Noise and Boys and Noisy Boys… and boys who make noise

Noise and Boys and Noisy Boys… and boys who make noise

  Just the other day I snapped this picture of my eldest son in our family room, and remembered how I had planned to decorate that wall this summer. But the time got away somehow, and I’m still left with all that white space. When I pick up a home decorating magazine in the checkout line, or scroll through Instagram, I suddenly feel this overwhelming urge to frame pictures and buy mirrors, hanging them all together in some eclectic pattern that compliments our LOUD orange couch and ragamuffin boys. Only… all that white space feels calming in a home full of rough and tumble sons rolling pell-mell out of bed and straight into conflict and loud happy sounds each day. So much noise. Noise and boys and noisy boys assail my sensibilities from Son up til Son down. And smack dab in the middle of the cacophony I can’t bring myself to decorate those white walls – because I need space to breath. Do you know what all that empty space says about me? I need a lot of white space. A LOT of white space! Quiet lovely white spaces that feel like white noise… when there isn’t any of that. Walls without tons of color and countertops without tons of clutter. Which is why all the noise that comes with boys feels like stress on each and every nerve. Because I experience beauty and comfort in the empty spaces. Always have – I can see that looking back now. How I couldn’t have a roommate in college because I needed long stretches of quiet. But that’s not possible today, because these little roommates are my children! Though I...
Growing Old Together – A love story

Growing Old Together – A love story

Here by Grace Paley Here I am in the garden laughing an old woman with heavy breasts and a nicely mapped face how did this happen well that’s who I wanted to be at last a woman in the old style sitting stout thighs apart under a big skirt grandchild sliding on off my lap a pleasant summer perspiration that’s my old man across the yard he’s talking to the meter reader he’s telling him the world’s sad story how electricity is oil or uranium and so forth I tell my grandsom run over to your grandpa ask him to sit beside me for a minute I am suddenly exhausted by my desire to kiss his sweet explaining lips     Today is our 14th wedding anniversary. 14 years of growing old together, only we’re not really old. Not yet. Though we’ve three sun-drenched boys with sandy feet and hair all askew running through our house today. And I’m planning his fortieth birthday party. But I just know that I’m gong to blink and suddenly it will have all changed, and so will I. Gravity. And we’ll be sitting together on the couch for his eightieth, reminiscing about when we were forty. And maybe we’ll even recall with some clarity the years before, when we were really young. The first 18 months were euphoric for us. While many newlyweds suffer tremendously in their early days of marriage, we were giddy! As an actress I had auditions and sporadic jobs, but most of my days were spent looking through bon apetite magazines, and coming up with fun menus or new ways to arrange...
Because sometimes that one child, with all their special needs, takes everything you have

Because sometimes that one child, with all their special needs, takes everything you have

Do you have a child with impulse control issues, ADHD, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, Aspergers, Autism, Dyslexia, APD, Depression, Anxiety, or a unique concoction of those listed above? And is it hard? I bet it is. I know it is. Having a child (or children) with special needs, behavioral disorders and learning difficulties can be one of the most difficult weights to bear. And under the pressure, moms can explode and marriages implode and love erode. It’s all so very complicated.     One sweet mom recently asked for prayer concerning her anger, and was so insightful to recognize the connection between the constant energy her child with unique needs requires and her own twitchy trigger finger.  She confessed the way she tends to explode at the rest of the family when she is simply worn out by her one special child. Yes. I can relate. I remember going to the psychiatrist for the first time with my son with ADHD. After he was assessed and diagnosed I immediately started talking about all the other issues in our family and the possible disorders my other kids might have. The doctor smiled, nodded, and said, “It’s very possible nobody has any diagnosable issues. They have issues, but the sort of issues that come from proximity. Don’t worry. Let’s see if we can help this one kid first. Usually what happens is that once we help one child with impulse control and oppositional tendencies everyone else’s behavior in the home begins to change.   Kids with behavioral, developmental, or learning issues often cause the whole family to have issues as well. And to some extent I’ve seen...
Parenting Scripts – Do you want to know what to say to your kids when they…

