Celebrating Summer: Perspective Not Perfection but 3 ways to make it better

Today we’re kicking off an all-new series on TwoShadesofKraze.com – one I’ve been dreaming up for awhile, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with you. At the beginning of the year, I finally said yes to a nudging God’s had in my heart since we moved here, now 2 years ago, to use the blessing of our house to serve whoever He would send my way. I had no idea (still don’t) what I’m doing. What would I talk about? I can hardly keep my house clean enough for us to live here, much less have people over on a consistent basis! I relent and am embracing that obedience is more important than perfection. There’s nothing I love more than the connection and encouragement I pour into and receive from moms in different places and stages of motherhood. So… I started a mom’s group with this really great group of moms that God, no doubt, placed in my life. Every other week, we share brunch and an encouraging word around my dining room table. Here I’ll let you sneak a glimpse into the conversation and food we share…and with this series, I’ll uncover little entertaining secrets and what’s on the menu for each week, and we’ll call it Brunch with ME (Moms Encouragement). I can’t imagine a more fitting time to kickoff our first post than the first day of summer (ok, it’s officially the first weekend of summer now, but we’re not striving for perfection here, remember).

 

For as long as I can remember, summer has always been my favorite time of year. Summer meant lake days that lasted until the sun went down (in Texas that was until 9:30 at night), eating outside for almost every meal, beach trips, fruity drinks, a great tan… And one of my favorite days of the year, my birthday is smack dab in the middle of summer! More than anything, I’ve found myself being more spontaneous, free and positive during the summer, when I’m at my best.

For three very special reasons, summertime is a bit different now. The days are still long but some day are loooonng (I know you feel me mamas)

Let’s take a poll….

  • Are you the “Make it Monday”… “Water Wednesday” with an activity planned for each day kind of summer mom?
  • Or do you like to plan multiple activities (camps, trips, etc) over the summer but leave a little room for spontaneity?
  • Anybody like to keep summer wide open for 3 straight months of ‘who knows what we’re going to get into’?!

“Kenzi pre-kids” was person #3 – that was the life of being married, both working, no kids (we were the definition of DINKs – Double Income No Kids), so any free time we had, we were spontaneous and adventurous! Now with 3 children, there’s no way I’m going to step into 3 months of having no idea what the heck we’re going to be doing. Option number one would make me feel completely trapped by “Water Wednesdays” when I want to go to the beach on a Tuesday. As silly as that sounds, I know myself well enough that if I’ve chosen to implement this, I would feel so uneasy to stray from it. What’s best for me is right in the middle… planning as much as possible to know ahead of time how our weeks will be spent, but leaving enough freedom for days to spontaneously check off our summer bucket list.

No matter what works best for you, as moms, summer can be busy and complicated, exhilarating and exhausting…but I’ve learned that I can still be my best self by holding on to what I’ve always loved most about summer.

3 Things I’ve learned over 5 summers of motherhood:

Please know I’m sharing my own experiences, which will look different for each of you based on where you are in your journey and what works best for your family.

  1. Set expectations
    • Before your children can weigh in, set the expectations with your husband. He needs to know if you’re going to go mad if you don’t have at least one outing a week planned or something of the like. Once they’re old enough, give them boundaries and let them know what needs to happen/ not happen in order for you to not lose it have the best summer possible. A couple examples from our house: 1) After breakfast, take your plates to the sink, brush your teeth and make your bed. (I could and might do an entire post on the morning routine and why) 2) Put away the first thing before getting out another to play with.
  2. Write down fun things do as well as goals
    • This is the first year I was able to involve The Kraze in coming up with a list. I got my big white board and they each chose a color marker to represent themselves. I wanted to be able to keep up with whose ideas belonged to who, so everyone got an equal voice (talking over each other is a real struggle ) and I can be intentional about scheduling in their ideas as equally as possible. It was so much fun to hear their ideas, and my biggest takeaway is that kids don’t really ask for much. A few items included “pet cute puppies”,  “bake a key lime pie”and “meet a friend at the park” (ok, there are a couple “Disney World” and “SeaWorld”). See the full list in Stories.
    • Lists and goals keep me grounded, especially in such an unstructured season. This summer I wanted to be intentional about teaching them the important things like tying their shoes, hanging upside down on the monkey bars and reading. Yes, even teaching them to read. It’s so fulfilling to help them achieve something they’re proud of, plus, the intentional time is invaluable.
  3. Keep perspective
    • Summer is so fleeting – the days will become notably shorter and the kids will go back to school before we know it. I recently told my husband that I’m overwhelmed with the feeling that everything that annoys me right now are going to be the things I’ll miss.  These truly are the days… The days are long, the sun is shining, we’re all together, and they actually beg to wash your car for you.

