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In our home, the birthday parties are fun, but getting older also means change and responsibility. When the boys turned 1-bottles were no longer used, at 2-we got rid of sippy cups, at 3-they are responsible for completely cleaning their own rooms. When Kyson turned 3, Josh and debated who had to enforce his room cleaning. If you know Kyson, he’s a little….independent 🙂 To our surprise, Kyson is the best room cleaner we have! Rarely do I even have to tell him to clean his room. When he puts his jammies on or gets dressed for the day, he goes straight to the laundry basket and puts in his dirty clothes. He picks up his toys when he is finished playing. Just this morning, he picked up Maddox’s shoes off the living room floor and cleaned up his breakfast plate. I love when he helps out and does kind things for his brothers.

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It is my belief that in order to live life with a purpose, we must do it with intention.  I often hear, I didn’t do it on purpose, I didn’t mean for that to happen, I didn’t mean to forget.  Not that I don’t mess things up or forget things; I do!  However, I try to be intentional about remembering things, intentional about reading my Bible, being a good wife, praying, raising our boys, and more.

One day, many months ago, I was leaving the child care area at church with my three boys, a diaper bag, my Bible, keys, phone, and about 10 pieces of paper from their church activities some of which were dripping paint.  I always take the stairs, it’s healthy plus I don’t have to worry about carrying everything and keeping Kyson from pushing buttons in the elevator. Why the put the emergency call button is on the bottom row, closest for little ones to reach is beyond my understanding.  Anyway, Carter and Maddox are begging to PLEASE take the elevator.  I hesitantly said yes.  As we are standing at the elevator, a sweet Godly woman walks up and says something to the effect of all of these “men of valor”.  I smiled and said thanks or something.  I continued on juggling papers and Kyson and finding my keys, etc.  When we finally reached the van and all the boys were buckled in I sat there and thought about that comment.

I thought, are we raising men of valor?  What is valor exactly?  I looked it up…

val·or

noun
boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery: a medal for valor.

 Hmmm….will my boys be bold or show determination when facing great danger?  I then thought, what characteristics do we need to build up in our boys so that they will grow up to be men of valor?  A strong relationship with Christ, integrity, confidence, independence.  I decided since they were only 3 and 5 (I wasn’t really thinking of applying this to Kyson at the time) that I would start with that list.   So, first things first, a strong relationship with God.  I was reading through the Chronological Bible last year, as I am this year, and I thought…..I don’t really read the Bible to my boys.  I decided to be intentional about doing that more often. I was amazed at how they listened and how much knowledge they retained. Two examples, we started doing an allowance with the boys last year, they get “Jesus money” and turn in it at church every week.  They also get “share money” where they give to a need or a cause or something.  One week at church a flyer was sent home about sending extra money with the kids to help build a playground for the children at our church’s orphanage in Haiti.  The boys got all of their share money to turned in, as Carter was counting his money he said “Mom, I wish I had more money to help build the kids a playground.” I responded to him that was all we had and that God can do a lot with a little.  He says “Yeah, I know, just like the lady in the Bible who gave the least money and God said she gave the most because she gave all she had”.  I was blown away, not only that he remembered the story, but that he was able to apply it to our lives and his situation.  Then, last fall we drove by the TN School for the Blind.  I decided to make it a teachable moment and talk to the boys about people who are blind.  When I finish, Carter says “Why don’t they just rub that stuff on their eyes”.  I responded “What?”.  He says, “you know mom like in the Bible when the man was blind and Jesus spit on the ground and made mud stuff and rubbed it on his eyes and he could see”.  Wow, again his application, although Jesus isn’t presently here to do that and he didn’t see why they couldn’t just rub stuff on their eyes and wash it out, I was still amazed with what God has been doing through our reading!

