Thursday, December 20, 2012

Self Talk (another exercise)

Stupid Brain!!! Why, oh why, must you keep me up all night with your excessive thought?

Ok, so perhaps the caffeine didn't help either. But why can't Caffeine wake my body up along with my brain? Am I broken or something? It seems that my body is not affected by caffeine at all, while my brain takes to it like a cow to grass.

So there I am laying in bed, my body protesting, "Get some sleep, I'm exhausted!" Meanwhile, my brain remains blissfully ignorant. Or perhaps it's more willfull disobedience.

I was lying there for hours, waiting, willing, wishing for you to go to sleep. To stop your ramblings. I just wanted to be fresh for the new day. Closing my eyes and willing my body to rest even if my mind wasn't listening, didn't really work out very well.

What is it about that state between tired and awake that keeps me in bed? I mean, I suppose if my brain was that alert I could have gotten up and done some work. But because my body was so exhausted, I couldn't muster up the energy to rise from bed. And so I laid there.

Then, my mom's voice starts playing in my head... or maybe it's God... sometimes I mix them up. (I mean, I know my mom isn't God, people! It's just that God's advice and my mom's advice tend to overlap.) "Why don't you try praying."

Well, for once, that didn't work as well as I hoped. I started down my mental list. And still you persisted. For a scatterbrain, you sure seem to stay on track when you want to. I started with my family as usual, going down the list one couple at a time. After each one you tried to drag me off track.

Finally, you were subdued. Not conquered, but at least subdued. It was a struggle, but I finally won. Of course, it didn't help that Hubby climbed into bed a few minutes later, jolting me awake again.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Activities for Older Boys

Here's how I came to write this blog... I did a google search and here were a few of my results:

 1) Christmas Crafts for kids
2) What to get a teenage boy for Christmas
3) Christmas gifts for teenagers
4) Christmas Printables
5) Christmas Party Games

What I really wanted was for some other, really smart moms out there in cyberspace to tell me how to keep my teenage son interested in spending time with his family at Christmas rather than becoming detached and bored with the festivities, or self-centered and focused on materialism.  Since I guess no one out there figured it out, I'm going to have to get creative and come up with something.

Now, keep in mind, my son is 15.  He's never liked crafts.  Although I did find an ornament idea a couple years ago that involved drilling a hole in a piece of wood.  That part seemed to interest him, but scissors and glue and glitter and crayons... forget it.

My best friends sons seem to have a bit more fun getting creative, but at 13 years old, they too, are getting a bit past the hand print turkeys and peanut butter pine cones.  So I'm brainstorming ideas for things they can do this Christmas that will be truly memorable and enjoyable for them.   

Here's what I've come up with so far

1) Hanging lights - I know some more protective parents might cringe at the thought of 13-15 year olds wielding staple guns while climbing on the roof.  I think they're quite capable, and ours are certainly tall enough.  I think letting them put up the lights and design the yard decor will give them a sense of accomplishment while encouraging their independence in a positive way.  My husband certainly doesn't like doing it, and I'm not overly fond of heights... so I think while the younger kids are applying pom-poms to Popsicle sticks these young men can be wiring the front yard with electricity.

2) Setting up the Christmas tree - Last year my son grew tired of hanging ornaments pretty quickly.  If we end up getting a live one this year, he can have the fun of sawing off portions of trunk to fit our ceiling height and then going over it with clippers to shape it up right.  Even if we end up setting up our pre-lit artificial tree, he'll probably still find it a lot more invigorating than deciding which hand-made crocheted snowflake looks best next to the sequined musical note ornament.

3) Preparing the New-Years Bonfire - This one may not be applicable to everyone, but here in South Florida we like to ring in the new year with a nice marshmallow roast around our fire pit.  Since they don't have to chop wood all year like boys did 100 years ago, they might relish the opportunity to wield an axe.  Not to mention, they'll probably be pretty proud of their biceps afterward.

4) Making tin can luminaries - I remember doing this as a teenager.  I also remember my brothers really enjoying it.  I'll have to save some good sized cans.  I think it will be worth the hassle of washing chili residue out if he gets to bang a nail through a piece of tin.  He also might get a tiny kick out of lighting the candles, as it deals with more fire.

Well, that's the best I can do.  If any of you, smarter, moms out there already have a list, send it my way.  I'm all for conglomeration on these things.

There is Hope

Well, the day has finally arrived.  Or I suppose I should say "season."  I have been a parent for 15 years, and I am finally baking with my children (without losing my mind, or ending up with boogers in the frosting).

So let me encourage you, mothers of little ones.  They do grow up.  They don't stay little and incompetent forever.  Some day, you will be able to recreate the Norman Rockwell moments with your children.

My children are now 15, 10, 8, and (as of tomorrow) 4.  I finally am in a place where I get a full nights sleep about 80% of the year.  Exceptions include bouts of sickness and the occasional nightmare.  I don't have to change diapers or worry about where the closest bathroom is at any given intersection on my errand runs.  My youngest still has the occasional accident, but overall she is unbelievably good at going potty in a toilet without needing my help the whole time.  I can even send her with a sibling at times if it's necessary.

My 15 year old is now old enough to babysit his sisters.  I can't even begin to describe the bliss of being able to run to the store for a bit while he holds down the fort.  I have to say that right now I am really reaping the rewards of being consistent and down-right hard nosed when he was younger.  Be encouraged, young mommies.  If you stick to your guns, grit your teeth when it starts getting hairy, and stay consistent with them, someday you'll be able to walk out the door without them in tow and be assured that the house will still be standing when you get back (and you won't be getting a call from the ER).

I know that it's exhausting.  I know that they don't know when to shut-up.  I know that if you hear one more complaint about dinner you're going to smack some... thing.  I know how difficult it can be to punish them AGAIN for the same thing.  I know that its nauseating when your friends without children brag about all the sleep they got when daylight savings ended, while you were up at the crack of dawn because your little one's alarm clock doesn't run on analog or digital.

So let me ease your weary mind.  Someday they will be older.  I know you're getting lots of advice to cherish them while their young.  If you're like me, you're probably starting to feel guilty about not appreciating their starry-eyed wonder while simultaneously visualizing how to make a strait jacket look cute.  The great thing is, when they're old enough to start doing fun things you'll still have a good ten years left with them.

Sure, they may not say "pasghetti," or do silly dances to the music playing over the loudspeakers at the mall.  They may be too tall for the play-place at McDonalds, or two gangly to keep on your lap while you read them a book.  But you'll still have plenty of moments to cherish with them, and those moments will start to get closer and closer together.

I hope this encourages you.  I hope that you can take a deep breath as you listen to the silence of your little ones getting into mischief (because if you've read this far, they're either sleeping, or getting into something), and realize that "this too shall pass."

P.S. The Chocolate Cupcakes with Nutella Frosting were delicious.  :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next 12 days of Thanksgiving

In my last post I wrote twelve things I'm thankful for.  They were intended to be one for each day of the month thus far.

Here are my next 12 things.

