The End

*2006 post*

I was flipping through my journal the other day and realized it has been nearly a year since I gave up watching TV. I say 'give up' because I was pretty sure God wanted me to stop watching TV, but I fought it. I sort of liked my shows. I spent some time trying to negotiate. You know- How about if I give up the shows I don't really care about as much? The ones I won't miss as much? Or I'll record them so I'm not a slave to the TV schedule. But I'll only record SOME. Or, Maybe just for a season. I wanted to hold onto it.

And yet, stronger than my desire to watch my shows was my desire to obey my God. Finally I relented and said, "Okay. If this is You, calling me to obedience in this, that's enough for me." And that was it. I haven't watched TV since. I mean, a few minutes here and there. And a Pittsburgh Steelers game with my husband from time to time. But, no more shows. And oh, has it been good. The absence of TV ushered in a hunger in me for more of Him. And that pursuit has been so much richer than any show ever. Obviously.

The TV screen no longer has a place in my life, but now there's another screen that beckons me. You know. The computer screen. Ours sits here in our living room (where we happen to do most of our living). And I like to pop in throughout the day. I really do like this blogging thing. I like writing. I like the comments. I like to read other blogs. I like to glean ideas and tips and recipes and resources from so many of you. I like the comraderie. The like-mindedness of so many of you in the blogosphere. All of these virtual friends I've made. :)

And yet. The question on my heart again and again has been this:

Is blogging a pursuit that God is pleased with in my life? I'm not sure what the answer is to that. And in all honesty, I think I've been afraid that if I really asked, I would find that yes, indeed, God would have me cease doing this (He's a jealous God, after all) and I don't want to give it up. And so I've kept blogging. And lately I find myself going into negotiating-mode once again. I'll just be more disciplined. I won't post every day. This is a good thing, right?

I have learned much here. Have I given much? I don't know. Is this activity in my life glorifying God? I don't know. I would hope and pray so. But I simply don't know.

And. The question remains. Is this pleasing to God? It gives me pause. Last night and today, I feel this nudging to lay it down, to set it aside. I'm not entirely sure that God is saying, "No, Stacy. No more blogging." I'm not nearly as convinced as I was about the TV-thing. That was kind of a no-brainer, but this? This is a good thing. But a good thing can also be a distraction from Him.

Paul and Timothy wrote to the church in Colosse:

"We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God."

That is my heart. To live a life worthy of the Lord. To please Him in every way. To bear fruit in every good work. To grow in the knowledge of Him. Oh, that is my fervant prayer. I want nothing to distract me from that pursuit.

That, more than this.

And so this will be my final post. Because if God is calling me away from this and closer to Him, I want to obey.

But I do plan to see what you're blogging about, Kendra. (And if I'm ever in California, I just may knock at your door. I mean, if I can find you. For a game of Settlers, you know. :)) And so many others... I will come and read and comment. Rebeca. Ann. Dana. Michelle. Linda. Joni. Jen. Stacy. Sandi. Ali. (Er, so I'm really not leaving, after all! Nah... I am. But I will check in- maybe just on a weekly basis, though.) You, and so many others, who have come here to read and to comment. And you have written things that have encouraged me in my pursuit as a wife, mother and homemaker. I thank you.

I plan to keep pursuing and loving Jesus. And my husband. And the little flock He has entrusted to me. Those things I KNOW are pleasing to Him.

ps- Can I just say that I feel a little choked up over this? (And a bit teary, even.)

On daddies

*2006 post*

This past week my daughter (4) and I were sitting on my bed. I was sorting socks. She had just finished 'nursing' her dolly quietly and was now tucking the baby into bed. She was telling me all about her baby and was being such a sweet, nurturing "mama".

I commented- as I often do, "Honey, you are going to be such a good mama someday." I then added, "I wonder if God will give you sons, daughters, or both?"

Then I said, "When you get married and want to go on a date with your husband (Mark and I had done this earlier in the week), you can bring your children to grandma's house and I can take care of them for you!"

She was pondering this all with a very serious expression. She finally said, "It's going to be hard to find someone to marry when I get bigger."

I asked, "Why do you think that?" And she said, "Because all the daddies are already married."

Can I get an instruction booklet, please?

*2006 post*

There is a household task I cannot seem to figure out. I have determined, over and over again, to complete this task. And yet no matter how many different ways I've tried it, no matter how many times I've done it, it evades me. My attempts to complete this task result in utter frustration on my part. And 9 times out of 10, I end up calling for my husband to come and take over.

Are you curious?

It is this: Putting The Duvet Cover On Our Down Comforter. The task itself sounds simple enough. I assure you, it is not. This task is not for the faint of heart. (Thus, not for me, apparently, since I always end up giving up in exasperation.)

And yet. I begin confidently, every time. I even give myself a little pep talk as I proceed. This is very simple, Stacy. What we're going to do is this: Hold onto the left-hand corner of the comforter, and reach into the duvet cover. When you get into the corresponding corner, grab both corners (comforter and duvet) and hold tightly. There. Now go for the other corner. Grab both of those corners. Hold very tightly. Now, shake it out.

It is at this point that I realize that while my first reaching for the corner attempt was successful, my second corner attempt was not. I always end up with the wrong corner of the duvet.

