Posts Filed Under Parenting

Why Is Music So Important?

by bosssanders on July 31, 2015 with no comments
Please welcome our guest poster, Amy Allen!  Amy Allen has a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education and a certified Harmony Road Music teacher and opened her own authorized Harmony Road Music Education Center in Western KY.  Amy has spent many years serving others through her gift of music.

In the last 30 years that I have been teaching music to children, I have seen the ebb and flow of school funding for music programs and instruction nationally. Early on, music programs in our schools were seen as fluff and considered to be extracurricular activities. As a result, when communities saw tough times financially and school funding became scarce, and when the demand for higher academic standards increased, I saw schools cut their music education programs. For the last 15 – 20 years, however, we have seen study after study reinforce the value of music instruction on brain development, social development, and especially spatial-temporal intelligence, and national standards for education have begun to include arts and music components, requiring all schools to make these disciplines a part of their offerings. Today, however, we stand again at a crossroads. Hard economic times and the decrease in federal and state funding is once again causing our schools to get creative with how to best educate our students, and schools are being expected to do more with less.

The value of participation in music for every child has not lost its importance, however; in fact, its impact continues to be reinforced by the research — more and more, we are seeing that music is not just a nice thing to learn, but an essential ingredient of a person’s education and development.

For example, a simple search on the internet about the effect of music on brain development and education from early childhood to adulthood will yield the following studies and observations from top researchers and writers:

  • A 2-year study with preschoolers led by behavioral psychologist, Frances Rauscher, and physicist, Dr. Gordon Shaw, compared the effects of certain types of instruction and activities on intellectual development. Four groups of students were given either piano/keyboard lessons, singing lessons, private computer lessons, or free-play time for 20 minutes, 5 days a week. At the end of 6 months, the children were given tests to measure spatial-temporal ability. Those children who received the piano/keyboard training performed 34% higher than the other children.
  • In another study, students with music training scored an average of 52 points higher on the verbal portion of the SAT and 36 points higher on the math portions of the SAT than students with no musical experiences.
  • In the March 1999 issue of Neurological Research, a study showed that a group of second and third-graders who learned eighth, quarter, half and whole notes, scored 100% higher than peers who were taught fractions using traditional methods.
  • Again, Dr. Gordon Shaw conducted research with 2nd grade children who were given 4 months of piano keyboard training, as well as time playing with specially-designed learning software. Those given the training scored 27% higher on proportional math and fraction tests than children who had not received training. Dr. Shaw said of the results, “Piano instruction is thought to enhance the brain’s ‘hard-wiring’ for spatial-temporal reasoning, or the ability to visualize ratios, fractions, proportions and thinking in space and time.”
  • A March 2010 article by LA Times columnist, Melissa Healy, reporting on research about music and the brain states, “Five months after we are conceived, music begins to capture our attention and wire our brains for a lifetime of aural experience. At the other end of life, musical memories can be imprinted on the brain so indelibly that they can be retrieved, perfectly intact, from a mind ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease. . . . But for all its beauty, power and capacity to move, researchers have concluded that music is little more than ear candy for the brain if it is consumed only passively. If you want to sharpen your senses, boost your ability to focus and perhaps even improve your memory, the latest word from science is you’ll need more than hype and a loaded iPod. You gotta get in there and play. Or sing, bang or pluck!”
  • An article published in the May 2012 Developmental Science journal states that infants who participate actively in musical experiences show “superior development of pre-linguistic communicative gestures and social behavior” as compared to their peers who only experience music passively. We are finding that actively musical babies are more skilled at communicating too!

Why these results and emphasis on active music-making? Neuroscience shows us that our early experiences, notably those from birth to age 6 determine which brain cells (neurons) will connect with other brain cells and which ones will become inactive. The more neural connections that are generated, the more learning that takes place, and the more capacity for intelligence built in the brain. The experiences with active music-making build connections of brain cells in a way that few other disciplines will because it is so multi-sensory, involving the ear, the eye, the tactile-kinesthetic, and the whole emotional sensory processing. Music is also organized mathematically. The rhythms in music are mathematical—the meter in music is mathematical—even the frequencies of the vibrations of musical octaves are mathematically related. No wonder the data supports using music instruction to reinforce and build math skills! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Yes, music has the power to bridge into the mind like nothing else. It is a unique discipline that provides multi-sensory information at the same time with the same set of perfectly-ordered (mathematical) information. By not providing active music-making experiences for our children in our schools AND in our homes, we are missing out on one of the greatest possible gifts we can give our children—a well-developed, organized neural network brought about by continuous exposure to, and participation in music. Music is not just a nice thing to do with and for our children. It is essential!

Become an advocate for music education in your school and community, and even better, “sing, or bang, or pluck” side-by-side with your child! What better way to encourage and motivate them to be actively engaged in music and to build your brain power too!

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bosssanders

Parenting: Swimming Upstream In Mainstream America

by bosssanders on July 13, 2015 with no comments

It seems like once we become mothers, every decision we make somehow becomes open for public discussion and opinion.

And, much of the time, I feel like our family is swimming upstream, against the current of mainstream America.

Truth is…I’m okay with that.

But, I haven’t always been.  There was a time when someone would call into question my morals, ethics, and parenting and it would wound deep.  It was a lonely place to be – knowing that you have been called to a certain road, but feeling like you are the only person you know walking it.  Now, I know better and I’ve found community in people who believe similarly.

So, when I’m called “strict” because I set boundaries and am consistent, I know they are wrong.  When I say “no” because sometimes it needs to be said and am called a “mean mommy” by an adult, I know that it isn’t true.

The truth is… I get my parenting instructions from the Bible and not mainstream America.

And, sometimes… that looks like saying “no.”  Sometimes it looks like boundaries and it always looks like consistency.  But, boundaries aren’t made to deprive our children, but to protect them…just like God does for us.

But, we live in a culture that tells us our children should be our “number 1 priority.”  We live in a culture that advertises to children in the media because parents have become so used to getting most of what their children want, when they want it.  We live in a culture that suggests we put our children’s wants over our spouse’s wants.  We live in a culture that has forgotten to say “NO.”  A generation is being raised with a sense of entitlement, that what they want will be handed to them when they want it, and an expectation of being entertained and little to no consequences.

And, anything that doesn’t look like THAT, gets dubbed as STRICT or MEAN or BAD PARENTING.

