A Year in My Life- July

Oops, I did it again. I forgot to share my “A Year in my Life Photos”. I was about to start writing Augusts post, when it dawned on me that I had completely skipped over July! I guess it will be July today and August tomorrow.

As can be expected the beginning of July was filled with parades and fireworks. We had a lot of fun going to a few different performances of the Army National guard that Cameron plays in. The kids always holler and scream when Daddy marches by. They’re his biggest fans.

A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
We were lucky to run into some friends at the local fireworks show.
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
I’d rather take pictures of these cuties than the fireworks
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Army National Guard Band playing the National Anthem
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Maddy loves her baby
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic | LuLaRoe Julia
Rocking my LuLaRoe Americana Julia as a long shirt
A Year in My Life Documenting Our Family- July | smithsquad.com |military family | Patriotic
Daddy marching in the smallest parade we’ve ever seen.

July was also great because we had a visit from Cameron’s brother and his cute little family. My kids absolutely adore their little cousin. We got a bit of rain while at the park, but that didn’t slow anyone down!

Get out of the way!
Get out of the way!
You can definitely tell these two are related.
You can definitely tell these two are related.
"just singing in the rain!"
“just singing in the rain!”
ok, maybe they don't ALL like each other.
ok, maybe they don’t ALL like each other.
Cheese!
Cheese!

It was a pretty fun low key month. The most exciting thing happened on July 23rd when I submitted my application to become a LuLARoe Fashion Consultant! MY call to purchase my initial inventory should come any day now. I can’t wait to get started in this business. I love their clothes and I know I’m going to rock it! If you haven’t gotten in on my LuLaRoe presale yet check it out. Pre-sale deals end on the day my inventory ships, which will be in about 10-14 days. Also make sure to join me in my Facebook group to get in on some fun giveaways leading up to my big launch party in a few weeks.

Are you doing a photo challenge this year? I’d love to see your work. Drop a link in the comments so I can check it out. 

A Year in the Life June- Documentary Photography at the Pet Store

Once again I completely forgot to post my A Year in the Life pictures from last month. As usual the littlest ones were the stars of the show! I must admit right around 1.5 is my favorite age. Learning to walk and talk, but not quite into the temper tantrum stage yet. Even with a new baby around Wally once again was the main subject of my camera lens this month.  DSC06481   DSC06493 DSC06496

The best shot of the month is this one of Wally with Hannah. Wally is absolutely IN LOVE with his sock monkey. He is also over the moon for his new baby sister. When Grandma sent Hannah a sock monkey outfit I knew I needed a picture of him holding the both of them. As you can see Hannah wasn’t too fond of the idea. Wally was unperturbed. He just shoved that paci in her mouth, positive that losing it was the only reason she was sad. Poor girl didn’t stop crying till mommy rescued her, after getting the picture first of course lol. DSC06491

The older kids managed to sneak into a few pictures by holding the very photogenic new baby. Maddy especially loves to help take care of Hannah. I have  feeling these two are going to be best buds.

DSC06426

DSC06537

Ben likes to love on her too, but not quite as much as Maddy. He gets bored pretty fast adn is ready to pass her on.

One fun thing I did this month was take the camera with me when we went to the pet store. I’ve always been a little too self conscious to bust out the camera in an unusual spot like that before. This time I just went for it. I had a TON of fun. I love that I was able to capture so much of my kids personalities in an everyday situation. I even remembered to hand the camera off to the hubs and get in the pictures myself!

Would you like to preserve these types of memories as well? I can teach you how. Stay tuned for my workshop announcement, coming soon! If you’d like to hire me for a documentary session please contact me for more details and to schedule your date.

Lead Me, Guide Me Parenting

One of my favorite songs that my children sing at church has the line “Lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way.” It is a plea to their parents to guide them through this life in a way that will bring them back to their Heavenly Father. Each time I hear this song I ask myself “Am I practicing positive lead me, guide me parenting?” Lead me, guide me parenting | Smithsquad.com | PArenting without threats, bribes, nagging, and fighting

Do as I say, Not as I do

It is very easy to get into bad habits of authoritarian demands, bribes and punishments, and do as I say not as I do parenting. Our world seems to celebrate this type of parenting. Public shaming has become somethign to praise and taking away a 3 year old’s ice cream and dumping it in the trash is the proper response for them forgetting to say thank you. I see these stories posted on social media and all the comments praising them and I wonder when did we go so wrong? When did we decide that children needed to be perfect little compliant robots that behave better than most of the adults caring for them? When did we decide it was perfectly acceptable for us to throw an adult temper tantrum as we rant at our kids, but completely unacceptable for them to voice a single whine or complaint? We complain about how horrible our boss is when he treats us unkindly, yet turn around and treat our children the same way. What if instead of punishing, threatening, yelling, and shaming we set the example and really walked beside them to show them the way?

