The Silver Lining to Sibling Squabbles

Last week was spring break, which meant a LOT of munchkin and mama time and not much mama-alone time. :O It also meant more opportunities for sibling squabbles because what do siblings like to do the most? Drive each other CRAZY. It’s like an unwritten rule in the sibling by-laws, maybe even rule #1. But because my younger sister and I are a decade apart in age, we never had our share of fights and I never understood what all this rivalry nonsense was about. If you don’t know either, it’s basically like an intense love/hate relationship with your closest ally/enemy.

Case in point: One day we were all in the car and hubby and I heard lots of yelling coming from the backseat. When we turned around, the kids had their arms around one another’s shoulders in a tight side hug and huge grins on their faces! When we faced forward, they started squabbling again, but as soon as we looked back, they were all hugs and smiles! It was HI-LA-RI-OUS.

Despite all the craziness that comes with sibling squabbles, I’ve discovered its silver lining: The munchkins have lots of chances to practice getting along. And I have lots of chances to help them. (Insert scared face here!) I’ll admit though that I am the most ill-equipped person when it comes to repairing relationships. In my marriage, there’s one person who’s known to shut down at the first sign of conflict (*ducking my head*). 😛 So, I’ve been learning along with the kids on how to get along.

Recently, however, I had a major breakthrough. So major that I wanted to give myself a pat on the back and I couldn’t wait to tell hubby about it. After yet another sibling squabble, one of the munchkins had slammed their bedroom door, forcing the other one out. I didn’t know exactly what had happened, but I knew one of them had pushed the other one’s buttons. I also knew the button pushee would eventually get over it and make up with the button pusher because that’s how the dynamics of their relationship works. I was pretty fed up though with the whole situation and knew I had to address the issue—but how? I needed to give some better advice than, “Go make up NOW. And don’t do it again!” Then it came to me, “it” being my brilliant nugget of wisdom that I was about to impart. I said to the button pusher, “I know she’ll forgive you, but it doesn’t mean you should take advantage of her kindness.” And I followed it up with, “Be careful when you go to the bathroom; the floor’s wet.”

Boom! (That was the sound of me dropping my mic and exiting the room. Just kidding!)

What I liked about my response was that one, I kept my cool and delivered it in a calm but firm voice. Two, I attempted to address the heart (namely, the issues of gratitude, grace and forgiveness) and not just focus on the behavior. And three, I showed that I wasn’t necessarily taking sides and that I still cared about the button pusher because I didn’t want him to slip on the freshly mopped floor. It was the kind of “tough love” talk I’d always heard parents should give, but it was the first time the words had come out in a natural and sincere way.

It was seriously one of my proudest parenting moments (which aren’t many)! To be honest, I don’t know how much my words made an impact that day, or if they did at all. But the experience showed me that I have a little more insight now into repairing relationships. And it gives me hope that I (and the munchkins) will continue to learn more about how to get along with each other. Because there will be plenty more munchkin and mama times coming … especially during summer vacation, which is like ten times longer than spring break. (Insert scared face here again!)

P.S. This experience also reminded me of our relationship with God and the truth behind Romans 6:1-2: “Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be!” This could be a whole other blog post, one I’ll have to save for another day. 😉

I don’t really have a song that goes with this post, but I’ll leave you with Lindsey Sterling and The Piano Guys’ cover of the Mission Impossible theme song because parenting is all about getting the impossible done!

What have you learned about sibling squabbles? 

The Art of Waiting

When I walked into the kitchen this morning, I was met with some enthusiastic shouts of, “Sprout! Sprout! Sprout!” I turned to C with a curious look and repeated, “Sprout?” It took me a few seconds, but then I realized what she was referring to … her strawberry plant had FINALLY sprouted!!!

Here’s the sprout in all its glory!