I may shatter some grand delusions of what our family looks like, here.  But, our kids don’t get everything they want (or when they want it).  Heck, neither do I.  Our kids experience consequences when they make bad choices…just like you and I.  We set boundaries to protect our children, which means that sometimes, they don’t get to do things they want to do and I really could care less what their friends may be doing.  Sometimes, we have to make hard choices to discipline for things that hurt our hearts (because really, it would be more fun to eat ice cream and snuggle) because it’s what is best for our children in the long-term.  And, we TRY SO HARD.  We aren’t perfect, and we mess up a lot.  But, we also encourage our kids.  We love big and we cuddle and snuggle and laugh together.  We play together.  Occasionally, we’ll have ice cream for breakfast…because we can.  Sometimes, we dance in the rain or have a dance-off in the living room.

And, as I watch my children grow, I see this spark of something.  –This something that gives me this glimmer of hope and peace that we are doing just fine.  Not perfect, but we aren’t wrecking it, either.  These little imperfect (like you and me) people are slowly becoming young people who CARE about others, who would give their own shirt and shoes to help someone else, who pray for others on their own, who are polite and patient and respectful, and children who can recognize when they’ve done something wrong and ask for forgiveness.  They are gracious, loving, and relatively well-mannered (mostly).  And, we ENJOY being around each other.

10 Ideas For Parenting “Upstream”:

one.
Protect your family’s time.  There’s this natural tendency in just about all of us to “give” our kids everything we can think of to make them more successful and well-rounded.  We want them in art classes, music classes, sports, dance, karate, and special academic clubs to give them that “edge.”  But, they don’t need it all.  They really don’t.   And, when you’re running around crazy from one practice to the next…or 20 birthdays in one month…things get a little crazy.  And, before you know it, you aren’t spending time together as a family.  You aren’t connecting as a family, growing as a family, and making memories as a family.

two.
Limit screen time.  I don’t just mean limit the kids’ tv and ipad time…but, I mean yours, too when you are together.  I mean put the cell phones up and let the texts and emails wait for tomorrow (if you stay at home, set a couple of specific time ranges to use those).  If we “protect our time” just to let screens steal our attention, what good have we done?

three.
Say “no” when “no” needs to be said.  I know sometimes “yes” is easier (short term, at least), but boundaries and “no” can be healthy for a child when used correctly.   You are doing a GREAT parent for protecting your children and helping them grow in character.

four.
Give them chores.  I remember the look on a friend’s face when I explained that my 8 year olds’ chore included washing dishes.  Astonishment quickly turned to judgment.  What kind of mother makes her kids work?  Well, the kind that wants my children to value hard work and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride…and to feel like they are a very integral and needed part of this family.  My kids will actually ASK for chores to do (and most of them are unpaid chores…just part of being a family).

five.
Figure out your children’s needs vs. wants.  I remember thinking as a new mom that my kids NEEDED xyz.  It took a little while (and the loss of a job) to really shift our perspective on what we ALL need vs what we sometimes want but whitewash as a “need.”  Your 7 year old doesn’t NEED a phone or to be in 3 extracurricular activities.  Your 8 year old doesn’t NEED that new glitter-rocked shirt that costs $30, as cute as it may be.  Maybe even sit down as a family and start a conversation about what we NEED to survive and be healthy (emotionally and physically and spiritually).

six.
Lead.  Be the parent.  Be consistent.  Even when you don’t wanna, even when you’re tired.  Lead by example.  Show them what biblical women and men look like in ACTION.  Show them what marriage should look like.  You are your child’s biggest teacher…they are watching every single move.  Spend money wisely and invest time where it matters.  They will learn more from what you do than from what you say.

seven.
Teach them.  Instead of just saying, “no” or “don’t do this,” explore with your children some alternatives of what TO DO when they find themselves in that situation, again.  Or, finding alternatives to entertain themselves or alternative ways to earn something they REALLY want.  And, when they make mistakes?  Don’t automatically fix it.  Sometimes, some of the best lessons are the ones we learn by natural consequences.

eight.
Say “I’m sorry.”  You will mess up.  Again and again.  I promise.  Be willing to apologize.  You are teaching them humility and forgiveness.

nine.
Encourage them.  Affirm them.  Tell them (honestly) things you are proud of them for and list out giftings you notice in them.  We have these things we do…one, at the dinner table where everyone goes around the table and names something about the person next to them that is positive and two, where I’ll write on each of their fingers something special and great about them.  They LOVE it.  Expect more from your children than society does.  That doesn’t mean expectations that are too high…because that’s guaranteed failure.  But, expect more.  It’s nice being believed in…and as they say, we meet the expectations made of us…good or bad.

ten.
LOVE BIG.  Love well.  Snuggle, cuddle, dance in the rain, and sometimes… eat ice cream for breakfast.  Serve others as a family.  Encourage others as a family…and encourage each other IN your family.

bosssanders

FAVORITE RESOURCES

by bosssanders on July 6, 2015 with 3 comments

These are my FAVORITE resources!  I enjoy many books (MANY), but these are the ones I recommend everyone stocking their shelves with!

MARRIAGE

52 Fantastic Dates For You And Your Mate by Claudia and David Arp – EXCELLENT book, filled with fun date ideas (many of them can be frugal AND expensive, depending on how you choose to embellish.)

PARENTING

The Legacy Path by Brian Haynes – Create a spiritual legacy path for your children.  Great book with SO many easy-to-implement tips AND it’s easy to read!  This is one of those change-your-life books!

Raising A Modern-Day Princess by Pam Farrel and Doreen Hanna – perfect for parents of girls ages 8-15 (also great to begin reading early!)

Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creative and Naturally Curious Children by Ginger Carlson – You have kids?  Great, you need this book.

Words of Wisdom for Moms by Ginger Plowman – A GREAT flip-book of helpful discipline scripture and techniques

Reaching The Heart Of Your Child (Audio CD) by Ginger Plowman

EVERYDAY LIFE

Life Lines by Dave Meyer (Joyce Meyer’s husband) – Great book if you’re looking for some short devotionals to carry you through your day.  Not too preachy, not super in depth.  Short and sweet and lovely!

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan – If you ever doubt or wonder how much God truly loves you (I mean, truly…), check this one out.  It’s written so its reader doesn’t need a doctorate in theology or english to understand it and enjoy it.