Day 13: I'm thankful for being able to share in the joy of children coming home from college.  I keep reading posts from friends whose children were far away, coming home for the holiday.  Even though my children aren't at that stage yet, it's still fun to join in the excitement

Day 14: I'm thankful for the beauty of God's creation.  Several of my friends have posted pictures of rainbows on their Facebook walls.  Not to mention, the weather here in South Florida has been delightful.

Day 15: I'm thankful for brothers who taught me not to be a sissy.  Thanks to them I may enjoy being a woman, but I don't have to be afraid of anything.

Day 16: I'm thankful for a body that works (most of the time).  I'm thankful that I don't have to deal with major diseases, and my heart goes out to those who do.  I pray that all of my friends will be cancer free, healed of MS, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, or any other chronic condition and living life to the fullest.

Day 17: I'm thankful for experiences I wouldn't have paid for but get to enjoy for free... like tickets to a Miami Heat game that were free.

Day 18: I'm thankful for strong willed children, and the excitement they bring to my life.  I don't always like the struggle of training them, but I love their passion and resolve.

Day 19: I'm thankful for homeschool friends who I can share the load of teaching with.  I'm thankful for students who love to read, and contribute their thoughts and opinions in my literature class.  I'm also thankful for those who don't love to read, and challenge me to inspire them.

Day 20: I'm thankful for my wonderful mother (today is her birthday)

Day 21: I'm thankful for being able to spend time in the kitchen with my children.  I was able to teach my son how to make bread.  Hannah has also shown an interest in cooking this year which has resulted in many stress free meals.

Day 22: I'm thankful for opportunities to care for others.  Sharing a meal with a friend who's just had a baby, or a difficult surgery.  I'm glad I have friends who are willing to allow others to bless them.

Day 23: I'm thankful for opportunities to make a little extra cash.  A birthday party where I'm paid to serve, or little handmade items that were ordered are great opportunities to have a little extra spending money for the holidays.

Day 24: I'm thankful for babies I can shower with gifts.  I love shopping and sewing for little ones, especially little girls.  I'm thankful for ultrasound technology that can give me a few extra months to pile on the blessings before they enter the world.

Monday, November 12, 2012

12 days of Thanksgiving

Yes, I tend to put things off until they pile up.  So, true to my nature, here are 12 things I'm thankful for.

1) The usual, typical... family.  I love my husband, and each of the children we've had, and I'm so thankful that I have a good relationship with my siblings, parents, and all my in-laws.

2) I'm thankful for friends who are close enough to be like family to me.  I'm thankful that although all of our extended family live a minimum of twelve hours drive away, I have friends who live close-by and can celebrate birthdays and holidays with us like family.  I'm thankful that their children are like my adopted nephews and niece, and that my children are like theirs.

3) I'm thankful for my freedoms.  I'm thankful that I live in a country where I can teach my own children at home legally.  I'm also thankful that I live in a state where there aren't a lot of homeschooling regulations placed on me.

4) I'm thankful for restful trips to visit loved ones, and vacations spent with "just us".  I know that not every family has the luxury of taking very many vacations.

5) I'm thankful for pets, even though I don't have any right now.  I'm excited about being able to give them to my children when they are mature enough to handle the responsibility of taking care of another living creature.  I also love my friend's pets and that I get to love on them when I visit.

6) I'm thankful for a very nice home.  I know that not everyone gets to live in even 1500 square feet, and I have a full 2500.  I know that there are families as large as mine who are squeezed into apartments.  I'm very thankful that I can relax in plenty of space.

7) I'm thankful for warm clothes in winter and cool clothes in summer.  I'm thankful for thrift stores where I can buy children's clothes at a discount that have barely been worn.

8) I'm thankful for traditions and memories that started those traditions.  See's Candy at Christmas, going to the pumpkin patch, window shopping with my best friend after my birthday.

9) I'm thankful for creative children.  I'm thankful for little girls who love to color and cut paper and make all sorts of things out of found objects.  I'm thankful for a son who finds new and different ways to accomplish tasks.

10) I'm thankful for play dates with friends, being able to teach my daughters and their friends how to play croquet.

11) I'm thankful for variety.  I live in a country where I can get food from all over the world, and clothing in every color and style.  I can get maple candies from Vermont and chocolate from San Francisco shipped to me in south Florida.  I can decorate my home in Swedish post-modern style or British Victorian and use furniture that was actually made in those countries.

12) I'm thankful that I live in a nation that still sets one day aside to show thanks, even though many of those who celebrate don't recognize the God from whom their blessings flow.  I'm thankful that, although retailers understand that they get a lot more business by rushing the Christmas season, and downplaying our day of thanks, they haven't completely erased it from our memories or habits.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tackling Hair Accessories

I have three daughters who share a room.  This means that every so often (I should do it once a month, but I don't) I have to go in and help re-organize all their stuff.  Today I untangled and threw away a bunch of hair accessories and once again found myself wishing I had a good way to organize them.

So I searched Pinterest, and found a few ideas.  Then I searched the internet and found a few more.  Then I decided to walk around my house and find whatever I could to morph all those ideas into something that would not require a trip to JoAnn Fabrics (which would inevitably lead to my buying more stuff that I don't need).

I found this box in my garage.

 It's one of those monster size boxes of Greek yogurt from Costco.  Did I mention I like Greek Yogurt?  I was going to plant something in it, but that's another story.

I cut down the corners to flatten it, and removed the extra cardboard layer from the corners.

Then I glued the end flaps down.
I was going to say, "hot glue," but it's technically a cool-temp hot glue gun... whatever.
Then I glued the sides down as flat as I could.
I tried taking a picture while I hot glued, but couldn't do it one handed.

This is what it looked liked with everything flattened out.  I picked this box because I figured those little depressions in the sides would come in handy later when I tried to space everything out.

Then I cut some batting just barely smaller than the size of the flattened box.
Oh, and I put the batting on the flat side, not on the side with all the layers, but it probably doesn't matter.

Then I glued fabric around the whole thing.  I glued opposite ends  first so it would stretch nice and tight.

This is what it looked like when I was done.

Then I went upstairs and went to work organizing the hair clips and head bands.
I recycled four headbands that were a bit stretched out already by just wrapping them all the way around the board.  I might go back later and put the narrow one under the wide ones, but we'll see how it works for now.

Here is my finished product.  I'll give it a week before every single one of these things is either on the floor or crammed on a shelf again.  It was fun to make though and my older girls think it looks pretty cool.

At some point I might hang it on their wall, but for now it's just going to sit on the shelf.  I might make one for each of them and put them sideways on one of the bookshelves.  Again, we'll see.

Now I have to figure out how to store the ponytail holders and the elastic headbands.  Too bad my last oatmeal can got turned into a knitters pet.  I suppose I should give the kids more chocolate milk so I can turn the can into a headband holder.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to Pin to a Blog post

I've gotten into the world of Pinterest with a vengeance.  Unfortunately, there's one thing that frustrates me enough that I decided to write a blog about it.

How many of you have clicked on a friend's pin only to find that the link goes to a general blog rather than to the actual post that caught your friend's (and subsequently your) eye?

Here are a couple of steps to ensure that you pin the correct information so you don't send your followers on a wild goose chase.

You're perusing a blog and you find a post that you want to pin.  DO NOT: Click on the address bar and copy the text into your pin box.

