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Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Are You Thankful For?

 There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for. It seems like once I became a parent I truly realized the abundance of blessings that I already had in my life. I guess a new perspective and a significant multiplication of blessings will do that to you. Right now what I am thankful for is very simple and it's something we've developed as a family over the past four years. I am extremely thankful for the bedtime routine, or lack thereof, that we have established in our family of four.

Many families have a rigid bedtime routine that they adhere to practically every single night. They have a set dinner time and bath time followed by teeth brushing (hopefully), some version of story/prayer time and lights out at a specific time. This routine is rarely altered.

WE ARE NOT ONE OF THOSE FAMILIES.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with this type of approach but it's just not the way we choose to do things. Perhaps this will change once our kids get into school, but as for now our bedtime routine basically consists of dinner and bath in no particular order, followed by teeth brushing and...

A.) snuggling on the couch with one or both parents watching football, basketball, hockey or baseball depending on the season. Right now we are in the midst of the Stanley Cup playoffs so we're watching a lot of hockey at "bedtime." We are a big sports family and its the perfect opportunity to show them that watching sports as a family is important to us. Plus, they usually lose interest and fall asleep rather quickly.

B.) story time on our older son's bed. (we currently have a 4 year old and a 2 year old: both boys). We snuggle them up on the bed and read a few books. When we're all done we usually just turn out the lights, say goodnight and walk out. Our two year old who is still in a crib usually whines for about 30 seconds and then they either fall asleep or start talking to each other (which is always great entertainment listening over the monitor). We leave him in the bed with his big brother to fall asleep and we move him over to the crib later when we come in the room to check on them. This works out well. He never gets out of the bed as long as his big brother is there with him. The transition from crib to big boy bed with our first son was kind of a nightmare. He was always getting out of bed. So far it looks like we won't have to worry about that the second time around. This also provides a good opportunity for some classic pictures.

C.) On Friday nights or special occasions we'll all just pile into our bed for a movie or a few episodes of Fixer Upper or a good family talk. The boys love this and  they usually get a little rowdy but we only do it on nights when we don't have to wake up for anything in the morning. The quality time is definitely worth it although I end up having to lug them to bed at some point in the middle of the night.

Regardless of how we decide to do bed time on a particular night there is always one constant and that is prayer time. Now, I'm not going to sit here and tell you to do prayer time with your children if you don't believe in God (although it couldn't hurt) but I am going to advise you to do what precedes prayer time in our house because you don't need to believe that your blessings come from God to be grateful for them. Every night after story time or after we pause the television, we ask the boys what they are thankful for. They answer with an array of "blessings" ranging from favorite television shows to family members to friends names to favorite toys to animals to chocolate fishing rods. 

When we first started doing this they didn't have much to say. That's when my wife Daphne and I decided to ask each other what we are thankful for so we could set an example for them as to how the question should/could be answered. 

"I'm thankful for the roof over our heads" 

"I'm thankful for 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep."

"I'm thankful for two healthy and happy boys."

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to make good choices tomorrow."

This is also a good time to show your kids that you love, respect and appreciate your spouse with answers such as "I'm thankful for the job Mommy does at home with you boys" or "I'm thankful for Daddy's hard work every day." After seeing this a few times their answers went from a blank stare, gibberish or "I don't know" to something meaningful. Sure, sometimes their answers are pure silliness but I can really see them developing an appreciation for the things in this life that they have. 

Now that we've been doing this for a while we get them to tell us at least three things that they are thankful for each night. My 4 year olds current go-to is, "I'm thankful for you, Daddy" which melts my heart every single night, of course. He usually follows that up with a shout out to his Mom and his little brother. 

Although my two year old typically likes to just give us a run down of his favorite TV shows, he's developing a reputation of thinking of people in his life who he is thankful for other than his Mom and Dad. When he randomly mentions our friends Adam and Amy or my buddy Leroy or Mrs. Janet from church, I know his wheels are turning and we're doing a good thing. They are understanding what gratitude is more and more each day. They are learning an appreciation for blessings. Even if most of the blessings they are grateful for are toys today, one day those blessings will be something more and they will be sure not to take them for granted. I can only dream of where they will go from here.

