Category Archives: children

Birthday Party for a Cowgirl Wannabe’

My daughter wants to be a cowgirl.  She dreams of owning a horse  and wearing cowboy boots with manure on them, instead of city-slicking fashion cowgirl boots tucked into skinny jeans. But, we live in town.  A big town.  A big town not zoned for horses.

She dreams about horses so much, one night she sleepwalked into our room looking for the barn to feed the horses.

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Meeting Miss Rodeo Montana last summer only fueled the dream. 

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Visiting my friend high school friend, Janet, and her horses, didn’t help either. 

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Each summer we visited she petted, fed, rode and fell in love all over again. What’s not to love? Chaz with her twins, Whiskey Girl and Wyoming on the North Dakota prairie. Even as a toddler, Beka walked under and around these hand-fed pets.

When my Cowgirl Wannabe’ was planning her birthday party, we discovered early on it would be challenging to combine her loves if buying ready-made items. She wanted pink.  She wanted lace. She wanted vintage.  She wanted horses. Many things I found on the internet or in the stores were red/blue and geared towards cowboys. Since I’ve always been a DIY, homemade kinda’ mom, we were up for the challenge.

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When she found this beautiful calendar at the Dollar Store, I knew we could pull off the horse part easily and inexpensively.  On the back of each calendar was a page with smaller pictures of each month’s pictures.

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These were laminated and turned into magnets for each guests’ goodie bag.

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We hung the pictures from the grapevine garland that’s along the fireplace year around and added twine.

 

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A doll was dressed in denim and cowboy boots and decorated the desert bar on the buffet.

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We already had strips of fabric for a background from another birthday party, so we took out some colors and added strips of tan fabric and lengths of twine. The girls stood on a step stool for their picture.

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A wooden crate was decorated with lace, twine and a flower, then filled with props for the Cowgirl photo shoot. Pictures of each guest were emailed to them after the party. We printed off one picture for each girl and put it in a picture frame card for the thank you.

After being inspired by a summer project of serving from Focus on the Family, Beka decided instead of each girl bringing a gift for her, they would bring a gift or used clothing for the shelter for women and children.  We were thrilled to see the donations brought in.

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Even grandson, Finnean, looked adorable in a mustache.

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Glasses were pint jars and 1/2 pint milk bottles with strips of tan fabric previously used for vases at our writers conference last May.  Beka pulled off tan buttons and added some pink. She made a few out of lace just because.

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A drink station was staged on a child’s cupboard.  The white enamel coffee pot held pink lemonade.

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Pink plastic silverware was wrapped in brown paper and white doilies, which was Beka’s creation. The pink paper plates looked adorable on vintage white paper plate holders.  The small crate was found at the thrift store for $.99 and stained to look aged. The meal was a sandwich bar, fresh fruit and veggies.  Simple. Healthy.  Adaptable to food allergies or strong dislikes.

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A ladder in the dining room held the chips.

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These “feed bags” are actually burlap rice bags. I removed the zippers, turned them inside out, and  hot-glued a doily on.

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Beka didn’t want cake, she wanted cookies and ice cream. To simplify feeding the girls, we purchased the small cups of strawberry swirl ice cream.

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The sugar horse decorations were found at Dawn’s Cake and Candy World. I can’t give you the recipe for the sugar cookies, because the dough came in a tube. Sometimes a momma’s gotta’ do what a momma’s got to do.

 

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Since we had a hard time finding horse party items, we  also bought this horse mold at Dawn’s for melting chocolate.  The gold is a fine edible powder that rubbed on easily.

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After seeing these on a blog, we knew this would be the one thing we HAD to make for the party.  These are Nutter Butter cookies dipped in chocolate, with Wilton candy eyes, almond ears and hard caramel noses.  Instead of cookie sticks, I used skewers because they matched our theme better, were thinner, and cheaper.

Since this was way too much sugar for one day, some horses were on display, the rest were tied up in clear bags and sent home in the girls’ goodie bags.

 

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Granddaughter, Maddelyn, loved her little horsie.  She came with her mommy and siblings to help make them a few days before the party and had a hard time waiting until she could actually eat one.

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Aunt Cindy’s recipe has been a family favorite since Christmas of 1996, and  was the first cookie Beka baked for her party. 