Step one:  Click on the title of the blog post. This text is usually a larger, bold font at the top of the post you're looking at.
Note: If you've been looking at pages and pages of a particularly well-loved blog and you don't want to lose your place, right click on the title of the post, and open the page in a new tab.

Step two: Highlight the URL and copy the direct link to the blog post

Step three: Paste the address in the "Add a Pin" box on pinterest.  If you've been doing this wrong for a while, you might notice that suddenly you have a lot less photo's to click through to get to the one you were trying to pin.

You can try the steps right now, but if you found this link on Pinterest, most of the steps will already be done for you.  To practice, click on the title of the blog (Me and My Gals) at the top of the page.  This will take you to the front page.  If it's been a while since I wrote this post, you'll have to search for it or scroll through the blog to get back to the right post.  Then follow the instructions.

I hope this helps clear up some confusion.

Happy Pinning.  

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Christmas Math

Here's an epiphany I just had while my children were discussing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" song.

What object did the true love receive the most of?

My 14 year old math genius son answered it in less than a minute and was able to prove his answer.

My 9 and 8 year old daughters just listened as he explained.

Here's how to use it as a math lesson.

For younger kids, you can start with the correct number of objects for each day.  To make it really simple here are some Coloring pages of the objects in the song that you can print out (laminate if you are OCD like that) and use.  Or you can use different colored candies, or manipulatives, or you can get really creative and glue the pictures to clothespins or Popsicle sticks and have them put them in order each time you sing the song.!i=1119318377&k=vp898

Now, you'll have to remember to print out or cut out the correct number of each item to represent it properly.  Once you've sung the song, have your child count each item and find out which object is the correct answer.

When they get a bit older, you can use the song to explain Multiplication.  This is doing quick Addition based on groups of the same number of objects.  You can also point out that the song has a repeating pattern.  For instance there are the same number of objects from the first day as the last.  1x12=12x1

Once they get to higher math, you can have them write algebraic equations to represent the number of objects, or use a cartesian plane to chart the curve.  Day one: P=D1, Day two T=D2 or for the purposes of charting Object=Day x Number of ojects (O=D1, 2, 3, etc)

Anyway, that's just my two cents.  Hopefully this will make math a bit more fun for your kids, and not ruin the Christmas tradition for them.  :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vanilla Orangeade

Can she do it?

Can she post a recipe without turning it into a life changing story with a good moral at the end?

Let see....

Vanilla Orangeade
(Possible Christmas gifts for lucky friends)

1 cup Fresh squeezed Orange juice (I used about 5 oranges)
1 cup vanilla syrup
4 cups water

Mix it all up and put it in a pretty jar

Well I guess the difficult part of this recipe is squeezing all the oranges.

Done.  :)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Accidents Happen

I'm convinced that a five day fast lasts about two weeks.

I started on Saturday.  I have not eaten anything since.  In order to maintain the fast I have been drinking fresh sqeezed lemonade, made with maple syrup, and sprinkled with cayenne pepper.  The pepper actually isn't bad.  It's only a tiny bit, and as long as it doesn't sit too long it's masked by the strong lemon flavor.

Today is my last day.  I almost gave up, but my competitive instincts kicked in yesterday when my personal trainer said he'd never done the full five days.  Growing up with a bunch of boys has honed that competitive instinct in me. I embrace it when I know it will have a positive effect.

Today I broke down.  No. I didn't eat anything, but I cried.  I'm pretty passionate about food, and I really enjoy cooking.  I miss sitting at the dinner table with my family.  I really miss entertaining myself with munchies.  I could really go for some Nutella dipped Bugles right about now.

Here's how it all went down.  Since today is my last day, I used my last lemons to make my last tiny pitcher of lemonade concentrate.  I realized as I finished squeezing the lemons that I had run out of maple syrup the day before.

No worries.  I put the lemon juice in the fridge and went to Whole Foods.  I figured as long as I was out I might as well pick up the veggies I need to make the vegetable stock I'll be eating tomorrow to ease myself back onto solid food.

As soon as I got home I finished making the concentrate.  Two cups of sticky sour sweetness, ready to be mixed with water as I'm ready for it.

Then I started on the vegetable stock.  Any good cook knows that really good vegetable stock is a long process.  If I waited till the morning, it wouldn't be finished until around lunchtime.  I got the stock simmering. Then I went to the fridge for a shot of concentrate.

When I looked inside I noticed that one of my shelves wasn't on the bracket properly.

Have I mentioned that lack of food causes extreme fatigue and can dull common sense?

I fiddled with it.  Sorry, but I'm one of those people who can't leave well enough alone.  Before I knew it I was grabbing the glass jar of French Lemonade as it came tumbling toward me.  My only thought, avoiding broken glass.

Well I saved the French lemonade, but the cold trickle soaking through my jeans alerted me to the fact that my special, non French, maple syrup infused lemonade hadn't fared as well.  The little plastic pitcher had tumbled out and the lid had popped off, spilling every bit of the concentrate.

I actually said, "Crap!" out loud.  This got my kids attention because Mama doesn't use that kind of language.  My teenage son jumped up from his video game and came over to take a look at what could be so horrible as to induce such expletives from his mother.  To my utter shock and awe he said, "I'll help clean it up."

There are plenty of moments during parenthood when you wonder if your child will ever learn manners, or kindness, or any of the virtues you try so hard to instill.  Then there are those golden moments when you think maybe, just maybe you're getting through after all.  He cheerfully mopped up the mess the best he could while I went up to change out my sticky pants.

I could feel the tears coming as I walked upstairs and realized I was very hungry and I needed those calories which were spread all over the kitchen floor.  They were really welling up by the time I realized I was out of lemons.

This is one of those rare moments in life when you realize God really is love and you're the object of that affection.  I texted my hubby and asked if he could come home early, and by early I mean about an hour and a half before he usually does.  Within moments I had an answer, "Yes."  

Have I mentioned that I have an amazing husband.  Don't hate me.  He stopped by the store on the way home and bought me more lemons.  Then he sat with me a while and listened to me decompress.  Then he got up and made dinner for the rest of the family.

So, even though I had a rough time, even though I almost quit, God turned my mini catastrophe into a moment of bliss.

Not to mention, my kitchen really did need to be mopped.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Out of the Box

I'm creative.  I'm not going to feign humility here, nor am I saying that I'm more creative than everyone else... I just know I am creative.  Creative people are famous for thinking outside the box.  Unfortunately many of us suffer from a malady I will call economic deficit disorder.

Because we don't have a lot of moola we are forced to find ways to use our creativity to pay the bills.  Usually this means performing menial tasks, or using our creativity in a way that has been historically proven financially sound.  (And by the way, spell checker, "moola" is a word.  I looked it up on

I spent most of my day hemming pants and taking in the waistbands of clothing other people designed, rather than creating dazzling new boutique fashions worthy of a New York catwalk.  Okay.  I don't really want to design "those" types of clothes.  But my point is, I spent my day doing alterations and it was pretty boring.

I'm sure there are tailors out there who love alterations.  I'm sure they just can't wait to clock in at the beginning of a day and spend their hours ripping seams and re-attaching buttons.  It's just not my cup of tea.