What about you? Do you have any routines or traditions that the rest of the world just has to know about? Feel free to share. In the mean time I will leave you with this video from a few days ago of my boys telling me a few things they are thankful for. Enjoy!









Friday, May 15, 2015

They Call it LABOR for a Reason (guest post by Daphne Grice)


They call it LABOR for a reason!

It is hard to believe that I am now the Mom of two very handsome little fellas... I am not sure if that is because it feels so wonderful or if I am so sleep deprived that the lines of reality are blurred. I wouldn't trade the bags under my eyes for anything in the world. So maybe I would have traded it for an epidural, but who's to say really?


Fletcher Lee Grice was born on April 27, 2013 at a very dark 4:25 am. We arrived at the hospital around 7:00 on Friday night- concerned that my labor was going to come quickly and we wouldn't make it in time, I would have to deliver the baby in the car, etc... Needless to say that wasn't Mr. Fletcher's plan. He took his time, let us savor a few more sweet moments as a family of 3, squeeze Cooper's neck and start the caravan to deliver. 

This time I decided I was going to go at this like a hero Mom... One who watched The Business of Being Born twice and felt like I knew nothing the first time around. I was determined that I was going to have the ultimate experience, feel like more of a Mother than I ever had, and take this like a champion. I came, I saw, I conquered... and I did a little bit of yelling, crying, and a lot of doubting myself. But we went to the hospital with the intentions of having a baby. And by George, we did.



I was SO worried I would not make it in time I had myself convinced that we should have been at the hospital hours before we arrived. "The second one comes so much faster"... "If you don't have an epidural your labor will go so quickly"... At 10:00 pm they broke my water, and each CM of labor seemed to come and go with little troubles- contractions, yes they were there though. I worked up to 8 CM and felt like a champion. I was breathing it out, walking around, laboring if you will :D In true Lee-Grice fashion we had a huge party there awaiting the arrival of our sweet baby who, at this point, we still didn't know if it was a fella or a gal. My parents, my sister, my in-laws- which included my BIL and SIL, were all there laughing, talking, falling asleep, and supporting me through this process.




Then it started to become more labor less laboring. Wow, it sure did hurt. It didn't help that my cervix was not sitting properly and the nurse had to "help it" along during my contractions. I know at one point I said very loudly "You are HURTING me!"- and she was... From 8 to 10 CM to pushing felt like the shortest-longest time in my life. I was in pain, it was a blur, then I was pushing, trying to catch a breath, pushing again, then there was a baby! My baby was here! I had done it... and I was EXHAUSTED!!! They let me hold him right away and I felt that huge rush that can't be compared to anything in life. WE DID IT! 


I am so thankful my hubby was able to be there with me (not that there was ever a reason he wouldn't, unless we go back to my fear of hardly making it to the hospital- in which he would be at work/the store/playing basketball and would not make it before the baby did :D), crying more than I did, holding my hand, and thank goodness keeping pretty quiet but super supportive. He cut the cord, cried a little more, then went to check on our new little guy. And I was left to finish the job, the labor. I just wanted to take a second and compose myself- I wasn't crying- I was sweating, and I was so out of breath! There were a few loose ends to tie up, a few things to get us to the actual finish line- and those were not pleasant either... and I felt every bit of them.



Finally I was clean, he was clean, and he was alllll mine to kiss, snuggle and fall in love with. But it was still a little hazy. I was there, but it felt like I was watching the whole thing. I could feel my heart overflowing but I could also feel my eyes getting heavy. It was a rush like no other. The pain is something you can't even remember that same day though. I know it was the worst pain ever, but the negative feelings pass so quickly. 



Comparing it to Cooper's delivery- I arrived at the hospital at 6 CM, received my epidural, pushed for a little while, had the baby, loved the baby right away, and felt nothing. I felt no different after having my epi-baby than I did with my natural birthed baby as far as love for him or that overwhelming Mommy urge. I did in fact feel like I could enjoy the moments after birth more with the epidural- you don't notice so much the follow-up tasks that are going on while you are loving on that sweet bundle. I feel like just as much of a Mom now as I did then, and it makes me feel wonderful that I didn't short change myself on the experience the first go round. I love them both with an overflowing heart and drugs or not they were my whole world from the first moment we met.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Mom Lottery .