 

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At the end of the day, the City-Slickin’ Cowgirl was very, very, happy, even without a horse in the backyard.

 

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Cream together:

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Add:

2 cup flour

Chill dough if too soft.  Roll into balls and flatten slightly with a fingerprint hole in the middle. Fill the hole with seedless raspberry jam.  Bake at 350° 14-18 minutes, until edges are brown.  Do not over bake.

Drizzle glaze over baked cookies.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons water

Making your home sing Mondays        WHWButton#2

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.

 

 

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                                  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. 

 

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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.

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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.!

 

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Click on the image to download your service kit.

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

 

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(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.”

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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.

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(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.

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(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.

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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.

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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            

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?

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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.

Things I Would Never Say to a Parent with Two Kids

I have six kids. 

I wanted six kids from the time I was 11 years old and got the Sunshine Family for Christmas. I was happily playing in my room and decided I loved these dolls so much I would save them for my kids. Then I decided I was so happy in my family with five siblings, I would have six kids, just like my parents.

Years later, when I gave birth to our sixth child, I knew my life was complete.  My childhood dream came true.  My husband and I were happily blessed with a full house and full hearts.

What I didn’t know was how unhappy my decision would make other people. Strangers dared to make comments about our large family. Some would even dare blame world overpopulation issues on me.  I didn’t accuse them of lowering the IQ average of the world, I just politely smiled.

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I wish I would have had this sweatshirt then, it might have stopped me from having to answer the same question over and over every time I went out in public. (Click on graphic to take you to the site where you can buy this shirt!)

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They would assume I didn’t know where babies came from and offer procreation advice. As a Christian woman who believes in abstinence before marriage and faithfulness during marriage, I was always a little shocked and mortified that strangers would suggest my family size had to do with  ignorance or immorality.  I would smile politely at their insensitive and offensive comments about my bedroom life, knowing my answer to their rudeness could cause further judgment upon my large family.

Only the bestest of a best friend has the right to ask,  “So are ya’ trying to have another?”

(Besides, do you  REALLY need to hear the answer on that?)

Because I loved my family, it was a joy to graciously answer those rude questions and inform people ~

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  • I wanted them and I knew how to make them. 
  • They were all planned.
  • Yes, they were all born after we were married.
  • YES THEY WERE ALL MINE.  Rather OURS.  They weren’t from the milkman, the mailman, the UPS man, the Fed-Ex man or the Garbage Man.
  • We considered children a blessing from the Lord.

While having dinner with a couple that were business associates, ya’ know that perfect dual income American couple with one boy and one girl, she actually said, “Well, you know, they say people have a lot of kids to do all their work for them.”

I was dumbfounded, but not dumb.  I prayed for wisdom and the Lord gave it to me.

“Did those people ever think if I didn’t have all these kids, I wouldn’t have any work to do?” 

“Oh, I never thought of that,” she said.  Yes, I know she never thought about that.  It never occurred to a highly educated woman that my career goal was to be a mother.  I didn’t create children to do my work, having children created a lot of work for me. But it was a job I chose and I loved.

Like many parents of large families in America, I discovered we were sitting duck when we took our clan out in public. The comments were astounding.  I would never walk up to a woman with only two kids and say the opposite of what was said to me. Besides, I was raised in a family where we were taught manners.

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  • You must not know what causes this, could you use some pointers?
  • Are you trying to have more?
  • How come you only have two?  Don’t you like kids?
  • Aren’t you worried your kids won’t be socialized because they don’t have enough siblings to play with?
  • Are they both yours?  Were they born after you were married?
  • With only two kids, are you sure there’s enough love in your family?
  • You haven’t been very busy, have you?
  • Are you aware of the health issues birth control can cause?
  • Your hands are certainly empty.
  • You must not be very patient at all.
  • You’re overpopulating the world, since the average is 1.8 kids.  Why didn’t you stop at one?
  • Are ya’ going after the mailman or milkman since your husband only gave you two?

So, as we laugh at what people say about big families and laugh at what we’d never say to small families, let’s be united in this thought; whether you have one child, six, or ten, being a parent is the hardest job we’ll ever love. Parents of a few children devote as much prayers, sweat and tears as parents of large families.

