Mar 30, 2007

Love Languages

3/30/2007 — cori
We have really come to appreciate the book, "The 5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman in this household. It just seems to give us so much more insight into how to love each other better. Knowing that my husband's love language is touch and quality time reminds me to take advantage of opportunities to give him a random hug during the day, knowing that it will speak volumes more than if I brought him home a gift. On the other hand, if he offers to do the dishes for me one night after dinner, he's showing me more love than if he were to give me a foot rub. My love language is acts of service and quality time. Isn't it ironic that we normally show love to our spouse the way we want it. It takes so much more thought to love them the way that they need to be loved. It's all part of God's beautiful plan, of course, to keep us constantly dependent upon Him to guide and direct our steps throughout each day. When I'm following him, I'm thinking less about me and my wants and more about others. The same holds true for our children too.

Chuck and I recently had a wonderful revelation as to the love languages prominent in each child. Once you realize it, you see it all around you. Just in case you're not familiar with all of the love languages, they are: Quality Time, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gifts, and Words of Affirmation. Here's how our each of our sweet, little ones gives and receives love:

Gavin, at age 8, desires Quality Time above all else. He's naturally a very easy going kid, not much gets him riled up. He prefers that quality time by sitting and reading with me or learning new things about the computer from Daddy. He treasures our dates and the personal attention he gets from each parent concentrating solely on him and whatever he wants to do or talk about. He also shows love through Gifts. Whenever we're out on a date, he always asks to stop at a dollar store so he can buy Bennett & Chloe something with his own money. He spends a good 30 minutes perusing each isle in search of the exact perfect $1 gift. This is life and death decision making in action. If you ever get a gift from Gavin, you can know he put every ounce of thought he had into it. He seems to follow in his Daddy's footsteps and loves making me little notes or powerpoints on the computer. His gifts are very heartfelt.

Bennett, at age 5, recieves love best by Physical Touch. The kid is always leaning on me if we're sitting on the floor playing a game, or sitting on a chair reading a book. He MUST touch. Wrestling is how he gets most of his touch in. If he doesn't get any 'wrestle time' in with Daddy during the day, you'd think he didn't get any love. Gavin and Bennett wrestle incesantly, so I think its safe to assume that they love each other immensely. Actually, just the other day Bennett said, "I like being with Gavin. I just like to do whatever he does. I really like him." Which brings me to his second most valued language of love which is, Quality Time. If he doesn't get play time with Gavin each day, you'd think he lost his best friend. If he feels he needs more time with me, he has no qualms in saying, "Hey, Mom, I want a date with you. We haven't spent much time together lately." He's very in touch with how he feels and desires that everyone know how he feels about everything.

And lastly, Chloe. She'll be 3 next week and already has such a distinct personality. That is one of the most awe inspiring things to me....how kids are born their own little persons. From the minute she was born, she has surprised me in every way. I guess I had a preconcieved idea of the way a little girl would be and she has blown each of those ideas out of the water and shown me who she IS instead of who I THINK she should be. God has taught me the most through this darling princess of mine. She is full of surprises. We've yet to figure out which love language is priority for her, both of these seem equally important, they are: Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. Chloe loves to ask, "What I hep you wiv, mommeee?" or "What can I do?" Or if someone needs something, she is the first to yell, "I get it for you!" and runs off with her little girly run in order to help us. (Although, truth be told, she's not as giddy about helping when it comes to 'clean up time'). Any time throughout the day, I might be given the random complement by her, such as, "I yike your pripee shurt Mommee." or "Dank you for painting my prippee pink room, Mommee, I yike it." She loves to adorn me with princess names and titles - I can never seem to keep up with which one I am. But to her, that is such a loving thing to do. Whenever I call her by her princess name of the day, she can't hold back her smile and grins from ear to ear. She loves it when I acknowledge how pretty she folded the napkins that she set at the table.

How beautiful that God shows us what our kids need. How thankful I am for his constant guidance in raising my three favorite little people in the whole world. In learning how to love them, I'm learning how to give more of me and the more of my self that falls to the side, the more of Jesus my children will hopefully see. Thank God this is a life long journey and that we are only at the beginning!

Mar 27, 2007

Sweet Tradition

3/27/2007 — cori
At what point will they suddenly decide that its not important anymore? Will I remember the day it stops? Or will it remain a sweet, cherished tradition for many more years?

These were just a few of the questions floating through my head around 7 this morning. I typically wake up first and have to lay there until all the kids thunder down the stairs and jump into bed with me for our much coveted 'Cuddle Time'. If I 'accidently' wake up too early and decide to be efficient and start my day before the kids wake up - it is not a good thing. It normally involves me having to get back in bed and pretend everything is normal, like I just woke up. If I made the bed, it might just send one into a meltdown. Thus, sometimes I unmake the bed and jump back in just to show the kids how much I value our time honored tradition. So, it just doesn't pay for me to be efficient or wake up early.

