Teachable Moments in Toddler Tantrums

My child threw the worst fit I’ve ever seen in the middle of SM Makati, a mall here in the Philippines where we’re currently on vacation. It was by far the loudest, most obnoxious, most irritating, and most appalling moment in my mothering career. Never have I been tested this way and boy was I not ready for it! I guess I can check off another request on my prayer list!

I will be speaking at a women’s conference on February 7th. Feeling unqualified, uncomfortable, and unprepared, I humbly asked the Lord to show and speak to me about the topics He would like me to address that would make my talk authentic and my heart humble. I asked the Lord to reveal situations that would make my stories come alive and examples that will make me look like a recipient of God’s glorious grace. I can definitely say, this one rises to the top of my list.

Ever since Chris left for the States, Micah has been dealing with separation anxiety. He has been acting out and throwing fits when he doesn’t get his way. He has been answering back and demonstrating rebellious behavior. He has been disciplined multiple times and though I understand that he is going through a phase and figuring out his emotions, the fact still remains: disrespect and disobedience are unacceptable. We only have three foundational rules in our family: LOVE, OBEY and RESPECT. If your actions fall under categories that disregard those character principles, there will be consequences. Our children have been warned since birth. Clearly, today, he violated all three. He even told me we should go home because he was having a bad attitude and not obeying. HMMMM…He (totally!) knew what he was doing.

I tried really hard to stay calm, but I was really irritated with his rude behavior. I felt embarrassed and wanted to take the easy way out and leave. It would have solved our problem and allowed me to deal with the situation without completely looking like a mom who can’t take control of her child. But having imagined this scenario in our mind, Chris and I have discussed how we would respond if presented with this situation. We decided we would handle the situation then and there. We want to win the sin battle and break his will but not his spirit. I had to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom as I struggled to quickly find a quiet corner for us to talk and pray.

I finally found a semi-private spot, away from the crazy rush hour crowd and dealt with the seemingly impossible situation. I could see razor sharp eyes glaring at me as I escorted my son to our conversation corner. From salespersons to security guards, bystanders, and SM employees, I watched them glance our way as my son screamed about the worst day of his life. Believe me, it was a nightmare! But because I knew I needed to honor the decision my husband and I had discussed regarding discipline, I had to set aside my pride, ask the Lord for direction, and focus on the task at hand. As it says in Hebrews 12:11, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

I tried to talk to him about his horrific behavior and terrible attitude, but instead of a humble heart, Micah answered me back with, “I don’t like this Mama. I don’t want to obey you.” I asked him to think about his words and his actions and that there are consequences that would follow. I explained to him that he was not only hurting me but was also hurting God. His act of disobedience was bringing us pain and the Lord was not pleased with his actions. I knew that he knew better than to act this way. He even told me, “I’m having a bad attitude. But I don’t want to listen. I’m upset Mama!” I was getting furious but I knew that I couldn’t discipline effectively if I lost my temper.

I had to ask the Holy Spirit to really fill my tank because boy was it running low! I explained that it was okay to feel upset and frustrated but it is never ok to act this way. We concluded our private session when he told me in a much calmer voice, “Mama, I’m still upset but I will stop crying and yelling. But I’m not ready to say sorry.” I told him it was okay but he had to exercise self-control.

After about 15 minutes of turbulence, he finally decided it was wise to calm down. He settled down in one of the grocery carts and told me, “Mama I am happy now.” though knowing full well we weren’t done! He told me (in a pretty demanding tone), “Mama, Mama, I’m ready I’m ready.” But I asked him to get my attention with a much kinder voice. He changed it asked me if we could talk. He even told me he was looking at my eyes, which is always how we try to speak to him especially when we discipline. This was our conversation:

Micah: “Mama, I’m sorry. I apologize now.”

Mama: “Why are you saying sorry? What are you apologizing for Micah?”

Micah: “I had a bad attitude.”

Mama: “What was your bad attitude?”

Micah: “I was screaming and screaming and yelling and crying and screaming.” “I said No Mama, No Mama.” He continued on, “I didn’t obey. I made you sad and God was sad. I will tell papa I did not obey. (He knows his actions will be accounted for by both of us even if there is only one of us present.) I was not listening and not respectful. I’m sorry Mama. I know I have a consequence mama. I need to pray mama. I forgive you now ok? (Translation: please forgive me now.)

Mama: “I forgive you Micah but why did you do that? You knew that was wrong and that it was disrespectful and yet you did it. Was God glorified with your actions?”

Micah: “No. But because I did not get what I want and then I want to go home.” (BOOM! Sinful nature at its finest!)