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From The American Dream by David Platt – Super good.  A must read.  –Especially if your name is Joel Osteen.  By the way, prepare to be a little uncomfortable as you read this book…but, it’s worth it!

Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of  a Woman’s Soul by John and Stasi Eldredge – You’ll learn more about yourself than you ever knew in this one.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp – It’s all about thanksgiving and finding contentment into everyday life.  She doesn’t speak from a perspective of someone who has all of the riches, but of someone easily related to… someone who has had their share of heartache.  And even still, she’s found the secret we’ve all been searching for…

Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend – Teaches you how to create HEALTHY boundaries (and what those specifically look like) in your life.  Whether it’s your gossiping aunt Mable or creepy cousin Beck or manipulative in-law, this book tells you how to create boundaries.  GOOD STUFF.

bosssanders

For Today, July 3, 2014

by bosssanders on July 3, 2014 with 1 comment

Say “Hello” to Super Little Red Princess No-Eyes!

Outside my window…
It’s a sun-shiney day!

I am thinking…

about date ideas!

Last week, we did this:

We headed to a studio to paint…

We both chose “Parisian” themes…  and set to work…

It was hubby’s first time EVER to paint.  He did a great job!  –And, we both had a lot of fun!

Last night, we had an impromptu date night… created a new recipe that ended like this:

It was… YUMMY!  No idea what I’m going to call it in my recipe journal… but, it’s definitely a new favorite with the whole family.

Then, we put the munchkins to bed… and the MR. and I watched funny youtube videos.  We laughed so hard and until our sides hurt.  It was a great and easy “date” for the week (no sitter needed!  And, FREE!)  If you want to watch some of our favorites, go HERE.

This weekend is HIS turn to plan a date, so I’m pretty curious to see what he chooses!

I am thankful…

118.  Fireworks – bright colors bursting on black
119.  Sweet smiles
120.  Being serenaded by the littlest…

“Momma, what song me sing for you?” – AJ

121.  My lovely husband
122.  $1 movies and pool with friends!
123.  A good book and cuddly blanket
124.  Sweet neighbors
125.  Naptime (Oh, praise Jesus for naptime!)
126.  Golden fields and rainbows
127.  Side-splitting laughter
128.  My little brother
129.  Story-telling with my sweet Grams
130.  Singing praises to Jesus at church with the doors open wide
131.  Fresh flowers on my table from a friend…

.
132.  A Summer Bath

In the kitchen

We’ve tried two new dishes this week, so that’s been fun!  Both were very well-liked!  Tonight is smothered beef and bean burritos per hubs request.  (Also, he’s cooking it.  Ha!  It’s the only way he can ensure it doesn’t have veggies in it.)

I am reading…

This:


And…still this:  I’ve been writing more than I’ve been reading, lately.  I’ve started writing over at www.faithfulservantministries.com and a few things over at www.gracefilledmarriage.com (it’s not spiffy-looking yet, but I needed to get thoughts out of my head, so…there it is.)

We/I am learning…

This week, we’ve focused more on life than schoolwork :)   Concentrated on hearts and little spirits.  HOWEVER, we have made a major switch in curriculum for the first graders… we are swapping out hooked on phonics first grade and doing MFW first-grade reading program, instead.  It’s working MUCH better for us!  (The kindergarten HOP was GREAT, but we needed a new direction after we finished it up!)

Around the house…

This week has involved lots of cleaning!  Monday is our cleaning day, anyhow… so, we cleaned cleaned cleaned.  Tuesday, we had a fun day with friends, then came home and cleaned a little more.  Wednesday, we went to my parents’ house and cleaned together for a little while as a surprise gift.  I don’t know why my house isn’t sparkling by now!?

Favorite Things and Moments…


Dresses made by Mimi… and the sweet sisters in them…

Another one…

bosssanders

Redefining Motherhood: When It Feels Too Hard And Like We’re Not Enough

by bosssanders on June 4, 2014 with 1 comment

I believe that there is this lie that chases after us, burrowing into our heads and hearts – that this “thing” called motherhood that we do is TOO HARD, TOO COMPLICATED, AND THAT WE AREN’T enough.

We live in a time where TWO seems to be the magic number when it comes to children, and anything over that begins to be scrutinized.  Add in homeschooling, and you might as well apply for “crazy-farm” status.

Having and homeschooling four children (and open to more) has garnered all sorts of responses…but, the ones that bother me most are the “I wish I could do what you do.  But, I just can’t.”  Suddenly, I’m wanting to ask questions to find out… what is it that you think I do?  My blog, my facebook account, and pinterest… I try to be real, but I wonder if I’m failing, if I’m adding to the lie that perfection exists.

Because, can I please say… At the end of some days, I tag my husband “it” because I just need a little silence, too.  Some days, my voice rises a little too much.  Some days, I say the wrong things and blow up science experiments that weren’t meant to explode.  We aren’t perfect and I definitely don’t look airbrushed.  We’re just us.  And, we’re okay with that.

But, as I think about all of these lovely creative ideas and social media right at our fingertips, I feel like sometimes we make motherhood FAR harder than it was ever meant to be.  -Not that motherhood is never hard, because it can be.  It challenges us, stretches us to our core.  It makes us better people, if we let it.  But, sometimes we make it so much harder than it needs to be.  We get caught up in the BIG and the GLITTER and the JONESES and when our expectations are put so high up on a pedestal that we can’t even begin to reach, we stumble and we fall.  We feel like failures because we couldn’t obtain some illusion, that was never real.  We can feel lonely and unappreciated – feeling like we’re of only a few who just can’t get it all “figured out.”  We can feel less than “enough” because we don’t enjoy cooking or cleaning (or were never taught how) –as if that somehow makes us less than (it doesn’t, by the way.)

There is this lie that has become expectation of women who do it all.  A lie that has become expectation in the hearts of many women, leaving them feeling ragged and torn when the illusion can never be caught in two hands.

So, can we take a moment to break away from the facade? –To uncover that which is real?

The truth is… You were never meant to be a superhero. You were never meant to do it all.  God never expected you to.

There are so many choices to make…  Whether you want 1 child or 20, to vaccinate or not, bottle or breast, cloth-diaper or not, eat blue-box macaroni and cheese or organic gluten-free, how you raise them….  THEY ARE ALL CHOICES.  Your choices.  Choices that are meant to liberate you, not imprison you with guilt and fear.  And, as parents, we shouldn’t use our choices to shame and scare those with different ideas than us.

