, I wanted to do something special to that city. And then I saw it… Churchill Downs.

Long story short, we decided to go for it. And I’m so glad we did! We missed the official tour, but the lady at the desk called a man over, “Hey Martin, take ’em out to the track real quick.”

What???

So we got a private tour and didn’t even have to pay the fee! I was astounded. The girls loved it. It was so amazing to be there and to think of all the history that’s taken place. Sophia even put her hands in the dirt of the track. Needless to say, we were super excited to watch the race today and have the girls see why it’s so famous.

Here are the pictures; I’ll just comment below them.

I was a little unsure about driving in an u familiar city, but this sign made me feel better. Yay for google maps!
I was a little unsure about driving in an unfamiliar city, but this sign made me feel better. Yay for google maps!
This is it! This is really it! I guess I'll just pull in and park as close as I can.
This is it! This is really it! I guess I’ll just pull in and park as close as I can.

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Gates and simulation at the entrance of the Kentucky Derby museum.
Gates and simulation at the entrance of the Kentucky Derby Museum.
"Backstage." Walking past the jockey's quarters, seeing the names of the winners along the roof, the stalls where the horses are saddled...amazing.
“Backstage.” Walking past the jockey’s quarters, seeing the names of the winners along the roof, the stalls where the horses are saddled…amazing.
This is the tunnel the horses pass through when entering the track. And our sweet guide was trying to help Mckayla be in the picture, but...
This is the tunnel the horses pass through when entering the track. And our sweet guide was trying to help Mckayla be in the picture, but…
...she didn't think very highly of that. Poor man, he felt so bad. I had to assure him that she was fine and should be sweet when being helped. It's still hilarious to me that that face was caught in the picture.
…she didn’t think very highly of that. Poor man, he felt so bad. I had to assure him that she was fine and should be sweet when being helped. It’s still hilarious to me that that face was caught in the picture.
Wow. The 140th race.
Wow. The 140th race.
The finish line.
The finish line.

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A better shot of the winner's names. Secretariat is towards the right. Triple Crown winners have their names in gold with a crown beside it.
A better shot of the winner’s names. Secretariat is towards the right. Triple Crown winners have their names in gold with a crown beside it.
More names.
More names.

Hope discovered a name that she thought was very funny. “Behave Yourself.” It’s so fun having a kid who reads. = )

After the generosity of the lady at the desk, I wanted to go in the gift shop to at least buy something. These hats were at the entrance and the girls had a blast trying them on. You can imagine. After looking around the shop we settled on a Churchill Downs coffee mug for Daddy and a “Derby Time” sippy cup for the new little baby. Since they were the ones that missed out.

Gracie could not get the hat to stay up and show her face.
Gracie could not get the hat to stay up and show her face.
Another try. Nope, no face.
Another try. Nope, no face.
Trying to pose. It really was a delicate thing letting the girls try on these *very expensive* hats, trying to get Gracie to show her face, and take pictures!
Trying to pose. It really was a delicate thing letting the girls try on these *very expensive* hats, trying to get Gracie to show her face, and take pictures!
I like Hopey's pose here. And you can see Sophia's choice of hat a little bit better. Still no face from Gracie.
I like Hopey’s pose here. And you can see Sophia’s choice of hat a little bit better. Still no face from Gracie.
At the front entrance is a memorial to Barbaro who is actually buried there.
At the front entrance is a memorial to Barbaro who is actually buried there.
My very favorite thing of the whole place was seeing this quote from Eric Liddell on the memorial. How exciting to see Our Creator God being glorified even in the midst of an industry where it would appear He is most often forgotten. The testimony of a past missionary for Christ and His use of His God-given talents used for Christ lives on.
My very favorite thing of the whole place was seeing this quote from Eric Liddell on the memorial. How exciting to see our Creator God being glorified even in the midst of an industry where it would appear He is most often forgotten. The testimony of a past missionary for Christ and his God-given talents used for Christ lives on.

****

Okay. Take a deep breath. That’s all of the Churchill Downs pictures, but there are more to come.

I researched online for best pizza place in Louisville and decided on this place which seemed to be a favorite of the locals.
I researched online for best pizza place in Louisville and decided on this place which seemed to be a favorite of the locals.
Oh my, Impellizzeri's did not disappoint.
Oh my, Impellizzeri’s did not disappoint.
The cheese bread, requested by Hope, was as big as Gracie and Mckayla!
The cheese bread, requested by Hope, was as big as Gracie and Mckayla!
Chillin' out with Dad watching Mickey Mouse after a long days adventure.
Chillin’ out with Dad watching Mickey Mouse after a long days adventure.