 

Perspective not perfection

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This verse isn’t referring to special circumstances. God knows we we’ll spend a whole lot more of our time in ordinary moments than we will in the extraordinary ones.  Whether we’re at work, taking care of our children, talking with a friend, or even cleaning our house, it’s clear that WHATEVER we do and whatever we say…we are to do it and say it in the name of Jesus.

Over the summer, we’ll have way more ordinary days than special, planned out days and while we can talk about keeping perspective and giving thanks to God in all of it, I don’t believe that means we can’t feel human. “in the name of the Lord and giving thanks to God” doesn’t mean I’m to be happy in every moment of motherhood. Some days we’ll feel like super mom and some days we’ll feel like giving up… Some days we’ll be thanking God for every little moment and some days we’ll be thanking God that he’s there to lean on…  We can be grateful for these amazing blessings and be absolutely over it at the same time… if it were easy, if it were nothing but bliss, would we remember we need to lean on God – would we remember that our strength comes from Him and not our own power? 

Sometimes it’s ok to say “we’ll try again tomorrow” because God’s grace is new each day… with a few more hours of sunshine to enjoy your little ones!

 

Photo Cred: Southernboy Dishes

On the Menu

To maintain a no-pressure vibe, everyone brings a shareable dish if they’re coming, so we’re sure there’s enough food for everyone. 1) You make whatever sounds good and is doable for you 2) No biggie if you were up all night with the baby and you can’t get out of the door that morning

Drinks: Coffee (this will be the first thing you see on the menu every week – obviously a must with a group of moms) + a variety of creamers and sugar and OJ

Mozzarella, Tomato Bruschetta

Cinnamon Rolls

Banana Bread

Blueberry Scones

*Clearly everyone was feeling carbs this day!!

 

I’d love to know what summer plans you have with your kiddos??

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10 Things I Want You to Know that I Can’t Teach You

The things I want to teach them during these years I’ve been given to raise them are countless. I actually have a pretty extensive list, but… priorities… and they’re 3 (almost 4 but I don’t want to hear that) and if I tried to write it all down, I’d never hit publish! So here are just 10 I’d like to focus on now, because it’s just never too early to raise them in truth. These crucial things, I can’t teach them – knowledge that will only come as a result of life experiences, creating a faith community around them, and doing my best to be their example. I won’t always do it right, but this is my hope and prayer…

 

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My precious girls, please know that:

* You are perfect and loved, not because of anything you’ve done, but because you were made that way.

* You can’t control how people treat you, but you can control how you react to it.

* You are amazing! There is no one like you. No one!

* True happiness is found in love – giving & receiving love, not things. Although, love can hurt, things will leave you empty.

* Bravery doesn’t mean doing something scary – it means standing up for yourself & for others.  Listening to your own voice over your peers and doing what you feel is right, for you.

* Failure is nothing to fear. If you let it, failure can show you how resilient you are and give you the chance to star in your very own comeback story.

* Being happy or not is up to you.

* If you’re going to take a big risk and bet on anything, bet on yourself.

* Your identity isn’t found in anyone or anything – through Christ, alone, you have been made whole.

* I love you.  You don’t have to do anything to deserve it – I just do, with all my heart.

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Why I Don’t Correct The Kraze when They ‘Get It Wrong’

The Kraze (KR&Z) has this incredible ability to come to a conclusion and boldly proclaim it, with zero self doubt… as do most children their age.  I wrote last year about some of the funny things they were saying at the time (I need to write another because I don’t want to forget these cute thoughts & full stories they now share with us).  But this is different… I’m talking about the incredible capacity for innovation children have.

 

Here are a few of my favorite examples from the Kraze themselves:

  • When singing along to the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song, they sing “M-I-C-K-E-Y I love you, you see” (when the words are: “M-o-u-s-e”)
  • “Almost fun it is to ride in a one horse somethin’ slay – hey!” (Jingle Bells)
  • Patty-cake, patty-cake… Bake me a cake, trac-tor sand (as fast as you can)
  • *My favorite Calvin Harris/Rhiana: “This is What You Came For” – Kara Rose sings at the top of her lungs “…this is whatcha get!” (instead of “…but she’s lookin’ at”) – listen t the song again, you’ll hear it!

My absolute favorite: Sir Ken Robinson’s example: When his son was a young boy, he was in a Nativity play. When the 3 wise men came out with their gifts, the 1st boy said, “I bring you gold”, 2nd boy, “I bring you myrrh”, and the 3rd boy said, “Frank sent this”.  Baahahaha! I chuckle out loud ev-er-y time I think about this!

They don’t double-triple check themselves to make sure it’s right before they’ll give it go.

