Friday, August 29, 2008

How Times Have Changed

I laughed tonight when I walked in my kitchen and caught this site at the bar. My ten year old was talking on the phone to a close friend while they were playing together "virtually" on Webkinz world. Remember when we just rode our bikes to our friends house, with no cell phone to call home with and no computer to check our e-mail before we left and multi-tasking was a foreign word??? Wonder how her kids will interact with their friends? Maybe by then, they will be back to riding their bikes to their houses.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Favorite Parenting Tool in the Box

I’m going to share my secret to parenting. It’s such a great secret that you won’t find it in any parenting books. In fact, you’ll find that many parenting books would advise against it. It's just one word….bribery!

Yes, I am ashamed to admit it, but unfortunately, this is a tool we pull out of the toolbox more often than I’d like. Sometimes, you just have to do it. Most of the time it works, sometimes it fails miserably.

On our last Disney World trip, my son was about 4 years old. His all time favorite Disney character has been Buzz Lightyear. I was very excited about getting his picture made with Buzz, Woody, etc. One evening, we finally saw Woody next to a line of kids eager to get his autograph. For some reason, my sweet son put his foot down and was not taking his picture that night. I was not leaving DW without this picture, so I finally did what most of us never admit to…I offered him a dollar if he’d take the picture. He said okay and got in line. During the picture moment, he seemed happy and I stood thinking how proud I was that I had gotten him past his hesitation and that when he was older, he’d look back and think how thankful he was to have a mom who pushed him so that he had that picture to treasure. How wrong I soon as the picture was over, he walked straight to me, put out his hand, and said “Now I want my dollar.” So much for treasuring!

Bribery works in many different ways and forms. A few weeks ago, we were having our family picture made with my entire family. My sister and I have had a tradition for many years of taking a picture with our little brother (much to his dismay) standing in the middle of us while we kiss him on the cheek. He’s such a sweet brother to allow us to do this, or knows it’s more dangerous to fight with us about it. We even did a picture like this on his wedding day. So, I decided it would be so cute to do this picture with Nathan and the girls in front of us doing the same thing. Now you have to know that Nathan HATES for anyone to kiss him other than mom and dad. Even his sister’s kisses are off limits. So of course, he flatly refused. I begin to slowly tug on my toolbelt. I offered a dollar, then two, deciding that would be my limit and what six-year-old would turn that down?? NO! That was his answer.

Before I knew it, John stepped in and started upping the ante. First it was an ice cream cone at Marble Slab. What was he thinking?? It was almost dinnertime??!! But, if it got us the photo, I would oblige. Out of nowhere, I realized he was offering the child a Wii for Christmas if he would take the picture. Can you believe it??? I wanted the picture, but really, at what cost?? And would you believe this kid…who DOES really want a Wii…completely turned it down and would not take the deal!! Thankfully, this was an example of the bribery card not working out.

So, on those days when pleading and begging just is not going to cut it, speak your child's true language. When they are young, it's usually easy to do with a food item, but the older they get, the more it can cost you. (Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing biblical to say about bribing your kids. I'm quite sure it's not the best parenting tool to use and most experts would agree it's not best for your kids, but hey, if it works.....:})

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Early in marriage, I learned from various books on the subject, that one of the needs of men is to have recreational companionship with their wives. This was something we found difficult in the beginning, as it seemed we had been created in two different worlds. But as the years have gone by, we’ve found common interests in several areas. We both enjoy working out at the Y, we love Carolina football, going bike riding as a family (when it’s not too hot) and participating in or watching any sport our kids are in to name a few.

However, my husband does have some passions that I am less than passionate about. At first, it was golf. A sport I find pointless! Thankfully, though he still plays occasionally, he found other passions that were more budget and family friendly. His biggest passion as far as hobbies go is fishing. He’d be on the water daily if life allowed. (He says this sentence should read “if wife allowed it.”) I love that he enjoys something so much, but have thus far been unable to personally get excited about fishing. He keeps telling me if I’d just try it, I’d really like it. I am quite sure I am always going to be happiest with a book and a suntan.

Wanting to really show how much I love him and want to share in each other’s passions together, I went with him (and the kids) to a fishing event last weekend. There was a professional tournament in town and we went to check out all the activities going on. I must say, I was amazed at the number of people (including women) who love fishing even more than John. To say I was a fish out of water is an understatement….I had no idea what all the guys at the booths were saying as they explained their latest and greatest lures, I could not name you a single type of rod and reel and I have no idea what type of engine goes in what type of boat.