All that time in front of a sewing machine, even if it is mundane, makes me stop and think.  I mean really think. Creatively.  Because I'm not doing anything particularly mind boggling, I have all that time to think of other things, and today those other things centered around climbing out of a box created by perceived economic necessity.

In his book, Quitter, Jon Acuff stresses the need to keep your day job.  Seems a bit backward for a book about starting your dream job.  He has a point though.  If you're too quick to jump into the work you want to do, that pesky "economic deficit disorder" hits hard and fast.  Pretty soon you aren't doing the work you love, you're taking on whatever work you can find just to pay the bills.

At a recent writers conference, and in Steven King's book On Writing, I was reminded not to become a writer for the money.  This makes a lot of sense because I've noticed that I spend an awful lot of time writing, and I still haven't gotten paid for it.  I'm sure if I was doing it for the money I would have quit by now.  (Side note: I highly recommend Mr King's book, but I have to warn you that he has a potty mouth)

God has really been challenging me lately to think outside the box.  A friend of mine is the owner of a private film company.  She makes commercials for local companies and does audio-video recordings of special events.  She once told me that her clients often criticize ideas that took her hours to come up with, because it's easier to criticize than create.

It would be simple for me to pull up numerous images of a Gaultier original.  I know I have the talent to use those images to make a knock-off.  I could probably even alter it a bit to fit an average size figure.  But, that knock-off would never be as priceless as the one Gaultier designed.  Why? Because he created the original.

I love designing, and I love writing.  They are two of my favorite things to do.  With either one I can study the works of others and try to use the established pattern of success to make some money.  If I do, I will most certainly be proud of my achievements, and I will never be famous.  I'll just blend in seamlessly with all the other folks who make a living playing copy-cat.

Or, I can start blazing my own trail, think outside the box, and dabble in the unknown.  There will be no guarantee that I will make one red cent.  I may even die before anything I've created becomes valuable.  There's not even a guarantee that anything I make will last that long.

So now I have a challenge, for myself, and for anyone who's willing to try it.  Start thinking outside the box.   Welcome critique.  Prepare to be ridiculed.  Van Gogh certainly was.  Don't just sit and copy everyone else's stuff.  Embrace that thing inside you, that reflection of the God who made you.  You may be pleasantly surprised at the results.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Frenchie's Does It Again

If we could bottle the charm of an eight year old girl we could have every nation in the world at our doorstep.

Like any good parent I want my children to be able to handle the money God gives them.  I used Dave Ramsey's suggestions about saving for their first car and decided to apply it to bicycles.  I thought that if I could get them to save up half the money for a new bike and then match their half, then later on they would understand the concept of saving up for a car.

I tried it with my son, and it didn't seem to be working.  The bike he wanted was priced around $300.  I don't know if he felt overwhelmed or just didn't catch the vision, but it took him several years to save up the money.

Since all of my children are too young to get a job, I knew I would need to offer opportunities to make money.  I made up lists of things they could do to clean various rooms of the house and assigned dollar amounts to them.  I offered to pay $1 for doing a load of laundry on their own, without prompting from me.

I would have given up on the idea if it weren't for my daughter, Hannah.  A few months after I talked to my son Hannah wanted in on the deal.  She was learning to ride like her big sister and was growing tired of waiting for a turn on Deborah's bike.  As I did with my son, I took her to Frenchie's and she found a bike that was priced around $100.  Unlike her brother, Hannah was motivated.

As an example, one day I told all three of the older kids that I would pay them $5/bag for cleaning up hedge clippings.  They had to completely fill a black landscaping bag.  My son didn't bother to try.  My older daughter filled one bag and then gave up.  Hannah filled about four bags and would have filled more if there had been more clippings to clean up.  

Within three months she had saved up her $50.  Unlike her siblings, she was motivated to earn.  I kept my end of the bargain and paid the remaining amount.  As a reward for her hard work I even paid for a little bell to be put on the bike.  The bell broke that afternoon when she wiped out for the first time.

Fast forward two years.  She's eight now, and I noticed the other day that her legs are getting too long for her old bike.  It's a great bike, very well made, but it is just too small for her.  I suggested that she start saving up for a new one.

I knew how hard she had worked to save $50 the first time around.  I knew the bigger bikes cost more money.  I didn't want her to be frustrated because she would have to save up a lot longer.  I prayed and asked God to take care of the situation.  If she needed to build the character to understand that replacing old things is a fact of life, then that would be up to God.  If He wanted to reward her diligence then He could provide the right bike for less money.

Hannah's birthday was last week.  She told a few people that she was saving up for a bike and would appreciate money instead of normal gifts.  Among her friends, her grandparents, and a wonderful lady at our church she made about $38.

Today I took her to Frenchie's to price out her new bike.  This way she would have a goal, rather than just being ambiguous.  We decided to take a look at some used bikes this time, since I knew it would be a bit cheaper that way.  She singled one out and asked one of the clerks how much it would cost.  I was surprised when he asked her how much money she had.  She proudly pulled her money out of her wallet.  $38 plus one gold dollar coin.  The man told her to save her gold coin for a rainy day.

I knew she would need a bit more than $38 to buy a bike so I pulled five $1's out of my wallet to add to her stash with the intention of paying the difference regardless.  She walked with the clerk to the cash register and to my surprise returned a moment later with three $1's to give back to me.  The clerk had charged her $40 even.

I told him how thankful I was, and how I our family had already bought three bikes there and would definitely be back the next time we needed one.  He told Hannah that if any thing went wrong or got broken she could bring it back and they would fix it.  Hannah mentioned that she had a bell on her old bike that was broken.  As if giving her a bike for $40 wasn't enough, he went in the back and found a bell to put on the handle bars.

Oh, and among the used bikes I found this beauty... I guess it's time for Mama to save up for a new bike. ;)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Unopened Gifts

I receive hundreds of gifts every day.  Most of them remain unopened.  On Christmas Day I am not so ignorant.  A physical package placed before me is much harder to miss.  As it is, these gifts don't come wrapped up in boxes, with shiny ribbons.  They are intangible, but more real than most people realize. 

My observational skills were a bit more awake than usual today.  This morning I counted several.  

1) The warmth of my toddler pressed up against my back as I woke.  She had another nightmare last night and came to sleep in my room.  She shifts against me like a kitten and I dare not move lest she awaken and the moment pass.  

2) The ability to imagine.  This gift was passed on to me by my parents, wise as they are.  I was able to lay in bed and conjure up pictures I can only hope to transcribe someday.  For now they are mine to do with as I please.

3) My husband's arm wrapped around my waist, his lips pressed gently against my hair.  I know too many with broken homes.  I dare not take this gift for granted.  

4) The technology provided to me allowing me to touch others with my writing.  If I were to use pen and paper I doubt anyone would ever see this list or share this thought.  

5) Cool peppermint leaves immersed in my cup of water.  It's hard enough for me to keep plants alive in my yard.  For some mint is a weed, for me it's a spark of hope that perhaps I'm not completely void of gardening skills.  

