mandyholbert

A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

It’s All About Perspective May 28, 2014

It was a heck of a day.

I left the house early with the kids this morning because a violent thunderstorm thwarted my plans of grocery shopping yesterday evening, so it had to be done before school since I had nothing to feed them for breakfast or lunch.  And since Max had to bum a grilled cheese off his teacher for lunch yesterday, I felt it was pretty important to send him to school with an adequate meal today.

While I shopped, the kids ate donuts (breakfast – check!).  Then, when we left the store, I packed their lunch boxes while hunched over trunk of the car (lunch – check!).  The school secretary stopped by while I was frantically tearing open boxes and flinging food into their lunchboxes.  “One of those mornings, huh?” she said.  I smiled, wondered why she was at the grocery store at this hour, and wished to myself that I would have brushed my hair instead of leaving it the remnants of yesterday’s braid.

I loaded the kids up and pulled out of the parking lot only to remember that my car was completely out of gas.  I may have squealed the tires as I u-turned into the gas station cursing myself for once again pushing the limit of an empty tank.

Fast forward through dropping the kids at school, going home to unload the groceries, getting ready for work, going to work, going to Tractor Supply on my lunch break to buy dog and goat food, leaving work early to arrive late to Max’s baseball game, the game going into an extra inning, going to eat at 8:00 on a school night, coming home, changing Max’s sheets, putting the kids to bed, doing a load of laundry, cleaning up some random clutter, sitting on the couch crying because I was a nervous wreck all day and took it out on the kids…It was just a long, hard day.

But, a bad day is all about perspective.  I saw that on a Hallmark card this morning at Ingles.  Don’t ask me why I was in the greeting card aisle when I was in such a rush – I guess I’m just a sucker for cards.  Anyway, back to the point – a bad day is all about perspective.

We are healthy and happy.  We have a home full of love.  I have the most wonderful kids and husband.  We are truly blessed.

I actually love my life.  Days like this are not ideal, and I don’t like feeling run ragged and still having three loads of clean laundry piled on the loveseat waiting to be folded.  But, I love my life.

My prayer is that God will help me find joy in my everyday tasks.  I’m not going to become less busy.  The list of things that need to be done is really never going to get shorter.  I need to be able to find joy in these things.  If we grocery shop at 7:00 before school starts, I can make it an adventure for the kids.  If we are driving home at 9:00 on a school night instead of tucking the kids in their beds, I can choose to notice the lightening bugs twinkling in the trees instead of stressing about the late hour.

I can sing with my kids.  We can do chores together.  We can turn mundane tasks into games.  I can be joyful.

I can turn a heck of a day into a heck of a day!  See what I did there?  You know – a heck of a day (bad), into a heck of day (good!).

Dear Lord,

I don’t pray enough.  I take You for granted.  You continually bless me, and I go through life stressed and overwhelmed and wrapped up in the things that I need to get done.  Please forgive me.  Please help me find joy.  Please help me focus on your blessings, your love, and the beauty surrounding me.  Please help me to stop trying to do everything myself.  That only leads to frustration and guilt.  Help me to depend on You – to cast my cares on You – to focus my thoughts and my heart on You.  Please help me to be who You want me to be.  I love You.  Thank you for loving me.

Amen

 

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Hugs make the world go ’round October 3, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:01 pm
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Well, maybe not this kind of hug.  I think more sincere hugs actually make the world go ’round.

The kids were arguing so badly in my back seat.  I yelled, threatened, swerved, and otherwise acted like a complete fool to try to get them to stop.  I find bickering children very distracting.

Then I had a moment of genius.  I remembered one of the most dreaded punishments inflicted on me as a child.  The old sit-on-the-couch-and-hug-each-other, used by my parents when Nickie and I annoyed them too badly by arguing.

I remember sitting on the couch with my arms wrapped around her and I was completely miserable.  There was probably no one on Earth I would have wanted to hug less than her.  Sitting there embracing my twerp of a sister who whined so much that it got us in trouble just like she always did made me want to do anything in the world to be able to get up and play – including getting along with her if necessary.

So, I made the kids hug each other.

I snapped a picture.

 

Look how unhappy they were.  It was perfect.

I made them stay like that long enough for them to get the point.

They got along very well for the rest of the evening.

Maybe we should implement this practice in the real world.  Especially during election season.  It might be really helpful for President Obama and Mitt Romney to sit on the couch and hug for a spell…

…at least it would make for much more uplifting commercials.

