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I have a confession. In the last 18 months or so, I’ve become quite the yeller. I knew I was turning into a yeller, and I would chill in little spurts here and there, but the yelling always seemed to resurface. I justified the yelling, because my kids (specifically the boys) weren’t listening when I was asking nicely. Surely the answer was just to raise my voice, right? Besides, it’s not like I was yelling mean or hurtful things – I was just talking loudly. No biggie.

Towards the end of the winter break that wouldn’t end, I started to feel convicted about the yelling. Oh boy. Feeling convicted can be brutal. When you start to really see what’s going on, it’s humbling, upsetting, and all around not fun.

Convicted: less yelling and multi-tasking, more listening and helping.

The first conviction came when Chase started yelling back.

What’s this?! Chase is my sweet, cuddly, always quiet little boy! Where’s this yelling and anger coming from?

Ah. It’s coming from me. He’s learning this terrible behavior from me. I was entrusted to train this little person up to be a kind, compassionate, loving person and I’ve taught him to yell and be angry at the drop of a hat. Oh boy.

The next conviction came a few days after that, when I was trolling Pinterest looking for a quote about “listening”. We had our next Building Better Moms meeting coming up that week (which I co-lead) and the speaker was going to talk about how to get our kids to listen the first time. We figured a quote about listening might be appropriate for our “Thought of the Day” section of the newsletter. The quote I found resonated with me in an enormous way.

“If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.” – Marge Piercy

Apparently listening is a two way street. For this mom who multi-tasks non-stop throughout the day, this was a tough one to hear. As I thought about it, I realized I probably don’t even look at the kids when they’re talking to me, which makes it less of a conversation and more of them just talking at me. How can I expect them to have good listening skills when I don’t take the time to show them?

More conviction came at that Building Better Moms meeting. Our speaker talked about the importance of actually closing the distance between yourself and your child (or spouse – ha!) when asking them to do something. She said research has shown there is a direct correlation between how well someone listens and how closely you were standing to them when you were talking.

So it turns out I was only setting us up for disaster when I would make requests from the kitchen to the children who were in the living room. And the simple act of just raising my voice from the kitchen wasn’t going to work either. Heck, half the time, the boys probably couldn’t even SEE me when I was asking them to do something (or stop doing something)!

This was a big blow to my multi-tasking ways, and I immediately resolved to make more of an effort to stop whatever I was working on (dishes, meal prep, e-mail, helping another kid with homework, etc) and go to the child I needed to speak to.

For the next couple of days that week, I was quite successful at not yelling at all (woohoo!) and instead found my children were much more compliant the first time around, just by simply walking up to them, stooping down to their level (although the boys are now taller than me when I kneel – man!) and putting my hand on their shoulder or the side of their  face when I was talking to them.

The final conviction came at church last week. Our pastor recently started a sermon series about Jesus, and while  the bulk of this last sermon was about the virgin birth, what Jesus was like as a child, whether he was married or not, etc, there was one part at the very end that hit me right in the heart.

Jesus was constantly getting interrupted, but always stopped to help.

Whoa. That was just what my multi-tasking self needed to hear (and write down). I am constantly feeling like I’m being “interrupted”, and I’m sure I’m visibly annoyed by it sometimes. I shouldn’t be annoyed, and I really need to stop that. Think about all of the important life lessons I can convey if I let myself get interrupted and instead of being annoyed, I joyfully stop to help!

(If you’d like to hear how my pastor put it exactly, you can click this link and either watch the whole sermon, or just skip ahead to minute 37:40.)

So there we have it: I’ve been convicted when it comes to my yelling ways. I know I’m not going to see immediate change in myself, or in Chase, but I will press on. I will not be so busy multitasking that I can’t go to my children or husband to make my request, and I will not be so busy that I will be annoyed with the interruptions. Instead, I will joyfully stop to help.

Training these children in the right way to deal with disappointment, anger, obedience and listening skills is far more important than dinner being ready on time, that e-mail being answered right away, the pile of dishes being done this minute, or that the living room is picked up to my liking.