The longer I think, and the more I open my mind the more gifts I realize are at my fingertips.  Air to breathe and air conditioning to cool it.  The roof over my head, and all the objects that fit under it.  My children, their personalities challenging me to always be more than I thought I could be.  

Ann Voskamp, the author of "One Thousand Gifts" said this, "I want to see beauty. In the ugly, in the sink, in the suffering, in the daily, in all the days before I die, the moments before I sleep.”  Her insight is itself another gift to be opened.  I read her book over a year ago.  I forget so quickly.   

I will start again.  I will observe.  I will let no gift remain unopened.  I will unwrap each one as it is given to me, savoring the contents, keeping them forever in my heart.

Luke 11:13 -  "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

True Self Esteem

I have a few questions for you, my reader.  I'll keep this short and sweet... no, really this time!

Has anyone ever paid you a compliment?

If you answered that with a yes, then let's get more specific.

Has anyone who really likes you paid you a compliment?

I'm not talking about some flatterer who says something nice about everyone.  I'm talking about someone who spends time with you when you aren't feeling very well.  I'm talking about someone who has seen you cry.  For girls, I'm talking about someone who can tell you honestly if that dress makes you look fat and you won't get angry at them.  For guys, I'm talking about someone who can beat you, but still wants to play with you anyway.

Have they ever paid you a compliment?

Now my final question.

Did you believe them or did you listen to what they said and then blow it off?

Here's what I've learned.  If someone you trust pays you a compliment, it's probably true.  It's time for you to stop shaking your head, or denying it, or thinking, "They're only saying that because they like me."  Yes!!! They are saying it because they LIKE you.  If they didn't like you then they wouldn't say it.  In order for them to like you, you must have been like-able at some point.

The next time someone you trust pays you a compliment, OWN IT!!!  Say to yourself, "Yeah, that's me."

Now, here's the most important part... I'm not saying all this to turn everyone into prideful morons.  Because once you truly believe that you are awesome, your job is to make everyone around you feel awesome too.  True self esteem is not just walking around feeling great about yourself.  It's being so confident in your unique abilities that you don't waste time thinking about yourself anymore.  It's being so confident in your unique abilities that you start using that awesomeness to help others find their unique abilities.

So from now on:

If someone tells you you're awesome, smile and say thank you... and mean it.  Then think about someone you love, someone who trusts you, and tell them they're awesome.  And, once you convince your friends that they're awesome, start making new friends, and convince them that they're awesome.

Oh, and by the way... all my friends are awesome.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Being Neighborly

I'm curious about everyone's opinion on this one...

I came home at 2:00 today with a splitting headache.  One of my good friends had a group garage sale this morning, and I took some stuff to sell.  It was hot out.  I mean, we are talking about summertime in South Florida.  I probably didn't drink enough water.  The garage sale went well, and I dropped off all the stuff we didn't sell at a thrift store on my way back home.

When I got to my house I heard music emanating from a neighbors house.  It sounded like party music.  I'm thankful that there are plenty of kids in our neighborhood because it gives me and my children more of an opportunity to minister to our community.

I was happy that we just had new windows put in that were sure to help deaden some of the sound.  To my surprise when I got upstairs to my room I could still hear the music.  I discovered that the party was in the yard directly behind our house.  The music was so loud outside that it sounded only slightly subdued in my house.

I tried not to let it bother me.  I watched a movie after I took some painkillers, hoping that a little rest and hydration would help me feel better.  I turned the movie up louder than I like in order to hear it without the distraction of the music.  Even then I could still feel the bass.

After an hour or so one of my daughters came in and asked if they could play on the bounce house.  Apparently the neighbors had one set up in their yard and my daughter thought she could invite herself over to play on it.  I explained that we weren't invited to the party so we wouldn't be able to play in the bounce house.  Still the music played on.

When my movie was over it was harder to ignore the music.  I think they had turned it up.  They were switching back and forth from mexican rock n roll to techno to almost mariachi music.  The few songs that I could understand had lyrics that talked about sexual encounters and "love" which according to one female vocalist is spelled L-U-V.

Eventually I got up and started prepping dinner.  The music was even louder downstairs, as we haven't replaced our sliders and they are traditional glass.  I decided to make a point with my girls (who were all playing in the living room) as to why we don't play loud music at the parties we throw.  I opened the slider and demonstrated the volume at which they would have to talk to their friends if they were at the party.

The music continued.

Now I'm writing this blog post and the music is still blaring.  It has been over five (5) hours!!!

So here are my questions

1) Is it appropriate to play music with sexually graphic lyrics at a children's party (perhaps not technically explicit, but definitely obscene)?

2) Is it kind to play said music at volumes that make it impossible for your guests to converse at a reasonable volume? Or, am I wrong in thinking that part of the fun of having people over is to socialize in a way that involves actual conversation?

3) Is there an appropriate limit to the amount of time that you expose your neighbors to loud and obnoxious music before you should expect to be asked to turn it down?

4) Finally... Is it appropriate for me, as a neighbor, to ask them to turn down their music after an appropriate amount of time or would that make me an intolerant jerk who just likes to ruin kids' parties?  Or, would you rather your neighbor walk over and ask you to turn it down, or just call the cops?

WOW!!!  They just turned their music down.  Literally, as I typed that last question, the volume dropped so that I can hardly hear the music at all.

*** (5 minutes later) My 7 year old just came in and told me that she went over and told them, "My mom is getting tired of listening to the music," and they turned it down.  I love that girl!!!  :)

Woman Conquers Fire

During spring of 2011 our family decided to go camping at Disney World.  We stayed at Fort Wilderness campground.  Before this trip our family had only gone camping one other time.  We stayed at a state park for a weekend, and only brought the bare minimum of necessary gear.  For our Disney trip we would be staying a week, and therefore need a lot more gear.

I took several trips to our closest Bass Pro Shop and our local walmart trying to amass the necessary items for "roughing it" at this resort.  For someone as interested in survival as I am, it was difficult to maintain a balance between the minimal equipment I wanted to pack, and the luxury items I knew would be important to my fellow campers who aren't as buzzed about survival living.  I made my list, checked it twice and then tried as much as possible to stick to it.  

For some women, shoes are difficult to shop for.  They hoard them in their closets and under their beds.  For some women it's gourmet kitchen equipment.  They drool over catalogs filled with images of cast iron pots and combination mushroom/egg slicers.  For some women it's organizational supplies.  They have their paper clips and rubber bands color coordinated.  Their desks are neatly arranged with little cups and boxes for writing implements and post-it notes.  

For me it's camping gear.  Not just your usual run-of-the-mill gear, but survival gear.  I purposely avoid the outdoor equipment section when I head to Walmart for groceries.  I'm glad it's off in the corner of the store, because if I were to accidentally wander down the wrong aisle with a little extra change in my pocket, you can bet I'd end up with an emergency survival kit thrown in with my frozen foods.  

The looming camping trip gave me all the excuse needed to finally venture down those paths.  I made every purchase with cash to keep me within my budget.  The only thing I bought that wasn't on my list was a little metal rectangle with a tiny serrated blade tethered to it.  Flint and Steel.  In retrospect I probably looked a little like Wallace when I found it.  As much as I laughed at my son's desire to learn to light fires with a magnifying glass I felt the same way about my new toy.  

