Thursday, October 30, 2008

Portion Controlled Candy

No, this is not a post telling you how much candy to allow your kiddos to eat Friday night.

It IS a post reminding you to stock up on Halloween candy as it goes on sale after Friday night. Why?

We don't eat a lot of candy in our house.... oh wait.... that was my original goal. We do, however, use our candy wisely. My kids get 1 Hershey's Kiss or something similar for "dessert" after lunch on Fridays--our special treat. My daughter gets a small chocolate something as a reward for having "dry and clean pants" after her afternoon quiet/nap time. You get the picture. Candy marketed for Halloween is a great source for these small bits and pieces. Candy corn, for instance, is individually packaged in small amounts--we would split one of those small packages between our three kids for a small post-lunch or dinner treat. Small candy bars, bags of Smarties, etc. are all great resources to have on hand--especially if you have a potty-training adventure just ahead of you!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Faulty Parenting

Ok, let's face it. None of us are perfect-- Sorry to burst your bubble. And having kids is one of the best ways to face all your sins. Sounds like extra fun. So I thought I would share some of our own faults with you, as an extra reminder to be careful, watch what you say, and admit we make mistakes too.

"I QUIT": Recently our older son has been spitting this out at the first sign of defeat. Especially with sports lately. It has been really frustrating. We have given all the song and dance about "keep trying", yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. Not much helps. And he has no problems pulling out a dramatic temper tantrum regardless of who is around. (Mom....I don't want to hear it :-)).

We have been analyzing this lately, trying to come up with a solution. In the process we have discovered something we have been doing. Both my husband and I can be very sarcastic, especially when we get frustrated. We realized we have probably said "I QUIT" many times out of desperation. In reality, neither of us are quitting. It's just an expression to us. But, not knowing sarcasm, we think our 5 yr old somewhere along the way picked it up. Now we are stuck with trying to "undo" it. Where is the handbook when you need it.

LYING: Ok, my 5 yr. old totally caught me in this yesterday. How humiliating!! I was trying to get the 2 yr old down for a nap, without a screaming fit. After announcing nap time, he told his big brother to "come's nap time". Well, the 5 yr old wasn't going to take a nap. So I told our 2 yr old, he would come in a few minutes, just not right now. (Remember, I didn't want an issue.) After I got back, my 5 yr. old asked me if he was going to have to take a nap. I said "no" since we had to do school. Which, he responded, "then why did you tell Gavin I would come later." CAUGHT, red handed!!

So what do we do about all this. Well, for starters, remember to apologize to your kids. Yes, we are usually right, and they are wrong. But like I said, we make mistakes too. Apologizing can go a long way in their minds. Let them see you actively working on your mistakes and situations. You will fail at can just keep trying harder the next time. And pray, pray, pray. There is nothing more humbling than being a parent and seeing all of your sinful ways coming out through your kids.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Teabag: Forgetfullness Allowed!

...But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3: 13b-14

I am so excited to be allowed to forget :-). It's not talking about losing memory of our sinful past (and what God has done), but realizing it is done with and settled. So are you holding onto your past memories of failure...or trying to move ahead and change your future?

The Busy Mom's Guide: A Review

The Busy Mom's Guide to a Happy Organized Home by Kathy Peel is exactly what it says it is: a guide for busy moms! This is a quick read, full of helpful charts, suggestions, checklists, and strategies for organizing your home and family life efficiently.

What makes this book different from many others I've read is hard to explain. I really liked Peel's emphasis in chapter 1 on identifying priorities. She challenges the reader to make sure that she is mothering according to her priorities, not someone else's (or the media's); she challenges the reader to evaluate every area by this same standard. This simple exercise really helped me take a hard look at some of my activities and practices within the home and determine whether or not I was operating according to my professed beliefs and priorities.

Another approach I appreciated was her division of the home/family into 7 main areas; Peel has talked about her Family Manager system in other works and uses these same 7 categories: home, children, etc. This book is a quick overview of the 7 areas and what you might need to know about them. You can find much more detailed cleaning information in other places or more thorough financial checklists, but if you're a busy mom, you don't have time! This is the book for you!

My parents have known the Peels for a long time (which is how I ended up with a copy of this book), so there is a little personal connection for me here. In addition, you might want to know that Kathy Peel is a Christian. The book is not explicitly Christian, but there is definite emphasis on both spiritual areas as well as counsel that is in keeping with biblical thought (even though it is not expressly presented as such). I encourage you to skim through a copy the next time you're at Borders or Barnes and Noble (or simply order it via amazon).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Savoring a Cup of Tea: Fruit of the Spirit (Self Control)

I've been "savoring" this fruit of the Spirit for quite a while now. It really is the root of so many "issues" we have in our society, isn't it? As we watch the government attempt to bail out banks, we can only wonder about the lack of self control when greed takes over and people begin to buy more house than they can afford or banks want to approve people for loans that are unwise because a bigger loan brings more interest money to the bank.