Parenting isn’t a contest, it’s a calling.

The win isn’t who has the most kids, the win is being the best parent you can be with what you’ve been given. The win is supporting other parents along the way, despite differences in faith, education, and family size. The win is using the Lord’s standards in raising your kids, not your man-made ones. 

But, next time you see a mom with a grocery cart full of kids at the grocery store, just don’t ask her if they’re all hers, ok?

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If you want to read more on this topic, I wrote a follow-up post using the humor and wisdom from the comments below. 

Best Answers to Big Family Questionable Questions

   Making your home sing Mondays

Where Have All My Babies Gone?

“They grow up so fast.”

Older women always said this to me when my kids were little.  Sometimes they’d sigh, sometimes they would elaborate, but always there was a wistful longing in their voice. If they added anything it was about how precious little ones were or how wonderful my life must be.

I didn’t believe them. In fact, sometimes it annoyed me.  Like the time I was trying to take two toddlers potty because their Daddy was preaching and the hungry baby was crying.  It is hard to fully enjoy the moments when the demands overshadow the delight.

Technically, I knew it as true, but practically, there was not even a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. When you have two or three little ones that can’t feed, potty or dress themselves, there isn’t even enough time in the day to think on this phrase.

Every night could be an eternity, if you’re up with a fussy, nursing baby.  A  bed-wetter adds hours of laundry to each day. Diapers, potty training, laundry, meals, dishes, shopping, laundry, meals,  dishes, shopping….it’s a never-ending cycle of demand on a woman who never gets enough sleep, water, food or adult conversation.

In the midst of all the work, is the glorious reality of having beautiful little people adoring you all day long. 

Little fingers reaching, patting, pulling. 
Little voices singing, crying, calling.  
Little feet, running, falling, escaping. 
Little hearts learning, sharing, loving.

Like a perfect storm, intense love and hard work collide in a young mom’s life.

And then, it’s over.

My kids grew up, just like everyone said they would.

But it happened too fast.

I wasn’t ready.

One day I was handing  them toilet paper and teaching them to wipe, the next day I was handing them  car keys, the next day, boxes of all their belongings as they pack their cars.

If I had believed the older women I would have hugged and kissed them more.

Love Notes to Mom

 

I  would have saved EVERY note that said I was the best mom in the whole world or that I was loved and turned it into a book to read to myself every night at bedtime when they were teenagers.

I would have listened more when they wanted to tell me all their secrets.

I would have praised them more and been more gracious with their mistakes.

I would have slowed down time by not wishing they would grow up faster.  Because when they no longer need you, they no longer need you.

Young moms,  live your life as if you are my age looking back.  When the demands are high and your patience is low, how do you want them to remember that day?

As you’re faced with the decision of how to spend an hour, make the decision that will leave  you the least amount of regret.

Because, we older women are right.

They grow up too fast.

Making your home sing Mondays

Kids Who Serve are Winners not Whiners

 

A kid’s definition of summer is “the season  where I sleep in and don’t have any schoolwork.”

A mom’s definition of summer is “the season where the kids hang around the house whining because there’s nothing to do.”

The lack of structure quickly loses its thrill after a week or two, and moms begin hearing the fingernails-on-chalkboard whine, “Mom, I’m bored!”   This complaint ranked on my list of five “Things That Aren’t Music to a Mommy’s Ears.”

For years I battled  boredom by making my kids write a Summer List of exciting things they could do instead of complaining. They could put anything on their list -  foods to eat, activities to do, places to go or crafts to make.  (Click on the link to see the now-vintage lists.)

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My goal was to teach my children to replace the word “bored” with “busy” by becoming self-entertaining and creative.

Focus on the Family recently revealed their Adventures in Odyssey summer challenge for kids, but it challenged my heart as a parent.  Instead of focusing on WHAT, they want kids to think about  WHO. They’re defining summer as “the season where you spend time serving others for Jesus.”

Even though I’ve been parenting 26 years, I mentally did the “DUH” forehead slap.

Parents are rarely bored, because our hands and hearts are busy serving. We fill our days and nights helping others  be happy, healthy and encouraged.

If we honestly define boredom, it’s a form of  selfishness.  You can’t think of anything to satisfy or gratify yourself.  A quick cure is to turn your attention to others.  It isn’t  enough to teach our kids to entertain themselves, we need to teach them to see and meet needs in others.