This whole motherhood thing… it’s something we grow into.  We are challenged; we are changed.  We are a part of something greater than ourselves.  We learn to be better people, less selfish, gain more patience, greater faith, more grace, and slower to anger.  We begin to see ourselves and who we are to God in a completely new way.  Motherhood – it takes practice, and just like anything else, the more we practice, the more we begin to find our groove.  It’s amazing and beautiful, really, this dance that we are learning.

It’s not about comparing our craft projects on Pinterest or all the cool things we did in a day on Facebook.  It’s not about all the gourmet meals we don’t actually make or how we decorate.  It’s not about spotless floors or perfect makeup.

Then, if it isn’t about Facebook and Pinterest, what is this motherhood-thing all about?  How do we find peace in the journey?

I think the first step is that as mothers, we need to focus on being mothers instead of super-heroes.  We don’t have to have it all figured out.  We don’t have to do it all.  The only person expecting you to have it all together is…YOU.

For me, redefining Motherhood meant examining our hearts, our values, and our priorities.  For me, this is what it looks like…

Being Picky About What We Read.  I don’t read every blog or every article that comes across my email or social media accounts.  I carefully choose my books/magazines so that they either teach me, inspire me, or encourage me.   I stay away from things that make me compare.

I’m Not A Maid.  As a family, we all believe that we play a part…that we are all important.  We work together and we play together.  We each have a list of “chores” that we are all responsible for…even the 2 year old.  It’s amazing how much we can get done in a short amount of time when we all work together, which frees us up to enjoy more time together.  Also, while I expect a mostly “clean” or tidy house, I don’t expect perfection.

Smaller To-Do Lists. I am “Type-A” – so, I really REALLY like lists.  This seems like a great thing, until the list begins managing you instead of you managing it.  When my girls were 4 and 2, I came to the realization that no matter how much I did, I’d never feel accomplished if my to-do list kept growing.  I realized that it was no longer a tool for me, but it was wrecking me.  So, I began making smaller to-do lists.  In addition to normal activities like school, feeding the kids, etc…I would allow myself 3 extra things.  By making my to-do list more bearable, I was able to manage the list rather than it managing me.

We Created A Weekly Schedule. Okay, it’s not a “schedule,,” as much as it is having certain days set aside for certain things.  There came a time when I was in tears over cleaning.  With 3 under the age of 3 (at the time), I felt like I could never get on top of my cleaning.  It seemed as if as soon as I finished one thing, little hands undid it right behind me…or, it took me so long that when I felt like I was almost reaching the finish-line of getting it all done, I was actually re-approaching the starting line.  It was a horrible feeling.  I remember calling my grandmother, who stayed home with 4 children, and I asked her, “Grams, how did you do it all?”  She laughed at me.  “I didn’t,” she said.  She went on to say that she thought I was doing an amazing job except for one thing… I expected too much from myself.  She challenged me to adjust my expectations and to live in the moment, to find joy in the little things instead of trying to “do it all” and make our days all “pinterest-worthy.”  It was some of my favorite advice.  We  have so many nifty gadgets that our grandmothers didn’t have, but instead of saving us time, we seem to be even busier.  Something to think about.

My grandmother and her mother had specific days they would do things.  I came up with my own version that would work in our home, in an effort to simplify our lives a bit.  Here’s mine:

Monday – Full Cleaning Day (4-6 hours).

Tuesday – Play Day (reading, painting, lunch with friends, crafts, movie, etc.)

Wednesday – Desk Day – long letters/bills/bday cards/planning/etc

Thursday – 1/2 Cleaning Day (2-4 hours)

Friday – Errands Day

Saturday – Family Work Day/Play Day

Sunday – Family Play Day

**NOTE:  This list doesn’t OWN us.  There are many days that I pay bills on a Monday because of when it falls.  I keep this schedule on my fridge for the days where I feel overwhelmed, like I can’t get it ALL done… I choose the day that I’m on, and just do what it says.  It’s like a reset switch for me.  And, having one or two cleaning days a week (aside from daily toy-pick-ups) helps free me from my own expectation of cleaning until it’s all perfect (which is never).

We Say “No” A Lot.  We say “yes” sometimes, too… but, we say “no” to (invitations/camps/lessons/events) just as much.  We’ve learned how much is too much for our family and there’s such freedom in not having to be 10 places in one day.  Our days are just so much more relaxed when our schedules are open, PLUS it opens us up to some pretty cool unexpected surprises.

We Create Boundaries To Protect Our Children’s Hearts. We firmly believe that training our children and constructing consistent boundaries helps our children know what to expect and relieves them from having to try to figure it out on their own.  While it’s hard work in the beginning, it pays off for both them and us.  They know what’s expected and are able to better handle situations beyond our home, and we are able to enjoy taking them places.  We also created a behavior chart method that puts THEM in control – it helps us stay consistent as their parents, and helps them make better choices.

I’m Not An Entertainer. While I do play with my children, I don’t want our children to expect to be entertained constantly by me.  I have been known to jump over alligators, rescue princesses, and defeat hungry lions while in my backyard.  However, my children don’t expect me to be the source of their fun.  Instead, between the 4 of them, they always have some sort of creative fun going on.  I love watching their little brains work over ideas and how creative they can be.  I create opportunities for them to learn and play, but am not a circus clown.

We Simplified Meal-Time.  I keep a master-list of our favorite meals – sort of like a menu.  Each week, I choose 7 meals and write down all of the ingredients we need into shopping list.  We only shop once a week for food.  We don’t eat very many boxed-meals, but I do factor in the time it takes to prepare meals.  Casseroles, one-pot meals, salads, soups, and crock-pot recipes get a lot of use over here.

