Monthly Archives: June 2013

Sunshine, S’mores, Rednecks and the Gospel

The sun is shining in Seattle.

Yes, you read that correctly.

The sun is shining.

It is not raining.

I am not going to sit at my computer.

The sun is shining.

But, I’d love to share some of my fun ideas to make your

summer weekend a little more

tasty and relaxing.

 

GRACEGRADUATION 004

Check out my S’more Recipe!

Tired of people dropping all the marshmallows in the dirt

or eating all the chocolate before everyone gets a S’more?

Plan ahead.

 

City-Slickin’ Redneck Vacation

Traffic horrible?

Too tired to pack up camping gear?

Camp in your backyard this summer.

Urban Vacation.

We love coming up with new foods and new ways

to cook in the firepit.

Candy Gospel 058

Need ideas for Vacation Bible School? 
Check out my
Sweet Gospel Message.

It’s a great way to share the Gospel.

Iffin’ ya’ want some more recipes or fun ideas,
use that cool search button on my blog.

C’mon, I double-dog dare ya’.

Don’t make five years of back posts go to waste.

As for me and my house,

we’re heading outside.

‘Cuz ya’ know what?

The sun is shining in Seattle.

Kids’ Imagination Spurs on Creative Service

My ten year old daughter, Rebekah, started our summer off right by making a commitment to serve others.

She accepted this challenge from Adventures in Odyssey, Focus on the Family’s Christian kids’ radio program, and signed up for their program called A.C.T.S. I previously blogged that “Kids Who Serve are Winners Not Whiners.” No parent wants  “Mom, I’m bored!” ricocheting off their eardrums all summer.

 

 

clip_image001

 

                                  A – A

                           C – Call

                           T – To

                           S – Service

 

We downloaded theimage progress chart, watched this video image about the program, and started brainstorming. (click graphics to download)

Personal inspiration needs no prodding, so follow-through would be increased if she was doing things she wanted to do, not things her mom wanted her to do.

Her own enthusiasm and imagination took off; she owned it from the beginning. When parents let go of the reins, they can be surprised by the direction their kids take.

 

I was thrilled to watch the creative ways she served the family, the neighborhood, and the local needy. In the first few weeks she had already completed the 12 hours of service, and hadn’t finished crossing things off her list. At first, she was thinking about winning the grand prize, a mission  trip to Costa Rica with one parent, (what ten year wouldn’t think of the prize?),  but then she began concentrating more on others.

Adventures in Odyssey radio programs teach kids to use their imagination to learn about history and faith, it was fun to see her imagination to come up with ways to serve.

conference decorations 002She started by volunteering to help paint the lime green walls with two coats of primer. I liked this idea, especially since it took two coats of primer and two coats of pain to turn the lime green to a soothing gray.

 

conference decorations 018When a neighbor had surgery, Rebekah enlisted the nieces and nephew to make homemade cards and cookies. I was humbled.  It hadn’t even occurred to me to reach out.  Brayden made some tiny cookies in the Easy Bake Oven and some big cookies in the real oven.

 

conference decorations 023 Brookelyn enjoyed making cards so much, she made a few for her parents.

 

conference decorations 027Maddelyn enjoyed coloring her card, her fingernails and the table. She stayed on task so long, she almost colored a hole in her paper. 

 

conference decorations 038
When they were done, Beka rallied her troop to walk to the neighbor’s house.  It isn’t raining, but doesn’t every little kid love an umbrella?

conference decorations 042The finished product looked so beautiful, they told me later they were trying to sneak the first cookies out without marring the package so the whole family could see Rebekah’s handiwork.

 

Other projects Rebekah has accomplished so far:

  • weeded the trees for a single neighbor who works full-time and has a hard time keeping up on her garden
  • babysat several times for another neighbor
  • baked muffins for her older sister who had a baby
  • started collecting toys, shoes and clothing for the women and children at the Gospel Mission shelter

It was hard for her to understand that serving family “counted.” But, I shared her Gramma Mary’s wisdom, “Charity begins at home” to convince her serving family teaches you to serve others.

blogging stuff 057
Her big summer project is to make 30 drawstring bags for the kids at the homeless shelter.  Most of the time they arrive with little or nothing.  Beka plans to fill the bags with small trial size personal care items, snacks, toys, and Christian reading material.  It’s a challenge coming up with items that are not gender or age specific, but it’s been a good stretch to imagine yourself in their position.