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    Sara - Thank you so much for this post! I find myself getting frustrated at my girls when they do not listen to being asked to do something 2 and 3 times. It is true I do not always ask them directly, or face to face and I really need to do better with that.
    The interruptions are frustrating too, sometimes I feel like I can’t take two steps without hearing “Mommy!” and have to change gears again. I will remember that Jesus was always interrupted and he stopped to help. I should too, because I do want my girls to learn how to deal with different situations and even how to be polite, patient and wait, but if I am not polite and patient with them, how will they learn?

    Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:30 pm

    Helen - “but if I am not polite and patient with them, how will they learn?”

    Exactly, Sara! Glad this could be an encouragement to you :) ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:35 pm

    pop pop - Wow Helen, I have learned new things today. From my amazing daughter come more pearls of wisdom. I am sorry for my yelling as a parent. Love you.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 12:37 pm

    Susan - Oh my…you’re speaking my truth. I’ve iften caught myself yelling and right then and there knew I needed to STOP!
    I believe this is one of the greatest challenges we face as parents because of the distractions we face daily. We really just want our children to do what we ask when we ask it. My boys are older, 11 and 9, when they aren’t listening to me the first time I tell them how much trouble I’d get in at work if I didn’t listen to my boss. They just look at me like I’m crazy! It’s a vicious circle!
    Thank you for posting this…a great reminder to take a step back and think before I yell.ReplyCancel

  • January 17, 2014 - 3:54 pm

    Helen - Love you too, Dad :)

    Susan, love your comment! Thank you for sharing those thoughts. You’re absolutely right about it being one of the biggest parenting challenges.ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2014 - 3:54 pm

    Deb - I try my best not to yell but the teenage years are quite challenging. Keep it up!ReplyCancel

  • January 29, 2014 - 10:26 pm

    Helen - Deb, I don’t even wanna think about the teenage years! The grocery bills! The attitudes! Gah!ReplyCancel

Christmas front 2013 web
Christmas back 2013 web

{To those that don’t know, Nick always writes the letter that accompanies the card! This year, he sat down with each of the kids, and our wall calendar and let them talk about 2013.}

Dear Friends & Family,

I am considering a transition into a new career in 2014 – a court reporter career! That being so, I decided my first test would be to transcribe the musings of my 4 children, about the year 2013. Please enjoy their thoughts on the year.

Jackson: Santa says ho, ho, ho! I liked going to Maine and Vermont on vacation this summer*! Last year I got the flu. This month we are going to have Christmas! I like to play baseball in the spring and summer! The best thing about being 6 is that I get to go to kindergarten. My favorite part about kindergarten is being able to go to 1st grade for an hour and a half. School is great! I love 2013!

Tyler: January 2013 was an exciting month we had Lily’s (2nd) birthday! In February it was a rockin’ day as we ate tacos from Taco Bell and watched the super bowl. March was a boring month. We did not do anything on the weekend, but daylight saving time was funny because I woke up at 6 instead of 7. On April it was a good time, we got smiley faces on the calendar and we stopped on April 22. In May, an exciting thing there, we graduated from Preschool and we had Mother’s Day. In June we did VBC* at church. In July it was an exciting month cause we went on vacation. Yippee! Vacation was from the 17th to the 23rd it was fun. In August it was kinda fun we had a birthday, and our birthday was rockin’ fun! In September we did Sacred Steps* and ate frozen yogurt. October was rockin good cause we did the fabulous sleepover that started at 3:30 p.m. November was great because of Thanksgiving and we did the smiley faces and Lily got into the Kid of the Day program. In December it’s gonna be a great time cause we are going to have Christmas and maybe a sleepover.

Chase: In January we had New Years Day! That day was so fun! On the 21st it was MLK Day; we did a project and we got smoothies after that. In February we saw the super bowl and we had tacos! YUM! On the 12th it was Lincoln’s Birthday. In March, on the 29th, there was Good Friday. We went to school it was the day before Easter when Jesus died. In April we struggled with staying in bed so we had to do smiley faces. It was sad that we struggled. On May there was national day of prayer; it was fun. June 21st was the first day of summer! July vacation started on the 15th and went until the 23rd. Vacation was fun, we went to Omaha it was fun and went to the fantastic ZOO! And then we swam in the swimming pool the day before that. August 27th was our birthday and August 15 we started school that day and school was fun. I had lots of things to learn at school. October the 12th we had a sleepover that day and that was fun. We saw loud pops and had hamburgers and we watched a movie and had a yummy vegetable. November the 24th we started doing smiley faces and there was a sleepover coming up. On the 29th we did Men’s night. December the 2nd we started not doing very well on the smiley faces we had 4 in a row but did not do very well which was sad…booo! December 8th Daddy put a person for the smiley face.

