The Pot Boiled Over: Making Messy Moments Count

I got a little distracted that morning.

My pre-homeschool routine includes a workout, shower, “quiet” time, some social media posting + scheduling, and getting breakfast ready for everyone.

The days have been chilly, so oatmeal sounds good every morning. On that particular day, I was boiling some milk to get my Nutella oatmeal started. And I got a little distracted.

If you’ve ever boiled milk in a saucepan on the stove, you probably know what happened next…

Milk bubbling to the top, spilling over the sides, on to the burner and creating quite the mess. And the smell.

I moved the pan swiftly over to the sink and cleaned it up, all while the older two boys were fascinated with the hoopla and the little one was saying, “More drink! More drink!”

“What are you going to have for breakfast now, Mommy?” Big J asked.

I really wanted some Nutella oatmeal, so I answered him hastily, “I’m going to try the oatmeal again.”

“What if it boils over again?”

“I’ll probably just have cereal.”

Within a few seconds, I knew, in the middle of that big mess, I had just missed a great moment to teach my son a valuable lesson.

The answer I flippantly gave out of frustration told him that when things get messy and hard, I will just give up. Oh, maybe I’ll give it one more shot, but that’s all.

Sure, it was just oatmeal, but like I said, I wanted oatmeal – NUTELLA oatmeal – not cereal, that morning. And had the pot boiled over a second time, I may have tried again, but I didn’t communicate that to Big J. I let the mess affect my answer and my example to my son.

And this seems to be a pattern lately. When things get messy, I miss the moments where life lessons could be taught and memories could be made.

Making Messy Moments Count

Those messy moments often provide the best opportunities for learning if we are able to keep things in perspective. None of us enjoy when things don’t go the way we’ve planned, but our character comes through in the unexpected, trying moments of life. And our children are learning from our actions in those times.

Life with kids is never going to be neat and tidy. In the middle of the chaos, my goal is to look past the Legos and dishes and spills to see Him and His purpose for my life as a mom. I’m trying to not let pot-boiling-over moments ruin my day or steal the opportunity to teach my kids how to handle the messes of life.

*****

This morning, I have my very first speaking gig, talking with a local MOPS group about “Making Your Mess Beautiful.” No, it’s not about decorating or housekeeping. It’s all about perspective and relationship and purpose. How do you find the beautiful in the messiness of your everyday life?

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LifeLight 2013!

Many years ago, The Hubby and I joined thousands of people in a cornfield on the outskirts on Sioux Falls, South Dakota for a free Christian music festival featuring some of my favorite singers and bands. It was a super fun weekend and we went back a couple of years in a row, bringing friends with us to experience the awesomeness.

It had been eight years since I last attended LifeLight. Kids and work and school had prevented us from attending and I was itching to go back, especially after hearing my current favorite band, For King and Country, would be there!

The Hubby had to work over Labor Day weekend, so the kids and I headed up to stay with my parents and get our groove on at LifeLight!

LifeLight is a three-day is a Christian music festival that has now moved out to a permanent location in the country near Sioux Falls. It is always Labor Day weekend, always free, and always amazing. Hundreds of thousands of people attend over those three days – it’s really incredible event to be a part of!

We were going to go out two of the nights, but Saturday’s heat made it a little too unbearable, especially for the younger ones. We decided to just go out Sunday night, and stayed home to watch the Huskers pull out a way-too-close win instead. It also stormed later that night, so I’m glad we were all tucked in at home!

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Sunday was the day Big J and I really cared about attending anyway, with For King and Country and Newsboys on stage! The younger two stayed home and we went with my best friend from home to enjoy an evening of AMAZING concerts.

Here are a few pictures from our super fun time…

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Big J is a HUGE KLOVE fan, so meeting JD Chandler, one of the on-air guys, was super cool for him! And they gave him a fun little radio which he has carried around ever since! I bought him the bracelet as a little reminder of our special evening together!

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Perfect bag to take out the festival. Love my FreeSet bags!LifeLight 2013i

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For King and Country was who I went to LifeLight to see and They. Were. INCREDIBLE. They really put on quite a show, especially with a wide variety of percussion. I love their heart for seeing women treated as priceless, not as objects or worthless. That was a really moving moment for me. Oh yeah, and they sang my favorite prayer right now. Just perfect.

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My friend came armed with homemade cookies for the whole group we were sitting with. I wanted to eat the whole bag, but we had already indulged in “the unhealthiest dinner ever,” according to Big J, so I restrained myself…a little.

