I have very limited experience as a parent.  My oldest child is only five, and I have yet to deal with disciplining a boy.  So far my boy is practically perfect.  I am quite sure that all of the seasoned parents reading this will chuckle at my naivety and inexperience.  But if this is helpful to even one floundering mom, then I have accomplished my goal.

When people say that three children is hard, they are not joking.  Suddenly I went from being just busy to being stretched way too thin.  And the thinner mom is stretched, the more each child needs.    The less I felt I could give, the more they wanted.  I really began noticing this about a month ago, when some strange behavior started showing up.  Most of the time, the sin around here is pretty cut and dry and can easily be turned from with some firm correction and redirection.  But I was hitting a point where I felt like nothing was working. The bad attitudes and mean spirits were popping up all over the place at weird times and I felt like I was playing whack-a-mole parenting.  I needed to redirect myself.

When my children are sick, I cancel our plans and set aside some time to specially focus on them.  Most of the time during these seasons, many things (like the laundry and the dishes and play-dates) take the back burner and I am 100% focused on what that child needs.  So why wasn’t I doing this with our attitude sickness that kept showing itself?

I decided to set aside an entire week for attitude re-training.  I canceled all our plans, even moved appointments, and made a plan of attack.  I did all my errands over weekend and stocked up on plenty of crafting supplies.  I made sure I was dressed and coffeed by the time the children were up every morning.  I turned off my phone.  I set aside my to-do lists.  I planned very simple meals that the kids could help me prepare.  And I did everything with the kids that week.  No alone time!  My full attention was on them.  When they were playing with blocks, I got on the floor and built with them without texting friends while we played.  When we worked on letters and numbers, I refrained from folding the laundry and gave them my full attention.  When they were going to bed, I got in the bed and snuggled and told stories.  When we sat down to work on crafts, I did crafts too instead of using the time to place Amazon orders.  I saved all my chores for the evening after the kids were asleep.  When we were outside I threw the ball with them.  When we went to the park, I raced them down the slide and went on the swings with them.  When I was nursing the baby, I read stories out loud instead of reading my own books.  When we ate lunch together, i had joke competitions with them instead of menu planning.

And do you know what happened?  Within two days the girls were playing sweeter, obeying quicker, sharing better, whining less, and staying focused on a task longer.  Obviously this intensity can’t be constant.  The laundry does need to be folded and errands need to be accomplished.  It is good for children to learn to wait and not have the world centered around them constantly.  But that week was the perfect dosage of vitamin C that they needed for the soul-colds.  They just needed an intense reminder that they are my top priority and I am always willing to set aside everything else if they are struggling.

Things are getting back to a normal pace now, but I am so thankful for this experience.  I certainly plan to do this again if I see their love-tanks starting to run low.  Cut back on multi-tasking and pour out a joyful heart, which is the best medicine.

Five Year Old Stuff


As it turns out, having a five year old around is pretty fun.  She is always saying the funniest, cutest things, and I’m really enjoying these days with her.  She is learning so much about the world and doesn’t ever stop asking questions.  Here are some cute moments from this last week…

I was getting ready to take Miles to his doctor appointment and I hear overhear Darcy telling him, “Now Miles, if they have to give you a shot don’t be afraid!  I will be right there and I will count to 10.  When I am done counting, the shot will be over and you will be okay!”

Darcy was pretending to be a neighbor who came over for a tea party and she told me this: “I got married a very long time ago.  But my wedding dress got eaten by those moth bugs!!  I knew I should get it boxed up after the wedding, but I kept having all these babies and they kept crying and crying and I just never had the time.”

After preschool lessons ones day – Me:”Darcy, your letters look amazing!!”  Darcy: “Aw, shucks! Is my face turning pink?”

As we were packing up to leave our hotel last Sunday, Darcy kept asking me how to spell “machine”.  Absentmindedly I spelled it out for her from the next room.  When I walked past the desk on my way to check out I saw in huge capital letters on the hotel information booklet “JUNE TOLLEFSON TOOT MACHINE”

In a conversation about how hard it is to live far away from friends, Darcy’s suggestion was this: “What if we put Idaho right there and Kentucky right next to it and California in the middle!  Then we could live in California and be warm and be close to all our friends.”

During my cousin’s wedding last Saturday, Darcy saw all the groomsmen file out and line up at the front of the church.  When my cousin started walking down the aisle, Darcy leaned over to me and whispered “I wonder which man she will choose!”

Putting on My Armor


The alarm always beeps too soon.  I lean over and peak at my phone with one eye.  It has only been an hour since the last middle-of-the-night feeding.  I slump into the day anyway, reaching blindly for my robe.  Coffee first, always, and the Word in my other hand.

I take up my shield, the flaming arrows of the evil one will start too soon today.  I read of Moses in the wilderness and buckle truth around my waist.  Today I will read about a friend who is loosing her one-year-old to cancer.  Only Truth can keep me strong in the face of such news.  I read of David, begging the Lord to make his heart clean and restore his joy, and I fit my feet with readiness.  Today I will face hours of whining and messes and little sins being spilled all over the house and drug across the carpet.  I will need Joy to bring the gospel of peace to this house today.  I read about Jesus, calming the waters with his words, and I strap the helmet of faith under my chin.  Today I will hear of babies being slaughtered by the thousands in my country, and faith will carry me through the flaming arrows that would leave me hopeless of God’s goodness.

The evil one will be lurking in all kinds of places today, looking to destroy my peace, steal my joy, choke my patience, and have me believe that God is keeping some good thing from me.  The evil one will be slithering through facebook and the news and all sorts of social medias, looking for ways to shoot at my faith in a kind God.  I take up my sword and my shield, in the early hours of the morning, waiting, ready for his attack.  The evil one is sly, looking to squelch my contentment by means of my own people that I love, hoping my heart will give way to the weariness that comes from serving endless needs.  I take up the sword of the Spirit and fight by laying down my life for those I love, every moment of the day.

God is good, God is kind, God is love, God is patient, God is long-suffering, God is working all things together for the good of those who love Him.  Cries coming through the baby monitor, my armor is on, my heart is ready to step into this day and lead these little people to believe the truth about our God, to hold up a shield around us and extinguish all the flaming arrows.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. -Ephesians 6