I’ll Carry You

I’ll Carry You

In Montessori education, teaching independence is a foundational part of the philosophy. Children are encouraged to do things for themselves as young as they are able. Montessori classrooms reflect this when children care for their environment by wiping tables, carrying their own work, cleaning up after snack. At home, children put away their toys, put their laundry in the washing machine, and help prepare dinner. By being independent, the child establishes in their heart a feeling of “I can do it myself” which gives them confidence and the ability to accomplish more complicated tasks in the future. 

What is amazing, is when a child is so confident in themselves and their abilities that they, in turn, are able to care for others. 

I had the great privilege to witness such an incident not long ago.


L and J are sister and brother. Big sister is five, and little brother is not yet two. She loves him with all her heart, and it was evident when he was a baby because sister would try and climb in to his carseat to give him a hug and kiss before school started. Both have been Montessori kids since babyhood, and sister has said to me on many occasions “It’s ok, Ms. Anna. You don’t need to walk me to class, I know where I am going.” That kind of confidence is rare, but beautiful.

This was a normal day at Montessori school, and L and J were getting out of the car at drop off. L jumped out, ready to face the day with a smile on her face. J took a few seconds longer, and both said goodbye to their mom. L put her backpack on, grabbed her lunchbox, and then looked at Little Brother, pausing with concern on her face. She then asked me if she could have his items.

“You want both backpacks and lunch boxes?” I asked in confusion. “That is kinda heavy.”
“Yes, please. I want to carry them for Little Brother.” 
I gave her the backpack and lunch box, and off she went. She was a little slower than usual, but she happily carried her extra load. The smile on her face was worth all the banging she did as she lugged her two sets of supplies down the hall, encouraging Little Brother down the hall as they went. “You’re gonna *boom* have a great *bang* day today!” *slam* 


What struck me is how she did not want any help with her items. Montessori children are usually full of independence with their work, but this was unmistakably difficult. She gladly carried the burden of her little brother, even though it made her walk slower. Her balance was thrown off a bit, but she happily deposited Little Brother into his classroom with a promise to see him at the end of the day. Then, she skipped to her room, her smile even bigger.
This is a true lesson to us adults, especially those encouraging independence. L knew her strengths as a five year old little girl, and she chose to aide someone who would potentially struggle with the weight of his belongings. I could have told her at the front door that it was Little Brother’s responsibility to carry his items, and that she needed to stand back and let him do it. I could have told her that it was too dangerous, or that she should get to class quicker.
But if we observe first, as Montessori taught, we would see that Big Sister’s potential has been freed. The potential to serve her brother with kindness. How many times do we need someone to carry our burdens, only to come up short?

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Say That You Love Me

Say That You Love Me


I love my sleep. And, as a nursing mom of a hungry baby, I don’t get much of it. My son is currently 10 months old and has yet to sleep longer than 8 hours at a time. If he does have a stretch of time that he sleeps, it is usually during a part of the evening that is too early for the average adult to go to bed. The rest of the night is spent juggling him in the bed with me, to feeding him, to trying to get some snuggle time with my husband.

Needless to say, I am really tired most of the time.

Now, this is not a cry for help. I am not really concerned about how little sleep I get. It catches up to me sometimes, and I do drink more coffee these days than I have ever done in the past. People all across the universe have offered their two cents as to how to get him to sleep more, and therefore get me some more sleep. But again, this is not the purpose of this blog.

I know that my son will not be this little for much longer, and soon, he will be off to sports practice, or piano lessons, or debate club, or whatever else he will do in his life. (His personality so far favors me, so he will be doing it aaaall!). Knowing he will stop snuggling with me one day makes me hold him longer than some people believe is necessary. I will never get this time back with him, and therefore I treasure it. Literally breathing in the time I get to spend with him.

I was reading in The Secret of Childhood by Maria Montessori, and I came across an interesting passage that struck my desire to hold my baby. It was a chapter on love, and the intelligence of love in children. She talks about how children love their parents so much that they cannot wait to see them in the morning. That is why they wake up so early, to see you, because they love you. She says that children awaken their parents to ‘rouse their soul’. 