 

Why I am Late for Work – Excuse # 76 September 30, 2012

It was already “one of those” mornings.  I was running behind schedule and nothing seemed to be going right.  I still needed to pack lunches, feed the kids breakfast, get them both ready, and I hoped to have time to fix my hair and put make-up on for the day…

Kendra ran into my room with a terrible look on her face.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“I don’t want to tell you because I’m afraid you’ll be mad,” she answered with a trembling bottom lip.

“No, I won’t,” I said, even though I knew there was a distinct possibility that whatever she was going to say could very easily make me mad.  I started running through possible scenarios in my head.

“My hamster DIED!” she wailed and immediately started bawling.  “I.  went.  in.  to.  feed.  her.  and,” she explained in between dramatic sobs, “she was DEAD!”

RIP little guy

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry.”  I pulled her into my arms and tried to comfort her as she cried.

Then, Max walked in.  He looked at his crying sister then at me then back at her.  He shrugged his shoulders and said, “You should have been more responsible.”  I glared at him as fresh howls came out of Kendra.

“Maxwell Trenton!  Get out of here!” I yelled.

“It’s all my fault,” Kendra kept crying.

Arg.

I tried to comfort her and still get things done since we did have school and work to try to get to on time.  I sent her to brush her teeth.

I rushed around the house like a wild woman, throwing lunches together and banging things around.  I could hear Max singing in the back of the house, but it didn’t register exactly what song he had chosen for the morning.

Then, when I heard Kendra start yelling, I realized what that little rascal was singing at the top of his lungs.  That’s right.  None other than “Another One Bites the Dust.”

How fitting.

If that’s not a reason to be late for work, I don’t know what is.

it was fun for a while…

 

Our Own Terabithia September 25, 2012

The king made the decision – they would seek refuge for the night high in the trees.  And so the royal family made preparations to camp perched in the branches of a towering poplar.

They climbed into her branches and peered through the leaves into the enchanted forest.  The queen and her two small children settled in for the long, cold night while the king scavenged for firewood with their trusty Boxador.

He returned with a cart full of freshly chopped wood and built a fire high above the forest floor.  The family huddled around the small fire and roasted their dinner, keeping the aroma of sweet meat in the leafy canopy in the growing darkness.

When the stars began peeking through the leaves to get a glimpse of the royal family, the queen prepared pallets upon which they would slumber.  The king stoked the fire and the queen tucked the small boy and girl into their downy blankets.

The poplar embraced the family with her giant limbs while they gave way to sleep.  The ever-attentive dog kept watch for the wild things of the night…

We had a true Terabithian adventure last weekend – we spent the night in the tree house directly under the stars.  It was all Ronnie’s idea, and the kids were understandably thrilled about the plan.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t really what you would call a happy camper.  It was cold and windy and I was miserable.  We only own two sleeping bags, so the kids naturally got those, so Ronnie and I covered up with rather inadequate (for the circumstances) blankets and froze our butts off.  The cool breeze chilled me from every angle – it had the unique advantage of even being able to get us from underneath since we positioned ourselves in a tree.

Ronnie tried so hard to make me comfortable.  He was really sweet.  He moved my cot closer to the fire and told me he’d be fine if I went to the house.  I couldn’t sleep at all.  I swear every time I closed my eyes, the fire went out.  We spent all night trying to keep it going.  All I could think about were Copperheads.  And when I did manage to doze, I dreamed of fighting off the bears that were trying to eat us.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Ronnie and I were lying there, freezing and resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to sleep, and he said to me, “At least you’re being a good sport.”

“I am?” I asked, a little surprised, but proud of myself.

“Not really,” he answered, “but at least you’re doing it.”

And that kind of summed up the night for us.  I wanted morning to come so badly.

Then, to our surprise, we heard Kendra’s sweet little voice.  “The stars in the trees look amazing.  This is so cool.”  I looked over to see her sleepily enthralled by the view above her.

That changed everything.  Even when she needed to walk all the way back to the house to use the bathroom and get more socks, it didn’t bother me.  I didn’t even notice the cold while we walked.  Well, while I walked and she skipped and chattered about how cool it was to walk in the dark and how amazing nature is.

When we got back to the tree house, I zipped her back into her sleeping bag and she went right back to sleep.  I checked on Max.  He was snoozing happily even though he was completely uncovered.  I felt him and he was  somehow warm as can be.  I zipped him back up, too.

I climbed back in my cot.  Even though we had hours left until dawn, we were out of firewood, and it was getting colder and colder, it was somehow not quite as terrible knowing how much fun the kids were having.

I think they’ll remember it forever.  And we will, too.  And I think we all might remember it as the royal family on an enchanted adventure…

 

Max’s Boycott on Green September 5, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:31 pm
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Max stopped his spoonful of Cinnamon Toast Crunch halfway to his mouth and announced, “I’m tired of being good and staying on green at school.  I feel like running through the school like crazy, so I’m going to be on red today.”