Each child, from the time they slept in their own bed, would instantly come running to my side of the bed in the morning with at least one book in hand ready to cuddle and read. Sometimes we would end up 'cuddling' for a good 30 minutes. I had to begin to limit the amount of books they could bring in the morning. First of all, I can't stand my own morning breath and felt horrible that they had to put up with it while I read aloud 10 books immediately upon clearing the sleep out of my eyes. Thankfully, love covers a multitude of 'sins' and they never mentioned it to me.

The joy is just in being together. Talking about last night's dreams, what we should do today, what was their favorite part of yesterday, what powers their latest imaginary superhero posseses...you know, all the important things in life. If I don't write it down now, I'm afraid I might forget something that I've taken for granted for the past 7 or so years.

With each new child comes a new obstacle though. When Bennett was born, Gavin had to learn to 'share' Mommy as I tried to hold his book, read to him, and balance Bennett's bottle between my neck as I tried to feed him with no hands. Then as he got older, we had to decide who's book to read first and which side does each kid get. Trust me - side matters. Nobody wants to get stuck on the side that is cloesest to Daddy. For some reason, that's just never been the coveted spot. Then along came Chloe. I don't have three sides...so where does the last person in lay? This is a dilemma that still plagues us to this day. Chloe feels she has inherent rights to be glued next to me at all times. We are both princesses after all (she even greets me in the morning with, "Good morning, Cinderella!"). Bennett will take a diving leap from the doorway and try to jump on my bed just to secure the only other open spot next to me. Then that leaves Gavin getting 'stuck' laying next to Daddy or worse yet, next to a sibling. Recently, this problem has been solved in a very creative way, Chloe lays on top of me. Or once in a blue moon, someone is kind enough to 'give up' his or her spot. But I know some major bribing or blackmailing must have been going on behind my back to pull that off.

It used to be, that if 7 am rolled around and no one was snuggled up next to me, I began to worry that someone was sick. No one would sleep past 7 am on their own accord and no one would just not come in to see me. But as of late, sometimes they don't. Chloe, of course, is old faithful, she's there at the exact same time every morning. But often times the boys play for a while first, or read to each other, or go get their breakfast.

I know that day will be just around the corner. Time travels so fast anymore. The simple things in life are treasured here. Cuddle time reminds me of the simplicity, joy and excitement of childhood; of sharing silly thoughts with the person who cares more than anything in the world and who doesn't only pretend to act interested, but really is!

Mar 16, 2007

The CNS

3/16/2007 — cori
Not many people know that I come equipped with a hidden talent. Many who have known me for years may not yet be associated with this unfathomable skill I posses. Only my dear beloved husband is fully aware of this God-given ability.

Some who may not fully understand the skill set involved in this talent often refer to it as 'backseat driving' - but that just shows ignorance. My friend, I am not simply a 'backseat driver'. That does not begin to express the usefulness of what my dear, sweet husband has dubbed the Cori Navigational System - otherwise known as the CNS.

I have indeed suffered inumerable remarks in regard to my ability (i.e. sarcastic comments about my help not being needed). I think they come from a root of jealousy because most are just envious and wish they could perform such amazing mental driving calculations. It's a gift and a curse. Mostly a gift. No matter where we are, I have an innate ability to tell the driver the most efficient route, where construction may or may not be, where hidden cops lie in wait and what the speed limits are. Uncanny, isn't it.

Today, however, I performed one of my most remarkable feats. Listen and learn. Chuck and I took two separate cars to a store that was approximately 20 minutes away from home. I had to leave before him in order to get a child to practice. On my way home, my CNS kicked in. I couldn't squelch the urge to call Chuck and tell him the most appropriate way home being that it was rush hour. I called him and he did indeed pick up on the first ring (we're making great progress on his phone answering abilities, by the way). I informed him that if he took a right out of the parking lot and zig-zaged his way thru a non-descript area, he would then be right back on course with no time lost. However, if he attempted to take a left out of the parking lot, we would probably still be waiting for him even now.

Chuck was in awe that the CNS works even when it's not in the car with him. I told him that we were previously unaware of this special feature and boy, does it add so much more value to such an already awesome operating system.

Many times the CNS might come across as annoying, for lack of a better word, to the driver. But today it proved invaluable. If you're ever in a driving bind, you know who to call.

Mar 8, 2007

The New Me

3/08/2007 — cori
I recently had the privilege of going to the hair salon. It's a privilege because it is so rare (maybe once every 2 1/2 months). The kids get equally excited because they know Mommy is gone for a long time (2 whole hours alone) and comes back looking different. They wait with eager anticipation of what Mommy will look like.

Incidentally, Chuck had a little heart to heart with the boys about being a little too honest with what they felt I looked like (as in, "We don't think you look good in that" brutal honesty). He told them, "When Mommy comes back from the hairdresser and if for some crazy reason, you don't like her hair, what are you going to say?" Gavin responds with, "Tell her we like it anyway?" He's clueless. I'm sure Chuck would rather just concede and say, "That would probably be the smartest thing to do"... but thankfully he took the higher road and said, "No buddy. You don't need to lie. But if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything." The timing couldn't have been more perfect. This way, they were going to be on guard about blurting out the first thought that might slip into their head regarding my 'new do'.