Mama: “I understand. I’m glad and I’m proud of you for admitting you were wrong and knowing what you did but I was very disappointed in your actions. God was, too. You did not exercise any self-control and you spoke rudely to me. You know that there are consequences. We came here to buy you some fruits because you really like them. But instead of being thankful, you had a bad attitude. You know what to pray for ok? I forgive you.”

He quickly reached over and gave me a hug after our conversation. He prayed and asked the Lord to forgive him. He told me he really wanted to watch Cars with his uncle but he couldn’t because that was his consequence. He doesn’t get to watch TV so this was a huge deal for him. I think it was safe to say that he got the point of a consequence. We carried on with our agenda with smiling faces and a much better demeanor. Praise God! I was glad (and surprised) the guards did not escort us out for causing such commotion.

As I contemplated on our day and shared it with my husband, he was shocked but glad. We knew this day would come and it was just matter of time. I just thought we would handle it together! Haha! Guess what? The first thing he asked was, “Did you bring him home?” I said no. He said, “Good!” He encouraged me by saying he was proud of what I did and that he would have done the same thing. He told me that he was most proud of the fact that I pointed him back to the Lord and that his actions weren’t glorifying to Him.

Through this situation, we were reminded that our goal was to ultimately point our children to Christ. It is our duty as their parents to give our children a healthy fear of the Lord and to regard His standards in the way we think, speak, and act. Though it may be difficult, embarrassing, and challenging (a lot of times), we need to stand united as husband and wife as we guide our children to follow and obey Christ. It is our responsibility to raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord yet it is not our choice whether they will give their hearts to Him. But it is our earnest prayer that we will be able to model God’s example even through our imperfections. We are humbled by His grace (2 Corinthians 12:9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”), thankful to have the bible as our manual (2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”), and blessed to have each other as partners (1 Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman.) in this wonderful thing called parenting! There is nothing more important in parenting than following God. If we follow His ways in our life, marriage, and parenting, it will revolutionize our family and glorify God!

That experience was both a teachable moment for me and Micah. Sure it was humiliating but what’s truly important is not what other people see but what God sees. God saw Micah’s stubborn heart and my crushed pride. He intervened and worked in us. He humbled us both and reminded us that only His grace and love restores and reconciles. This may not be the last time that something like this will happen but I take comfort in the fact that I can always run to God and His Holy Spirit to strengthen me in moments like these. I can always rely on God’s power to change by sons’ attitudes and disposition. And I can always run to Him for wisdom and grace to know how to handle situations like these in a way that honors Him.

The calm after the storm.

The calm after the storm.

A Father’s Investment: that thing called separation anxiety

Six weeks is a very long time to be away from my husband. It’s not the most ideal situation and definitely not a common practice for a vacation. But here we are, millions of miles away and across the globe experiencing this separation for the first time in our marriage.

See you in 6 weeks!

See you in 6 weeks!

I have to admit, it wasn’t such a bad idea when we first discussed it since we considered all the factors involved. We also prayed about the situation for a while. But boy is it way harder than I thought. Judging by the way our oldest son has been acting, it is safe to say that we are not handling this situation well. I didn’t realize how much a two and a half year old would understand the words, I MISS YOU. He’s been showing it to me the past couple of days and it broke my heart every time.

A few nights ago, as we said our goodbyes, gave our last hugs, and prayed our last prayer together as a family, we explained to our boys that daddy needed to go to the airport, ride the airplane, and fly home to go back to work. Micah sat on his daddy’s lap and held him extra tight. We told him that Mommy, Titus, and Micah would be staying for another six weeks so we could spend more time with his grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins.

Chris explained that this would be a great time for him to enjoy his family and spend time with his cousins here in the Philippines. Micah nodded in agreement and he seemed to understand what was being explained to him. He said “Papa, you will ride the airplane in the airport so you can go back to work, right Papa?” Chris said yes and told him that he expected great daily reports and exciting stories every day when we talk on the phone. He reminded Micah that it was very important for him to obey and respect Mama and take care of his little brother.

As we drove to the airport, Micah and Titus sat on Chris’ lap and were both surprisingly well behaved and quite silent. As we held hands, I felt like jumping the gun and purchasing last minute tickets to fly home with him. Six weeks never felt like such a long time! I saw the way the boys hugged their dad and looked at him admiringly with eyes filled with sadness as they said goodbye. It broke my heart as Micah whispered during the car ride, “Papa, I will miss you, Papa.” Such simple words yet so profound and so powerful. Chris was dumbfounded by his son’s sincere words. He hugged them and said, “I will miss you, too. I love you so much.”

