Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama – Part 2

Hey ya’ll!

When I posted the first part of Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama, I shared it on my personal page and the Blog Fan Page, and one thing became clear, most of us mama’s are now modeling some of the characteristics that our moms used while raising us, and some of those are good and not so good. I read several comments and received lots of feedback with moms that are also struggling with how they react when their children make them angry, and more than we are all willing to admit – the yelling, verbal threats, and voice tones – get to be way out of control. If you’ve ever automatically lashed out by saying the following or any variations of it, its time to get that initial anger management under control!

  • You’re gonna get your face slapped!
  • I will pound your face in!
  • Do it again and see what happens! *what you gone do? lol*
  • Don’t let me come in there and find out that you didn’t do what I told you to do!! You’re gonna be sorry!
  • Or maybe your initial response is more action oriented by snatching your kid up by their collar  or jacking them up against the wall with angry bulging eyes.

Most of the time we recognize when its gone too far, but as discussed in the previous post, we know that we must STOP and take a “Take 5” and then DETOUR our thoughts and respond to our children in a healthier way, thus exemplifying the type of anger management and communication we can be proud for them to model.

I USED TO THREATEN MY SON THAT HE WOULD GET HIS FACE SLAPPED

Another shameful transparency moment: I used to threaten my son that he would get his face slapped when he did things that made me angry. One day I heard him utter that same threat to his little brother, and boy was I embarrassed that he learned that from me! Although I have never slapped him in his face, threatening to do so was very hurtful to him, and one time I caught him crying after I had already mentally moved on from the situation and thought OMG! why is he crying?!

You sa-aaa-aiiid, you were gah-gah-gonna slap me!” he expressed through sobs.

I had to put my big girl pants on, drop to his level, and apologize. “Mommy is so sorry! I said that because I was angry, and I didn’t think about what I was saying. Mommy would never slap you in your face and I am going to do my best not to say that again. Please forgive me. Can I have a hug?” And we hugged it out and I embraced him and reassured him that my love for him was unchanging and that I made a mistake. Even recapping that moment for you all makes me teary. I never want to cause my children emotional pain! But the truth is we are human, we regurgitate some of the fear tactics our parents used on us, and ultimately we are flawed and imperfect people who will do and say things we regret. Just as God extends His grace to us, we have to show that same grace to not only our children, but ourselves when we know we have made mistakes. Instead of telling ourselves over and over again, “you friggin suck as a mom!”, actually take the steps to STOP and DETOUR, practice it until healthy responses to our children become second nature!

WHY DO WE GET SO MAD?!

Now that we’ve learned the steps to take control of how we respond to anger, lets discuss WHY we become angry in the first place! And thanks to the study I’m taking taught by Dr. Kevin Leman in the workbook titled, “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”, I can share it with you all!  So what do you think the reason is? On page 26 of the workbook, Dr. Leman says “the underlying message of highly angry people is ‘things oughta go my way!'” GASP! Now that I think about it, that is nothing but the truth! Think about when you first brought your baby home from the hospital, and you monitored everything your husband did with and for the baby and harped when he didn’t do it your way.

  • “No, you have to put a clean diaper underneath the dirty one so you can hurry and put it on”
  • “did you test the water temperature with a stainless steel thermometer before putting MY baby in the tub first?!”
  • “that bib doesn’t match”
  • “why are you taking so long to put the baby’s clothes on?”
  • “no you have to feed him this way, not like that. Give him here let me show you”
  • “omg, if I pull out one more dry wipe because you forgot to close the top of it I am going to lose it!”

Ha! Whew, thank God for big sisters that warned me NOT to do that with my husband because I had to rebuke myself quite a few times when I wanted to *ok, I ain’t fooling nobody, I did it too*! But basically, we drove ourselves crazy with irritation and anger that things weren’t being done how we wanted them to be done, and as a result we snap and try to take back control out of fear that if it wasn’t done OUR way, then it wasn’t done right.

“Most studies reveal the basis of anger is fear, fear of being threatened or fear of losing control. When our kids aren’t living up to our expectations, we fear what others might think of us, or we react to fear of being a failure as a parent.” (page 26)

In closing, we get angry and lose control due to the fear that things are happening out of our control. The opposite of fear is faith!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love. Ephesians 3:16-17

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all demonstrated that we were rooted and established in God’s love in every area of our lives, even in our marital and parental relationships?  Will you join me in practicing that this week? I always admire the mom who responds to her child in that high-pitched loving tone lol. The one who says “oh no honey, lets not eat dirt ok?!” all chipper like. Let’s dig a little deeper, push ourselves and practice healthy communication for our kiddos!  Comment below some of your moments that you may not be so proud of and the steps you took to do better. Let’s be on the journey to be better together! Until next time <3

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)

Is This Abuse?

It was a chilly night. I got into my husband’s Buick and uttered a sigh of frustration when I saw the gas light on and the meter hanging below “E”. I prayed that the car wouldn’t stop as I made my way to the gas station. When I arrived, I walked in, put $20 on pump #6, and was alarmed to hear a woman towards the back of the store yelling at small children in an abrasive manner. I watched her scoot 3 little boys, one who had tears streaming down his face, ranging from around 3 to 6 years of age, out the door and towards her car, as she continued to yell “OOOOH ya’ll get on my NERVES!” with the “nerves” being emphasized in a high-pitched rolling tone. She went ahead and pumped her gas, and then she yanked open the back passenger door to allow one of the little boys out.

“If you want something you betta go and get it now! Hurry UUUUP! Go! Get OUT!” she continued to harp. The little boy looked to be around 4 years old, he slowly got out of the car, and as he walked he dried his tears with the back of his hand.

