Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chatty Cathy!



Guess who got in trouble for talking in class yesterday?

Guess who took her rightful place in a long lineage of writing sentences for talking in class?

Guess whose teacher asked her to stop talking yet she still turned to her friend and finished her conversation... many times over throughout the day?

Guess who got a "C" for behavior?

Guess whose Mom wasn't happy?

This one right here. That's who.






She's cute, ain't she? Cute as a button. And chatty as a Chatty Cathy doll.

So, here's the deal. Is it a big deal that Abi talks alot? Probably not. She's kindhearted, thoughtful, tender, bubbly, and sweet. The quintessential girl. The poster child for sugar and spice. So I wasn't upset that she was chatting. But, as she always does, Abi told on herself and revealed more than she planned to, I'm sure.

ME- Abi, I saw you have a "C" in your agenda for today. Mrs. Farren said you had ants in your pants. What's the deal?
ABI- Well, Mrs. Farren kept telling me to be quiet and I would always be in the middle of talking to someone, and I didn't want to make them mad, so I'd keep talking to them anyway. But after I was done, I'd be quiet!
ME- So, let me get this straight. Mrs. Farren asked you to be quiet, but you ignored her and STILL kept talking?
ABI- Yes. I did that alot. Like, all day.
ME- Get some paper. You're going to write 50 times "I will not talk." NOW. And if this happens again, you will write a much longer sentence 100 times.
ABI- (mouth open in shock and horror)Mom, I didn't want to make Hannah or Christy mad!
ME- Who had you rather have mad at you... Hannah or ME?
ABI- Yes ma'am. (leaves the room).

After she left, I had to chuckle. I was SO that kid. Only without the sweet part. And with alot more bossiness. My sister was that kid. Only with a voice 10923432 times louder and a mean streak that scared most middle school boys away. My mom was that kid. My aunt was that kid. It was destined to happen. I'm okay with that. But the thing is, chatting and being disobedient are two totally different things. This was one of those moments I knew would define in Abi's mind that I expect her to follow Mrs. Farren's orders immediately, just as she would mine. After a long and tedious assignment, Abi declared she would never, ever do that again.

I chuckled again.

Because she will.

As we were walking down the stairs to go to bed, Abi said, "Mom, I tattle quite a bit."

My response? "That's a whole other set of sentences, my darling."

Girls. ;-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Elves have invaded!!!!



So, let's just clear the air about my lack of blogging lately. I've been busy, I've been traveling, I've been lonely since my man has been in Africa for three weeks, I've been swamped, and I've been a slacker.

Moving on.

Christmas is a slight obsession of mine. Seriously. My recurring dream all year long is decorating my tree. I burn pine scented candles in May. I sing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" to Abi every single night all year. So, when Halloween gets here, I start salivating about getting down the boxes and boxes of Christmas from my attic. I'm the neurotic neighbor who decorates before Thanksgiving... yes I am. I love the lights. I love the smells. I love the shopping. I love the parties. I love the gifts. I L-O-V-E Santa. Love the cookies and milk. Love the carrots for the reindeer.

And this year, Ellie the Elf has invaded our house.

First of all, let me put a disclaimer out here. THIS IS NOT A FORUM TO DEBATE THE YES OR NO ON LETTING KIDS BELIEVE IN SANTA. Yes, I said that in all caps because I don't want to go there. This is what we do, and we have a blast with it. So, kindly understand that I'm not trying to persuade anyone to become a believer. :-)

Apparantly the newest craze is "Elf on a Shelf," which is a boxed set of a book and an elf. The elf comes to watch kids and make sure they're behaving for Santa, and while the kids are sleeping, the mischievous elf does something bizarre or funny for the kids to find when they wake up the following morning. He or she sits proudly on or nearby her mess. The rule is you're never supposed to touch the elf because she only comes to "life" at night when no one's watching.

I didn't like the elf that comes with the set, so I didn't buy the set. I bought this cute little creature, who is sold separately by the same company.



Anyway, last night (before I actually even bought the elf), I decided that it was time for a certain elf named Ellie to make a scene. So, mysteriously, there were Barbie dolls stuck all in the Christmas tree this morning. And when we went to get Abi's lunch out of the fridge, look what we found in there.....!!!



Abi went to school this morning with a smile on her face and high hopes that tonight, the elf will get into more trouble while she sleeps. It made our ride to school MUCH more enjoyable, as we speculated on what that elf could POSSIBLY want out of our refrigerator and how in the world did she manage to stuff every single Barbie into that tree herself! Abi laughed and laughed.

And I LOVED the twinkle in her sleepy eyes at 7:15 this morning as she shuffled clumsily through the house.

Yes, I know, I know. Christmas isn't really all about the hoopla. People all over the world celebrate this wonderful time of year without a single gift or flashing light. It's not about the trimmings and trappings...

But for those of us fortunate enough to be able to celebrate the way we choose, it sure is wonderful.

Ellie the Elf will become a part of our Christmases from now on. I love reading online at how families started this tradition when their kids were small and now their teenagers look forward to the elf's appearance even still. They might have outgrown the innocent belief in Santa's magic, but one thing we will never outgrow is the need for our parents' involvement in our holidays.

Moms and Dads, work your magic. Stir up some mischief with your little ones this holiday. I think I overheard Ellie saying tonight she's going to toilet paper the living room while Abi's asleep.

That girl is somethin' else! ;-)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Raising a New Awareness.


So, this summer, we went to Detroit to see my Aunt Kim and Uncle Hadi. Upon arriving, we went to the Greek district in downtown and ate dinner at a WONDERFUL Greek restaurant.

As we are driving in the downtown area, I am immediately struck in awe by how many homeless people are lining the streets, asking for money from passersby. Don't get me wrong. We have homeless people in Orlando... but this was unreal. They were at every other store front, dirty, tired, and looking for food or any amount of money they could gather. I know that this is an opportunity for Abi to see the world through new eyes.

I said, "Abi, see all these people standing around who aren't dressed very nicely? They don't have homes. They sleep on the sidewalks and streets, and they stand out here and ask for food and money from people. Some of them can't work, some of them WON'T work, and all of them are sad. But God loves these people, and so do we."

My uncle pulled the car in front of our restaurant to let us out. I get out and turn to get Abi. Her cheeks are bright red. I said, "What's wrong?" I will NEVER forget what she said.

"Mom, I feel like a jerk right now."

My heart was broken and at the same time warmed with gratitude for her words. I said, "What do you mean?" She said, "We're going in here to eat and that man is so hungry." My Aunt Kim immediately goes into her purse, gives Abi a dollar, and walks her over to the man to give it to him. The man turns to Abi, bends down, and says, "Thank you, little girl. God bless you."

We get into the foyer of the restaurant and Abi's smiling from ear to ear. "He said God bless you to me, Mom! He was so thankful he'll be able to eat!"

Later on that night, I had another small talk with Abi about the homeless people we saw. While I wanted her to see the people around her that are hurting and suffering every day, and while I want to expose her to the harsh reality that the world is not always happy and warm... I also have to expose her to the truth that we cannot save every person from their needs. I had to explain to her that while some people cannot find jobs, there are others who don't want jobs. I had to explain to her that some people don't want to be responsible, but there are many others who would give anything for the opportunity to fix their family a nice, hot meal.

See, Abi's a very tenderhearted child. She is giving, warm, and concerned for others. She is very much aware of the needs of the people around her and wants everyone to be at peace. Since her heart is bent toward generosity, it is MY job to make sure she knows that real love helps... but it doesn't always rescue and it CERTAINLY doesn't enable. While I want her to be a pillar of hope and refuge in this hurting world, I most assuredly don't want her to be a pushover.

So where does this come to? I have to teach her to rely on that still small voice in her heart... the Voice of all voices that abides in her every fiber. I have to guide her in listening to the Holy Spirit as He prompts her heart and leads her to give, and leads her to step away.

See, every day, there are opportunities around us to seize. God moments on the corners of our streets and sidewalks where He wants to meet our children and give them His eyes.

Are you looking?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Things.


Well, here it is. Another Wednesday. Another half way through the week.

Another day closer to Abi being out on her own.