As I sit here and replay this scene in my mind, tears are rolling down my cheeks. Emotions are running through my heart. My boys LOVE their father. Micah repeated these words a couple more times during the seemingly short ride to the airport. Chris responded with sincere reassurance of his love and care for them. Their vulnerability showed me how fragile and tender all their hearts were. Those father and son moments were quickly photographed in my mind and captured in my heart. Micah held on to me a little tighter that night as we drove back home.

As tears rolled down my cheeks, he quietly kissed my face, as if telling me, “It’s ok mom, I’m here.” He prayed for his dad as he held my hand and wiped my tear away. My heart was full yet broken. He repeatedly told me that he misses his papa. He tried to stay strong and held back his tears. But before bed last night, he broke down. He sobbed as we prepared to say goodnight. He told me, “Mama, I miss papa. I miss papa. I want him to come home.” Titus joined in the choir, too. Micah concluded that Titus was sad and misses Papa, too. He asked me if I was crying because I also missed Papa. The three of us held each other and cried together as I prayed with them. Titus was so uneasy and found it difficult to settle down for bed. But as soon as I sang the song only Chris sings to the boys he settled down and finally fell asleep. I guess my wise toddler was right. His little brother was indeed missing their father. Only God’s embrace could comfort us now. We rested in His arms and trusted in His calm assurance.

This sea of sadness created an opportunity for me to share with Micah how it is okay for us to process our feelings and share it with God. I told him that Mommy and Daddy feel sad too even if we are old. I shared with him that God comforts those who are sad and makes them feel better because He promises never to leave us. Even though Daddy is far away, he will not stopping loving us and that we will see him again soon. We called Chris and chatted with him while he waited to board the aircraft because Micah wanted to hear his daddy’s voice.

That night, Micah chose to read Noah’s Ark as his Bible story before bed. He said, “Mama, I want Noah’s Ark because God takes care of Noah.” I guess he knew in his heart, God is taking care of him, too. It was a simple reminder that taught me to trust in God’s hand through it all.

These days have been quite rough, both for him and for me. Even though I tried to fill his days with a fun trip to a play area and the park with his cousins and soccer practice, he still had his moments of sadness. At one point, I found him sitting at a corner with tears rolling down his face. As I went over and asked him what was wrong, he gave me a huge hug and told me, “Mama please hold me. I miss my papa. I really miss my papa.” I couldn’t help but have my own set of silent tears roll down. I just said, “I miss him too, sweetheart. I miss him, too.”

He just needed a few minutes to hold me in complete silence and then he was fine. We had a couple of these moments and I treasured them. At one point he even said, “Mama I’m having so much fun, I wish papa was here. He will have fun, too, right mama?” Wow. I didn’t realize he could comprehend such things. He understood and truly loved being around his dad. I never thought he would understand and process his feelings in such a mature way. It opened my eyes and highlighted the importance of a father’s role and influence in his son’s life.

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a daily bedtime routine

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after work daddy dough making moment

 

I was so glad my husband invested so much in his son that in those moments of laughter and joy, my son wanted to share them with him. As I contemplate on the time my husband sets aside to remind his boys how much he loves him and enjoys being with them, my eyes are filled with tears of joy because I see the fruit of his labor through the comfort my boys find in his presence. Even my brother was moved and blessed by Micah’s heart towards his father.

A moment in time

A moment in time

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God created light!

I pray that the boys will not only find comfort in the loving arms of my husband but also ultimately they will see that our Heavenly Father loves and cares for them so much more. It says in Psalms 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” I pray that they will take it to heart that God is always with them and though we will not be around all the time, He is and will always be.

A Legacy Left, A Life Lived and A Hero Loved: Our Grandma

On this wonderful Christmas day, I want to share this special tribute I tearfully wrote and dedicated to our dearest Grandma on Monday as we said our final earthly farewells.  As we remembered her life, we laughed and cried as we relived the memories she left. We look ahead to our grand reunion in heaven where laughter and joy will forever fill the air.

See you soon Ama.

Creating this tribute to my ama is probably one of the hardest things I ever have to write in my life. Words will never be enough to express the kind of woman she was. I don’t I will ever fully express the depth of love and gratitude that I have for her. She wasn’t just the matriarch of our family, she was our rock. She carried our family through the toughest circumstances, sacrificing all she had and did all that so she could to keep us together.

After my mom died, ama took on the role of being my mom and my grandma. She went way beyond the normal grandma’s to-do list. She raised me as her own and loved me with all that she had and all that she was. She cradled me in her arms when I was sad, she hugged me when I was lonely. Even though her arms were tired, she tapped me until I was finally asleep. She woke up early to prepare my meals and made sure I was ready for the day. She even braved the flood with me when the water was up to our knees just to get me home. Sacrificial love was her gift. She lived it daily. Though I was brat, she loved me without hesitation. Never once did she complain. I regret not saying thank you enough and appreciating her enough but I know now that her unconditional love drove her to care for me as much as she did.

