They Grow Up So Fast & Thankful for Today

When you have your first child (and even when you have your fourth), everyone feels the need to give you advice. You might be told that you dress your baby too warmly, or that they don’t have enough on to keep them warm. You’ll be given advice on feeding, sleeping, spoiling and when you should (or shouldn’t) have another baby. Once piece of advice I have heard over and over is to enjoy your children today, because they grow up so fast.

Many people want to keep their babies little. To pretend that they won’t be another day older tomorrow. That you lose something once they start to grow. I have loved my babies. The smell, the snuggles, the amazing blessing. But I also love my children today. The unique way God has created them to be. So today, on Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for who my children are today and what they will become tomorrow.

Elise: I loved Elise as a 2 and 3-year-old. She had the best cheeks and the curliest red hair. She made everyone smile. I love her even more today. Elise is always learning something new (and amazing) and wanting to share it with us. Almost overnight, she has turned into a fantastic reader. I love listening to her read. She enjoys the sciences, especially animals and would rather watch a “learning show” than anything else.  She will be an amazing woman of God.

Emaline: Emaline was a mini-me at age 1 (she still is). She had these amazingly huge blue eyes, and China doll face. I love her even more today. Emaline puts her size to shame with her fiestiness. She loves being with her family. She loves to sing (all the time), create stories and still likes to snuggle. There is so much life in her. She will make people happy.

Ellasyn: Ella was a sweet baby. She was so content, quiet and loving. She smiled a lot, slept well and was a blessing from above after I miscarried twins. I love her even more today. Ella is a strong and vibrant 2-year-old. She wants her sisters to know that she is more than just the “little sister.” She is learning so much, loves to sing and can count in English and Spanish. She will be a leader.

Colton: Colton was the missing part to our family. Not just because he is a boy. I loved having a newborn again. The smell, the eyes, the small warm bundle in my arms. The blessing of this little boy brings tears to my eyes. At 5 months, he has changed so much. I love how he smiles when I walk into the room and how his eyes light up. He has great eyebrows. He makes his sisters laugh. He will be a man of God.

Winning is Losing

Have you ever let your child win? Maybe it was a board game or a game of tag. Maybe you were playing Just Dance 2 on the Wii and you “missed” a few dance moves so your child’s score would bump up. At some point we have all done it. Perhaps to make them feel better about themselves, or “share the wealth.” And at some point, we’ve realized it was time to let them lose.

The other night I was watching an episode of Parenthood on NBC. In this episode, entitled “Sore Loser,” parents Joel and Julia are told they are coddling their seven-year old daughter, Sydney. Sydney blew up at a family gathering after messing up and losing her turn at charades. She yelled, threatened, turned over the popcorn bowl and stormed out of the room. Sydney thinks it’s her birthright to win. Joel and Julia are told that it is time for their daughter to lose. “She doesn’t need confidence, she needs humility.”

We learn about winning, and thereby losing, at a very young age. My two-year old daughter understands what it means to win. My older girls want to know who is the winner of every sports game, match or race. “Winning” became a popular catch phrase recently thanks to Charlie Sheen. apparently, he was “winning” a lot. Though most of us might have interpreted his situation as “losing.”

Some where along the way, it was decided that letting children win at everything was the best thing for them. Suddenly t-ball and softball games don’t have a winner. We’re all winners! “Fs” were taken off of report cards, because we don’t want to use the word “fail.” But, it is the best thing for them?

In his book Parenting by The Book, author John Rosemond says that a focus on self-esteem has taken over parenting during the past forty years. He says that “people with a high self-esteem possess an entitlement mentality; they believe that anything they do is worthy of merit. As a consequence, they rarely do their best at anything…People with high self-esteem have little tolerance for disappointment, frustration, failure, and criticism.” He believe we should be teaching our children the opposite. We should teach them humility.

So, the next time you pull out Candy Land or Stratego, who’s going to win?

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 14:11)

A Thousand Words

If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a photo Christmas card worth? The first commercial Christmas card was produced in London in 1843. Since then, the greeting card industry has boomed. Even with the creation of internet cards, Christmas cards are still holding strong. Christmas cards were appearing in stores in September. September!!! When Shawn and I were first married, we send out traditional Christmas cards. After we had our first child Elise, we jumped into photo Christmas cards. These were a big hit since we lived across the country from our family. Every year since then, a new picture has been taken (some photo sessions included tears), personal messages were written (sometimes letter that only half of the recipients read), Christmas stamps were purchased and the cards were sent out.

We shared joys and triumphs from the past year. Every other Christmas, our family grew by another member. Last year, our Christmas cards showed our three girls on the beach with “#4” written in the sand. This year, #4 will be in our picture. I enjoy looking back at our past cards and remembering where we were and what was going on in our lives.

This year, I was given the opportunity to write a blog about photo Christmas cards and help promote www.shutterfly.com. Not a problem! Our photo Christmas cards came from Shutterfly last year. They are one of my favorites. So, whether you like using a photo (http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery) or not photo (http://www.shutterfly.com/cards-stationery/christmas-cards or http://www.shutterfly.com/greetings/index.jsp ), maybe you should check out www.shutterfly.com and see how you can spread some holiday cheer this year. This was my plug.

So, like years past, I will find a time to corral the whole family into a slightly staged grouping. Set the camera up, and try (without getting frustrated or someone bursting into tears – that happened one year) to get one picture where we are all looking in the same direction. Maybe like this one, but with Ellasyn’s eyes open.