Monday, May 20, 2019

Where have you been?

thoughts from mom to mom

I did not mean for more than a week to pass between posts here on the blog...but it happened. 

I've been living life. What have you been up to? 

A few years ago someone asked me what I planned to do when the girls had both graduated and I was finished homeschooling? I jokingly answered "nothing for at least six months." My husband said "maybe six days." 

Finishing one season of your life and moving into the next is sometimes simple, and other times quite complex. I would have to say that this transition period has been rather simple, and I am so very thankful for that! 

A lot of small changes have added up to make some big differences. I've switched day jobs, and that has been so refreshing! The family is starting to realize that we won't all always be home for dinner, and that is okay. Also, it is a good thing that spring is turning into summer soon because we've been having dinner around 7 p.m. lately, so hooray for later sunsets!

I've also taken some time for reflection. That has not happened much along the way for the past few years. With this reflection has come an incurable urge to purge things from our home. That means last week Arlene and I spent all of our days off getting things out of the house. To me, that was much more important than writing a post just to have written one. I hope you'll understand. :)

What happens next? Some home improvement projects, more purging, and a lot of fun adventures! Spring is my favorite time of year, even if the rain occasionally makes you change your plans. 

In June I am blocking out additional time for writing my book. There may not be as many posts here as there were in the past, or there may be just as many because I need a diversion - we will just have to wait and see. 

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a post that a friend sent me. This mom writer nailed how so many of us feel at this time of the year - spread thin and worn out. To all you other middle season mama's out there - hold on - summer is right around the corner! Find it here

One day soon, probably sooner than you think, those teens and tweens will be grown up. They'll have their own cars, their own jobs, and their own true friends. They will also start buying their own movie tickets and their own groceries. Cherish the long days that you have now with them!

Big Mama hugs to you all!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Hebrews 11:1-2

Scripture Writing, hand lettering, Bible verses

What do we hope for?

As Christians, our faith should be in Jesus Christ, and not in the things of this world. 

It is easy to get caught up in hoping for temporary things: a bigger paycheck, a better marriage, a sunny day instead of rain on our vacation. But these are just temporary, and we need to guard against focusing on them. The world around us tells us to get all we can from life - and Jesus tells us to give all we can during this life.

Which one will you choose? The getting, or the giving?

For myself, I choose to hope in the certainty of Jesus' return. He said He was coming again, and that is what I will place my faith in. The reminders from His word that He will wipe away every tear, that there is room for us in His Kingdom, and that one day with Him is better than a thousand elsewhere.

What are you hoping for?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

#parentingtruth No. 17 - the danger of Can't

parenting truths, childhood, wise words, speak the truth in love

Oh parents, our words hold so much weight in the minds and hearts of our children. We ought to think more and talk less. One of the most dangerous words we may speak is can't.

First off, I have to say that this is a contraction that I have never liked. It sounds so harsh. The real word is cannot, which implies to me that while some of us cannot do a particular thing, others can. So let us agree to take can't out of our vocabulary, and when necessary, use the word cannot.

One of the biggest dangers  of can't is that we remember it for far too long. It is similar to saying "I love you, but..." 

Certain words stick in a child's heart and mind for much longer than others. For one of our daughters, the word but is understood to mean that everything I previously said has no value, only what comes after the but. For other children they struggle with cannot, or another qualifying word. Let me try to explain...

When I was growing up I was told "You can't do that, that's not how it works." Also, "you can't do that, you have to do this instead." Or one of the most discouraging "You cannot make any money at that, go into another field." Oy vey! How many times as a child, teen, or young adult did I believe the lies of the word can't? Way too many! If only more of the adults in my life had been encouraging with their words, instead of discouraging, I might have made much different choices.

Looking back I can see where God has made something good out of the choices I made, but I often wonder if there might have been a little less pain involved while learning the lessons I needed to learn if more of the adults in my life had pointed me to the God who CAN do all things, instead of focusing on the things I could or could not do on my own. I sincerely hope that I have learned enough of these lessons that I now choose my words carefully when speaking to our own daughters, and focus on what they may, can or should do, instead of what they cannot do on their own.

Can't was is the voices that told me I would never write for a newspaper again after high school Can't was in the message about which career paths to avoid. Can't was in the message that the only things available for me to do were in the activities the local public school offered. Can't told me to never take a picture straight into a mirror or a glass case. Can't told me I could be smart, but not liked. Can't told me that I had to settle for mediocrity or be ridiculed for using the brain God gave me. Can't told me that there was nothing to be done to bring joy to my life.

Can't is a liar.

God tells the truth, because He is truth.

Truth tells me that God has a plan for me to live an extraordinary life. God has blessed me with the opportunity to write a newspaper column every month for more than three years. God has blessed me with two co-mingled careers that allow me to serve and bless others. Truth reminds me to encourage my daughters to be just who God made then to be and to not hide their amazing brains just because it might make someone else feel uncomfortable. Truth shows me that there is a story worth telling in every single photo I take. Oh think of the stories I still have to tell!