Mom.

You don't get to choose her.

One day you just squeeze your way out from between two legs or a doctor pulls you through some ladies guts and out of a big cut in her stomach. 

TaDa!!!

There you are. On stage.

It's really bright and everyone is watching you.

You don't know what else to do so you just start screaming for help.

Then, if you're fortunate, that lady who just sent you sliding out of her womb picks you up and shoves her breast in your mouth.

Wait! What?

Who is this lady?

You never even had a chance to do a background check.

A meet and greet.

Mom speed dating. 
You know...10 mom options. 
You get to sit down for 5 minutes with each of them, pepper them with questions and pick the one who seems the most compatible.

Nothing.

It's a lot like the lottery.

You get what you get and you're stuck with it. That is, if she even wants you.

If she doesn't want you, you can't go back into that nice comfy womb. You just get put on hold and you don't even get to watch the clear plastic container of balls dancing in the gale force wind, while you wait for your number to be called.

If she does want you there is still no guarantee that you should actually want her to want you. Last I checked, there is no such thing as a mom license. Are you going to a good home where you will be loved and nurtured the way a baby is supposed to be loved and nurtured? Many mothers bring their beautiful babies home to the safety of their nest with the best of intentions only to fail miserably.

Take the mother bird from "Are You My Mother" for example. Motherhood looked bad on that mama bird from the jump. First, she managed to find a way to miss the birth of her baby. Second, she let her baby fall from the top of a tall tree. And as if that wasn't bad enough, the poor baby bird had to wander aimlessly for the first hour or so of his life thinking that a kitten, dog, hen, cow or perhaps the dreaded SNORT might actually be his mother. Poor baby! 

Luckily, that scary SNORT was a hero and returned the baby bird to the nest and the mama bird was none the wiser. She didn't even know that she had already failed miserably. Ignorance is bliss, right?
Like anything else in this world, mothers come in all shapes, sizes and forms. Just because you are a mom doesn't mean you are a good one.

Anyway, back to the Lottery.

I've never won the lottery we play today at convenience stores with miniature pencils like the ones you get at putt putt golf courses and tiny scan tron like pieces of paper with rectangles full of numbers. I've never come close.

However, I did win the "Mom Lottery" some 34 years ago and something tells me that the odds of winning that are even more slim than the lottery we play today. The stakes are definitely higher.

Have you ever sat back and really thought about it?

Be careful if you haven't. It can be a lot like plugging in one too many kitchen appliances into the same outlet. 

Boom.

Overload.

Someone needs to go flip a breaker.

How much of who you are today is a reflection of your mother?

There are a plethora of women near your mothers age that could have ended up being your mom yet your mom ended up being your mom.

I know. When I put it like that it sounds silly...and No, I'm not on drugs... unless you consider sweet tea a drug. In that case, I'm sitting at my computer high as a kite on sweet tea typing a blog post about how mind blowing it is that my mom is my mom.

Boy. She must be proud.

Seriously though, I'm not sure what your situation is with your mother but for me it truly is mind bottling (or mind boggling for those of you who aren't familiar with Chaz Michael Michaels) to think about how blessed I am in the Mom department. I was born into this world to a mom who would literally do anything for me. She's disciplined yet forgiving. She's tough yet kind and understanding. She's like a finely tuned, well rounded athlete with a highly developed craft and her craft is motherhood... and she's good at every aspect of it. It's like I got the Bruce Jenner of moms.

Wait a minute. You have to remember that I was born in 1980. Back then Bruce was a man. I mean, he was THE man. Not only a man but THE man. On the Wheaties box, might I add, a highly trained Olympic male athlete at the top of his game.

My mom is THE MAN... but she's a woman. Now that I think about it, she may be the exact opposite of Bru... nevermind.

 I'm Sorry. This is going nowhere fast. Yet another bad comparison on my part.

Carrying on...

In all seriousness, if you read my blog frequently you know that I go on about my relationship with my dad constantly and my mom often takes a back seat. That's only because my dad and I are both sports addicts with a whole lot in common and a lot to talk about. I wont let dad high jack this post mom. This one is for you.

