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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Fear, My Best Friend

Fear is one of my best friends.  I am a very strong, bold person that others have always tended to lean on.  Even as a child, I had adults that leaned on me and sought me to help them function and find relief.  However, I am very fearful.  It seems the older that I have gotten the more fear I have collected.  I could blame justify explain where it came from, but scripturally there is no good reason.

I fear being hurt.  I fear being left.  I fear failure.  I fear success.  I fear some truths.

One of my biggest fears has always surrounded my child.  It has taken different forms and I can catalog certain situations that helped it take its shape.

When I found out I was pregnant, I had already ended the relationship with my child's father.  Upon the news, he and his family sought a marriage and he genuinely wanted to resume our relationship, but I had no interest due to the emotional trauma I had suffered in the days leading up to my child's conception and immediately following [that's another post to be had].

When I refused the idea of reconciliation his parents moved him six hours away, and had no contact with me or my family until the month I was due.  Then it was a visit every three or so months with little to no support.
I have never been typical.  I was not a typical child.  I was not a typical teenager.  I was not a typical teen mom.  I never created a camp against my child's father.  I never talked about him outside of my family and definitely not to my child.  I never put him in a negative light when discussing him with her (thanks to some amazing counselling with her godparents).  I never screamed at him or told him what I really thought of him.

This however was not true of his family, especially his mom.  I would encounter his extended family and they would tell me that they knew I couldn't be as bad as his mom had said.  There were rumors about me having many sexual exploits even though I lost my virginity and got pregnant the same night.  I understand that I got pregnant at seventeen, but I was not promiscuous and was very modest, so this was extremely painful to hear.

 I supposedly never allowed them to visit with Rosalinda, even though there wasn't a single visitation turned down.  My only complaint was that they would come into town and demand to see her without any notice, so their visits may have been shortened due to us having other plans.  However, they never came to town and didn't get a chance to see Rosalinda.

In fact, there were times they came into town and I would get calls that they had been seen around, but they wouldn't even ask to see Miss Rosalinda.  [I even drove by his grandmother's house and saw him and never received a call from him to see his daughter.]  I never confronted them and just bit my tongue when they came to see my daughter.  I wouldn't say a word.  In fact it was probably awkwardly silent because of my desperate attempts to not bullet point the ridiculousness of their behavior.

I remember one visit in particular with my child's other grandparents.  We arranged to meet at Toys R Us (I always preferred very public places).  I had this uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  A day or two before I was sitting with my child's godfather (at the time he was a psychologist and my greatest source or reality when I did try to react ridiculously).

I hadn't said a word to anyone about the fear in the pit of my stomach because I figured it was just me not wanting to deal with them, but pushing through because I wanted to do the right thing.  Out of the blue, Rosalinda's godfather tells me not to let her get more than an arm's length away from me.

The pit in my stomach became red hot and I realized what he was referring to.

He said he didn't trust that they wouldn't do something drastic, like steal my child.  If this had come from anyone else, I would've thought it a ploy to stir up paranoia, but coming from him was a shot to my gut.  That visit I did just that and thankfully I was still nursing and could request the baby back for feeding, but it was forever burned into me the possibilities.

This uneasiness has never left me.  Now, I definitely trust my daughter's father more than I do his parents.  Well lets be honest...his mom.  Fortunately, once Rosalinda was no longer a cute little infant, they lost interest and haven't pursued a relationship with her.  Rosalinda has encountered them a few times and said that they "creep" her out.  (I've never shared my fears with her, this is her own conclusion from her own experiences...go figure.)

Even though I don't face the same situation as with Rosalinda's grandmother, I still deal with worry concerning other people in Rosalinda's father's life. If he had the right motivation, he really could make waves in our lives.

Thankfully, he has shown he cares for and loves Rosalinda and I don't think he would ever want to disrupt Rosalinda's world.  But when he was younger, he was easily commanded by his mother and I'm not sure that there aren't people in his life that could create the same atmosphere.

