Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rollin' With My Homies

Thoughts after riding in the car with the kids this first month of summer (without the use of the TV or personal electronics... on purpose) and living to tell the tale.

1- From my competitive perspective, I've seriously considered opening a retail store along I-45 or a restaurant that has words beginning with the letters Q, Z, J, and F....  seriously.  Have you ever TRIED to play the alphabet game where you have to find a noun OUTSIDE of the car that starts with a letter of the alphabet???

2- And while we're on the subject, does Texas not use the letter I on their license plates?

3- I actually enjoy riding in the car with 5 kids and a husband- and it's actually possible to get from one place to another WITHOUT the use of the TV or personal electronics for entertainment.  Who would have thought?

4- My kids seem to feel more valued, more loved, and oddly, more connected as they've been forced to interact and work through their problems rather than our norm: "Stop hitting your sister!"  or  "Everybody sit down and put a bubble in your mouth!" and  "Watch the movie and be quiet!" and lastly  "Mom and dad need some peace and quiet for once!  Don't talk.  Just sit there."  Yeah... that happened... way more frequently than I'd like to admit- even some this summer when I thought I needed to make a phone call.

And it's not that we don't interact with them or want to listen to them, but at the end of a long work day (for both of us) when we get in to the car, the last thing we want is tons of screaming and fighting.   But come a little closer and I'll share a little secret I learned- when we play with them and save our grown up quiet time until later, they feel so very, very loved and in turn, they are naturally more pleasant, quieter, more respectful.  It's like a magic happy pill when we make those little deposits into their love tanks.  Who knew?

5-  In the car time doesn't need to be mommy's phone time.  That used to be when I'd catch up with all of my friends and family... and then I saw the rear view mirror and realized I wanted to catch up with this little crew- my homies.

Shoelace.  It's what's for dinner.

So in the mean time, I've alienated some of my friends- not on purpose, but because I realized all of the time I was looking for fulfillment from others and trying to make my own place in the ministry, my main ministry was right in front of me all along.

6-  I also learned that my kids are wildly creative- even inside of the car.

7-  It's okay to have a little down time every once in a while and not be "on".  Sometimes they need to stare out the window and think instead of going in to the twilight zone in their little minds while watching movies (not a slam to those who use movies in the car- just a new way of thinking for this mom who's been using them in the car for years).

8-  Books are a great alternative to videos and portable electronics.  And they are great conversation starters.

9-  Bean salad for dinner is not wise when you intend to spend tons of time in the car the next day... with five children.  Just sayin'.  Thank you Lord for automatic windows.  

10- Not sure how or why, but the car is actually cleaner?   Whaaaaaat?

11- One or more of my children maaaaaaay be tone deaf.

12- Muhles do not nap in the car... unless they are sick.

13- Turns out they don't need to be entertained all of the time.  Good to know...

and finally...

14- Moderation is the key for all future use of the TV in the car.  I think it's okay to drive to the store and back without using it. When I was growing up, we didn't have movies at the push of a button.  I'm sure other people did, but my parents were either wise or cheap so I was forced to use my imagination... or sleep.

That being said, there were a couple of days when we had to get out and about and I had a migraine.  The kids asked if they could watch a movie as we'd be in the car for a while.  I agreed.  It didn't zap all of their creativity or suck the life out of them.  It wasn't horrible.  It's not my preference anymore, but it's also a fun treat for them- on occasion.

So while I'm rollin' with my homies, I think we've found a new norm that includes talking WITH them, playing WITH them, LISTENING to them... kids' beano, and so much more!

Crazy how things can change in just one month.

Unplugging for the afternoon.

The Real Life Mom.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What's In A Name?

I started this blog several years ago as a way to honor God by encouraging others and hopefully pointing them to Christ.  Over time, the focus of the blog changed from honoring God to gaining acceptance and popularity.  I wanted to be liked.  I wanted to be considered "wise".  I wanted people to think I was funny and ultimately, my motivation in writing changed from honoring God to honoring myself by gaining practice writing and earning recognition so that maybe one day I could become a published author/speaker.