It was much colder in the mornings than I had anticipated.  I didn't want to waste time on practicing with my flint while my little girls teeth were chattering, so most mornings I left the fire building to my son, and allowed him the privilege of using a lighter.  

Finally about halfway through the week my opportunity came.  I worked steadily for about an hour.  The serrated blade scraped most of the epidermis off my left index finger.  Before long I could empathize with my son over his first attempts with a magnifying glass.  My problem was that my fuel was damp.  I had plenty of Spanish moss, and even had scraps of a cardboard box to use for kindling, but I couldn't get anything to light because it had been left out overnight and the dew had gotten to it.  

I tried again that afternoon, and again the next day, and finally the blisters on my fingers made me give up in despair.  I let my son have a go, and he didn't do any better.  When we got home all the camping gear was packed away in the garage.  After a few months our fire pit rusted out (it was the cheapest one available) and it went to it's final resting place on nearby trash mountain.  

Fast forward a year and a half.  

Last week my son told me he wanted to buy a fire pit.  He did some pricing online and found a portable charcoal grill for $15.  I knew he missed playing with fire.  I was planning to buy a new pit eventually, and his determination helped me prioritize things a bit differently.  

With the new one fresh out of the box he started collecting kindling once again.  He tried to get his magnifying glass to work, but the last few days were too cloudy.  I still had the rule against matches and lighters, but now we had a flint buried somewhere in our camping gear.  I suggested he get it out and try it.  Within a few minutes he was putting it back in frustration.  

Later that afternoon I got out the flint, determined to try my hand once more.  I scraped off a pile of magnesium, grabbed a wad of dryer lint and began to strike the flint.  It took seconds, and the lint was in flames.  I had finally done it!!!  Not only had I lit a fire with a flint and steel, but I had impressed my son.  Any mom of a teenage boy knows that those moments are few and far between.  

To be Continued.   

Friday, June 15, 2012

Boy Conquers Fire

I have a 14 year old son.  Like every other teenager in the history of mankind, he is getting dangerously close to pyromania.

A couple of years ago he asked for a magnifying glass for his birthday.  At the time I naively thought it was for observing smaller objects.  Fortunately I thought to ask him what he planned to do with it before I gave it to him.  He proudly announced that he was going to use it to start fires.

The day of his birthday he opened the tiny package and did his best Wallace impression as he laughed gleefully.

He dutifully opened his other gifts (objects that cost money which I probably could have saved in retrospect).  As soon as he finished he asked if he could go outside and try to light a fire.  I told him he could as long as he kept it contained.

About ten minutes later he came in crestfallen.  His master plan had failed.  The weeks and months of research (watching a handful of YouTube videos of fellow pyro-enthusiasts with their lenses) were a bust.  My husband told him that it takes a long time to get it to work, and that perhaps he should try again tomorrow.

He did try the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.  Eventually he learned the nuance of lighting fires, but he was limited by how big he could build them.  I wouldn't relent about their containment, and he didn't have much space to build them in.

Once I knew he was trustworthy I bought a fire pit.  My main reason was to have a designated location for my son and his friends to build their fire for a camp-out in our backyard.  For the camp-out I let him use a lighter since it was evening,  early spring, pre-daylight savings time.

After surviving a night without constant adult supervision, and now that we had an actual fire pit, he began a daily routine.  He got up early, finished his chores and rushed outside as soon as the sun was high enough to kindle some coconut husk.  During the afternoons he would scavenge the neighborhood for dried up coconut husks.  He would search the overgrown areas at the park for pieces of rotting wood.  All of these were fed to his growing skill.

To be Continued...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Doctor Who

Have I mentioned yet that I love Doctor Who?  I took the last couple weeks and watched all of the recent seasons.  I've known about it for years, but only recently got really attached to it.

I watched an episode with my dad when I was a kid.

I remember like it was yesterday.  It was a Saturday afternoon.  One of those rare days when my dad had the day off, and we didn't have any real plans.  One those days I felt kind of dizzy.  I walked around in a fog because I was so used to having every moment planned and filled, and then suddenly there was no plan.  It was one of those days when lunch and dinner aren't on time and so you go to bed wondering if you ate all the right meals, but feeling full.  It's such a groggy, relaxed kind of feeling.

Anyway, my dad was watching TV, so of course, I was sitting right there with him.  I wanted to grow up to be like him so I had to do everything he did.  He had this show on.  It was black and white and I asked him what it was.  He said it was Doctor Who.  I sat there patiently, waiting for the story to make sense, and it never did.  I just remember these weird fake looking bad guys and the Doctor and his beautiful companion fighting them off, and trying to make it back to the Tardis. (or should it be written TARDIS since it's an acronym?)

The "bigger on the inside" element escaped me apparently because I didn't bat an eye when they stepped inside the little blue box and it was an entire spaceship.  Maybe I had given up trying to understand it by then.  I just remember that the doctor reminded me of Gene Wilder on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (a movie that gave me nightmares).

I don't remember watching more than that one episode.  I don't know if it's because my dad just didn't have time to watch it, or if it was a one day special.  Maybe he watched it, but that first experience was so confusing that I wasn't interested in watching it with him again.  Regardless, when it was re-released in 2005, I was oblivious.  I heard about it a couple of times on late night TV, when I couldn't get to sleep and there wasn't anything good on.  I heard some references to it from friends of mine, but for the most part I could only remember this strange Gene Wilder type character, a cliched pretty helper, and a confusing storyline.

All that changed when my best friend mentioned that she was watching it.  Well, it was more that she was watching it, and enjoying it.  This was the last straw.  If she liked it, then I knew I would too.  I did!

I suppose I do the same thing to a lot of people.  I love them and so I want to know everything about them.  I want to know what makes them tick, what interests them and why.  I look for connections, and make them.  If there's something that interests my best friend or my father or my husband or my children I want to experience it as well, so that there is one more bond connecting us.

What are you willing to try in order to connect on a deeper level with those you have relationship with?  The Bible says, "A man that has friends must show himself friendly. (KJV)" The second part of this verse is even better.  It says, "There is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."  Jesus was willing to give his life so that our sins wouldn't separate us from God.  Now all we have to do is make a connection.  Make an effort to know your creator, and He will show you what He loves.  He will show you that what He really wants is for you to be with Him and love Him.

If you want to know more about this relationship, start reading the Bible... Start with the book of John, and then if you want to keep going read Romans.  I'll warn you though, there will be things that you probably won't like.  Our natural bent (also known as a sin nature) doesn't like some of what the Bible says.  If you can keep in mind that God loves you, and that His greatest desire is for you to be truly happy (not just for a little while, but forever) then you will be able to see that everything written is to help you have a better connection, a better bond with God.  Trust, and have patience.

Oh and you can always leave a comment and I'll answer any questions you have the best I know how.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


I've tried about three times now to write this blog, and every time I've gotten derailed.

I'm learning a lot these days about how the enemy works... it's funny when you think about it.  God can use any means to create relationships with us.  All we have to do is start wanting it bad enough.  And when we finally start seeking Him he opens our minds to show us the deceitful plans of the enemy of our souls.