He so badly wants to redeem himself because he has made some horrible decisions concerning her, but isn't a horrible person.  And being paired with someone with somewhat of a "hero complex" doesn't bring me comfort.

Ok...so that's a lot of back story.  However, I wanted to give life to what I'm about to share.  Eleven years of sitting in church under the word.  Eleven years of fear still taking root.  Eleven years of trying to keep my fears from making me look a paranoid freak and I'm just now finding a path to some peace...

Be merciful and gracious to me, O God, for man would trample me or devour me; all the day long the adversary oppresses me.
 They that lie in wait for me would swallow me up or trample me all day long, for they are many who fight against me, O Most High!
What time I am afraid, I will have confidence in and put my trust and reliance in You.
By [the help of] God I will praise His word; on God I lean, rely, and confidently put my trust; I will not fear. What can man, who is flesh, do to me?
 All day long they twist my words and trouble my affairs; all their thoughts are against me for evil and my hurt.
 They gather themselves together, they hide themselves, they watch my steps, even as they have [expectantly] waited for my life.
 They think to escape with iniquity, and shall they? In Your indignation bring down the peoples, O God.
 You number and record my wanderings; put my tears into Your bottle—are they not in Your book?
 Then shall my enemies turn back in the day that I cry out; this I know, for God is for me.
In God, Whose word I praise, in the Lord, Whose word I praise,
In God have I put my trust and confident reliance; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
 Your vows are upon me, O God; I will render praise to You and give You thank offerings.
 For You have delivered my life from death, yes, and my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life and of the living.

Every big parental decision I have made has always taken into consideration this factor or fear.

This is a horrible admission, but I am guilty of parenting out of fear.

This Psalm has really shown light into this very dark fear that shadows many of my decisions.  I know that we aren't supposed to be anxious for anything and that fear is just an illusion blocking the view of God's reality for me.  But I'm still working through all of the illusions and trusting in Him one step at a time.

I felt so liberated this morning in my prayer time as I really took in the magnitude of this Psalm.  I have literally felt like eyes were waiting to watch me fail as a parent.

Looking for a foothold to justify turning the tables on something that I deem so precious.

But He has this.

He had it before it happened.

I'm slowly working toward the revelation that even if my worst fears were realized, it would still be in the scope of His control and to His glory and my prosperity (Jeremiah 29.11).

I hope this encourages someone out there as I break off my relationship with fear!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Being Taught By My Child

This weekend we completed a BIG project!  Back in June Rosalinda entered a competition to run her own business.  She came up with her own business idea and asked friends and family to vote.  She won by over 100 votes thanks to our amazing community.

She, along with six other kids, got to setup their business for the day at our local mall for 6 hours.  Rosalinda decided that she wanted to do all-natural face masks and scrubs and named her business Muddy Rose.  With a little bit of guidance, she researched her own recipes, had a say in packaging, approved all of the signage and mixed her own product.  She sold facials-to-go in small tubs for $5 and also offered to on-site facial packages.  For $8 a client received a facial (yogurt, banana, or avocado mask), a cucumber lemonade, and warm towelettes.  For $13 they received a honey scrub, facial of their choice, cucumber lemonade, and warm towelettes.

She accosted approached people near her table, asked them if she could interest them in her products and then explained what all she offered.  It was great to see her being so bold.  A couple of times she'd come back to me half-way pouting and I would just remind her that they weren't rejecting her because they didn't have time for a facial and she'd take a breath and get back at it. (I can't wait to use this experience to explain how to be bold in Christ in sharing the gospel!)

She made almost $300 (which wasn't quite what she was aiming for with a $500 goal).  As part of the learning experience, she reimbursed me for the cost of goods sold and ended up with $200 profit.  $200 is still a lot for a 10 year old!

