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Monday, September 29, 2014

Child-centric or adult-centric?

Should a family be child-centric or adult-centric?  That's not as easy a question as it might appear.  Children play a very large role in the decisions parents make and consume most of the time of the mother, especially in the early years...ok, whatever age they are!  :)  And yet, if the spouse is ignored, the marriage suffers.  Achieving a balance is as hard as walking a tightrope over a deep canyon during a windstorm!

I would like to suggest that you work on being family-centric...with the needs of the family, individually and collectively, being forefront in all plans and decisions.  Life is not a smooth, even journey from one point to another.  There are detours, highs and lows, challenges and unexpected events that shape what we do each day.
Having a tea party with his daughter  :)

Children's needs are ever-present and cannot be put off.  But, that isn't a bad thing.  Children also bring inconceivable joy and an opportunity to be a little child-like yourself!  Who doesn't like to swing on a swing, run through a puddle, throw snowballs or watch a Disney matinee from time to time?  Children don't have to be a burden or inconvenience!  In fact if they seem to be, then maybe your focus is too adult-centered and quite honestly, selfish.

Tired parents can still find time to connect as a couple and enjoy each other...without the kids.  And, those are the times NOT to focus on the children!  No griping or complaining allowed!  Try to concentrate on your relationship in those few precious hours you have together.

Being a successful family takes work.  But with work comes happy, well-adjusted children and a strong marriage.  So, when you're walking that swaying tightrope, hang on, keep your eye on the final destination....and DON'T LOOK DOWN!

Friday, September 26, 2014

What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was in junior high school, we had an assignment to write about how we imagined our lives would be as adults.  That was easy!  I already had it all figured out.  :) I was never going to marry or have children.  I was going to be a librarian and have a cat or two.  My life would be bliss.  :)

Fast forward a few years.  In high school I was sure I was going to be a home economics teacher.  Still wasn't sure about the marriage stuff but it didn't seem quite so abhorrent by that time.  Kids?  Maybe one or two.

Fast forward a few more years (ok, a LOT of years!) and I'm a happy stay-at-home mother of eight wonderful children.  I can't imagine life without them.  Who would have thought?!

Our kids are a blessing!
Sometimes the life we were meant to have is far better than the life we thought we wanted.  Having children was the one of the best things that ever happened to me.  Because of them, I had to learn things like patience, tolerance, self-control, and selflessness.  I learned what unconditional love is all about.  I would do anything for them.

Sure, there are frustrations and challenges but I wouldn't change the life I chose.   What a blessing children are.

Monday, September 22, 2014

A watchful eye and protective presence

Good Mom, walking her daughter to school.
While running an errand early this morning, I noticed a little 6 or 7 year old girl walking to school.  She was alone and still had 4 blocks before getting to the school grounds.  I wished someone was walking with her.  She was too young to be walking alone.  Where was her mother?  Who sent her out the door this morning?

It's easy to become complacent about our children.   "She'll be ok.  It's only 6 blocks."  But who wants to take that chance?

Last week, two children (with whom I am acquainted) were hit by cars in two separate instances.  One survived with a broken knee, cuts and bruises.  The other, a sweet little toddler, died.   Such a tragedy and at least in the case of the toddler, preventable. 

The safety of our children is one of our important responsibilities.  Bad things happen.  And although we can't protect our children from everything, we CAN protect them from many things.  We can see that they get to and from school safely.  We can be watchful as they play.  We can know who their friends (and their families) are.  We can be diligent in using appropriate car restraints.  We can provide a safe environment at home. 

Hindsight is a powerful teacher but it can also be a heartbreaking lesson that no one wants to happen to their precious children.  Take good care of your little ones.  No one or nothing can replace them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Grandma used to say...

This well-known saying has been around for generations and is as appropriate now as it was when my grandmother said it. 

Do you really need it?
Can you live without it?
What would happen if you didn't have it?
Can something else work in its place?

If those questions were asked every time you went to the store or drove by a yard sale or saw an advertisement in the newspaper, would you bring home as many impulse items?  Would your closets be as full of duplicate (or similar) clothes?  Would there be more room in your home?

So much of what we own falls into the "I wanted it" category rather than the "I needed it" category.  There's nothing wrong with buying things we want unless we don't have the money for it or place for it or the money could have been spent more wisely elsewhere.

