CHAOS Parenting

I saw a sign at my local gym the other day for a new class.  It’s called “Chaos Training.”  Basically you pay money to show up and be put through any type of training your instructor decides they want to do for the day.  Some days it’s kettle bells and ropes.  Other days you’re doing Tabata and sprints.  It’s unpredictable.  The ultimate outcome is to trick your body into new ways of building muscle and burning fat.

20140826_182535_Android(Polly Pockets + Soccer + two fearsome 5 year olds= WIN)

I came home and told Matt, “I’ve got it!  We are going to do Chaos parenting with Desta.”

This child does not do well with routine and predictability, particularly when it comes to chores and expectations.

Matt and I have tried everything.  Charts with stickers–um, that lasted 3 days.  Desta didn’t get the whole “earn stickers” thing.  I found her plastered in stickers one day.  She had found my stash and the reward system went bust.

20140821_174536_Android(Sometimes eating while watching tv is okay!)

We tried time ins–for some families, this is a brilliant plan. The child sits by your side for their “time out” rather than being placed elsewhere in the home.  Time ins didn’t work out so great when the volume of screaming reached such a feverish pitch that I think I lost significant hearing that day!

We’ve tried “positive rewards” aka, bribes.   Our street smart girl figured this one out quickly!  She’d brilliantly perform until the reward arrived and then right back to “not briber-able behavior.”

Enter CHAOS parenting.  We have become unpredictable.  We don’t do the same thing every time.  Each interaction is met with a different response.

C: Change the approach

H: Have a plan before you engage

A: Always be loving.

O: Options are good.  

S: Smile 

Okay, so the last one is a bit of a stretch.  My point is this.  Some kids do really, really well with routine.  Our son thrives on a very specific plan spelled out every morning.  Changing things throws him into unhealthy Chaos.

BUT some kids, our youngest especially, need to have things shaken up often.

20140827_075309_Android(Desta’s favorite Ipad viewing spot!)

I’m not advocating this is approved by adoption specialists or parenting experts.  What I am saying is that for this season in our family’s life, CHAOS parenting is working well for Desta.


Writing My Legacy

I’ve been thinking about legacy and heritage lately.  At the Global Leadership Conference I attended a few weeks ago, Bill Hybels challenged us to think about what we want our legacy to look like.

I’ve put off that conversation with myself for a long time now.  Writing a statement to live by seemed time consuming, overwhelming and binding.

Matt describes me as a “person who likes to have the right to change her mind.”  I do it all the time.  I used to become so frustrated with myself; finding that I changed plans 100 times before I landed on something. I thought it was insincere and rude, thinking myself fickle. Once I realized that this is how I operate life, I’ve become more deliberate about saying “yes” the first time and “perhaps” or even “no” more often.

But this “right to change her mind person” doesn’t like to put a lot of things on paper; black and white words mean commitment.  My parents raised me to stand behind my words–”What you say is what you do.”

As I sat in a hospital gurney yesterday, getting ready to have some awesome happy juice for a 20 minute “nap” (If you want to read more about the joys of a colonscopy, she offers a tasteful representation of the process), it dawned on me that I could start legacy making with simple words.

I didn’t have to have the entire sentence set in stone.  I could begin with phrases; simple goals for what I know and believe is important.

The phrases and lines running through my mind lately look something like this:

  • Attendance over presence
  • Teach through actions, not just words
  • Three positives to one negative
  • Simply state
  • Don’t fear tomorrow, live presently
  • Make time

These are not life shattering ideas nor are they fitted together in an eloquent sentence etched on a board.

These words, bunched together, represent lessons I’ve learned these years of life.  They come from places of deep pain and hurt, joy and happiness.  They are sparked from the realization that my children are quickly growing up; their time left with me is short, very short.

20140727_110540_AndroidI’m still working on my legacy statement.  I will eventually write one out in completion.  Until then, I will continue to listen to the lessons of my heart and work hard to see them not go to waste.




My Kids Fight

20140727_111659_AndroidWe are working hard in this house to tune down the volume.