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I clearly remembered the night back when I was 7 or 8 years old when I snuggled next to her and as tears rolled down my face, she hugged me a little tighter and asked me what was wrong. At that age I still slept in between her and my grandpa. I told her to promise me that she will never ever leave me. I told her I wanted her to be a part of every single significant moment in my life. I told her I never wanted her to die. She told me her time would come but it wouldn’t be soon because she was going to live to see her great grandchildren. She laughed and told me to promise to give her many great grandchildren. We ended that night with a promise I so desperately wanted to keep. Years went by and as her health deteriorated, I worried that I would break that promise. In 2011, when I found out I was pregnant with our eldest son, Micah, I prayed hard for many many nights that the Lord would have mercy and grant her the grace to hold on—to hold just a little longer so she could meet her first great-grandchild. I wanted so much to keep that promise.

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In His kindness, the Lord allowed us to bring Micah home twice and she got to see him. Micah got to play in her room and hug and kiss his tai-ma. I remembered sitting by her bedside and whispering in her ear, Ama, I kept my promise. I saw her blink her eyes as she looked at me, like she agreed. My heart was full. When I got pregnant with Titus last year, I prayed and asked God to ask her to hold on a little longer once again. Her condition had gotten worse and was in and out of the hospital. My family told me they would miss his birth because of ama’s condition. As I counted days to our trip home this year, I couldn’t wait for their first meeting to happen. Visiting her was our top priority. I would smile every time I imagined Titus in ama’s bed and touching her face with his tiny fingers. It would be a heartwarming reunion, or so I thought.

When I received the news last Tuesday, my heart broke. I wept and asked the Lord why He didn’t let her wait a little longer. Two more weeks and my magical day would happen. But He is Sovereign. I wasn’t angry, I was just sad. As Chris and I prayed that night, memories of her flooded my head. I held the boys a little tighter that night, just like she held me. A peace overwhelmed me and a promise was remembered. My husband reminded me that God had already answered our prayers and I had fulfilled my promise. I knew he was right and I was thankful for the time she had with Micah. As I contemplated, I realized now that she doesn’t only get to see my boys, she also gets to watch over them everyday. Distance will no longer hinder her presence anymore. She will get to see Titus’ first step and witness Micah’s first day of college. She will no longer miss out on any part of their lives because she can watch them from the best view, heaven.

You can now watch them grow everyday!

You can now watch them grow everyday!

It’s funny how a lot of her comes out in me as I raise my boys. An oatmeal (Quacker) will always be a staple for breakfast while a cup of rice, lots of meat, vegetables, and fruits will always be present at lunch and dinner and noodles will always be available in our pantry. I always add an extra layer of t-shirt and tuck it in because I can hear her voice in my head, telling me that if it wasn’t tucked, draft from the wind will make their backs cold. Socks need to be on their feet to keep them warm at night and a jacket is a must-have in the car. Always finish your food or every single grain left in it will be a pimple on your future partner’s face. Keep your elbows off the table or you’ll forever be stuck with it. Some are silly, some are wise, but all of them are memories and stories that will forever be retold. Though she may not be here with us physically, her legacy will last a lifetime. Her stories, her smile, her words of wisdom, and acts of love have forever been engraved in our hearts and it will live on through generations.

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As I smile at her memory and celebrate her life, I see her singing praise to God with the choirs of angels. Her face is lit up and glowing like the sun. What a magnificent picture that is. This year will probably be her best Christmas yet. She gets to celebrate and sing happy birthday to the celebrant with Himself! I will always rejoice knowing that because of Christ, this is not our final goodbye, this is a just a “see you later, Ama.” To the One who has created the best grandma there ever was and will ever be, to the One who has called her home to be with Himself, and to the One who is capturing our hearts and giving us overwhelming peace, Jesus, be all the glory, honor and praise. I love you, Ama. Forever.

Your legacy lives!