I know, I know. Pretty dramatic. But every now and then, a wave hits me of "Oh-my-gosh-my-time-with-her-is-so-short." I think parenting is like cramming for that big test. You do your homework along the way. You turn in the assignments. You show up for class (most of the time). You're confident in the material. But the night before the big exam, you down endless pots of coffee and those little pills you buy at the gas station for road trips that you should never buy but do anyway, and you try to cover four weeks of lecture notes in one night, just in case you don't know as much as you think you do. (THAT WAS AN INCREDIBLY LONG SENTENCE. And, my high school English teacher is one of my readers. I'm in trouble.)

Anyway. The other day, I was turning into the bank. A car was coming toward me. It wasn't too close, not even CLOSE to hitting me, but close enough I sped up a little as I was turning to get out of the way. I thought to myself, "That was one of those situations my Mom would gripe at me about." And then it hit me. (This thought, not the car...)

One day, MY baby girl will be in the situation of trying to decide whether the car is too close or not. And she will follow her choice. And I can't control it.

So there I go. On a path of slightly freaking out at the thought of Abi behind the wheel of a car. But then, I realize. It's not just the car. It's the fact that there's SO much content to cover with her and SO little time to do it. I started thinking of all the things I want her to know. Things we need to work on. Things I needher to know. And I made a list a while back about this, so bear with me. I've added to it.

THINGS I WANT HER TO KNOW:
-that I did the best I could. (most days).

-that she's the first thing on my mind every single day.

- that no matter how many days I drop her off at school, I never leave until she disappears into her building and I can't see her backpack anymore.

-that I literally dread the day her hands don't look like a little girl's hands anymore.

-that I hope she's the "quirky" kid in her class.

-that I've memorized every freckle on her face, every curve of her toes, and the exact spot in her eyes where the green fades into a brownish gray.

-that her Daddy loves her so much, sometimes I think he'll burst.

-that sometimes I sit by her bed while she's sleeping, just listening to her breathe and wonder what she's dreaming about.

-that sometimes she gets on my last ever-loving nerve.

-that she is privileged in so many ways.

-that the day I brought her up onto the stage at church for the congregation to see her after all the years of praying for her conception, people rejoiced for her life and took ownership of her as "their" baby.

-that I don't care if she IS the preacher's kid/grandkid, she's still allowed to fail like every other child in the church.

-that I cannot WAIT until the day she and I sit together, woman to woman, over a cup of coffee as friends.

-that I daydream about being at her side for all the girl things: prom makeup, her wedding planning, the birth of her firstborn... being a girl mama guarantees me a front row seat.

-that if she moves to China and becomes a missionary, it will take all the will power I've ever had (and her big strong Daddy) to keep me from becoming a Chinese citizen.

-that every kid needs an aunt they confide in... and her best friend in her teenage years will be her Aunt Lori.

-that manners will escalate her into favor in this world.

-that sometimes, all someone needs is a kind word.

-and that sometimes a harsh word is all it takes.

-that long before the foundation of the world was laid, she was the only thought on the mind of her Creator.

-that the day she was born, Heaven exploded with joy.

-and my heart exploded with love.

-that she has men in her life she can trust with all her being. Men who would tear apart anyone who harms her with their bare hands. Men who care enough about her to make sure she's dressed like a lady and behaving like the treasure she is.

-that there's a rich heritage flowing through her veins.

-that when I pull into the school parking lot to get her and she gets into my van, I feel like nothing's missing anymore.

-that sometimes when she's asleep, I kiss her cheeks until I have to make myself stop.

-that even if she's 23, she can still crawl into our bed at 5:00am if she wants to.



Okay, okay. I'll stop for now. There's so much more I could say, but it's overwhelming and quite frankly, daunting. I'm just glad I have the next 11 or so years to get it all done. That's ALOT of time. Plenty of time. Right?

It's really not.

At all.

But she'll be ready. And so will I.

Monday, September 27, 2010

La la la la... Elmo too?




WHY??? WHY, ELMO? WHY must you cross over to the dark side? WHYYYYY?

Ok. For those of you who don't know what I'm griping about, I'm afraid I'll be the bearer of bad news. It appears that even the most benign children's entertainment empire ever (aka, Sesame Street), has joined forces with pop culture in the slow fade of morals.

See below.



*Sad Sigh*

Thankfully, Sesame Street has chosen not to release this controversial segment in their season premiere. They released this statement. "Sesame Street has a long history of working with celebrities across all genres, including athletes, actors, musicians and artists. Sesame Street has always been written on two levels, for the child and adult. We use parodies and celebrity segments to interest adults in the show because we know that a child learns best when co-viewing with a parent or care-giver. We also value our viewer’s opinions and particularly those of parents. In light of the feedback we’ve received on the Katy Perry music video which was released on YouTube only, we have decided we will not air the segment on the television broadcast of Sesame Street, which is aimed at preschoolers. Katy Perry fans will still be able to view the video on YouTube."

There are oh-so-many things I could say about all of this. I have a statement of my OWN to release.

1. I am not saying that my house is banning Sesame Street. Certainly not... yet. But if this is a precursor to what's down the road for preschool entertainment and children's education, count the Windhams OUT.

2. What Katy Perry was wearing is ABSOLUTELY inappropriate for children to see, especially in their safe zone. Meaning, SS is one of the shows we let our kids watch with little concern. It's warm, fuzzy, and educational. They know we aren't going to march into the living room and demand they turn off that garbage when it comes to Big Bird and the Grouch. Was she practically naked? No. In reality, she wasn't showing anything less than the average bathing suit reveals. But WHY do PRESCHOOLERS need to see CLEAVAGE and ELMO together? What does a skin tight, low cut, lime green dress have to do with educational television for three year olds?

3. The phrase "I think kids have seen those" is EXACTLY what's wrong with our culture. It's the new way of saying, "Well, everybody else is doing it!" In other words, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. We have adopted a whole new normal that is less and less conducive to raising Godly children. We say, "Well, they see worse than that at the beach," and as a result, we let MTV infiltrate our preschoolers through PBS.

4. The fact that at first Matt Lauer thought it was wrong and then convinced himself it was ok is sad. We haven't drawn concrete lines in our morals, so we are at the mercy of whatever TV wants to give us as our societal norms. After all, if it's on Sesame Street, it has to be okay!

5. The days are OVER where we can assume ANYTHING when it comes to our kids. We can't assume that it's okay just because it came from Disney. (PLEASE don't make that mistake.) We can't assume Nickelodeon is safe just because the Backyardigans are adorable and Dora is so chunky and sweet. We can't assume our kids will just take the good stuff from shows and leave the bad stuff behind. THEY WON'T. And we'll wonder why our five year old girls want to start wearing thongs and our four year old boys are making crude comments about girls in their preschool class. And after all... you know what they say happens when you assume something. ;-)

6. Most importantly, we cannot let our hearts become desensitized to what is RIGHT. What is VIRTUOUS. What is BEST. WE are the filter between media and our kids. Period.

So, Matt Lauer and Meredith Viera... just because YOUR kids may have "seen those before" doesn't mean that mine will think it's normal to see cleavage and Elmo together. Ever.

Let's not forget that Sesame Street's target audience is kids, aged 2-5.

***BIG SAD SIGH HERE***

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up!

Well, one thing's for sure. I'm never at a loss of something to blog about. One day, Abi will look back on all of these intimate and personal things I've shared about her via the Internet and she will roll her eyes. She'll say, "THANKS ALOT, MOM!" And I'll just say, "You're MOST welcome." Believe it or not, there are plenty of things I do not write about, because the child has to have SOME kind of dignity left.

Here's a few moments that have left me scratching my head, laughing my head off, or banging my head against the wall lately. I will show you the picture, and explain it down underneath.



For whatever reason, this was left in my office. I know the quality is blurry, but you can get the point. This is a home address label with a caricature of Rod, Abi, and me. She was obviously not happy with me this day, and showed me on the label of our family. Notice the check marks on hers and Rod's face, along with the giant X on mine. Welp.

Next...



Yes, this is my daughter. My girlie-girl, scared-of-every-insect, pink and purple laden daughter. She is on her stomach, drinking out of a puppy's water bottle. And when I confronted her and told her not to do this anymore, she said, "Oh, ok. It's fine. That was my second bottle anyway." **GAGGING NOISE HERE** I walked away.

Next.