We hope to have these finished and delivered at the end of July.  Then we’ll make our video about Rebekah’s summer of service and enter the competition.  Who knows?  Maybe a future blog post will show Rebekah and I working with the orphans in Costa Rica! 

Even if she doesn’t the grand prize, we both feel like winners.  She’s had fun using her imagination to come up with amazing ways to see and meet needs.  I’ve been blessed to watch her take the lead and follow-through.  Thank you, Adventures in Odyssey, for challenging us to  A.C.T.S.!

 

 

It’s not too late to sign-up for A.C.T.S.!

 

image.

Click on the image to download your service kit.

image

Visit the website to learn more about Adventures in Odyssey’s
summer challenge to serve.

 

image

(Click on image to download this free e-book)

Just for reading this blog post today, you get a free gift,
an e-book called “Voyage with the Vikings.”

image

There’s still a lot of summer days left to encourage your family to accept the summer challenge to serve. You can either join the Adventures in Odyssey program or serve in your own way.

I’d love to hear the things your family is doing to serve this summer. Many of you work at Bible camps, Vacation Bible School, or do short-term mission projects. 

Those that comment will qualify to win the special package of The Imagination Station books #1-3 pictured above. I will choose a winner Wednesday, July 3rd and announce the winner in a blog post that day.

Encourage us by leaving a comment about the way your family serves!

WHWButton#2

 

Multitasking Mommas Git ‘er Dun!

This old saying that will be true until the world comes to an end.

image

(Photo created using Ribbet)

I’m not dissing men and husbands, especially my hard-working husband.  I’m talking about the general nature of a woman and her responsibilities.

Women plan for the future more. They buy clothes for the current season AND for the next one.  They purchase groceries on the list and stockpile sale items for future needs.

The majority of her work is rarely completed and usually repeated.  She washes the same dishes, clothes, counters, walls, floors, toilets and faces…

over

     and over

          and over

               and over

                    again.

Then she does it again.

A mom has to multitask because little kids can’t stand in line or take a number. In the morning, everyone is hungry and thirsty.  They need the bathroom or a diaper and snuggles. At the grocery store you shop and meet the needs of the munchkins duck-trailing you.  You might need to referee, comfort, answer a bajillion questions or find the restroom ten minutes ago.

And when the sun goes down, the kids are in bed, moms often use the quiet time to pick up the house, plan meals for the next day, sew, mend, or catch up on laundry.

During the night, moms still may need to feed the baby, comfort one who “I had a weally bad dweam!” or wipe up bodily fluids projected from any of the body cavities. A flu bug or a bed wetter may demand that laundry and mopping are done while the rest of the world is sleeping.

Moms master combining tasks, without losing the ability to detect and deal with suspicious sounds from other corners of the house and mentally planning up to four events.

image

(Photo created using Ribbet)

I’m ironing, teaching Science and writing a grocery list. There was probably a load of laundry in the washer and the dryer, and a teenager that needed direction.

We’ve all had success and failures with multitasking. I turned on the wrong burner and melted my Tupperware canister of sugar while talking on the phone and canning. I’ve “lost” items because I accidentally put them in the fridge or freezer.  I’ve been sidetracked by a smaller project and forgot to do the main project.

Because numbered lists are easier for a sleep-deprived woman who just needs to be shown what’s next, I made ya’ one. Here’s criteria to guide your multitasking for maximum efficiency.

1.  Productivity

Don’t start so many projects you can’t finish any or don’t do them well. I don’t mean perfect, I gave up the dream of cupboards and closets being Pinterest-perfect before Pinterest was even invented. Remember, the goal of multitasking is to get more done in a day, not less.

2.  Priorities

The main goals of the day should be accomplished.  It’s easy to tackle other projects, then forget to make dinner.  Oh, you never do that?  May I bring my family to your house for dinner tonight?

When the kids were young I started One Fun Thing tradition. There’s always more work to do, so I tried to play with the kids each day.  I was home for them, not the house. We would choose one activity to do after the chores were done, like Play-Doh, painting, a picnic, craft, a board game or making a fort. It didn’t have take hours, 30 minutes can create a special memory.