Lead Me, Guide Me Parenting

Lead me, guide me parenting | Smithsquad.com | PArenting without threats, bribes, nagging, and fighting | Family work instead of chores
Dad setting the example and working hard with the kids

Lead me, guide me parenting doesn’t mean that there are no expectations, limits or consequences. It simply means that we set the proper example and enforce boundaries with love, compassion and education instead of threats, shaming, and punishment. We show our children the way we want them to treat others by treating our children with respect and kindness. We teach them compassion by serving them and involving them when we serve others. We teach them gratitude when we thank them for the good things they do or the the help they provide. We teach them to work by working together as a family and letting them see our hard work. When misbehavior occurs we take the time to talk to them, understand their feelings, and help them work out a better way to handle the situation. When simple manners are forgotten we take the initiative to say thank you and then prompt our children to voice their gratitude as well if they don’t follow our lead.

What Does Lead, Me Guide Me Look Like?

Lead me, guide me parenting| SmithSquad.com | setting the example for my children |
Working on art with my daughter teaches her it’s ok to take time to follow your passions.

Situation: A child is required to read for 10 minutes per day

Do as I say solution: If you read for 10 minutes you will earn your piece of candy. If you do not read then you must stand in the corner until you are ready to do your reading.

Lead me, guide me solution: The parent sits down and reads with the child. They may read aloud, have the child read aloud, or simply each read their own book next to each other.

Situation: Two children are fighting over a toy, yelling and hitting each other

Do as I say solution: Take the toy away, spank both children and send them to time out

Lead me, guide me solution: Place the toy on your lap and sit in between the two children. Give them each a chance to talk and ask what is going on. After they each get a turn to tell their side of the story ask them for possible solutions, and suggest solutions if they need your help. Settle on a solution as a team.

Situation: A child is throwing a fit in public because they were told no

Do as I say solution: Loudly inform the child that they are naughty, embarrassing, and in trouble. Angrily remove them from the situation. Give a punishment for being “bad”.

Lead me, guide me solution: Take the child in your arms and say “I know it is disappointing when we don’t get what we want. Let’s take a deep breath together and calm down.” Offer to sing a song, snuggle, or connect to the child in a way that is calming to them. If the child can not or will not be calmed then remove them from the situation quietly and calmly.

Situation: A child forgets to say thank you after being given a treat

Do as I say solution: Take the treat away informing the child that they don’t deserve it

Lead me, guide me solution: Model gratefulness by thanking the person yourself. If the child does not follow suit then gently remind them “Did you forget to say something?” or “Did you remember to thank Sue for the treat?”

Situation: The house is a mess and needs to be cleaned up for visitors

Do as I say solution: Parents rant at the children for being so messy and not keeping up with their chores. Each child is assigned a chore and parents threaten, bribe, and talk talk talk at the kids to keep the moving and get the work complete.

Lead me, guide me solution: The entire family takes one section of the house at a time and works together to get it clean. Parents are pitching in as well and take the opportunity to play, sing, or simply talk with their children as they work.

None of Us is Perfect

Lead me, guide me parenting | SmithSquad.com | We are all just children doing our best to navigate this world
We are all just children doing the best we can to navigate this world.

Now in case you have any notion that I’m this saintly patient mom let me tell you I am nowhere near perfect at remembering to use these approaches. I raise my voice way more often than I should. I have punished when I should have taught. I have forgotten to say thank you or gone days without reading anything other than Facebook. It’s ok. Just as my children are a work in progress so am I. As I forgive myself and give myself permission to be imperfect it is much easier to do the same for my children. The key to all of this is to remember that just as I fall short in meeting the expectations of my Heavenly Father my children will also fall short in meeting my expectations. I need to give them the same grace, patience, and love that I want my Father to give to me.

Resources

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Of course there is far more to this than what can be written in one blog post. Here are some resources that have really helped me over the last few years.

Love and Logic– A wonderful book that talks about how to use both love and logic to establish control in your home without threats, nagging, fighting, etc. They also post great stuff on their Facebook page. There are also versions of the book specifically for young children, teens, and classrooms.

The Dirty Little Secret About Children and Chores– A wonderful blog post about chores vs. family work by Donna Goff.

When Anger Hurts– A book about how controlling those around you with anger can damage both them and yourself.

Parenting Isn’t for Cowards– Focuses on logical steps you can take to bring more peace and joy into the parent/child relationship.

Parenting the Ephraim’s Child– Did you know that the tribe of Ephraim was the most rebellious and difficult of the 12 tribes of Israel? This book focuses on taking those traits which are considered weaknesses and seeing them as “a strength in need of refinement.”

The Five Love Languages for Children– Everyone gives and receives love in different ways. Understanding whether your child needs words of affirmation, physical touch or another love language will help you fill their needs as well as identify how they are constantly showing their love for you.

What resources have you used and loved to help improve your relationships with your children? In what way do you already practice lead me, guide me parenting and in what ways would you like to improve?

The Submissive Wife

I have seen several comments recently about needing to be a submissive wife to be a good Christian. While I do believe in the Bible, the tone of these comments has truly bothered me. They bother me so much because I firmly believe that God intended husband’s and wives to be equal partners in raising up a righteous family to him. The doctrine presented in Ephesians 5:22-25 does not mean that husbands have the right to complete dominion and control over their wives. It clearly states that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Such love is not born of power and control, but caring and compassion and a desire to serve. A woman would be happy to “submit” herself to such a man because he would treat her as an equal partner. When I shared this viewpoint I was stopped in my tracks when one woman commented “Husbands and wives are not equal partners in the eyes of God. The husband is the head. The woman is his helpmeet. There is an ordained hierarchy.”