We Don’t Buy The Latest-Greatest. It’s not because there aren’t some really cool things out there, but it’s because we don’t NEED it all.  We teach our children that not only do they not NEED everything they like, but they aren’t OWED any of it, either.  If they really want a new toy, they can ask for it for their birthday/Christmas or save their money.  Sometimes I struggle with just wanting to buy them whatever they’ve asked for, but they’ve learned to have such a great respect for the value of things and they’ve become SO creative.  (They have plenty of toys, by the way.)  Our vehicles are USED, but they are paid off.  We also have a new rule for the kitchen with all of these fun new gadgets popping up everywhere – We try really hard not to buy any device that can only be used for one thing…like…smoothie-makers or sandwich makers.  We have a couple of things (like our water-purifier and juicer) that are exceptions.  So, when a new kitchen appliance pops up that we think would be nifty, we try to think of 3 ways that we could use it (and where we would put it).  It really helps with the “comparing.”  But, in the end, it comes down to a new way of thinking.  We believe that ultimately, our stuff can own us – it’s not just the original price we pay for something, but also the upkeep and the time.  So, we choose carefully.

Expecting Less. Becoming a mom doesn’t give us super-powers.  As moms, we manage to get a lot done, but the expectations we can put on ourselves can be unreachable.  It was the realization that:
I’m not a failure when my house isn’t perfect.
I’m not a failure when my kids’ food looks like food instead of a cleverly arranged scene or animal.
I’m not a failure when we don’t do crafts every day.
I’m not a failure when I simply let my kids play with each other, rather than being RIGHT in the middle of every dramatic scene played out by their barbies and super-heroes.
I’m not a failure when my kids aren’t signed up for 8 different activities and we don’t go on lots of field-trips during the week.
I’m not a failure for losing my patience with my kids.

It makes me normal.

So often, we feel like we must BE enough as mothers, when really all we need to do is realize that WE ALREADY ARE ENOUGH.

This motherhood thing?  It doesn’t need to be this hard.

bosssanders

The Mean Mommy And Her No-Pet Rule

by bosssanders on May 29, 2014 with 1 comment

La has been begging for a pet, lately.  And, when I say lately, I mean like… every day for the past six months.

We don’t have anything against pets (we have had them in the past), it’s just “not where we are right now.”  And, by “not where we are right now,” I mean, having an uninsured, shedding individual with an insatiable appetite for non-edible things just doesn’t appeal to me at this moment in life.  Nor do pee-soaked carpets or big turd clusters in our tiny yard.  Okay, actually, I’m assuming the dog would be uninsured, but I’ve actually not checked Obama Care.  I’m sure it only applies to people, but you never know with that guy.

I accidentally shared this tid-bit with another mom – thinking there would be some sort of “Mothers Unite” and a high-five or something, but instead she looked at me like I had said that I hate puppies and kittens.  And, that’s just not it.

Actually, I really like and enjoy animals.  There’s nothing like cuddling a sweet cat or dog and burying your face into their soft fur…that is, until your eyelids begin to swell shut and your throat itches so badly that swallowing giant pieces of a cracker seems worth the risk of choking if only it will SCRATCH. THE. ITCH.  A bit of a fuzzbuzz-kill on the whole thing, really.

So, I explained that five out of six of us had pet allergies and not much space in our small yard…or, house, for that matter.  Not to mention, we’re just trying to simplify our lives by not adding more things that require constant upkeep (beyond the children and husband, of course).

You see, I already wipe several butts more often than I care to admit.  I single-handedly save children from choking, dangerous jumping, mauling each other, and forest fires on a daily basis.  I keep the peace, prevent children from dissecting power outlets with butter-knives, toasting their hands in the toaster-oven, and keep the house from burning down.  I feel pretty accomplished at the end of the day when we’re all mostly alive and the walls are still standing.  (I may not be standing, but WE. STILL. HAVE. WALLS! )  That, right there, is a success in my book.  And, nothing you say will change my mind.  Add in some Pinterest fun, children dressed, and supper on the table and I feel like SUPER MOM!

You know, we actually DID try fish.  They were lots of fun.  There was a little disappointment when La realized that they wouldn’t come to the surface when she sang like the animals do in Snow White.  I tried to explain it to her, but all she went away with was that maybe they’re deaf.  Or, dumb.  I think that talk went well, don’t you?

Unfortunately, fish don’t respond well to cuddling and we had to break it to her that the fish weren’t actually learning the complicated swimming technique of floating – they were just kinda dead.  Of course, we had a very special funeral with “last words” and flushing…and, of course, that special photographic moment where she posed with her dead fishies as she looked down at them ever so morosely.  That one’s a keepsake photo for the scrapbook, for sure.

After relating our position on pets (for now) to the other mother…

*Blank Stare.*

And then she gave me that look that said: “But, you want more kids?”

And, I just know that’s what she was thinking because I’m a gifted mind-reader and all.

So, I thought right back at her…  “Touché lady.  Although, I’m not sure how that actually applies, seeing as how we’ve never really had an issue with our babies eating our shoes or dropping dirties in the neighbors’ yards,  so we do have that.

But, I’m not sure she even heard me because not everyone can be mind-readers, like me.  It’s a super-special gift, like that.

***Note: We totally like other people’s pets except for the ones we don’t.  Sometimes, La shrieks, which is hilarious because she’s so adamant about wanting a dog.  So, I’m beginning to think she’s trying reverse-psychology…except, I don’t think she even knows what that is.

bosssanders

A Screwtape Letter For The Unappreciated Mom – Guest Post

by bosssanders on February 6, 2014 with 2 comments

Hey y’all… I have a great guest-post by Kelsey (from Organizing Life with Littles) that almost-perfectly sums up what it seems like Satan is busy saying and speaking into MY life!  Over the past few weeks, I’ve had some people speak into my life – I’m not “fun” enough, some people just don’t like me (that’s probably true…although many more DO), I don’t do enough as a momma…as a wife… as a woman…  That I’m not enough.  You get it.  And, when all of the pokes come at once, they suddenly feel more like punches, dragging me down.  And, I begin to question myself and wonder at the merit of these things.  This is for all of you…women, especially.  I know I’m not alone.

A Screwtape Letter For the Unappreciated Mom

A Screwtape Letter for the Unappreciated Mom

My Dear Wormwood,

I was thrilled to hear you have been making progress with the mother.  You have a good lead, from what I hear.  She’s feels over-worked, unappreciated, and discouraged?  I’m so glad to hear it.  If you tread carefully, this can be a great opportunity.  With the kids waking her up every hour last night, we already have an advantage.  A tired Mom makes for a more emotional Mom, and an emotional Mom is a vulnerable one.

I do have a few tips.  First, aim your best efforts at her marriage.