“And you betta hurry up and I mean it!” The woman, who at this point I assumed to be the grandmother, had absolutely no modesty in how she publicly disciplined those boys. Obvious from her volume, angry and annoyed facial expressions, and the continuation of emotional outbursts, she had no shame in her game. And just when I thought I had heard enough, she turned her head to watch the little boy enter the gas station, and called after him, “CRY BABY!”

I was sadly shocked, and thought to myself, no wonder these little boys are growing into men who have forced themselves to be emotionally desensitized with little to no capability of showing genuine vulnerability, leaving their wives and significant others crying into their pillows at night wondering why their husbands can’t talk to them, can’t demonstrate loving affection without being “soft”, and thus feeling utterly alone in what should be a blissful companionship. I had to ask myself, did I just really witness a 50+ woman patronizing little kids?

The truth is, a ton of adults and a ton of children have been and are being raised by verbally, emotionally, and/or physically abusive parents. And although some of those parents aren’t intentionally abusive, they perform acts of discipline that they themselves were directly taught by their own parents, who were in turn taught by their parents, leaving many of those affected believing its no big deal and legitimate ways to raise mindful, respectful children who essentially fears them. When does this cycle end?

Do you recall NFL star Adrian Peterson’s arrest in the fall of 2014 for whipping his then 4-year-old son with a tree branch? He had no personal convictions of that method of “disciplining” his son with a tree branch because he endured the same forms of correction from his parents. Gregory McNeal, a contributor to Forbes.com, covered this story here and quoted Peterson’s lawyer as saying:

Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in East Texas.

Former NBA All Star player Charles Barkley currently stands as an analyst on TNT’s Inside the NBA and had this to say about Peterson’s alleged abuse:
 I’m from the South. I understand Boomer’s (Esiason) rage and anger … but he’s a white guy and I’m a black guy. I don’t know where he’s from, I’m from the South. Whipping — we do that all the time. Every black parent in the south is going to be in jail under those circumstances…I think the question about whether Adrian Peterson went overboard … Listen, Jim, we all grow up in different environments. Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances. 
And here is police evidence according to TMZ.com showing the scars on Peterson’s 4 year old son left by his whipping.
Source: TMZ.com
Source: TMZ.com

Regardless of Peterson’s intention, regardless of how much he loves his son, he crossed the line and was physically abusive!

On the other hand, abuse does not always leave physical scars. Over the past week, I’ve seen a clip from The Dr Phil Show that originally aired over 4 years ago,  going viral on my Facebook timeline with friends and friends of friends debating on whether or not the measures of discipline this mom uses in the video below are abusive. Warning: this video may be hard to watch.

 

If you actually made it through all of the video, I did not, what do you believe? Is this abusive? Is this good old “tough love” discipline? Do you believe her methods are ok but just went a little too far? If you believe this is not abuse, Jessica Beagley, a 36 year old Alaskan mother of six, was actually convicted of child abuse by a jury of 3 men and 3 women.

Facebook comments in support of this mom’s tactics:

Betty S.: Not Abuse. My mom would [have beat] my tail and explained later.. That’s what’s wrong now days. Everybody think everything abuse..

Trey L. : Too many people worry too much about how people raise their own children. Great job MOM. There are too many kids in this world now a days that have NO RESPECT for their parents. Parents now a days are such push overs for fear of getting “In Trouble” for trying to correct their kids. If you do something wrong then you should face the consequences. There is no physical harm to this kid. The only thing hurt was his pride and that’s exactly what it was meant to hurt. Worry about raising your own children into push overs while the real parents out there teach their kids respect.

These comments are highlighted above because they represent adults who seem to believe that discipline and punishment mean the same thing, that if you don’t agree with harsh correction then you are raising “soft” and disrespectful children, and that the methods used by Beagley represent strong parenting.

JUST BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS DID IT DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT….

  • JUST BECAUSE YOU TURNED OUT “OK” BY RECEIVING WHIPPINGS WITH TREE BRANCHES DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
  • JUST BECAUSE YOU GOT YELLED AT FOR EVERYTHING VS BEING TALKED TO, DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
  • JUST BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS WASHED YOUR MOUTH OUT WITH SOAP DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
  • JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE FORCED TO HOLD “HOT SAUCE” IN YOUR MOUTH FOR A PERIOD OF TIME DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
  • JUST BECAUSE YOU WERE INSTRUCTED TO STRIP YOUR CLOTHES AS A 4 YEAR OLD CHILD AND STAND IN THE SHOWER WHILE COLD WATER BLASTS ALL OVER YOUR FRAIL BODY DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.
  • JUST BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS DID NOT HESITATE TO SOCK/POP/SLAP YOU IN YOUR FACE OR “BEAT YOU DOWN WITH NO EXPLANATION” DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT.

There are SO many adults walking around here with parts of their mind, body, and soul still broken from their child rearing. Adults who in turn lash out at their loved ones when their temper is hot because they were never shown how to take some time and calm down. Teens and young adults resorting to verbal assaults, their fists, and weapons to make people pay for offending them. Adults paralyzed from fear of letting someone in because they are afraid of getting hurt because their parents, the ones who are supposed to demonstrate unconditional love rejected them, ignored them, patronized them, and isolated them during times they weren’t the perfect child. Parents…how you treat, discipline, and show that you love (or don’t love) your child will stay with them for the rest of their lives!

Don’t you see that children are GOD ’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don’t stand a chance against you; you’ll sweep them right off your doorstep.
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭127:3-5‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Stop telling your children that they are dumb, stupid, not good enough, can’t measure up to, or just like their dead beat daddy. Stop negatively comparing them to their siblings or other children. Stop feeding them poisonous words that will take root in their spirit.

Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit- you choose. 
Proverbs 18:21 MSG
Fathers, don’t exasperate [provoke] your children by coming down hard on them. Take them by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.
Proverbs 6:4 MSG

Parenting is challenging! We all, including myself, lose our temper. Most of us all yell way more than necessary. Some of us need to take a personal time out to cool down before spanking our children to avoid lashing out in anger and crossing the line. Some of us need  to remember that raising our children up in the ways of the Lord, teaching them the word of God, taking them to church so they can learn amongst their peers in a fun and age appropriate manner, is what is commanded of us by the Lord.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 

 Until next time <3

Spring Break Fun!

Happy Resurrection Sunday loves! To think that God gave His only son, to save a wretch like me makes me so thankful! I know I couldn’t sacrifice my only son for a bunch of heathens, so that’s how I KNOW we serve a supernatural God!

 

My family on Resurrection Sunday (Easter) 2015!
My family on Resurrection Sunday (Easter) 2015!

Across the country, many of our school-aged children are on SPRING BREAK this coming week, whoo hoo! How about this: I’m excited just to have a break from the chaotic routine of waking up, figuring out what these kids are gonna eat for breakfast, depending on their mood having to borderline threaten them to get dressed, do the 3 second countdown for them to brush their teeth or else, all along frantically watching the clock to ensure we all get out of the house on time! And let me have not been too lazy the night before to make Jabin’s lunch and morning/afternoon snack or else that’s another 5 minutes of rush-filled regret. Once I hustle them outside, the baby boy Elijah does his daily dart across the lawn in the opposite direction of the truck as he takes quick looks behind him to see how much time he has before I long stride it over to him and scoop him in the air as he releases a giggling shriek. I have to admit, just thinking about it brings a smile to my face because he really thinks he is going somewhere, lol! After our morning drop offs the rest of my day is dictated by the clock and the schedule is planned to the minute most days. So their spring break represents just a chance to breathe for all of us! I’m excited because I am learning that rest is a gift from God!

SPRING BREAK WITH THE KIDS…. TERRIFIC OR TORTURE ?

Sadly, a “break” does not always represent a chance to relax because for many families, having the kids at home for a full week can be kind of scary! Ok lets be real, having the kids at home for a full week can mean torture is coming your way! But it doesn’t have to be:) Our children don’t need to go somewhere extravagant or have Martha Steward-esque arts and crafts set out before them everyday this week, but they DO need to be occupied and have some sort of entertainment!  Or else… you have bored kids on your hands that will find their own ways to fill up their space, and if your kids are anything like mine, that means fighting over the iPad mini that my husband won from work, my iPad with the cracked corner, who’s watching what on the TV, whatever toy is in demand at the moment, fighting, tattle telling, depleting the pantry from any and every snack there is, and informing you they are thirsty every 20 minutes.

So I’d like to help a mama out with this list of 10 ideas and things to do to help you keep your sanity and the kids enjoying their break!

FREE! Save your coin and take advantage of these 5 local attractions that are free!

  1. Take the kids to your local library for a few hours of fun that includes story time, make believe, dress up, and more! If you live in a city with a drab library that’s dark and depressing like me, then cross the city line and take advantage of one that’s more fun and kid-friendly! Many libraries these days partner with each other so you can even use your local library card to rent books and movies from the one you are visiting!
  2. Children’s Museums and art centers (example Detroit Institute of Arts) also offer free admission for certain counties or through your local library. So while you are at the library, ask what other local attractions they may have resources available for.
  3. Your local shopping center’s Children’s Play Area! Over the summer, my boys and I were at the mall weekly simply for them to run, shout, and play catch while I could sit back in peace and watch them within a safe distance. Here, you can pack a lunch for the kids or eat lunch at the food court!
  4. If you belong to a fitness center with a children’s center, don’t forget to take advantage! With it being spring break, they have more activities planned.
  5. Layer up the kids and take a walk to your local park. Don’t have a nearby park? Then jump in the car and drive to one:) Fresh air is so refreshing!

IF YOU HAVE A BUDGET TO WORK WITH, CHECK OUT THESE FUN IDEAS!

  1. Browse Groupon or LivingSocial to see what family activity deals are available! In Metro Detroit, Airtime Trampoline is offering a great deal here.
  2. Go to the zoo! According to ZooChat.com, spring is one of the best times of the year to visit the zoo; the animals are typically more visible and more active in addition to it not being as crowded. Put on your walking shoes, pack a lunch, and have at it!
  3. Family films like Disney’s Cinderella and Home by Dreamworks  are in theaters and receiving great reviews, so schedule a movie day!
  4. Look into Spring Break day camps at your local Boys & Girls Club, Salvation Army, and fitness centers like Lifetime Fitness. They offer fantastic fun-filled days for parents who aren’t able to take off of work for Spring Break or the parents that prefer to let someone else do the entertaining, lol.
  5. Take a road trip to an indoor water park like Great Wolf Lodge, Kalahari Resorts, or simply find a local hotel that offers a kid friendly pool and create your own family fun Spring Break Staycation!

Whatever it is you do this week, remember to have fun and allow this to be a time to create precious memories with your children! Join me in doing the best we can to be intentional of eliminating distractions like our phones and social media so that when we are participating in these fun activities, we are actually fully present. Trust, the kids are watching!

If you have anything fun planned, share in the comments below! Happy Breaking! :)

Frozen on Ice with Boys

Growing up, my parents ensured that we had yearly family vacations plus the opportunity to attend some of the local shows and attractions that visited our area, such as the UniverSOUL Circus, Disney on Ice, Harlem Globetrotters, and etc. So when thinking back on my childhood, not only did we not have a need for anything, but our parents were blessed to be able to provide some of the “extras”! So like most grandparents, they like to see their children’s children have fun experiences as well. So the decision to take my three sons to see Disney’s FROZEN on Ice, was partly pressured by my mother! It went kind of like this:


 

It was a chilly, cloudy day in Michigan where its known to be 50 degrees one day and an ice storm the next. I parked my truck, turned my head around to look at my youngest son, Elijah, and was greeted with those beautiful big eyes, green snotty nose (thanks to our wonderful weather), and happy wide grin. I smile in return, and that smile reached my eyes. Oh how I love him so! I unstrapped him from his car seat, propped him on my hip, kissed his cheeks approximately 4 times, nuzzled his neck, and fetched my black leather MK tote and balanced it on my wrist. As I opened the door to my mom’s hair salon, I was greeted by a basket of snacks that would completely destroy my morning workout within 30 seconds, waved to everyone I saw, and continued to the back of the salon where my mom sat in the cozy dimly lit waiting room, eating a snack and watching some TV.