3.  Safety

Please don’t rely on a child’s obedience for their safety; their safety is your responsibility. Don’t leave them alone in the bathtub or a car. The iron and stove shouldn’t be left unattended. Many household accidents  involving children occur quickly a short distance away from the adult. This isn’t to cast blame because accidents will happen.  But, there are times to concentrate on one task for safety reasons.

4. Relationships

A mom can feel like she’s the rope in a tug of war.  Kids’ radar senses when mom  is the busiest, in the bathroom, or finally sat down to relax.  The natural reaction is to be annoyed at the interruption, but it’s a compliment.  The kids want you, need you and consider you the source of all wisdom. Set boundaries for times they can’t interrupt, it’s part of teaching them manners, but make yourself available other times.

It only takes 30 seconds to build up a relationship. Answer those questions or let them know you’d love to answer later.  Use eye contact when you can and give verbal affirmation for their random spouts of information. They will repeat it until you answer.  They will repeat it until you answer.  They will repeat it until you answer.

Multitask phone calls only if you can still meet the caller’s needs.  Facebook or computer games take away from the conversation,  mindless tasks can be done.  The greater the need of the person on the other end of the conversation, the less (if anything) you should be doing.

.

Misc. Multitasking Ideas:

  • My Aunt Joyce encouraged me to use nursing time to read to the toddler.  It reduced jealously, made  a special, snuggly time for all the kids, and kept the toddler out of trouble.
  • When I needed a long chat with a friend, I’d save the unfolded laundry for naptime, then call a girlfriend. When the kids were older and could be inside alone, I’d weed or water my plants and talk.
  • I kept a book in the bathroom.
  • My mom taught us all to not go to another level of the home without taking one thing to put away.
  • Adventures in Odyssey tapes, free college history lectures and Bible on CD are great for long projects, like painting a room.

 

A friend told me she could be a Proverbs 31 woman if she had servants.  I reminded her how they lived and said I considered our electrical appliances our servants. Click on the image below to read about women in the previous century whose work was never done.

image

Multitasking can increase productivity and give a busy Mom time to relax.

How do you multitask to git ‘er dun?

                                      Making your home sing Mondays            

I Write Scenes in My Head

I write scenes in my head.

Constantly.

Situations in my life becomes a scene in a novel or a play. Anybody or anything is candidate for the next Scene in My Head.

People walking by aren’t pedestrians, they’re characters.

A man in the grocery store isn’t shopping, he’s undercover.

A kid that walks by with a forlorn look isn’t tired, but is running away from abuse.

I can take a real life scenario in front of me and turn it into fiction so quickly, I make myself cry.

Here’s a perfect example.

I was at a writer’s retreat, alone in my own cabin. I never could decide if the aloneness was “pure deliciousness” as my teens would say, or too much desert.  I love my hubby and kids and being alone was, well, very alone.

But, I was there, alone,  writing at the dining room table.  Writing.  Writing. Writing.

The curtains were closed for privacy, but a fall storm was setting the perfect scene outside.  Try describing this thunder and lightening, branches scratching my trailer kinda’ cold fall night without opening up your cliché drawer

Storm Activity Classes 15th 018

Ya’ know, the kinda’ storm that would muffle out screams?

The kinda’ storm where a tree could drop on my Jeep and I couldn’t drive away to safety?

The kinda’ storm that normal people don’t go out in?

Then, a moment of panic

The curtains behind the couch moved.

Then they moved again, the fabric lightly bellowed with an upward motion, in rhythm with a mechanical whirr, parting  the panels slightly.

With frightened fascination I embellished the scene.

Was there enough room behind the couch for a man to fit? Would he have a weapon?  Would someone hear screams despite the weather?  Could a help signal be flashed?

 

I wasn’t thinking what I should do. I created a character and wondered what she would do.

But having enough reality to know I should ensure my own safety, I walked around the trailer and checked doors and windows.  I didn’t want to get stuff wet and wanted to be sure I would stay alone in the Bad-Guys-Are-Out-There-Storm.

I was SURE I had locked both doors securely, but found the back door not only unlocked, but opened just a teensy tiny bit. The door was shut, but not latched, so easily could have been pushed open. My character and I I checked in the closets and  the bathtub. Both were empty.