But…I did get great joy though out of seeing my husband act like a kid in a candy store and my kids act like, well, kids! I had fun watching the kids shoot in a paint ball booth, attempt to “surf” and drive the boat simulator. I’ve now heard the national anthem sung in a sporting event I never really realized existed and am the proud owner of a Wal-Mart coozie, Yamaha hat and various other “useful” items that I could neither name or explain. And though I am no more “hooked” on fishing than I was a week ago, I do have a little more appreciation for my hubbies passion, and I’ll be perfectly happy with him fishing the next time we’re on the boat (hopefully without the kids) as long as I have my bag of books and a mountain dew!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wrong Number?

Have you ever felt like God was really calling you to do something, but once you got into it, you wondered if maybe he'd dialed the wrong number? That's been my thought some days while in the middle of homeschooling.

When we started sensing God leading us to home school, I was looking ahead to having eight hours a day of solitude...the husband and kids gone and just me and all the projects I could dream of. Nathan would been starting kindergarten and I'd finally experience peace on earth or at least in my little corner of it.

However, when I received that "phone call" from God, my whole world turned upside down. Now, I was being kicked into the label of "homeschooler" and would have to learn to put my hair in a bun and start growing vegetables, two things I really don't know how to do. I had visions of grocery shopping only in the organic sections while my children called out my list to me in Latin. In between canning all of our own fruits and veggies, milking the cow, sewing all of our own clothes and undergarments, and playing countless outdoor games with my kids since we had thrown out the TV, we would do multiple math lessons a day in order to get ahead of the "normal" kids, read only from the classics, and memorize whole books of the Bible weekly.

As you can guess, I had a very skewed picture of what homeschooling looks like. Not that there is anything wrong with sewing, canning and growing, I just don't happen to know how to do any of those things, nor do I ever want to learn. We shop in the reduced meat section and if there happens to be some lean beef there, we get it. Milk comes from the store and clothes from wherever the best sale is, but never from my sewing machine (I don't own one!) We do manage to do a single math lesson almost every day, we have read some classics, but most of our reading is just whatever looks interesting, and if my kids do a couple of Bible verses a month, we are really happy. My kids can't wait to finish school to get to the TV or computer and they can actually tell you a little about the origins of Latin, but could never quote anything in it.

No, for us, homeschooling means I get to snuggle with my son while reading "Cat and the Hat" or at least I'm snuggling while he's reading the words to me through gritted teeth since he does not want to have to read! It means we get to study about great heroes of the faith and see where they fit into the history I learned as a child, but was never taught the Bible went hand in hand with it. It means we get to know each other in more ways than we want to sometimes and we see the good, bad and ugly.

Sometimes, our school efforts look pretty, with everyone doing as they are told and seeming to enjoy learning, other days, it's quite ugly. Sometimes a day is counted as "good" if only one person was reduced to tears.

But, even though there are days I do think "why," I do know God has called us to this, at least for this time in our lives. I know that on those days when the light bulbs go on, or when my daughter has produced a masterpiece in writing, or when my son aces his math and is so proud of himself, or when someone is able to actually apply a lesson from science or history to our life or to subsequent lessons, that I have received the gift of really being part of my kid's lives in a way that would not be possible otherwise. I would miss so much if we weren't doing this together. I only have such a short time with them anyway....just yesterday they were all babies and tomorrow they will be I will treasure this time, even through the occasional tears! God has blessed us so much with this opportunity. And some day, yes, SOME kids will thank least that's what I'm told!
My perfect little angels on the first day of school, Aug. 4, 2008:

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Next Food Network Star....Probably Not!

For the past several years, I've experienced a "drought" in my cooking abilities. The first few years of marriage, and even while my kids were babies, I loved cooking and was always trying new things, even being creative. But somewhere along the way, that all disappeared. Maybe we're just busier with extra-curricular activities, or maybe I just got bored with cooking. Lately though, I've been convicted about trying to get back in the swing of cooking every night, and yes, being creative, in an attempt to help my family eat better, to expand my kids taste buds (who am I kidding) and to save money since eating out had become too easy and way too expensive.