Parenting Scripts – Do you want to know what to say to your kids when they…

What do you say when your child does that troublesome thing they always do? Yelling at a brother, saying “no” to you? Though you’ve trained them, explained them, consistently and always, still the same wrong behavior recurs. And it never ceases to take us by surprise. Why do we act as though we’ve been sucker punched? Blind-sided! When the wrong behaviors are so utterly consistent? Bed time, meal time, nap time… Repeat! Still you’re shocked and can’t help feeling personally attacked by the three year old who refuses to leave the park without flailing arms and blood-curdling screams. Coming out of bed for the fifteenth time. Crying over the meal that’s been lovingly prepared. Throwing a fit in the grocery store over rainbow colored Goldfish, tic-tacs, and Sunny-D. Wet towels on bedroom floors. Complaints over chores. Staying in their seats during meal time. Sunday morning battles over church clothes. Helping to clear the plates without a dramatic melt-down. Physical and verbal explosions between siblings… Amazingly we find ourselves surprised each time. Surprised and speechless!  Or worse… we yell back with all the wrong words.     Of course there is no one-size-fits-all response that can calm every storm in every home. But we can, individually and very intentionally, take some time to consider the right words… the right response… before the storm hits again, so that we’ll be ready when it does. Because it will. I call them scripts.   Parenting Scripts are words strung carefully together, when you’re calm and collected. Crafted… Click To Tweet   Here are a couple of examples that showcase my pre-meditated responses. Please remember, this is not about my actual words –...
Where to go when you are desperate for family friendships

Where to go when you are desperate for family friendships

We were newlyweds when we met them in a Sunday school classroom at church. Both just settled into our first little homes, still celebrating the honeymoon season of our marriages. The husbands clicked like college buddies from the start, and we connected in ways that could only be orchestrated by a kind and benevolent God.   Over the course of our 14 year friendship, they have moved multiple times to multiple states and we have done the same. Today we live on separate coasts, but still we are intimately connected like individual strands that wrap and weave together to form one sustaining cord.   And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)   Today we are not two nor three – our combined families are now eleven strong. Twisting and weaving, clinging and binding, supporting and upholding one another in a beautiful multi-generational picture of fellowship.   Fellowship with likeminded families is absolutely from above. It is a thing living and growing, celebrating and sorrowing, gracious and grieving, and always a gift.   We knew that we were blessed to have the two husbands and two wives both get along so swimmingly, but last week we vacationed together for the first time, and found our children as simpatico as their parents. Fitting together like a perfectly ordained marriage. And it is. And I’m overcome with thanksgiving.   And yet it doesn’t stop there… for though we are back on the left coast and they’ve remained all the way to the right, we are not on our own again. Our family is so graciously surrounded...
Calling America back…

Calling America back…

It’s late on The Fourth of July. Watermelon and bbq chicken have all been eaten, swim suits are tying desperately to dry in the humid night air out back on the line. Firecrackers were all ignited under the watchful care of fathers, and moms covered babies’ ears and hollered to the bigger kids, “Get back onto the sidewalk!”   Americana reigns supreme on The Fourth of July.   My husband’s on the couch now with our three sons, all of them in their boxer shorts, watching Captain America and enjoying milk and cookies, and everyone here has a sense that the world is right and good and safe. And it is… here in this home tonight.   And then I got a message that a new music video hit the internet tonight. A video we’ve been holding our breath waiting for. And it came out tonight… on the Fourth of July.   A song about America, Calling us back to virtues noble and good, Back to family values strong and pure, Back to father’s teaching children about hard work ethics, true grit, and responsibility. Calling America back… I heard the song for the first time a couple of months ago; loved the message and the voice. My three sons sang it over and over again as my youngest child prepared for his first day of work. Seven years old but eager to prove himself a hard working man among grown men. He sang it all the way to work, this song. “America… America…” When Asher arrived at the set, he popped out of the car before I could shut the engine down, and ran up to the...