As you know, we cannot do much with a unified marriage.  Luckily for us, a cranky and exhausted wife can do wonders to change that.  We must convince her that her husband is no longer the friend and ally she first married.  Instead, we must reveal every sin and selfish habit, especially drawing attention to his thoughtless actions (mal-intended or not) against her.

Sometimes it’s the less obvious things, things the husband doesn’t even realize, that we can use to offend her the most.  When he comes home from work and dumps his things on the counter nearest the door (instead of hanging his coat or putting away his keys), let her think of it as a direct assault on her work as a homekeeper.  When he treks mud in with his shoes, let her think it is because he does not love her.  Such extremes of thought may seem ridiculous to you or I, but to the exhausted mortal woman, it can seem possible.  Your goal is to make her think the husband does not notice, or even better, that he does not care about her efforts at home.

Secondly, do what you can to keep her focused on  her troubles and pains.  Remind her how much her back aches, how draining the children were all day, and how many undone tasks still beckon her.  Do not let her wonder what difficulties her husband faced that day or whether his back might also be aching.  Valuing others above oneself is one of those silly, though strangely effective, tactics of the Enemy.  If she stops to make him a cup of coffee, the next thing you know she’ll be rubbing his shoulders and flirting with him on the couch.  It can progress out of your control if you’re not careful.

Along those lines, be sure the Mother starts to value productivity above everything else.  Have her wake up early and work non-stop until bedtime.  If the husband relaxes in the evening with an hour of computer gaming, be sure the wife notices the pile of unfolded laundry or unswept floors.  Do not let her grab a book and relax alongside her husband.  Diligence, often one of the Enemy’s virtues, when overdone can be used to our advantage as well.  Convince her that as long as there is a shred of work to be done (and there always is), no one should be resting.  Then, as she folds and sweeps and he sits, you can introduce the sweet bitterness of resentment.

A word of caution here.  Remember, the love of a husband can be dangerous to our cause.  If he senses her unhappiness, he may begin to help or (even worse) show her affection.  This is where previously planted seeds of resentment can be guided into full bloom.  Make her think that his displays of affection are because he “only wants one thing”.  Do not let her view his help with the dishes (or kisses or cuddling) as having pure motives.  If he shows his desire for her, convince her that she is being used, not loved.  As we both know, the ultimate Act of Marriage can bond them together in a way that can undo much hard work on our part.  Because of this, do not allow her to prioritize that Act on her mental to-do-list.  It is in our best interest to keep the wife busy, busy, busy and be sure she’s far too exhausted to consider it by the end of the evening.

Now, onto the children.  Lovely little opportunities for us, the children, especially the little ones.  We all know that children are a favorite tool of the Enemy.  He calls them Blessings and Gifts and calls parents to lay down their lives for them, just as his Son did.  Insane, I know.  We must convince her that the obnoxious little people she has charge of are not really worth her sacrifice.  When the Mother first dreamed of having children, she probably imagined large, innocent eyes and chubby, happy grins taking up the majority of her days.  Do your best to shatter those expectations.

Instead, draw attention to how much they take from her.  Let them take and take and take…  And need and need and need, until the Mother feels totally spent.  Let them start crying at the same time for the most irrational of reasons.  Let the noise bother her.  Let their bad behavior surprise her.  Do your best to make the day-to-day monotony of diaper changes, meals, and baths seem simultaneously overwhelming and beneath her.  Let her think of all the better, more important things she could be doing with her life, if only she didn’t have the children.

Don’t let her think about the future responsible, faithful adults she is raising.  Society changers, friends, workers, husbands or wives…  Don’t let her think of them as life-long companions who will love her, converse with her, and care for her in her old age.  Oh, and definitely don’t let her think about the grandchildren she might be able to see in their little grubby faces if she looked hard enough now.  No, no, no…  Thinking ahead to when her work bears fruit, as the Enemy calls it, is always a bad idea.  Keep words like ‘heritage’ or ‘legacy’ far away from the runny noses and jelly stains of the day to day.

If there is any last piece of advice I have for you, Wormwood, it is to keep the Mother looking to her husband or family for her fulfillment and comfort.  We know that the Enemy is always watching and willing to take the burdens of his children, but if we divert the Mother’s attention well enough, this fact can be forgotten.  Make her look to her husband for worth and affirmation.  Then, when he lets her down (as he is sure to do), she will be ours to torment.  Yes, the worst thing that could happen would be for her to turn to Him with her needs and inadequacies.  Once she realizes that the Enemy offers a peace that transcends her situation, our work could be utterly compromised.

Your Malevolent Uncle,

Screwtape

About Kelsey:  A Christian first, a happily married wife second, and then a Mom to two handsome boys, Gabriel the three-year-old and Matthias, the almost-one-year old. I love them all to pieces and try to enjoy each day of this busy, blessed life!

bosssanders

Parenting With A Plan

by bosssanders on June 13, 2013 with 2 comments

I’d never thought much about it, until someone pointed it out to me… but my husband and I parent with a plan.

Sounds kind of weird, but it’s true.  I took it for granted for the longest time, thinking all parents must think like this.  – Knowing what types of things they’d like their children to experience or learn before they leave the nest… not in a day by day planned activity book (because that IS kind of crazy… or will make you crazy when you try to make it all unfold so perfectly!), but in a very general sort of way.

Until recently, we didn’t have it on paper… but, then began thinking… we make goal sheets at work, lists of things to do, things to get at the grocery… why don’t we do this with parenting?  –One of our biggest and best “jobs?”  Why not?

So, we put it to paper… and, because I’ve been encouraged to share it, here it is!

The Most Important Things

First, we sat down and wrote a list of the things most important to us – things we hoped our children would have or become…

1.  Relationship with God/Jesus

- Know and be able to show mercy, forgiveness, and love

- God-seeking hearts

2.  Values

3.  Ability to take care of themselves (hygiene, chores, money, cook, reliable, don’t give up easily, cars, and a little knowledge on hair/fashion)

4.  Ability to keep a job

5.  Have good professional and interpersonal skills

6.  Know what being a good (biblical) husband or wife looks like (i.e., setting good examples for our children in these roles)

The Disclaimer

This is where I tell you that we don’t have it down perfectly.  The part where i tell you they are GOALS, not ACHIEVEMENTS.  It’s that piece of paper that helps tell you how to get where you want to go on the days where you don’t know anymore because you’ve not gotten enough sleep… or, after a REALLY hard day when all 3 children needed you (and on you) all at once… all day… OR BOTH!  It’s the map for this wonderful adventure, helping us stay on course and discern what matters and what doesn’t.  It’s for that.

