Friday, March 23, 2007

Wake Up Calls

Wednesday night I commented to a friend that she must not have been praying for me, because there had been NEITHER love NOR logic in our home that day. We all giggled, but I was kinda more serious than joking. Yesterday morning she called while I was still in bed...."Hello?" My voice scratched. Her sunshiny words announced, "You're prayed up!" She said her scripture reading for Thursday started out with "So be in prayer for everyone...." I'm glad I made her "everyone" list! After her call, I felt encouraged and ready to face my day.

We had a great day....I even did it without caffeine. Who needs strong coffee or Diet Dr. Pepper, when you have good friends and the Holy Spirit?

Bedroom update: Ardyn has noticed the duration of disorder associated with getting the boys' room finished. She has decided that her furniture is lovely just the way it is. Ultimately, I don't think she trusts me to yank everything out of her room and be able to return it repainted in a timely fashion. Her words were, "Can I just have pink walls, please? And everything else is J-u-u-st fine, Mom. I promise." I suppose the things I've been referring to as "mismatched furniture" will now be embraced as "the eclectic look". She's right: I may have opened one too many cans of worms. One more gallon of pale pink paint, and we're done!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Locks of Love

Ms. Kathy, Ardyn and Ashlin have each been growing their hair out for months --lifetimes, it would seem. One day last month, they each had an 11 inch ponytail removed from their beautiful heads. The hair was mailed off to "Locks of Love" where it will be fashioned into wigs for chemotherapy patients. Ardyn has been waiting for almost 2 years to do this...Ashli's hair was long enough too, so she literally made the cut (especially when her favorite grown-up offered to make it a group activity). Here is the "After" photo. I hope to include "before" shots of the back in a few hours. I'm grateful for my dial-up. I'm grateful for my my dial-up. Say it with me...

Monday, March 19, 2007

What's Up

Landen offered an oral book report on a Hardy Boys mystery. It was good. He came in today, so excited to share something from math. He said with amazement, "Look what my teacher told me I could do, and it's not even counted as cheating!" My interest was piqued...turns out, after a long division problem, when there's gonna be a remainder, you can psyche everybody out and put a decimal point with a zero and keep on going....Ahhh, the wonders of 5th grade.
Luke has discovered mechanical pencils ...and darn near perfect handwriting. We've come so far from the days of preschool: "Luke, I know you can multiply those numbers, but can you draw a straight line?"
Today, Ardyn was terribly confused by her friend's December birthday somehow coming BEFORE her own in February. (That month song can really mess with your mind) She finally looked up, and said, "OOOHHHHH, even though they SOUND really far away, if you start over really quickly, mine comes really soon, close after!!!" I smiled. Moving right along.
Ashli helped me plant some flowers this morning. She fed Mari Alice some Cheerios, helped Luke clean out under his bed, and read books with Landen. She made a sign for the clubhouse she and Ardyn built in the corner of their room. Busy, busy!
James completed a paper 5 days early...and that's where we have to stop. You just can't have any more excitement when you're THAT prepared.
I am 3/4 through the big bedroom change-over. I'm tolerating the tension of untidiness, and doing a little each day. Hopefully we'll all be moved in to our newly organized, freshly painted digs before Easter.
Philip is officially addicted to "24". I hear "bing-bong-bing-bong" and "Jack!" in my sleep.
oh--Mari Alice, I didn't say anything about her spoiled rotten little highness.....there, you have it.

Lord, please bless all the little children... Thank you for a new day with new mercies. We put our trust in You alone.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Fulfillment, Love,& Logic

So if you were to check my blog...let's say...once a week for three weeks...and never see any new posts, you'd know life is filling and full. (And that intercessory prayer may be a great idea!)

As of this evening, all Johnson offspring thrive in health and happiness. Can you even imagine? In our home there's about 2 inches left in the Lysol bottle, 1 inch of NyQuil, one page of Imodium pills, no Gatorade, new toothbrushes, new boxes of Kleenex, and lots of crisp, fresh air. Thank you, God, for 59 degree breezes that scurry through the warm sunshine of Spring.

Ok, now for the good stuff. Because of sick kids, I stayed home AGAIN last Sunday from church. But "two or three were gathered" here and boy, did God show up! Right on the screen broadcasting Public Television. I watched the last several minutes of a program called "Disciplining Your Kids Without Losing Their Love and Respect". The presenter was Jim Fay. I've read his book entitled "Parenting with Love and Logic." I turned the volume up so I could hear it while cooking lunch for the corporate worshippers. What a perfectly timed blessing!

The gist is to maintain authority and power by relinquishing some of the power to the child. Long term goals include training children to make good decisions, be responsible, and learn from natural and implemented consequences. I listened. I prayed. I was changed.

