Living in a Jungle

Sometimes as a stay at home mom to three young boys (four if you include my husband hehe), it can literally feel like I live in a jungle. I can mop the floor one second, and 1 hour later its food all over the floor. I can wash one load of clothes and fold another, and there sprouts 4 more loads before I can even put away the others! Toys seem to multiply before my eyes, and magically appear in places they shouldn’t be which just so happens to be on a stair step that pierces the heel of my foot at 11:39PM.  And why does the basement look like an actual tornado touched down?! Some days I literally feel like I can never catch up!

Similarly, a jungle can be described as a dense population of plants and vegetation that makes it extremely difficult to navigate. Yep! Some days my life definitely resemble that of a jungle! And I know my fellow moms and dads out there can relate, which is why I am elated to have partnered up with the local representatives of Disney and can offer you and your family an evening of escape as we watch a masterpiece on the big screen, The Jungle Book!

 

There is a metro Detroit screening taking place on Wednesday, April 13th in Royal Oak, Michigan at 7pm! For your chance to win, do one of the following:

  1. Comment on this post one way your #lifewiththesekids sometimes resembles a jungle!
  2. Find this giveaway post on our Facebook Page  , share it with your friends and tell us again, one way your life sometimes resembles a jungle!

5 entries will be randomly chosen and notified by email with your electronic pass on Monday, April 11th by 12pm EST. Good luck!

 

*Disclaimer: If you are a winner to this advance screening, know that the theater is intentionally overbooked to ensure capacity. Entry is granted on a first come first served bases and you are encouraged to arrive early. Seating is not guaranteed. More details will be included on your actual screening pass.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of MyLifeWithTheseKids friends! This has been a very busy year for my family and I, and we are extremely thankful for God’s faithfulness, provision, grace and mercy through it all!! We were reminded this year that God opens doors that no man can shut, and that He will be your defender when you make conscious decisions to put your faith in Him and to always operate with integrity! So thank you Lord for those faithful reminders!

As far as this Christmas season goes, we have been blessed to give gifts  to Feed The Hungry ministry/organization from their catalog where you could choose gifts that are literally  life saving- chickens, goats, green houses, mosquito nets, etc! We had fun choosing 2 chickens and a Chubby Cheek nutrition package for some babies! Amongst other things, it gives a parent so much joy to be able to grant the desires of your children’s hearts. Check out the video below of Jabin getting what has been on the top of his list!

Caleb, on the other hand, has been obsessed with motorcycles since early Spring. He even went to school this fall creating stories to his teachers of how he rode to school on his motorcycle, and he put so much detail into those stories that his teachers even asked me, “Mrs Gonzales, did Caleb ride to school on a motorcycle today?” LOL LOL #myboy

 

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My husband hadn’t yet taken it out the box yet, so Caleb’s initial reaction was one of slow shock! LOL
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Here we have it out the box and put together! Lord help us!

Elijah, being the youngest boy, really just wants what his older brothers have! We thought we had a hit on our hands with the Paw Patrol Mission Chase toy, but as you can see below, he had his eyes on Caleb’s motorcycle. He doesn’t look that excited huh? Ah well!

Thans mom, but uh can I get on Caleb's motorcycle?
Thans mom, but uh can I get on Caleb’s motorcycle?

I did attempt at being a responsible parent by giving the boys books. Jabin ripped open the wrapping paper, revealing “The Big Book of Bernstein Bears Beginner Books”. I’m looking over his shoulder, corners of my mouth all turned up, proud of the big interest in reading that’s been developing, expecting atleast a smile in return from him. But what do I get? He gave it all of 1.5 seconds of a glance over and dropped it on the floor, with a bang on our hardwood floors and moved right on to the next gift. Sniffle. My husband, who has never been a fan of reading, burst into laughter with a “I told you that was a mud gift!” SMH!  My dream is that one day books will be exciting for Christmas!