For a visual, imagine the diagram below as my duvet cover. I am standing at the foot of our bed, near the C and D corners. My goal is to reach for corners A and B. However, I invariably end up holding on (for dear life, I might add) to corners A and D. The B corner is the problem.



What is it about this seemingly simple task that I cannot seem to wrap my brain around? Is it the sheer size of these two items? Do I need longer arms? A map?

Don't even suggest the whole turn-it-inside-out approach. Do you think I haven't tried that? I saw those step-by-step directions in a Martha Stewart: Living magazine years ago. I pored over those directions. Probably even tore out the page and brought it into the bedroom with me, consulting it as I went along. IT DOES NOT WORK. Not for me, anyway.

If I weren't so attached to my down comforter, I would toss it out for a quilt in a heartbeat. But I happen to be very attached to my down comforter, so the problem persists.

Last night, I gave up again in exasperation. Mark dutifully came in to rescue me. I came back into the room as he was finishing The Awful Task. So I asked him, "What do you DO?" He began to carefully explain his procedure. He started by saying that he turns the cover inside out. I rolled my eyes. And then he said this, "..and then I climb inside with the comforter." I had just taken a drink of water and I literally spit it back into my cup I was laughing so hard. The image of my husband- all six feet, six inches of him- climbing inside our duvet cover has me shaking with laughter even now. How could I have missed this event so many times? Now I can't wait for the next installment of Putting The Duvet Cover On Our Down Comforter. I plan to snag a front row seat.

Christmas cards: cast your vote!

*2006 post*

In my last post, I invited you to vote on our family Christmas cards this year.

Before you view the options, please keep in mind that I kept them simple. (I just don't have it in me to tackle embossing powder with preschoolers. Or little eyelets, for that matter. Though I'm sure my son would have been mighty excited about the hammer I use for pounding those in.)

For our 2006 Christmas-card-making-venture, here's what we (me with my two-year old and four-year old) came up with:

#1 (This one I colored, but wouldn't for the actual cards)

#2 (The Merry Christmas is on the inside)

#3 (Obviously very similar to #1, just with deckled edge scissors on the red paper, and the Merry Christmas and snowman have changed places. And it was colored by my daughter).

#4 (Merry Christmas is on the inside)

#5 (I tried to limit the coloring pencils to the greens and reds, but my son got ahold of the orange pencil for this card! :))

Okay, cast your vote for card #1, #2, #3, #4 or #5. I'll give it one week, tally up the votes and proceed! :)

Have a wonderful day!

Making Christmas cards

*2006 post*

Once a year I let myself "splurge" at the stamp store. I go in for the sole purpose of purchasing a stamp (or two) to make Christmas cards with. Then I head to the paper store and get the paper and envelopes I need.

I really like making our Christmas cards, and it's a tradition I plan to keep. Making cards is something I used to do it a lot, but it's rare that I ever have the time anymore. I look forward to this time a year when I get to be creative and make cards.

When I get to our stamp store, I first walk around and look. There are many cards made and hanging up above the stamp displays, so I look for elements I like in those cards. I glean ideas, and try to get my own "vision" for what kind of card to make. Once I have a rough idea, I search for a stamp to use within the framework of that idea.

This year I decided that I wanted our children to help me make our Christmas cards. When I headed to the store, I was looking for something that would:

a) be appealing to them, and
b) be something they will be able to help me with

This is what I came home with:

I usually experiment a bit with the stamp(s), papers and colors in an effort to determine what I like best (or, what is easiest to mass-produce!) I generally make up a few cards and then ask my husband to choose the one he likes best.

Well, this year I thought I might open up the voting... to YOU! Tomorrow I'm going to post pictures of the five options I've come up with and let you vote on which one you like best. (Does this sound fun to anyone but me?) The card that gets the most votes is the one I'll make in bulk and send out for our Christmas cards this year.

Another craft idea

*2006 post*

Are you familiar with those bags of Chex Mix snacks? You know, the ones with the chex cereals and the bagel chips and all that yummy seasoning? And all the different flavors they come up with? They've got the Traditional flavor but then they also have Honey Nut and Peanut Butter and Caramel Crunch? Here. These:

Mmmm. I like those. I personally prefer the salty ones but I realize some of you may be prone to the sweet varieties. There's only one part of those party mixes that I don't like. The pretzels. I appreciate all the other stuff, but the pretzels I can do without. My children eat around them, too. My husband will eat the pretzels but only because he wants a snack and all the 'good stuff' is already gone.

Recently I was munching away and ended up staring at the remaining pretzels in the bowl. I tried to convince my brother-in-law to eat them, and he ate a few, and then I had this great idea so yanked the bowl away from him to rescue the pretzels. The next day we made these projects:

Now scroll back up and look at that Chex Mix bag pictured above. See the other type of pretzel offered? We didn't have those last time! Next time we're making houses. With windows.

*I realize some of you may not eat Chex Mix, or may even like the pretzels that are in these. But you can still get crafty. There are always cheerios. Or buttons. Or pennies. Or little pieces of paper cut out in the right shapes. And you can skip the cars and make trains! (What child wouldn't think that would be fun?)