“Hi mom! Can you cut Elijah’s hair today? I hope so, because we are NOT leaving without a haircut!” I say in a half-joking manner.

My mother laughed in return, responding “yep I have time! I just have a few clients to put under the dryer and then I can do it.”

Elijah sat in the styling chair, and looked very content as my mom put a towel and cape around his little shoulders and proceeded to cut about 2 inches of fluffy curly hair off of his head!

Haircut Time!
Haircut Time!

After he was done, I proceeded to put Elijah’s coat on and whisk him home for his nap, and I mentioned to my mom that I was thinking about surprising the boys with tickets to see Frozen on Ice! But she saw my hesitancy, and exclaimed, “that would be so nice!” and then her eyes slightly squinted, as she continued talking, reminding me “ya’ll went to stuff like that! Let them boys go!” So there it was! It was final, the Gonzo crew was going to see Disney on Ice!

Three days later, we found ourselves in bumper to bumper traffic as we made our way to The Palace of Auburn Hills.

“Are we really in traffic to see FROZEN?!” my husband asked with a hint of disbelief.

“Uh yeaaaahhh! Frozen is huge, you know this!” I said in return, giggling.

We slowly inched our way into the parking lot after handing over $10 to park, and our boy’s excitement continued to grow because we didn’t tell them where we were going! As we parked, our 6 year old Jabin took a guess.

“I know! We are going to see Spongebob Squarepants!” He yelled out with a big toothless grin.

“Nooo, but you’ll see soon!” I replied.

We all got out of the car, hand in hand and walked towards the entrance. I saw my husband looking at the droves of people walking alongside us, and he blurted out, “this don’t make no sense! We should be chanting ‘Deeeetroit Basketball‘ right now! Look at all these little girls in princess dresses! We got all boys taking them to see a Disney show!”

At this point, I’m full out laughing, but simultaneously scoured the crowd myself, singling out every little boy I saw. “There’s one! And there’s another one!’ I pointed out, somewhat satisfied. “Yeah, but they have sisters, it makes sense for them!” he says back, joining in on the laugh. Me, still laughing, I fought back with “oh whatever! Frozen is not just for little girls! The boys love Frozen!”

As we continued to walk, I turned and saw another family with not only just boys with them, but three boys like us! “YES! See, they have three boys just like us!” Red (did I mention that’s my husband’s nickname?) turned his neck then looked back at me, “they’re Asian, they don’t count! They probably helped produce the show!” Laughter erupted from my belly as I scolded him on his stereotypical “asians are smart” comment. *He was 100% joking, so I hope my inclusion of that in this story does not offend, because we sincerely love everybody!*

We finally stepped foot inside the Palace, and were bombarded with icy blue Frozen everything! Tshirt and toy stands, photo booths, $5 Frozen limited edition coloring books, and more! I looked to see how excited my boys must be, and they smiled a little but were definitely not over the moon lol.

We found our section where an usher politely directed us to the nosebleed section. “Ummm, these tickets were $49.50 a piece, why are we way up here?!” I asked, getting upset. “You just don’t know how to spend a little money, why is my nose bleeding!” My husband jokesd. I marched back down to the usher, because clearly this was a mistake!

“Yes, this is the correct section. These tickets are more expensive because they face the middle of the ice”, she said. I let out a very dry, side eye-ish “Oh”, and went back up to our seats, providing my husband with the explanation. I found myself feeling disappointed we weren’t closer and silently blaming the phone operator for telling me we had great seats, but noticed my boys didn’t have a care in the world. They were happy and that’s what mattered! *In retrospect I should have looked at a seating chart, so yeah….slaps to me*

The show began, and our 3yo son Caleb exclaimed, “yay, Mickey Mouse is out there!” We turned our full attention to the ice rink, where the traditional Disney characters skated around, waved, and welcomed us to get up and dance and sing along to the show!

“Mom, cotton candy!” My boys yelled out, pointing at the usher on the other side of the aisle heralding a balloon of cotton candy with customized Olaf hats on top. I ran over to get his attention.

“How much?”

“Fifteen dollars.”

My eyes bulged. “FIFTEEN DOLLARS?!” He smiled his understanding as he probably got the same reaction a thousand times over the weekend. “Uhhhh lemme get uhhhh, hmmm. One!” I decided, eliciting more giggles from the usher.

I went back to our seats, my husband saw me carrying one bag of cotton candy, and immediately began to shake his head. “Steph, did you really come back with one and we have three boys?! You have to expect to spend money out here!” He knows I’m cheap, and he is constantly teasing me about it. So after they devoured that in 5 minutes, my husband got up to go and get another one in addition to a $12 bag of popcorn. So this was what robbery felt like huh?

Yummy cotton candy!
Yummy cotton candy!

About 20 minutes into the show, Elijah became restless and was planning his escape, so I pulled out my golden weapon….the boob! Yes, he’s still nursing. I have half way attempted to wean, but the way my patience is set up…I always give in. So here we are at 19 months still nursing! He is asleep within 5 minutes and stayed that way throughout the intermission and the duration of the show.