She already had an idea what she wanted to do with the money.  After tithes and offerings, she wanted to set aside $100 for clothes (She's my little weed!), get a gift for her godsister, and dedicate the rest to the science kit aisle at Mardels (Love my girl!).  So, today when we went to church she took in just enough money for her tithes and offering, but during praise and worship she asked if she could go back to the truck and grab all but the $100 for clothes.  She said she felt like she needed to give the money to someone but didn't know who.  {Selah-pause-think}

My child sees those science kits as ultimate toys.  She constantly begs me for the really expensive kits with microscopes or robot building kits.  As much as I would love to get them and as often as I enter rafflecopter giveaways for Mardels gift cards, she is rarely, if ever, afforded the opportunity.  She now had the opportunity to get more than one, but was sacrificing her wants for the tug on her heart!

I told her just hold on to it and wait and see who God says and how much since she had the whole service to hear from Him, but did retrieve the money for her.  When we walked back into the sanctuary she approached her godfather, our Pastor, and asked him if he could help her figure out who to give her money to.  He told her the same thing...to just hold on to it until she heard from the Lord who to give it to.  After an amazing service, our Pastor asked for Rosalinda to come up front before all of the people.  He said that before she had even asked for his help, God had already told him to match her profits!  (By the way this brought her to her $500 goal!)  He started explaining her heart and how we should desire to have the same issue.

It brought me to tears as revelation set in.  I often struggle with balancing responsibility with faith-walking.  And as I saw my child not have any worries with her money, other than how to please God, I wept.  When was the last time that I truly checked in to see if I was pleasing Him?  Especially in my finances.  I am not a stingy person, and love to bless others.  However, we have had limited funds the past year and it has made me much more cautious about our spending, which has been a hindrance to God's desire for me.  I'm suppose to live supernaturally.  His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts, so it shouldn't make sense to me.  I should just do.  I should just trust.  I can't wait to walk out this repentance and report back the amazing things God's doing in our lives!

Please share with me your struggles, strategies, and victories in being a faith-walker and not just a faith-talker. Especially in those moments when it doesn't make sense!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

"No Dream Too Big, and No Dreamer Too Small"

I have had an interesting inundation of the same idea over the past few days.  It has made me think through my philosophy dealing with dreaming big.  I've always considered myself a realist.  However, I also have a great appreciation and respect for God's sovereignty and destiny.  I believe the human will, especially when in line with God's perfect will, can achieve the impossible.

My pondering was kicked off with a post by Todd Wilson titled "Wake Up!  Your Kid is Not Going to be President!" over at Homeschool Mosaics.  He addresses the powerful pressures that parents put on their children in pushing them toward "greatness."

I can't remember the second post that ruffled these same feathers, but it brushed the same subject.  Do you encourage your children to dream or keep them "grounded in reality?"  Are we being unfair in our expectation?  Are we lying to them when we tell them that they can be or do anything they put their mind to?

Then, today, I treated my 10 year-old daughter to movie time with Mommy.  We decided to go enjoy the Dreamwork's new release, "Turbo."  (Rosalinda gave it 8 out of 10 stars.)  It is a tale of a snail with a love for speed.  I don't want to give away the good parts, and no I don't agree that the trailer gives away the whole movie, but it's a story about perseverance and will power.  One of the main quotes of the movie is, "No dream is too big, and no dreamer too small."

Wow...ok, message received.  I grew up with too many people trying to invest in me with hope of redeeming themselves.  I remember my mom telling me one time that she was glad that I wasn't like my cousins and at least she knew I wouldn't be 17 and pregnant.  I was supposed to help her achieve superiority over her brother and his family.  (I ended up pregnant at 17 by the way).  My dad is estranged from my older half-sister.  I am considered his oldest and when I got pregnant his hopes of redemption were evident in his reaction to the news.  I have always been an overachiever, often retreating to my education to escape my home life.  I am a natural-born leader with many abilities and gifts.  I don't share this to be boastful, but to help explain where my understanding comes from.  I didn't realize how many oh-so-very-tall pedestals I was on until I became pregnant.  I wasn't wild before or after the night that changed my life.  I made one mistake that happened to have some very evident consequences.  It was amazing how many eyes that used to shine at my achievements were darkened by my one mistake.  Thankfully, God shielded me from a lot of it.  I don't remember dealing with too much prejudice or nastiness, but there was a slight change in how people handled me until the next time I did something they thought was "great" and "redeemed" myself in their eyes.

