“Can I hold Connor?”

        I hear this more in the day than I do, “I’m hungry”.  That’s saying a lot in a houseful of growing boys.  Their bodies may be growing but their love for this littlest guy is growing even more rapidly, and it is a spectacular thing to witness each day.  Especially from the one whom Connor made a big brother.

        I also hear from them that Connor is each of their favorite brother.  Because he never argues, fights or takes their things.  I’m glad no one gets their feelings hurt by that … but, then again, how could they when they all agree?  😉

        They may not always ‘love’ each other well (the 3 big ones) … they don’t know what to do without each other, but sometimes their ‘brotherly love’ isn’t very lovely.  What they pour out on Connor, though, shows me the soft side of their hearts and the tender love they are capable of.   And that makes my heart really, really happy.   And relieved.  🙂

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        And oh, I’m trying to enjoy it.  I’m trying.  But what once was so relaxing (relaxing because I got to sit back and watch other loving adults coach my children … the children I spend all.day.long with) …. is not the most relaxing anymore.  With Connor, with the pooy weather, with the boys being on 3 different teams, with two thriving and one finding his way.  It is just different this year.

        But different is good sometimes.  It is where we have the most opportunity to grow, I’ve found.

        I’ve grown in remembering that this experience isn’t for me, it is for my boys.  I don’t have to be delighted in the experience personally for it to be a blessing.

        In that, I’ve learned that when observing my child facing adversity … I should hush up and listen to his thoughts and feelings about the situation before I actually categorize it as ‘adversity’.  

        See, we found out at the first practice that Gage was actually on the 12-18 year old boys’ (er, mens’??) team this year.  I felt both excitement and anxiety as I saw him run across the field away from the team filled with familiar friends and coaches over to the unknown.  In the 30 seconds it took for him to cross the span of the field, my mind got busy with thoughts and assumptions.  I thought he would feel crushed since last year he really found his stride and was sort of the ‘big guy, star player (if you will)’ on the 9-11 team.  Scoring goals, the one to watch out for, tearin’ it up!  How would he fair this year playing with with guys that have been on this team for years, who have been playing together since they were wee ones, and some of whom are practically men.  When they run toward him, would he want to run the other way??  Sheesh, they make me want to scoop him up in my arms and rush off the field with him.

        After the first practice, his reaction fueled my assumptions.  He wanted, for a brief moment, to quit.  And honestly, the immature me (who creeps out in uncomfortable situations) and the protective me (who doesn’t want to see my child struggle) wouldn’t have blamed him.  But …

        God wants us to encourage our children to be brave and courageous, respectful and hardworking.  I heard Him whisper this to me and I spoke this truth into the ears of my boy and he received it. I did wonder, though, how he’d continue on through the season.  If pride would squash his season, or if humility would fuel him.

        I should have known my child better. I still saw the adversity, but should known that he and I perceive things differently.  Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut with my pressing fears and assumptions and instead let his perceptions become his reality.

        Because now he’s excited about this opportunity to play with these older boys.  He’s excited about what he’s learning, he’s positive about his experience, and wants to get to keep at it.  He’s inspiring me…  and now I can see the potential that is there for him to grow in his work ethic and humility, his strength and his perseverance.   As a team player, as a mature young man who uses something that could potentially bring him down to instead, build himself up.

        And then, there are the other two.

        One being told to pass the ball more so he’s not the only one scoring goals …

        And the other… finding his stride being on a team where he has the opportunity to come out from his big brother’s ever present shadow and show his true colors.  To be his own person.  Learn be a positive, encouraging voice even when he’s feeling discouraged and unsuccessful. 

        Oh, and then still, yet, the other.

        The little one who doesn’t have any idea what is going on around him other than what his most basic senses tell him.  But he’s learning just right along with the rest of us.  Learning what wind feels like.  Learning what grass feels like.  What the swaying branches of trees look like.  And that no matter where he is, Mama’s arms can always comfort.

        This year, soccer season is about so much more than kicking a ball and giving me an hour of observation time on Thursday evenings.  It is about so much more than soccer.