“Yeah, I bet you are glad I’m still nursing now huh?” I asked my husband who makes it a weekly point to badger me on when I’m getting him off and jokes about it to mostly everyone he knows. “That boy 15 years old and still on the nipple!” he’s been known to say…out loud. “I am soooo happy you’re still nursing!” he says in agreement since that meant he did not have to wrestle down a curious restless toddler for another hour and a half.

Now on to the actual show. It was good, entertaining, and the voices and songs were exactly like the movie of course. So it felt like I was watching the movie on ice, but in slower motion. I found myself dozing off at times. My husband looked around and pointed out all the other fathers with their necks weighted down by their droopy heads and heavy eyes,  and the one just a few seats over looked utterly glazed over and confused as to why he was there. And then the infamous “Let it Go” came on and the Palace came alive, including myself, and I joined in, belting out “the past is in the PAAHASSSSTTTT! LET IT GOOOO, LET IT GOOOOO!” Yeah! LOL

When the show was over, Elijah awakened and clapped as if he saw the whole thing, and Jabin and Caleb happily clapped and smiled as well!

The Boys at Disney on Ice!
The Boys at Disney on Ice!

THE REVIEW

Jabin, the analytical smarty pants one: “It was ok I guess, but it was just like the movie! It was kinda boring!”

Caleb, the touchy feely, easy to please one: “I loved it! Yeah, I liked it so much! Can we come back again tomorrow?”

Elijah, the one that slept on my breast the entire time: “Yay!”

Me: “Very well done and translated well to the ice! But since the movie is still so popular and relevant, I found myself bored at times.”

My husband, a man’s man who often says he’s happy he doesn’t have to deal with emotional daughters (a lie, he wants one): “Pure torture!”

He even remixed “Let it Go” for me:

 

If you’re a parent and you took your kid(s) to see Disney’s FROZEN on Ice, comment below and let me know how they liked it! Was your husband or your children’s father more cooperative than mine? LOL!

Thanks for reading!

Another Wild Wednesday!

As I type, its only 2pm EST and today has already been nothing short of an open palm slap to the forehead while my neck slowly twists from side to side, wondering, “how will I get through this day with all of my sanity?!”

It’s mid-winter break for my eldest son Jabin’s school district, so I try to plan ahead what activities we can do to keep them distracted and entertained. My fitness center is always on the top of the list because well….we already pay for it so why not drop these little knuckle heads off to them for 2 hours while I get in a good workout?! Right? Right!

My morning preparation to get them all out of the house entailed the following:

  • Breakfast- instant apple and cinnamon oatmeal compliments of Trader Joe’s!
  • Swatting Elijah away from my breasts. The kid is insatiable! *he’s 18 months and has not quite been broken from nursing, another open palm slap to the forehead*
  • Making Jabin get in the shower since he decided he was “too grown” to bathe with his brothers last night.
  • Being told I’m mean by Caleb (my otherwise comedic sweet middle son) because I wouldn’t allow him to shower with Jabin.
  • Swat Elijah again away from my breasts, watch him roll around on the floor in a tantrum, and then give in. *you guessed it, hand to the shaking head*
  • Get the boys dressed, convince Caleb that the gym will be fun today because they will be playing basketball! And then watch him slip his 3T basketball shorts OVER his jogging pants and be very excited about it. *my open palm slap to the head is now hurting me*
  • Wrangling 3 boys into the truck, amidst a borderline Michigan winter blizzard.
  • Walking into the gym, having my boys take off their coats, and then watching the childcare workers faces spread into smiles and then full out laughter when they see Caleb’s attire. At this point, I just laugh along with them!

My comedic Caleb, gotta love him!

 My comedic Caleb, gotta love him!

So I finally get to the fitness floor with my iPad mini in hand, anticipating the lovely distraction of Parenthood on Netflix. Imagine my irritation when the wifi wouldn’t connect! *whaaahhhh* So WHATEVER! LOL Despite the disappointment and the urge to just jump off the treadmill and go sit in the cafeteria and sip some coffee in peace, I did my 4 mile interval treadmill workout, which was life saving!  I’ve definitely learned to appreciate and desire the stress-reducing benefits of cardiovascular exercise! Afterwards, I had a steamy hot shower and tried not to envy the toned washboard bellies walking around the women’s locker room, got dressed, threw some type of curly jelly in my hair #teamnatural (which frankly I’m kinda over right now in this -20 degree weather), put on some make up because thats what helps to make me feel vibrant, and set off to pick up my boys! I thought to myself: ok this was good! I got in a good workout, showered, I feel good, and now I have renewed energy and patience to care for the boys the rest of the day! 

And then I got greeted with this.

“Hi.” Said the childcare front desk worker, as she presented me with a strained, you’re not gonna wanna hear this type of smile.

“Hi!” I happily exclaim in return. Remember I’m feeling good, and I didn’t quite catch that she may have some troubling news for me.

“Sooo, we had to write up Elijah today. He was throwing toys at the other kids and hitting them in the head. It made some of the children cry and their parents were upset. He’s even hitting his brothers too.” She quickly explained in a rush-like manner.

I honestly had no reaction. My sweet little baby had become the childcare center toddler terror?! I was in shock.

Elijah David, a terror? Why never!
Elijah David, a terror? Why never!

 

Seeing my pupils slowly dilate, she went on to say, “It’s just a warning! But if it happens again, he will be suspended for 3 days. This here is just a report and I need you to initial so its documented that I went over everything with you.”

I don’t even know if I read the report, I just scribbled my name and stuttered out some type of reasoning as to why my little cuddly baby boy was on his way to being kicked out of the fitness center fun place for kids. And of course when I went to scoop them all up, Elijah was his nice grinning happy self, and ran over to me with his adorable bow legged self, complete with dried up snot and a little slobber hanging from his bottom lip. Despite what I’d just been told, my heart did a little leap and I lifted him in the air and brought him in close for a hug.

“Elijah! Were you not nice today?!” I say in that mommy high-toned voice reserved for kids 2 and under.