Bringing back some of our parents and grandparents values isn't such a bad idea.  It worked for them and it can work for us.  Worth a try, anyway!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yummies from the garden!

Now, this was a fun salad to make and eat!  I went into my garden and brought in several kinds of lettuce, three kinds of tomatoes, cucumbers apples and one lone broccoli floret.  Chopped everything up (except the broccoli), put it in a bowl, added a handful of cashew pieces and some grilled chicken and topped it with the broccoli floret  :)   Served it with a pretzel roll and ate it! 

Fresh veggies from the garden are soooo good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

A different perspective

Each generation can learn from the previous one!
As a child, you watched your parents from the eyes of a child.  Now that you're a parent yourself, you might understand why your parents did the things they did.  That realization might come when you hear yourself sounding just like your mother or doing the same thing your father did.

Your parents were not perfect.  They made mistakes and had their own struggles.  You might not have been a perfect little angel yourself!  :)  But looking back, you can learn from their successes and even their failures.

I'd like to suggest you ask yourself two things.
1. In what ways were your parents successful in raising their children?
2. What don't you want to repeat as you raise your own children?

From my own experience, I can say that my mother was extremely patient and had a calm presence.  If she was stressed out, I didn't notice it (as a child).  She was active and involved in the family and community.  She didn't allow any swearing or crude language.

Less mother was somewhat indifferent to housekeeping.   Maybe because of that, I don't like clutter or messes.  Also, I wish religion had been more important to the family as I was growing up.

Doing this little two question exercise will help you identify traits and behaviors you want to pass on to your children and which things you want to change.  The good things your parents did should be implemented in your own home, while the things that didn't work out so well should be replaced with better methods.

Build on their successes and bury their shortcomings.  Learn from them!


Friday, September 12, 2014

One of those days!

Well, it's been one of those days.  Actually, it's been one of those weeks!  You know what I'm talking about...too much to do, to little time, add a crisis or two, can't sleep.  No matter how well you plan things, it seems like something comes up to ruin all those well-laid plans.

Today started out with me waking up about an hour later than I needed to...husband kindly turned off my alarm before he left for work at 4 am.  So when I woke up, I was already behind.  Not a great way to start the day!  And it didn't get any better.

Instead of freaking out though, I mentally thought about what HAD to be done today and focused on them, in order of importance.  Yes, the dishes needed to be done but they could wait.  Other things couldn't wait.  I finally got to the load of laundry that needed to be done this evening at 9 pm, but it did get done and that's what mattered.

It doesn't do any good to panic about things.  Do what you can, take care of the important stuff and look forward to the moment when you lay your head on your pillow, close your eyes and breathe a sigh of relief that the day is over.

Good night!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Principles and Practices

I've been thinking about principles and practices lately.  Isn't that a blunt way to start a post?  :)

Really though, knowing something and actually doing it are not the same thing...for our kids and for ourselves too.  Most of us recognize that the principles of patience, work, consistency, kindness and discipline are positive traits to have but it's quite another thing to practice some of those traits on a regular basis.  Doing so will make our lives easier and more fulfilling so why is it so hard to put into practice the things we know to be right?

I would say it's mostly habit that holds us back.  We're used to responding and reacting in a familiar way and it takes effort to change...even if it's exchanging a bad habit for a good one.   It's comfortable to leave things as they are.  Change is an unknown and most people aren't excited to delve into the unknown.

If you're having problems implementing good principles into your life as a mom, start out slow.  Take baby steps and work on one thing at a time.  Replace that old familiar (but ineffective) method of doing something and teach your brain to respond in a different manner.  Slow improvements are more likely to last than spectacular bursts of greatness that fizzle out just as quickly.  Remember the story of the Tortoise and the Hare?  Spoiler alert...the Tortoise wins.  :)

Friday, September 5, 2014

A boy bunny and a girl bunny make...

On the front page of my local newspaper, there was an article about a man who is creating a video game for children to "show kids message of love".  Sounds harmless, doesn't it?

Reading further, the motivation gets a little murky.  In the game, "cupid" shoots arrows at bunnies.  When a boy bunny and a girl bunny get hit, a new bunny appears (that's logical).  However, if two boy bunnies or two girl bunnies get hit, a rainbow appears and new bunnies start appearing in different colors.  The object of the game is to get the most rainbows.  Or in other words, to make as many boy/boy and girl/girl couplings.

