Thursday, September 27, 2012

Them. Not You.

Here's a little tidbit of trivia about me: when I am teaching/speaking somewhere, I am a total one-track mind for about a month prior, and especially the week of. That is why I have only fit in one work out this week and my blog has been a little neglected lately. That is also why I can't think of anything else to write about today besides what I taught about yesterday.

So, here's a little excerpt from my talk. You're welcome.

If I had to boil down my "Mom Anger" to one root cause, it would have to be control. Plain and simple, my kids are either doing something I don't want them to do (whining, burping, sitting on his brother's head, taking off a mannequin's clothes, etc...) OR they're not doing something I want them to do (sleep when I tell them to sleep, eat the food I provide, pick up their toys).

As a mom, it feels like I should be able to control those behaviors. Push this button, pull this string and, Voila! A well-mannered child. We're big and they're little. We should be able to control them, right?

But we all know that that's not how it works so it can feel quite frustrating (maddening) that we can't get our kids to do what we want them to do. [Insert the Wrath-of-Mommy here.]

What I've learned is that I can't control my child's behavior, but I can train him effectively and discipline him consistently.

Training our kids includes two basic steps:
1- clear instruction on what the appropriate behavior looks like
2- consistent consequences to deter them from continuing in the negative behavior

Andy & I have found that the stronger-willed the child, the more creative the consequence must be. A consequence is totally ineffective if the child doesn't mind it. If you put your child in time-out but they sit there with a big grin on their face, time to find a new consequence.

The consequence MUST be unpleasant for them.

That eliminates the need to be angry. I don't have to stomp around and grouch about how they never put their toys away. While I put the toys in jail and my kids sit on the floor crying, I can say with empathy, "Man, that's a bummer that your toys are getting put in toy jail. I bet next time you'll remember to clean them up, huh?"

Secondly, the consequence must be unpleasant for them, NOT YOU. 

Don't take away their 30 minutes of TV time if that is your saving grace while you make dinner. Think of something else that would be equally painful for them, but not ruin your life at the same time.

And last, don't feel the pressure to come up with the consequence immediately.

The older your child gets, the more space there can be between the behavior and the consequence. Sometimes one of my kids will do something that makes me SO mad, but I have no idea what I should do in that moment. All I see is red. Probably the best thing to do in that moment is nothing. Simply say, "What just happened is not okay and you will need a consequence for that. But I'm not sure what I want that consequence to be yet. So I'm going to talk to your dad and we will decide together." Then, make sure you do follow up and administer the consequence later. Just because you've cooled off, don't think, "Oh, it wasn't that big of a deal." If it needed a consequence, you're not doing yourself OR your child any favors by not following through.

Being faithful with clear instruction and consistent consequences gives us a tangible plan to train our children. No need to angrily spin our wheels over bad behavior. Trying to control leads to anger. Effective training leads to progress. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mornings for Moms

Today we launched our new "Mornings for Moms" Life Group. It was awesome.

We are rotating who teaches this group, and this week it was my turn. I had the topic of, wait for it:
Mom Anger. 
How's that for diving in head first?!

This is my 3rd time teaching about Mom Anger and I fear that I am beginning to be known as "the angry mom". Oh, need someone to teach on anger? Call Stacie. She deals with it a lot! 

Uh...not so sure that was the reputation I was going for, but hey, I'll take one for the team and be the poster-child for Mom Anger since I know it's something we all deal with. 

I gotta tell you, though, teaching on anger is even worse than praying for patience. Everyone knows that if you ever make the mistake of praying for patience, you will be bombarded with a zillion frustrating opportunities to grow your patience. Imagine what teaching on anger provides. Yup. I have been living the past two weeks in a laboratory of anger-inciting moments.
  • messes made
  • complaining about meals provided
  • sibling conflict
  • laying on the floor pretending to be asleep during homeschool
  • grumpy attitudes 
  • outright defiance
Typical mom-stuff. It just felt heightened the past couple weeks. 

Here's a story bound to make you laugh (or blush). Just keep in mind, it's a lot easier to laugh when it's not your kids! :-) 

Last week I took the boys to the mall to buy them some fall clothes. They're a little too old for strollers but not quite old enough to maintain the self-control to make a mall trip enjoyable. As I'm in the process of making decisions on fall wardrobes, they are taking things off hangers, trying stuff on, and then leaving a trail behind them of discarded items. 

I came around the corner at Old Navy to find that my boys had undressed a little child mannequin. I scolded them as I quickly dressed the poor, embarrassed mannequin and then returned to decision making. I looked up again to, again, find the mannequin with his pants down and Caedmon's head right next to his butt. I said (in my staccato "Mom Voice"), "Caedmon! What. Are. You. Doing?" He replied, "I'm just smelling his butt." (As if that would be okay with me!) 

Then, to top off the experience, we walked into another store where Sammy made a bee-line for a full grown male mannequin. Sammy proceeds to grab the mannequin's crotch and yell clear across the store, "Caedmon! I found his penis!" At this point I am thinking, "Where is the closest exit? Do NOT make eye contact with anyone! Whose perverted children are these?!"

So, I for one, am glad that today's talk on anger is behind me. I'm hoping that now some of these anger-inciting opportunities will subside back to the level of "normal". I think next time I'll sign up to teach about something like "creating moments of spontaneous laughter and hugging".

If you are a mom in the Bay Area, we would love for you to join us for our Mornings for Moms. Click here for more info. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Relationship Rehab

If you are anywhere near the Bay Area this weekend, we'd like to invite you to join us this Sunday at South Bay Church as we launch a brand new series called Relationship Rehab. And if you are a regular attender at South Bay, bring someone with you! This is the easiest kind of series to bring friends, family members, and co-workers to because everyone has some relationship in their life that could use a little rehab! :-) It is going to be an awesome day and you don't want to miss it!

Check out this cool 2 minute promo video:

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

It's good for the flesh.

This past weekend, our church served at Santa Clara's Art & Wine festival. This is always a special event for our church because, not only is it the largest city event that we help with, it also was our first connection point with the city.

When the Wood, Santos, and Jackson families first moved to the Bay Area in 2008, we served at the Santa Clara Art & Wine festival less than 2 weeks after we arrived (still living out of boxes). With the help of a mission team from one of our partner churches, we hosted a booth, picked up trash, and helped with set up/tear down. People thought we were some big established church but we actually didn't even have a meeting location or a launch team yet!

For the past 4 years, South Bay Church's presence at the Art & Wine Festival has gotten more and more prevalent. As the city has learned that they can trust us, they have asked us to take on more and more responsibility.

This year South Bay Church provided over 250 volunteers to serve at the event. What a statement to our city! This church is here to love and bless our city! We probably had thousands of people stop by our both and 700 of them filled out info cards. Our team is working like crazy to follow up with all 700 people before our "Big Day" this Sunday.

On Sunday afternoon, Andy, the boys, and I were on our way to the festival for our "shift". We were getting there right as the festival ended to help with the massive clean up effort. Caedmon was (dramatically) disappointed when he realized that the festival was over. I guess kettle corn and carnival rides sounded a lot better to him then picking up trash. Go figure.

Our 3 year old Sammy, who could have fun doing ANYTHING, interrupted Caedmon's melt down by saying matter-of-factly, "Caedmon, we're here to help." Yep. That pretty much sums it up.

I said to Andy, "Serving is so good for the flesh."

Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh. Galatians 5:16-17

  • My flesh would rather stay home and sit on my couch then go and serve. 
  • My flesh would rather be grumpy or think about all the difficult things in my life instead of choosing joy. 
  • My flesh would rather speak harshly to a disobedient child than to gently instruct and train him. 

Our flesh needs a constant reminder that we don't live for it anymore! We live for the Spirit and have crucified the flesh.

Whether we are training our kids to be selfless or training ourselves, we all need to give ourselves ample opportunities to beat down the flesh so the Spirit can rise up in us and fill us with LIFE!

  • Serve someone in secret. 
  • Give some money to a good cause that you would rather spend on yourself. 
  • Invest time in a relationship instead of focusing solely on your 'to-do' list. 

After all, it's good for the flesh!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Not so "Holier Than Thou"

Something bizarre happened on Saturday morning. It hasn't happened to me since I became a mom 6 years ago. What was it?

I woke up in my own house all alone.

Andy had taken the boys on a boys-only overnight camping trip and wouldn't be home until about 2:30 that afternoon.

So I slept until I wanted to get up.
I worked out without being nervous that the boys would wake up in the middle of it.
I watered my plants.
I took a shower.
I ate breakfast.

And, then, about halfway through breakfast I realized that I had not said a word all morning. I had been awake for several hours and it was still quiet. Weird.

I read my Bible.
I started cleaning the kitchen.
I realized I was kinda enjoying cleaning the kitchen.
I made myself a healthy lunch and no one complained about what was served. It was just me!

While I sat there (in silence) eating my lunch, I had the thought, "It's a lot easier to be 'holy' when no one is messing with me! I don't think I've sinned all day!"

Sometimes as a mom I get discouraged because I see so many shortcomings in myself. I get impatient or angry or anxious about trivial things. I say things or use a tone of voice that does not build others up. I fight the selfishness that constantly tries to sneak it's way in my heart. Sometimes, I'm just plain grumpy.

When I see all these sin tendencies in myself, I wonder where I got off course. Pre-kids, pre-marriage, I think I used to feel much more "holy" than I do on the average day now.

But that's just it...I used to feel holy. It doesn't mean the junk wasn't in there; it just wasn't being exposed.

God uses our children (or spouses or roommates or people we relate to very closely) to draw out of us the sin that is deep in our hearts. It is part of His refining process. Often it's those times that we feel least 'holy' that He is hard at work developing holiness in us.

So the next time one of your Littles does something that brings you right to the edge of losing your mind, think to yourself, "God is developing holiness in me." Lean into it. Learn from it.

Because feeling holy and being holy are two very different things. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Caedmon's birthday rewind

This past weekend, my lil' buddy Caedmon turned a whopping 6 six years old! Instead of a good ol' fashioned birthday party, this year he opted for a camping trip. His first ever camping trip! He had SO much fun and keeps trying to convince Sammy & me (both October birthdays) that we should go camping for our birthdays too! 

Prepare yourself for birthday picture overload... (The grandparents want to see!)

By the looks of that food, you'd think they were staying for a week instead 
of one night! You have to remember, though, it was intended to feed 12 guys.

The 5 fearless dads accompanied by their 7 sons. 
(Andy wanted to make sure I got the South Bay logo centered in the picture for extra publicity. :-) ) 

When I first saw this picture I thought, "How cute is that?!" But then I noticed that 
Caedmon doesn't have any shoes on and I was a little grossed out. Also, I'm pretty sure that 
there was no teeth-brushing on this camping trip. That's what happens when it's "boys-only"!

It's not a real camping trip without smores. 

 Wakey, wakey, eggs & bakey...

...and Lucky Charms? 

Exploring in the Redwood Forest 

Lunch time 

Make a wish! (Caedmon told me that he would NEVER tell me what he 
wished for because he wants it to come true!)

Upon their arrival home, I had the extended-family presents waiting for him. But first, 
it was showers for everyone (Caedmon's skin was literally a different shade) and a nap 
for Andy & Sammy. Sammy was actually asleep in the van when they got home. 
We cleaned out the entire van (including vacuuming!) and he slept through the 
whole thing! He was exhausted. It was all Caedmon could do to patiently await 
tearing into the beautifully displayed packages.

We finished out the day with dinner at Chick-fil-a with the Santos family. 

Even though the camping trip was "boys-only", it wouldn't feel right to celebrate 
Caedmon's birthday without Lily & Cailyn!

Click here to read my birthday letter to Caedmon. 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today, You Are 6.

Dear Caedmon,

I woke up to a strangely quiet house this morning. You are with Sammy & Daddy on your first ever camping trip! Today 5 dads and 7 sons woke up in tents at who knows what time. You were so excited.

All morning I've been thinking about you and about what this day was like for me 6 years ago. I think it may have been the happiest day of my life. You made me a mother for the first time.

You were born at the perfect time of year...right as summer heat gives way to the crispness of fall. You and I didn't get a whole lot accomplished during those first few months of your life. But we enjoyed a lot of stroller rides and hours of swinging in the hammock on our front porch. You had won my heart, and I was bound and determined to win yours too.

You have been my side-kick and constant companion for the past 6 years. You said to me the other day, "Mom, you spend more time with me than anyone else in the world. Even more than Sammy because Sammy takes a nap." It's true. And I feel like it's time well-spent.

I have loved 5-years-old. Your wit and humor cracks me up. I think it's particularly great now that you catch on to the humor of a situation. Even when Sammy is still too young to understand, you and I laugh together and it reminds me of just how grown up you are. It also reminds me that if, by the grace of God, we train you well during these younger years, our friendship with you will grow stronger and stronger as you get older and are more able to reciprocate friendship. That aspect of parenthood is so wonderful to me.

Caedmon, you are a clever child. Sometimes I find myself in the middle of a situation that you have carefully crafted for your own benefit and I wonder to myself, "How did this just happen and how do I get myself out of it?" You always seem to have a clear idea of what it is you want and somehow you have acquired the skill set to intuitively arrange circumstances and persuade people in order to make it happen. Your logic and reasoning are hard to get around.

The untrained version of that skill set is manipulation. That's the raw, unfiltered material that we're working with right now. (Like when I overhear you trying to convince Sammy which TV show he should pick on his day to choose.) But, your Daddy and I see in you the ability to use those strengths for a mighty impact in the Kingdom of God. No longer manipulative, but persuasive. No longer demanding for you own gain, but focused and determined for God's glory. There is boundless potential for God to use that clever mind of yours if you will surrender it whole-heartedly to Him!

This past year you have had your tonsils removed, started homeschool, and (best of all!) indicated for the first time a desire to follow Jesus. You have learned to read, bought your first skateboard with your own money, and probably ate over 300 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. You asked more questions than I had answers and required more patience than I was able, at times, to muster up.

You still like to hold my hand. You still love to snuggle on the couch. Your sweet face still melts my heart.

Here's a little secret just between of the main reasons I chose to homeschool was that I just wasn't ready to let you go yet. When you were a toddler and the days felt never-ending, I thought I would throw a party the day I could drop you off at school. But as that mile stone grew closer, I decided that I'd like to extend early childhood just a little bit longer. You are growing up and learning so much so quickly. By no means am I trying to slow that down. I just want you to do that by my side for a little while longer.

I have no idea what year 6 will hold, but I want to savor it. Even in the midst of bad attitudes and long days, I want to remember that it is one of the greatest privileges of my life that I get to be a mom. And not just any mom. I am the mom to Caedmon Elliott Wood. And that Caedmon, he's a special kid.

I love you always,

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Sorry I've been MIA from the blog this week. Life has been busier than usual and I think all the busyness has depleted my creativity. This week we went to a Dave Matthews' Concert (!), hosted a dinner party for 16 people, had Life Group leaders' training, had a dinner with South Bay's staff girls, and I'm planning a camping trip for this weekend to celebrate Caedmon's 6th bday. Good things. They are just keeping my mind occupied with things other than writing. I hope to be back at it next week.

Oh, yeah, and Caedmon lost his 2nd tooth. Big events, People!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Simplifying Parenthood

At times parenting came seem so mind-boggling and confusing. There are a million different parenting philosophies, each with a book and some scientific research to make it sound convincing. With all of this conflicting advice, it's no wonder that many parents feel discouraged and defeated.

We like it simple around here, so in the Wood household, our kids only have two rules. Caedmon can spout them off whenever we ask and Sammy, well, he's workin' on it...

If you ask Caedmon, "What are the two things that you are responsible for as a child?" he will say, "Honor & Obey." How's that for keeping it simple? Two rules. Two words. All-inclusive. Straight from the Bible.

Honor your father and mother. Exodus 20:12

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

The working out of those two rules takes a lot of training, a lot of patience, and a lot of conversations. But if honoring and obeying their parents becomes the rhythm of their lives then, according to God, their childhood has been a huge success!

What does it look like practically? (please note, we do not always achieve this standard but it is what is expected and it's what we shoot for.)

  • When I call one of the kids, he should respond with, "Yes, ma'm?" instead of "What?"
  • When I give an instruction, the first words out of his mouth should be, "Yes, ma'm." If he would like to ask "Why?" or make an appeal he may do so after he has said "Yes, ma'm" and is already beginning to obey.
  • Honor/Respect includes the child's attitude. So we address haughty hearts, stomping feet, slamming doors, grumpy faces, and tone of voice. 
  • Obedience is to occur immediately after the instruction is given. Delayed obedience is disobedience.
The single-most important lesson that a child needs to learn from 0-5 years old is that he/she is under authority. 

The reality is that we are all under some form of authority for our entire lives. Students are under the authority of teachers. Employees are under employers. CEO's are under the authority of the Board of Directors. Citizens are under the authority of the government. Wives are under the authority of our husbands. And we are all under the authority of God. If the question of authority is established early in their minds, children will thrive within the boundaries established for them instead of always trying to buck the authority over them.