We will soon be bombarded with ads relating to Christmas and all the gifts we're expected to buy. If someone mentions a budget for Christmas (i.e. self control in spending), then that person is often considered miserly or a "Scrooge."

As soon as Christmas is over, the diet craze begins as everyone wants to start a new year off right and burn off all the pounds they put on during their holiday gluttony (gluttony is simply lack of self control when you eat and choosing to eat more and more and more and more...).

In addition to areas like budgeting and eating responsibly, there are everyday issues of controlling our tempers, choosing to clean house instead of reading a book, choosing to write a letter to a grandparent instead of playing around on the internet, choosing to file our paperwork (bills and such) in a timely manner instead of letting it all pile up, choosing to love our husbands and spend time with them in the evening instead of talking on the phone to a friend.... It all boils down to self control, doesn't it? When we can control our selves, all that our flesh desires at the expense of what the Spirit desires, then what a life we will begin to lead! It's no wonder that this is a fruit of the Spirit because our fleshly selves are powerful forces with which to reckon.

The good news is always the same: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. When we are out of control in whatever area, we can pray for the Spirit to fill us and enable us to have self control. The more we abide in Christ--the more time we spend in prayer and in the Word--the more we are in tune with the Holy Spirit. I'm learning constantly that the small daily decisions I make have such a lifetime of impact and they also get easier to make as the habit becomes more ingrained. Getting up fifteen minutes earlier to pray and read your Bible (and, for me, pray that the Holy Spirit will enable me to control my temper when my daughter makes me so mad) becomes such a part of your routine that you will find yourself longing for that time, that it actually can motivate you to get out of bed some mornings. I don't need a new diet plan for those last 10 pounds, I need some self control. I don't need a new parenting plan, I need some self control. I need to exercise self control in my budgeting, in my household management, in my time with my children, ..... I need to pray, don't I? I need to seek the Lord and his strength, his Holy Spirit, his face first.

Scripture makes it very clear that our first priority is to seek the Lord. Pray for that self control to set aside time to seek Him!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Top Five Ways to Make a Teacher's Day

If you have a child in school, then read on! This post is in honor of my fellow teachers, particularly my cousin, Sara, who's currently in the trenches as a high school English teacher (yes, English teachers DO have more grading than those teaching other subjects--I know, for I've taught them all. There are different struggles in other subjects, but the sheer volume of papers to grade for those teaching English is overwhelming. But I digress...).

Teachers work very hard at what they do. Whether your child is an angelic, straight-A student or a rowdy, struggling C- student, or simply an average, hard-working B student (or an angelic C- student or a back-talking, swaggering straight-A student or any one of a number of permutations on this theme...), your child's teacher is working hard to teach your child. Speaking from experience here, it is so much more rewarding and motivating to teach those children whose parents are "on your side." This doesn't mean you need to agree with everything a teacher says/does, but when conflicts do arise, if you have a good relationship with that teacher, the conflict will no doubt go more smoothly and good resolution is much more likely. So how do you build a good rapport with your child's teacher? Consider some of the following ways to "make a teacher's day." Again, speaking from experience, these are some of the best gifts you can give to a hard-working teacher.

  1. Send an encouraging note--recognize his/her hard work, acknowledge something said or done in class that your child enjoyed, commit to praying for him/her, include a meaningful Scripture reference, whatever...
  2. Offer to help grade or file papers: When you offer, be specific: "I know parent-teacher conferences are coming up and you must have a lot of papers to grade (file). I can stay an extra hour to help after I drop Johnny off on Friday, so have a stack ready for me!" (say it with a smile)
  3. Offer to decorate a bulletin board, get field-trip information together, or some other "service": again, mention a specific time or event ("You must have a lot to do for that apple orchard field trip coming up. I can come an hour before school's out on Tuesday to help--copy permission slips, make phone calls, etc.").
  4. Send in something edible for no reason at all: pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, a loaf of banana bread, some cookies, etc. Don't wait for Christmas.
  5. Remember your child's teacher's birthday!!!!!! What a statement that makes! A card is all you need.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Activity Bag Swap

We had our activity bag swap last night, and it was a great success! 17 ladies swapped preschool activity bags (from Preschool Activity Bags, vol. 1-2), and took home a nice, big "variety pack" full of activities sure to charm our preschoolers. My daughter has been working on some of them this morning--I can hardly drag her away! I encourage any of you reading this who have preschoolers at home to check these books out. The ideas are easy to make and really seem to appeal to our little ones. The swap was very straightforward to organize and is a great way to gather a nice collection of different activities for your children. We aimed for a wide variety of academic, play, fine motor, sorting, and recognition skills: bean bag toss, lots of ABC or number matching, coloring, tracing, bead stringing, and even an activity that involves clipping colored paper clips on matching colored squares.