Move On Mom

Playdates are usually fun for the mom and the kids until someone cries, gets tired, or doesn’t share. It’s been a couple of months since an incident in a playdate happened to us. It has taken me a while to write about it because I wasn’t ready to sift through my feelings and swallow my pride. Micah clearly is way over it and I, on the other hand, took a while to digest it.
Some months ago, Micah had a playdate with a friend. He was still busy eating lunch, as we all were, when his friend said he wanted to play. My son knows the rule about getting up during meal time. It’s a big no..NO. There will be mishaps here and there but for the most part, Micah knows he is not allowed to run around during meal time until we are all done. That goes for everyone including mom, dad, and Titus.
His friend was getting agitated so he came over and flipped Micah’s plate and water cup. Luckily, he was about 2 bites away from finishing his meal. (If it was a whole plate, I probably would be even more irritated.) The food spilled all over his clothes and water dripped down from his body to the floor.
My eyes grew wide open, my heart started to pound and my temper, well it began to rise. I was in shock. I was more in shock that his mom laughed at the situation as Micah sat there wet to his socks. He whispered quietly, “Mama, I’m all wet.” (In my head, I was like…YEAH CLEARLY!) I saw him looking at me, watching my reaction to the situation. Knowing that my son’s thought bubbles would go like, “Mmmm Wonder what my mom will do?” I smiled (on the outside but definitely not on the inside) and in a very controlled voice, “It’s ok Micah, let’s clean it up. It’s just water. It will dry up.” As we wiped up the spill, his friend started to whine and fuss. He was still upset that Micah hadn’t gotten up to play with him. He cried and yelled for Micah to come over. His mom just laughed it off and said he was tired.
After I cleaned up the mess, I excused myself and went to the bathroom. I needed a time-out. I was sorting through my feelings of anger and confusion. I quickly texted my husband, “Please pick up your phone in 5 minutes. Thanks.” I knew I needed an outlet and my poor husband was in for it. I prayed quietly and asked God to change my heart and calm my voice as we prepared to say goodbye. I told Micah to say goodbye since everyone was probably tired from the day and needed some down time (I needed to get out of there or it will not be pleasant.). When we got to the car, Micah hesitated to sit down and buckle up. He told me, “Mama, I need to go down and say sorry to Michael. He is crying. It’s Micah’s fault.” Oh!!! The fumes burned inside me even more. I gently said, “No Micah, that wasn’t your fault. He spilled water and food on you. You didn’t do anything wrong. It’s time to go home now, ok?”
As we drove off, I quickly called my husband. Thankfully, he picked up. I ranted on and on about the whole situation and expressed how irritated I was. As I shared my feelings, I realized I was upset because they never apologized for what happened. It made me even more upset that Micah felt blamed for the situation because it was the other child who ended up crying. I was upset because his mom made excuses for him. I was upset because there was no remorse or sense of urgency to remedy the situation. I know it wasn’t really that bad, but I was after the principle. I told my husband that I was trying so hard to teach Micah how to play nice, share, and apologize when he is wrong and now that he is wronged, he wasn’t apologized to. WAHHH!!! AARGGGHHH!!!
Praise God for my patient husband. After I chewed his ear out with my frustration, he calmly said, “Are you done? I’m glad you were able to express your feelings. Why don’t we talk about it when I get home. I have to go to the court now.” I was A LOT calmer at this point and I agreed and thanked him for listening to me.
A few minutes later, Micah said, “Mama, are you ok? I think you should pray.” (GRRRRR!!!!!! I DIDN’T REALLY FEEL LIKE PRAYING AT ALL!) “You are right Micah. Let’s pray and thank God for today, huh?” I really tried hard to sound happy and sincere but I was struggling. In the midst of our prayer he says, “Mama, pray for Michael and auntie *his mom*.” I was like…MMM NO WAY! But clearly the Holy Spirit was using my 2-year-old to convict my hardened heart. I asked the Lord to bless them and change my heart towards the situation. After we said Amen, Micah said, “Mama. It’s all done. Ok? All done.” As if he was telling to never ever bring it up again. MOVE ON MOM! Everything is fine now. Boy did I struggle even more! I wrestled with God because I wasn’t done yet.
When Chris got home that night, I quickly said, “Micah, tell daddy what happened today.” He looked at me blankly and said, “Mama, it’s all done right?” But continued on to tell his dad briefly, “Michael threw water at me but it’s all done now Papa, right Mama?” Again, as if telling me to drop the case of the spilled water. I knew God was speaking to me. He was dealing with my heart and asking me to forgive and forget. But I just couldn’t get past it.
I discussed it again with Chris that night as we lay in bed. I just needed to share how slighted I felt. I was definitely crying over spilled milk (but in this case, water). I didn’t want Micah to feel like a bully and that everything is always his fault when he plays with Michael. But Chris, in a kind and gentle way pointed out, “Babe. Micah’s already done with it. He even told you multiple times that it’s all done right? I learned that it takes genuine forgiveness to move past a situation when we feel wronged. Micah has been over it since you guys prayed and you are still dwelling in self-pity and pride.” He continued on to say, “Micah is showing a lot more maturity and godliness in this situation than you are.” MMMM YEAH HE IS! I agreed.
We didn’t see each other for a while because our schedule got crazy. It wasn’t till recently that they asked to meet up with us again. I struggled as I read the text. I called my husband (again, my favorite go-to person for wisdom). I told him about meeting up and he quickly encouraged me to go. I had come up with a text stating I was unavailable and had lots to do because of the busy weekend ahead. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to hold off sending it. Chris told me that Micah needs to learn to deal with different people and different situations. And that I had to grow in dealing with how other parents discipline and respond to our children as well. He said, “This would be a good practice and that it would be a great way for you to show Christ love. It would be a perfect place to practice and apply the message we heard from our pastor last Sunday. Maybe you can win them over to Christ with your love.”
I knew in my heart he was right. He knew my to-do-list was long and needed to get checked off but he said growing in character was more important. Praise God for a godly husband! I responded and met up with Michael and his family with a smile. With a changed heart, I can say that it went much better than I anticipated. My son had a great time and seeing him deal with conflict (as it arose once again) made me appreciate his sincere and genuine heart even more. He dealt with it with ease and handled it with grace. He used his kind words and won his friend over with kindness. I learned to be gracious and respond in love and let my child take charge of himself. At the end of the day, I was glad I went. We all need a lesson or two on love, no matter how old we get.
Today, I came to the conclusion that at this time of my life, motherhood is my ministry and our playdates well, you can call them my mission field, where the character of both my boys and mine will grow and get tested. I pray we will truly reflect Christ in every situation and show love even in the most difficult circumstances. I’m grateful that God’s love overlooks my faults and this prompts me to do the same even if it’s hard. I’m still a work in progress and I’m thankful that God’s love will never give up on me.🙂