Honoring the Sabbath

*2006 post*

Recently Rebecca asked the following question:

For as long as I have been a mommy but particularly more recently, I have struggled with what to do with myself on the Sabbath. The fact is that as a mommy, my "work" doesn't end on Sunday- I still need to provide meals, clean up children, manage the household, etc. I'd be interested to know how you and your readership spend our day of rest without having to play major catch up on Mondays while honoring the Sabbath in a way that is glorifying to God, as well.

Isn't this a great- and important- question?

I know that I have much to learn in this area. We have come a long way in honoring the Sabbath, but still are not where I'd like us to be as a family, either.

As with any day when daddy is home, I know that my tendancy is to want to take care of all those chores (and errands) that I can do without our children in tow. In time, though, I have learned to be purposeful in not doing these things on Sundays. Similarly, since Mark rarely has a Saturday off, it is tempting to work on house projects on Sundays. But, we refrain.

The other thing we try to do is to make our meals simple on Sundays. For breakfasts, I try to put something together the night before (usually muffins) or when morning comes, we all eat cereal before heading to church. For lunch we pull leftovers out of the fridge or make sandwiches. For dinner, we do something equally simple. And we all pitch in to help get it on the table.

When Mark and I put our children down for naps, I often crawl into bed and take my own nap. Or we curl up on the couch with books and read. Or we sit at the table together and play a board game.

I can't tell you what a blessing it has been for our family to rest on our Sundays.

I can't wait to hear what you readers have to say in response to Rebecca's question. I know our family has much more to learn in this area, and I'm anxious to glean from those of you who are purposeful about keeping the Sabbath.

So. How do you do it? How do you spend your Sabbath day? What things do you avoid? How do you rest when you still have the regular demands of motherhood?


*2006 post*

The big news of my yesterday was this: I was fitted for a hearing aid. (I know, does that not sound like I'm seventy-four years old?)

Let me give you a little history. About five (six?) years ago I began having trouble hearing in my right ear. Loooonnnngggg story short, they discovered that I had a benign tumor behind that ear. I have had four surgeries (all to remove the tumor that kept growing back) over the past several years. And when all is said and done, I can't hear at ALL, really, from that side (unless you're standing one inch away from me and shouting at the top of your lungs.) Okay, so, maybe I am seventy-four.

So. I drove to the hearing clinic. Mark was at home watching the kids. As I drove, I thought, "Shoot. I forgot my book!" But then I remember that it's a doctor's office and they have magazines. Always a perk.

I check in with the receptionist at the little window when I get there. She is seventy-four.

And then, I head to the waiting area to... wait. And I notice the overhead music (Bette Midler) is awfully loud. I think, "Well, duh. People that come here can't hear." And then I reach over to the stack of magazines. The magazine on top is Retirement Weekly. (No, not Entertainment Weekly, RETIREMENT Weekly. RW. You know.) Not super interested in that periodical, I have to say. So I thumb through the stack of magazines (I confess, I was digging for a People or an US Weekly) and they are all Retirement Weekly's. All 11 of them. Okay. Well. That was a let down.

So I look around a bit more (another table? a little rack on the wall?)
But no, nothing. I had no idea how long I'd be waiting and I sort of READ when I'm in waiting rooms. I glance back at the RW Table and then I see it. The only other reading material in the whole building was the Gideon-left KJV of the Holy Bible. So I promptly picked it up and read my chapter in Proverbs.

Oh yeah, and then I got fitted for that hearing aid. It will be ready in two weeks. And then everyone in my LIFE will be so grateful that they don't have to stand on my left side to speak to me.

I'm feeling really elderly just writing about this. That and the fact that I could maybe get a part-time job pulling the grey hairs out of my head. I've always liked being a brunette but I'm beginning to think those blondes have something going for them. Grey doesn't show up as easily if you have blonde hair. I'm jealous. And I'm ONLY thirty-one, by the way.

Getting dressed

I have a daughter. And she has clothes in her closet. Put those two together and you get a daughter who likes to dress herself. Oh my, is this an adventure!

The outfits my daughter comes up with are- I can’t even think of a word to describe them. Interesting? The word still doesn’t quite do it justice.

Those sweet dresses I purchase aren’t quite so sweet-looking when there’s a t-shirt worn OVER the dress. Or pants underneath it. (I've never actually been particularly fond of that look.) Or when those cute saltwater sandals are worn with socks.

That little pink and grey stocking cap her great-grandmother made is darling, but not so much so when it’s worn with shorts and a tank top. In the middle of summer. Or when she chose the whole shorts-over-the-top-of-a-pair-of-pants look. (You know, for those cooler summer days.)

A few years back I remember being at the grocery store or the mall and I would see other little girls, four or five years old, and think: “Does that mother have NO fashion sense? Her daughter is wearing stripes with a floral pattern!” Now I know. My daughter wore that same combination just today. If each item has one like color- today it was pink- she figures it's a match!

And she thinks a striped shirt ‘goes’ with a striped pair of pants. No matter if the stripes are going the opposite direction. She’ll prance into the room in the morning and say, “Mommy, look! Stripes, and stripes!” (pointing to her shirt, then to her pants.) She is so delighted with herself I don’t have the heart to say, “Oh, honey, no. No, no, no.”

Or she’ll appear wearing ALL OF ONE COLOR. Red shirt, red pants, red socks. “Mommy! I’m matching! I’m all red today!” Nevermind that they are three separate shades of red, one bordering burgandy.