The familiar friends from Adventures in Odyssey want to spend the summer with our kids challenging them to serve through a program called

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A – A

C – Call

T – To

S – Service

The theme is , “When you serve, everybody wins.”  Kids to show and grow in their faith in Christ by using their talents and skills to serve  their families,  communities, and the world.

1. Your child commits to record 12 hours of service on the Path to Service form. Pick up form at your local Family Christian Bookstore or download here. (Participating bookstores provide Adventures in Odyssey character stickers for each hour served.)

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Put it in a place you won’t lose it or forget where you put it.  I know, that can be challenging, especially if there’s a dog, small children, or  forgetful older mothers….now what was I saying?

2. Download and listen to this special Adventures in Odyssey episode “Lost & Found.” It will get your kids revved up to serve.

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It will also give you twenty minutes to sneak off by yourself and have your devotions, drink a cup of coffee and sneak chocolate from your secret Mommy Stash. (I know you have one!)   Remember to gargle before the AIO episode is over.  Kids always smell chocolate on your breath and then your stash won’t be a secret anymore.

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If you need a few more minutes alone, or your kids need  more explanation, watch Bob and Jesse explain the program on this podcast.

 

3. Visit the AIO website to print off a page of Weekly Service Ideas to spark ideas. Have your kid add their own ideas based on their skills and interests. Serving in areas of giftedness makes it a blessing, not a chore.

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Make room for the list on the fridge, after you throw away those expired coupons and the three week old grocery list that you forgot to take to the store. Use two magnets so it doesn’t slide down and under the fridge to live  with the dust bunnies and your missing spatula.

Oh, yea, now I remember what I was saying, you can put the Path to Service on the fridge, too.

4.  Join Connie (acted by Katie Leigh ) and Chris (Chris Leigh) at the May 22nd  Launch Party!  It’s through the computer, of course, so you’ll have to provide your own snacks and party hats while you watch the webcast.

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5. This is more than a challenge, it’s a contest. From June 1 – August 16, your kids can make a two minute video telling about their service and why they want to be one of the first Adventures in Odyssey Ambassadors.

Many participating stores are hosting special recording events, and kids who record their video in stores will receive an AIO prize. Complete rules and prizes listed here.

The cool news is that the top girl and guy winner will go on  an all-expense paid Good-Goers Adventure-Based Mission Trip with a parent to serve orphans and enjoy a day of rafting in an overseas location. The May 22nd webcast will also reveal the top-secret location, so tune in!

The 100 third place kids win a one-year subscription to the Odyssey Adventure Club.
The 24 second place kids win a subscription and  a phone call from an Adventures in Odyssey cast member.

Thinking of Adventures Ahead!

I was thrilled to talk to Jesse Florea at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal May 17-18 this past weekend.  He’s the editor of the Focus on the Family Publications Clubhouse and Clubhouse Junior and one of the inspired leaders for the A.C.T.S. program.

He previously stated his heart’s plan for this program. "We want to remind kids that they have a part to play in God’s story, and serving is an easy way for everyone to take part in that, “The challenge is a fun way for kids to learn about serving, but the end goal is that kids will deepen their walk with Jesus Christ through serving Him.”

This is the real win in the challenge, not the awesome prizes. Many lives could be touched if our kids learn to say,  “How can I serve?” instead of,  “I’m bored!” 

This is an amazing challenge for our kids’ Summer Lists, doncha’ think? I’m game to bust summer boredom and turn whining in winning through service.

I’d love to hear if you will join our family in turning our summer into an adventure in service.

 

 

 

Making your home sing Mondays

When God Created Mothers

As a pre-teen, I loved Erma Bombeck.  I loved how she laughed through all the stupid things her kids did, because at that age, I was doing those stupid things.  With my  babysitting money, I bought my mom the entire series for Christmas.  They were housed in a wonderful cardboard home, and I knew it would be the perfect encouragement for my mom to live through raising her six precious children.

 

Years later, as a mother of my own six children, I clung to Erma’s words for a different reason. She taught me to laugh when I wanted to cry. She proved you could successfully parent without hurting any of your children.