PS: Real names weren’t used.

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The Wonder of Imagination

The other day, Micah refused to nap! He just fought it the whole day. He even chanted as he painted his picture, “Mama, no nap, no nap. Micah does not need a nap. No nap, no nap, Micah does not need a nap.” It sounded more annoying (as you can imagine) than funny when it was happening. But at his usual nap time (and my much awaited ME time), I sent him off to bed.

After two hours, he was still awake. I could hear him reciting parts of the books he had memorized, talking to himself and singing his heart out. It was funny listening to him. But I figured, might as well keep him up since this nap thing isn’t working and bedtime will just be moved up an hour early.
I walked into his room and told him he could stay in his room until I was ready for him to come downstairs. He could read or play legos on his mat while he waited. He really wanted to ride his bike and his car downstairs but he since he didn’t nap (thus disobeying) his consequence was he had to entertain himself in his room alone.

Two hours later (YES, two hours…I was shocked, too!) he was still up there. I could hear him talking but it was too muffled for me to understand. I decided to listen through the door. He was talking about a tow truck coming to take the car away because there was construction going on. I was curious to see what he was doing. I wished there was a peep hole so I can look in. I just opened the door quietly to see what was going on. Low and behold, there was powder on his community mat.

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I was just about to go, “Micah! What happened?! What did you do?!” But I held my breath and listened to him narrate his story. He looked up with a grin and said, “Mama! Look! There’s snow and construction site and the tow truck take away the car because he was in an accident.” His imagination was running wild and his brain was too fast for his mouth. He was trying really hard to explain what was going on but he was just too excited!

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I watched quietly as he shared his heart with me. He told me how the tow truck with a mechanic was helping the car and that the driver did not check the traffic so he got stuck (Trivia: his dad always needs to check the traffic whenever we get into the car. I thought that part was hilarious!). The snow (aka baby powder) covered the road, which caused it to become a construction site. He showed me how the construction worker and driver (he is a multi-tasker apparently) had to put the “snow/dirt” into the dump truck then drive away. He proudly showed me the skyscrapers he had built with lego and how Bob the builder had come to build them. He was throwing all these big words at me and quoting the books we learned them from.

 

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At that moment, my heart was filled to the brim. I was glad I held my breath and let him take charge. At the end of the day, it was my fault for leaving the powder within his reach and for not giving him enough boundaries on what he can and cannot do in his room. I savored the moment as I listened to my 2.5 year old share what was in his mind and in his heart. I listened as he opened his eyes to the raw power of integrating everything we have been learning and experiencing. He allowed me to go back to the days when I would make stuff up and laugh at the simplest things. As I watched him find joy in powder, tow trucks and building legos, I silently thanked the Lord for the little things that make us smile. Who would have thought my mistake of leaving the baby powder within his reach would allow him to picture snow and make it real.