Now, in case you don’t appreciate the magnitude of this news, let me tell you what it took for this little sprout to grow. According to the directions that came with the plant, it takes anywhere from 2 to 3 months for it to sprout. That equates to 60 to 90 days of watering, “sunning” and … waiting. That last part was definitely the hardest part of this journey for C. Every single morning she would wake up, go downstairs and check her plant. Then she’d record what day it was on her chalkboard. Day 1 turned into Day 15, then Day 33, then Day 58. When she reached Day 60, she exclaimed, “It’s been 2 months! Why isn’t it growing?” And I started to see the glimmer of hope in her brown eyes flicker. I continued to encourage and remind her that the instructions said 2 to 3 months (all the while, half-hoping and half-doubting that we’d see any results).

All hope was lost about two weeks ago when C was tossing a ball around the house and accidentally knocked the whole pot over! She called me for help—her voice low and flat—and showed me the damage. Most of the soil remained in a clump on the floor, but some of it had been scattered into pieces and had to be vacuumed up (RIP strawberry seeds!). I tried to keep my tone hopeful as I swept up the pieces and put them back into the pot. “Let’s wait and see!”

And wait we did. It got to the point where C decided to invest in a new succulent plant and transferred her ownership of the strawberry plant to hubby this week. She did still care about it though because she’d whisper to me, “Bob (short for Baba) didn’t water the plant today!” 😉 But all her hard work during the previous days and weeks and months had been worth something because after 72 days, it sprouted. 🙂

AT LAST!!

I told her, “Yay! I’m so proud of you! You persevered!” Her eyes lit up as she took the pot in her hands and gazed at the little green shoot. It was a defining moment in her life, folks. 🙂 And I mean that in a serious way.

Waiting has always been hard for C. She’s just wired differently from my other munckin (who shall not be mentioned on my blog anymore at his request, hehe), and it’s part of her nature to want results NOW. (Hmm, I wonder who she got that from—not me, cough cough!). So when she had first decided to grow this plant, I was very hesitant. All these thoughts ran through my mind: What if it never grows? What if she gives up after a few weeks? What if she’s terribly disappointed? Okay, so I was hesitant and doubtful. But as a parent, I’ve learned that you need to let kids experience struggle because it’s during the hard times that they learn the most. They learn about how the world works (you can’t always have immediate gratification) and they learn about how they themselves work and how they can change and adapt and grow to be more well-rounded people.

For C, she needed (and still needs) to learn the art of waiting. To be honest, we can all benefit from this lesson. Nobody likes to wait. Whether it’s waiting in line at the store, or waiting for your child to outgrow his tantrums, or waiting for the next job promotion, or waiting to find your spouse … there’s a whole lot of waiting going on in life. To master the art of waiting, however, requires 2 parts: hoping and doing. To hope without doing anything, well, you might as well forget seeing any results. C could have hoped all she wanted that her plant would grow, but without watering it daily, it would never have had a chance. And to do without hoping would be a pointless effort as well because it’s the hoping that inspires you to keep going; as in C’s case, her hope in the plant’s growth kept her watering it every single day. So, Hoping + Doing = The Art of Waiting

I admit this world gets me down a lot (especially when I read the news), but I also have hope that something better will come, that this life is not the end. I think this hope must have been what Jesus’s followers were feeling and hanging onto thousands of years ago when all seemed lost on that dark day when He hung on the cross. They really had the ultimate test of waiting it out as they held on to the hope that something would happen, that change would come in three days. And boy, they were not disappointed! When they heard and saw that Jesus had come back to life, that He had defeated death, that must have been an amazing morning. A hopeful morning. An it-doesn’t-get-better-than-this morning. 🙂

I hope you and yours have that kind of a morning this Easter as we reflect and celebrate the significance of Jesus’s death and resurrection in our lives. And may we also come to believe that good things—growth, change and results—do come to those who wait. 😉 Have a Good Friday and Happy Easter!

What have you gone through to help you master the art of waiting?

