Thursday, October 29, 2015

It gets easier, but definitely not less busy!

Oh, my poor neglected blog. I remember when I used to update this thing regularly! Now, while I have thoughts to blog about on a semi regular basis, I don't actually want to sit down and type it up when I could actually be sitting with my kids reading, playing or snuggling them.

But, I thought it was time to dust the cobwebs out of the corners of this poor thing and jot down a thought I had this morning while picking Asher up from speech therapy (yup, poor Asher, who looks like Aaron in every single way is also following in his speech footsteps, at least this time it isn't an articulation thing, it's a "the words are in the brain he just won't say them" thing, which seems to be an easier fix).

As a mom of 4, who knows quite a few other moms of more than 2 children, I'm exhausted. I also hear similar refrains of, "I'm so tired!"

Often times it is meant literally. As in, if I could sit and close my eyes for 3 minutes I am immediately in REM.

Other times it's spiritually and emotionally. As in, I have zero empathy left to give and I'm saving every last shred of it for my family because they have to live with me. Others don't, so I'm sorry if I'm short and distant with you, it's not you, it's me. Seriously.

Sometimes it's the weariness of having to go through the same stage of parenting again. Like the terrible 2's. Seriously, if I could sleep through the 2 stage (with a non-verbal kid! Oh gosh, it's torture!!), I would be happy.

I can see why the youngest gets away with more than the oldest ever did. Parents are TIRED. We're older, and we are weary of having the SAME battle over and over again.

As I was thinking of that this morning (when Asher threw a fit and arched his back while I put him in the car seat), I thought of my active life.

Ages ago I was a runner. 8 years ago my friend and I got into our crazy heads that we should run a 1/2 marathon. Then, she actually signed up for it, which made me sign up too. I did not train well for that race. The most miles I ever actually logged was 8, which meant that on race day I did fantastic for 8 miles. Miles 9 and 10 were painful, and by miles 11 and 12 I was barely shuffling across the line because every single muscle ached. My posture sucked, and I lost a toenail.

A few years later I signed up for another 1/2 marathon as motivation to get my butt in gear after having Benjamin. I was way more diligent training for that race and had energy for the whole thing, not stopping to walk at all and was able to walk the next day (I also kept all of my toenails!).

I've also started lifting weights the past 3 years. During this time, and while training for another 1/2 marathon, I realized that it's when I'm exhausted that I must be the most careful. When I'm tired and sore I have to be very aware of my body position, the way my feet hit the ground, whether I have perfect form, etc. If I get lazy, or let exhaustion take over, that is when I can do the most damage.

It carries over into parenthood as well. I have worked really hard the past 9+ years to be consistent and loving with my children and their discipline.

There are days where I am bone weary. The days like yesterday where I was up at 4:50 am to go work out (because it's the only time I can consistently take care of ME), then spent the rest of the day working and giving and caring for others, along with trying to get quality time in with the 5 other members of my family and help a student journey through a difficult time. By the time I got home, it was 10:30 pm. I could have flopped into bed and immediately have been asleep, but instead Sam and I stayed up talking and catching up with each other ("Hey, I still love you!"), which meant bedtime at 11:30. Every part of me ached, but I can't give up.

My children deserve to have a mom who is consistent and who is mindful of who they are and how they are growing.

Asher deserves to have a mom who is as eager to read and play and take on adventures as Nathaniel did. It doesn't matter if I'm tired, I need to have good form or else there will be issues that crop up later. I can't stop because I'm tired.

I can't let the little things slide because I'm tired and worn out. Because those little things will turn into bigger things later on.

I need to keep on training myself (and my children) and working towards the bigger goal. The goal that is WAY more important than a silly finisher's medal. The goal of raising young men in a world where the struggles of having standing up for their beliefs while showing empathy and understanding for others is a real thing.

I'm not raising good kids. I'm raising future adults who need to function in the world. They need to know boundaries and understand the WHY of things and the importance of knowing what they stand for and why they stand for it.

If I let my exhaustion get in the way, I'm only failing them.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Long discussion on double standards.

I tend to have a lot of halfway deep thoughts.

Meaning, I ponder something for awhile, and then a little person (or something more immediately pressing) comes and distracts me away from those deep thoughts.

This is why the more children I have, the less I blog.

It's also why a lot of my thoughts come out not quite finished. It's like the oven of my mind wasn't completely on the right degree, or the thought was taken out a little early. And, while chocolate chip cookies that are still a little doughy taste delicious (along with slightly undone brownies...I think I need a snack!), no one likes the pizza that comes out of the oven with underdone crust.