So, I pray everyone else is having a Merry Christmas! But the reality is I know everyone is not. I know some of you are struggling with sadness, loss, depression, anxiety, and more. It makes me sad to know that this season prompts such emotional distress. Jesus really is the ONLY reason for the season! How God wrapped himself in flesh because He knew that the world needed a savior in His son Jesus, will always be the focal point for our Christmas’ and I hope this in some way penetrates however you may be feeling in this season, and pray that you get a sense of joy that Jesus truly did give you the best gift ever when He gave His life for you and I! Many blessings to you and yours <3

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama

Hey hey! I hope all of you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! We live in the land of the free due to the brave men and women who relentlessly fought and continue to fight for our freedom! To the families of those that have lost their lives in battle, continued prayers of peace and comfort! <3


 

I hope you all were able to do some fun things with your families. Holidays for me is all about finding that balance between relaxation and building memories with your loved ones. Our weekend included some swimming at our fitness center, family bar-b-ques, and attending the annual St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair, which is truly the kick-off event for the summer complete with all sorts of good eats, real roller coaster rides (see photo below), kid zones, and even Vegas themed areas for the adults.  Although we had bouts of very light sprinkles, the weather was perfect and at a great high 70 degree temp!

 

Us riding a roller coaster at the fair. Why am I yelling the hardest though?
Us riding a roller coaster at the fair. Why am I screaming the loudest though?

The St. Mary’s fair attracts about 100,000 attendees every year, and I could definitely feel it as we maneuvered through the crowds, trying to keep an arms-length distance to my three sons. As we made our way from the Dinosaur Dino ride to the basketball games, we bumped into strollers and families with children at every turn, and one family in particular were attracting quite a few eyes as a mother yelled at her young elementary-aged son, “You know what’s gonna happen right? You gone get SOCKED in yo’ mouth! I’m SICK of you complaining!” She turned and continued on her way after she gave a menacing glare, and you could see how angry she was from the grimace that remained planted on her face. Seems harsh right? Uncalled for right? But there are so many of us parents just flat-out losing our cool and taking it out on our kids. How can we change this?

That happened on Sunday. On Tuesday morning, I sat amongst like-minded women and moms as we gathered for our weekly Mom2Mom study, ate some food, sipped on some coffee, and eagerly looked at the TV monitor that would soon be filled with Dr. Kevin Leman, parenting and marriage expert whom I’ve referenced before, giving us Lesson 5 of Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World. Low and behold, this lesson was specifically about …. (drumroll)… how parents can calm our nerves and calm down before we burst! So, I started this blog because I have a desire to share not only stories about my life with these kids, but the lessons and resources, people, and other insightful aspects of parenting that have inspired me to overall just be better. Don’t you want to be a better parent? Being “better” is not easy and I’m learning is not always instinctual! It takes us seeking out the Word (Bible), biblically based parenting resources, much prayer and PRACTICE!

I am sharing here with you some of the tips by Dr. Kevin Leman’s DVD/Workbook below as it relates to anger taken from Chapter 5 of “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”!

 

Book Cover!

 

OBSERVING THE WARNING SIGNS BEFORE TEMPERS FLARE aka HOW TO CALM YO’ NERVES, MAMA!