Sunday evening I asked the boys to do one quick chore before they left with Philip. Landen was to unload the dishwasher. Luke was to fold/deliver the load of laundry in the dryer. Landen did the dishes. Luke went to the laundry room, rustled around a bit, and then "helped" his brother finish up the dishes. As they were leaving, I asked Luke: "Did you take care of your responsibility?" Then he charmed: "Well, I took the clothes OUT of the dryer, put the wet ones IN the dryer and then wanted to help Landen." I replied with a smile: "That is so great that you would want to be helpful, but you did it at the expense of not getting your own stuff done. That's too bad." He stared. He was obviously poised, awaiting my emotional plea for "just a little help" followed by a couple huffs, and then even perhaps some stomps into the laundry room to begin folding the clothes myself. It never happened. I calmly explained: "I'm not sure what to do about this, Luke. But I'll think it over while you're gone. I'm sure I can think of something. Go with your dad, and we'll talk when you get home. And try not to worry about it." I wish you could have seen his face! He was all flushed. He admitted: "I AM worried. Let's just decide something now, can we?" I smiled, told him I loved him and patted his back as he hesitantly went to the car. Most of his worry stemmed from my shockingly calm demeanor. He had seen NOTHING yet.

Cut to Monday morning. I went in the boys' room and announced that breakfast was being served for the next 20 minutes. They were free to sleep in or come eat. Luke chose to eat. Landen chose to snooze. No problem. We cleaned up breakfast. I went back in the boys room. I announced that it was time to begin school. I asked Landen if he would prefer to start before or after he used the restroom. He thought for a minute then jumped down and started his day. As he went to start his DVD's, I told him I wanted to be perfectly clear. I said, "Lunch will be served from 12 to 12:30. You are free to eat lunch when 3 subjects are completed. Are we clear?" He repeated what I said, and we had a plan. I never reminded, scolded, warned, threatened, gave forecasts, or time frames. At 12 I had lunch ready. (Having overheard the agreement with Landen and still not over my behavior the night before, Luke was done with three subjects and eating dutifully at the table) As expected, Landen sauntered into the kitchen with the sweetest grin. He asked if it was alright if he ate and then finished his third subject. I replied with a smile: "You are free to eat lunch when your first three subjects are completed." He said, "But I didn't eat breakfast!". I tilted my sweet, sweet head and said, "I know." "But can't I just....?" "You are free to eat lunch when your 3 subjects are done." "I'm starving!" "I know."

The choice to miss breakfast and missing lunch due to lack of focus was causing Landen deep anguish by 2pm. He was bawling. I heard him utter things like, "I shoulda got up.....I hate it when I sleep in.....Now I'm so hungry I can't think.....I gotta think, or I'll miss dinner to....ohhhhhh" He apparently found just enough inner strength to finish his day's work. When he turned in his papers, I offered him an early dinner. He smiled and said thank you. I told him I was proud of his hard work, and that I was glad he had gotten some good rest. No sermons, no nagging, no frustration....just calm determination and empathetic compassion.

Tuesday Landen was up at the first light, eating 3 preventative bowls of cereal....cause you never know when a morning might get away from ya. He finished his 3 subjects by noon, and the rest of the week followed suit. My efforts shifted toward our very own attorney general. aka: Lukie. He wanted to have a friend over. More importantly he wanted to discuss every detail of the possibility of having a friend over. I set the parameters: "I will be glad to discuss your having a friend over when you've turned in your school for today." He began phase one of "operation: wear her down".

"I only have two more things."
"I'll be happy to discuss it when your school is finished."
"Can you just call now, and then we'll know for sure."
"I'll be happy to discuss your having a friend over when your school is finished."
"But I won't be able to call until later, and he might be gone."
(sweetly)"I know"
"It makes more sense to call now"
(still sweet)"I know"
(with increasing frustration)"Why do you keep saying the same things?"
"I'll be happy to talk about having a friend over when...."
"I know! When my school is done, but it's not fair!"
(REALLY sweetly, cause that PBS junk is working) "I know"
"AUGH! MOM! I kinda like that you're so calm, but you're making my brain pop! I want to say what's on my mind to say next, but I know what you're gonna say!"
(smiling so sweetly, I can't stand it) "I know"
Luke exits the kitchen and returns an hour later with his school done.

I tore his rig down!
I can hear that high pitched song: "I Got the Pow-wuh!!"

A couple more days of placid discourse, and enduring Luke's obvious withdraw symptoms to our previous, argumentative communication style, then his week smoothed right on out as well!

ok, last example. I gave each of the kids a pack of gum Sunday night. I told them they could have one piece a day and that would last them all week. They seemed excited....until Monday morning around 10am when Ashli had already chewed a piece then spit it out to have a drink of water. She asked for another. I said with great excitement: "You may have another piece tomorrow". She asked again, "I just want one more." Do you know what I said?

Yep! (with softness) "I know".
"But I had to spit mine out"
"I know"
"Why can't I just have one piece?"
(Again, with much excitement) "You can! Tomorrow"
"So I can't have another piece?"
"You sure can....tomorrow"
"You are welcome to have one piece of gum each day"
"I really want one"
"Did you chew a piece this morning?"
"Yes ma'am"
"Good, then you may have another tomorrow!"
(tuckered smooth out) "'aaaaam" and she slithered off to play in her room.

Feel free to review the transcript above. I never even had to say the word "no". I'm not against using it, but it will mean SO much more when I choose to bust it out, don't you think?

God Bless America! Land that I love!
I can confess before God and man that I have just journeyed through 5 days at home with 5 kids...NEVER having raised my voice or resorted to sarcasm. That's a new record, people.

I'm reading Love and Logic each night and praying each morning. I'm gonna git this motherhood thing if it's the last thing I do.

Now I'm battling carpal tunnel syndrome after that VERY long vent. Visine, anyone?

More parenting challenges and championships later.