I'm hoping my latest ponderings are more like the cookies and less like chewy dough. :)

There's been a lot of social media chatter about the CEO (former, I suppose) of Firefox and what he chose to do with his own personal money in the privacy of his own personal life 4 years ago. I have read arguments from both sides and I get frustrated with double standards that most people have.

Mainly, "I want the freedom to say and believe whatever I want to say and believe, but don't you DARE act on your beliefs if they go against mine or the main stream."

I don't mean it just for that issue. In fact, this was just the final piece that sent my mind into blog mode, since I've been chewing on this for awhile (again with the food metaphor...hmmmm...).

The main topic that got me started with this is the discussion about companies and whether or not they ought to provide birth control coverage for their employees. I hear so many people get all up in arms about how it's keeping women under the thumb of the man if we don't provide birth control through the insurance.

I read about how if we don't allow women to have access to abortions, we are doing a disservice and might as well go back to the days when women were expected to keep quiet and stay at home and serve the family.

People yell about women's rights and equal rights and how oppressive society is.

I could write an entire blog about how empowering it is as a woman to take control of our sexuality and figure out how our cycles work and actually take control of our fertility without having to rely on synthetic drugs to do that (I'm talking about in terms of preventing a pregnancy, I'm thankful for progression in science that has allowed people to have children when it otherwise would have been impossible), but that's not what this blog is about.

I want to point out the glaring double standard I see in society.

On the one side I hear about how it's those darn Republicans who are so concerned with oppressing women and gays and minorities that if something isn't done about it we are going to go back to the days of segregated water fountains and where it's lawful to beat your wife if she doesn't make you a sandwich fast enough.

Yet, I don't think people realize how it is main stream media that is sending us an entirely different message! We claim that we want equality for all, and yet if my Christian friends even whisper about believing in the Bible they are mocked and ridiculed and told that they are terrible people. Even if they are the most tolerant person in the world (tolerant in the ACTUAL meaning of the word, loving someone and accepting them for who they are, even if they don't agree with what they do).

We are told that women are equal and can do anything, and yet we are constantly hit with images of "the perfect woman". A skinny, unhealthy, sex kitten who is at the command of anyone with money.

Think I'm exaggerating? Listen to popular music.

No. Seriously. Listen to it.

I'm not one who listens to much popular music. I know, I really should immerse myself in it more due to my job, but there's only so much I can handle.

I was at the gym working out and listening to a lot of the Hip Hop that is played.

Want to know I have learned from popular music?
1. Women must be referred to as B*&^*es. (Awesome. Thanks!!)
2. Women are only useful for sex and objectification. If we are not being used for that person, then they are a problem. Refer to point 1.
3. If you really want to take full advantage of the B*(&^es, you must supply them with copious amounts of alcohol because, as one "artist" so tastefully put it, "The drunker they are, the less they can resist you." Awww...thanks!

I'm sure I could go on, but...yeah.

Do you know how many people I have heard protest this message? ZERO. Not one person has said, "Wow, can we please stop with the degrading of women?"

I don't think that birth control and it's accessibility is the problem. I think that telling our daughters (and sons) that women are people and equal and trying to 'empower' them through encouraging them to understand how sex works (which, really, throwing birth control at them isn't teaching them how it works, it goes SO MUCH DEEPER), while the media screams the message that they are only worth what they can be used for is messing them up!

I teach Jr. High and I'm saddened at the things I observe and hear from my female students. I have 6th graders (that's 10 and 11 year olds, by the way) who get harassed at school by their male peers. The boys do it because it's "cool" to snap bras, cat call, smack butts, grab chests, etc., while the girls suck it up and deal with it because it's "part of growing up". And yet, the main theme in most Jr. High settings is, "Don't bully someone for being gay."

As a mom of boys I have a huge responsibility to teach my sons what it means to respect women. We have an ongoing dialogue in our house about this, not to mention my amazing husband who models this daily.

I'm not exactly sure where I'm going with all of this (again, halfway thought out ideas that have been interrupted already three or four times). The thought train has gotten derailed a few times. Someday I will be able to complete a thought, but for now, I'm content to hammer out things on my little blog for a few people to read.

Feel free to join this discussion in the comments on Facebook. I really would like to hear well thought out thoughts on this. I do ask, however, that you refrain from name calling and generalizations. And, if you feel like going back and forth between one other person, perhaps privately message that person or friend them on Facebook so that you can do so without me having to see it (I have friends whom I love who passionately believe different things and I don't like to see my friends picked on). :)

Also, I realize this has a few different topics of thought. Forgive my muddled brain. Someday I will sleep through the night uninterrupted again. At least, that is the hope. Please, no horror stories about how when I'm older I will become an insomniac! :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Back in college I was encouraged to read a book called 'Boundaries' by Dr.'s Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I didn't read it. I think I was in a rebellious, "You can't tell me what to read" stage of life. I did, however, read a book by the same authors called, "Boundaries: Face to Face" which was about how to have difficult conversations with people. It was fantastic, but that's not what this post is about. I just thought I would tell you all to read that book, and probably the other book too...there were a lot of great pointers!