Please listen to me. There are days when I cannot think of anything Abi has eaten that we did not FORCE her to eat. She's like a bird or a grazer. But on this particular day, I took Abi to IHOP, where she ate not one, but TWO kids meals... Double bacon, double scrambled eggs, double pancakes, and two cinnamon rolls. She then laid down and moaned.

Then, there's this one.



I walked into my dining room and found all of Abi's fairies tucked into homemade sleeping bags, crafted from the finest Charmin Double Quilted toilet paper, hemmed with staples, and complete with plush TP pillows. Adorableness times a million.

Ahhhhhh, this one.



My cousin's wedding. Abi was a flower girl. I turn around during a couple's dance, and this is what I saw. Her Uncle Seth wasn't so happy. And I was not prepared for how magical this little girl could look in the tiny arms of a little man. Sigh.

And my most recent personal favorite.



Interpretation: I do not like you. (spelled liyk)

Abi had to sit through her second funeral in one week (oh, the perks of being a pastor's kid), and she was WAAAAAAAY less than happy about it.After fifteen minutes of coloring with an ink pen, going to the bathroom ten thousand times, and trying to get comfortable, the following happened.

ABI-I need something to DO right now! This is SOOOO boring!
ME- (whispering in my mean mom voice) This isn't about YOU! Nothing at this funeral is about YOU! This is about being here for this family right now.
ABI-(whispering back in a meaner voice) I can't stand this any more! I'm ready to LEAVE!
ME-(In my best Grim Reaper voice)If I have to talk to you one more time while we are at this funeral, you will lose every single dollar of your allowance.

(Abi starts writing a note, puts it in an offering envelope from the chair pockets, and gives it to me.)

I literally chuckled out loud. In the middle of the service.

And then she tried to get it back. I said, "Oh, noooooo. You're not getting this one back, baby. This one belongs to ME. "

After all... what else would I blog about? :-)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Punishment VS. Discipline.


Is it just me, or has anyone else ever wondered which is which? I know I blogged about this a while back, but it seems like a topic we can visit more than once... Do you agree?

We use these words interchangably, when in fact, they are complete and total opposites. Let me explain.

The word "punishment" means pain, suffering, or loss that serves as retribution.

The word "discipline" means training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

Basically, "punishment" is how we react when we are unprepared, while "discipline" doesn't catch us off guard. Let me 'splain.

I think, as parents, we spend WAY too much time trying to catch our kids doing something wrong and not NEARLY enough time looking for them doing something right. As a result of that, we have our finger on the punishment trigger most of the time. We are physically exhausted, mentally stretched, and our kids pay the price for our own lack of management. The LAST thing we want is another set of rules to structure or another situation to monitor. However, since we haven't clearly explained to our children what's expected, blow ups happen on their part and certainly on ours.

Is it possible to make a rules system that covers every single scenario before they actually happen? No. But what we CAN do is create a basic structure of functioning that all behaviors should fall under. Here's our own structured guidelines that we operate within in our household. They are not by any means "one size fits all," but they uphold our core beliefs and help us become the family we want to be.


1. Tell the truth at all times.
2. Use respectful language and tones.
3. Be responsible with your own property.
4. Be a team player.

Notice, these guidelines are for our ENTIRE family. It's important to not make the rules completely child centered. They need to see US modeling the behavior we desire to see in them!

Every action falls either inside or outside of these parameters. When the behavior is less than acceptable, discipline comes into effect. It's just basic cause and effect, peeps! Punishment, however, is a knee-jerk reaction, that never, EVER helps the situation, but creates more pain for everyone involved.

One of the cornerstones of my parenting beliefs is that if boundaries are communicated, there is no room for chaos. Do I mean that if I communicate the boundaries, there will never be bumpy roads or rules broken? (Insert insane laughter here) Um, no. Our kids are a little bit of us, and a little bit of our spouse, after all. But what guidelines do for us are provide a game plan, so that there are no foggy areas anymore, and reactions are lessened.

Still unclear on punishment versus discipline? A couple more examples. Kid does something wrong and you can't wait to set him straight? Punishment. Kid does something wrong and you know you MUST deal with it because it will shape who they are as a person? Discipline. Kid disobeys and you fly off the handle? Punishment. Kid breaks a rule and your heart is broken when you have to implement the consequence? Discipline.

Dealing with our children is a heart matter. As best we can, we need to be aware of the motives within our hearts BEFORE dealing with the hearts of our little ones. Once those words are out there, we can't get them back.

Thank God for mercy!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tune-Up Tuesday!


Tuesdays. They're just kinda there. Mondays are the first day of the week. Wednesdays, the hump day. Thursdays, we start to wind it up for the weekend. Fridays, we rejoice. But Tuesdays? They're just kinda fillers.

Or are they?

I HATE the word "bored." I think it's really and completely impossible to be bored if you love your life. Seriously. First of all, I don't understand how a parent can be bored, unless their children are like little cardboard cut outs with no personalities at all. But even at that, I can't wrap my mind around the concept of boredom. There's always books to read, things to clean, places to explore, dreams to dream... you get my drift. Over the summer, I told Abi that since her room is FILLED with fun stuff to do, and she has a back yard most kids dream of having, every time I heard her say she was "bored," she had to do a chore of my choosing, and then I'd make sure it was a time-consuming task, like sweeping off the back deck (which is ALWAYS covered in leaves from the giant oaks around our house.) Miraculously, the boredom disappeared after two times.

Since today is Tuesday, and I guess it's techincally the most "boring" day of the week, and boredom is not our friend, let's have a little "tune-up" today.

You're in need of a tune-up if:

...you literally prayed for ten more minutes in bed this morning. And the day before.

...you count the minutes until nap time, bed time, and going to the mailbox alone time, every single day.

...you literally feel your skin crawl with annoyance when you hear, "Mom" come out of your little one's mouth... even if it's not attached to a tattle or whine.

...you find yourself looking at women in the mall who don't have children with them and envying them or imagine hitting them with your car.

...you see your pregnant friend and the first thing out of your mouth is some kind of warning about how pregnancy is the easy part and raising kids is like being pecked to death by pigeons.

...you fix PBJs every night because once again, you're too tired to cook.

...you consider the nightly news your "adult conversation" for the day, and then are seething with anger when your husband comes home simply because he got to talk to real life grown ups during his day.

...you constantly find yourself wondering if there's life out there.

...you constantly think, "If only I had gone to college..."



How do we fix it? What is there to do for those of us who are burned out, worn out, pooped out, and give out?

1. Make a gratitude list. You heard me. Keep a notebook on the counter and trim it with electric fence wire if you have to so that no one scribbles in it. Throughout your day, as moments of sunshine peek into your heart, write them down. Because Lord knows they disappear as fast as they come. Little Precious fed herself without painting sweet potatoes on the wall? Write it down! Tiny Wonder took a THREE HOUR NAP instead of his usual 45 minute one? Write it down! Angel Child said "I love you" to his sister? Write it down! Then at the end of your day, re-read the list. You'll be surprised.

2. Find one Bible verse for your week. Just one? Well, let's start with one. It's unreasonable to think the average mom can sit down with her Bible and study the seventh horn on the great beast in Revelation. But at the beginning of each week, after every one is in bed, we CAN sit down and find our weekly verse. Write it out and stick it on the fridge, where everyone can see. Speak it outloud to your children. Incorporate it in conversation. Pray it over meals. The Word of God is life and it is marrow in our bones. We need it.

3. Choose a good perspective. Keyword: CHOOSE. Yesterday, I heard on the news of a local pastor whose five year old granddaughter died from brain cancer. Instant perspective. Every time I see a parent who is struggling financially because of unemployment, instant perspective. When I feel weary from morning routines, packing lunches, and homework, I think of the men and women in uniform, who missed their child's first day of school and would love nothing more than to be able to make a turkey sandwich for their first grader. Instant perspective. I love the Bible verse that says, "I have learned to be content in whatsoever state I'm in." Choices. Ouch.

4. Do one thing differently. If you normally have your coffee in the kitchen before anyone wakes up, have it outside tomorrow. If the kids do their homework at the dining room table, load them up and drive them to the picnic tables at the park for homework tonight. If you always have pizza on Tuesdays, have breakfast for dinner, complete with waffles and whipped cream. Routines are needed and a part of a successful family. But they also can stick you in a rut if they aren't ever veered from. Changing one little thing can breathe new life into a dull pattern instantly.