That experience taught me a great lesson that had a significant impact on my parenting and prayer life alike.  I realized how many people were trying to live through me and reflected on the pressures I placed on myself for their sake.  Upon this revelation I began to pray daily that God would make me into the parent that I needed to be in order to send Rosalinda out into the world in the condition He desired.  That damage wouldn't have to be undone or lessons learned late.  That even if I had to embody everything I hated about the way my parents handled me, I would for the sake of her destiny.

With my appreciation for destiny, I guess it only makes sense that I believe in dreaming big.  I believe in the impossible (the unconceived possibilities of God).  God knew us before the foundations of the earth.  He instilled and equipped us with desires and passions to move us toward our destiny.  I believe that not only are we to dream as big as we can, but we should be prepared for God to do even more than we are capable of dreaming!

Ephesians 3.20 amplified

Now to Him Who, by (in consequence of ) the [action of His] power that is at work in within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]-

I hope I'm not the only one, but I believe that no dream is too big, nor any dreamer too small as long as they are willing to work as unto the Lord (Colossians 3.23), AND allow God to take them down His path for His glory.  Not their own and not for someone else who is looking for redemption through them.  I hope Rosalinda isn't afraid of her desires and knows that if she truly wants to accomplish something, not only should she, but she is supported.  Also, almost always, when she is disciplined, I explain that my job as her mom is to help guide her into being the best "her" she can be.  Not preventing her from embarrassing me or disappointing me, but to become who God created her to be.  That includes her dreams and pursuits.

What are your thoughts on encouraging your children to dream big?  Do you believe in giving them a dose of "reality?"

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Ideas for Celebrating the First Day of School

I am always on the look out to reaffirm the "nerdy" coolness of being a homeschooler to Miss Rosalinda.  She really doesn't need much encouragement since she's has the public experience and LOVES our homeschool life.

However, I still like celebrating homeschool life and have been in thought about the best way to open our school year.  We follow the public school calendar because her dad and I are not married and it helped prevent any issues concerning visitation.  So she will be starting school August 26th with most of the other children in our community.  This will be her fifth grade year and our third year of homeschooling.

We really only have one tradition at the moment.  Instead of wearing a new outfit the first day, she wears brand new pajamas.  But I want to add to the list of traditions for us.

Here are some that I am seriously considering:

  1. When the bus drives down the block, getting up and getting some ice cream for breakfast
  2. Making our first day a picnic in the park and doing some light assignments on a blanket in the grass and then cutting it short to enjoy some free play...of course there won't be any other children, so I'm not sure if she'd enjoy playing or not.
  3. My girl loves organizing.  I'm currently getting her work station setup, but I could wait to do the final organization the first day of school and let her take some ownership of how we set it up for the year.  [She would normally be involved prior to our first day, so this would really just be a postponement and replacement for work.]
  4. Planning a camping trip to our state park...the only hesitation I have is that I don't know if I could do this every year.
  5. Let her believe that it'll be our first day of school, but then declare it a non-school day and let her start later than everyone else.
  6. Check and see if the city pool will still be open and take her swimming while other kids are sitting inside at their desks.
  7. Try and think of a clever place for us to have our first day [other than the park]...which isn't the easiest.  We've done school at the library, we've done school in a tent in our backyard, we've done school on the porch swing, we've done school just about everywhere in our house.
Homeschooler or not, what are or were the traditions for your child's first day of school?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Understanding His Love: A Lifetime Journey

I grew up in the church.  Not always in salvation, but definitely a church building.  From the age of 10 to 28 I have carried a fear that one day God will realize that I have been a colossal waste of time.  I believe that I can understand why He would open the earth and swallow people knowing that people like me exist (Numbers 16.32; Numbers 26.10; Deuteronomy 11.6; Psalm 106.16-18).  It makes total sense in my little, fleshy intellect.