  • STOP–  I can be transparent and admit that sometimes, my children make me angry. Can you join me and admit that right now as well? Right there as you sit reading this on your phone or computer, say it with me: sometimes, my child(ren) make me flat out MAD! And that’s normal and ok! But it’s what we do with that anger that can make or break us as parents and consequently our children. When we feel our tempers rising and that flame starting to get bigger and bigger, we have got to practice a mental “take 5” and allow ourselves to calm down before speaking. My issue is yelling. I grew up with a mother (hey ma, love you! lol) that is LOUD. She is loud when she’s upset, loud when she’s happy, loud when she’s sad, and loud for no reason at all. That loudness growing up felt like #teamtoomuch at times and would hurt my feelings, but I know that she is a passionate person and a very colorful communicator! I know because as a mom myself, I can say I inherited that, LOL! But, one day my son Jabin made me mad. He has this habit of flapping his arms, jumping around in circles and then SPRINTING to the nearest couch or bed and diving in head first as he bursts into tears. When I’m not laughing at how ridiculous he looks (if you guys are laughing its ok haha), I’m mad at the emotional outburst. And sometimes I will just yell, “JABBBBINNNN! Get up off of that bed, get in here RIGHT NOW and apologize to your brother!” or “and clean up this mess!” or “and you are NOT watching another second of TV!” Sometimes, he can just make a simple mistake that ticks me off and I will yell, “Jabinnnnn! You have got to be more careful!” and he will respond in borderline tears, “You don’t have to yell at me!” And that’s what stops me in my tracks, makes me immediately soften my tone, and I apologize. I really DON’T have to yell! I am the example that teaches him healthy communication regardless of how we emotionally feel in the moment. Can you relate? If so, lets practice together a “Take 5” before we automatically resort to what comes easily, yelling or in many cases, verbally bashing our children.  That is NEVER ok. And lets keep it real, some of us need to practice a “take 10, 15, 20, heck…5 minutes” before responding!
  • DETOUR: Dr. Leman says when you feel the anger devil on your shoulder (ok my interpretation) that we need to DETOUR and take an alternate route before we allow our anger/emotions to make us crash and burn. “You choose not to strike out verbally with harsh, threatening words and tone. Instead, you take another path and find solutions to the problem at hand” (page 25 in Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World). I had to think about how I can apply that to my parenting. When Caleb comes into the kitchen, grabs apple juice from the fridge and tries to pour himself a cup, only he pours too much and then I come in to find apple juice EVERYWHERE on the floor after I just mopped, instead of me bursting at the seams, I can calmly say “Hey Caleb, come here! Were you thirsty? Ok next time please ask me for help so we don’t make a mess ok? Take this paper towel and clean it up real good! Thank you.” Not only is that an acceptable detour, it allows Caleb to be responsible for the mess he made in a healthy way. It feels weird at first, and it takes a minute for the heart rate to go back to normal (lolololol, whew!), but Dr Leman gave a great visual example of how we feel when we are momentarily angry. Picture a balloon blown up. Its tight and the more you blow, there is the potential for the balloon to pop. As you let some air out of the balloon, the latex becomes softer and softer, and then it is no longer possible for it to pop because essentially, some steam has been released. When we are angry, calmly talking about the situation or taking some time to think before responding is how we can slowly let some steam out before we POP! I have also learned that we have to RESPOND to our children vs REACT.

 

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19

 

There were tons more great tips that I would love to share with you! But for the sake of not writing a book here, subscribe at the bottom of this blog or in the side panel, or check back here on Friday for Part 2 of “Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama!” I hope this helps, group hug!

You Know You’re a Boy Mom When…

I grew up in a blended family according to what’s politically correct. My mom and dad both had children from previous relationships before they themselves met and married, and then had three children together. So in our immediate household, there were my two older sisters, me in the middle, and then two little brothers behind me.

Those little brothers TORTURED ME! Especially the one that’s 17 months my junior. He would do whatever he could to annoy, distract, and divert my attention away from whatever it was I was doing to him. And his goal was to get me to squeal, shriek, fight, chase, and ensue in a wrestling match. Most of the times his efforts were rewarded by my emotional and passionate reactions, and he would take off running, bare chested with tight-fitted shorts, eyes twinkling and snaggle-toothed smile gleaming in little brother annoyance, with me charging behind him, swinging and praying for contact.

I remember my little brothers being obsessed with Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and them taking two chairs, climbing on top, and then carefully lowering themselves into a split formation..one foot turned up on each chair (see photo below). They were so proud of their efforts. Me as their sister just rolled my eyes in response and prayed for the swoosh and kicks of their verbal sound effects for their 17th karate fight of the day, to soon pass.

 

Jean-Claude Van Damme photo from film, BloodSport. And this is what my brothers replicated every. single. day.
Jean-Claude Van Damme photo from film, BloodSport. And this is what my brothers replicated Every. Single. Day.

Now that I’m a mother of three boys, I find myself watching my boys do many of the things my little brothers did! Although there are two decades of time that has passed, one thing remains the same… boys will be boys! If you have multiple boys or just a single boy, you can probably relate to a few points on my list of:

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A BOY MOM WHEN…

  1. You can get them dressed in 60 seconds or less in the morning. No one really cares when boys aren’t perfectly coordinated. A tshirt, jeans or sweats, and sneakers are pretty much wardrobe staples!
  2. Over time, you expect them to wrestle and fight and you become perfectly ok with it. In fact, when its too quiet, that’s an immediate warning sign that they are up to no good and you need to find them ASAP!
  3. You can hear a very loud thud in a part of the house. Your heart rate accelerates a little bit as you stop what you’re doing, listen for what type of cry that may or may not follow, and then you determine if you need to check on them based off of what you hear. Most of the time you shrug and go about your business.
  4. They’ve gotten into your makeup bag, and when you finally see them, their eyes are plastered in multi-colored eye shadow. You laugh, take a photo, and file that in “High School Graduation Slide-Show Photos”. You also hurry and wipe it off before your husband sees them. LOLOLOL!
  5. If you’ve ever been hit square in the forehead with a youth football, while your husband solely focuses on how accurate the aim was, then congratulations, you’re a boy mom!
  6. Your weeknights and or weekends are slowly but surely being completely taken over by sports. If you have a lawn chair on stand-by in your trunk, then yep! You have boys!
  7. You get presented with dandelions atleast 3 days a week. And each time your son(s) give them to you, they hold them out like they are freshly picked, long-stemmed roses. You take them, conjuring up the happiest smile you can muster while oozing an enthusiastic “awww, thank you! So sweet!” While you are touched at the level of attention your boys give you, you secretly scout out where to stash them. Keep it real with me, ok?! Don’t nobody want them thangs!
  8. You buy new sneakers every 2-3 months, and when the boys get their foot measured, your eyes bulge in surprise that they’ve grown by 2 sizes. How do they grow so fast? How did they walk in their old shoes?! How did you NOT notice their shoes were too small?!
  9. If you have ever had itchy boys, you know the itch can include areas below the belt. My 20 month year older frequently requests that I scratch his er um…scrotum. Today he actually fell into a deep sleep whilst I relieved his itch, with his diaper halfway open and his legs sprawled open like a little frog, his eye lids became heavier and heavier until he finally succombed to nap time slumber. If one of your boys has ever put you through that, extra boy mom points! I will be starting a prayer call for their future wives. Ya’ll in?
  10. And finally, if you have ever greeted your boys (or even other people’s kids) by flipping them upside down and body slamming them on the bed or the couch, or pinning them down and tickling them until they can’t take another second, then you my dear, are a boy mom true and through and need to start workin’ on that girl for some household balance. LOL!

 

Presented by my son Jabin, it took him like 15 minutes to pick all of these.
Presented by my son Jabin, it took him like 15 minutes to pick all of these, lol!

It should go without saying, that no matter the sex of your children, that they are individually special, unique, fun, and come with their own set of parenting challenges. Having all boys has taught me, one who naturally likes to know what’s happening next, to just be flexible and go with the flow! I’m steadily learning that its not the end of the world if they show up somewhere with holes in their knees and grass stains. Life will go on when they face plant into the pavement or jump off of things they had no business climbing on in the first place. With each new phase that we get to experience mothering our children, boys or not, God’s grace is sufficient and available for us to in turn pass that grace back to our children. Parenting boys is HARD! They try your patience day in and day out. But lets remember to have fun with it, to let them see us having fun, and to do fun things together! Serious, authoritative parents are no fun. Cheers to parenting with a loving balance of discipline, joy, order, and a soft place for our children to fall, over and over again.

So how is this list? Can you identify? Add your own “Boy Mom” moments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Son, You Can Do Anything

I’m steadily coming to terms that with having not only all boys, but three of them, paired with a husband who is the head coach of a competitive football program who also played Division 1 college ball,  that #mylifewiththesekids will entail a whole lot of sports! I mentioned before that my husband (who’s nickname is “Red”) and I  are elementary school sweethearts, and he stalked me enough to keep me around throughout college as well. I went to his college football games sheerly for the excitement of “Michigan” football and to be a part of the 110, 000 plus screaming fans that attended religiously, but more importantly, to be that girlfriend who stood outside after the game proudly awaiting her handsome Michigan football player. Ok ok, and also to show that he was 100% not up for grabs to any lurking groupies. Never mind that I took books to the game and read throughout, causing evil blank stares from Red’s uncle John. Hey, I just didn’t get it! Annnnnd I still don’t! Guess I need to get my act together. That or someone needs to create “A Mother’s Guide to Learning Football”.

Here’s my Pookie in action back in the day!

 

Wasn't he so cute! #18! Source: Michigandaily.com
Wasn’t he so cute! #18!
Source: Michigandaily.com

 

Being the  girlfriend of the #1 drafted HS football quarterback back in the 1999-2000 season, and then the girlfriend of a D1 University of Michigan football player did not inspire me to buckle down and learn the ins and outs of the football game. Nor did I care that much to learn as his wife when he took on the head coaching position for the JV Football team at his high school alma mater. But I have a feeling my days of feigning ignorance has come to an end, because as a stalker mom, I want to be intimately involved in what my boys find interest in since as their mom, it is part of my job to encourage, motivate, and be their biggest cheerleader. Don’t get me wrong, I was also my husband’s biggest cheerleader, I just ain’t know what I was cheering about, hehe.