 

When the  tension and drama in my “scene” were high, along with my heart rate,  I managed to locate my cell phone and call my hubby.

We laughed.

He’s getting used to being married to a writer. He let me replay the scene in my mind as if he were reading a page from my book, then we said our I love yous and good nights.

I went back to writing at the formica table.

 

The curtains behind the couch moved.

A  person might really be hiding there…

Replace Tired Clichés with the Art of Surprise

 

In October 2005 I was in the HYPER HELL stage of  thyroid cancer treatment.  My  thyroid gland and about 30 lymph nodes had been scalpeled  into medical waste. I had been a science-fiction freak in the hospital, undergoing radioactive iodine treatment.  I was kept in the hospital for three days until the Geiger counter read less than 4mc of radioactivity. The final stage is six months of taking the highest amount of thyroid hormone as you can without hurting anybody.

I took the three kids I was homeschooling and drove to Montana.At 40 years old, I still needed my Mommy and Daddy. 

While reading the Helena Independent Record,  I found this ad.

 

newspaper

I wasn’t just recuperating from my present cancer, I was instant replaying my past and adjusting to the reality of my future.  I loved the hubby and the six kids.  I loved the rest of my life, minus the part about puking my guts out in the hospital and wearing a scar that looked like I almost got decapitated.

The only thing unfulfilled in my life was writing, and the Festival of the Book was offering me a chance to change that.

The first workshop I attended  was the “Art of Surprise” with  Deirdre McNamer, novelist.

I think I stared with my mouth wide opening, absorbing her wisdom.  I also know I wiped away more than one tear.  How could I begin to express the way the Lord led me to that time and that place? 

cool tools 008

So, my free Cool Tool today is the “Art of Surprise” as introduced by McNamer so many years ago.

She described our imaginary  cliché’ drawer, an inexpressive place we  reach in and grab what’s quick and easy, but she begged the room full of novelist-wannabes not to use tired and predictable language.

It’s easy to spot cliché phrases. I even knew that as a beginning writer, but she dove deeper than I’d been challenged before with personal anecdotes and advice,  quotations from writers and examples in writing.

Metaphor:

Metaphors are  small surprises in a reader’s experience.

 

metaphor 298

“When writing is successful, the reader senses that the climax is coming and feels a strong urge to skip to it directly, but cannot quite tear himself from the paragraph he’s on.  Ideally, every element in the lead-in passage should be a relevant distraction that heightens the reader’s anticipation and at the same time holds, itself, such interest – through richness of literal or metaphoric language, through startling accuracy of perception, or through the deepening thematic and emotional effect of significant earlier moments recalled – that the reader is reluctant to dash one.”       John Gardner in The Art of Fiction.

She illustrated with  Bryan Di Salvatore’s description of Merle Haggard’s walk, “…and as he swings his arms and bends his legs the effect is of an almost fluid lurch, as if he were forever taking his first step off an escalator.”

The Unpredictable Word:

When you use a surprising word, especially at the beginning, it signals more surprises and keeps the readers at a higher level of attention.

“Chloe had red-gold hair, hazel eyes, an illegible smile, face like a doll…” Chronicles by Bob Dylan.

“Carry a notebook and write down all the details and description as you see them,” said McNamer. I haven’t been without a journal and a pen since then.

 

The Unpredictable Character:

McNamer encouraged writers to break assumptions people might have about our characters. “A kind woman with an obnoxious voice surprises you and creates tension, a sweet voice doesn’t always indicate kindness.”

Points of Surprise in a  Plot:

She used  Penelope Fitzgerald’s description of a good plot as one that “makes you want to interfere.”

McNamer said, “If the plot is too plain or clichéd you lose people, if it’s too wild you lose people.”

Other great quotes I scribbled on my college ruled notebook paper:

“In the end the reader should feel the world has opened up.”

“Even the writer should be uneasy (creatively).”

“Don’t storm around about how YOU feel – bring them there.”

I drove Montana for relief and help at the end of my healthy life and found the beginning of my writing life.

I’d say the Lord practices the Art of Surprise even better than McNamer.