But then...

I am blessed with a Pastor that hears from the Lord.  And even more blessed by an affectionate God that sends people like my Pastor to reaffirm my Father's love for me.  

Today I have come in contact with more evidence that He is crazy about me!  Not only does He continue to show me by being active in my life, but thousands of years ago, He made sure to write it down for me, so I'd know He thought my creation through. :)

My study today brought me to a familiar scripture, but an unfamiliar translation of it...

For God's gifts and his call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom he send His call.]
Romans 11.29

Today I am meditating on the amazing fact that God wrote this down for me.  That all of this fear is unsubstantiated considering that He DOES NOT change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace.  I received grace in salvation and His everlasting covenant doesn't change.

Today I thank Him that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  That He didn't haphazardly choose me, but saw the beginning and end and knew my worth.

What are you thanking Him for today?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Despising Weakness

I have some very emotional people in my family.  I am the first-born and am more like my dad than my mom in thought.  My brother, who is seven years younger than me, is very much more like my mom in mind.  Throughout my childhood, there were many emotional expressions that did more damage than good, so I always withdrew to my own logic to keep from "being like them."

I struggle with valuing emotions and often find myself being accused of being "insensitive" and have been nicknamed "Cyborg."

I'm much better than I used to be, but it used to be at the point that I would actually "bind the enemy" when I felt the need to cry.  How crazy is that?  I felt that crying was a spiritual attack.  Kind of extreme. :/

Now, my background was a breeding ground for this ideology of having to do it on my own.  I was abandoned by my parents at different points in my life.  I left my parents house right after high school graduation with an infant.  I was active in my church in leadership positions, was full time in college in an accelerated psychology program, so it had a larger work load than a general undergraduate program, and worked two part-time jobs all at once.

Let's just say that expressing weakness is ironically a weakness of mine.

In yesterday's post (Frustrated Much?), I described my brand of pride.  It has had moments of cockiness, but generally it manifests in a "I can do it" sort of way.  I called it my "survival mode."  But I can logically see that obviously God carried me through.  There is no way that I could've really gotten through as well as I did without some help.  However, I still wear it as a badge of achievement, as if I did it on my own.

*shaking my head at myself*

From this rocky place of not allowing Jesus to be my Lord, I have had to be taught and am still being taught a few lessons:

Weakness is simply an admission and opportunity for God to express himself 
His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
My weakest moments are the most intimate for us.  He can love me, He can express His love for me in grander ways when I am week.  I have never been married, but I have dated and I know of the bonding that happens over vulnerability.

Allowing others to help me actually helps them
After, even a small amount of time, my strength and abilities are somewhat evident.  I am not an easily hid presence and even when I have tried to hide my talents, they are exposed for me.
Though I don't see it as so, I have been told that when I allow someone to see my weakness, not to mention actually HELP me, they feel honored.  I'm not some great and mighty person, but because I have kept myself so guarded and don't offer many opportunities for someone to come in and help, the person that does get the opportunity (which is always rightly appointed by God, because I would never be able to find the amazing people He sends me on my own) just feels special.

I am not enough
Even at the peak of what brilliance I have, it does not compare to what He can do.  This is why the idea of "impossible" exists for me, but not for Him.  No matter how hard I try, what actions I take, or the intentions of my heart, they do not compare the unimaginable glories of Him.  I cannot become anyone better than he created me to be.  i cannot manage any more efficiently and proficiently than He can.  I am not enough to do it all.  I do not have enough energy to accomplish all that I need to accomplish.  I do not have enough will power to do and be it all.  However, when I reach the end of myself and He takes over, it is always mind-blowing.  He doesn't just give me the strength, but favor, and ability on top of it.  He is abundant and makes me abundant when I don't reject His will and way.

