Category Archives: parenting

My Husband is The World’s Most Ridiculous Dad

flashback friday

In 2005, we had the privilege of having four, yes  four, count them, teenagers in our house at one time. We thought it would be cool having  six kids close in age so they’d  be friends.  Even if we’d done the math and calculated we’d have teenagers for almost 20 years in a row, two or more teens the majority of those years, we wouldn’t have changed anything. We just might have prepared ourselves a little more for the changes ahead.

When the girls outgrew wearing  Mommy-chosen clothes and wanted to express their own personalities with clothes that were actually in style, it was painful for both sides of the generation gap. Those years of adorable matching outfits sewn by Mommy were definitely over. They had to  wean Mommy from her expectation that her daughters would love her 80’s high-waisted, put-your-socks-on-first jeans.

Daddy, who loved his lovely daughters, but didn’t want the boys to notice how lovely they were,  squawked like a good Daddy about their clothes.  He would have preferred black garbage bags or burlap sacks, because his daughters were his treasures – treasures he wanted to keep buried.

After several discussions, we came to a family understanding.  We didn’t want set rules, because rules stir up theRomans 7 desire to break the rules. We didn’t demand  denim skirts and tennis shoes, but we didn’t want them to dress like Hollywood starlets.   We came up with guidelines. Their clothes had to pass a few inspectors along the way.

1.  The Lord – were they God-honoring?  We tried to instill in our daughters that as Christians they  belong to Him and their life decisions should reflect that. We gave them to opportunity to make wise decisions based on their own faith and conscience.

2. The parents – could we stand their choices?  We didn’t have to like their clothes, but we couldn’t hate them. We gave them leeway  to choose and relieved them from the expectation of looking like us. However, if their conscience didn’t guide them enough, we had veto power.

Daddy’s wisdom in discussing  until we came up with guidelines that pleased everyone paved the way for an easier transition into those years of raising  teenagers. We were encouraged to see the tasteful, stylish clothes the girls chose in their freedom.  They were so good, they started picking out my clothes and providing guidelines for clothes that are flattering  and appropriate for my age. I dressed them when they were young, now they return the favor. 

In 2005, several years after the monumental Introduction of Modern Styles into our household,  Daddy still wasn’t convinced about  low-rider jeans. Usually a seriously minded Office kinda’ guy, the hubbster is known for having occasional outlandish moments that the kids talk about for years and years.

The kids laugh themselves breathless then exclaim, “Oh, Dad, you’re SO ridiculous!”

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This was one of those moments.

He decided to prove how ridiculous low-riders were by trying on our oldest daughter’s jeans.

In front of the whole family.

On Thanksgiving Day.

Not knowing someday I’d be a blogger and reveal all.

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After tugging and pulling and giggling, he got them up this far. (Maybe hubby was  the style inspiration for  teenage boys?)

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Like today’s teenage boys, he found they had to be peeled off.

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But, he wasn’t young and agile, he was an old man losing his balance.  He  humbly begged for help so he wouldn’t fall and break a hip.

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My early digital camera was poor quality, but the blur proves we were busting a gut.

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Toddler Baby can’t figure out why Daddy needs help.  She doesn’t need help.   She dresses and undresses all. by. herself.

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Maybe Toddler Baby is wondering if she should hide her clothes from daddy.  Maybe she’s wondering if he’s going to try on her clothes when she’s a teenager.
Maybe she’s wondering if she even wants to become a teenager.

This episode only proved one thing  – it wasn’t the jeans that were ridiculous.

My children have always declared they have The World’s Most Ridiculous Dad. 

As they mature,  they peel off the memories of their Dad’s ridiculousness and see his wisdom underneath. It’s then they finally understand how treasured they are.

Making your home sing Mondays

The Hardest Thing About Being a Mother is…

I’ve been a mother for approximately 26 years, 151 days, 16 hours and 14 minutes.

I decided very early in life I wanted to have six kids.  My husband and I have raised four kids to adulthood, and have one older teenager and one “I’m almost a teenager” 11-year-old at home.  The Lord blessed me with the desires of my heart, something I don’t take for granted.

But, parenting has been the hardest job we’ve ever loved. Psalm 56:8 tells us the Lord saves our tears in bottles; my husband and I might have our own personal storage room in Heaven for our bottles.  But, we also have an immeasurable amount of love, laughs, kisses, hugs and precious memories stored up. In my immaturity, this was the only part of parenting I imagined.  Even after I gave birth to my first precious daughter, I never thought it would be so hard.

Parents ask us advice, especially when they think they’re alone in their struggles.  They want to be assured and encouraged that every day won’t be so hard. I was recently asked, “What’s the hardest thing about being a mother?”