 

 

Ten Things This Generation Might Say to Their Kids

Our kids don’t look like us.  We didn’t look like our parents.  Our parents didn’t look like their grandparents. Sometimes we want our kids to look like us, and it takes much…..umm…..conversation…wisdom….patience…for kids and parents to come to a meeting place where the child is allowed to express their generation and the parent is allowed the right to veto extremes. Every family is different and sets their own standards. 

A tongue-in-cheek view into those future potential discussions  about two decades from now…

10.  Pull down those pants right now. If I don’t see at LEAST two inches of underwear, you’re not going to school today. Learn to wear your pants and belt like a man.

9.  I don’t care if nobody else has a tattoo. You’re getting one. That’s final. You might be the only kid  with a tattoo, but you have to learn to stand alone. Be a leader, not a follower.

8.  I’m concerned that you’re not spending enough time online. You’re always outside pretending with sticks and dirt or riding your bike. Can you please do something more productive with your life?

7.  When I was your age, I already had five piercings. I just don’t understand you kids today. Is it because your friends aren’t piercing? Are they putting pressure on you to not pierce?

6.  Clothes with no holes?  I don’t know if I’m comfortable with that style.  Aren’tcha’  kinda’ overdressed  for school?

5.  Comb those bangs over your eyes.  It’s redonkulous to show your whole face.

4.  You call that music? Nobody’s screaming. It’s just a bunch of guys harmonizing.

3.  Your mom and I are worried about you. You’re 18 and you’ve never colored your hair purple, green or even red. Are you sure everything is OK? Is there something you’re not telling us?

2.  Why do you wear such boring colors of nail polish? It’s kinda’ drab. Are you sure you’re not depressed?  Do you wanna’ borrow my orange polish? Black? Lime green?

image

1.  No matter where you go, the choices you make, what you look like, I will love you, the way my parents always loved and supported me.

Best Answers to Big Family Questionable Questions

I’m astounded my post "Things I Would Never Say to a Parent with Two Kids" caused so much hubbub. To date, I’ve had over 23,000 hits and a lot of great comments.

I learned a few lessons with that post.

1.  Everyone hears rude comments.  I was unaware that insensitive comments really are made to women with 1 or 2 children, to women with none, to women who wait to start their family, single women, etc.  I was blessed readers would share their hurts and their stories to enlighten others (especially me)  with grace.

2. People are amazing. I heard a lot of great ideas of how to answer the insensitive questions people ask. The comments had me laughing for the past few days and also renewed my desire to be gracious in speech. 

Today’s post is in honor of all my commenters who took the time to share their stories. I chose some of the best comments and listed them under the common questions women hear. I ended the post with some great wisdom and encouragement from my readers.

Thank you all for reading and for commenting. 

image

Janet’s husband ~ “We keep trying for an ugly one.”

Shaylene ~  “I smile and say, ‘Yes, and do you know what? When I was 13 I wrote in my journal I wanted 3 girls and 2 boys, and can you believe it, my dream came true?’ I say it with pride and enthusiasm. After that comment, they’re are all happy for me.”

Janet ~ “And once, when a store clerk asked me if they were ALL mine, I told her, “Do you seriously think I would round up a bunch of other people’s kids to keep me company while I attempt to try on clothing?”

Lynnaire ~ “When my oldest son was around 10 , if we were walking around town, he would walk at the front of us all and try and read people’s faces. If he saw a strange or disapproving look we would hear him say “yes they are all ours!” . . He got so tired of that same comment that he took it upon himself to inform before they could ask lol.”

Nic ~ “No. They are all God’s, but He loaned them to us for about 20 years.”

image

Kendra ~ “Yes, and I like it.”

Family of Blessings ~ “No! But maybe you could explain it to me in detail and maybe draw me some pictures so I understand?” White.As.Ghosts. They walked away, not another word. :) . I was charitable in my tone of voice, but done with their questions. We need to build one another up and not question the actions of everyone.”

jk2b2g ~ “…but next time I might say “I got an A in college biology 101, so yes, I do understand how that all works.”

Jim ~ “You know, we’re still not exactly sure what causes all these kids, but we’re pretty close to figuring it out. We’ve narrowed it down to two or three things. We’ll keep working on it and let you know.”