I’m so impressed by their creativity and ability to think on their feet, that I don’t dare correct them.
– Just the other day, at breakfast, Zoe saw a mural on the wall & said, “Look at that cool fish!”  After a few seconds, I could absolutely see how she saw a fish when she looked at it, but it was actually an old coffee spigot.  She doesn’t know what a spigot is, so I didn’t tell her any different. What an imagination she has to look at something she’s never seen before and make out an image of something more familiar to her!      – Kara Rose believes she is the best reader in the world, when in fact she has an amazing auditory memory & can recite full books (like several), word for word as she turns the pages.  She might miss a word or even leave a line out sometimes, but when she looks up at me after each page, she’s going to get a smile, thumbs up or ‘way to go’ regardless… And she’ll tell you, “Reading is one of my favorite things to do… I’m so good at it!”
Now understand me here, I won’t let them call a circle a square or something red that is in fact yellow, but with these harmless instances, they’ll figure it out one day… for now, I’m more worried about maintaining their confidence & fostering that creativity than ‘getting it right all the time’.

Having a picnic in the park and Kara Rose suddenly exclaims, “Look! God made an elephant out of the clouds!!” You know, when you take a second to look at it, you see it too!

The point…

Kids will take a chance – if they don’t know, they’ll at least try – they’re not frightened of being wrong. We stigmatize mistakes & we run our education systems where mistakes are the worst thing you can make… *We’re educating people out of their creative capacities. I’m not saying being wrong is the same as being creative, but if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.

*Creativity: the process of having original ideas that have value

My brother and I were having the ‘education path’ discussion, regarding our children, although we view education for our children quite differently (and that is perfectly fine! See next to last paragraph).    He goes on to tell me that his son’s school is counting their students answers wrong, even when the answer is right, only because the child didn’t get TO that answer the ‘correct’ way… since, I’ve found they’re among the majority doing this.  Are you kidding me?  Since when did school believe they had the right to tell children HOW to think?!  America’s educational system is simply based on conformity, which is the antitheses of creativity and innovation – it’s a system that was originally created to meet the needs of industrialism, but *education is not a mechanic system, it’s a human system.Picasso said, “All children are born artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  Did you know, almost all children from the ages of 3-7 test in the 90th percentile for creativity?! BUT every year after that, it dramatically declines.  We focus on educating only children’s minds & really only one side.  Academic ability dominates our view of intelligence. The consequence is highly talented, brilliant people think they’re not because what they were good at wasn’t valued or was completely stigmatized.

Story time…

A little girl, in the 1930’s, was ‘having trouble in school’.  The school wrote to her parents saying she had a learning disorder because she couldn’t be still & focus, so her mother took her to a doctor. After she spoke to him about their issues and the doctor evaluated her, he said “Gillian isn’t sick, she’s a dancer.” The mother put her in a dance school & the little girl said it was full of people just like her, people who had to move to think. In this day, someone would have put her on medication & told her to calm down.  Now, you may know of her – Gillian Lynne, the choreographer of the longest running Broadway show in history, Cats.

My older brother was 3 grades ahead of me & I was practically writing his literature papers for him before I even got to high school, so he would help me with math & science.  Who do you think got into an Ivy League school & who barely got into college at all because I could. not. take. a standardizeda synonym for conformity test for the life of me?!  After taking a ‘gap year’, I decided to attend a fine arts college where I graduated summa cum laude with a 4.0. It wasn’t until I went to an ‘alternative college’ that I realized my own potential.

 

 

My little girl who has to move to think

School is about to start in a couple weeks and I am so freaking excited this year because we’ve found a school, here in our new city, whose philosophies match our beliefs on education.  I’ve been told more than once, “If you don’t like the system, maybe you should homeschool them.  Education is standard for a reason – they can’t individualize it for every child.” Well, well, well, if we didn’t find a school that believes in individualized education as a top priority. They believe children should be children, not sitting quietly in desks for hours.  They believe in self-paced learning. And believe it or not, they also aren’t so worried about every answer being 100% correct, as long as they can see that the child is processing the information and demonstrating their knowledge in a way that shows progression and understanding.

Guys, I have twins. They are. not. the. same. especially when it comes to how they learn or what they’re interested in. This is where my passion for this subject matter was born! What is right for my children, may not be for yours OR crazy thought, what is right for one of your children, may not be right for the other! You are your child’s parent.  Trust your instinct. Decide what matters to you most and get involved.  Don’t just take things for face value. And stand up for what you believe in.  Every child has a dream & our job to protect it. In fact, I think Katrina Kennison basically sums up my feelings about this: “One of the greatest challenges I’ve faced as a mother-especially in these anxious, winner-takes-all times-is the need to resist the urge to accept someone else’s definition of success and to try to figure out, instead, what really is best for my own children, what unique combination of structure and freedom, nurturing and challenge, education and exploration, each of them needs in order to grow and bloom.”

 

What it really boils down to

is not my beliefs about education, but my beliefs about humans…  We need to use the gift of human imagination wisely. The only way we’ll flourish in the future “is by seeing our children for the hope that they are*”.  Our task is to educate their WHOLE being so they can face the future – though we may not see the future, they WILL & our job is to help them make something of it.

*Ken Robinson: TED Talk

 

 

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