“Huh?” he says in return, still smiling and hugging me.

Next on my Motherhood things-to-do list:

TEACH ELIJAH TO NOT HIT….ASAP! 

Wish me luck! Now is probably a good time for me to open up my parenting book on getting my kids to mind before I lose mine. If you have any “no hitting” suggestions that have worked with your kids, PLEASE share them below! I know this is my 3rd kid and all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have those moments when I just want someone else to tell me how to mother, lol.

Fifty Shades of Love

 

***** THIS POST IS WRITTEN AND INTENDED FOR MARRIED WOMEN AND MEN ******


 

Today is February 13, 2015 – Valentine’s Day Weekend –  and for three years, millions of people across the globe have been anticipating the day that the widely read, social phenomena Fifty Shades of Grey novel would be adapted to the silver screen.  They’ve already read the books, the dog-eared pages have been flipped, finger licked and asterisked. And they want to see their favorite characters live and in all their true fantastical glory. That day has arrived.

According to comingsoon.net , the Fifty Shades movie has already broken several Fandango records; including the top seller of all Valentine’s Day (weekend) released films, #1 February Pre-seller (topping The LEGO Movie, an animated family film released in 2014), and the biggest R-rated ticket seller in the company’s 15 year history. Theater owners across the country are posting new showtimes to keep up with this frenzy-like demand. All I can say is “wow”, and that “I’m not surprised!”

Particularly since the spring of 2012, I can remember vividly just about every national and local news station had their female anchors holding up this book, reviewing it, and even visiting local libraries who reportedly had month-long waiting lists. Respected reporters in our communities sat in front of their camera-men- flushed and blushed- all because of a British woman who calls herself E.L. James, had the idea to re-create the Twilight series into something more adult-oriented and erotic. Women and moms all over could not get enough. They couldn’t put the book down, and if any were embarrassed to be seen reading it in public, they downloaded on their kindle along with the millions of others, or they simply made a new cover and excitedly delved back into fictional euphoria.

And now that this book is further infiltrating main stream America via its film adaptation, not everyone is excited about it. Many are very vocal in preaching against it and what they deem as a very immoral, dangerous and pornographic form of entertainment that cannot possibly do anyone entertaining this garbage any good. One of those people on that side of the argument is Christian radio Talk-Show host Bob Dutko of WMUZ-The Light, broadcasted out of Detroit, MI.   Dutko is widely known for his very conservative, traditional, religiously apologetic, no non-sense approach to Biblical truth. And yesterday, I was able to be a guest caller on his segment on Fifty Shades, in which he did a call to his female listeners asking them to shed some light on why on God’s green earth, are not only women going to see this film in droves, but Christian women included! What is the draw?

MARRIED CHRISTIAN SEX….BORING???

And this is what I had to say: Married Christian sex is deemed as BORING! Yawn-inducing, I-think-I-have-a-headache kinda boring. When his producer heard my theory, a burst of loud giggles escaped her mouth and she put me right through.

I went on to say what I’ve personally experienced. And this is where I get to the juicy medium-rare meat of it. Fifty Shades is not the issue we should be focused on when it comes to why some Christian women are reading and lining up to see the film. Some of them have simply never allowed themselves to go there with their husbands, and this book laid it out in full detail just how good sex could be. A stark contrast to their boring, “proper” sex life.

No, not all Christian women need help freeing themselves in the bedroom,  so allow me to explain how it was for me! Growing up in the church, your parents try and teach you all the fundamentals of being a “good Christian girl”, and NO SEX before marriage is at the top of the list. As a result, negative connotations associated with sex was unconsciously ingrained in my head, and if you read my introductory blog post “In The Beginning”, you know that my husband and I are elementary sweethearts. We dated and liked each other throughout junior high, high school, and college, and a good chunk of that time included the “raging teen hormone” phase. So what did I tell my “good Christian girl” self? SEX IS BAD! DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT! GROSS! NASTY! Anything to try and talk myself out of that fornicating temptation.

So a few years after college we got married. All was good right? Well yeah sorta, but I found myself facing a mental barrier that it took me years to get over. I had to become consciously liberated to consistently enjoy and desire making love with my husband. And it took me realizing with a newfound revelation that God created sex FOR man and woman within the confines of marriage.

After God created Eve from Adam’s rib, the bible says:

“The man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed.” Genesis 2:25

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh*.” Ephesians 5:31

*flesh representing sexual union

And the Song of Solomon itself is filled with love-making!

“How beautiful and pleasant you are, O loved one, with all your delights! Your stature is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I say I will climb the palm tree and lay hold of its fruit. Oh may your breasts be like clusters of the vine, and the scent of your breath like apples, and your mouth like the best wine. It goes down smoothly for my beloved, gliding over lips and teeth. I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. … ” Song of Solomon 7:6-12

Some of us Christian women are too reserved to let our husbands lay hold of the fruit of our clusters! There are some sexual acts that some Christian women gasp at and “would NEVER!” But guess what, the world is having sex, writing about it, and ENJOYING IT and what’s more, INFLUENCING THE REST OF THE WORLD ON WHAT SEX SHOULD BE LIKE, particularly our young and impressionable youth! So, some of these reserved women who have had the “good Christian girl” tagline following them their whole lives, haven’t yet embraced the fact that we are sexual beings. They are picking up these books and discovering that their libido has a pulse again.  Making love with your husband should never be “nasty”, should never hurt you (unlike what’s initially presented in Fifty Shades), and should be a place of sweet intimacy that continues to bring you back in union with each other. Check out Christian Marriage Today for more insight on sexual purity within the marriage.