 In reality, my mother is the one thing in this world that I am most grateful for, including my wife and kids. I was able to choose my wife. I've been able to influence and mold my children. I had absolutely NO SAY in who my mom was going to be though. If it weren't for my mom's example of what a wife and mom should be I wouldn't know what qualities to look for in a wife/mother of my children. I wouldn't know how important it was to find a woman: 

  • whose priorities are faith and family
  • who understands the love and nurturing children require
  • who holds her husband accountable with just the right amount of patience and understanding
  •  who prays with her children
  •  who goes the extra mile to teach the things that some let slip through the cracks
  • who is capable of staying at home with the kids or providing for her family depending on what life asks of her.
  • who is honest and stands behind her word
  • who loves her husband and leaves no room for doubt
  • who willingly sacrifices what ever it takes for her children's well being
ETC.

I could go on all night.

My mother possesses all of these qualities and many more.

What did I ever do to deserve a Mother like this?

When we were young my mom was a stay at home mom. As we got older things changed and she had to go to work full time so she delivered mail for the next 20 years. She adjusted. She sacrificed. She went with the flow of life with a smile on her face.

She was the spiritual leader of our household. She made sure we woke up and went to Church. She dragged my lazy butt out of bed every single day for school. Because of her I had perfect attendance from Kindergarten through 12th grade, which is no easy task, just ask her. All these years I thought it was something fantastic that I had done. She's the one who did all the work. She deserves the credit.

 To this day I still don't know how she did it. After I went to sleep she stayed up cleaning my filthy baseball uniform. I was the dirtiest kid on the team always sliding head first every chance I got but come the next game I was the cleanest kid, for a few minutes anyway. That woman could work mind blowing magic on a dirty baseball uniform and she still woke me up in time to get to school the next morning after putting in the over time. If it wasn't a baseball uniform it was a school project. She would NOT let us get a bad grade, even if we had to stay up all night.

We used to... who am I kidding... we still always give my mom grief because she can fall asleep anywhere at the drop of a hat. The couch... a red light...Church...the bath...the toilet...the middle of a conversation... it doesn't matter, Mom can fall asleep anywhere.

Mom was notorious for staying up all night wrapping Christmas presents. She was always dozing off on Christmas day. One year my brother and I got a Sega Genesis for Christmas. When we were done opening presents we decided it was time to play the Sega. There was only one problem. We didn't get any games. After a couple days of searching the house we found them in my Grandma's closet. Santa must have hidden them there. Another year mom lost the turkey altogether.

One time when my mom dozed off sitting up on the couch my brother and I decided it would be a good idea to start putting change on her face to see how much we could get on there before she woke up. We went to my dad's change drawer and grabbed a hand full of pennies, dimes and nickels and went to work. I'm not positive but I think there may be a picture of this floating around somewhere. I'll have to ask dad. Mom wasn't too happy with us when she awoke to a change face avalanche.

Anyway, I bring all of this up to say that we should have just cut mom some slack. We should have just let her catch up on her sleep. I don't think my brother and I realized why she was so exhausted all the time. The woman devoted every second of her life to raising and providing for my two older sisters, my brother and me and she didn't care how much sleep she lost doing it. She was forgetful and she was chronically exhausted but more than anything, she was DEVOTED to her family. She still is.


Because of her example I was able to recognize these same qualities in my wife when I met her. My dad recognized them too. We met her on the same day and only hours after meeting her he told me that I needed to marry her one day. When all my friends told me it wasn't time to settle down, I knew better. I knew I'd be missing out on a woman who shared so many amazing qualities with my mom.

That type of woman doesn't come around every day.

Now, because I won the Mom Lottery I've also won the Wife Lottery and therefore my sons have also won the Mom Lottery. What a beautiful cycle. I hope it continues. I hope one day my boys find their own little minds blown, their own little breakers flipped, when they attempt to wrap their heads around the fact that they ended up with the amazing mother they have, because she is amazing too. Would you like to know how I know?

Because my mom tells me all the time.

How did I end up with a wonderful mother like this?

How did my kids end up with a wonderful mother like this?

I'll tell you how...

My genius dad chose them both.

Ha.

Happy Mother's Day to all you Moms out there, especially to my mom and the mother of my boys.

We love you guys.












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