And underneath her humor she admitted a truth most wouldn’t: parenting is the hardest job you’ll ever have.

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Erma Bombeck’s

Mother’s Day column,

May 12, 1974.

When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into his sixth day of“overtime” when an angel appeared and said, “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And the Lord said, “Have you read the specs on this order?

  • She has to be completely washable, but not plastic;
  • Have 180 movable parts… all replaceable;
  • Run on black coffee and leftovers;
  • Have a lap that disappears when she stands up;
  • A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair;
  • And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said, “Six pairs of hands… no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” said the Lord. “It’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel.

The Lord nodded. “One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks,’What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say, ’I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“Lord,” said the angel, touching His sleeve gently, “Go to bed. Tomorrow…”

“I can’t,” said the Lord, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick… can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger… and can get a nine-year-old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,”she sighed.

“But she’s tough!” said the Lord excitedly. “You cannot imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek. “There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You You were trying to push too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord. “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius,” said the angel.

The Lord looked somber. “I didn’t put it there,” He said.

Things That Aren’t Music to a Mommy’s Ears

The moment you become a mother, your hearing enhances.  It has to. Since we don’t have periscope eyes that can see around corners, or Superman’s X-ray vision,  the ears make up for what the eyes can’t see.  A mother’s hearing will become so acute, she’ll hear the slightest whimper in the middle of the night, or the bum rumble that indicates a diaper needs to be changed before the crying even begins. As the child gets older, she’ll be able to tell by the creak of the hinge which cupboard a child is in, or by the crinkle of a package which food the child is getting into.

Although having nearly bionic ears can be a mother’s asset, there are words that bounce through the inner ear canal and make a grown woman tremble in her scuffed up slippers.

1.  “OOPS!”

What you just warned your child about in the last five minutes just came true. The kids will think you can see through walls, but your warnings are actually  prophecies. You can foresee what will happen because parents just know these things. Kids never believe that setting their milk cup near the edge of the table will increase their chance of spilling it.  They will think you are wrong until they’re a parent wiping up milk.

By the way, the louder the child says this word, the longer it will take you to clean it up.

2.  THE SOUND OF BREAKING GLASS.

The more you cherish an item, the longer you’ve owned it, or the harder it is to replace it,  the more likely it will be broken. If it’s easily replaced or something you found for a quarter at a garage sale, it will be with you until the kids leave home. 

 

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In that case, they can take it all that cheap stuff with them when they move out and you can replace all the stuff they broke.

3.  “I’M TELLING MOM!”

The kid who’s yelling doesn’t think that what they did to start the fight is as bad as what the other kid did in retaliation.

If the chant is done in a sing-songy voice, it indicates that the child is happy to get the other one in trouble and the damage is minimal. 

If the tone is childishly ferocious, the altercation could have become physical.  There was some pinching, biting, scratching, shoving, slapping or punching done.  However, a child is slow to confess unless the parent has correctly described the altercation with the correct verb.  Feel free to ask about every type of action you can even think of because if you asked if they pushed, when they think they shoved, they will feel the freedom to say no.

4. “I’M BORED.”

In my house this is always followed by one of two parenting tidbits of wisdom.  “Only boring people get bored” or “Then go clean my toilet.”

Any one of my children had more toys than all their grandparents put together had in a lifetime, so there is no reason to be bored.  Plus, they always had arts and crafts supplies available, stacks of games, lots of siblings, a gajillion books and use of the sewing machine and kitchen.

They might also get a lecture on being thankful, being a servant, finding something to do, being constructive or the joyous life a freedom a child has.  Sometimes for good measure, you can throw in a lecture on how much work you had to do as a child.  Rotate the lectures so they don’t get bored.

 

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5.  SILENCE.

This is the worst noise of all.  You have to learn to listen for this noise above all noises.  It means that someone has done something unusual, something you hadn’t suspected, something out of character and something creatively, geniusly, hilariously dangerous or disastrous. 

In the case of silence, move quickly to the quietest room of the house with camera in hand.  Ensure child’s safety, then take pics.  There’s always time to clean up – later.

When your kids are teens, you will need all the bribery and blog fodder you can use.