And she often chooses clothes for her brothers.

Here's the thing: I personally actually do like my own clothes to match. But I let her get herself dressed every morning but one. (That would be Sunday mornings). I realize I could inform her which clothes go well together, but I know we'd be having that conversation over and over again while she tries to figure it out. And honestly, I don't want to expend the energy and conversation over something as shallow as clothes. It just doesn't matter. She'll learn soon enough.

And then there's this verse: "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." So I am trying instead to focus my energies on her heart. On those specific patterns of sin in her life that we're aware of. And when we do talk about clothes, we talk about issues of modesty.

So her clothes clash like nobody's business. And some days I have to swallow my pride as other mothers gawk at or comment on her ensemble and remember that it's her heart that matters, not what clothes she's wearing.

Easy (and fun!) craft idea

*2006 post*

On Saturday we had our best buddies over (Amy's boys) to play for a few hours. I grabbed a craft/art book and perused it while the kids were playing outside to see if we could do a quick project before lunch. I found one I knew they'd like, and we began.

We made Clay Porcupines, an idea I found in this book:

I actually don't use art books much, as I generally make up my own ideas, but this is a fun book in a pinch.

We had everything on hand and it only took a few minutes to get ready. The mess was minimal, and they all thoroughly enjoyed the process. (All important factors in being crafty with kids!) As you can see, they were very focused.

Here's the finished product:

Cute, huh? If you're so inclined, here's what you need to make these:

-Salt clay (recipe below)
-Uncooked spaghetti
-Popsicle sticks

Self-hardening Salt Clay
1 1/2 cups salt
4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 tsp. alum (as a preservative if the clay isn't baked)

Mix dry ingredients together in a plastic bowl; then add water gradually. When the dough forms a ball around the spoon, knead the dough well, adding water if it's too crumbly.

This clay can also be baked. Set the oven to 300 degrees and bake small shapes for 30-40 minutes or until hard.
*We didn't bake our porcupines.

I made one batch and divided it between 6 children (yes, even the little guys participated!) and that was plenty. If you're only going to do it with a couple of children, I'd halve the recipe.

The best part for the kids was breaking up the spaghetti noodles and poking them in. While I made the dough (3 min), I had them start breaking the noodles. They spent about 20 minutes poking in all the porcupine's quills and then I broke the popsicle sticks and stuck the little legs on. And drew the faces. (By copying the picture in the book).

And wouldn't an art/craft book be another good idea for a Christmas gift? You could purchase a book and then the materials needed for a craft or two within the book. That'd be fun for little ones, doncha' think?

Sticking around

*2006 post*

Well, in spite of the recent change, I've decided to stick around. Here. And keep blogging. (I kind of happen to like it.) And I hope you'll keep stopping in. Because I like that part of it, too. :)

Thank you, readers, for all your comments. It's nice to know that if Reforming Motherhood ceased to exist, we'd be missed, even a little. My heart is that what I write here will somehow be an encouragement to others. Your kind comments confirm that this is the case. Thank you.

So, please keep coming. And I'll keep posting entries. (But I'll be missing you here, Amy!)


*2006 post*

Yesterday as I stood in Amy’s kitchen, she told me she was ready to be done blogging.

I was surprised and disappointed. Aren’t you, too?

I think Reforming Motherhood is a great blog. And I think the reason it is a great blog is that it’s been half Amy’s. (This is what I tried to express to you in the kitchen, but didn’t do a great job of it, Amy.)

This whole blogging venture was one we decided to embark on together. And I like it that way. So I’m sad to see it go.

And I’m not yet sure where that leaves me. All alone over here at Reforming Motherhood? Or do I begin again somewhere else in the blogosphere? In my own little corner with a new look and a new name? Or maybe it’s time for me to hang up my blogging hat, too. I’m not sure yet. But I wanted to let you know.

You have so much to offer us all, Amy. I’m sorry to see you leave the blogging world. For me, at least- you’re still a phone call or a short drive away, though. And I’m thankful for that.

For the rest of you, though, please do say goodbye to Amy.

Gift ideas for little ones

*2006 post*

**Warning: This is a lengthy post. I am a detailed person and I feel the need to write not just a list, but every single possible detail imaginable behind why that item made the list. So, read on only if you're a good speed-reader or if you have some time on your hands.**

Michele asked the following question:

With Christmas coming (yes it is coming!) and kids' birthdays too, I'm starting to wonder about gifts for the kids and things to recommend to relatives. I always say books, books, books, but they like other ideas too. What are some toys/books/art supplies/etc that you really really love and that your kids use a lot? I'm thinking preschool age - under 5. I look forward to hear what you recommend.

Good question! We have upcoming birthdays, too. And Christmas gifts to buy shortly afterwards. So gift ideas have been on my brain, too, lately. I'll do my best to answer. This is actually a great question for both Amy and I to answer, because our children play very differently. She will likely have different suggestions than I will.

I am above all practical. My favorite gifts are those I can USE, and use often. I tend to view gifts in light of that for my children, too. So, when giving recommendations to our parents, I first think: What do they need? This year I told my mom that my son could really use a new set of sheets. He has a solid-colored set right now, and I told her to get him some "boy sheets" (trucks, trains, Bob the Builder, construction...) You name it, he will think those new sheets are so much fun. And then it's something we don't have to purchase. Other ideas in this 'practical category' are clothing items: pajamas, shoes, coats, etc. Think ahead to spring/summer season, too. Last week my husband had a backyard campout with our two oldest children, and I realized that my son (2) doesn't have a sleeping bag. But by next summer, we'll want one for him.