“Why would you want to do that?” I asked.

“Being on green is too hard.  I just want to be bad,” he answered very honestly.  “Forget about the water park.” (We promised a reward if he could stay on green until his first report card.)

“Well,” I cautiously answered, “you could do that.  You could run around like crazy and have a little bit of fun, but then you would get in big trouble at school.  Or, you could be good at school and have a whole lot of fun when we celebrate your good behavior.  It’s totally your choice.”

He resumed his breakfast without answering.

On the way to school, he made a different announcement.  “I’m not going to be on green today, I’m going to be on blue or purple!”

Kendra gasped.  “That’s so hard to do!  Green is good, but you have to do something EXTRA good to get on blue or purple!  It’s practically impossible!”

Max nodded.  “Yep, I’m not going to be on green.  I’m going to be blue or purple.”

“Well,” I said, “if you do that, Daddy and I would be so proud!  We would definitely do something special to celebrate that tonight!”  With that, I kissed them goodbye and dropped them off.

After school I picked them up from Grandmom’s house, and both of the kids were just bursting to give me the good news – Max was on blue today!!

Max was absolutely beaming when he told me about singing a counting song in music class so well that his music teacher wrote a note to his teacher complimenting him on his outstanding job.  That was just the kind of extra good behavior that bumped him out of green and right into blue.  To think that last week he was strategizing about how to get out of singing at school altogether, it seemed impossible that he would have made such an impression on his music teacher.

Needless to say, we celebrated tonight.  Max wanted to go to our favorite playground, so we did.  What a relief to hear Max talk about school with pride and enthusiasm!  This day will mark a change in his outlook about kindergarten.  He had a goal, and he accomplished it.  And it wasn’t even an easy goal!  He has a bit of confidence now, and it will grow a little bit each day.

This was definitely worth celebrating!

 

 

A Lesson for Kendra September 4, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 6:49 pm
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Kendra has a tendency to be too nice.  I know that sounds like a good problem for a kid to have, but sometimes her sweetness just breaks my heart.

We went camping for Labor Day weekend, and it didn’t take the kids long to make new friends at the campground.  The people right next to us had a son who was five and just started kindergarten and a daughter who was eight and was in third grade.

Besides just the age/grade coincidence, the kids actually had a lot in common.  The little boy carried a book bag full of things like a bow and arrow, handcuffs, and a flashlight – pretty similar to the kinds of things Max usually plays with.  And the girl loved dancing.  That alone is enough to be a pal of Kendra’s.

When it thunder-stormed Saturday night, the kids all came in our camper to watch movies and play out of the weather with all the toys our kids brought.  Kendra showed the other girl her stuffed animal collection while the boys played Matchbox cars.

The little girl really loved a particular stuffed animal of Kendra’s, which happened to also be one of Kendra’s favorites.  The girl begged to have it, and I was so proud that Kendra stuck to her guns and said no because more often than not, Kendra feels pressured and gives other kids whatever they want.

The girl was relentless.  She really begged and pleaded for that toy.

Kendra caved and told her that she could borrow it for the night, but she had to give it back first thing in the morning.  That sounded like a pretty good compromise to me.

But, when morning came, and it was time for us to leave and time for Kendra’s new friend to return the toy, the little girl turned on the puppy dog eyes and begged for it again.  She hugged it and said she would cry if she couldn’t have it.

Kendra was still saying no.  I’ve talked to her so many times about how people will try to take advantage of her and how it’s okay to say no.  I had even told her the night before that I was proud that she didn’t give away her animal because I knew it was one of her favorites and it was special to her.

Somehow, though, that girl ended up with that toy.  She guilted Kendra right into it.  Kendra told her she wanted her to have it to make her happy, and then she climbed in the truck and cried her little eyes out.  It absolutely broke my heart.  She didn’t want to give away her animal – she was just once again being too nice.

Kendra and I had a long talk about it.  I asked her if she thought her new friend would have given one of her favorite toys to Kendra if Kendra wanted it, and she (of course) said no.  We talked about how a real friend wouldn’t demand her to give up something she loved.  We talked about how some people try to manipulate others to get what they want.  We talked about saying no.

It’s not Kendra losing her toy that upset me.  It’s the fact that she was taken advantage of.

That’s why Ronnie and I hunted until we found a store that sold stuffed animals just like those, and we bought her two to replace the one she lost.

I’m so proud of my sweet little girl.

 

Max starts kindergarten August 28, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:29 pm
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Boy, it’s really been a while since I’ve written.  Seems I can only handle one hobby at a time, and lately I’ve been reading instead of writing.  I’ve read some really good books, though.