Next we needed to work on instilling integrity, confidence and independence.  I prayed over how we should do that as parents.  I prayed for God to open opportunities to help us teach these things to the boys.  A few days later, the elevator at church again. Big boys want to ride, I say no we are taking the stairs, we get into the van and buckled in and I almost could have heard God say….You want them to have integrity, confidence and independence yet they cannot ride the elevator up one flight in a safe environment?  Wow!  So, I prayed that the boys would make good decisions and that they would be safe. I spent the next Saturday preparing the boys for riding the elevator alone.  I talked to them about being independent and going in and only pushing the one button to do up or down, I talked to them about how I was trusting them to do the right thing and come straight down the elevator and straight to me.  I told them that since I could not see them they would have to be honest and be boys of integrity.  Oh, how their self-confidence grew from the moment they stepped on that elevator with no adult.  I ran down the stairs to be there when they got out.  They were both beaming from ear to ear.  This has since become a bit of a tradition, but it has not lost its luster.  We continually talk about those big character words and making good choices, even when we think no one is watching.

So, I write this partially to say that before you judge what someone is doing as a parent…consider that maybe they are being intentional about their decision. 

What things do you do with your boys to raise them as men of valor, or to intentionally instill good qualities and characteristics in them? I am constantly reminding myself to parent with the love, grace, mercy and forgiveness that God parents us with.  Constantly because I forget and mess up daily.  Of course we all do, we are not perfect and we all fall short of the glory of God. I am also continually reminding myself to parent with Josh to please God, not other moms or friends or family.  What freedom we experience when we try to please God and not every other person in our lives.  It is a blessing!  Please know, I still respect and covet the caring advice and comments from fellow moms.

I began this blog in 2008 to have a record of moments I did not want to forget and to share them with family.  It began with the story of Carter locking himself in the van at Walgreens.  He had the best time in there!  You can read about it here in my first ever post to the blog.  It’s funny because Carter was 24 months old, and to follow in his footsteps, Kyson (25 months) did the same thing on Sunday.  I know, you would think we would have learned the first time! 

These moments are so strange because there is a fear for your child’s safety as well as an incredible humor in the matter.  Kyson had the best time getting into everything.  He played with my makeup, drank a soda, brushed his hair, pushed the lock button on the keys…continuously, he was driving with the steering wheel, and everything else he could think of doing.  So, as funny as his actions were, I was still a bit panicked about getting him out of the car.  Josh eventually got into the van with a coat hanger, denting the door in the process.  Oh well, here are a few pics from Kyson’s 30 minutes of FUN.

Drinking a coke.

Going through my wallet.

Pushing the lock button on the keys.

We have had the best week, and I so grateful for much-needed time with my awesome boys! 

We started Saturday by spending the day at the soccer field watching the Schell kids rock in their soccer games.  Then we went for a milkshake treat and to feed the ducks in Hendersonville.  As mentioned on facebook, Maddox fell in the water head first!  Praise the Lord Josh caught his foot so he didn’t fall completely in because one of us (um, Josh) would have had to go in after him lol. 

 Sunday we went to the zoo.  I was bummed the new train ride wasn’t working, although they began advertising it weeks ago!  However, the kids still had a blast and feeding the birds was great fun!  Kyson had his first carousel ride, he was not amused 🙂

Monday, we took the Schell kids bowling and to Taco Bell.  For 6 kids 8 and under, they all did awesome!  Baker won the bowling game! 

Tuesday we met Aunt Ramona and family at the Civic Center for some swimming.  Well, I actually went grocery shopping with Kyson and Josh took Maddox and Carter.  The kids LOVE going there and had an awesome time!

Wednesday began with drs appnts for Maddox and Kyson.  3 yr check up for Maddox went great. He is just over 90% for his height and just over 50% for his weight.  Dr. Hudson said although he is not proportionate, he isn’t concerned about him.  Kyson is just over 95% for his height and just over 85% for his weight.  During hs check up he discovered Kyson had a terrible ear infection 😦  Glad we went because I had no idea!  After check ups, I took the kids to the Landskron’s house so I could get some things done for an evaluation at work next week.  Miss Morgan and Miss Adreanna are the boys babysitters and they also have 3 younger brothers so the boys were in heaven there.  Of course they didn’t want to go home 🙂  Then, I took the boys to ride the Music City Star to Nashville.  It was fun.  Very entertaining for $5!  Of course it was only cheap because the boys were free and Josh picked us up in Nashville so we only rode one way.  Maddox’s face was soo sweet!  He was so excited.  Wednesday was a busy day!