5. Find YOUR song. Music is therapy. Whatever the mood, whatever the issue, there's a song for it. Recently, God challenged me to listen to only Christian music for 30 days. At first, I fought it. But I have to tell you, 21 days in, I actually find myself with a song in my heart more often than I have in a long time. Does this mean I will forever quit secular music? NO WAY. But what it has done is challenge me to rebalance my intake. It's actually nice, being surrounded by music that affirms God's plan for my life. *DISCLAIMER: NOT EVERY SONG ON CHRISTIAN RADIO IS BIBLICALLY SOUND! FOR INSTANCE, GOD DOESN'T PUT YOU THROUGH FIRE TO SEE WHAT YOU'RE MADE OF. HE'S GOD. HE KNOWS WHAT YOU'RE MADE OF. GEESH. Right now, my favorite song is "Better Than a Hallelujah" by Amy Grant. It's on my lips quite often.

Are you in need of a tune up? Start today. Or, you can stay where you are. That's the beautiful thing about God. He loves us where we are.

But He also loved us enough to make a way OUT of where we are.

Just in case we want it. ;-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

But her backpack is twice as big as she is!


This was my thought this morning as I watched Abi walk from my van toward her building at school. Everyone was getting there, happy to see each other from the weekend apart. Kids shuffling in, sleepy eyed and wild-haired, tucking in their shirts and eating their leftover mini-van breakfasts. In the sea of children, my little girl looked like a Tic-Tac with legs, her backpack covering her entire torso and past her bottom, lunch box in one hand, warm-vanilla milk in the other. She looked longingly at me half way down the sidewalk, and then she saw Reagan (the love of her life...her words, not mine), and she never turned back around to me again.

On the way to work, I called Rod and sniffled at how grown up she is and how she needs us less and less in so many ways. Rod told me that the other day, when he was there to pick her up from school, he heard two little girls (who appeared to be in third-ish grade) say something along the lines of "That don't matter... She's ugly" about some girl in their class. Rod said, "I can't even stand to THINK that one day someone will talk about Abi that way."

Fact is, they will.

My feathers ruffle, my hair stands on end, my talons come out, and I start lookin' for a Mama to chew out.

Then I come back to real life.

I can't be there every day, shielding her heart from the hurtful words and judging stares of snotty girls. I can't cover her with a blanket when her heart gets broken because a boy makes a joke about her butt and she's humiliated. I wish I could. But even if I could, I shouldn't.

See, we live in a bailout driven society. Settle down... this isn't about politics. We bail our kids out of hard work, out of taking responsibility, out of chores, out of saving money, and out of pain. Know the kids whose parents call and gather support for them, or sell their box of candy bars at their workplace so their kids don't have to do it because they're "shy"? Yeeeeeah. My parents didn't play like that. But New School parents have chosen to make life as utterly easy as they can for their kids. We rush to their aid with every bump and bruise, and we basically wrap them in bubble wrap to keep them from hurting themselves along the way, both physically and emotionally, hovering over their every move. Fact is, pain is a part of humanity. And as much as I grieve when THOSE tears fall, and as much as I'd like to protect her from their sources, I cannot do so. If I did, I would be handicapping her abilities to deal with real life when I can't be there to save her.

**BIG SIGH HERE**

Years ago, I read about Beth Moore when her daughter moved off to college. As any mom would, Beth struggled with worry of how her little one would take care of herself 24/7 for the first time in her life. When she got home from dropping off her little bird at her new dorm room, Beth was cleaning her daughter's empty bedroom. As she cleaned out from under the bed, she found a pile of tissues underneath the head of the bed, wrinkled and smeared with mascara. It was very clear that Beth's precious girl had cried herself to sleep more than one night, alone in her bed, while Beth was unaware. Beth said she cried out, "God, I was right down the hall and I didn't know she was in silent pain!" As her heart was breaking, the Lord spoke softly to her, "If you didn't know she was hurting while she was down the hall, how can you possibly comfort her when she's across the country? I took care of her then, and I've got this too."

We can't do it all, moms and dads. We can't be the shield all the time... can't guard their hearts from all they'll see. Oh, don't get me wrong. We can do alot. But there comes a time when we step back and see if we are actually equipping them for success or setting them up for failure by micro-managing their pain. Ouch.

I'm telling you. That backpack is twice as big as she is. How can she carry it all?

She'll grow. And I'll know when to step in.

And when to back off. ;-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

School Again, School Again. Do I Homeschool?


*Insert sad sigh*

I'm not one of those people who enjoys sending my child off to school. Just sayin. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand the value of school... of the obvious academic beneifts and social venues that it brings. I am in NO WAY advocating schooling in one certain way, as I have friends whom I love and respect that are schooling their children successfully in many ways. That's one of the many beauties of our nation. We are free to school as we deem necessary.

Here I am, less than three weeks until the big day... school starts back. And I, like every other mom, wonder where the heck the summer went. Did I spend enough time playing with her? Did I read enough books to her? Did we swim enough? Did she get enough summer fun to create good memories? Will she be sad when school starts back, or glad to get a reprieve from Mom? Is she counting the days because she's excited, or dreading it like I am?

We fully intended to homeschool. I'm not interested in starting a debate as to the whys we chose not to for our child(ren). Let's just suffice it to say that Abigail would have been miserable, and it would have been near to impossible because of our lives and work. That's the short version.

But it recently hit me. We all homeschool to a certain extent, don't we? Maybe not in academics, even though I had read "Go Dog Go" fifty million times before Abi was three. We school everyday in the things that last much longer than any book knowledge will.
Everytime we show our children how to keep a house clean and efficient by cleaning instead of lying on the couch like we'd like to. (Home Economics)

Every day that we pray over meals, we are teaching them thankfulness and an awareness that our very lives depend on the power of a loving God's provision. (Bible Class)

Every "I'm sorry, thank you, and yes ma'am" that we give to people in our community, adult to adult, is teaching and modeling good manners. (Ethics Class)

Every time we answer questions like, "How do bees make honey?" (thanks, Google)... "Did I come out of your belly button?" and "Is it lying if you just don't tell the truth?" we are answering the questions of future leaders and inventors. (Science)

Every time we bathe them, make them eat a healthy meal, or take them on walk, we are showing them the importance of taking care of our bodies (Health Class).

Every time they ask for a toy in Wal-Mart and we remind them to start saving their allowance, we are teaching them to manage their finances. (Business Math)

Every time we celebrate a holiday, cook a new ethnic food, or befriend someone who is not from our race, we are teaching them to broaden their horizons and get out of their comfort zone. (Social Studies)

When we teach them how to argue with their siblings without engaging in manual war, we are teaching them how to communicate. (Debate Class)

When we correct their language, teach them that "turd" is not a name and therefore cannot be what they call their sister, or help them pronounce words they've never read, we are teaching them the power of their speech. (English 101)

So, I guess we all homeschool after all, don't we? Reminds me of the verse found in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 Always remember these commands I give you today. Teach them to your children, and talk about them when you sit at home and walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

I'm a homeschooling-public school Mom. There's forty weeks of school ahead of us. That means 40 chances for me to volunteer and be involved in Abi's school life. But even more than that, I get 365 chances every year at home.

Here's to a great school year for ALL of us, whether we public, private, or homeschool.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Somebody Should Invent...


Every once in a while, my inventive side comes out. Granted, it's usually in a moment of frustration and overwhelmingness (is that a word?), but occasionally, the juices just flow.

Like, for instance, when I'm struggling to get the front door open because I am weighted down with a backpack, three random shoes I found in the van, a stack of books I brought home from work, two Barbies, a grocery bag with eggs and bread, and my gigantic purse, and I look over and see Abi frolicking into the house, empty handed and oblivious, and I suddenly wish I could invent an extendable arm that would rise out of the mess in my arms and smack her into reality so she can see my arms are full and I need her to open the door! (Gosh, that's the longest sentence I've ever written).

Here's a list of things I've invented in my mind. Feel free to add yours. Who knows. Maybe we will win a Nobel Prize or something.

The Vanishing Post Its-I don't want to have to worry about whether or not I've done what I wrote the note to remind myself to do. It would be nice if Post-Its would disappear once the job is done. Like, it would know by osmosis that its job here is complete and just go on its merry way.