This viewpoint breaks my heart. Christ showed time and time again that he loved and valued the women in his life. He treated them with respect and dignity in a time when that was not required or expected. In fact it was a woman who was the first to see the resurrected Lord. As it states in “The Family A Proclamation to the World“:

By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners.

While men and women have been given different roles within marriage this does not demote the wife to submissive servant that must cater to her husband’s every whim.

submissive wife|marriage|equal partnership|Christian|Christ

When I shared these thoughts with my husband he wrote out a beautiful response. I love his words and his perspective.

This principle of the Gospel is just like many other teachings we are supposed to live and try to understand in that it has different nuances that seem to contradict each other at first. For example–Jesus seemed to eschew riches when he spoke to the young ruler, but it is evident that God loved many other of his servants throughout the Bible who were rich men (Job, Abraham, David). We must learn to understand when to apply the teachings of Jesus and the prophets based on circumstances and a hierarchy of principles. We expect our children to be able to do the same, right? (It’s wonderful to pick roses for your mother, sweetheart, but not when they belong to Chick-fil-A!)

To say “husbands and wives are not equal partners” makes it sound like God wants women to be subservient to men, that they are not as capable, or that their thoughts, wishes, and abilities to contribute are not as important. But that can’t be right, can it? Did God really mean to assign women the role of sexual commodity and physical laborer–to be seen and not heard–to carry out the wishes of the man as ordered without a say in the matter? 

I don’t think so. 

Then what else could it mean? Maybe it means God ordained the family to be an institution in which there is a continual round of responsibility that leads back to God. The man is responsible for the welfare, guidance, and provision of his family and a woman is responsible for nurturing her husband in that role and the children as they grow–and that in this partnership of radically different but equally important roles, the woman grows closer to God through her relationship with both her husband and God, and the husband grows closer to God because of the way he carries out his responsibility and obeys God. Nowhere in any of this should it be understood that a woman shouldn’t get equal say in what happens with her family–and she DEFINITELY does not blindly accept and support anything and everything her husband wants to do if it goes contrary to the will of God. 

Whenever we talk about this subject, let’s not forget to read verses 25-28. For a woman to find God’s will in submitting to her husband, the husband must also be submitting to God’s will in loving her and serving her in return. The scripture states men should love their wives as Christ loves the church–even to the point of sacrificing their lives for their wives. Men should love their wives as their own bodies. “Love” here is not used in the same way it is used to teach against the love of riches or love of things of the world. It means to be aware of the needs of and properly care for something. So clearly God assigns as much importance to the woman’s welfare and salvation as to the man’s. Marriage is not the process of a woman learning how to submit in all things to her husband but the process of a man and a woman cleaving together to become one flesh as was commanded in scripture. Does God really want a man to cleave unto his wife and become one flesh with her if she is not equal to him? If so, that would be an insult to man. For God to yoke a man with a being that was not equal to the man would demean God’s own creation. Yes, marriage is the process of two equal but different children of God becoming one—growing through trial and error, never-ending communication, and individual sacrifice on the part of both the husband and the wife for the good of the partnership and the family.

I think of it not as a ladder in which the man stands on a higher rung but as a triangle in which men and women lean on each other. As each side of the triangle gets closer, they also get higher and closer to God–the apex of the triangle or the point at which all three dwell together. 

The bottom line is really that we probably won’t ever know the full meaning and extent of this teaching until we are on the other side of the veil. But we can understand part of it here and now. We know we understand that everyone–male and female–is a child of God and that we are all loved of God. Think of what we as earthly parents want for our daughters. Do we want them to grow up thinking they are always going to be second fiddle–that their priorities will always be handed to them from someone else? Or do we want them to grow up thinking a man should respect her individuality and support her in her own spiritual growth as she supports the man she loves–that she can and should expect to be able to use her talents and personality on this Earth to do something that will be pleasing both to her and to God–and that in such a relationship she can find the fullest expression of her womanhood and help a young man thrive in the same way? How much more does God want for His daughters that we can’t even understand? I think we would all agree that the tradition all over the world in different times and places that puts women below men as obsequients is wrong–it’s just wrong. God has more in store for His daughters than that. And failing all of that–we just know from thousands of years of experience that two heads are better than one–that nothing great was ever achieved by a single person acting out of his or her own knowledge, experience, and resources. Think of what it means to admit that women are “not equal” to men–it flies in the face of all our experience and knowledge about life on Earth and God’s plan. At some point we have to give up trying to put a round peg in a square hole and take a broader look at what was meant by this passage of scripture.

I am eternally grateful for a husband who loves and honors my calling as a mother and wife. We are truly partners. We aren’t perfect, but through our understanding of the eternal nature and purpose of families we are able to work together to raise our family in righteousness and happiness.