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Because of this, we were able to stop and talk about who created this wonderful thing called snow and once again bring it back to our awesome Creator. It is amazing how God uses these moments to make us stop and appreciate His majesty. It reminded me to make a conscious effort to revert everything back to the One who made it all and making each moment a teachable moment that leads back to Christ.
Moments later, we heard the garage door open. I quickly ran downstairs to meet my husband. I knew he would freak out (eyes wide open, mouth drops, and goes WAH!) at the sight of the powder on the floor so I had to warn him. I gave him a hug and a kiss and said, “Babe, hurry. Go upstairs to Micah’s room and listen through the door. Listen to what he is talking about. It’s really funny and quite entertaining. But there’s stuff on the floor you might not like. Don’t react! Control yourself. He is just using his imagination.” Chris was like, “WHAT?! What’s on the floor?!” I said, “Nothing the vacuum can’t take care of and it’s just on his play mat and not on the carpet.”

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Thank God I prompted him because his eyes did pop out when he saw the powder. But he did keep his mouth shut and replaced the gasp with a pleasant inquiry of what was going on. Micah enthusiastically shared the happenings in his busy little town while his dad listened attentively to him. My husband looked at me and smiled with saying, “Thanks for the heads up but you gotta clean this up later.”

What a blissful moment.

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Truth Be Told: A Toddler’s Confession

Today marked a milestone for me as a mom of a two. I never thought about dealing with honesty this way or this soon.

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Micah at 2.5 and Titus at 8 months old

I would often let Micah and Titus play together while I cook, clean or do the laundry. I would be around the area or within a short distance from the two of them just in case some mishaps happen. Titus is a pretty tough baby. He doesn’t get hurt very often and is usually quite tolerant of his brother when he starts playing a little rough. He would laugh when Micah would pretend to play or throw a football or swing his imaginary baseball bat. He loves hanging around his older brother and follow him around (in a much slower pace a.k.a crawling).

It’s fun watching them interact and be buddies. Micah is usually pretty good around Titus and is pretty careful when Titus is close by. There would be days when he would get frustrated with Titus when he chews on his toys or mess up his work during home school time but for the most part, I think he likes having his little brother around. The other night though, we had to remind him to be more gentle when he pretended to tackle and run around Titus. We told him that his baby brother isn’t big enough to play football yet, let alone be his football at the moment. 

This morning, as the boys were playing in the living room, I ran upstairs to grab my phone and my wallet as we prepared to leave for an errand. I told Micah to watch Titus for a second. He was busy playing with his big construction trucks while Titus was crawling around him. There were coos and laughter but as soon as I got my wallet, I heard Titus crying. I ran downstairs to see what had happened.

Micah had stepped a couple of feet away while Titus was on the floor (in a crawling position) with his hand outstretched with fingers apart. My initial thought was probably one of the wheels of the excavator must have ran over his tiny little fingers. Whether it’s on purpose or not, I don’t know and I really can’t tell. I decided to pick up Titus, wipe his tears, and calmly ask Micah what happened. He told me, “Mama, Titus just cry. I don’t know.” I asked him if he had anything to do with it, he said, “no mama” and started rolling his truck the other direction.

Titus was way over it at this point. It literally took him one loud “WAAHH” then some “sniff sniff” and then it was over. I debated whether I should pry some more or not. I was tempted to accuse Micah (gently) or present the “possible” scenario of what just happened. But I restrained myself and thought it was best to just end the situation with a calm reminder to be careful around his little brother and to make sure he paid attention to where he was going. 

We all hopped in the car and I drove away. At one of the stoplights a couple blocks from home, Micah quietly said, “Mama, I gotta tell you something.” I glanced up and said, “Yes Micah?” He continued on with a remorseful and almost teary face and said, “Mama, I sorry. I hurt Titus and he cried. It was accident. I sorry Mama. I hurt Titus. Mama, I forgive you.” (which means “please forgive me,” he still can’t quite figure that one out yet.)

I pulled over after crossing the red light and asked him to look me in the eyes as I smiled and said, “Micah, thank you for telling mama the truth. I’m so glad you were honest. Mama wouldn’t be mad as long as you tell the truth. I’m so proud of you for being brave enough to tell mama what really happened. God is really happy about what you did, too. That was very mature and God-honoring. I forgive you. Please be more careful around Titus next time ok?” He smiled. I continued on, “How do you feel now?” He said, “Mama I say sorry to Titus.” Then he quickly turned towards Titus and said, “Titus, I sorry. I hurt you. I forgive you ok?” (again, it means, “please forgive me”) I chuckled in the front seat as I watched him in the rear view mirror. After his sincere apology, I noticed his whole demeanor changed. He was smiling, talking and bubbly once again. We prayed and I thanked God for giving him an honest heart. He quickly added “I sorry God for hurting Titus.” as we prepared to say Amen.

I praise God for giving me the wisdom to stay calm and restraining myself from accusing Micah of hurting Titus. I praise God for the sensitive heart that He has given him. I pray that he will always choose to obey Christ even when things get difficult.