10.  …being a sinner who gave birth to sinners.  Parenting would be easier if I were perfect.  If I had ultimate wisdom, patience and understanding, success would be guaranteed. It’s not.  As my children grow up, I’m growing in my faith.  I fall as often as they do.

9. …when children don’t listen. There can be two people in the room less than three feet apart.  If one is a momma and one a child, the words can get lost in space between momma’s lips and child’s ears. For every year of a child’s growth, this vortex exponentially increases.

8. …when they ignore good advice. I’ve earned my gray hair and would like my wisdom count for something. Not only have I been-there-done-that, I would love my kids to learn from my mistakes and experiences, not theirs.  That’s why I say, “When I was your age…”  But, when a parent says “I understand”, children interpret, “You don’t understand.” They can’t or won’t understand that you do understand.

7.  …when they lie.  Parents can deal with the truth, but can’t help if a child lies.  When a child tells the truth, there’s one issue to deal with. When they lie, there’s two.

6. …when they disobey.  You  give a simple command, explain the consequences, the reasons (concerning their safety and best interests) and they may do exactly the opposite. Then you have to follow-through with the consequences that were chosen to deter disobedience, not punish it. We don’t want to give the consequences, we have to! The goal is to teach blessing comes through obedience, whether it’s your mommy, teacher, the law or your boss.

5.  …when they make a bad decision.  The best parenting might be no parenting.  Instead of intervening, allow them to reap the consequences. It takes wisdom from above to discern when to step in and when to step back.

4. …keeping them safe. We  can’t be with our kids 24/7, but they’re always our responsibility. Stand your ground concerning their physical, spiritual, emotional and sexual safety, especially when they don’t agree or understand.

3.  …letting them grow.  Give  them space to closely examine the beliefs, convictions, values and family norms they were raised with.  They hear and experience new ideas and sometimes want to try them on for size.  The calmer you are, the clearer the conversation can be.   If they copy without conviction, they may fall harder or be fruitless.

2. …letting them go.  When they’re out of your home, they’re not out of your concern. In their eyes and the world’s eyes, they’re an adult. Older parents know this is the hardest stage of parenting. Commit them to the Heavenly Father, who loves them and  longs for their holiness and well-being more than you.  The Holy Spirit is their parent, and  will go where you cannot go and be who you cannot be.

 

1. …being a mom.  At every stage, mothering is the hardest job, because we’re dealing with eternal souls.

 We have an enemy
who wants our children
in his trophy case. 

Never rest in peace at any stage assuming your job is done, because the enemy never rests. If your child is saved and their salvation cannot be stolen, the enemy will war against their testimony, their peace, their fruit. He wants everything and anything he can have. Do not give in, do not give up, do not become complacent.  Your job will not be over until you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” 

being a mom dark edges

We were entrusted with precious souls, blessed with talents and personalities, to nurture, train, instruct, and love them into their place in the world.

Because the best thing about being a mom, is being a mom.

 Making your home sing MondaysWHWButton#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.

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. 

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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.”

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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?”

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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.”

 

 

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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 ~

Family 2002 001

  • 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

Less is More for Bachelors, More is More for Mommas

My son comes home from college almost every day with a new revelation. I remember those days. You’re filled with the newness of it all and have to constantly discern what’s pure malarky and what’s useful. It makes for interesting dinner conversations.

My son showed me the video below.  Click on the pic to bring you to youtube.com.

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Hill’s main point was that Americans have three times more living space as 50 years ago. We also have a new  $2.2 billion industry in storage units. Once we fill up our houses, we start filling up storage units.  He says having more leads to:

1. Credit card debt

2. Huge carbon footprint

3.  Happiness levels flat line

His conclusion: Less is best.

As I looked at my overfull house, I had to agree.  In fact, as a mother of six kids, I know if I don’t constantly purge,  the house would explode at the seams.  Nobody can find a pen or a matching pair of socks, but there’s stuff everywhere. In every room.  In every closet. In every drawer.  Under every bed. UGH! He ramped up my ambition to clean, purge and organize in June.

In fact, he made me feel a little jealous. 

  • He doesn’t know what it’s like to open the pantry and have a newly opened box of cereal that was balanced on top of a newly opened bag of pasta fall on his head before he’s had his morning coffee.
  • He doesn’t know that little motion of shoving all the towels in the closet quickly to close the door before they fall.
  • He doesn’t have to throw at least five things off the couch when a friend drops by.

Then, he made me feel a little guilty, until I tried to find his bio. 