Okay, onto the ideas you actually asked for. The toys/books/art supplies ideas. :) (But in my defense, you did say "etc" so I felt like I had the liberty to put the practical stuff out there! :))

My daughter (4) would be happy if we bought her a baby doll for every gift. Or little outfits for her baby doll. Or diapers, or shoes, or a stroller, or bottle, or... whatever else there is for babies. And there is lots. Our ONLY idea for her this year is to buy her a baby doll. And I plan to sew some clothes for that doll, too. *Note: we made the mistake last year of buying her a Dora doll. She didn't know who Dora was, but she'd seen a Dora doll in a sales flyer and wanted it. And then she talked about Dora incessantly (and pointed to her image wherever we went, for many months). Our plan was to buy her a baby doll, but we caved in to the Dora crush and bought her a Dora doll, and one outfit. I wish now we'd bought her a baby. A baby doll is so much more fun for a little girl than a little girl doll is. Much more nurturing to do with a baby. More holding, caring for. Dora remains largely un-played with at our house.

When my daughter was two, we bought her a Fisher Price Loving Family dollhouse. This dollhouse provided her with hours of entertainment. Really. Hours. She's nearly grown out of it now, but we will be hanging onto it. She still plays with it occasionally, and my two-year old will, too. And my 18-month old likes to climb onto it or bang on it with a hammer. It's multi-functional, for all ages.

The other idea I have for my daughter is notecards and envelopes. She sees me sending out cards and wanted her own. One of the best gifts we ever bought her set us back by 99 cents. It was a box with 12 notecards, 12 envelopes, and 12 stickers- to seal the envelope. She loved it. I really think she might cry tears of joy if she got a stash of her very own cards and envelopes. Add to that some stamps so she could put them in the mailbox, too... and she would be delighted!

The other thing I think she'd like (but she doesn't have) are washable stamp pads and stamps. The stamps our children use belong to me, so I'm a bit protective of them. And my stamp pads are not washable, so they're only allowed to use them with my hovering supervision. But they think stamps are pretty cool.

Well. My son is perfectly happy with his little bin of matchbox cars. Really. I think we have about 40 that we've collected here and there, and he carts that bin full of cars around the house with him EVERYWHERE. Pulls out a few cars, drives on the couch. Hauls his bin to another room, drives them on the bed. Carries them up and down the stairs, stops to drive. This summer we used our sidewalk chalk to make roads for his cars to drive on and neighborhoods for them to drive through. Such fun, those cars are. We've also made all sorts of ramps and tunnels (paper towel or wrapping paper tubes; cut windows in them so you can watch the car go down. Very fun.)

The other toy we have that is a hit for our boys is a Playmobile train set. This was a hand-me-down from my little brother, so it's older. Big chunky plastic track pieces and cheery trains. I'm sure these are much, much more advanced now and probably have flashing lights and noises, but my boys' favorite part is laying out the track. The more track pieces to work with, the better.

Another favorite at our house is our Tinkertoy Construction Set. I found ours at a garage sale for $5.00 and couldn't believe we hadn't had one yet. Ours is a Special Edition Super Crane set (2001) so I think it has some extra pieces, but it is very fun. My husband really likes to build things with the kids, too.

What haven't I mentioned?

My children love puzzles. Your standard puzzle and the Lauri puzzles. We have the ABC ones (uppercase and lowercase), and love them. It's a great quiet time or table time activity, too.

What about music? We've talked before about our favorites in kids music. I really can't say enough about Judy Rogers. Truly. We recently purchased her Why Can't I See God? CD, which has Judy and a group of children singing songs based on the Westminster Catechism. My daughter walks through the house singing songs about glorifying God and obeying her mommy and daddy. Can't get much better than that. It delights me to hear her singing these songs.

How about some unconventional gifts like a zoo pass or children's museum membership?

Okay, I think I've covered what we like around here. Besides books. We love those. But I'm also pretty choosy about books so don't always like others to buy them for us.

Time to close. My husband just came up behind me and asked, "What chapter are you on?" I have been furiously typing (and thinking) for about the last hour. Okay, maybe a bit more.

But I would love to hear some of YOUR responses to Michele's original question. What are some of your favorite gifts to buy for the little ones? Happy commenting! We could all glean from your ideas, too!

Breaking a habit

*2006 post*

My daughter is sharp. I mean, this girl forgets nothing. Is this a common trait for four-year olds? I am continually amazed at her ability to remember details I’ve forgotten. Or simply her ability to latch onto something I once said and remind me of it.

Once upon a time we told her that bicyclists should wear helmets; that it is not safe to ride without one. As true as that piece of information is, I rue the day I ever told her that. Because every- and I do mean every- single time we see a biker, she comments on their head apparel. This is what I hear, constantly, from the back seat:

“That guy is wearing a helmet. He’s safe.”


“That girl is NOT wearing a helmet. She’s NOT safe.”


“That guy is wearing a hat. But that’s NOT safe like a helmet.”