The Spray That Cleans All-I want to walk in a room and set off a fume can that magically fixes all messes. Period. I have no problem vacating the premises for 24 hours if I need to, just in case the fumes are too strong to breathe.

Juice That Actually Works Like Benadryl- For naptimes. Much less guilt involved in juice than medications. Just sayin.

Self Cleaning Diapers-Hey, we put a man on the moon. So, anything's possible, right?

Instant Freeze For Special Moments- Like when you're tucking your child in for the night, and she has that special angelicness on her face. Or when you see him walk into his kindergarten classroom for the first time with that backpack on that's twice as big as he is. Or when they see what's under the tree on Christmas morning. You can journal all you want. But there are little moments that happen every day we are bound to forget.

One Meal That Tastes Differently To Everyone-You make one dish, and to each person, it tastes like their favorite meal. Brilliant.

The Gift Card That Magically Pays Your Parents Back For All the Heck You Put Them Through- Enough said.

Invisible Germ Forcefield- Because school kids are germy and gross, but yours obviously isn't.

Portable Coffee IV Drip-Because some days, you just need the caff and can't take time to carry a mug around.

The Magic Eraser For Colossal Mommy Mistakes- Like when your child walks in when your door should have been locked. Or when you call the dog a name you shouldn't have while you're cleaning up pee off the carpet, and your little one hears. Or when you say something terrible in traffic outloud.

A Built In Real-Time Pediatric Nurse App In Your Brain-So first time moms can know what's worthy of an antibiotic and what's viral. Or so you know the difference in a break and a sprain at the drop of a hat. 'Cause emergency rooms are not fun, especially when you leave with no answers, or the realization you overreacted.

A Magic Cape That Enables You To Read Minds- Number one, a cape just immediately qualifies you as a creepy superhero. And number two, no matter how well you know your child, you are NEVER, and I repeat NEVER prepared for fishing overalls out of a running toilet, a missing in action reptile, or finger paint on your brand new recliner. Ever. EVER.



I'm sure there's more, and I might even concoct enough inventions to blog something similar again in the near future. Life is challenging, at best. And every day is a winding road. But I wouldn't trade one single minute of chaos for the pre-mom quiet I used to possess.

Even without my inventions. :-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sensitive Children.....???


I couldn't believe my ears. Well, actually, I guess I could, but I didn't WANT to believe what I was hearing.

There I was. In Wal-Mart. I was trying to see over two moms talking, who were standing in front of the vitamins I was needing to get to. They were talking about disciplining their children. One of the moms was saying she had just spanked her child for some behavior he had exhibited that was less than acceptable. And then the other said it. Words that almost made me come out of my skin.

"I have a hard time disciplining my son. He's just soooooo sensitive."

***ME- GASPING FOR AIR***
Let me tell you what I REALLY heard. "I won't discipline my son because he is a master at using his emotions to manipulate me into not dealing with the issues I should have the backbone to deal with." PERIOD.

Sensitive? PLEASE. They are children, not baby shampoo. True sensitivity is a blessing, not a crutch. I know, I know. Some kids are more emotional than others. Some don't need the same type of stern discipline that others require. But GIVE ME A BREAK. As if "sensitive" children shouldn't be disciplined because he can make his lip quiver just at the right time?

Don't get me wrong. I understand that not every child is the same. I hardly ever was spanked. A good sit-down talk was usually all I had to have to get my tail in line. Then along came my sister. She broke every parenting theory to pieces. So, I get it. They aren't all tough guys. But the thing is, children are SMART. And even "good" kids know how to manipulate their way into their parents' hearts and minds and get what they want.

So how do you deal with a "sensitive" child?
1. Before you threaten discipline, be SURE you can follow through.
2. Know your child. This does NOT mean cater to your child. It means know their bend/tendencies BEFORE a situation arises that requires discipline.
3. Have very clear cause and effects spelled out ahead of time.
4. Purpose ahead of time to not give in to the emotions of the moment. Wait until your head is clear and your heart is settled before approaching discipline. The quivering chin will make you cave if you don't keep your purpose in front of you.
5. Remember that even "sweet" children are children. They have to be trained. Period.


As I was listening to this lady make excuses for her poor decisions, I thought, "Yep. And one day you'll have this child in some youth pastor's office, demanding we fix him because he's finally ran into something he can't manipulate anymore!" Parents, the word "discipline" means training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character.

Welp... Seems there's no exception. We have a job to do, regardless of our little charge's personality. Man up and do it!

Monday, July 19, 2010

For all my STAY AT HOME MOM friends.




Just had you on my mind this morning.

Well, actually it's because I spent a little (not nearly enough) time with my friend Jennifer at a birthday party our kids were at the other day, and I just wanted to hug her (and bite her little chubby baby). She had said something like, "You took a break from blogging but all of us moms at home still needed a pick me up!"

Yes, we do need pick-me-ups. ANY mom's job is endless. (Working moms, please don't blast me.) But since I was a SAHM with Abi, and will be when baby #2 arrives (we're working on this), Home Mommies are close to my heart.

Stay-at-home Moms, there are those of us who understand.

There are moms on this planet who understand:
...what it's like to have the theme song from Elmo's World stuck in your head for weeks at a time, and to catch yourself whistling it while folding clothes, only to shrug your shoulders and start whistling it again because you don't know any current songs.
...that at some point in the day, you think "What's the use?" when it comes to cleaning up playroom toys, so you throw in the white flag of surrender. Every day.
...how it feels to exist off of a diet of leftover pizza crusts, PBJ sandwich crusts, and non-soggy goldfish crumbs that were left of the high chair tray.
...that vacuuming is a distinct art. It has to be scheduled around naptimes, lunchtimes, and all-in-all, childhood in general.
...that chunks of your life will disappear somewhere between 7AM and 4PM, and you will never, ever know what you did during those hours. Ever.

There are those of us who have spent our days:
...answering questions like, "Can I go outside now? Now? How about NOW?" all. day. long.
...really and truly envying Dora the Explorer because at least she gets to GO SOMEWHERE!
...wiping noses that pour like waterhoses, administering enough Tylenol to cool off an atomic bomb, and carrying Orajel in our mom-jeans pocket.
...sitting in a kiddie pool that doesn't even cover our thighs (which, incidentally are much larger than they used to be) and then telling people we went swimming in our "pool".

Be encouraged, Mommies. There are people in this world who:
...count the minutes until naptimes, every single day.
...actually feed their kids Pizza Rolls more than once a week and still turn out kids that are healthy.
...cannot wait until the next library story time for the sole purpose that we don't have to be the ones reading the book for a change.

You're not the only one who:
...sometimes thinks, "What did I get myself into?"
...thinks if something happened to your mom, you'd end up in an insane asylum.
...sometimes cries at how exhausted and OVER IT you are, only to get a totally different child up from naptime than the one you put down, thus everything changing.
...imagines a vacation away from Little Precious of the Century, but can't get past the fact that you just
can't be gone from them that long and breathe.


You are totally normal for:
...knowing that a spanking is completely in order, yet feeling like a piece of poop for doing it.
...feeling like your skin will literally crawl off of you if you're touched one more time.
...counting how many years there are until graduation, and instead of crying because it's so far away, crying because it's not as many as you thought.
...inventing fun games like, "Let's see who can be quiet the longest," which is code for "If you talk again, my ears will explode."

Because after all the frustration, all the work, all the skinned knees, fussy eaters, and non-sleeping children have moved on, we will miss these days.

Moms, what's going on inside your house is making an eternal difference. And you're the cornerstone.

We are mighty. We are tired. We are stretched. We are loved.

We are blessed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Just in case you wonder what STUPID looks like...

...then, here it is. Please watch this, but have a trashcan ready because you'll most certainly want to puke after watching.








ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME!?!?!

Dear Mrs. Superintendent... YOU DON'T KNOW ME! My first reaction is God help the person who gives my first grader a condom. My next thought is that if I found a condom in my child's backpack at ANY age and I knew it came from school, I'd be on the nightly news with an inmate number under my headshot.

But really, we can scream all we want at the people on the other side of this video. The bottom line is, government is a reflection of the people. Period. Those babies are being educated on how to put a condom on because we the people have allowed it.