Jabin, our first born son, has already demonstrated a passion for the sport, and even at 6 years old, he has played competitively for 3 seasons and just started his 4th with i9sports.com. I know that as a quick learner and a serious observer paired with natural athletic ability, that he will one day be a force to be reckoned with.

But today I watched my son battle fear, doubt, and unbelief as he tearfully declared he did not want to join the other players on the field as they warmed up and began practice. My husband and I exchanged confused glances, tried to nudge him on the field, but was again met with extreme hesitation.

“Jabin, what’s the matter? Why don’t  you want to play?” I asked, with a wrinkle developing between my brow that translated my state of confusion and worry.

“My finger hurrrtttss!” He explained as he blinked back the pools of water glistening in his eyes.

“OK no problem! Red, can you grab him some ice?” My husband then led him over to an i9sports staff member where they hooked him up with ice. So I anticipated Jabin to be ready to play momentarily. But I soon discovered that wasn’t the issue. Last season’s flag football program put him in the 4-6 year old age group where he was one of the oldest players.  He was bigger, faster, and filled with confidence knowing he was one of the best on the field. Today was different. This group of boys were in the age group of 6-9, so he looked up and saw that he was now one of the smallest, and fear gripped his little heart and convinced him he had no business playing with those boys.

I then had a conversation with myself while silently communicating with my husband. We took turns explaining that he no longer could play with smaller kids, because he was too good, just way too advanced. And yes, we puffed him up and slightly exaggerated as any loving parents would do. No judgement here, remember? LOL. We talked more, reassuring him how good he was and how he was so ready to go out there and just have fun, and slowly the liquid trail dropping down his face began to slow down, but as soon as we would give a little push for him to run on the field, he would break down again, exclaiming “Noooo, I don’t want to play!”  For a moment, I considered suggesting we let him go home, but on the contrary, I had thoughts like “ummm, I know you AIN’T after we done spent this money!” and I wanted to drag him on the field whilst kicking and screaming and make him play anyway. But I knew none of those would be the right decision. I knew exactly what to do.

“Jabin, lets pray!”

DEAR FEAR, DOUBT, & UNBELIEF, I COMMAND YOU TO FLEE!

I bent down to where my forehead met his, covered his hands in mine, and began to cast out the fear, doubt, and unbelief that threatened to convince him he was not good enough.

“Father, in the name of Jesus, we come before you asking to soothe Jabin right now. Lord thank you for taking away the fear and the doubts that he cannot play with those bigger boys. Lord, remind him that he is strong, he is fast, and he is gifted, and that this sport is all about having fun, learning, and getting better. Lord we thank you for filling him with confidence once again, and the reassurance that you are with him and that your heavenly angels are here to watch over him and keep him safe. Lord we thank you for all these things, and we give you all the honor, glory, and the power, in Jesus Name, amen.”

Throughout our prayer, Jabin cried even harder, and at one point his cry reflected a sob. I know that the Lord met him where he was, and that even as a 6 year old little boy, he is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and he knows that when we pray, God hears us. After we prayed, I saw his tears dry up for the final time. He wiped his nose, and he directed his gaze towards the field.

“You let us know when you’re ready, ok?” I offered.

He discreetly nodded his head as he continued to study the other players. My husband and I exchanged glances once again, and then my husband, led by Caleb, all walked Jabin onto the field where we reminded him, “Jabin, you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to! Go have fun!”  When he stepped onto that field and got in line, I saw those negative thoughts that he was feeding himself lose their power. I saw him relax, put his “game face  on”, and listen to the coach’s instructions.  I in turn felt my heart swell with thankfulness and gratitude, and also for parents that raised me to know and commune with the Lord. I stood proud knowing that with my husband, we were bringing up our boys in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6). Due to an overtired toddler by the name of Elijah, I had to leave the game before it even started, but when Jabin got home, he sat on my lap and showed me all the video footage his dad took. He was so proud of himself and his team’s victory!

Today, I watched my son learn a valuable lesson about how to give his fear to the Lord:

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. 

Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG)