Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out-February with Gail (Part 1)

My sister Becka married this amazing man named Josh. He is amazing because of his parents; his mother Gail is really one of the wisest mothers I've ever talked with. She let me interview her this month and I couldn't help but feel humbled that she would take the time to teach and share with me on her precious Sunday afternoon.

Gail has raised 5 incredible children who are talented (the list goes on and on of what these kids can do!) loving, grateful, fun, silly, respectful and most importantly: they LOVE Jesus. She taught them to be disciplined, independent and how to care for each other and their home at a young age. Her list of family traditions is out of this world (really a "vacation cry"?? You've got to be kidding me- I want to be this family!!!) She shares how having a large family pushed her into training the older kids in household chores at a young age and how teaching them independence was so important for helping them discover their own passions, skills and life ambitions.

Grab a latte and cozy up with February's Seasoned Mom: Gail Andersen.

1.) I think of you as a disciplined, no-nonsense mom-were you always that way?

Yes! It's my tendency, to be structured and disciplined.

2.) Were there women in your life you admired or gleaned from when you were a new mom?

Yes! Christie Wildly went to church with us and her impact was huge in my life. My family life was dysfunctional and my mother was not always the best example for me; my parents lived in Dallas and my in-laws were out in Colorado. Nobody was close enough to babysit or help us, even when my mom did visit she was still parenting.  So that's one of the reasons now I want to be a help to my sons and daughters so much.

I had to find people I could glean from; I looked around in the church and saw people who I did not want to learn from, some people who were doing OK and then there was Christie. I gleaned in the area of discipline, even when it was new to my husband and I, Christie was very specific in that area. One of the first things she helped me with was in my marriage- she gave me great advice on how to honor my husband and let him take the reigns in our finances and working to support our family. I would wake up early and pray scriptures over my husband, I would speak over my husband the things that I was believing to see in him. He is not the man today that I married, not at all.

3.) This is skipping ahead a little bit- but what was it like having twin girls after having 3 boys?

Oooooh Fantastic! Ha! Well you must realize we prayed for twins. We always kind of wanted twins, our oldest Josh was not quite 7,  Jared was 4 and Jesse was 1 year old when the girls were born. And I knew that after I had the twins that nothing could come close to that experience, as far as the excitement. It was a heck of a lot of work. But it was exciting. So I never could have had a singleton after that. So 5 would be it, the number of Grace!

4. How did you train your older boys around the house.

Oh my! This is my teaching background- 3 of my younger siblings were handicapped. One of them (my sister) went to a Montessori school and I would sit and watch for hours. At Montessori school there is a place for everything and everything has its place. Everything is broken down into steps, so when I wanted to teach my boys how to run the washer and dryer; I would break it down into steps. But before we even got to the machines, you have index cards with all the steps on them (a little drawn picture) The laundry was presorted in color-coded baskets, we had step-by-step cards and markings on the machines- but we PLAYED with those cards and put them in order, its a game, I believe if you teach your children early enough- it's a game! This stuff is part of being in a family, especially a big family. It's part of being a good husband or wife or roommate. These are life lessons. Part of my homeschooling was teaching those things, I had lists: OK today we are going to learn to dust or learn to clean the sink. It's a game and its fun for a long time. I'm real big into rewards and consequences. So when you are trying to teach something new there can be rewards, then the rewards lax of because then its expected.  Depending on their age, once they hit a certain age they were completely responsible for that chore.

5.) Why did you decide to homeschool?

My friend Christie- recommended a book called Better Late Then Early by Raymond Moore. He explains why kids especially boys do better if they start late or aren't pushed. So I made the commitment to the Lord at that point to keep them home until 2nd grade. But once my oldest got to 2nd grade I was loving what I was doing, there were more people doing it, there was more of a following at that point and I took every single year as an option, OK Lord what do you want me to do this year?

By the time my oldest was in junior high he had the desire to go to school and get more social interaction in- so we got him involved in a Campus Life ministry. That was his social outlet and he was apart of a discipleship team and in leadership. Each year I prayed the Lord would help fill in the gaps of where I wasn't able to be everything for them as a teacher. Another area of socialization for the kids was the church, every time the door opened we were there. And we created time into our schedule with other families, we had friends over on Fridays and it was our day to lax a little bit.

The kids also saw the value of working diligently on their school work, sometimes they would bring their Mondays work to church on Sunday and get ahead a day. Then on Monday morning they have the freedom to get up and decide what they want to do, they aren't waiting on mom for the lesson. They can choose to practice an instrument or pursue a hobby. It trains them to discipline there time and discover their own interest. When I was growing up I played piano and I didn't want to practice after school- I wanted to play when I got home. So I would get up 30 minutes early and practice before I left. Then when I came home from school- I was free, I had my day to myself!

Scheduling your day is very important, your kids need a schedule and they will thrive within one. I am a fun teacher mom so I love taking breaks from that but there is always a schedule to come back to, and you have to look at what you are characterized by. Are you characterized by the schedule or are you characterized by the laissez faire (doing whatever you wanted to do) Every child craves creativity within structure. Do you realize that's why they misbehave!? They are misbehaving because they can't find the boundaries and when they hit the boundaries they stop. We as parents train them to misbehave, misbehave, misbehave because we don't stop them, they don't hit the boundaries until way to late. The parents set exactly where they are, when the boundaries are small the children will stay within them, as the parent you are in control. When they know where the boundaries are they can function, have fun and be free. But they have security in that boundary.

Wow what insight and wisdom. Gail really challenged me to think about what my boundaries are with my kids and what a difference some Montessori style teaching could bring to simple house hold jobs. I'm so grateful to learn early on in my mom "career" if you will, these ideas and strategies for teaching and discipline are really exciting!