Breaking It Down

To reach the main goals (above), we came up with a broken up list of age-appropriate things we hope to teach our children at specific stages.

3 Years

  • dust
  • dress self
  • use toilet independently
  • beginning to brush teeth by self
  • pick up toys
  • say prayers
  • clean glass tables
  • dry dishes
  • put clothes in washer

4 Years

  • brush teeth
  • make bed
  • get own breakfast (cereal, bananas, granola bars)
  • make sandwiches
  • begin to clean room by self
  • dust
  • everything 3 yo can do

5 Years

  • straighten room
  • sweep
  • vacuum
  • empty small garbage cans (bathrooms)
  • set table
  • clear table
  • make own lunch (sandwiches)
  • get allowance
  • clean sink
  • wash and fold laundry
  • dust
  • beginning understanding of interest and savings

6 Years

  • take shower by self
  • dust
  • load dishwasher (or, rinse dishes)
  • empty dishwasher
  • wash dishes (6.5 ish)
  • use microwave (late 6)
  • water plants
  • make and answer phone calls
  • sweep
  • clean sink and toilet (their bathroom)
  • gets savings account

7 Years

  • wash dishes
  • floss by self
  • clean toilets
  • pull weeds
  • use/have savings acct
  • read with comprehension
  • memorize phone number and address
  • do own hair
  • begin piano lessons (?)
  • use play money to show our bills vs. budget/incoming money (good stewardship)

8 Years

  • groom nails/hair
  • get up by self
  • participate in teams/clubs
  • develop personal talents
  • clean mirrors
  • baptized (? – this is when we’ll start exploring it.  It happens when THEY are ready, though)
  • get into the practice of reading scriptures daily
  • learn care for a pet
  • buy stock/CD/investment for part of their Christmas and allow them to track it

9 Years

  • mop floor
  • clean pictures
  • bake cakes/cookies
  • understand emergency preparedness
  • learn basic first aid
  • fill car with gas
  • wash car
  • vacuum car interior
  • hammer nails
  • sew on buttons
  • saw wood (supervision!!)
  • cook veggies
  • write letters
  • understand puberty/sex (sigh)
  • email
  • wrap presents

10 Years

  • do own laundry completely
  • set personal goals
  • play musical instrument
  • maintain personal journal
  • participate in exercise program
  • rent videos
  • clean stove/oven
  • make several kids of salad
  • understand basic nutrition
  • use leaf blower
  • write creatively

11 Years

  • Arrange for own haircuts (ability to set appts)
  • help clean refrigerator
  • clean cupboards
  • straighten drawers
  • straighten closets
  • sew hems
  • bake pies
  • bake bread
  • make several main dishes
  • iron own clothes
  • plan meals
  • mow lawn
  • weed eat
  • maintain garden
  • use a camera
  • crochet/knit
  • babysitting class
  • first aid training
  • use internet with filters (not with us right behind them)

And… the list goes on… all the way up to 17… with extra notes on teaching them more about money.  This, by the way, is NOT their chore list.  These are things we hope to teach them how to do.  Not, “here’s a broom, now sweep” but standing with them, gently guiding and showing step by step how to do these things.  And, then practicing and practicing and practicing with them.  Chores is a totally different post… and way less bullet points ;)   These are simply some of the things we want to make sure we don’t forget to teach our children how to do… like, really… purposefully… teach them.  It’s SO easy to just tell them to move and do it ourselves… but such a disservice to them!

Anyhow, I hope you enjoy!

Does your family have a “plan” of any sorts for parenting?  I’d love to hear about it!  How do you stay on track?

bosssanders
filed under Parenting

Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson (book review)

by bosssanders on March 5, 2013 with no comments

Raising kids isn’t easy.

It was never meant to be.

Hollywood paints this great picture of a mom who has 3 kids under 5 in tow and still manages to dress in the latest fashions, shop with perfectly behaved children, have dinner on the table at 5PM, plays pretend, reads bedtime stories, and then heads to the kitchen table to clean up so she can sew a couple of handmade costumes all before making sweet love to her husband for the 80th night in a row.  (And then wakes up the next day with perfect makeup and flawless skin to be awesome again.)

I’ll be the first to admit that I somehow missed out on the radiant supermom cape given out with your firstborn.  Most days, my house looks like a tornado went through at least one room…if not the whole house.  There are days when “me time” looks like being able to shave my legs or pluck my eyebrows (I know, FUN!  EXCITING!).  Motherhood is beautiful and amazing, but let’s face it…sometimes it can feel like the most lonely, hard, and unappreciated calling we’ve ever known.

The thing is, though, we aren’t EXPECTED to be able to do this all on our own.  The image that Hollywood so often portrays is not only a farce, but it is also not biblical.

In fact, the Bible instructs us to live in community and for younger women to be mentored by older women (Titus 2).  If we follow biblical advice, it actually might soothe our hearts as we lay down insane expectations on each other…and ourselves.

In Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson, these two ladies write about their mentor relationship in a very honest way that every young mother can not only relate to but also learn from.  Each chapter begins with short note from each lady to the other – each letter begins a new topic where the younger Sarah Mae feels like she’s not measuring up or struggling in her quest of motherhood with 3 very young littles.  Then, Sally Clarkson follows up with understanding and encouragement, followed by pages of great tips and lessons learned from each of their motherhood experiences.

Sarah and Sally cover topics such as*:

- Ideals of motherhood (that picture in our minds of what motherhood should look like)

- “The Go It Alone Culture” (where we have this big idea that we should be able to do everything on our own)

- Parenting formulas (and how to sift through parenting how-to books and not feel like a complete failure)

-The beast of housework

and TONS more.

And, if I’m being honest here…

I don’t own a supermom cape.  I’ve done the whole beat myself up game for not living up to what a mom should do in a day.  I’ve played that game and can I just say…it stinks?  It’s no fun!  I have 3 littles under 5 and we are pursuing a 4th little guy through adoption and the thing I’ve learned so far is that 99% of the things we stress over…don’t matter.