Even within the church, it is common to see adults with major authority issues. They have such a hard time submitting to the vision and leadership of the pastors and try to vie for control. 

Authority struggles can be a life-long battle, but they don't have to be. We can give them a huge gift as their parents to teach them how to respond to authority when they are young. 

The word "authority" reads so a cruel task-master standing over you with a whip. But that's not the type of authority that God is, and it's not the type of authority that we should be for our children. As parents, we are the tender-hearted, grace-giving, cheerleading, wisdom-imparting, love-lavishing, joke-telling, benevolent authority that train our children in the way they should go. 

Administration of authority should be gentle, but there should be no question in anyone's mind who is in charge.

We train them to honor & obey because we know that that is how life works best. The Bible attaches a promise to that commandment for children to "honor your father and mother..." 

" that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."

What a joy it is for any parent to see things "go well" for their child! It all starts with us teaching them to honor and obey.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wellness Wednesday

Tip of the Week: Whole foods not Health foods

Did you know that it used to be legally required for the food industry to print "imitation" on any food product that resembled standardized food but did not comply with that standard? The law was repealed in 1973 because the food industry fought it tooth and nail. After all, they had a lot to lose... who would want to buy imitation sour cream, imitation spaghetti, or imitation bacon bits?

Now, instead of printing the embarrassing label "imitation" on all their sophisticated, engineered food products, they proudly boast of low-fat, high-fiber, and no-cholesterol. (But that is precisely what makes them 'imitation'.)

I have totally fallen prey to the "good nutrient" marketing scheme, as well. I'm no expert on this topic but I'm learning a lot from Michael Pollan's book, "In Defense of Food". The basic idea is that food scientists are continually modifying the foods that we eat in order to pack them full of nutrients they deem as "good" and strip them of nutrients they deem as "bad". Thus we are left, not with real food, but with genetically engineered food products that push whatever nutrient is most popular at the time.

So, in efforts to make things more simple instead of more complicated, it's best to stick with basic "real" foods and ingredients that are recognizable. i.e. For a snack, grab a banana and a handful of almonds instead of a protein bar.

Pollan writes, "The most healthful foods in the supermarket sit there quietly in the produce section, silent as stroke victims, while a few aisles over in the Cereal the Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms are screaming their newfound "whole-grain goodness" to the rafters. Watch out for those health claims."

Turns out, a lot of the "health foods" aren't so healthy after all.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Homeschooling: August Review

Well, I'm here to admit that I am enjoying homeschool much more than I thought I would. I'm pretty sure that's because the Littles are enjoying homeschool much more than I thought they would. We're 3 weeks in and, so far, I haven't received any "push back". That is a huge sigh of relief (especially if you know Caedmon!). :-)

Another reason I think I've been pleasantly surprised is because I had honestly set my expectations very low... like near the line of self-inflicted punishment. (I told you that I never saw myself as a homeschool mom!) But, alas, we are actually having a blast and I'm so thankful that we decided to homeschool.

I thought maybe once a month or so, I'd post some photos of what we've been up to. This is a look at August...

Our first unit of study was all about Creation.
The boys illustrated each day of creation and turned their drawings into a book. It is quite 
adorable to hear Sammy retell the story of Creation. He starts every day by saying, "On 
the 2nd day, God made..." 

We went on a photo scavenger hunt outside to find things that were created by God 
and made by people. Then we sorted them on a big poster. 

Caedmon insisted that we needed to have a "Creation Celebration" after we finished 
studying about all 7 days. So we made some cupcakes and shared them with friends. 

Yes, Caedmon is still in his of the perks of homeschool.

Our next unit was all about the Sun.

A homemade sun dial

I blindfolded the boys and had them do various things in the "dark" so that we could 
appreciate how much easier it is to do things when the sun gives us light. 

We painted a picture of the sun and are currently in the process of letting the sun dry 
out some grapes to make raisins. 

We've played some educational games...

Pattern blocks

Matching capital and lower case letters

Practicing some pre-writing skills for Sammy

Rhyming words

Sorting by color

Cutting & pasting

Initial sounds

Counting & graphing

We've also taken a few "field trips" this month including an unscheduled trip to Urgent Care :-), a trip to the beach, swimming at a friend's pool, and a family night at a San Jose Earthquakes soccer game.

So far, so good. September here we come!