Thursday we picked Grandmother up at the airport and brought her home.  She forgot her house key in CO so the boys got to watch the locksmith open the door, which they thought was cool.  Then we went to lunch at O’Charleys and took mom to get her rental car.  We went to the outlet stores in Lebanon to look for outfits for the boys to wear to Aunt Anna’s wedding on May 1st.  I think we found something that is going to work!  The big boys spent the night with Grandmother, although Maddox fell asleep on the way home and slept all night 🙂 

Friday we mostly just played outside.  It was a gorgeous 80 degree day!  The boys played on the swingset with just their shorts on, and I became increasingly frustrated with the neighbors rose-bush that scrapes the kids legs when they swing. We could move the swingset, but it is bolted down and has a sand box, not fun!  Also, according to the person we purchased our home from, it’s all our property AND we asked if it was ok before we put the swing set there!  Oh well, we like our neighbors and we will work it out somehow.  I am still confused about why they planted a random rose-bush in the middle of the yard anyway, it’s an odd location!

So, a wonderful week for us!  Pictures to come!

This week I have had entirely too much time to think and worry about my children and not as much what they are/will be exposed to, but how Josh and I should handle these situations.  Also, how we should prepare them for these times in their lives.  I know we can’t prepare them for everything and that we can’t have all of the right answers, but I want to get some things right.  It seems that children are exposed to so much more at  a younger age than I was.  I know working in a junior high, the amount of students who are sexually active appalls me.  Not to mention the curse words, cigarettes, drugs, disrespect towards adults, etc. etc. 

I am thinking I need to ask our small group if we can do a parenting study.  Oh, what this has anything to with title “thankful”……I am thankful to have a sister who has children who are older that I can talk to about my fears and concerns.  I am thankful for friends who can admit their parenting mistakes (or just things they would have done differently), that they are not proud of, in order to help me not make the same mistakes.  So many people want to give you advice, but when it comes to admitting their child said a curse word, or cheated at school, or smoked a cigarette, etc. no one wants to talk about it. Maybe because our society is so judgemental or they are ashamed, but admitting to others what you messed up as a parent can really help other parents to train their children!

I pray that I am continually surrounded by friends who can admit their mistakes and who I can talk to about my mistakes so that we can learn from each other in a safe, judgement free environment.

I am loving all of these snow days and being able to stay home with my boys!!  It is so awesome to have them fighting over who gets to sit in Mommy’s lap 🙂 

Kyson took one little step the other day and is standing up a lot but still not walking.  He has the best personality.  He loves giving kisses and he loves paying with his big brother’s toys!  He is a little love bug, but he is also a big MOMMY”S BOY!  He has a little melt down every time I walk past him and don’t pick him up, which is several times a day!

I cannot believe my little Maddox is going to be 3 next month!  He is very funny, lots of personality and a huge vocabulary!  His words and understanding are a constant amazement to me.  He talks like a 5-year-old.  He knows his abcs, but doesn’t have much interest in learning the sounds they make or other things Carter knew at his age.  So far, Maddox is seeming to be my street smart, learn from experience, and Carter is my book smart, taking it all in child.  Of course they are 2 and 4 so who knows what the future holds!   

Carter is in preschool.  He loves going to school and loves playing with his cousin Mackenzie.  Mrs. Denise, their teacher, is wonderful!  Carter can write his name, read color words, and he actually recited Psalms 23 (almost the entire thing without error) to me the other day! 

Random info.-Kyson is wearing 18-24M clothes and a size 6.5 shoe.   Maddox is wearing 4t and a size 10 shoe.  Carter is wearing XS shirts and size 6 jeans although I think he will be in 7s before I know it!  He wears an 11 shoe, but they are getting small also!!

Josh and I are continually in awe that God has blessed with the privilege of raising these 3 little boys!  They are so precious and our prayer is that they give their lives to Christ at an early age, that their hands do His work, their lips speak His word, and their feet walk in the paths the Lord has for them.