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This boy was SO excited for the Newsboys he could hardly stand it. And we had to wait a while for them to start, but it was totally worth it to be upfront when they came on stage…

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We had put out a Twitter plea for the to perform The League of Incredible Vegetables theme song, but no such luck. Big J was in total awe of Duncan Phillips, the drummer, the whole time. I think his eyes were glued there. And then the drum platform started spinning while he was playing and Big J’s mind was totally blown. It was pretty darn cool. And so was hearing a bunch of favorites along with lots of new goodies from their upcoming album, Restart!

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We also got to meet the guys from We Are Leo, a band I just discovered because of LifeLight and Twitter! I checked them out on YouTube and loved all of the songs I heard, and so did the kids! I immediately wanted to add several of the songs to my running playlist! They were so nice and gave us a couple of autographed CDs to give away to you!

If you are anywhere near Sioux Falls next Labor Day, you need to make your way to LifeLight. And it really is a family event, so bring everybody! It is full of worship and fun and great memories. You can even camp out there! Maybe we’ll see you there!

By the way, the best part of LifeLight? A night alone with my favorite seven-year-old who is starting to love Christian music just as much as I do! It was a really special date for us and I enjoyed every moment: signing, eating, looking around, and lots of snuggling! It was just what we needed.

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The Repentant Mosquito {A Story for World Malaria Day}

20130424-220352.jpgThis post was co-written with my eldest son, Big J, who will turn 7 this Saturday, which doesn’t even seem possible. It was a blessing to share this experience with him, brainstorming and storytelling and hoping to make a difference. I think we shall do this “writing blog posts together” thing more often as a part of homeschool language arts 🙂

The Repentant Mosquito

My name is Mooski. I lived in Tanzania at the time of my conversion. My buddies, Mesquite, Mason, and I hung around the crowded parts of the village. If we got swatted away by one person, there were lots of other humans to choose from. It was blood-sucking heaven.

After biting and feasting, we would head to the outskirts of town to rest. Life was pretty good. We were doing the only thing we knew how to do to survive.

Then my eyes were opened to a whole different side of life…

It was a normal Thursday evening. We liked to venture out for a “meal” as evening came because we were harder to spot in the darkness. Instead of a crowded marketplace, I made my way into a home. I found four people – a mother and three children – in that home and I went about my business of feeding myself.

But as I flew around, I noticed a very sick little boy and overheard a conversation that changed my life…

“If only we had access to those nets – the ones that keep the mosquitos away. He would have never been sick. He would still be laughing and playing. The malaria has taken that life from him.”

They were talking about me! I was making people sick and I didn’t even know it! I thought I was just getting a meal!

It was such a sad scene. And it was all because of me and my kind. Now every time I flew by a human, I could only think of that sick, dying little boy and suddenly, blood wasn’t so appealing anymore.

I left that human-biting world over 6 years ago now for a life feasting among the flowers. I’ve shared my story with other mosquitos and, together, we’re on a mission to do our part to stop the spread of malaria. Now won’t you join us?

*****

Today is World Malaria Day.

Big J and I first learned about malaria together when we raised money for Nickels for Nets.

Compassion International is doing great things to stop the spread of malaria through their Malaria Intervention Initiative. I could hardly contain my emotion as Big J and I read that a child dies every 30 seconds from this preventable, treatable disease.

There are lots of ways to help, but we love that Compassion attacks malaria in three ways: prevention, education, and treatment. A $20 donation to the Malaria Intervention Initiative will provide two treated mosquito bed nets for at-risk children.

On this World Malaria Day, say a prayer. Give a little. Give a lot. Spread the word.

Just do something and let’s end this disease together.

 

 

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Pinterest Post Party: LEGO Birthday Party!

When Big J told me he wanted his sixth birthday party to be a LEGO party, I did a little happy dance.

I knew the internet was swarming with LEGO birthday party ideas and, sure enough, Pinterest had more than enough inspiration to make planning this party a snap!

I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to LEGO birthday party ideas, but I actually kept the party pretty simple – no cake shaped like a LEGO or full-sized LEGO man at this house!

Here are a few ideas I DID use…

The LEGO Guessing Jar {idea from this post} – Put some LEGOs in a jar. Have kids make their guess as they come in. While kids are eating cake, count the LEGOs with them. Declare a winner. Easy peasy.