I couldn’t let today pass without writing about it since it was such an important day in Maxwell’s life.  That’s right: he started kindergarten.

We’ve been pumping him up for weeks, and we really kicked it up a notch when we realized that he was lucky enough to get the same teacher that Kendra had her first year of school.  She is truly one of the best teachers I’ve met, and to top it off, she has an outstanding assistant.

I was not really sure what to expect from Max today, especially after we explained the behavior system to him (green is good, yellow is warning, red is bad).  When I asked him what color he planned to be on every day, he shrugged and said, “green or yellow.”  I was very surprised and asked him why yellow.  He answered, very nonchalantly, “nothing happens at yellow, so it doesn’t matter if I’m on yellow.”  Ugh!

Ronnie was able to take the morning off work to take him to class with me this morning.  Max was practically bouncing into the school.  He was so happy and seemed very excited.  When we got to the room, his teacher showed him where to put his lunchbox, and then she told him to go see the teacher’s assistant to do some other things.

Ready for a great day!

The assistant greeted him by saying, “what’s up?”

Max looked at her then very politely answered, “the ceiling…and the sky…”

See?  He was totally himself…

Until it was time for Ronnie and me to leave.

When he realized we were really leaving, he became really uncertain.  I knew he was getting upset when he suddenly needed to use the restroom.  He was on the verge of tears, but he got himself together in the bathroom.  The look on his face absolutely broke my heart.  He put on such a brave front, but I could see right through it.  He was scared, and he didn’t want us to leave.  Even with other little kids crying in the room, he never did let himself cry.  He was so tough.

Of course I burst into tears as soon as we left him.  Like a big buffoon, I stood in the hallway and cried my eyes out over leaving my baby at school.  You would think I hadn’t done this before.

I was anxious all day wondering how he was doing.  I couldn’t wait to pick him up.  I knew as soon as I saw his face that I would know if he had a good day or not.

And he definitely had a good day.  When he and Kendra headed to the car arm in arm both with huge smiles on their faces, I knew he had a great day.  So great, in fact, that he stopped to hi-five the principal on his way to the car!

 

Sure enough, he was totally energized when he climbed in the car.  The first words out of his mouth were, “I have two new friends!”

He told us all about his day, which must have seemed like such an adventure to a little guy who has never been away from his family.

I asked him so many questions: what did you do? how was lunch? how was recess? did you have fun? do you like your teacher?  and he answered each one with enthusiasm.  Then he told me the great news, “Mom!  You will be so happy when you see my color for the day!  It’s the best color – the color of the grass!”

YES!  He was on green!

A “great job” sticker from his teacher for a great first day of school!

I asked him how he felt when Mommy and Daddy left him that morning.  He said, “I was so sad.  I was trying so hard to hold my tears back.  I feel like I’m going to cry now.”

And that’s what he did.  For the whole rest of the evening, in fact.  Well, I guess it was more of an alternation between extreme happiness and crying his eyes out.

The first day of kindergarten just took a lot out of him.  What a great little guy!

Just for fun, here’s a picture from Kendra’s first day of kindergarten.  It seems like so long ago.  She’s in third grade now – really growing up!

Here’s a little excerpt of what I wrote about her first day of school.  They sure handled it differently!

Anyway, we walked her to her classroom toting her bookbag (“Dad! This thing is WAY too heavy!”) and supplies and got her settled. We took a few pictures and gave her hugs and kisses. Then we left. I don’t know what I was expecting, you know, maybe a little twinge of sadness to be leaving mommy, but nope. She was cool with staying in a big unknown world with not a single person she knew in sight all by her little self. 
Well, my preconceived notions were further shattered when we picked her up that afternoon. I was so anxious and excited to see her that I was driving Ronnie crazy – chattering, babbling, goofing, and flubbering. When I saw her walking to the truck, I jumped out to hug her. 
She got in the truck and said, “I am SO thirsty.” 
I gave her some water. 
“Well, how was your day?” I burst out just itching to know every detail. 
“It was good. I learned a lot.” 
She sat back there not like the ecstatic little girl I thought she would be, but rather like an old pro, a jaded old kindergartener who had been there, done that, what’s the freakin’ big deal, mom’s acting like a buffoon again, oh brother. 
I finally managed to get her to tell the highlights of the day and learn that yes, she loves kindergarten, and yes, she loves her teacher, and yes, she’s excited to go back tomorrow. She hated quiet time, was amused that one girl actually slept, and she thought recess was too short. 
I’m proud of her. I knew she was ready. 
I guess I just didn’t realize how ready.

It’s going to be a great year!