Paul was able to go to the Louisville Slugger bat museum on his first trip to Louisville, so being baseball lovers we were excited to go back with him.

The girls loved the big bat outside.
The girls loved the big bat outside.

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Getting ready to watch the opening show in the museum tour.
Getting ready to watch the opening show in the museum tour.
Looking at bats that had been used by current famous players.
Looking at bats that had been used by current famous players.
Holding Derek Jeter's bat.
Holding Derek Jeter’s bat.

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Posing in the Looney Toons and Baseball room.
Posing in the Looney Toons and Baseball room.
Practicing their swings
Practicing their swings

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Gracie's expression in the picture is probably my favorite thing captured from the whole trip.
Gracie’s expression in this picture is probably my favorite thing captured from the whole trip.

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What a great idea to have a little room where kids could play, color, and swing at t-balls. And where Mommy's could sit down! = )
What a great idea to have a little room where kids could play, color, and swing at t-balls. And where Mommy’s could sit down! = )

After the bat museum we were off to the Creation Museum on the KY/OH border. Mckayla loved the dinosaurs! When we came up the stairs to the one dinosaur deck she looked around and said, “Whoa Mamacita!”

There was a petting zoo where we fed camels and where Sophia had a donkey bite her! Ouch! It didn’t break the skin and she didn’t cry, but it only confirmed Daddy’s dislike of animals and petting zoos and the like.

Probably our favorite thing in the whole place (besides the free stroller rental for Mckayla!) was the bug room. Or Dr. Crawley’s Insectorium, to be precise. Hope was in awe!

Sadly, this was the only picture I took in the whole place.

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After the Creation Museum, we crossed into Ohio to drive through Cincinnati and see what we could see. What a lovely drive! Going through old downtowns is right up our alley.

For dinner we crossed back over the river and ate at a wonderful seafood restaurant right on the river. The sun set over the skyline of Cincinnati as we ate with our happy not-so-little family. In some ways I could kick myself for not taking a picture of that, but in other ways, it was almost too special for a picture. What a blessing to have a whole day to spend with just us, seeing and experiencing new things and just being together.

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The next day we stopped at Cracker Barrel for lunch on the way home. We always seem to go there at least once on a long trip. = )

Sophia wanted to take some pictures. = )
Sophia wanted to take some pictures. = )
There's a little better. = )
There’s a little better. = )
Loving the little rocking chairs.
Loving the little rocking chairs.
She did pretty good taking one of Daddy and Mommy.
She did pretty good taking one of Daddy and Mommy.

Somehow I forgot to mention that after Impellizzeri’s Paul took us downtown and showed us where he hung out the week before. We got to see his hotel, the Yum! Center, Smashburger, and made a little visit to the Fudgery. Now that was some Yum!

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This was a lot of pictures! Thanks for sticking with me. I actually feel like I should have taken more, but I’m working on it. = )

We will remember this trip for a long time.

And I leave you with what I thought was one of the cutest pictures from the trip.

Because sometimes all you need to be cool is shades and orange juice. = )
Because sometimes all you need to be cool is shades and orange juice. = )

Love to all,

Christie

A little optimistic reality for expectant and first-time moms

Sometimes I read posts that try to encourage young mothers by contrasting the long-term influence, joy, and blessing of motherhood with the current state of walking around as a sleepless, friendless, spit-up crusted, hardly ever attractive-or-cordial-with-one’s-husband zombie.

Women are encouraged to take heart and embrace the mess of motherhood knowing that one day they will miss these precious years.

I often wonder if those reading who have not yet had children are terrified. “I won’t shower for days? I’ll have to walk around with {fill in the blank} disgusting baby substance all over my clothes? I will growl at my husband every day when he walks in the door? My toddlers will scream uncontrollably while I try to remember these are actually the best years of my life?” Where is the exception clause?

So I felt it incumbent upon myself to tell whoever might be reading that it is not always that way.

I personally don’t think I’ve ever gone an entire day without taking a shower. Sure sometimes I would have rather it been right when I woke up and it ended up being right before I went to bed. Yes, there were things that totally fell apart after I had my first baby -namely doing dishes, making meals, and keeping laundry clean. But I wasn’t that great at those things to begin with. And little by little after the initial “black hole” post-pregnancy time, things started to come back together.