This is a lengthy quote, but I think it is worth reading and contemplating. I cannot get this out of my head, and it is surely attached to my heart. I love my children, as do so many parents across the world. But, man, if I could only recognize their love for me. I am so thankful that my children want to rouse my soul.

Take a minute and contemplate what Maria has to say, it will change your life.

It is a terrible nuisance when a child goes in to wake up his father and mother in the morning. But what drives a child to go in search of his parents as soon as he gets up if it is not love? When a child bounces from his bed early, at the break of day, he goes to find his still sleeping parents as if to say ‘Learn to live holily! It is already light! It is morning!’ But a child goes to his parents not to teach them but only to see again those whom he loves.

 The room is perhaps still dark, tightly shut, so that the brilliance of the day will not disturb the sleepers. The child comes and touches his parents; the father and mother grumble; ‘How many times have we told you not to come early in the morning to wake us up?’ ‘I did not wake you,’ he replies, ‘I only wanted to give you a kiss.’ In effect, he says: ‘I did not wish to wake you from your sleep, I only wanted to arouse your spirit.’

 Yes, the love of a child is of utmost importance. Fathers and mothers fall asleep over everything and need a new being to rouse them and to re-animate them with a fresh and living energy that they no longer possess. They need a being who acts differently and who can say to them each morning: ‘Rise to another life! Learn to live better!’

 Yes! To live better! To feel the breath of love!

 Without children to assist them, men would degenerate. If an adult does not strive to renew himself, a hard crust begins to form around his heart which will eventually make him insensible. We are reminded of the Last Judgment, when Christ will turn to the damned, to those who while they were on earth never used to means at hand to renew themselves, and curse them saying: ‘Depart from me, you curse, for when I was sick you did not cure me!’

And they will answer ‘But when, Lord, did we ever see you sick?’

‘Whenever you saw one that was poor or sick, it was I. Depart from me, you cursed, because I was in prison and you did not visit me.’

‘But Lord, when were you ever in prison?’

‘I was in each one that was in prison.’

The dramatic pages of the Gospel bear witness to the fact that adults should console Christ hidden in the poor, in the condemned, and in the suffering. And if we apply this stirring scene to children we can see that Christ appears to men also under the guise of a child.

‘I loved you. I came to wake you in the morning, and you rejected me!’

‘But when, Lord, did you come to my house in the morning to wake me, and I rejected you?’

‘When your child came to call you, it was I. When he begged you not to leave him, it as I!’

Fools! It was Christ who came to waken us and to teach us to love! But we thought that it was only a childish whim and thus lost our hearts.

Secret Santa Ideas

 

santa

There I was, minding my own business, when the Secret Santa list goes up at work. Don’t get me wrong, I love Secret Santa. Giving and receiving. We do it every year with the adults in my family, in my husband’s family, and I do it with my coworkers.

This year, though, it caught me off guard. Why? Because I honestly do not know what to ask for.

As far as gift giving goes, I like to think of the person I am gifting to, and imagine what they would like. I am overly sentimental with gift giving, and everything I give has to be meaningful. At work, there is a list of ‘What would you like’ where you are supposed to give some ideas for yourself.

Mine is blank.

In years past, I have requested nail polish, scarves, coffee, candy, the usual run-of-the-mill items you get a woman you do not know very well. I am usually pretty easy to shop for, so I am told, and I don’t really care what I get most of the time. I am just thankful you thought of me.

As I was contemplating what to write, the following list began to form in my head. Here’s hoping my coworkers can find these items:

  1. I would like 12 hours at home to organize and clean. Without kids or responsibilities. I have clothes that need to be changed over for the kids, toilets to be scrubbed, floors to be vacuumed, and who knows what else.
  2. I would like someone to come to my house at 5:30am every day and make me breakfast. Eggs and toast, please. On my list of morning ‘to dos’, my breakfast is always the last one listed. And recently, it has been left off.
  3. Every morning, I would like to step outside my house and apparate to my job. That way, I won’t have to spend an hour in traffic with two kids in the car. OR make my mailbox a port key. (It’s a Harry Potter reference, ya’ll)
  4. If my hair could trim and layer itself, that would be the BEST Secret Santa gift ever. I haven’t cut it since Mother’s Day (6 months ago), and my split ends are mocking me. But, I can’t drag two kids to the salon with me, and I don’t have $400 and 5 hours to wait to get it done. So, get to that, mmmk?
  5. Some stranger on Facebook blessed me with about $1000 of free clothes that are fabulous. Now, if Secret Santa could devise a way to get them off my floor and into my closet, I would be eternally grateful.
  6. On the subject of clothes, I would like all my clothes to be ‘breastfeeding’ able without ruining the neckline of my tops. #thestruggleisreal
  7. I would like to take a shower without a toddler comparing my body parts to her body parts. Showering together is a great way to teach her about how we are all different, and the difference between boys and girls; but it would be nice to turn the water extra hot and let it wash over me until it cools off. All while NOT having a toddler pocking me in the ‘gina.

So, keep your mani/pedi gift cards (my nail polish chips when I sneeze), put the soap and lotion back on the shelf (I have sensitive skin) and work on these gifts…it’s a $20 limit.

Sunday Night Advice

Sunday Night Advice

The end of the week is here, and tomorrow is Monday. I got to see the gorgeous orange sunset with my family, amd now I am sitting, watching football with my husband and reflecting on the week. 

This was my third week back at work after having my second child, and I feel like I have crossed the red sea on dry land. I didn’t get sick, and I successfully woke up around 5:15 every morning. #winning

This week was quite eventful, with getting two kids out the door by 6am, and by the time Friday hit, I felt like I had lived three weeks in just five days. Reflecting upon this week, and contemplating the months to come, I have come up with a bit of advice for all you beautiful people. This is not directed only at mommies, but can be applied to all of your lives.

1. Get out of bed when your alarm goes off the first time. It will save you stress when you remember you didn’t make your lunch the night before, and when you decide to scramble some eggs for breakfast. When you are successful with this, let me know. I hit snooze a lot.

2. Exercise is good for the body and soul. You must carve out some time several times a week to stretch, and release tension in your muscles. If you have a toddler around, be aware that your downward facing dog will turn into a mommy slide.

3. Don’t let laundry get out of hand. Do a complete load of laundry every day, including folding, hanging up, and putting away. If you put it on your bed thinking you will fold it before you go to sleep, you are kidding yourself and will probably push it onto the floor to fold the next day. Just suck it up, and fold the laundry. Invite your toddler to help! Then, it will take ten times as long, but that also means you will not need to turn the tv on to occupy her.

4. Take time for ‘you’ every day. Read your Bible, meditate, write, do whatever you do to refresh. Housework will always be there, but your sanity will not be.

5. Stay a step ahead of dinner for the week. If you get chicken out of the freezer tonight, you can then guilt trip yourself into NOT going to Sonic on the way home. This not only saves you money, but it saves your waistline. My advice is to cook several pounds of chicken in a crock pot on Sunday night, and feast on it for the rest of the week. Quesadillas, tacos, chicken and veggies, chicken salad, etc. the possibilities are endless.

6. Go to bed in your bed. Don’t fall asleep on your couch…

Speaking of…goodnight!

Lotion

Lotion

**photo by Haydin Oechsle Photography. On Instagram @haydinoechsle**

It is 8:05pm on a Thursday.

Some days, I am surprised I make it through the day. 5:00am comes early, and I don’t stop moving until about right now. Work, babies that aren’t mine, babies that are mine, dishes, laundry, bath time, bed time, and by 8pm, I am contemplating hitting the sack. Some days, I wonder how I have enough energy and brain space to sow into the lives of my children. I wonder if they are receiving all that I can give to them, and if they will even turn out to be loving, well rounded humans.

Then, my daughter requests lotion.

Good ‘ol Burts Bees baby lotion that I found on sale. She likes it because it has a pump, and she can ‘do it myself’. It’s no wonder she likes lotion, I am a bit addicted to it. It’s a combination of having dry skin, and a job where I wash my hands 100 times a day. I keep lotion on me at all times.