Dear parent, there will be days when you need to tell your children they cannot do something, perhaps there is no money left in the budget, or they are too short for an amusement ride, or you have to be at work that day instead of on a field trip. Instead of filling their heads with a heavy burden of Can't's, choose instead to lovingly tell then that while they cannot do that activity today, you are sure that there is something even better that they can do soon. Then be on the lookout for God to reveal what they can, may and should do. Our words go from their ears to their brains and rest in their hearts. Fill then with daily reminders of what our amazing, loving God wants to do in and through them.

Speak the truth in love.

*I will be taking a break from this #parentingtruth series over the summer in order to bring you more fun road trip posts! Look for the #parentingtruths to return after Labor Day. In the meantime - let's get outdoors and explore!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

#parentingtruth No. 16 - the immune system

parenting truths, childhood, healthy immune systems

As a mom or dad, there are a lot of things to think about. Sometimes the sheer number of things you are responsible for can be overwhelming. We started early with choosing to protect our children, both their hearts and minds, and their immune systems.

There are a few key points that we followed that allowed our girls to keep their immune systems stronger. This is not an exhaustive list, but the basic principles that helped me determine if this thing: food, activity, living situation, was a good fit for us.

  1. Less sugar, more food
I was “that mom” long before it was a catch phrase. I was the one who limited their children’s sugar intake. In fact, there ended up being days of the year that we did not even leave home because everywhere we went, some well-meaning person would want to offer them a treat. (Think the day before Halloween and the weekend before Easter.) It is not like our girls never had sweets, they just had them with a lot more moderation than most children. By not filling their bellies with sugar, or refined flour, they were hungry to eat more real food, like organic beef, fruits and vegetables. So if you are wondering if your children are eating too much sugar… the answer is probably yes. Learning to appreciate a treat, instead of expecting one, is a good food lesson for all of us. :)

2. Soap
Just use good old-fashioned soap and water to clean your hands. Use it every time before you eat, and every time you use the bathroom. Seems like a simple concept right? Unfortunately too many people would rather slop some hand sanitizer on their children than take the time to teach proper hand washing. You don’t need antibacterial soap either, you just need to use soap - consistently! Soap kills germs, and removes dirt. Overuse of hand sanitizer can kill off even the good bacteria that live in your gut and help you digest food. It should be a last resort, not a first option. So go get some soap. It can be bars of soap from a local artisan, it can be a bar of ivory from the grocery store, or it can be foamy soap in a silly dispenser… just get back to teaching your children how and when to wash their hands. Their immune systems will thank you for it!

3. Immunizations
Ah, here it is… the one thing that divides more parents than politics - the topic of immunizations. Here is my take on it: you can choose to immunize your child or not, it is 100% your choice, not anyone else’s. I have friends whose children have had ever vaccine ever recommended, and others whose children have not had a single vaccine in their lives. Our girls fall somewhere in the middle. Now that they are both legal adults, if their are any immunizations that they did not have as children that they want to receive now, it would be a simple process for them to go get those. If they don’t want to ever have another vaccination, that is their choice as well. As the parent, you have to go with your own convictions.

I have two small things to say about this debate:
A- whatever you choose, do NOT ever shame another parent because of their vaccine choices. Their family their choice.
B- I’ve seen some studies on immune response. If you choose to get your child a vaccination, of any kind, it would be wise to give them at least two or three days at home, without anyone else’s germs to be fighting off, as their body work on its response to the vaccine. The same goes for adults who choose to get the flu shot: get it on a Thursday afternoon, take Friday off and don’t go out in public until Monday. Better safe, than sick. Your immune system can only handle so much at a time.

4. Vitamins and supplements
We have always tried to feed our girls real food. Even so, even when the majority of their diet is organic or at least non-gmo food, there comes a time when it is wise to use vitamins and supplements for better health. Personally, I am anemic. It is almost impossible for me to eat enough iron-rich foods in a week to keep up with my body’s demands. So every morning, I take a multivitamin with iron. I’ll probably still be taking it when I’m 70, although most women stop taking iron by their late 40’s. That’s just how my body works ( or doesn’t.) When our girls hit puberty, it was a war, so we decided that they needed to take a B Complex each and every day. Oh my, what relief… for all of us. Use what works for your children in their specific situation. Consider visiting a nurse-practitioner or a naturopath for advise on what to supplement with and in what amounts.

5. Stay home when you are sick
Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but I am sure you can think of someone just in the past week or two who you saw at (work, sporting event, church, grocery store, tc) who was obviously sick and would have been better at home. Yes, I know money is often the issue that sends adults back to work when they are still sick, but at least let your children stay home when they are sick. Let their bodies rest and heal. Call Grandma, your neighbor, a friend from church… there has to be someone that can watch your child.

One last thought

Bring the outdoors in, and take yourself and your family outside on a regular basis. Fresh air and sunshine fix a lot of immune issues. :)