*I call about the first six weeks after delivery the “black hole.” Simply because though life still clicks along and happens, I can never remember anything about it. You look back and wonder how anything got done, but know that somehow you did eat and sleep and bathe.

I know a lot of moms, young and old, who’s lives did not completely fall apart when they had a baby.

Will there be days that are hard? Yes.

Will there be disgusting things to clean up? Yes.

Will you be able to keep every up every personal and domestic habit you enjoyed before children? Probably not.

But will your days be characterized by less-than-human conditions? Probably not.

Now are there people who have a really tough time regaining a “new normal” after having kids? Who do feel like they can’t struggle to the top of messes and sleep-deprivation and schedule changes and sickness? Of course. And if that is what one finds themselves enduring, that person needs hope. And if posts like the above-mentioned help, then I am sincerely all for that.

But if you’re out there, about to have a baby… take heart. Don’t be freaked out by drama and “realism.” Yes, you’re about to face a challenging time of life. But it’s doable. It will look different for every person and family; every child produces unique joys and challenges. Chances are, sometime during the first few months, you will figure out how to venture out of the house with a new little one in tow. Perhaps there will even be a grocery trip or a meal made. You will discover with great joy that you’re little sweetie can lay happily in a crib while you get a shower. Or maybe they’ll be cool enough to sit in a bouncy seat in the bathroom while you sing your favorite tunes and scrub away. Maybe not, but you will figure it out eventually. (in most cases, people do!)

Motherhood is a privilege, a great adventure, and above all a gift. God gives grace and new mercy every day.

So from one very average, imperfect, “real” momma to another, you can do it; and if you haven’t “done” it yet –it’s not so bad. I highly recommend it. ; )

New Year’s Day questions for my kids

I have a lot to do today. We have not been operating at full steam around here, but the chaos caused by daily life has kept clicking right along.

On the list would be to make more of a dent in the laundry, clean the bathrooms (gag), start thinking about a menu and grocery list for the week, and check the calendar to see when we’re scheduled to resume homeschooling.

We’re going to fellowship with some friends in the afternoon, so I almost began strategizing about how to accomplish my tasks by lunch.

But I want something about this New Year’s Day to be special for the girlies. My six and four-year-old are old enough to sort of understand the concept of “out with the old in with the new.”

So my idea is to ask them questions about last year, and see what their opinions/desires, even goals might be for the New Year.

You never know with kids; sometimes they’ll really surprise you.

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Here are my ideas for questions:

*What was your favorite thing about last year?

*What was the worst thing that happened last year?

*What do you think you learned last year?

*What is one thing you really hope happens this year?

*What would you like to do more of this year?

*What part of obeying Daddy and Mommy do you think you should work on this year?

*How do you think you could be more loving to your family this year?

*How do you think we should try to help other people who don’t have as much as we do this year?

*What is something you would like to learn this year?

*Where is somewhere you would like to go this year?

*If you had a choice between Mommy reading to you more or teaching you music and piano more, which would you choose?

*What is one thing you want to work on this year?

*What would you like Mommy to do more of this year?

*What would you like Mommy to do less of this year?

*What do you want to pray for about this year?

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This is a very rough, in-the-moment sketch; but I really want to try it!

Maybe this could be a sweet New Year’s Day tradition?

Here’s to resolving to spend time asking and listening in the morning!

Happy New Year!

31 days of training my kids: the week in pictures

I was surprised when I saw that there weren’t that many pictures from this week. The ones I do have though, I love.

I guess we’ve just had other things on the mind… which is good!

Hope you enjoy!

Gracie and Mckayla love sitting next to each to "read." Mckayla is sporting her "does my mom ever do laundry" outfit.
Gracie and Mckayla love sitting next to each other to “read.” Mckayla is sporting her “does my mom ever do laundry” outfit.
Hope reading her Sparks material to Sophia.
Hope reading her Sparks material to Sophia.

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We enjoyed a "baseball" game outside. The girls wanted me to take pictures of them with the bat and ball.
We enjoyed a “baseball” game outside. The girls wanted me to take pictures of them with the bat and ball.
Best friends
Best friends

Want to know more about what’s been going on this week? We’ve been busy with this challenge.

thenester.com
thenester.com

I chose as my topic 31 days of training my kids. Here are all the links from this week!

Intro

Definitions, goals, plans

Come. Come, cow!

Walking with Mommy

Favorite blogs

Check back tomorrow for lyrics i love.