Have They Found the Pessimism Gene Yet?

From the moment he was born, everyone remarked how much our oldest looks like my husband. I could always see a few traits from my side of the family, but if we were in a crowd, people would identify the two of them as belonging together before me.

When our second son came along, there was nothing familiar about him. The scant fuzz with a strawberry-blond tint came from nowhere (unless you want to count my step-dad or Hubs adopted sister!). The chubby-cheeks and bulky build, the widow's peak hairline...if I hadn't been there when he arrived and knew he'd never left the room, I would have insisted they brought me someone else's baby.

He's five now, and there are still days when I look at him and think, "Where did you come from?" People will often say he 'favors' me in the way his brother does their dad. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that it's not his physical traits that resemble mine.

The older he gets and the more he expresses himself (and express himself he does!), the more I feel like I'm looking into a funhouse mirror that turned me into a little curly-haired, blue eyed boy with a temperament that is a reflection of all my worst traits. If it's true that the things that bother us most in others are the things we dislike most about ourselves, then I'm beginning to realize that maybe I haven't grown as much as I want to believe I have.

While he wakes up with a smile, it doesn't take long before the lips turn to a pout and the voice comes out a whine. After school, or the park, or a playdate, if we ask how things went, we're regaled with a litany of his friends' faults, perceived injustices, and otherwise simply unhappy occurrences.

I started to catch on to this after most of the school year passed, and decided to try a modified version of my husband's "What's good about it?" method of conversation modification. When greeted with a tale of woe at the hands of a classmate, I'd prod him to tell me something he likes about them.

The result is a lot like mine probably was at the beginning. "I can't think of anything." But just like I learned to start looking for something good to say in response to the question, "What's good about it?" I'm hoping that he'll begin to make it a point to remember the good things too.

And it's a reminder to me that the very best way I can help him be the positive, happy kid that I believe he's meant to be, is to model that behavior to him. To be quick to find the good in people and situations, and quicker to keep the converse to myself. I know I've grown in that, but I really need to keep working on it and demonstrating it.

And I need to encourage and praise him when he is happy and kind and generous more than I am exasperated with his whining and grumbling.

And someday, when someone says he's just like me, I hope we'll both take it as a compliment!

Play Money--Works for Me Wednesday

The budget is slimmer this summer, but the activities all cost more! Even the 'free' movies cost $1 per person. Add a box of candy from the dollar store (the same box they sell at the theater for $4!) and a simple outing can still cost $10/day.

So rather than take money from our budget, I decided to 'cash in' some of the loose change that has collected in various containers. After we filled a couple of banks for the boys'  Sunday school and VBS giving, we dumped the rest of the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters into a basket.

The boys started by sorting each type of coin into a bowl. Then I gave them each a muffin tin and had them count the coins into 10's in each little cup. I put them into coin wrappers and then we took them to the bank and traded them for $5's and $1's to be used for ice cream, movies, and other 'treats.'

I give them their own money to hand over to the cashier so they start to understand that all of those activities cost actual dollars. And a dollar spent at the movie today might mean there isn't a dollar for ice cream tomorrow (since they seem to think there is always another dollar or five for whatever they want).

At 5 and 8, they aren't to the stage where they can earn all of their own spending money, but by letting them see that there's work involved in getting it, and that it only goes so far, I hope we're starting to build better money understanding with them.

Find other useful tips at We are THAT Family's Works For Me Wednesday Blog Carnival.

In Search of Oasis...

I have been a lousy blogger lately. ("Tell me something we don't know, Mary.")

I've managed (for the most part) to keep my commitment to the devotional sites I write for, but I haven't been able to get much posted here. I think I finally figured out why.

I have a mission here--to be a place of refreshing in the midst of sometimes dry, dusty, desert-like ordinary days. But our life has been extremely desert-like for a couple years now. And when circumstances lead to being parched, it's not easy to provide refreshment to others. It's kind of like that old youth group game where you have to cram a sleeve of saltines in your mouth and then whistle.

But even so, God has been faithful to keep me from shriveling up altogether. And I want to be more faithful in sharing that. So my posts might be shorter than usual (some would say that's a good thing!), and they might not be profound or deep (after all, I've been dwelling beside puddles rather than wells). But maybe, as I am aware of the oasis' I find while wandering in our particular desert, my observations will help you see the lush, green, refreshing places He's prepared for you as well.

So even though it's summer (which is the driest time of all on the west coast), and the boys are out of school and Hubs and I are scrambling to fill our days with productive work (and I have dreams of completing some writing projects as well), I'm going to take the time to see where God brings moisture to the parched places of my spirit and I'll try to share them with you. It might be a photo, or a brief word, but my commitment to share it will keep me mindful of looking for it.

"...so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen." Romans 15:32-33

And maybe even more important, I want to hear from you. Are you parched? Where do you find refreshment in your driest days? How do you find ways to share that with others even when you don't have much to spare?

What's Your Superpower?

I have side-eyes.

At least, that's my boys' assessment of my ability to see what they're doing without looking at them. Not quite as deluxe as eyes in the back of my head, but they do the trick.

They come in handy when Bug (who is quite speedy and seems to think if he runs fast enough he'll become a semi-invisible blur like the Roadrunner) is trying to avoid bedtime or breakfast and makes a mad dash toward the front room where I won't be able to see him.

"Ah ah ah!" I warn.

He comes slinking back in the room. "How did you know? Did you see me with your side eyes?"

They haven't figured out that I also have supersonic hearing. Like this morning when they were playing in the front room and I called (from around the corner and down the hall) "Stop jumping on the couch!" It made me laugh when they shut the door between the two rooms.

Sorry kids, I also have "Mommy-sense" (not to be confused with Spidey-sense) that alerts me whenever you're doing something you aren't supposed to.

What's your Mom-power?
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