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.