Ever since Nathaniel was born we have been careful to put boundaries in.

My children are free to act however they wish, within a certain parameter of the boundaries we have set. So far, we have been fairly consistent with those boundaries and our children have become really well-rounded individuals. They know that they are not allowed to jump on our furniture or their beds (knowing and following through is a different story with Benjamin who will shriek "No jumping on the BED!!" as he scrambles onto Aaron's bed to joyfully jump up and down and pull everything off of the bulletin board and throw it underneath the bed...2 year olds, whatcha gonna do?). But, they know that there is an old beat up chair in the nursery that is sturdy and that we allow them to jump, stand, flip, etc. on. They know that they need to ask permission to get something from the fridge, or watch t.v., but that once they are given permission they are free to help themselves. They are learning that when mom and dad are on the phone or are talking to each other and they want our attention that they need to simply place their hands on our arms and wait patiently and they will be addressed. (That one is taking time. Nathaniel is just now making that his go-to response. I get it, that's a hard one to remember, especially when whatever it is seems super important. They also know that if someone is bleeding or the house is on fire that they can interrupt).

One thing that we have been not so great with is our family boundaries, however.

We pretty much have an open door policy with people. During the day, anyone can drop by any time and we are happy to see them. Sam will usually make coffee (and for awhile he would also make a fresh loaf of bread) and we would take the time to be with whoever stopped by.

I love that we do that.

I also love that more and more people are dropping by 'just because'. It helps that our house is on a main street and that it's on the way to a lot of places. :)

However, we got to the point where we were too busy. Between having four children who are on strict nap and bedtime schedules, me serving in ministry full time and Sam volunteering part time, we quickly became overwhelmed.

We noticed that one of the parent figures was out of the house 4-5 nights a week. Add to that our Sunday night Bible Study and we were quickly becoming exhausted.

It doesn't help that we are introverts.

And so, after listening to a speaker talk about how important family is (which we knew, but we weren't showing) and how there are only two jobs where we are irreplaceable (parent and spouse), we decided to start saying no.

A classmate of one of our boys has a birthday party? No. I'm sorry, we will not be attending (not only has that saved time, but money as well!). In fact, we have started a new policy that unless it's a close family friend or a drop off party we will always be saying no to birthdays.

Someone plans something last minute? Nope, can't do it.

There are more, but since there is always a caveat where we feel like we need to say yes, I won't list them.

You know what? We are happier. We are more present. And, we are able to be better friends to people. We can look at our schedules and say yes to coffee dates and hang out times with others because we know that we have specific times for our family. Our family night is Friday night (for now) and we don't let anything (except for work stuff, because I work with youth I have the occasional Friday night activity) get in the way of that. It's an automatic no, unless people want to come and take part in our family night, that's been fun too.

I encourage all families to do this. Especially families with young children. I know that as my boys grow there will be more activities that they will be involved with, and we will have to move family night, or eat dinner super late/early so that we have dinner together. But, for now, we are making memories and our hope is that they think back to their childhood and remember that we were a family that saw how important that family time was.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

It gets easier.

The other day I was thinking deep thoughts while I was vacuuming.

Hey, I take what I can get here!

I've realized since we are probably done having children (who knows what we will decide later when it comes to foster parenting or adopting, but for now our family is complete) it is only going to get easier in the work load sense.

Since Benjamin potty trained we're only changing one kid's diapers during the day, which means that we only have to wash diapers every other day.

Nathaniel and Aaron are becoming more and more independent and are contributing members of the household now. For example: Monday night is chore night (big chores, not the every day ones). Aaron emptied little trash cans and cleared and wiped off the table while Nathaniel scooped the cat box and then took the garbage and recycling out. Those are major chores that are now off of my already over flowing plate. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment and pride I see in the boys as they handle these tasks on their own.

This morning, Aaron voluntarily made his own lunch and his brothers' lunches while Nathaniel cooked eggs for the family for breakfast (with supervision, of course). I got to head to my post workout shower with the happy sounds of, "Thank you for making my lunch, Aaron!" and "Thank you for making my breakfast, Nathaniel!"