My objections?  Two boy bunnies or two girl bunnies can't make baby bunnies and teaching little kids that they can, is just plain wrong.  Also, to "win" the game, the player is encouraged to make as many rainbow pairings as possible.  What does this teach young children?

I admit, my perspective comes from a traditional christian background.  Even then, I have taken enough classes in anatomy and biology to know that it takes a girl "bunny" and a boy"bunny" to make a baby "bunny".  I also believe that that configuration is the healthiest for the baby "bunny".  The male species and the female species each contain certain gender-based characteristics which compliment each other in creating a family. 

What is the world coming to?  Sigh...

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Moving with little ones

In my first ten years of marriage, my family moved nine times.  These moves were due to my husband's job as a computer consultant and required moving from one end of the country to the other and places in between.  I learned a few things about moving with children!  :)

When you learn that you and your family are going to be moving, you usually have some time to prepare. However much time you have, don't delay!  You're going to need all the time you have!

First, start the process of paring down your belongings.  This includes furniture, clothes, books, toys, hobby supplies, everything!  Remember that everything you keep, you have to pack and move.  Ask yourself, "Do I really want to move that?"  "Can I replace it in our new area?"  Be ruthless!

While you're at it, start decluttering and organizing the possessions you WANT to keep.  Make sure everything you choose to keep has a home. 

If at all possible, buy a large supply of standard sized moving boxes, packing tape and Sharpie pens.  Boxes can be bought inexpensively at Home Depot and Lowes.  They are worth the cost and when you are through with them, you can knock them flat and store them or sell them on Craig's List to someone else who is moving. 

Tackle a few boxes at a time...starting with things that you or your family won't be using in the near future.  Label well on the top and at least one side of each box.  Color code according to room, using a different colored Sharpie or buying a pack of multi-colored duct tape.  A strip of bright pink tape across the top of a box leaves no confusion where that box is supposed to go.

Also when packing, don't fill large boxes with heavy items...unless you want your husband to get a hernia!  The smaller boxes are made for books and things like your cast iron pots and pans  :)  Save the large boxes for bulky, light things.

Designate a place in the house where packed boxes will be stacked.  As soon as a box is packed, take it to the designated place.  That keeps the rest of the house relatively normal.  :)

Try to do most your packing after the kids go to sleep at night, or during naptime or while they are at school.  The less you disrupt their normal routine, the less stressed they will be.  And because they are less stressed, you will be less stressed.

Obviously, pack the kid's belongings last and make sure they are the first things unloaded at your new house.

This is not the time to take on other projects or to work on fixing your child's new obnoxious habit.  That can wait.  Focus on the moving project.  Tell friends and other people "no" when they ask you to do something.  Don't make unnecessary appointments.

During the actual move, enlist the help of friends and/or family to watch your kids at their house.  It's chaotic enough without having kids underfoot.  Safer too!  If that isn't possible, set them up with movies, games, non-messy snacks and anything else that will entertain them...preferably in a part of the house that is relatively out of the way.  But, don't forget to keep a close eye on them!

Moving is definitely stressful but it's also pretty exciting to move to a new house and new community.  You'll all have an opportunity to make new friends, explore your new area and set up a nice, clean, new (to you) house.  Try to keep a good attitude and things will go much better for everyone!  Repeat the phrase, "This is only temporary, this is only temporary..."  as often as you need to remain sane.  :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ultrasound magic :)

Is it a boy or a girl?!
It's a PUPPY! 

LOVE those early ultrasound pics!  :)

Monday, September 1, 2014

September means...

Finally got the chimney repaired! 
Today is the first day of September and that means fall is fast approaching.  The days are already starting to shorten, there is a crispness in the early morning air, and the first dry leaves are starting to carpet the trail near my home.

There is a sense of urgency to take care of projects while the weather is still warm and dry.  Do you get that feeling also?   Now is the time to get the yard ready for winter.  If you have outdoor painting projects, better get them started!  Gather all the kid toys strewn around the yard, clean them and store them until next spring...same with garden tools, equipment and outdoor furniture.  Harvest the rest of your garden veggies.  Any home repairs that need doing?  Don't put them off!  How are the tires on your car?  If worn, replace them before you realize you have no traction during a rainstorm!  (That happened to me last week during our first big storm of the season...not fun!)

Although we still have a month or so (if we're lucky!), it's much less stressful taking care of these things now instead of waiting until it's cold and nasty out.  Have fun!