I thank Him for my weakness.  The more I realize how weak I am and how great my need for Him is, the more empowered I become through Him.  Also, the more I allow the people He's placed in my life in, the easier the load.  I sometimes forget that salvation and life isn't supposed to be hard.  We glorify the underdog story so much, that I think I forget that His burden is light and His yoke is easy.  It is only me that makes it hard.  It was no shock to Him that I would be where I am today.  That I would be who I am today.  And as it is true for me, so is it true for you, He has equipped you with the community that you need to accomplish His will for your life if you just access it.

What have your experiences been in recognizing weakness as your greatest strength?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Frustrated Much?

I had written and deleted a post about being frustrated.  There was no real conclusion to it.  It was more of a written admission than anything else.  I admitted that I was frustrated in almost every area of my life.  As a mother, as a homeschooler, as a minister/leader in our church, as a daughter.  I was just plain frustrated.

I'm so glad I didn't publish that post before letting God get to me.

Last night I was introduced to the amplified version of a familiar scripture: 1 Peter 5.5

photo credit

Likewise, you who are younger and of lesser rank, be subject to the elders (the ministers and spiritual guides of the church)—[giving them due respect and yielding to their counsel]. Clothe (apron) yourselves, all of you, with humility [as the garb of a servant, [b]so that its covering cannot possibly be stripped from you, with freedom from pride and arrogance] toward one another. For God sets Himself against the proud (the insolent, the overbearing, the disdainful, the presumptuous, the boastful)—[and He opposes, frustrates, and defeats them], but gives grace (favor, blessing) to the humble.

Pay attention to the second half of that scripture...HE opposes, HE FRUSTRATES, and HE defeats them.

Pride has been a common struggle.  Not the snooty kind of pride that makes you think of Napoleon walking around with his chest poked out, but the type of pride that makes me think I can do it better than God.  The kind of pride that elevates the belief in my ability to a place where I don't need God's assistance.  He's got bigger and better things to do.  The type of pride that sometimes convinces me that my mess is too big for His love.

This revelation shook me a little bit.  It isn't the people in my life frustrating me.  It isn't the enemy frustrating me, but God.  My heavenly father is frustrating me.  He is bringing me to my knees to see His love.  To see that I need to humble myself to Him.  Not because He has a superiority complex, but because He loves me and loves to be in relationship with me.  My humility isn't for shame, I should be confident in my birth right and power to tread on serpents and scorpions.  However, I should also be confident in His love and intentions for me.

If you've already reached this conclusion, then praise God!  If not, and you're journeying with me...let me share some salve that brought tears to my eyes as I returned to my first love once again.

1 Peter 5.7

How amazing is it that the creator of all things cares for me affectionately?  He's crazy about us!

Have you come into any new revelation?  Big or "small"?

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Dream Big or Go Home!

What are your hopes and dreams?

Today I was offered a rare opportunity.  I have a divinely-placed individual with the personal goal of seeing the unfolding of my dream.  You heard me right...how does this happen?  When does someone seriously desire to see your dreams from to fruition?

There are no parameters, there are no exceptions, there are no regulations.  In two weeks I'm suppose to submit my dream and then get to work on fulfilling it.

I have desires, I have business ideas, but I've never put anything down on paper.  I've never really dealt with it in the context of real possibility.

So, I ask you, what are your dreams?

 [I won't steal it, promise!]

But what is it that you dream to do, to be?  What seems impossible, but you still hold a glimmer of possibility in your wildest imaginations?