Lily: I like music. Bear is crying. Pick bananas. I like pretzels. Bananas! Apples! Cookies! Kitties! Kitties! Kitties! Cookies! Daniel Tiger*! Bananas! Candy! Doggies! Pretzels!

*We did not travel to New England For Summer Vacation in 2013

*VBC=Vacation Bible Camp

*Sacred Steps = Our Church’s 5k fun run and walk raising money for Africa

*Smiley faces on the calendar = all children going to bed quietly and on time

*Daniel Tiger = Kid’s show on PBS

Please know that none of this was altered in any way, and if you know any judges looking for a clerk reporter to please have them contact me on Facebook.

Merry Christmas! May the hope, peace, joy, and love that Christ brings be with you in 2014!


Nick and the fam!



  • December 22, 2013 - 3:05 pm

    RoseAnne (mom/grandma) - Wonderful letter! I have to admit I was a bit confused by Jackson’s mention of vacationing in Maine this past summer. Glad you set that straight because it was one more thing that made me question the state of my memory. ;) ReplyCancel

  • December 22, 2013 - 8:35 pm

    Helen - Ha! I know, Mom! I told Nick he had to put a note in there that we did NOT go to Maine and Vermont this summer, otherwise we’d have people thinking we blew them off ;) ReplyCancel

  • January 8, 2014 - 1:58 pm

    Nellie - A lovely family, and a lovely Christmas letter! May peace and joy be yours in 2014! xo NellieReplyCancel

Once upon a time, a couple bought a house. The house was what we like to call “move-in ready”, meaning it had clean, off-white carpet, and freshly painted walls. While off-white carpet and beige walls weren’t exactly what this couple had in mind for their first home, move-in ready was what they needed, for the wife was 6 months pregnant with identical triplets.

Fast forward 3.5 years, and the move-in ready carpet has taken a beating. Potty training 3 boys, plus random spills of food and drink has left the carpet in a sad, sad state. On a whim, the husband decides to pull up a corner of carpet and take a peek at what’s underneath… and what to our wondering eyes should appear (sorry – I have Christmas on the brain right now), but hardwood floors that made us shed a tear! (We didn’t really cry – I just had to rhyme with “appear”.)

So about 6 months later the husband says “I can do this myself!”, but maybe we should test this on just a small section of the house. The carpet was ripped up in the dining area first, because of all the places to put carpet, that seemed the worst. With a rented sander and a huge stack of sanding pads, he got to work and it didn’t look half bad! (Man, I’m on a role with the rhyming right now!)

All that being said, the job took a lot longer and was more pricey than expected, and so for just over 2 years, we lived with the carpet still on the floor in the living room and hallway. Until this month!!

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That, right there? That’s how we really live, but it bugged me that you couldn’t really see the carpet, so I cleaned it up;)

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You’ll just have to trust me that the carpet used to be much lighter in color, not to mention not as matted down. And Chase got a little silly when the camera came out!

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These were snapped quickly just before we had to vacate the house for the floor guys we hired. Notice all the staining and crud on the floors? Yick! And over where you see Jackson’s legs in the corner, there was a big slab of uggo tile on top of the floor.

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Notice the slight shading different between the two rooms? (It’s tough, I know – terrible lighting that morning!) Nick had done the room the boys are standing in, which is why it’s lighter here.

Just 36 hours later….

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Do you hear the angels singing as you look at this?! Needless to say, we LOVE our new floors! (There’s normally an area rug on the floor, but I rolled it up just for the pictures.)

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So next up on the home improvement list? Paint! Nick is already working on the trim, which was in sorry, sorry shape, and I’m currently looking at paint colors for the walls. Time for our little house to have a lot of TLC!