So to be perfectly transparent, here are some of the issues I have faced at different stages in my marriage, and more challenging after it became a life with these kids:

  • Once we were married, I found myself at times really enjoying it and excited to be of one flesh with my husband as God ordained it… some of us call it “legal booty”. But there were other times that I found myself stiff, mentally not there, and even having negative thoughts like “this is nasty, that feels nasty, ugggghhhh gross”. LOL *keep reading husband, I no longer have those thoughts hehe*
  • I remember we had a phase where my husband and I felt disconnected from each other, and the lack of sex had something to do with it. I was pregnant with our 2nd child, we were not as financially stable as we would have liked, I never wanted to have sex and my husband had issues expressing his affection. As a result, we had trouble! My husband felt like he had to go so extra above and beyond to be “deserving” of me wanting to intimately be with him. As if it was a sexual favor. Ladies, mommies, your husband DOES NOT want to feel like its a chore for you to have sex with him. They want to feel just as desirable as we do. They want us to initiate it and physically show that we love them and that we like the way they make us feel! I had to learn that valuable lesson that it is hurtful for your husband to have to semi beg for sex from his WIFE!
  • Yes, having a baby or multiple little ones running around all day definitely takes a toll on you. You are running the house all day, may be a working mom while STILL having to run the house, and by the time 10pm rolls around, the kids are bathed, lunches are made, and bed-time stories are read. You are settled in bed absolutely exhausted. Then your husband does the infamous shoulder tap, and your first inclination is to take that finger and break it.  You may even say “really, after I’ve been rippin and runnin with these kids all day while you sat in front of the TV, and now you wanna wait until I’m good and sleepy to want to do it?!” Then he just defeatedly turns back over, unfulfilled, and tries his best to go to sleep. Yeah…lets try not to do that lol! It’s in those tired exhausted moments that we have to try and remember that our FIRST love is lying next to us. They are the person that helped us create our little babies. Allow your love to help soothe the stresses of this world that he faces every single day making provisions for his family.
  • Particularly for nursing moms, it is definitely a struggle for your breasts to be used by both your little one and your husband. And if you were like me, there were periods where your “girls” were simply off limits. *do not pass go, do not collect $200* And if you have a loving husband they should understand that its a temporary state that will be over as soon as your nipples are no longer cracked, bleeding, and sore from the death-grip latch of your baby.
  • I learned that despite being tired and worn down from the demands of little people, I had to be intentional about initiating sex with my husband. For me its making a plan in my head in advance and getting excited about it. Take off that nasty spit up tshirt and those yoga pants with dried up spaghetti sauce, and put on something thin and lacy! Make your man’s heart thump at the sheer sight of you <3

So, those are just a few of the issues that I faced and overcame as a  woman and mother and at times, continue to do so! #thestruggle is real. Some of you may wonder, “well did you read the books?” and if so, “What did you think?!”.  In short, I was initially disgusted at the thought of reading it, then a friend of mine, also Christian, convinced me to give them a try because she considered it to be a genuine good love story. So I read them, and like all the other women, got excited and to our shock, 9 months later here comes another big head boy! (lololol) While I don’t go around suggesting everyone  grab a copy, I don’t regret reading them because it was what I needed at that time in my life to make me realize that there I was as a married woman to the man of my dreams, not fully enjoying and embracing what God Himself ordained for marriage!

But to be clear, I absolutely do not recommend to single women because it stirs up stuff that one shouldn’t be feeling without a husband! It should be, however, a wake up call to all the Christian women who are judging and wagging their finger at the other Christian women who are sitting in a theater watching the film as I currently type. Yes, we are held accountable for our own actions and everyone has their own convictions about what they consume, but dear Christian woman, what young wife have you invested in and mentored lately? The Bible instructs  wise women to teach the young. We need wives and mothers to disciple the young and newly married on what it is to be a Godly wife and mother  (Titus 2:3-5) If someone were discipling Christian women on even the subject of sex which is a MAJOR factor in successful marriages, maybe a secular, sinful book wouldn’t have had the chance to fill that void. Maybe we gift new brides with books like Under the Sheets: The Secrets of Hot Sex in Your Marriage by renowned Christian pyschologist Dr. Leman.

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So, while I did not intend for this post to be this long, I hope it somewhat kept your attention and that what I’m trying to express is understood. This Valentine’s weekend, whatever it is you plan to do or watch, let it be a time to express your love to your spouse. If you are a woman and have had trouble enjoying relations with your husband, I encourage you to firstly pray about it! The Lord wants you to enjoy this gift! Secondly, talk to your husband and allow him to be the partner he was created to be for you. Relax, enjoy, and practice creating your own 50 Shades of Love for each other. Have fun with that :)

*I am giving away a copy of Under the Sheets: The Secrets of Hot Sex in Your Marriage! If you’d like to be in on the random selection, comment below or send me an email to stephanie@mylifewiththesekids.com with “Married Loving” as the title with a little blurb of one way you show your spouse you love them! All emails must be received by Friday, February 20th, 12pm EST.

The Brightest and Best

One of the things I love about my church home, Brightmoor Christian Church, is one of our missions: “the bigger we get the smaller we must get”, which translates to mean that the more people attend and join the church, there must be an active initiative to remain small so that everyone feels a sense of intimacy, belonging, and brother/sisterhood. They accomplish this through tons of events for every age group, small group outings, gatherings, studies, Mom 2 Mom playdates, men and women’s retreats, and more! It has been an absolute pleasure so far meeting other women and families in the small group studies I’ve been able to attend.

Currently, I’m taking a “Mom 2 Mom” class with other Stay at Home moms, which has been a literal breath of fresh air to be surrounded by moms and women of faith and hear them share the same concerns, struggles, and prayers for their children and families! When I hear other moms wearing similar shoes exasperate that they are struggling to get their kids to eat healthy, or stop fighting, or pray that their spouse can be on the same parenting page, or for their kids to simply listen without making them lose their mind, there’s me mentally doing a high jump-on a trampoline- shouting YES! ITS NOT JUST MEEEE! *insert borderline psychotic mix of laughing and crying*

The title of the class is called “Making Children Mind without Losing Yours” by internationally known and NY Best Times seller Christian psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman. During the course of our study, which is moderated by great moms and leaders within our church, we watch the video series as we follow along in a workbook, and afterwards share our experiences and pray together about our own hopes, triumphs, failures, or personal issues in relation to this parenting journey!