 

LEGO Toss {idea from this post} – I made three rings out of poster board, gave each ring a value, and let the kids toss LEGOs into the rings! The kids tossed three times per turn and earned M&Ms based on their tosses. I didn’t use any fancy LEGO-font labels, but the kids still had fun with it!

LEGO Building Station {idea also from this post} – I loved the idea of having the kids build during the party, but I didn’t want to limit them to just building race cars. I put a plate out for each of them and wrote their name on it. Throughout the party, they could return to their plate to keep building and no one was allowed to take LEGOs off another person’s plate. At the end, I took a picture of each kiddo with their masterpiece!

 

It was great – and SIMPLE – party, even if I do say so myself! Big J said it was his “best birthday ever” {he says that every year} and one mom called me afterwards to say her daughter was going on and on about fun it was! Success!

Here are a few more highlights from the day…

Primary colors are the way to go for LEGO party decor!

I found these candy blocks on Amazon – they are hard enough to build with and taste sort of like SweetTarts, but not as good. The kids loved them – I put them in baggies as party favors! Two pounds was more than enough for 12 treat bags!

Chocolate covered strawberries as a surprise treat for the birthday boy!

That is one happy SIX-year-old!

Dear Pinterest,

Thank you for all of the great party ideas!

My affection for you continues to grow.

Love always, Erin

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Big Brother, Little Brother

We have one proud, and affectionate, big brother on our hands…

And little brother is doing quite well!

Double J just had his one month check up and here are his stats:

10 pounds 7 ounces {100% percentile}

21 3/4 inches long {95% percentile}

16 inches head circumference {100% percentile}

Yep, he’s already getting so big! This time is just flying by!

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Floor Time {Two Weeks Old!}

Two weeks old and enjoying some time on the floor with his big brothers…

And tummy time was a success!

Celebrating the little things 🙂

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I Believe I Can Fly

These pictures are all the proof you need that I live in a house of adventure-seeking males…

Throwing the boys in the air made The Hubby feel left out, so he had to get some air time himself…

But jumping over just one boy was too easy…

And the boys had to try people-jumping for themselves…

This is my life.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If you can’t join ’em, take pictures of ’em doing crazy things every chance you get!

Ah, boys…

*****

I’m linking up to Let’s Hear It For the Boys over at The MOB Society today! If you’re a boy mom, join in the link-up fun!

 

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Baby Brother Love

I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen two boys so in love with their baby brother…

And they made sure to show Daddy some love after taking Double J on his first walk…

I am so blessed…my heart could just burst.

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Bragging on Our Boys

Well, I don’t really like the word “bragging” so much, but I do like the idea of sharing the good things our children do, and if that’s bragging, then that’s what I’m doing today!

And I have an excuse – today is the weekly “Let’s Hear It For the Boys” link-up over at The MOB Society!

Let’s start with this guy…

Big J has completed 120 days of school and is always looking to learn more! I’m continually amazed at amount of knowledge already packed into that brain of his!

This week, we celebrated great success on his unit math test. And every day, he wants to learn about different animals – even after school is done for the day! I just pray that God will show us how to keep up with his apetite for learning!

And then there’s this guy…

I can’t get enough of Little J’s baby face and those dimples, but this week he showed us just how grown up he is when he started READING.

Oh friends, I was NOT ready for that at all.

I mean, he’s known his letters for a while and has been working on letter sounds in preschool, but putting it altogether?! Whoa.

And now he wants to read and sound out words all the time! Thank goodness for sites like Starfall and apps like Smarty Pants School that he loves to do while Big J and I are doing his school work! Those sites and apps have fun activities that grow with him as learns to read more and more!

Look at the smile on his face! Priceless!

And so goes the life of parents – wondering where our little boys went, but so proud of the young men they are becoming!

{By the way, we took them to McDonald’s – their choice – to celebrate their learning achievements this week! Always fun to do something special in the middle of the week :)}

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How about a little bragging on your kiddos today? What have they done to make you smile this week?

{If you have boys, head on over to the MOB Society to brag on them! Lots of prizes up for grabs on the link-up today!}

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Jump, Jump!

You had the privilege {or something like that} of seeing a very pregnant ME jump in yesterday’s post, but there is no one in this family that likes to jump more than this guy…

Look at that height! Not bad for a five-year-old!

By the way, a mini-trampoline is one of the very best things to have in your house in the middle of winter with two young, energetic boys 🙂

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