Check back soon for {Part 2} there's still LOTS of amazing stuff (and don't forget about the famous list of family traditions! Eek, I'm so excited to share those)


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out- Whitney (part 2)

Are you teachable? Are you willing to learn from others? Are you adaptable? These are the questions that I've been reflecting on the last year, I want to sit and learn from others. Every person has value, they have an amazing story. Do you act like you know everything? Do you have all the answers? When I meet people who aren't teachable it makes me sad for them. There are so many amazing moms out there with wisdom and lessons to teach. Join me for part 2 of my Janurary interview (oops is it February already?) with Whitney!

If you missed part 1 CLICK HERE


Q- Are you a laid back mom or a strict mom?

A- I consider myself laid back. My boys said that one of the things they liked was that you always gave them the pros and the cons, but I always let them make their own choice. Even when they were young, they remember me saying "well let's talk through that. Here's what's going to happen if you do that and here's what going to happen if you don't. And here are the positives and there are always positives, even with sin there's positives. Unfortunately. The end result is death- The wages of sin is death. I probably said that 1,000 times. But you always have a choice. So you have to make your choices on your own." So I think I'm probably really laid back, but I also tried to make conscious choices with my boys. For instance, I always chose to have my boys friends at our house, we would have parties and invite kids that they didn't necessarily hang out with and my boys said that made them be more social, it made them be more kind to people they really didn't know, it made them branch out. And they appreciate that now because they said it always made them a better person, it helped them to feel confident in talking to whomever as they got older. They said they felt like they had never met a stranger. 

Q- Do you ever have those days when you wish you could go back to when your kids were little? 

A- There are times when I walk into a room and I see their faces and I see them as if they were little laying in the their bed.  I looked at Cole the other day sitting on the coach with his new little dog and I could see his little boy face again! This time with a beard (ha!) but it was like I was right back at that time. I do, I really miss that time when they were dependent on me. There are definitely those seasons in your life you will miss. And you will want to go backwards. I miss that time of being needed so much. I think now I have to find other people who need me. Being a mom for so long, you are so needed by everyone in your family. 

Q- What habits do you see the fruit of now?

A- I would say hard work. Our kids were always made to work, they had chores that started when they were really little. We made them work outside, anytime we were outside working- they were outside working. We started family chore day on Saturday when our youngest son Cole was around 6 years old, we would all get up in the morning and draw cards for which room we were going to clean. The boys were responsible for their own room, but all the other rooms were written on a card and thrown in a bucket. And that was something I had to really let go of was that it might not be done perfect. But at least I was teaching them a skill. Those family chores didn't have allowance allotted to them -these were just expected. If they wanted the latest something or wanted to earn money we had extra chores for them on the refrigerator. And the amount of money was earned based on how well they did the extra chore, and if I had to tell them to do it then they weren't getting paid for it. Sometimes at the end of the week or a month we would pay them for the extra chores or go buy them that thing they were really working hard to buy themselves! And we would thank them for their hard work. 

Q- What were some of your favorite memories of the boys when they were young?

A- One of mine is that I rocked my boys to sleep every night. I really valued that time I spent with them. I remember so many nights just holding them and not putting them down right away. Going to their sporting events, we didn't ever miss a game of theirs- the only time I even remember is when I was coaching and in a tournament we were winning. Those are such great memories because we used them as life lessons of losing and winning. That's a really great time to teach your kids a lot of things. Some of our best talks were coming back from games and sporting events.
  Other memories are hanging out at the house on the weekends. We had a pool for forever, we don't now but we need another one. The summers in the pool, just hanging out with the kids. Putting the phone away, really if there was anything I could tell parents today: put your phone away, put your computer away and just enjoy your time to be with your kids! We made a rule a long time ago it was no phones at the dinner table. Make quality time where everyone unplugs. When our boys got older we picked Sunday night and did a short devotional as a family. We took turns so we each led once a month. Then we would talk about our week, we kept a journal, a prayer log, seeing answered prayer for others and ourselves. Then we would spend time after that playing a game or watching a movie. Those Sunday nights really helped us stay connected as a family. 

Q- What's a regret or something you would have done differently?

A- Teaching them better financial management skills. We were not good at that ourselves so we didn't teach them very well. Also I really coddled them when it came to their schoolwork. Being a teacher, a lot of it was pride. I wanted them to be good students because I didn't want people to think I'm a bad mom. Sometimes I would help them to the point of enabling them. When they played sports and came home exhausted the last thing they would want to do is homeowork. So I would help them. Looking back I wouldn't enable them, I would let them fall were they may. I wish I wouldn't have helped them out everytime. 

Whitney thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and life lessons as a mother! Do you have anything else you want to share? 

A- Yes! Here are some comments from my boys: 
- Thank you for teaching me priorities. To put God first, from a very early age. 
- Even when I made mistakes my parents never made me feel ridiculed or judged. I always knew I could go to them and talk to them because I knew they would love me no matter what.
-Some of my insecurities led me to make bad decisions. Make sure parents are continually aware of the excuses your kids are making for these, they may just be insecure about that area.
-One thing you never said was that you were disappointed in us. You might have said "that's really disappointing" it was never personal, it was never an attack. 
-Our mom taught us to find a woman that's filled with Gods beauty. So that our eyes could see what the heart sees. That beauty comes from within and it radiates from an inner being. 
-We've never been rich but we've had a very rich life! 

Wow! Tears. I got really emotional with that last thought from Whitney's son! So many times my thoughts are consumed with providing for my children and it's not about the stuff. It's about the love and time you put into your children. I will always remember that. A rich life is so much more then our society says it is, it's about parents who put down their phones and have family night. Parents who take the time to teach a life lesson after a game. Parents who teach the inner beauty of others. 

I want to be a parent like that. Do you?