Seriously- because, you know, all bloggers become published writers, don't they?

So, I got lost along the way.  I started writing posts to glorify myself, or to draw attention to myself and I lost my true and original focus- to honor God.

Through a series of events, it has come to my attention that the nickname I call my husband has played a major role in drawing the focus of the blog away from honoring God.

When Hurricane Ike hit Houston, my husband and I were at the lowest point our marriage had ever seen.  It was after I had decided I could no longer handle being married to him that my mentor challenged me.  She said: "If you can only think of one thing that you like about him, say it out loud in some way each day.  Over time, your list  will grow and your heart will change."  It was kind of a "fake-it-til-you-make-it" type of challenge.  I felt only disdain for him during this time, but I never stopped being attracted to him, so I thought if I had to start anywhere, I'd start there.

So I started calling Kyle (My Husband) "The Hottie" as a last resort to work on my marriage.  I wasn't ever trying to brag about his looks.  In fact, I thought maybe if I kept saying it, that it would stick and he would finally see what I saw- and it did, and although he's not arrogant, I think he finally sees past the 20 years that he felt completely unlovely and the first 4-5 years of our marriage that I spent tearing him down.

And then a strange thing happened in my heart.  I started looking at him in a different light.  After I had been calling him this for a while, he began to take ownership of the name.  He walked taller.  He was definitely more confident, and there was this strange thing inside of me that I hadn't ever experienced before.  You see, when we first married, we were in lust (as are many young marrieds).  But after I spent time and effort building up and encouraging my husband, I realized God was using those words to meet a need He had placed inside of Kyle .  Then Kyle was more aware of and started meeting my needs and over time we fell deeply in love.  I'm not talking about roses and candy-type love.  I'm talking about learning to speak each other's love languages and loving each other with the love of Christ.

And so I continued to call him that because you  know... a little salt is good, so why not use the whole bottle?  Right?  (Christi-logic, folks...)

Anyway, 4.5 years after I started this journey, I can definitely see that both my husband and I have changed in a beautiful way.  But within the past week, it has been brought to my attention- several times in various ways- that continuing to publicly acknowledge him with that nickname doesn't honor God, or my husband.  In fact, continuing to call him that was offending some (something I definitely never intended and humbly apologize for), and may have  had other negative effects on others.

Either way, now that this has been brought to light, I wanted to say:

1.- Thank you to those of you who took the time to comment on the summer blog to help me see what I was previously unable to see on my own.  I'd respond one on one, but the blog system only shows me anonymous, so I am posting publicly in the hopes that the large group of you who sent me your thoughts will know that I received them and appreciated the honesty and the enlightenment.  

2.  I sincerely apologize for continuing in a behavior that was offensive, degrading, or dishonoring to God, to my husband, or to any of you readers.  Like I said- my intent was to honor God by encouraging others, and I can see how focusing on my self and my selfish need for approval, attention, and achievement completely had the opposite effect.

They say sometimes ignorance is bliss, but I say when ignorance makes you look like a fool, ignorance is not so bliss.  I guess that's why they call life a journey- because you have to take steps towards your destination, leaving behind what was and moving towards what is to come.  

Moving forward...

Again, thank you all for being so open and so honest with your thoughts and opinions. In an effort to honor God and honor my husband, I'll make sure that I abstain from using the aforementioned nickname... outside of our home.   :)

***Also, because of the blogger restrictions, I am unable to see where comments originate, but if I ever write something that crosses a line, offends or upsets you, or causes you to question where my motives lie, please feel free to e-mail me.  I can be reached at: and would love to discuss any questions, concerns, or issues you may have with anything I have written here.  I try to be teachable and am always open to constructive feedback, opinions, and thoughts.  

As always, thank you for reading!