To my great regret, her little brother has now picked up the refrain, so now we hear it from both of them. Which is all fine and good if we’re in our van. (Well, okay, not all fine and good. It can be a little tiresome. There are a LOT of bicyclists where we live.) But as you well know, four year olds have no qualms about saying anything to anyone wherever they may be. So when we’re outside, and a bicyclist passes us, my daughter will holler “He’s NOT wearing a helmet. He’s NOT safe” For all the world (and most especially, that particular bicyclist) to hear.

Another time, she heard her cousins using the expression, “Oh my gosh!” She picked it up quickly. That expression doesn’t sound pretty coming from a four-year old’s mouth, so we told her not to say it anymore. She used it only a couple more times, which resulted in very stern reprimands from her daddy and I. But I discovered quickly that her cousins were not the only ones with that habit.

One day I was on the phone, happily chatting away, and I heard my daughter gasp and saw her eyes widen. She clapped her hand over her mouth and stared at me with great alarm. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. Everything seemed fine to me. I interrupted my conversation to see what the trouble was. “Mommy, you just said a naughty thing!” I did??? “You said that thing we’re not supposed to say. Remember?” It took me a couple of minutes to realize just what it was. And then, OH. I say “oh my gosh”, too.

Well, not anymore, folks. She’s made sure of that. And if I falter, she immediately reminds me.

So I’ve smartened up considerably since realizing this about her. I decided to use her abilities in this area to my benefit.

Recently I was spending too much time on the computer. You know, “checking in really quick” throughout the day, to check email or blogs. In an effort to halt this, I told myself that I could be on the computer for only 20-30 minutes in the morning, and then TURN IT OFF until naptime, when I would then have more time after my quiet time while everyone is napping/resting. And then I would not be on it again for the remainder of the day. At least until daddy’s home. So I informed her of my plan: “Mommy has been spending too much time on the computer. I’m only going to do it for a little bit when I get out of the shower, and then NO MORE except during naptime, okay?”

Now when I even step anywhere near the computer during the day (to retrieve something from my desk, to pick up a toy next to it, to open the shades above the desk, etc) I get this shout-out: “Mommy! Remember? No computer until naptime!!!” She keeps me honest, that girl.

Well. There’s another habit of mine I would like to break. I have hesitated to tell her just yet because it’s something I say a lot, and I know I won’t hear the end of it when she finds out.

I say “you guys” a lot. I think it’s synonomous for “ya’ll” in the south. “It’s good to see you guys!” “Come on, you guys. It’s time to go!” See? Lots of occasions to say it. This habit didn’t bother me until recently.

Last week my son (two), was praying at dinnertime. He usually thanks God for each member of our family. On this particular night, rather than name each of us, he figured it was simpler to pray, Thank you, God, for this guy (he points to me), this guy (pointing to his little brother), this guy (pointing to daddy), and this guy (pointing to his big sister). Hmm. This gave us pause. I explained to him afterwards that his mommy and sister were not “guys” but then quickly pointed out to Mark that he’s likely saying that because I always refer to our children (as a unit) as “guys”.

I’m now rather concerned that my children might walk up to an elderly couple at church and say, “How are you guys?” I’d be mortified.

So I’d better tell her I mean to stop saying it. Soon. In a matter of weeks I should be free of the habit.

But what about ME?

*2006 post*

This past weekend my husband was home. Because of his job, he rarely gets two days off in a row. But this week, he had three days off in a row! Throughout the week, as I anticipated this time coming, I begin to set expectations for the time he’s home. Of course these are unstated expectations, but they are there, on my mind.

Things like:

Whew. Now that Mark’s home he can fully take over this potty-training thing. It’s his turn. I am wiped.”

“Okay, so… Friday morning he got to sleep in, so for sure on Saturday he’ll let me sleep in.”

“Since I’m usually the one disciplining while he’s at work, maybe when he’s home he’ll completely take over and I can just rest.”

And as our weekend progressed and these things weren’t happening according to my expectations, I began to get a bit resentful. And a little cranky with my husband. (Now, those of you who know my husband know that I have it good. This man is *such* a servant. He works tirelessly, in his job and in this home. He is wonderful. And handsome. (Not that that has anything to do with that, but I’m just saying). And a wonderful father. And, and, and. There is no end to what I could say good about this man. Yet, I was crabby at him.

As I drove to the grocery store on Saturday night, I decided that I’d take the opportunity to pray, and began with sort of ‘venting’ to God about this. And I prayed something along the lines of, “I just want him to take his turn and give me a break,...” And then I recognized, aloud to God, how utterly selfish and sinful I am.

Because this is what God says to me:

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”


“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.”

My flesh continually asks, “But what about ME? When do I get a break? Where is the well-deserved rest I need?

But God reminds me that it’s not about me. It’s just not. He says, “Lay down your life."

Lord, help. Help me lay down my life. Teach me to do nothing out of selfish ambition, but in humility to consider all others better than myself. Transform me, oh God, that I might bring glory to You.

Any and all potty-training tips: WELCOME

*2006 post*

Seriously. Help. Please.

First, let me just say that I am not one of those mothers who thinks a child ought to be potty-trained by a certain age (well, okay... by 7, maybe) but I am tired of changing my son's diapers. And I am tired of buying the diapers when it seems he should be able to go on the toilet. (So am I contradicting myself?)

