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.


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.


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.


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: literally prayed for ten more minutes in bed this morning. And the day before. count the minutes until nap time, bed time, and going to the mailbox alone time, every single day. 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. 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. 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. fix PBJs every night because once again, you're too tired to cook. 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. constantly find yourself wondering if there's life out there. 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. ;-)