  • No mention of wife or kids.  I’m gunna’ assume he’s single, ‘cuz I don’t think he hid a wife and children in the closet of his 420 square foot apartment when he shot his video. The paraphernalia alone for a baby would fill up his space.  A woman with any amount of clothing and hobbies could fit it up at least one time over.  He didn’t mention a roommate, so he didn’t have to accommodate anyone but himself and one hobby – kite surfing.
  • With no yard, no gardening tools. I suspect I own more power tools than he does. Why does that make me feel a little smug?  He probably doesn’t have any old letters from friends, or a picture of him in the 7th grade. I’m 100% certain he doesn’t have any baby teeth or locks of baby hair in a hope chest, either.
  • So, other than kitchen items and toilet paper, Hill  basically only needs 7 pairs of socks, 7 pairs of undies, 7 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, any 4 pairs of shoes.  He’s done.  Each item in a man’s closet matches every other item in a man’s closet.  There are no rules for men’s clothing, just that you wear them.  He has a distinct advantage in living with less by being a male bachelor. 

As my son and I discussed this video and how we could realistically apply this to our family,  I had to cut off our conversation.  I had about 48 hours to make 35 centerpieces for the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal, our annual writers conference, with no money budgeted. I wanted to honor our keynote speaker, Jane Kirkpatrick, a Christian historical fiction writer, with my decorations.  They had to be free.  Inspirational.  Reflective of her books’ themes.  Vintage.

I was ready for the challenge.

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Of course, on the rare occasion that I allow my kids to drink pop, I save the bottles, don’t you?  They’re so cool.

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I removed the label with every Mom’s favorite liquid super-hero, Goo Gone.

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To make the bottles look vintage, daughter Beka and I roughed them up while watching an old movie together.  On the deck.  In the sunshine.  A moment to cherish.  We were wincing with the annoying sound of the sandpaper on glass (think fingernails on chalkboard) but it was a great time of creating something out of nothing.

I  cut strips of woven fabric, unraveled the edges, then hot glued them around the middle.   I save buttons from everything, and have been known to buy a $.99 shirt at the thrift store just for the buttons.

The glue can be peeled off and the bottles put in the recycle bin if nobody else cares to use the vases again. The buttons can also be peeled off and reused.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 131

The Daughter’s Walk tells of  Helga and daughter Clara Estby, who walked from Spokane, WA to New York City trying to earn $10,000. The Kinship and Courage series tells the story of 11 amazing women who lose their husbands on the Oregon Trail, but continue alone. Vintage maps ripped into squares represented the movement of Kirkpatrick’s characters. Of course, I save old maps, don’t you? Homeschooling/crafty women tend to save weird things.  This paid off.

Inspirational quotes from the novels by Kirkpatrick were written with a calligraphy pen on tags cut out of brown grocery bags and tied with compostable twine.

My OCD is freaking out that the fabric slid to the bottom of the bottom.  It needs to be centered.  If you have OCD, too, either pretend it is centered, or quickly scroll down to the next picture.

Northwest Christian Writers Renewal 2013 156

I have an old wooden crate of milk bottles.  We use them for drinking glasses when we have a party and for vases. No filling up the dumps with Styrofoam with me, no sirreee.

Vintage is the new green.

You’re probably wondering about the flowers.  Who in the world has enough silk flowers for 35 arrangements?  Well, apparently I do.  I hit this amazing sale when Michael’s was clearancing out their summer/ fall items for $2 a large, black trash bag.  I told my husband to close his eyes, smile, and work with me.  After 27 years of marriage, he understands. We filled the back end of his Jeep. But, for about $12,  I had toys for Bible camp prizes, the birthday basket at our church and Sunday school prizes, plus enough floral picks for two 18 gallon plastic containers.

All you bargain hunters are bemoaning the fact that nothing this good ever happens to you. All you men are SO glad you’re not married to me. Yep, so is my hubby. He adores me. In all my quirky ways.

Renewal Book Table Genre Labels

I continued the vintage theme on our book table, using old bottles, more brown paper and buttons to label the genres.  The small crates were $1 at Michael’s and held business cards and book markers from authors. (These little bottles would also work well to put name tags and/or a flower to mark a place setting for a meal.) Large, wooden crates were used to display books.

So, there ya’ go.  In my 2,200 square foot home, that includes a double car garage, where up to 11 people have lived at a time, (that’s 200 sq. ft. per person)  and I have been hoarding recyclables and craft materials for decades, I created decorations for a writers conference. I made something outta’ nothing.

I guess Hill and I have similar ambitions in life, after all.

1. No credit card use

2. No carbon footprint

3. No unhappiness

More stuff, more happiness.

When I begin that summer purge, I’ll probably avoid the craft room.

 

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