He will be three next month. We have gone through seasons of trying to do this (a few days here and there over the past year), but it hasn't worked. Or, more likely, we've gotten lazy or busy and stopped working at it with him.

He may not be ready but I sure am. But if I could be sure he's not ready (too young, whatever-other-reasons-there-may-be), I wouldn't press it. But we think he is. 'Think' being the key word in that sentence.

This past week or so I have been saying, every half hour, "Let's go!" And we scurry to the toilet. And he does it. Potty only. He's still having accidents a couple of times a day and not going #2 at ALL on the toilet (which is really why I'd like to stop changing the diapers, obviously. For the #2 occasions, not so much the #1 occasions.)

Sigh. I keep waiting for some lightbulb to go off and for him to initiate it on his own (am I in la-la land?) But we're not seeing that yet. At all. So do I then surmise that he's not ready? Do I just keep at it? Do I.... what do I do?

And yes, we did do this before with my daughter. But that was completely different: she was barely two, and she just 'got it.' She was excited to go potty on the toilet. And within one week she was potty-trained, day and night. So I can't really compare the two. At all.

So. Any suggestions?

What's for breakfast?

*2006 post*

I'm not much of a breakfast eater myself. For most of my life, I've had one of two things for breakfast: a piece of toast, or absolutely nothing at all. I don't like cold cereal (with few exceptions), scrambled eggs, pancakes, or even donuts.

But. A bagel with cream cheese? That's a whole different story. I think that's all about the cream cheese, though. I just don't think one can go wrong with cream cheese, in anything. You name it, if it has cream cheese in it or on it, my ears perk up.

Which is why you must try this recipe for Berry Strudel I'm about to share with you:

Berry Strudel

3 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup butter
*2 cups biscuit mix
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup jam (my favorite is raspberry)

Cut the cream cheese and butter into biscuit mix. Add milk.
Mix until dough-like (I use a fork, then my hands).
Roll out into a 12x8 (or so) rectangle onto wax paper (I actually roll out directly onto my Silpat, as shown below).
Flip over onto greased cookie sheet.
Put jam in the center.
Make 2.5 inch cuts on the sides and fold over.
Bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

*I think you can buy biscuit mix but here's how you make it:

10 cups flour
1/3 c. baking powder
1/4 cup sugar
2 cups shortening

Cut shortening into flour mixture.
You can store extra mix in your cupboard in a tupperware container or ziplock bag.

Try it. With the homemade biscuit mix. It only takes a couple of minutes. If you don't have 10 cups of flour you can halve the recipe.

I made this the other morning and took some pictures.

Here is the dough rolled out. (Don't worry about the 12x8 thing. I never measure. Just make a rectangle; that's the key.)

And here, with the jam in the center and the slits cut on the sides.

Fold the sections into the center and pinch.

Fresh out of the oven and ready to eat! Did I already mention there's cream cheese in the dough?!


*2006 post*

The ladies over at Choosing Home have a theme this week of journaling.

Journaling. I've done it for years. I've been journaling since I was in middle school, and I have shelves full of journals. The bound pretty ones, the lined spiral-bound notebooks, and the oversized blank sketch books. My favorite journals? Big. Spiral-bound, so you can tuck the opposite page behind when you're writing. Lined or unlined.

How often do I journal? A few times a week. Sometimes more, sometimes less.

What do I journal about? My journaling has changed from its [now-embarrassing] beginnings of a log of events and the details of fights with parents, siblings, and friends... to what it is now.

What it is now is a combination of many things, but overall, it is a window into my relationship with my God. It is full of earnest prayers to Him, and thoughts about Him. It is a record of my spiritual growth, and a reminder to me of where I have been and where He has brought me.

Should you peruse my journal, on one day you would find a confessionary prayer. Two days later you would find a prayer of thanksgiving for an answer to prayer. The next entry would be a list of people and requests- people I have told I would pray for, and their particular request listed beside their names. The following entry would consist of some verses I had copied that God was speaking to me, and a prayer following in light what He was revealing to me at that time through His Word. Next, an entry revealing my impatience and crabbiness of late with my children, and prayers in that regard. And then a page of notes I took at church on Sunday. And so it goes. You would find quotes from books I have read that have impacted me, things my children have said or done that have delighted me (or not), word studies (a couple of weeks ago I did an impromptu study on the word "prudent" after reading this verse in Proverbs: "a prudent wife is from the Lord" and there are pages of references, verses and notes in my journal on that single word.)

The benefits of journaling are great. I love to write, and it is in writing that I can most accurately express myself. I think I am this way because of these years of journaling. It is where I am most transparent.

It is in my journal that you will find documented those cherished events in my life: Mark's proposal, our wedding, the births of our children, our adoption of Isaias. For our anniversary this year, I pulled out an old journal and read to Mark my journal entry from the night before we got married. I have also read portions to him from when we first began dating.

One of my favorite parts of journaling is that I can re-read my journal entries. There have been times that I have been discouraged and have flipped through past entries to find a verse or a particular lesson God was teaching me in another season of life. It is encouraging to have a record of prayers He has answered, and of the encouragement He has faithfully given through His Word.

What about you, dear readers? Any journalers out there? I'd love to hear about it.