Do you feel like your life is filled with noise?  We have a few children who cannot seem to get along, despite threats, love, rewards, discipline and forced interactions with each other.

The afternoons, when it’s just the two of them home, are very long.

I find myself closing down; heading to my computer, immersing myself in Pinterest’s dream life of new kitchens, organized homes and to die for meals.  I block out the yelling, the screaming, the pinching.

I know it’s not what I should do. I should be the adult in this situation. I should be in the thick of it, offering peacemaking solutions.  I should even offer to play a game.

Instead, I close up and retreat.

Do you ever do that?

The guilt hits as I read blogs about people struggling with big things.  Cancer, pain, sicknesses, deployments.  They long to have their nuclear family be safely in one place.  They long for normalcy and games to play.

I feel bad.  I should be a better mom. I should do better. I should try harder.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I thought through the last few days in this home.  I realized that I don’t have to do anything.

See, when I work on things in my own strength, I fail.  BIG TIME FAIL!

I’m not saying I shouldn’t try.  I’m not saying I shouldn’t get off my butt and do a little hard work. I’m not saying I should retreat.

The self talk is what I need to address.  When I tell myself I’ve lost before I’ve even begun..  That crazy talk turns me into a crazy person.

My kids will fight.  Heck they might never get along.

It’s up to me to face them with a confident heart; a heart that says, “You’ve got this.  These babies you wept big crocodile tears to have, well, those babies are growing up.  It’s up to you, Mama, to stay engaged.  It’s up to you to make sure you follow through with the commitment you made in your heart.

You don’t have to do this alone.  God promises big love and huge patience.  He says he’ll never leave you.  This life, I’m told was planned before a breath was ever taken.

With those kinds of promises, I can’t life a defeatist life.

Get up off your bum, get out there and speak words of life.  They might scream over you, they might fight it off, they might wear you down but never give up!



Routine now commences!


This week marks new routine.

20140818_080144_AndroidI have successfully set up a carpool for soccer.  Amen and amen!

The children are relatively happy with their classes and teachers.  Amen and amen.

20140818_080411_AndroidI have volunteered to be a 4th grade room mom.  What am I thinking?

I have a set work schedule.  Amen and amen!

School has not rectified sibling fighting.  Can I declare ceasefire please?


a summer resolution

In May, right when school was ending, I made a summer resolution. I kept it to myself.

20140813_153846_AndroidI resolved to spend quality time with my olders, creating intentional time for conversation and memories.

That might seem simple for some of you; even a regular part of your life.  For me, with the dynamic of our family, work and schedule, intentional time has been elusive.

20140813_155210_AndroidOne of the biggest challenges I found after resolving to pursue this was myself.  I learned, AGAIN, how selfish I am.

20140813_155550_AndroidIntentional time means sacrifice of my time and the things I want to.  It means making a plan and sticking with it.  It means becoming vulnerable and open with who I am, past and present.

20140813_154952_AndroidIt’s also been one of the most rewarding things I could have done.

It’s taken many forms this summer.

It’s been a hike up the Incline and a two hour hike down, filled with conversation about how I felt as a 13 year old.  My frustrations with my parents, my lack of self confidence, my like for boys.  Hard conversations about life choices, culture, society.

It’s been an afternoon spent at a rock climbing gym, challenging not only my kids to get to the top but myself as well.  I realized, again, how much I hate heights.

It’s been heading to some super fun clothing stores and not buying a single thing for me.  Instead, focusing on my child’s new style.  Making sure they feel comfortable in what they are wearing.  Talking about how clothes make us feel and act.

It’s been middle of the day stops at bagel shops, just because it’s summer and we are one child free.  The stops becoming small spaces to talk without interruption.

For one of the first times ever, I am very sad that summer is over.  It came and went too fast.  We didn’t get it all done.

20140813_165226_AndroidMy resolve doesn’t have to end with summer though.  I’m going to continue this intentional time with my children.

Finding those spaces to fill with praise, words, time, love, memories and wisdom–that will continue! Here’s to another school year!