This is one I've been made aware of recently.  One of the greatest attacks Satan uses on us (and by us I mean all people everywhere... not just Christians) is separation.  The more he can isolate us, the more he can keep us in the dark.  God created us to be His companions, and as such we are also in need of companionship.  That is what we crave.  That is why even the most secluded souls reach out to objects for companionship.  Even those who have been hurt time and again by other people turn to animals for friendship and consolation.

The funny thing is, when you start seeing the plans of the enemy from God's perspective they seem so silly.  They seem so stupid and weak that we are surprised that anyone gets sucked in.  That is the key really, to see everything from God's perspective.  So here are just a few of the tactics I've seen recently.

1) misunderstanding. Suppose you are in love... perhaps with a spouse, or perhaps it's just a really great deep friendship.  You enjoy being together, and can't wait to connect again and again.  Then this person says something inane.  I mean really inane.  Not even intentionally mean spirited, just stupid because they aren't even aware of how it's going to affect you.  They aren't inside your head, and they don't know every single thing about you.  They can't read your mind, but somehow they've picked at one of your old psychological scabs without meaning to.  Suddenly you start to dislike them.

For some people, this little tick is enough to end the friendship right then and there.  You are convinced that they did it intentionally, and are just like everybody else... out to hurt you.  For others, this is a small wound that doesn't get taken care of properly.  The event is lodged like a microscopic bit of shrapnel oozing infection until the whole relationship dies off.

The funny thing is, if we truly think about it, the comment or action or whatever started the whole thing wasn't meant to be hurtful... why would anyone who loves you so much intentionally hurt you?  Until we have our eyes opened to the weakness of human nature, we cannot realize just how silly we are.  Take a step back.  Really think about all the time you've spent with this person.  They love you, and they want to be with you.  They didn't say or do it to hurt you, and the only way to get past it is to shrug it off, and love them back and tell them that it's a sore spot.  When you open up to someone like that you aren't displaying a weakness, you are strengthening the bonds between you and the enemy can't stand that.

2) distraction.  I can't think of anyone nowadays (at least in any moderately civilized country) that doesn't know what facebook is.  Why do you suppose it was created?  It certainly wasn't so that people would plant cyber farms and raise electronically generated vegetables.  It was created so that people could maintain relationships in a busy world, where it's hard to spend time together.  So, then, why would folks log onto a social network and spend all their time worrying about recruiting total strangers to their pirate crew so they can unlock special quests? or why would folks get angry at a silly computer development company for promising them pretend units of money so they can make fake pickles?

Looking at it from God's perspective, it feels kind of foolish to spend so much time caring for pretend people when we could be building relationships with real ones... unless of course, you've had enough "misunderstandings" with real ones that you've written all human beings off completely.  If this is the case, go back and read #1.

3) busy-ness.  I suppose some could simply use the word "business" because that really is the word's intended meaning.  You're so busy with your work that you don't have time to maintain real relationships with people.  Think about it.  It's the perfect plan.  Make the human race think that everything they do is so vitally important that if they stop for one second they'll fall behind.

If you're a parent, think about every moment you spent with your child.  For some that won't take very long because they are so busy with everything but their child.  They can count the number of truly meaningful, focused moments with their child on one hand.  For others, they have spent their whole time worrying about their child instead of building relationships.  Instead of taking time to explore the psyche of this incredible being they helped to create, they are worried about making sure this being doesn't fail (as if somehow God is incapable of keeping this from happening).  Instead of relishing the time spent in deep communion with these unique individuals, they rush them from moment to moment in the hopes that enough exposure to enough experiences will help shape them into the perfect human being, capable of total freedom from pain and disappointment.  In turn these individuals grow up thinking that staying busy is what keeps them from spontaneous combustion, and they can't understand why they aren't fulfilled.

Now, I realize that not everyone who reads this has ever experienced parenthood.  I also realize that not everyone God created desires to raise children.  So think of it this way.  There is someone out there, someone who you can connect with on an incredible level.  There are amazing individuals who can open your mind to incredible thoughts, show you incredible things, share with you incredible experiences.  The only problem is, you're so worried about maintaining your hectic life that you haven't met them.  You do as you're told, in the hopes that your job will fulfill you, but you lack the deeper companionship that you truly crave.  You know deep down this is true because the spirit God gave you wants companionship more than anything.  More than money, or power or excitement.

4) abuse.  This is the last one I'm going to expose today.  There are plenty of others, and as God opens my eyes with His vision I'm sure I'll see plenty more.  This is the most painful of all.  The others are like anesthetics.  They keep you dull and unaware.  This one is like torture... you are aware of it the whole time, but you don't know how to stop it.  

For the abuser, it is a pain they cannot help but inflict.  They are tortured, wanting companionship, but unable to maintain it because of their actions.  They strike again and again, and are left afterward feeling the guilt and shame of their behavior.  Some are so afflicted they have to be locked up.  Separated even further from the companionship they desire most.  Don't get me wrong... they need to be separated.  God weeps over their condition like a father weeps over his murdered child.

For the abused it is a different kind of pain.  The most obvious physical reactions are not the only affects of abuse.  The abused suffer for years after the attacks stop.  They not only question the actions of their abuser, but they question themselves on such a deep level, I'm in awe at anyone who can reach them.  Of course, their Creator has the power to restore, but in giving mankind free will, the abused must at some point ask for restoration.  Unfortunately many do not ask because too many of those who could show them the way are stuck in #'s 1, 2 and 3.

So there it is, the plans of the enemy revealed.  Simple, yet tricky.  Sometimes painless sometimes cruel.  Our job now is to decide what to do with this information.  Will we continue to believe his lies, moving toward our appointed date with eternity without trying to stop the deception?  Or will we determine not to let him have the upper hand?  Will we decide that it's so much better up in the heavenly realm seated with Christ, communing with Him and building relationships with other imperfect human beings that it's not worth it to keep succumbing to the enemy's lies?

Psalm 119:165 says, "Great peace have they who love Your law, and nothing shall offend them (KJV)."  I used to think this was something I had to decide... some will on my part to not allow anyone to offend me.  Now I realize that if I am viewing the world from God's perspective, then I simply will not be offended by things.  It's like getting angry when someone wearing a blindfold bumps into you.  It's not like they realized they were doing it.

Seek First God's Kingdom.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Out of My League

I'm going to a writer's conference.  I'm very excited.  At the same time, though, I'm nervous.

I don't have a college degree that lets people know that I've put in enough hours to earn respect in the writing community.  The only things I've ever had published were a couple of poems.  I don't usually count these because they were entries in a writing contest that was more of an enticement to purchase the anthology than an actual contest.

I've always felt a little behind, a little out of step.  I have lots of ideas, but no one with any real authority has decided that I am worthy of publishing.  I can't even find a good editor for my book... and I'm willing to pay.

So I am a little nervous.  There are only 30 slots at this particular event.  It seemed like such a great idea to begin with.  Now I feel like I should gracefully bow out and let someone else who has real talent have my spot.