During one of our recent weekly meetings, I heard something profound from Dr. Leman that I want to share with you regarding our children’s academic progression and development:

WHEN IN DOUBT, HOLD THEM BACK.

Wait what? Hold our kids back?! GASP! And I thought wow, that’s the advice coming from a highly respected, thoroughly trained and practiced psychologist of over 30 books and a dozen or more audio and DVD titles. Then I thought about my first two sons, Jabin and Caleb, who are proof in the pudding that children learn at different rates and at different capacities! For example, Jabin knew his ABC’s by the time he was 18months…Caleb didn’t know it well until he was 3! Jabin has a natural zest and love for learning, Caleb prefers to run, crack up, tell jokes and say BOOTY HEAD mid-counting sequences. Jabin is ok sitting at the dining room table knocking out his homework, while Caleb you have to make a game out of learning, let him run around a little bit, and borderline bribe him with suckers and popsicles to get him to accomplish a learning session. #exhausting

It also made me think about the pressure that sometimes society and some parents put on their children regarding academic achievement:

  • They are in Pre-K but they are forced and tutored to death to be reading at a 3rd grade level. Fa whet? So they can get to kindergarten and first grade and be bored because they are 2 grade levels ahead?
  • “My child is 3 and he is taking Chinese, French, and Spanish!” while flipping their hair.
  • “Your child is 5 and doesn’t know his time tables yet?! OMG!”
  • If your child is 2 and not “in school yet”, you are doing them a disservice!

You get my drift. While there are plenty of children that are naturally gifted and learn easily and do require to be challenged beyond their traditional expectations, most of our children are simply normal. Yes, its exciting to have OUR child be their class’s Brightest and Best, the valedictorian, the full-ride academic scholarship recipient to the test-in only 20K a year middle school… you know, the kid that just continues to make us drop our jaws at what they’re doing next and give us cause to brag how smart they are to any listening ear.

But then, you have the majority of our children who are just like everyone else. And its nothing wrong with that!

Pushing your children to the next academic level before they are ready can cause life-long crippling effects. Picture the young boy who was moved to the first grade but didn’t quite nail down phonics. He struggles continuously with reading & comprehension, and begins to cover up his ignorance with a nonchalant attitude and disdain for school. There are teachers and counselors reaching out to the parents that his reading is way behind and its suggested that he be held back a grade and be enrolled in aggressive tutoring to help him. But thats your precious child, and you allow the enemy to convince you that your son will look dumb and think he’s dumb if he’s held behind, that he would be embarrassed, that he will be ok and HE DOESN’T NEED TO BE HELD BACK, HE’LL CATCH UP, YOU WATCH! As a result, you push him along, ignoring all the warning signs that he needs help, and he goes through school mentally lost & absent- consequently left behind, confused. He grows up to be consciously embarrassed and ashamed that he cannot confidently perform basic abilities from primary school.

Then you have my very own sister, TresBien Gonzales, who also noticed that when her son was in kindergarten, he was just not catching on as fast as expected. Towards the end of the school year, Joshua’s teacher suggested that he do kindergarten again just to ensure he had a strong foundation on the fundamentals before moving on, but ultimately left the decision up to TresBien.

Just like any parent, its initially disappointing and disturbing to hear that your child isn’t comprehending as fast as the other kids. And I didn’t want him to be embarrassed or be made fun of for taking Kindergarten over”, says TresBien when asked how she felt during that time. “But I realized I was making my son’s long term interests a priority and I had to get out of my feelings about what was a temporary situation.  I made the decision to set him up for success.”

She talked it over with her husband and family, where she received conflicting advice: “NO! That boy don’t need to stay behind, move him up!” and “You don’t want to push him on if he’s not confident, that will continue to affect him!”  But she prayed, looked at her son for who he was without comparison, and quieted all the other voices in her head and followed the peace of God.

She had doubt that he was ready to move on, so she held him back!

Fast forward a year later, and he is FLOURISHING, reading and writing like a champ as a 2nd time kindergartner! And guess what? There is a demand for 2 year kindergarten programs in our schools all across the country because parents are recognizing that their child is individually unique and learns at their own pace, thus giving their child the necessary time, resources, and freedom to learn in a way that they can properly retain it while building a strong academic foundation.

SO, WHAT’S NEXT?

If you notice that your child is not being challenged enough, reach out to the teacher and discuss your concerns. Work together to create a plan that works for your child. And if your child is struggling in a subject, recognize that everything does not come easy! Reach out to the teacher and ask how you can help them at home, ask about tutoring opportunities, jump on care.com and look for a tutor in your area that can help! And its ok to recognize that teaching your kid may not be your strength, because I look at some of these homework assignments that my niece gets and I have a blank confused stare and have no idea how to help her. God gave us these children to teach and mold them into the best men and women they can grow to be. We are ultimately held responsible for their successes and failures and what we did and did not do in those critical moments where our children need our help. So, lets take this time to assess our kids and really pay attention to the areas that they need more attention in. We all are raising the greats of the next generation, we all have our own miniature versions of  The Brightest and Best. Now lets make sure they know it and produce accordingly. #boom #theend #offmysoapbox

Now I want to hear from YOU! Are there any readers who made the decision to hold their child back and struggled with the decision? Or are there any readers who take the drill sergeant approach to their kid’s academic success and see their children thriving? Share your stories and own advice below so we all can learn! <3