Not too long ago, a 10 year old delivered a baby in Atlanta. She was not raped. Locally, a 5th grade girl gave birth. It's nothing anymore to see girls who look like they are still playing with Bratz dolls walking around the mall bursting with child, while they are putting on glittery Hello Kitty lipgloss. It is VERY evident that the problem is a problem of cataclysmic proportions, and I've had enough.

I've had ENOUGH of people dressing their daughters up like mini-prostitutes and then raking every teenage boy who looks at her over the coals. I'm ANGRY that dolls look less and less like toys and more and more like replicas of the deceived young women at Hugh Hefner's side. I'm DONE with parents buying their children whatever new novelty the child wants just to keep them out of their hair in the evenings,and meanwhile the child is locked up in their room at the age of 8 on their laptop or iPhone, seeing who knows what. I'm SO TIRED of parents taking the easy way out and letting their boys follow the crowd with the words they speak and the ways they see women, since Daddy has a Sports Illustrated swimsuit calendar in his garage. I'm OVER IT with moms who are in their 30s but think they're still in their 20s, dressing and acting like they're in their teenage years, and treating their teenage daughter like a confidant and friend. I want to SCREAM when parents let their kids participate in whatever the heck they choose to, packing their week full of all sorts of activities and clubs, yet leave zero time for church together and then bring their kids to our church and demand we fix them! THIS VIDEO BROKE THE CAMEL'S BACK IN ME, PEOPLE!

*clearing my throat and regaining my composure*

We are only talking about our girls' virginity here, parents. We're only talking about the virtue of our sons' integrity. That's all.

But by all means, let's get angry at the teachers who will be passing out the condoms. Let's rant and rave at how the school systems are yet again failing our kids. Blah, blah, blah. Here's the deal. Those school officials and teachers are doing what they deem necessary to stop the pandemic problem of crappy parenting. Am I saying it's okay to provide sex ed for our littlest ones, complete with condoms provided? ABSOLUTELY NOT. But what I AM saying is that everyday, school officials and teachers are put in the impossible position of having to straighten out or tolerate the messes that WE as parents make. They are not the answer, nor do they HAVE the answer to our children's problems. Their answer is throw a condom at them. WE, as Christian, sane, and somewhat intelligent people, are their PARENTS. It's OUR job to educate our children about sex from an early age. It's OUR job to teach them to discern between the kids they should hang out with and the ones they shouldn't. It's OUR job to model integrity and virtue in front of them in our relationships and marriages. It's OUR job to show them Biblical principles and how to live out God's word in our every day lives. So when we don't do our job, the world has to step in with their version of the solution.

And condoms are given to first graders.

It's time to step it up, moms and dads. For real.

Bottom line is if we are doing our jobs and following Biblical principles with parenting our kids... if we keep our eyes opened to what is actually going on in our kids' lives and get our heads out of our laptops... we won't have to be afraid of the big scary nurse at school that's trying to shove condoms in our kids' backpacks without our knowledge or consent. Instead, we will have children who are open with us, who ask US the questions because they know we have the answers and we're willing to share them.

And on a side note... ever thought about actually getting involved in your child's school so that you can be aware at a ground level what's going on? Just sayin'.

Will we never, ever be caught off guard with our kids? Of course we will. Will we always have children who stay on the straight-and-narrow? Nope. They live in a real world. God did everything right with Adam and Eve but they still failed. But one thing's for sure. You CAN be sure YOUR child isn't one of those children learning a skewed version of sex from a school nurse with a condom and a cucumber.

NOT MY CHILD. NOT ON MY WATCH! NOT EVER!

Monday, July 12, 2010

ANYTHING But Typical.


I have never, ever, ever been satisfied with status quo.

Those of you who know me or my family probably just said something like, "Nah, REALLY?" very sarcastically.

Seriously. When I look at my life, my family, my beliefs, sometimes I feel like I wear a sign that screams "ANTI-NORMAL." Maybe it's from growing up with hundreds of pairs of eyes watching my every move as a preacher's kid. Maybe it's the result of the union of the two gene pools that made me. Maybe it's a little bit of my own stubbornness and individuality. Whatever it is, I've always felt like "the lady in red, when everybody else is wearing tan." (Remember that show?)

I could read proficiently at three. I began puberty at nine. People thought I was married to my dad when I was 14. (ew!) I was freakishly good at schoolwork, and had absolutely NO desire to participate in sports or anything even remotely sportish. I married at 19 to a man who is twelve-and-a-half years older than me. (Thank GOD. Guys my age were SOOOOOO annoying.) We are both in full-time ministry together at the church where my parents are senior pastors and in full-time ministry, along with my sister and brother in law. It took us a gazillion years to get pregnant. And even my pregnancy with Abi was weird. I didn't know I was pregnant until I was almost nine weeks along, had NO sickness, never felt better in my life up to that point, and actually lost weight the entire pregnancy.

Then came Abi.

My little Abi... green-eyed, brown haired, angelically faced Abi. From the minute this little wild-haired bundle of pink entered the world, she has stood out from the crowd too. Every. Where. She. Goes.

She's a little bit spicy and a little bit sweet with a tad of sour mixed in there from time to time. She defies all fashion codes, puts Jesus first in front of her friends with no shame, and never meets a stranger. She is the quickest child I know in putting her thoughts into words, super-sensitive to the needs of others, but extremely picky with who she loves on.

She gave her bottle up on her own. She gave up her pacifier (which she had a deep and passionate love affair with) on her own. One day, after I had literally tried every method I knew to potty train this child and finally gave up, convinced that underneath her graduation gown there'd be a Pooh Pull-up, she looked at me and said, "I'm not going to use pull-ups anymore. I'll use the potty from now on." And that was that. As in no accidents, not even at night.

Abi has a strong prophetic gift (don't wig out on me... it's true. Maybe in another blog I will tell you some of her "words" and "premonitions" that she's had that will give you goosebumps.)She's seen angels, held one-on-one conversations with God, and has such a deep-rooted love for her Jesus, it will humble you to your core.

And her thought processes... MAN are they way beyond her years! Just the other day she asked me, "How do you find the person you're supposed to marry." And if that wasn't enough, she then asked, "How do you know you love someone like that?" ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? YOU'RE SIX! You're supposed to be asking what time Dora comes on, aren't you?

See, we've known from pregnancy that we were dealing with an extraordinary child. Alot of my friends have boys. And when their kids were jumping off the tops of the kitchen cabinets, my friends would look at Abi reading a book and say, "You've got it made." My response is, "Mine is a whole other kind of challenge. It's mental, 24/7/365."

Abi isn't typical. Her track record is one of not bending to peer pressure to pick on other kids. She has shown that she doesn't hesitate to pray for a friend in her public school. She couldn't care less if 99 kids wear purple leggings if her mood is yellow ones. Now, I know, I know. Childhood and adolesence has much power as far as friends and succumbing to society's way. But I have purposed in this mother's heart of mine that I WILL NOT EXPECT turbulence, years of pain, or the snares of life to trip her up. Believe me, I know PLENTY of kids who haven't fallen into rebellion in the armpit years.

I'm her mom. Her biggest fan. Her greatest source of hope. So what I WILL exepct is for this pattern of being anything but typical to hold true throughout her life. I will EXPECT good attitude. I will EXPECT her to soar. I will EXPECT her to gravitate to good friends and good guys. I will EXPECT her to challenge the system and go with her gut.

Because if I expect her to be the "typical" teenager, she will be.

I think I'm gonna expect her to redfine typical. Yeah. That's what I'm gonna expect. ;-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

You Worry About You...

...and I'll also worry about you.





Isn't that how we do?

When our kids tattle on each other, we more or less say, "You worry about you, and let them worry about them." It's our way to stop the whining noise of a do-gooder, telling on their sibling or friend... our way of stopping the repetitive insanity of petty crimes among the playgroup.

But we worry about and rehash everyone else's wrong doings all the time.

On any given day, my life is filled to the brim with things to handle. That's because I'm a wife, a mom, an employee, a boss, a friend, a family member, a cook, a cleaner, a manager... I'm a typical woman. And while I use this blog to broadcast much of my parenting journey and help others along the way, I am acutely aware that at the end of each day, I am ultimately only responsible for what goes on under MY roof.

See, we like to watch how other people are doing things and critique every single move, especially if it's an area where we are not convinced we're doing that great of a job ourselves. Parenting is one of those areas where we judge most! We do it among our friends, our family members, and we CERTAINLY watch how celebrities parent and get on our soap boxes about them!

I am SO TIRED of hearing Kate Gosselin's lack of parenting, I could SCREAM. I don't CARE how many kids Brad and Angelina have birthed/adopted/or stolen. I can't tell you how little I lose sleep over the Kardashian sisters' parenting escapades, nor can I express with words how little I mull over Nicole Ritchie's lack of wisdom.

What we forget while we are casting stones are three basic things.
1. Each PARENT represents a CHILD(ren) who are at the mercy of their parents' decisions, successes, and failures. So while we're paying money to read about Sandra Bullock's child who is now caught in the middle of a shameful divorce, this baby is blissfully ignorant of the long road of single parenting that lies ahead of his mother.
2. We only get the pieces of people that we are privileged (or misfortunate) enough to see. Proverbs says there's two sides to EVERY story. We don't live in anyone's skin but OURS, so we don't know why people do what they do.
3. I recall a very wise man (*Jesus*) saying to hypocrites that "He who is without sin should cast the first stone." My pockets are empty of rocks.

Now, I am certainly opinionated, thus my blog's existence. However, I am very much aware that I am an imperfect woman who is an imperfect parent. I am not the "end-all, be-all" authority, nor am I famous for always handling things the right way. But I can tell you this... I have learned that people have their own reasons for doing what they do. A "bad" parent may be fully aware thay they are failing big time, or they may simply be repeating what was modeled to them throughout their lives, unaware that they are messing their kid up for life.

Either way, my challenge to you is this...

When you look at the way others parent, first look at yourself. Are you doing all you can to make sure that the little ones God entrusted to your care are growing up to know that they are loved and cherished? Example. Remember the "All the Single Ladies" video I blogged about a while back? I ain't gonna lie. I wanted to punch some parents in the face, and quite frankly, every time I think about it, I want to somehow get their phone numbers and give them a nice little phone call. But I then make myself look at WHY it bothers me so badly. The reason is, I am one of the moms who was blessed to be given a daughter to raise, and anything that becomes a threat to HER becomes a threat to ME. If this is where society is headed, I am angry about it. But honestly, all I'm seeing are the pitiful little girls being exploited. I'm not seeing the broken parents behind the stage, who are so desensitized by life, they have no sense of judgment when it comes to their little one.

Should we be concerned about the world around us? Yes.
Should we be angered and stirred to bring action when we see a child being failed? Yes.
Should it be water-cooler conversation? No.

Remember. If the parent fails, so does the child. I want to see them win.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Dad. *happy sigh*


I am SO a Daddy's girl. That's not to say I'm not a Mama's girl (so settle down, Mom). But my Dad makes my heart smile. See, like all children, I was born with a dad-shaped hole inside me and thank God, I was born into a family with a father who is every kid's dream dad.

Dad and I are alot alike. Believe me, this has caused mucho mucho mucho friction through the years, but the undercurrent has always been one of deep love between us. He's a booger, that guy. Hard-headed doesn't even TOUCH the will and determination of this man. He's precise, to the point, black-and-white, and VERY fact-of-the-matter. He could be a bully, (used to be a bully) but thank God he found Jesus in his early twenties and became a revised version of the tough guy he was.

I couldn't let Father's Day get this close without writing a "tribute" of sorts to the man, who in my book, stands shoulders above all men.

WHY I LOVE MY DAD-

He's so stinkin' cute.

My first memory EVER is of me crying because white bread with mayo was stuck to the roof of my mouth. Dad was saying, "QUIT YOUR CRYING AND EAT THE BREAD."

He used to take me to town with him on Saturdays to run errands. He'd pretend to fall asleep in the barber's chair while getting his hair cut and freak me out. I fell for it for YEARS.

Another early memory is Dad standing outside in the early morning beside my new swingset he put together, smiling.

I loved wearing his work boots when he'd come home. Who knew that three decades later, I'd be following in those big footsteps for real.

When I was a little girl, we'd dance in the living room, me in his arms. He'd step on my socks and pull them off. I "hated" that. But not really.

I love his hands. They represent years of digging ditches, driving heavy machinery, highlighting Bible verses, laying hands on hurting people, spanking his children's rear-ends when needed, and holding my Mom every chance he gets.

I love it that I have the same annoying baby curls around my hairline, the same strange birthmark on the back of my neck, and the same one-sided dimple as he does when I smile.

I love it that even though MANY other people call him "dad," there's only two of us who really can.

When I was 17, he and I went to a car dealership and I fell in love with a 1987 Chevy Spectrum. I knew we didn't have the money, but it sure was fun to dream. I went skating that night. When I came home, he was so mad that I "left without taking out the trash to the garage" like he asked me to earlier. I went out to the garage, trying to remember him telling me to do that to begin with, and there was my car. How he worked that miracle I'll never know. But the even better part is he loved me enough to make ME make the monthly payments.

I remember when his step-grandfather died, he sat in his home office and wept from his soul. I was a little bitty girl then, but the sight of my dad crying broke my heart and made him even bigger in my eyes.

He has no problem apologizing when he has wronged me.

When my childhood dog came up missing, my dad searched endlessly for him. After days, the dog came back, barely alive from being mauled by pit-bulls. We didn't have the money to save him, so my dad had to make the gut-wrenching decision to have a friend take him away and "take care of him." I was so angry then, but I know now that as much as it broke MY heart, it broke his 100 times worse.

The man cannot talk about how much he loves his family without crying.

He actually is sweet to the dog, in spite of her girliness and finickiness. I think it's so cute when I pull up at their house and he's standing there with her on her hot pink leash with bows in her hair as he tries to make her go potty. He does NOT look happy, and neither does the dog.

He rarely gets excited about anything, but can't wait until Christmas morning... so he can see all the kids (me, Lori, our husbands, and now the grandkids) open our gifts.

The day I got married, he woke me up with bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits from Hardees. You gotta love a man who will give you breakfast in bed on special occasions, even if he didn't cook it.

I love it that I can still curl up on the couch beside him. I can still hold his hand in public. I can still sit in his lap and sweet talk him into just about anything.

I love it that he has made it his own personal mission to hang the blinds and pictures in every house we move into. (and that's alot.)

I love it that he doesn't treat me like his child AT ALL just because I'm on his staff... But as soon as we walk out of the doors of this building, I'm his little girl again.

I was induced into labor with Abi, so we were scheduled to be at the hospital at 7 AM that day. He was waiting on the sidewalk in the cold when we pulled up.

His integrity is his finest asset. I've watched him all my life and I've had a front row seat to see what only a few people have ever seen about him. And there are no loop holes in his character... no false pretenses, no fakeness. He is who he claims to be. Is he perfect? Nope. But the key is he knows he's not.

When I was 29 years old and falling to pieces with depression and literally thought I was losing my mind, he sat with me on my couch, wrapped his arms around me, and said, "Baby, I've got the faith to pull you through this. Lean on me. We'll get through it.” A small glimpse of hope came alive in me in that brief moment.

I love that man.

He's big and bad, but very meek and fuzzy. He's my first love. He modeled what a real man is my whole childhood, and will be my gold standard my whole life. And because of him, my heart to lead me to Rodrick. For that reason alone, I praise God that Allen Speegle is my dad.

Dad, you're literally THE man. I hope that other men read this and strive to be 10% of the man you are. But more than that, I hope you see that I would be literally nothing without you. Because of you, I'm confident, a little cocky, assertive, sensitive, bull-headed, and a little bit off in the head.

Thanks for all of that.

And no matter where I go on this planet, I gotta tell you Dad… I still smile when people say, “This is Allen Speegle’s daughter.”

I always will.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

"At What Age...?"


People ask me lots of questions like these:

How old should my child be to date? (Answer- 27)
How old should my daughter be to wear makeup? (25)
How old should my kids be to go to the mall alone? (31)

You get the picture.

While there's so many questions like this that are VERY concrete in their answers, there are some that just can't be answered like that. For instance, if a mom asks how old her daughter should be in order to shave her legs, that's pretty dependent on the child and her ability to keep up with the endless task of shaving. But if it's a matter of the child's well being, here's a little litmus test I like to use.