The other day, I gave my child a bath, wrapped her up in a towel, and tossed her onto my bed. Only after singing ‘Rockabye baby’ while she is wrapped in the oversized towel. It’s her favorite way to end a bath. 

I grabbed the lotion, gave myself a hefty pump, when she said ‘no mommy! I do it!’ Awww…what an independent child, she wants to put lotion on herself. My obsession with moisturizing has rubbed off on her. (Get it? Rubbed…lotion…eh eh?) She dipped her fingers into the lotion on my hand, and started applying the lotion…to me.

My arm.

My belly.

My hands.

She wanted to make sure I had lotion. Make sure I was taken care of. With careful precision, she very gently painted my face with Burts Bees, even rubbing it in with her flat palms. She kept asking for more lotion so she could make sure I was cared for. I could literally feel the love she has for me as she massaged my now-greasy cheeks, making sure I had enough.

You know, sometimes I am late for work. Sometimes I burn dinner. But when my baby paints my face with all natural moisturizer, I am definitely winning at life. One greasy cheek at a time.

Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful 

  
Keith Green, Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful

Oh Lord, you’re beautiful/your face is all I seek/For when your eyes are on this child/your grace abounds to me

The words of Keith Green really stay with me these days. I remember my mom playing this song on our record player (yes, I said record player), and I just danced all around the living room to it. His voice is so pure in the words he speaks, and no matter where I am in life, the lyrics speak to me.
Today is Monday

With a Monday comes all the benefits of beginning a week. The fact that the weekend was not actually restful comes crashing in when the alarm goes off, and I start mentally listing off all the things I have to do before returning to work next week. Not the best way to start the day.

Toddler, baby, breakfast, coffee, baby again, poop blowout, dishes, laundry, coffee is cold now, sidewalk chalk, watering plants, baby,toddler melt down because her shoes are now wet, more cold coffee, you get the idea…

It isn’t even 9am yet.

But, all that keeps playing through my head is that song.

Oh Lord, please light the fire that once burned bright and clean

Oh Jesus, those words mean so much. It may be that I only slept 6 hours last night in fragmented sections (breastfeeding mom, here), but hearing them sung out loud makes me melt with repentence.

I crawl onto the floor in a slow and calculated movement (so as not to disturb the sleeping baby), and just huddled over my phone playing that song. I want to soak it in among the chaos of motherhood, among the struggles of my day, and among the scattered, sleep deprived brain of mine and just remember how beautiful my Lord is.

Of course, my movement attracted the eyes of a toddler, and I quickly become a mommy slide. On the outside, my daughter was climbing up my back and sliding down to crash on the carpet, but inside, I yearned to seek his beautiful face. To focus on what comes first, even before my family.

That is the most difficult concept to grasp for me right mow. These people depend on me. I’m the mom! But, how can I be THE mom, THE wife, THE woman if I am not first THE daughter of God?

Oh Lord, you’re beautiful…

September 4th

This morning, I found myself somewhere I have never been: the living room of a former coworer. Sure, I have hung out with plenty of coworkers in my life, but the difference is this particular person hasn’t always been an ally.

Over the years we worked together, there were many times when either one of us was speachless in frustration with the other one. Maybe even moved to tears. We had an on again, off again friendship that was a rollercoaster to say the least.

But, as she grasped my hands and said ‘I’m so glad we could overcome our differences and be friends’, I was filled with gratitude that we never let that frustration end a potential relationship. You see, no matter the anger, or how many tears I shed, I was always drawn back to this person. Almost like our friendship was meant to be. And when she invited me to sit in her living room, and share our lives with each other, I knew we could be friends.

I have a lot in common with this woman, and I see a lot of myself in her passion for education, and her drive to enrich the lives of the people she loves. This morning, I got a glimpse into our future together as friends, something that could never have happened had I given up on us. 

I wonder how many times I have let a relationship dissolve based on a disagreement, or a frustrating moment. 

If I had given in to anger, I would have missed out on the opportunity of a great friendship with someone that not only can be a good friend but a great mentor in my education field. And even a good influence on my parenting style to my children. 

I am thankful for this woman, and thankful that forgiveness can be present in my life.