We've always had a joke about my cooking....the first time I ever tried to make something for John while we were dating, I completely burned the grilled cheese sandwich (very creative huh?) John immediately cooked up another one worthy of the cover of a cooking magazine. (We are very competitive between the two of us, so I still try to make my grilled cheese sandwiches as beautiful as his. I'm almost there, right babe??)

So, I started out this week with a full 10 days of menu plans, had done my shopping and was ready to go. Now, I know that it's always a good idea to plan ahead when you are trying something new, and I really thought I had, but maybe not enough!

Sunday, the plan called for homemade pizzas and homemade cinnamon sticks....something I thought would be a fun family project and though would involve a mess, should not be too bad. I'll spare you all the details, but we ended up with a whole wheat dough that after cooking, resembled very thick cardboard, and pretty much tasted like it. At one point during the kneading process, John sweetly commented that he thought it needed more water. I gave him the stern "don't tell me what to do in my kitchen, I know what I'm doing" look. A few minutes later, my sweet, bubbly little Taylor came over and in an innocent little voice, said, "I think it needs more water mom." What could I say then?

Thankfully, I had purchased store bought dough as a backup plan. My husband was so sweet to actually attempt to eat the cardboard pizza, but I could barely choke down a bit or two. We did end up with one that was good enough to eat and my kids at least did not starve. Incidentally,the cinnamon sticks were really good and we saved the leftover cardboard to feed the fish the next time at the lake.

Last night, the plan was ham and cheese quiche, something I love, but of course knew the kids would cry over. Let's just say the dinner preparation ended up taking about 2 hours and involved a large amount of liquid flowing out of my food processor which John and Bailey help to mop up. It was not pretty. In the end, the quiche was edible and my husband was wonderful through the whole process, even making the kids stay out of the kitchen...of course, that could have been for fear of their lives, but we did have supper!!

So tonight, I will try again....this time with a little more forethought and planning, and will hope for the best. Of course, if it does not work out according to plan, John can always make his "Next Food Network Star" grilled cheese sandwiches. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll ever be a contender! :}

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Crazy Week (Part 3 of 3)

Crazy Event No. 3: After supper (on Thursday), we had promised the kids a shopping trip for our second round of fish for our new tank (more on that in a later blog). While we were still choosing our fish, we received a phone call that our church had been broken into. The lady that discovered it had actually gone inside the building and into the office area when she discovered a broken window. She was very shaken, but thankfully, okay. God really protected her! We arrived a few minutes before the police did, plenty of time for my kids to be a mess. We stayed long enough to know that nothing major was missing besides some cash, then I left with the kids to get our new fish settled in their new home. They of course were all distraught over the events of tonight so they are all asleep in our bed.

But before bed, I reminded them of the passage of scripture they just learned last week. The one God placed specifically on their hearts just before they were going to need it. We talked about how cool it is that thousands of years ago, this passage was written to remind them on this very night about God’s protection…how He says that we will find refuge under His wings, that no disaster will come near our tent, that we do not need to fear the terror of night and that He commands His angels to guard us. We prayed tonight that they would even hear the flutter of angel wings as they were drifting off to sleep. What a great reminder of God’s protection!!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Crazy Events (Part 2 of 3)

...continued from July 31...

Crazy Event No. 2: Just before dinner tonight, dark clouds appeared over us and we ended up with a huge lightening storm and heavy rain. My poor kids are terrified of storms, especially the oldest. When she was about 3, I shoved her and my then two-year-old in a closet when we had a microburst/hail storm at our home. It was very scary and we did have damage but everyone was okay.
About three years ago, we had another hail storm on Mother’s Day, and spent several minutes in a hall closet. It was during those few minutes that my oldest accepted Christ…nothing like a life or death moment to put it all on perspective. It was a great Mother's Day gift, even though we had to have our roof replaced along with all the siding on the front of the house.
This spring, we had a tornado come through our neighborhood, and though thankfully our house was spared any major damage, a couple of homes one street over were badly damaged. We spent several minutes praying hard in that same hall bathroom on that evening.

So, anytime the wind blows hard, she starts to almost hyperventilate. I don’t blame her, but I’m trying to help her to understand trusting God’s hand in believe He will protect her tent! A tough one for young kids, and adults many times. But we enjoyed supper and my nine-year-old said the blessing and asked God to keep sending the rain to help the drought…she was seeing the bigger picture. be continued...