        Thank you for visiting! ♥

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        As I geared up for our home school year to start, I listened to many lectures online to get me inspired and my mind in the right place.  One that I *thankfully* came across was Dr. Andrew Pudewa’s “Teaching Boys and Other Kids Who Would Rather Be Playing in Forts.”   My boys have built more forts than I can count in our woods, and equally as many inside our home.  They love it … and any other thing that involves building, creating, exploring so I felt like this lecture would be right up my alley.   Not only did I pull support, ideas, and encouragement from this lecture on homeschooling my boys, it opened the door to several other great lectures…. one of my favorite being “Nurturing Competent Communicators“.  Being a Communication major this title intrigued me, particularly because I feel this is an area I’ve wanted my boys to always be confident in.  Communicating.  Because as of now, particularly with each other, there just isn’t enough of it.  With me, there is plenty … sometimes too much … but I want to nurture it and give them the best foot forward in this area.

        So, I listened to it, and the answer of how to do this was surprising and not what I expected.  Read aloud to your children.  This was Dr. Pudewa’s  #1 advice to parents if they want to raise their children to be confident, clear communicators be it verbal or in writing.  The lecture was a message beyond what I’d anticipated and the answer much simpler as well.

        I was convicted… I listened to several other podcasts (mostly from The Read Aloud Revival) pertaining to this topic and embraced the conviction and became committed to doing just that.  Reading aloud to my children.  Every day. But not just read ‘anything’ … I read aloud to them a lot from text books.  This reading time would be from good books.  Books that paint pictures, take you on adventures, teach new words and ideas.  Excite the reader and grow the readers’ mind.  I’ve read a lot of books to the boys over the years, from the Narnia series, to Lord of the Rings, to The Great Beasts, The Magic Tree House, picture books, so on and so on.  This new commitment, then, is just expanding on what we’ve tinkered with from the beginning, and making it a priority in our day.

        It would be away to learn, bond, and make the most of a nursing session.  I sit on the floor to nurse, the boys gather round and we read.  Sometimes just one chapter, sometimes several.  Sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes over an hour.  Usually, just as long as Connor allows.  😉

        Where did we start?  The Swiss Family Robinson.  I’d actually downloaded it onto my e-reader months ago when it was a free Kindle deal on Amazon and it was delightful.  I had NO clue how much we’d enjoy it but did, through and through.

        Imagine my delight then, when my little fort builders were hard at work, surely inspired by the stranded Swiss family, when an outburst erupted from the trees.  That didn’t really delight me, but what caused the outburst did.

        “He called me “ERNEST!” Cooper exclaimed.

        “What on earth does that mean?” Matt asked.

        “He was being lazy and not helping, so I called him ‘Ernest’ and he took offense!” Gage explained.

        I was DELIGHTED!  Using a character from our beloved book to call a brother out on a character flaw.  Hah!

        And back to fort building …

        Regarding how I go about homeschooling boys who would rather be building forts all day, we embrace the mentality of “Work Hard first, then Play Hard”.  We work hard in the morning to mid-day, focusing as best we can, exercising that discipline.  Then, once they are done, they have the remainder of the day to play, build, explore, run, relax, whatever.

        And it works for us!

        Thank you for reading!

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        With as many sets of images I take of just Connor’s sweet little face and the expressions he makes, I think I could do an ongoing series of ‘The Many Faces of Connor’.  Maybe it’ll be a new thing I do on Fridays??

        These are the faces I get when I get him up from his naps…

        I just can’t even handle not smiling at these.  ♥

        I hope you have a joy-filled weekend, friends!  Thank you for visiting!  And in case you missed it, here is the previous ‘Faces’ post I shared

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        • Mom - Beyond words!! Oh, my 🙂
          XOXOXOXO to GCKC from GrammieReplyCancel

        I genuinely love that playing with goats is a normal part of my boys’ everyday…

        But I’m sure who loves it the most; the boys, me, or the goats!

        Thanks for visiting, friends!

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        • Mom - So cute! They are both smiling 🙂
          XOXOXOXO to GCKC from GrammieReplyCancel