Monday, June 27, 2011

Yes or No

At church during Vacation Bible School a couple weeks ago, I taught the kids a lesson during which they had to respond to several yes/no questions. The twist was they had to answer in a language other than English: oui, non, da, nyet, si, no, jah, nein. It was pretty entertaining. We sounded like a meeting of the United Nations, which was appropriate, since the theme of the week was New York City.

Well, that started me thinking about how often I have to say yes or no every day at home: No, you can't have candy for breakfast; Yes, you have to brush your teeth; Yes, flamingos stand on one leg quite often; No, you may not lick the toilet (sadly these are all actual statements overheard in my house this week).

Chris and I sometimes get so exhausted it seems like all we ever say is "no." I catch myself saying it almost out of habit, and then I stop and ask "Why not?" Is there really cause to answer with a no on this issue, or am I just tired of making decisions and cleaning up messes? Can I paint, Mommy? (Why not?) Can we have lunch on the floor in the living room like a picnic? (Why not?) Can we stay in our pjs and watch a movie this morning? (Why not?) Can we have peanut butter and sprinkles on our pancakes? (Why not?) Can I help you make the cornbread? (Why not?) Can we have a playdate tomorrow with _____ ? (Why not?)

Some people call it picking your battles, and I guess that's basically the idea. I don't want to be the "No Mom". Being a "Yes Parent" who reserves her no's for when there's a solid reason seems much more furry and cuddly, right? Is it going to hurt someone, make someone sick, show disrepect to someone, destroy something, annoy someone, or start a very bad habit? If yes, then the answer is "no." If not, then why not?

Same goes for grown-up stuff too -- why say no to something new or something that might be fun just because it might require a little extra effort on my part or it might mess with my routine a little bit? Usually, I'm glad later that I didn't dismiss the idea and just went for it instead. Why not stay an extra day, try something different on the menu, take the scenic detour, or meet back up later? Even those numerous trips, tasks, or chores that I simply don't want to do but are important to someone else and might bring them happiness -- why not?

But there is also the important art of when to own my "No".
I frequently find myself saying yes to ideas, projects, and tasks without giving them much thought at all, and then I am completely worn out from all that yes action. Is the goal something that is helpful to my family or to someone else? Is the outcome worth my time and energy? Will it be memorable or forgettable? If nobody really cares and it's just something on a guilt-soaked mental to-do list that will only drain me of energy and put me in a bad mood -- no.

I'm a work in progess, but I am close to mastering three skills involving yes and no:

1. If something will make my kids happy, help them learn something meaningful, or make memories, and there is no real reason to say no, I try to say yes. I sometimes still struggle with getting my butt in gear, though.

2. I try not to apologize or make excuses for my no's; I just say no. I'd rather be given the options and decide for myself if a or b is beneficial enough for our time.  Then I can give an honest yes or no, without all the animal dung that we usually attach to our responses.

3. I try to accept "no" as a perfectly appropriate response from other people. Do they really need a reason other than they just don't want to if the choice in question is not that important? Nope.

I guess writing a blog somehow landed on the yes list -- Oui, Da, Si, Jah!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Four Years have Flown

My sweet Ellie Marie turned 4 yesterday!

She isn't a baby any more :( Here she is at 2 trying to perform, despite a familiar soundtrack  in the background (her baby brothers). This is one of the things I love the most about my Ellie -- she finds a way to blossom in our craziness!

I would say that Ellie is:

Entertaining ~ We get to see the "Ellie Show" live every night. Lately, she gets behind a curtain and I must properly introduce her: "Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages -- Now Introducing the Amazing, the Talented, the Beautiful . . .  Ellie Marie Wilson -- Walking Like a Dog and Blowing a Whistle!" Here's the hula girl in action:

Loving~ She wants everyone to be happy, so she tries very hard to keep the peace. It hurts her feelings if the boys get into trouble or if Mama isn't feeling well. She'll whisper "Boys, don't be loud; Mommy has a headache!"

Like Her Mama ~ She enjoys snuggling in and watching TV, reading a good book, having long conversations, and eating yummy food like fruits, veggies, chocolate, and cookies! She isn't too interested in hairbows or fancy clothes -- comfort is key. Poor thing even looks like me :)

Inquisitive ~ My girl loves books, playing learning games on the computer, and going to school. She asks questions about the river, the train, the birds, the flowers, the groceries we buy, and . . . air pollution? Thanks, "Sid the Science Kid."

Easy-Going ~ Ellie Marie is a happy and easy-to-please little girl. She gets excited about anything new and will pretty much go along with whatever her Daddy or her teachers come up with. She is a good listener and rarely gets into trouble, since she is kind and pretty willing to go with the flow. Flexibility is highly valuable in our home, as you can imagine. Here she is trying out her big and exciting birthday present  -- The Extreme Coaster!

Happy Birthday, Ellie Marie! You will always be my baby girl :)