May God and God alone be glorified in this place.

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom


"I lift my eyes to you, O God, enthroned in heaven.  We keep looking to the Lord our God for his mercy, just as servants keep their eyes on their master, as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal."

Psalm 123: 1-2

This is one of those scriptures that kind of hits you in the face like ice cold water on a hot summer day.

I mean, here I have been, trying to get my head on straight after nearly ten years of marriage, five kids, and 18 months of school for my husband.  I've been walking along, calling on God when things get tough... or sometimes when I feel lonely...  and then I see this: "as a slave girl watches her mistress for the slightest signal."

Do you see that?

"for the slightest signal"

That's pretty intense- especially for someone with ADD.

I don't think I've ever focused on anything that hard- especially not on God.  It's not that I don't want to- it's that there are so many distractions, so many "things" that are all pulling for my attention and often I allow my focus to drift from one thing to another.   

But Hebrews 12:1-2 in The Message says:

"Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!"

Don't you just love The Message?   I know I thought of about 20 different teaching topics when I read this, but that's another blog.  Another time.

Keeping it simple for a change.  Leaving this one for you to think on...

No Longer I,

The Real Life Mom.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Our Summer... So Far

Where did JUNE go????  It flew by so quickly that I feel a little bit of emotional whip lash.  

But, as promised, I'm posting about our summer...  but not to say look at us!  We are the perfect family.  More to say, hey- we're learning a lot about what it means to be a family and to enjoy each other instead of depending constantly on others or "things" for our entertainment- lessons that are new to ALL of us.  The photos below are only about 10% of the photos taken so far... this month.  :)  I'll post more as I upload them.  I'd like to share them all with you, (like our week at family VBS and opportunities to trust God, new friendships, etc) but I'll spare you and only post a few.

The truth is- we've had an amazing amount of fun, BUT...  we've also had our share of prideful moments.  We've fought.  We've whined and complained... all of us.  We've made mistakes.  We've learned a great deal as a family and have grown tremendously.  And honestly, during the times that I would typically sit down to write a blog post, I've been busy focusing on what needed to be addressed (like pre-teen drama and arguments with the Hottie) and didn't have the time to blog.

But for now, all of the drama has been put to bed, relationships have been restored, and The Hottie is snoring blissfully next to me.

So I'm posting.

But rather than tell you about our summer, I thought I'd show you...  We may not have it all down, but one thing we know is fun.  Another thing we know is CRA-ZY!  So, in a completely random order (thanks a lot computer), our summer (or at least, parts of it, thus far).

The last day of school- the first night of fun!
That one moment...
When they were still.
The last day of school was also
Timmy's last night as a 7 year old!
This is Timmy's morning
birthday/ donut cake.  :)
 8 really is gre 

And then there was that
special deser
Daddy's boy

Having fun with daddy!

They were trying to be spies...

It's called IMAGINATION.  :)
dress up fun with Shepherd.

Girls' night in!

Part of our unit on manners...

Insane in the membrane...

My boys being boys.  :)

More of my boys.
Mom/ Timmy time!

Daddy time.  :)
The theme of our summer- unplugged.

They cleaned.  together.
With a happy attitude!  :)
They actually enjoyed this day!
Sisters being sisters.

More of Shepherd's manners...

Shepherd sliding by himself! :)  Big boy!

Insanity- pretty sure it runs in our family.
The storm rolling in.

The storm about to hit.

After this, we left...  
The most amazing storm I've ever seen.

The calm after the storm.
The Heavens declare your glory, Oh God!
After the storm, we had no power,
so of course they decided to play
Superhero baseball!
Superheroes playing in the rain...
with the ultimate superhero
A fireman!

And this is pretty much where we are now...  just enjoying our time together.  Growing.  Learning.  Playing.  Using our imaginations.  While I'm sad to see June end, I'm excited to see what July holds for the Muhles!  Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for more!

No longer I,

The Real Life Mom.