There's something in me.  There's this dogged determination, this will to keep at it.  I heard once that sometimes a desire to succeed is more powerful than innate talent.  (I want to say I came up with that myself, but I'm pretty sure someone else said it before I did.)  Sometimes the little girl who's gangly and stiff ends up being the prima ballerina while the little girl with the willowy, graceful limbs falls behind.  What's the difference?  One was born with it and has taken it for granted, and the other had to fight for it tooth and nail.

I've been writing since I was about 10 years old.  I sat in awe of my father's ability to hold a captive audience.  I wanted to be able to weave tales as he did.  Of course, his tales actually happened.  His colorful experience was the backdrop that brought his stories to life.  My life was pretty mundane and boring (at least compared to his).  So I had to make up the backdrops, and hope that I could weave in enough conviction to make people listen.

Over time I have learned that my brilliance is lessened (greatly) when I don't give my ideas time to marinate.  When I throw a bit of prose out into the spotlight, rather than rehearsing it until it is old hat, it becomes weak and dull.

So now, here I am, headed into the thick of it.  I'll once again feel like a child pretending to be grown up.  Hoping that they have a chair with extra padding so I can see over the table; wondering if I'll look silly with my feet dangling under the table; hoping that the other "real" authors will be gracious and forgiving when I open my mouth and they realize that I'm comparatively unseasoned.  Most of all I look forward to honest feedback.  I have steeled myself for their criticism, and hope that I can come away with a few pointers to help me become a better writer.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Trouble with 'Why'

I've recently discovered a very naughty word.  Okay, so I've known about it for some time.  I just didn't realize it's power until recently.

I read a book (scandalous) and ever since I've been using this word.  Well, I've used it before, but not as profusely, nor as boldly.

When I was younger I used the word primarily in my mind.  My fear of being thought of as foolish kept me from using it out loud.  I was worried that others might think I should have known the answers long ago.  I was worried that my use of it might be offensive.

Now I use it every day.  I use it in every situation.  I use it prolifically.  It permeates my religion, my education, my diet.  No situation is too genteel to quiet my tongue.

In fact, I'll use it here.  Why

I'll use it again.  WHY!

Insignificant, you say?  Apparently not.

Ask a evangelical why they treat homosexuals differently than gluttons.

Ask a homosexual why they must tell everyone what they like to do in the bedroom.

Ask a progressive why their agenda is going to work this time when it hasn't worked long-term in any other government in the history of mankind.

Ask a republican why it's okay to bow to the liberal agenda in order to get re-elected.

Ask a college professor why they are threatened by a students Christianity.

There's more

Why do some people preach that God is silent now that the Bible is complete?

Why do some "Christian" churches treat women no better than the Muslims do?

Why do we keep trusting the FDA to make decisions about what is healthy?

Why do we spend so much time watching pretend people live exciting lives on TV instead of getting out there and living our own lives?

Why do people complain that the education system in America is broken and yet continue to give up their children to it?

Why are there so many versions of history?

I'm not sure what the answers are yet, but I no longer worry about my use of the word.  By using it I may rock the boat of casual indifference, but by ignoring it I do myself and my fellow man injustice.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Free Publicity, Anyone

Well, Time Magazine certainly has achieved what it set out to do.  They have been getting all sorts of free publicity out of an article they ran on attachment parenting.  Now, here I am ready to keep this trend going.  

A far as attachment parenting, I started out Babywise, and it was horrible.  I regret a lot of what I did with my first born.  Although I appreciate the advice I was given, in my youth and inexperience I took it to the Babywise extreme.  
In view of my experiences, I can totally identify with the defiance pictured.  I think our society has become so oversexed that something as natural as feeding your baby the way God designed is considered socially unacceptable.  

In view of my experiences, I can totally identify with the defiance pictured.  I think our society has become so oversexed that something as natural as feeding your baby the way God designed is considered socially unacceptable.  

Secondary infertility really didn't help with those regrets.  After trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for several years I vowed that if I had another child I would treasure every moment I had with her.  My son was five by the time we had our second, and by then I had done my research, and completely changed my parenting tactics.  

I think it's ridiculous that someone would have a problem with attachment parenting.  I would much rather see a parent attentive to their child's needs, than ignorant and letting the child grow up ignored.  

I read a comment today that went something like this, "Children need to learn how to function in the real world, and coddling them is bad for their development."  I would like to remind everyone that we are talking about people who breastfeed and co-sleep, etc while their children are very young, allowing them to reach independence when the child is psychologically ready.  A three year old doesn't need to learn about how hard the world is, by being pushed away by his own mother.  Why rush it?  In our society kids will be sticking around until they're 18-20.  As many mothers have said of potty training, "They won't be wearing diapers when they graduate from college."  

First of all, those early years are so misunderstood.  I knew a mom whose 2 year old looked like a 4 year old.  The poor kid would push other children down the slide so he could have his turn, and the mom got so frustrated with the judgmental stares she received from other parents at the the behavior of her toddler (who didn't look like one) that she finally began asking them, "How old do you think he is?"   

And it's not just about how long you breastfeed, either.  I have a friend who explained it perfectly.  "If you were out in public, and someone pulled a bottle out of their diaper bag and held their infant while feeding her the bottle, no one would think twice."  But if a woman sat down to breastfeed and didn't try to hide it, she would be the subject of everyone's conversation in a 50 foot radius.  

I understand the Christian talking points about how men are turned on visually, and that the sight of a woman's breast can cause a man to lust after her.  Well, I'm sorry.  I think it's time for men to learn self control.  It's time for them to learn how to handle themselves in a public place.  It's time to stop being so selfish.  It's hot and sticky and sweaty sometimes, and having to put a blanket over a baby is uncomfortable to the mom and the baby.  

I was at an amusement park once.  I had paid a pretty good amount of money to go there.  It was so hot and muggy that I ended up having to leave because I knew it would be offensive to nurse without a cover-up.  There were no air conditioned areas that I could use to nurse privately.  So, basically in order to keep some guy from picturing himself having sex with me, I had to leave and go home.  

Really?  Is that how it's going to be?  Some sicko can't watch a baby being fed naturally, so instead of him being punished, some poor mom and her baby can't go out in public?  Yes, I get angry about it.  It's time this changed.  

Here's the simple truth.  What a person does to raise their child is THEIR business, not anyone else's (barring abuse).  No one has a right to tell me how long to breastfeed, or where to send my children to school, or what kind of food to feed them.  I don't have a right to tell any other parents that what they are doing is wrong.  I'm sick of our society trying to take parental rights away.  

Now, having said that, I have one caveat.  Parenting is (or should be) a joint effort between a husband and wife.  Children need the stability of both a mother and father, in a committed relationship: not necessarily argument free, but committed to working things out together.  That being the case, I have chosen, in light of scripture, to submit my own free will (and defiance) to my husband's preference that I cover myself when I'm in public...thus the reason I left the theme park, and didn't just let it all hang out.  Let me be clear that we have discussed nursing in public numerous times, and came to a compromise on the issue.  This compromise changed with each of our children.    

Really, parents.  It's time to stand up for your God given rights.  While it's wise to heed the council of those who have gone before, God is the one who gave you your child, and He knows what is best.  Oftentimes, His ideas of a great parent and society's ideas are completely opposite.  Don't let public opinion ruin your child.