Of course, when I got out of the shower it had changed to, "NO, AARON!! I SAID I DIDN'T WANT CHEESE!!!" and, "I PUT CHEESE IN YOUR LUNCH!!!!" I had to redirect them at that point and pointed out to Nathaniel that it might have been kinder to say, "Thank you for thinking of me, but I would rather not have cheese."

He then hid his lunch box because Aaron was adamant about giving him string cheese.

Even though we still have a long haul ahead of raising up our children (let's not even begin to think about the teenage years...), I am really enjoying the stage we are at. Especially as it feels like the uphill climb of constant diapering, wiping, chasing and mediating is leveling off.

I kind of wish I could go back in time and whisper in my sleep deprived ear, "This will pass! Soon you will be able to have conversations at the dinner table that aren't interrupted with spills and screams and food flung into your hair."

Of course, this will probably all change. :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014


*I know, two blog posts in a row. I'm on a roll!

I'm taking my students through the book of Genesis right now. I could write a whole book on how excited I am to be in Genesis and the lessons learned through it.

But, a book would equal time that I simply don't have right now. As it is, I'm currently blogging this while shoveling mixed vegetables and quinoa into Asher's mouth and explaining to the other boys that yes, Daddy is getting them food so please stop stealing Cheerios off of the baby's high chair tray.

Anyways, I digress.

The book of Genesis holds such wonder to me as I rediscover all of the amazing things about God and His character revealed to mankind. How amazing He is, how deeply He loves His creation, and how if we would just BE and TRUST things would go a bit better on our end.

Right now, we are in the midst of the life of Abraham (well, he is still Abram right now, but...).

There is a theme that keeps coming out and smacking me in the face (I love/hate when that happens).

The theme is trust. Do I trust Him? Even when all evidence in my life points to abandonment and being alone, do I trust?

In a perfect world, I would say, "Of course I do! A men, forever and ever."

In my world, I say, "Ummmm...yes?"

Here's the thing. I need to be patient. I need to trust that God is a God who does what He says He is going to do. Every single promise made to Abraham came true. It just took awhile.

Abraham was 75 when he was called out of his land with his 65 year old barren wife. He was promised land and children that numbered the stars in the sky and the sand on the ground.

It sounds like a cruel joke.

Of course, Abraham wasn't perfect. He lied about Sarah being only his sister (yes, she was his half sister, but he omitted the part where she was also his wife...). He took matters into his own hands Hagar and Ishmael. He questioned God's plan and His ways. And yet, at the end of it all, we see that he trusted God.

How I long to be more like Abraham (except for the whole marrying my half sibling and having a concubine thing). I just need patience.

There's a catch though. I live in an instant gratification world. If I need to get someone a message I can email them, call them, text them or Facebook them. Then, if I don't hear back within 10 minutes I wonder if I'm being ignored. (You know you all too, don't judge!) If I want to see video I no longer have to wait for it to be shown on t.v. or hope that I find a friend who owns it. I can simply YouTube it, or Netflix it, or RedBox it (etc.). If I want to eat something, I don't have to cook, I can drive thru. Heck, I can even get a message to London and get a response within the day (depending on the time of day) if I want.

To say that this hasn't affected my relationship and expectations from God would be a lie.

I pray and I want an answer or a resolution RIGHT THIS SECOND.

I want to see how it's all going to work out. I want to know that everything is going to be okay.

I try to force God's hand. I try to cram Him into a box and into my own expectations, even though I know that He works amazingly in ways that I could never imagine (and His way is always SO MUCH BETTER than I could hope).

I have numerous examples, but this blog post is already so long.

And so, as I continue to walk my students through Genesis, I will continue to take these nuggets of truth for myself as well. I will remind myself to have patience and trust.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Helicopters or...why I hate the Dojo app.

I don't think it's ever been a secret that I'm not a super "hovering" type parent. I think it was most clear to me when Nathaniel was climbing on the jungle gym at a park when he was a little under 3 and I stood back and watched him figure it out. I also watched as another parent immediately planted herself next to my son and was looking around frantically like he was going to fall any minute. When Nathaniel got stuck he looked over at me and said, "Help, please!"I immediately walked over and helped him figure it out.

The mom then said, "Oh, YOU'RE his mother."

Yup, that's me. Carrie Grummons, endangering children since 2006. (insert eye roll here).

Enter the school years.

In kindergarten the class had a card system. Basically, the kids started the day with green cards up front. Throughout the day, if there was an issue with discipline, the students pulled a card. Depending on the color of the card at the end of the day, that was the punishment doled out. It wasn't a perfect system (no rewards for good behavior and no way to move back to green), it wasn't bad. I think Nathaniel pulled a card once, and I don't even remember what it was for (I just remember the tears he burst into when I gave him a raised eyebrow upon seeing that he had pulled a card).