4 Book Recommendations 4 You!

As an indie author who has a lot of indie author friends, I often help beta read their stories (and vice versa). As a result, I get early access to a lot of great books, four of which I want to share with you today. (Click on the book titles to go to their respective Amazon pages.)

1) A Tapestry of Tears by Gita V. Reddy

Blurb: This is a collection of a novelette and twelve short stories. The title story, A Tapestry of Tears, is set in the nineteenth century. A young couple from an affluent background fights against the time honored tradition of female infanticide. In another story, Division into Two, a family is torn apart by the brutal partition of British-ruled India into India and Pakistan. Told through the voices of an estranged aunt and nephew, it reveals the human tragedy that is often a fallout of social strife.

My review: “I didn’t realize how much I would benefit from reading this author’s work. She has a magnificent way of storytelling, as if she had lived the events herself. Each story in this collection evoked so many emotions from deep within and left lasting impressions on my heart. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the culture and people of India and for those who value eloquent and intentional writing.”

Recommended for readers who enjoy non-fiction, women’s fiction, as well as stories that focus on cultural issues and human relationships. There are some tough issues addressed in the title story, so if you are sensitive you may want to skip over it (but it is a really eye-opening piece).

2) Masquerading Our Love by Audrey Rich

Blurb: Junior year has been tough on Thalía Reynari.
A new high school, trying to fit in with new friends, schoolwork, family commitments. With everything going on in her life, Thalía could use a break, an adventure.
So when Thalía meets Christopher Cooper, the most gorgeous guy in town, her life should change for the better, right?
Don’t bet on it.
Thalía and Christopher find themselves caught in the middle of a simmering feud that’s kept the two families apart for a decade. And no one is sure if young love will be enough to bridge this divide.
As they hide their relationship behind masks Thalía must decide if this new love is worth losing her parents’ approval.

My review: “An opposites attract story, this is the perfect book for the awkward teen in all of us. I can’t wait for the next books in the series to read about the cast of supporting characters.”

Recommended for teens and adults who are young at heart. This story is a clean book that realistically delves into the heart and mind of teenagers and supplies just the right amount of angst to keep you reading.

3) Love Among the Lilacs by Jenna Victoria

Blurb: Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk.

Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter.

Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean’s own family but knows the clock is ticking.

Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is where your heart is?

My review: “This is the first book I read by the author and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The writing is polished, the characters are believable and the supporting cast is a quirky, fun bunch. I enjoyed the alternating points of views and seeing how the characters grew to accept and care for each other.”

Recommended for romance readers who enjoy stories with well-rounded characters.

4) All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao

Blurb: When they have nothing better to do, college students Billie Santiago and Carlos Angeles enjoy imagining what their lives will be like five years into the future. It’s never serious—just a whole lot of teasing and poking fun at each other. Till blindingly handsome, PR professional Iñigo Antonio saunters into the university bookstore where Billie works. All of a sudden, she finds herself face to face with the physical manifestation of the very dream she tells Carlos about.

Captivated by Iñigo’s magnetic personality, Billie is lured into his dazzlingly glamorous world—much to Carlos’s frustration. But as Billie notices Iñigo might not be playing by the rules, Carlos begs her to stay away from him. When Billie doesn’t listen, she realizes too late that she is in over her head and it may take a miracle (or a boy who cares deeply about her) to get her out of it.

My review: “I know I’m always in for a treat when I open up one of Ines Bautista-Yao’s books, and this one did not disappoint! The author has such a knack for getting into the hearts and minds of young characters. I love friends-to-lovers stories and could not get enough of Carlos and Billie’s relationship! There was just the right balance of “the feels”, as well as character growth to keep me reading. I highly recommend this book to romance lovers everywhere!”

Recommended for young adult and romance readers and for readers who are curious about life in the Philippines.

I hope you’ll check out these books and their amazing authors! What books have you read recently that you would recommend? 🙂