I had been getting my hair highlighted for many years and recently made the ol' switcheroo back to my original color. However, the kids have no clue that I even had an original color. So, at lunch, I informed the kids that I would be gone during dinner to get my hair cut. Gavin comes back with, "You mean they cut your hair too?". Thankfully, Chloe is there to clear up the misconception of the hairdressing occupation and promptly informs Gavin that, "No...she paint mommy hair. Dat all."

The hairdresser is a very mysterious place to my boys being that they've never stepped foot in one. I've always cut their hair. Their idea of a haircut is kneeling on the floor in the garage while Mommy gets the electric razor out and shaves their head. What is all this talk of cutting and painting at a beauty salon? It is just beyond their realm.

Well...the moment of truth comes. I come home from my 2 hour reprieve and am met with wondrous stares from the boys. Their eyes are sparkling as if they were a puppy dog and I was holding a new bone out for them. They can't wipe that cute little goofy grin off their faces. Gavin was the first to say, "Mom, your hair looks nice." with as much genuineness as he can find. Why thank you, Honey. How sweet. Bennett echoes his sentiment but also adds, "Mommy, you look new. You look 20." Well, this is a first. I've never been told I look new before. That's kinda fun. And then Chloe adds, as she's petting my hair, "Mommy, why didn't she paint it purple?"

Mar 6, 2007

Dollhouse

3/06/2007 — cori
This morning the boys were kind enough to actually play something that Chloe wanted to play instead of forcing transformers, bionicles or legos upon her still impressionable female mind. Her game of choice was dollhouse. In her dollhouse she has a table and two chairs, a mommy, a daddy and a baby. Gavin chose the daddy. Chloe chose the mommy and baby. Bennett was the table.

I asked Bennett why he was the table. He said, "Everybody had already picked everything else so I chose to be a flying table." That must have spiced things up a bit in the world of 'dollhouse'. Let's give the kid a gold star for ingenuity!

Mar 4, 2007

The Battle of Breakfast (at Dinner)

3/04/2007 — cori
"A day that will live in infamy." Very serious words spoken during a very serious time in our history. Funny how history tends to repeat itself. I even fancy myself a bit of a history buff, yet I never saw this one coming.

Remember the Battle of the Bulge, Bunker Hill, Custer's Last Stand? What do all these things have in common with my little corner of the world? They were all famous battles recorded for posterity. They were all smaller battles in a bigger war that ended up making us who we are today.

Similarly, we too, have just experienced a battle that will inevitably leave its mark upon future generations of our family. It has come to be known as "The Battle of Breakfast (at Dinner)". It was messy. It was loud. There were threats, tears and turmoil. We hearkened up from the depths of our muddled, history memories a small, yet influential battle called, "Custard's Last Stand". We too, had decided to take a stand at all costs.

We were on the defense, not a good place to be against a strong-willed 2 year old little girl. She seemed to be gaining ground. She pounded us with everything she had. For 20 minutes she repeated the same phrase non-stop, "I not want dis anymore. I no yike eggs." Her weaponry was a highly detonable whine. She knew her enemy would weaken within 30 minutes of this shrill sound, so she pressed on at full volume. Next, she unloaded the weaponry form known as "Large Alligator Tears Streaming Down From Puppy Dog Eyes". We didn't buy it. We had expected this line of attack and had just moments before changed our concourse so as not to see the alligator tears directly.

The incessant whine was beginning to bring me to my knees, but Chuck pressed on, encouraging me that this was a battle that HAD to be fought, we couldn't show our weakness now. We were going to win, we could just feel it. If we couldn't force our daughter to eat when she was no longer hungry, than, by George, what kind of parents were we? We made our stand and were executing solely on principle now.

Our strategy of leaving her alone at the table to finish her eggs seemed to inflict much turmoil. This brought about the "I'm going to cry so hard that it makes me gag" routine. We didn't see this one coming. We were going on past experience here. Every time we employ the "leave them at the table alone" strategy, it works. Nobody ever wants to be left at a table alone (except for Mommy - Mommy really likes that punishment). We felt we were only minutes away from a swift victory. We started feeling as though taking a stand on this issue and choosing to fight this battle wasn't in vain after all.

Evidently, we started our celebratory procedures too early. It seems that Chloe had indeed tried to put a bite of that dreaded egg into her mouth only to see it come out again in various other forms. The 'gag reflex' from her previous strategy was seemingly still employed and she used it to her advantage. She let whatever was left in her mouth spew forth upon her plate and herself, unwittingly causing damage to herself (getting her favorite jeans dirty - this caused even more of an uproar from her than the fact we were making her eat the rest of her dinner).

We were forced to concede. We couldn't make her continue to eat when a foreign substance was now inhabiting the very food we were trying to get her to force down. We raised the white flag and came to her rescue. Instantaneously, once we removed the object of her detestment from before her, she switched back to the fairy princess she had been earlier that day. Gone was the whiny warfare tactics, gone were the over-sized tears, gone were the looks of betrayal. We were friends once again. She even dared to smile at us.

What's the moral of the story? I'm not sure. I'm still trying to figure that one out. It appears to be: Never fight a battle with a two year old because she will always win. Wait until they're three to start choosing battles.

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