 

 

Making your home sing Mondays

I’m Like Totally A Cool Mom

It’s a joyous milestone when kids grow up and dress themselves.  We watch with parental pride, admiring their independence and finesse as they flounder to put on their socks or put both legs in the same pant leg. As with every stage, we praise and support our very, lovely children.

 

I didn’t mock them when they put a shirt on inside out. I would gently point out the tag is a flag to be waved on their back, inside their shirt,  and help them readjust.

I wouldn’t hurt their feelings and tell them a purple and orange striped shirt didn’t match a green and pink polka-dotted skirt. But, I might carefully praise their choice, ask them to choose which item was their favorite, then direct their decision to pick something that matched.  It was to keep from scarring them for life when they’re showing childhood photos to future spouses.

When they wanted to wear their dress-ups in public, I bore the quizzical stares and the raised eyebrows as a mother martyr would.  I allowed them the freedom to express themselves. I didn’t make fun of their style, not at all.  I didn’t walk really fast and pretend I wasn’t with them, no matter what they wore.  I didn’t roll my eyes at them, or heave patronizing sighs, or change my mind about going out with them in public.   I might release myself from the shame of the moment by saying, “Isn’t it cute what kids wear when they dress themselves?” 

The next milestone isn’t so joyous, the one where they pick out their own clothes, shoes and hair style according to what their peers have deemed cool.  Armed with newly-found discernment and their parents’ cash, they shop and get most rad hairstyle the ‘rents will allow. When fully clothed in cool, their eyes wander to those ‘rents who just funded their makeover and become painfully aware of their lack of style. They cringe at the jeans that don’t have the right width of pant legs or the right depth of the waistband.  Hair color and style are evaluated and gray hairs they caused will be randomly pulled from your head when they dare stick up around the new cool kid.

Imagine my surprise when they hit this milestone and didn’t  offer the same support and the  freedom to express myself I freely bestowed upon them just those few short years ago. The undying love and adoration they always felt for their ‘rents becomes slightly scribbled over with childish embarrassment as they realize their ‘rents are NOT cool.

 

 

WHAT?  Me, not cool? Are you, like, totally, like, out of your mind?

 

My clothes match, I don’t wear anything inside out or upside down, and I quit wearing dress-ups to the grocery store a few months ago.

 

What does it take to be a cool mom?

 

Dress just like her daughters?  No, that’s just wrong.  Moms can dress in style,  that’s ok, but like their daughters? No way. We’ve all seen those women.  We can’t become those women.

Use the hip phrases of time?  DUDE just doesn’t sound right on mom’s lips, even though it is contagious and sometimes we slip.Besides, when you use their words, you stand to be lectured on what those words mean and if you’re using them correctly.  Dude!  It’s just annoying!

Hairstyles?  A mom is supposed to have one? So combing my hair once a day whether it needs it or not doesn’t count as a hairstyle? Does anyone else find it ironic that the very ones who basically refused to comb their hair and brush their teeth for the first 12 years of their lives now find it necessary to monitor their parents’ grooming skills?

 

Who gets to define cool?

Her kids? 

Her kids’ friends?

Her husband? OK, if a husband doesn’t  notice new curtains, a haircut or new shade of lipstick, how can he be able to rank his wife’s coolness factor?  Besides, the kids who spent his hard-earned money to morph into coolness probably have their coolness radar detector out on Pops, too. And it’s probably not bleeping very much.

So, who gets to define cool? 

How about dictionary.com? They should be pretty neutral party, doncha’ think?

Let’s use some of their definitions to see if I rank on the coolness factor.

 

 

 

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Yep, that fits me.  I don’t get excited when the ones I used to dress criticize how I dress.

 

I remain calm when they say, “Mom, you’re not going to wear that, are you?”

 

When they say, “Um, you’re kinda’  old to be wearing that,” I stay composed.

 

I remain cool when they face disaster by saying,  “You would look 20 years younger if you’d flat-iron  your hair.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Apparently, my coolness can even diffuse a situation. When they realize their parents will never measure up to their standards, their intensity will lessen. Their disappointment will cool their earlier zealousness for converting  parents to coolness.

So, that, my friends, proves my point.

 

I am a cool mother.

 

And it’s a good thing my kids don’t read my blog.  It’ll keep them from using my line, “Isn’t it cute when my mother dresses herself?”

Making your home sing Mondays