It was indeed a great surprise to see my sweet friend, Melissa standing in the restaurant parking lot when we arrived at our destination.
Please excuse the crazed looks! It had been a long day for all of us.
Melissa and I met through blogging.
Her girls are five months older than Brynne and Hadley, so I've sought her insight a lot, because, in most instances, she's dealt with it; been there, done that with her girls. In the process we've become great friends. We share our faith. We share our lives. We encourage one another.
Following our trip, Melissa wrote a telling post about all she's learned through our friendship.
If you've taken a moment to read it, you'll see that we are, indeed, very different people. And our parenting styles are in many ways night and day different.
I was telling a friend, a long time ago, about my friendship with Melissa. Her comment was that really, this is the best way to get to know someone. Instead of seeing what kind car she drives, or what her home looks like, or how she dresses, or how how her children behave--I saw her heart.
That is where the foundation of our friendship was built, and on that, there is great grace and love for one another.
Her words ring true. It's easy to judge and discount mamas who do things differently than what works for us, and maybe we should not be so quick to do so. There could be a beautiful friendship (and much to learn) amidst the different feeding, diapering and discipline styles.
My efforts in parenting our children focus greatly around health and safety. Admittedly, obsessive in some instances.
I battle to find the line between letting the girls experience life fully in a safe and healthy way while teaching them to obey and exercise appropriate caution. When I say battle, I really do battle/debate/question everything. Sometimes it's exhausting.
As Melissa has learned from me, I too have learned much from her. Learned and put into practice! Mostly, it involves relaxing a little bit. It's good to relax, and to let the girls relax.
Going barefoot. Before our visit to South Carolina, I don't think our girls had ever gone barefoot outside (unless they were in their strollers). This is a regular occurrence at Melissa's house.
My girls kinda love it!
Letting the girls bake with us in the kitchen. Kitchens make me nervous. There are about 103 ways a kid can get hurt in the kitchen. Once, my little sister was helping me make some brownies. I was a dumb high school kid, who didn't pay enough attention in chemistry. I poured water over burning butter, which then exploded in my face, sending me to the ER. Thankfully, my sister didn't get burned. But--the thought that she could have been makes me all kinds of nervous, which is why our kitchen is completely off limits to the girls.
Melissa lets her girls bake with her in the kitchen all the time. That sounds like so much fun! I want my girls to decorate sugar cookies, help me stir, and be part of food preparations where appropriate.
So...under careful supervision, our girls did get to help their papa make banana bread (no burning butter involved). They had so much fun! Definitely something we'll do with them again!
Family Dinners. Most of the time, Brad and I wait to eat our dinner after the girls go to bed, and the girls have the leftovers for their dinner the following night. Melissa's family eats dinner together as a family. Lately, one or two nights a week we've been doing family dinners. It's chaotic sometimes, but I love that the girls are part of our meal together. I look forward to more of those meals together in the future.
Appetizer Dinners. Most of the time I plan out just a plain old meal. Melissa does "appetizer nights" at her house. How fun! Are you guys on Pinterest? I caution, you, time spent there is like a black hole, even worse than facebook. But--there are some pretty amazing recipes to be found, and you can park them right there in your own Pinterest folder, so that they're easy for you to find. I've found some great appetizers for appetizer night that way. Appetizer night at our house is definitely a family dinner. Fun food enjoyed by all!
Climbing. Melissa's girls are climbers! Oh my are they ever! This was something Brad and I are just not used to at all. We stood in awe as Aeralind and Bronwyn climbed onto the roof of the car, and Melissa and Derek didn't even bat an eye. Our girls have never really been climbers. They climb up on the couch, but that's about the extent of it. So, this is a new adventure for us, and it makes me nervous. Climbing = falling. But--I let this go on long enough to snap a picture this past weekend:
Heaven, help me!