As I shared this story with my husband, we were reminded of Proverbs 22:6 which says, “Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We pray that both our boys will come to know Christ at a young age and have a personal relationship with Him. It is our desire to pass on a godly legacy that will always point them to our Creator. This incident also reminded us that we are accountable to the Lord to teach our children biblical principles and to be the godly example He wants us to be. But apart from Him, we cannot do it. We are blessed to have the Holy Spirit to help us through this journey of parenthood.

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DOUGH-ble the Fun!

As you can see, play dough has been a constant component in our home. Today, I would like to share two other simple recipes and activities you can do with your kids.

After learning about the Solar System and memorizing them, I wanted to teach Micah the different things that men use to explore the moon. When I first presented the lesson, I noticed he wanted nothing to do with it. He got bored pretty quickly and wanted to move on. This is very unlikely because he is usually engaged in concepts that are new to him. I thought about how I can make this exciting.

Again, the sensory bin came to life. The next day, I got him involved in making cloud dough for the moon surface. It is really easy and fun to do. As we knead and played with the dough inside the bin, I started introducing the different space objects once again. It sparked his interest and he paid full attention.

IMG_9262As we manipulated these objects around the bin, he quickly learned the names and their functions. This activity kept his attention for over an hour and by the end of the first 15 minutes, he was able to articulate the lesson back to me. I left him alone, busy with his new found interest in space objects for another hour or so while I got things done around the house.

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To reinforce the names of the objects, I created picture cards for each one and had him play a matching game with them the next day. I had him bury all the objects in the “moon sand” and placed all the cards face down. He then had to flip a card, name it, find the object that matched it, and place it on top of the card.

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Once he got the concept, he started playing the game by himself. I think he got it because he created his own rocket with his magnetiles during his afternoon play time. He excitedly showed me his creation and said, “Mama, this is the Saturn V Rocket!” I realized that going an extra mile to make learning more fun for your child goes a long way.

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Creating the dough and making it an exciting concept allowed him to not only enjoy learning but also encouraged him to correlate his knowledge with his imagination.

Cloud Dough Recipe Cloud Dough2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of oil

1. Pour the flour in a bowl.

2. Make a hole in the center of the flour.

3. Pour the oil into the hole.

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4. Mix the oil and flour together with your hands. The nice and smooth texture makes it fun to knead with your hands.

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Another fun activity we did was the volcano eruption and dinosaur sensory bin. We made the volcano with an herbal tea play dough recipe. It was the best smelling volcano I’ve ever seen erupt! As we read and learned about the dinosaurs, I saw a volcano in one of the pages and thought how fun it would be to teach him what a volcano can do.

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We quickly got our ingredients together and made ourselves a volcano. I placed some cloud dough in the sensory bin and used it as the land the dinosaurs played on. I added the volcano on the side and created a hole to represent the crater. I placed baking soda inside the hole and sprinkled a few on the outside to extend the “lava” explosion effect. As I taught him about volcanoes, I poured vinegar into the crater and kaboom! It exploded! I think it caught him off guard but his shock was overruled by amazement. The volcano erupted a couple more times after that before it was time for the dinosaurs to evacuate.

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The three of us were entertained with this experiment, even though we’ve done it multiple times. Some things just never get old! It was fun to see both of them so engaged and entertained by this simple activity. Of course, I couldn’t reuse the tea dough volcano after the eruption but since it was so easy to make, I think we will be having it around again really soon. Micah already wanted to make a new one right after that! It made our kitchen smell really good too!

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Don’t forget to clean up once you are all done.🙂

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Tea Dough Recipe

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2 tea bags (the more bags you put, the more vibrant the color)
1 1/2-2 cups of water
1 cup of flour
1/4 cup of salt
2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
1 1/2 tablespoons of oil (you can add more if you want it to be softer)

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1. Boil the water and steep the tea bags for about 5-8 minutes.

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2. Remove the tea bags.

3. Add the flour, salt, cream of tartar and oil into the pot. (Have you child help you pre-measure the ingredients.)

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4.Cook and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes or until it forms into a ball. You can add a little water or oil if you need to.

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5. Once your ball is in the center of the pot, take your dough out and place it on a lightly floured surface.
(Warning: It can be hot!)

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6. Squeeze out the extra water from the tea bags unto the dough, tear open the bag and knead the tea leaves into the dough to add more texture.

7. Have fun!

I used raspberry tea for my volcano and it smelled really good! I should have added more tea bags but I just used up what I had. I will try with another flavor for our next one and see how that turns out. Don’t forget to share yours with me, too! You can always bust out those cookie cutters and make fun creations! Get your hands kneading and have fun!