Teach Them Diligently: Part two

Yesterday I wrote about Lou Priolo's book Teach Them Diligently. If you missed that and would like to read it, go here. Today I am going to share what I intend to do with what I gleaned from that book.

Priolo was hard-hitting in his position that if you aren't using the Bible when you discipline your child, you aren't disciplining biblically.

I do try to use the Bible as I discipline, but I end up using the same few verses over and over again. A couple of examples:

Me: "What was our 'C verse'?" (from our ABC Bible Verses book)
Child: "Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord."
Me: "That's right, honey. And you did not obey mommy when I asked you to come here."


Me: "Honey, I just saw you push your brother. Is hitting kind or rude?"
Child: "Rude."
Me: "That's right. And the Bible says that 'love is not rude'."

And then there are the times when I simply say, "Do not push your brother." Or, "You need to obey me when I say _______(whatever it is I say)." The times when I don't bring what God has to say about it into our conversation at all. If I'm honest, those times outweigh the times that I really take the time to do it right.

Okay, back to the book.

Midway through the book, Priolo writes,
We all have our own unique styles of sinning. While it is true there is no temptation that can overtake us "but such as is common to man" (1 Corin. 10:13), it is also true that each of us is tempted when we are carried away and enticed by our own desires (James 1:14).

Priolo then encourages parents to identify the specific patterns of sin your child struggles with. Then to identify the portions of Scripture that specifically address the correction of your child's sin. When I got to this part, I was reaching for my journal and a pen. I love this kind of practical application. So I did this. Then later with my husband, I read portions of the book to him and asked him if there were any patterns of sin in our children that I had overlooked.

When our list was completed, I found verses from the Bible that correlated with these particular sins. This was made easier by the fact that Priolo has an appendix in the book called, "Scripture Texts for Child Training".

This is not the first book I've read that provides a topical listing of sins and go-to verses for that particular issue. While this is helpful information to refer to, it isn't particularly practical to have all those tucked away in a book on a shelf. Out of sight, out of mind.

Ideally, these verses would be written on my heart and I could retrieve them at the appropriate times. Some are, but certainly not the number I would like. I do hope to be there at some point, but I am not there yet.

In the meantime, I decided to do this: I bought some poster board and made a chart with two columns: Put Off and Put On. At the top of the chart reads the verse from Ephesians 4: "You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." Under the Put Off column I wrote those sins that our children continually struggle with in our house, and in the Put On column, I wrote references for a verse (or two) that apply to that particular sin. I then posted this in our living room.

My hope is that this chart will serve as a visible reminder to me during the day when these sins rear their ugly heads.

When my son argues with me, I can glance at the chart, grab my Bible, and we can read this, from Proverbs: "The wise in heart accepts commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin." And then we can pray together that God would give him (and me!) an attentive heart, and read this, "My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words" or this: "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak..."

When my daughter shows a lack of self-control, we can talk about putting off foolish behavior: "A fool gives full vent to his anger..." (Prov. 29:11a), and ask God for wisdom: "...but a wise man keeps himself under control." (Prov. 29:11b)

My desire is this: that my children would love the commands of God, and that His Word would be written on their hearts. That they would so know what He says that their behavior later in life would prompt that verse they learned when they were little.

Oh how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word.
I have not departed from your laws,
for you yourself have taught me.
How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
I gain understanding from your precepts;
therefore I hate every wrong path.
Psalm 119:97-104

Modest apparel

*2006 post*

As my daughter gets older, it is increasingly difficult for me to find modest clothes for her. It can be a frustrating event to go shopping, as often what I see on the racks is not what I want to clothe my daughter in.

This summer I was looking for some pajamas for her at Target and found instead what looked like linger*e for 4-year olds! My options were abundant if I was shopping for silk, satin, lace, and see-through pajamas, but for the life of me I could not find any normal cotton pajamas. I was appalled.

Then there are the t-shirts with phrases emblazoned across the chest that are inappropriate for any age.

I know I'm not the only one. I stumbled across Everyday Mommy's site today, and this is what she's doing about it:


In an effort to raise our collective voices, I've created the Moms for Modesty Mission Statement. If you agree with the Statement, please "sign it" by leaving your affirmation in the comments of this post.

Many retailers, marketing and PR firms review mommy blogs for trends and opinions. If we speak as one we may be able to effect change.


Head on over to her website and read the Moms for Modesty Mission Statement. If you agree with the mission statement, "sign" your name by adding a comment.

Teach Them Diligently: Part one

I've mentioned before that in my stack of books there is usually one on child training. I want to be continually growing in my role as my children's mother, and I am often encouraged and challenged by such books.

I recently finished Teach Them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training by Lou Priolo.

It took me awhile to finish this book because it is not one you can zip through. There are only seven chapters, but they are full chapters. I had to read a portion of it and then set it down for a week or two to absorb and ponder what I'd read. Priolo's book is filled with Scripture, and he also shares practical examples and dialogue with his own children.

This book challenged me as a parent to be consistently using the Bible for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16)

Priolo writes, "Suffice it to say that if you are not using the Bible when you discipline your children, you are not disciplining them biblically."

I finished this book with a renewed purpose to use the Bible more than I now do in interactions with my children throughout the day. Tomorrow I'll share my plan on how I'm going to put into practice what I've learned.

*To read Part two of this post, go here.