Paula ~ “I’d grin and say, “Well, I guess we’ve figured it out pretty well, don’t you think?”

image

Hollye ~ “I never want my kids to think they are a burden or hindrance. My reply is always, ‘Oh yes! Full of love.’ “

Jennifer ~ “Why yes I do! I am so blessed!..  I have always wanted a large family and my heart aches that I can’t have more children while at the same time It is almost bursting with joy that I have my 4 sweet babies, and people have the nerve to tell me in a negative way that I have my hands full!!!! Your right, I do, I am sooo blessed, it is a true MIRACLE that they aren’t empty…….”

JoDeen ~ “I look them straight in the eye, smile a big, genuine smile, sometimes giggle and in my kindest voice say, “and a full heart, too. My kids love when I am accosted. They walk away from those situations knowing I think they are the bomb.com! Love multiplies, it doesn’t divide.”

 

 

image

Kathi ~ One cashier at the grocery store said…”My you must really like kids” to which I replied…Nope it is just the sex I like. That shut her up. (Forgive me Lord)

Momza ~ “I love having a large family! There is always something going on and we enjoy our time together. We are down to the last three at home, and although I am an active Latter-Day Saint mom, I bet I could raise these last ones as a drunk. lol”

Renee ~ “I was at a wedding when pregnant with my 7th child, the man seated across from us – a stranger- said “WOW!! Don’t you guys have a television?!” It had already been established that he and his wife only had 2 children, so I calmly replied, “Yes, but we don’t watch it much. You on the other hand must have a big one and watch it quite often…” He and his wife wen rather red, and he had the grace to stutter back in reply, “Yes…actually we do” :)We are now friends :)

Carla ~ “I came from a moderately large family (five kids) and my dad was always saying things like this about US. (I remember him telling someone that our large family was caused by my mother being hard of hearing. At bedtime, he’d say, “Do you want to go to sleep or what?” to which she’d reply, “What?”)

Carlie ~ “I had someone ask me if they were all planned and I told them no, only one was planned, but we just had so much fun that the birth control just couldn’t keep up with the swimmers……sure made them blush fast.”

image

Jackie ~ “When I look at large families, I think how wonderfully blessed they are and God formed each one of those children. It’s awesome to see large families, especially in this culture.”

Kathi ~ “When people would express their sympathy for how many kids I had I would just say that I thought of myself as lucky.”

Carean ~ “He rights the desire of our hearts…and there is no greater place to be than in His will…as the bible says…children are a gift from God…blessed is he who has his quiver full…he will not be put to shame when he meets his enemy at the gates!”

Dawn ~ “I would not change one minute of my crazy, loud life.”

Cindy ~ “I would not trade them for the world.”

mithriluna ~ It’s definitely an opportunity to share about how wonderful it is to have a large family.”

Jennifer ~ “ I have fulfilled my biggest dream in life and am working on my life’s purpose, I have become a Mother.”

image

Jennifer ~ “I think a great all-around small talk comment anyone can make to anyone else about their family size is, “”What a beautiful family you have. You must feel so blessed.”

Sonja ~ “The main thing is we need to be gracious to each other, forgiving and accepting. And trying to remember to think about our words before we speak :)

Barb ~ “For me, the point is acceptance that every one is doing the best they can, with what they have for tools at that time in their life. As humans, we do have a lot to learn about grace, acceptance and humanity. Love to all….”

AshMac ~ “But I have found the secret to dealing with such comments: Understand that people, ALL PEOPLE, including you and me, are sometimes insensitive and rude. Practice grace, be grateful for your blessings, and let the joy of the Lord be your strength. :-)

ndev2Niki ~ “We humans sure need a lot of grace to live with one another, don’t we?”

Shirley ~ “Basically we can commiserate with each other on how annoying/intrusive/hurtful these kinds of prying questions are but if we don’t inform the people doing the asking that they’re being inappropriate or hurtful in a firm but gentle way then we just perpetuate the cycle and nothing ever even has a chance to change.”

Family of Blessings ~ Answer the asker graciously or have a little fun. But know that we can never stand in the shoes of another. Not everyone CAN have children. Not everyone WANTS to have children. Not everyone WILL have children and many are combinations of those.  Every life is a blessing and a gift from God Himself.”

abreininger ~ Hopefully your blog post can help people realize that every family is different and that they should keep their judgments and comments to themselves.”

Mandi ~ I wonder why people seem to feel like they should judge one another instead of loving one another.”

image