If money and time were not a variable, what would you do?  Who would you be?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

10 Ways I Get "Me" Time

As a single-parent with only one child, I spend A LOT of time in my child's presence.  Not only does she not have anyone else in the house (besides our pup, Jules), she is also a mommy's-girl and loves being up under my wing.  And as much as I love my Rosalinda, absence does make the heart grow fonder. :)

Here are 10 ways that I carve out time for just me.

1. Ask For It

Sometimes I can just ask her for it.  I overview all the activities that we've been doing and explain that Mom just needs a moment.  I will usually give her an amount of time so that she doesn't feel ignored.

2. Let Her Stay Up Late, But Sleep In Her Room

As a child, and even into my early 20's I had weird (for lack of a better word) cravings to sleep in other places than my bed.  I don't know why, but I could spend up to a month sleeping somewhere in the house other than my bed.  The weirdest being the kitchen floor.  (Yes I know, WEIRD!)

So I guess this makes me more likely to say "yes," when Rosalinda asks to sleep in a fort/pallet in the living room.  However, this also means that in our cozy home, she will easily wake up once I start moving about.  So when I know I need some hours to myself, and I know that she can sleep in the next morning, I let her stay up as late as she can, but confine her to her room.  This allows me to get up before her and have the house to myself without accidentally waking her up.

3. Let Her Invite a Friend Over

If I have the energy to wrangle two, then I get her a friend over stat!  She loves having company since she's the only kid in the house.  I do get a few interruptions, but overall, I am left to do whatever it is that I am needing to do without feeling guilty about her not having my attention.

4.  Let Her Go To A Friend's House

Now, this is a catch 22 for me.  When Rosalinda is not home, I'm not at rest.  I go into full alert and am not able to rest well.  So this is only good if I have a heavy load of work to do to distract me.  I almost always prefer for her friends to come to us.  Which usually works out well since many of her friends come from larger families and they appreciate the sibling-break as well.

5. McDonald's

There are four McDonald's where we live. One of them has recently been remodeled and was equipped with touch screen games, a rock climbing wall, and some other cool features.  Since they offer free wifi, I can plug in my laptop, order a $1 drink for each of us, and she can play to her heart's content.

This is actually a treat for her, as I don't much care for their food, but will usually buy her a meal or ice cream cone, depending on the time of day.

6. Start Talking About Housework

We have a small, 2-bedroom house.  We usually kind of split the housework, unless her room has bled out into the rest of the house, then she's on her own.  I typically handle the kitchen, she typically handles the living room, we handle our own bedrooms, and split the bathroom depending on who had less mess in the kitchen/living room.

I don't currently have her setup to do chores because she helps on a daily basis regardless.  Although I do usually institute the rule of no friends over unless the house is clean and no going to friends unless her room is clean.

Now, while she is a great help and usually helps without much fuss at all, if I don't blatantly say it is time to clean this or that up, she won't.  So, if I start talking about things that need to be done, but don't instruct them to be done, I find that she can entertain herself for a good 20-30 minutes while avoiding my line-of-sight, lol.

7. Bribes

Really it's more a trade-off, but sometimes I will ask for her to give me a certain amount of time, and once it's up agree to play a board game or to do some other activity with her.

8. Mandatory Reading Time

My original plans this summer included a built in reading schedule, but I never got it in place and honestly need the rest from a schedule, so I figured she did too.  She loves reading, but sometimes needs encouragement in starting a book.  Now, once I get her started, she takes it from there.  So, if I have noticed a slack in reading and need her to be preoccupied for my sanity's sake, I will note the lack and let her know that she owes me x-amount of time.  She may resist at first, but once I get her going, she almost always reads way over my request, and gives me a solid block of free-time.

9. Take a Bath

I let her know that I'll be taking a bath and ask her not to bother me until I'm done.  I do usually get a few interruptions asking for a snack or if she can get into something, but for the most part, it works.

10.  And the number one way I get time for myself...Spend Time With Her

If I put in some quality time with her then it is much easier for her to give me time for me.

How do you make time for you?