A child cannot get a driver's license until he/she is 16. Right? (I'm not talking about their learner's permit. That is NOT a license, even though kids like to call it that.) Once that precious bundle of hormones has his license, he is capable of driving a motor vehicle wherever he wants to go. This means he is literally a moving weapon all the time. He is inches away from death on any two lane road he's on. He has the ability to change his life, and the lives of others, every time he gets behind the wheel of his car (or his parents' van...heehee)

In light of that responsibility, I am a FIRM believer that until a young man has proven he is old enough to drive a motor vehicle, he CERTAINLY is not old enough to navigate healthily through a relationship with my daughter. And even then, it's on MY terms with MY boundaries.

Let me tell you this. There were no age-givens in our home growing up. Age 16 did NOT automatically qualify you as license-worthy in our house. We knew from an early age that if we didn't get our hineys in gear and show responsibility and respect, our driving, dating, and social privileges would scoot further and further away from us. There was no magic number for ANYthing. We had no guarantees. What we DID have were parents who watched us like hawks, especially when we didn't know they were looking. They observed our patterns, our habits, our maturities, and in a time when THEY deemed it appropriate, privileges were given.

And keep in mind the fact that what one child can handle at 14, the other might not be able to handle until 17.

Uh oh. This means we have to actually BE INVOLVED in our kids' lives in order to see who and what they are.

The other night, Abi told me that a boy in her class had "been in love" with her during the school year. (Keep in mind, this was kindergarten). Of course, I said, "He wasn't in love with you, Abi. He liked you. But being in love is when you're ready to love someone for the rest of your life." We moved on. But it made me see how early a child will push to move on to the "next level" in their lives. They are surrounded by a world that is spinning out of control all the time. It's like they're watching a game of jump rope and waiting for their moment to jump in.

But parents, WE SET THE TEMPO. Don't let the world tell you that your child should wear makeup at 12, date at 14, and drive at 16 if she's not emotionally ready. And SHE doesn't get to decide when she's ready. After watching and partcipating in her life on a front row basis, that's YOUR job and YOUR prerogative.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Running In the Rain.


It's raining. That's one of my favorite things to see. I love to have opened curtains while I work and see the rain falling. Love to sleep while it's pounding my window. Love to drive in it (weird, I know).

But when you're a stay-at-home-mom of a very active toddler, rain equals stinkfest.

I remember during a particularly rainy week, Abi was about to push me to my limits. All she wanted to do was play on her swingset or write on the driveway with sidewalk chalk. So, I had to summon my mommy powers to find other things that were just as satisfying to her as drawing stick men and balloons in hot pink and yellow. We played Barbies. We colored. We watched 12,321 episodes of Lazytown. We made cookies. We played hide and go seek. But alas, nothing was as satisfying as running around outside. Poor child, and poor mommy.

After endless whining from a soul tangled in knots with boredom, I'd finally had enough. I snapped. I grabbed my little three year old Abi by the hand, opened the front door, and yelled, "LET'S GO!" As we are running out in the POURING rain, she yells (with a scared look on her face), "WHERE ARE WE GOING?" She's thinking Mama's cheese has finally slid off her cracker. I yell back, "NO WHERE! LET'S JUST PLAY IN THE RAIN!"

I will never, ever, EVER forget the look on her face in that moment. Confusion melted into sheer joy as she realized we were doing something crazy and off the cuff. Something we'd never done before and might never do again.

She's laughing from her belly. We're running, chasing each other, as people are driving by thinking we're insane. I slipped and fell on my rear end, and she toppled on top of me. We laid in the wet grass, rain falling on our faces, laughing and soaking up both the rain and the moment we were in.

Summer's here, parents. That means lots of time with your kiddos. That means lots of, "I'm boreds," lots of "There's nothing to dos" and a few "I wish school would start alreadys." But never fear. When you get pushed to your limit with the whining, open your door and run in the rain. Or perhaps it means you'll need to dive for your kid's legs and knock them down, then tickle the heck out of them. Or maybe bomb them with a water balloon IN THE HOUSE.

Whatever the moment is... SEIZE IT. Your kids already think you're crazy...

Prove to them that they're right. :-)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Her Prayer.


The conversation a couple of nights ago between Rod and Abi, as he is tucking her in.

ABI- Whatever you need me to do, I'll do it.
Rod- What did you say, honey?
ABI- I was talking to God. I told Him, "Whatever you need me to do, I'll do it."

*GULP*


This will officially be my shortest post ever.

Three things.
1. She meant what she said.
2. Her heart is so full of love for God, this prayer couldn't help but spill out of her lips.
3. I wonder how many of us "parents" go to sleep with this prayer in our heart?

Lord, please make me more like Abi.

Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Understatement of the Millenium.


For those of you who haven't heard, I'M GONNA BE AN AUNT! My baby sister is baking a baby right now! My cheeks are literally sore from smiling so much over the last few days. Tater Tot will enter our lives sometime mid-January, and I can promise you there's not a family more excited to welcome a baby into it on this planet!

The other day, Lori wrote on her facebook for moms to private message her advice, pregnancy tips, etc... I can't wait to see what all she got in response. I remember being at this spot with Abi and feeling totally lost as to what I should expect next. The main thing people kept telling me is what I'm calling the "The Understatement of the Millenium." It says it all, but doesn't say nearly enough. And I promise you, I heard it hundreds of time before I had Abi...

"Your life is about to totally change."

REALLY ? That's like saying the Grand Canyon is a whole in the ground. Or perhaps like saying the Pacific Ocean has a few gallons of water in it.

So, in honor of this understatement, I thought I would compile a list of ways Lori and Seth's life is about to change. Moms and dads of the blogworld, please add to this list, either on here, or my facebook fanpage.

WAYS YOUR LIFE CHANGES WHEN YOUR BABY IS BORN

1. You will never sleep the same way again. Ever. EVER.

2. You will possess a love so fierce, you could rip a grizzly bear to shreds with your bare hands in order to protect your little one from pain.

3. Know how you used to just get your purse/wallet, get in your car, go buy groceries, and be back in an hour? This phenomenon will soon be a distant memory.

4. You will never stop being amazed at how a quick glimpse of your sleeping child, playing child, eating child, laughing child... will make your heart swell with pride and physically ache with love at the same time.

5. You will look at every person you meet on the street with skepticism from now on. Whether they are a "good guy" or a "bad guy" will cross your mind automatically.

6. You will find yourself standing over the crib of your sleeping baby, just watching... even when you swore as soon as you put him down, you were going to bed yourself.

7. You will acclimate just fine to your plate being cold by the time you finally get to eat for about three years after the baby gets here.

8. You will be so ready to dump your bundle of love off at your mom's (or sister's) house because you feel like you're willing to do anything for two hours of alone time... but you will spend those two hours thinking of that sweet little face and how yummy it will be when you kiss it over and over upon your return.

9. Every runny nose, fever, cough, and icky diaper will make you worry for about the first two years. Then you'll start trusting your instincts and the doctor won't be as frequented as he used to be.

10. You will eat lunches of Goldfish crackers, warm juice boxes, and those little yogurt things that melt in your baby's mouth... and wonder why you're starving when it's dinnertime.

11. You will realize it's 5:00, and think, "What the heck did I do all day?" on a regular basis.

12. You'll feel the need to apologize to your parents over and over and over.

13. You will crave a night out without the baby, but then decide to stay home and sleep.

14. You will find yourself recapping Dora's adventures to others like she's your personal friend.

15. You'll realize the parts that drooped and fell when you carried and birthed this child will never fully regain their original location.

16. If you have one of those video monitors, you'll find yourself watching it like you used to watch your favorite TV show.

17. You will suddenly possess voices that could land you a job as a cartoon character for the next Disney movie.

18. You will look at your childless friends who are still "playing" as much as they want and vaguely remember you used to "play" too... but you'll also know THIS kind of play is SO much more fun.

19. You will plan entire weeks around naptimes. And you'll laugh when you remember that you used to say, "My baby will just have to adapt to my lifestyle."

20. You will never, ever, ever make it though another hour of your life without thinking of her. Unless you're sleeping.



So, um, yeah. Your life will change. Entirely. And by entirely, I mean infinitely and limitlessly. And the change will never stop. You'll be overwhelmed, undersleeped, and taxed to your absolute limit. But it will be the best adventure you've ever been on in your life. This is what life IS. This is what love is.

New moms and dads, you were made for this! You can do it, yes you can!!!!


Welcome to the big leagues!