In first grade they had changed the system to a clip system. Basically, you start your day on green, but throughout the day you can clip up or down depending on the action. But, it's nice because if you clip down, you have chances to clip back up. Again, it's more of a visual reminder to the kiddos to stay in line and not be jerks. The only time there is a consequence for clipping down is if it gets to the yellow or red. Not many kids do that, and it's not my business (as I have told my kids time and again when they try to rat out the naughty kids) as to which kids do clip down.

Enter 2nd grade. During back to school night Nathaniel's teacher told us all about this new app called the class Dojo.

On her ipad the teacher has little icons with the students' names and throughout the day she can give feedback for what the students are doing. Basically, it's still the clip down system, but in real time. I can see the minute my kid clips up or down, and I can see WHY he clipped up or down. The minute I heard about that app I felt my stomach drop deep into the pits of my legs.

This app is the ultimate tool for helicopter parents. There might as well be nanny cams in the classroom at this rate (I shouldn't write that because someone might lobby for one).

What I liked about the other system was that it let me know generally how my kid's day was but left room for conversation at the end of the day. It also gives my kid the freedom to mess up without me getting on his case the second it happens.

Or, for some parents, the teacher's case.

It feels more and more like we are taking too much control of our kids' lives.

When do our kids get the freedom to fail and mess up? When do we give our kids grace and show them that when they mess up they need to own up to it, but then move on?

There is the fine line between being involved in our kids' lives and schooling and take an interest, and taking OVER our kids' lives.

I know of parents who nitpick every single wrong answer on a worksheet and question why it was marked wrong, instead of letting their kids learn from their mistakes.

On the other hand, I see parents who take no interest in their kids' educations and don't step in until the child is failing and frustrated.

There HAS to be a balance!

We need to give our kids the freedom to explore and learn and BE. We need to be their safety net, but we also have to allow them to fall and take responsibility for their actions.

So, I refuse to check the dojo app during the day. Instead, I participate in meaningful conversation with my kiddos and, if I have a real concern, I talk to the teacher, not in a "Why did you do this to my kid?" kind of way but a, "Can you help me understand this?" kind of way.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Getting what we can handle, or, how to not be a braggy know-it-all. :)

Asher is an awesome baby.

Strike that, all of my kids were awesome in their own way. I don't think there is any such thing as a bad baby, but Asher is definitely awesome. He lets me sleep. As in, from day one he only woke up one time a night to eat and immediately went back to sleep. No screaming from gas, no cries for no reason, nothing just a little whine to let me know that he was hungry and would like a diaper change, then a quick swaddle and a snack and he was good to go.

The night before last he pulled an all-nighter (as in slept all night long from 8:15-6:45). Last night, he did it again. Bliss.

Here's the thing: My other children were NOT sleepers. Nathaniel was up every 45 minutes, Aaron and Benjamin, about every 2 hours. This lasted for MONTHS. MONTHS I tell you! Of course, they made up for it by being good nappers or low key or whatever. I did everything I could to get these kids to sleep better at night. I tried co-sleeping (no one slept), I tried letting them fuss for a bit, but then they would get so worked up that they couldn't get back to sleep, I tried pleading with them and negotiating, "For the love of everything that is holy, please let me sleep!!" Then, I just figured that I had hungry kids so I better just suck it up and deal with it. Which was why everyone said I looked tired those first years of their lives.

I have yet to hear that I look tired with Asher. :)

I truly think that God is giving us what we can handle and is also keeping us humble.

I am 100% sure that if my first baby slept well I would have been a braggy mom. I would have told everyone what they were doing wrong and how to "fix" their kids. I would have pointed out that my kids slept through the night, what is wrong with you as a mom that your children don't? Instead, I got to be on the other end of that sometimes and, since I'm confident in my parenting style and know my kiddos and their temperaments, I got to learn that some babies sleep, and some don't.

As my pregnancy with Asher came to a close I found myself dreading the sleepless nights. The thought of being woken up 3-4 times a night made me cringe. I didn't want to deal with it!

So, the first night in the hospital came and I put Asher in the nursery so I could catch what I thought would be a short cat nap before he needed to eat again. Imagine my surprise when I was woken up 5 hours later to a still sleeping baby who they thought probably should eat again. Then, we got home and he was still only getting up once a night. I waited and waited for the inevitable to happen, but instead, he started sleeping even better!

So, now I know. God has given us the baby we need for the season we are in. Each child has been a blessing in his own way, and it's clear that if I had a non-sleeper I would end up on the news...:)