I thought I’d be this mom who put great meals on the table each night with homemade bread and dessert from scratch.  I pictured my hair styled, lipgloss, and a cute dress from the Limited.  I imagined myself as a mom who NEVER raised her voice, who homeschooled, did cloth diapers, ate only organics and never had laundry piles and even my lists would be organized.  Turns out, my life isn’t like that.  And, for the longest time, I beat myself up over it.  I felt like a failure…defeated…desperate.  I saw all of these other moms who seemed to have it all pulled together…until one day, I realized they all struggled with SOMETHING too.

I still have moments where I get frustrated…(like when the toddler throws his bottle in the toilet and dumps his sisters’ stuffed animals in the tub and turns on the water).  And as the sun goes down, I’m ready to go with it.  But, I’ve lessened the demands on myself.  I no longer worry if the laundry doesn’t get folded every day and I’m okay with pajama pants and a tshirt if I’m staying in – because then I can better enjoy peanut butter fingers hugging my legs or snotty kisses.  I’m okay with a little dust, disposable diapers, and the occasional frozen pizza.  I’m okay needing two months to read a novel “for fun” and letting my sewing machine collect dust.

And that’s why I really like this book

Maybe you are desperate…at your breaking point.  Or, maybe you could just use some wise council to lift your spirit and guide you because you just don’t feel like you are as happy as you could be or you find yourself frustrated or yelling a little too often.  Or, maybe your just lonely in this motherhood journey…

Either way… if you are a mom, this book is for you.

*Topics listed above are paraphrased by me. These are not the actual chapter titles.
DISCLAIMER: The book I read was sent to me to be reviewed. All thoughts and opinions are mine, however.

bosssanders
filed under Parenting, Reviews

The Jolly Fat Guy In The Red Suit And Apologizing To My Daughters

by bosssanders on December 8, 2012 with 1 comment

It’s hard to apologize to your kids, sometimes (which, is probably the point I guess)…

But, apologizing because you lied to them and then unwrapping the long tendrils of lies from the branches of truth?  –That’s a whole different level of hard.

For the past few years, we’ve teetered back and forth, trying to find some happy medium between making Jesus the REASON for our celebrating and some of our favorite traditions (some Old, some New).  –Including Santa and little mischief-making elves.  We weren’t ready to “kill Santa” (as that seemed a little harsh) and we were convinced that Jesus and Santa could live together in perfect harmony in our home.  I mean, they both seem pretty likeable, right?  Jesus could make wine and maybe Santa could not eat all of the cookies… I don’t know, it seemed like it could work for us.  Instead, we came up with what looked a lot like Jesus-Claus.  It was on accident, of course, but what do you expect when you tell a little kid that the reason for Christmas IS NOT Santa?

This was their reply:  “Yeh, okay.  Right.  So, Santa is still bringing me gifts right?”

And then we realized… In a 3-and-5-year old’s brain, a little baby can’t compete with a jolly fat guy in a red suit who magically flies around in a sleigh led by reindeer, comes down chimneys, and leaves gifts under children’s trees as they sleep once a year.

“Convicted” would be a great word for how we felt.

Jen Hatmaker said, “My friend Andrew, who identifies himself as a member of the “non-believer corner” put it this way:

‘I always thought it was strange how Christians will tell me they have this giant and awesome truth they know is true deep in their soul and want to share with me, but when 12/25 comes around they lie to their own progeny because, apparently, that giant, liberating, and awesomely simple truth is somehow just not enough. It may be a good narrative, but it needs a little something to give it some panache.’”

And, I feel it to the bottom of my soul – this trade-off of a true Savior who rescued ME for the pretend magic of flying reindeer and a Santa that doesn’t even exist.  It’s like satan came up with this way to get us off track in this seemingly harmless way and he’s tricked Christians into handing over our finances to help fund the whole thing.  We can’t even turn on the television without seeing commercials, telling us about all the things that we just NEED and can’t live without — while across the world (and even in our own hometowns) their are people who REALLY NEED.  And it just doesn’t settle well with me.  I think about how hard Steven and I have worked to remove any false idols from our lives…how we STILL how to work hard at it, how it still threatens to suck us in.  Bigger homes, more money, projects…anything…ANYTHING (even if it was a good thing) that takes our focus off of Christ and onto something else.  And yet… we’ve been handing this one idol down to our children.  I mean, we dressed him in red and made him real pretty, but oh. my. soul.  We just wanted our kids to have magic and memories and somehow, we traded everything that matters for a mirage that’s not even real.

Please hear me now… this is important.  I’M NOT JUDGING YOU. I am NOT the Christmas police.  I don’t care if you celebrate Santa or flying reindeer.  You don’t have to fret over me coming over and seeing your twelve hundred piece Santa collection.  I don’t even care if you leave cookies out, climb on top of the roof to stomp around a little and jingle bells right before sliding back into the yard to stomp reindeer footprints and sprinkle pretend reindeer poop in the yard.  That’s your journey.  And ours…has been slow…and is still a journey.  We’re still learning, growing.

This part is important, too…  It’s not JUST about booting Santa for us.  It’s about TRULY celebrating Jesus and all He means to us.  It’s not about whether He was actually born in December – but, this is the month we choose to celebrate in a BIG way.  We want to learn how to tell the nativity story in a way that captures the REAL magic of a baby sent to save the world.  We want them to know the excitement in the depths of our souls.  It’s not just about “taking something out” but it’s about filling it with real magic and hope!

  • We’ve told our children the story of St. Nickolaus and about how he loved God so much he helped children in need, but also hid because he wanted them to give God thanks and not him.  We’ve also told them that St. Nick is where the tradition of Santa Claus came from (partly, anyhow.  As they get older, we can explain that Santa was part St. Nick, part pagan god, and 80 percent Big Marketing).  We told them that part of life came death and now St. Nick is really with Jesus in heaven, just like Gramps.  And, that people dress up and pretend they are Santa kind of like they like to dress up like princesses, play baby dolls, etc.  Because it’s fun, and because people want to give.  And, that pretending some was okay as long as they knew Jesus was why we celebrate.
  • We are telling and retelling the wonderful story of Jesus being born.  But, we’re finding fun new ways to do it…
  • We are anticipating Jesus’ Birthday Party and talking about what kind of gifts we want to give Him.  We have talked about the types of gifts Jesus wants… US.  And that He also likes it when we love others like He loves us.  We  talk specifically on ways we can do that.  This year, we are doing acts of kindness and the girls are helping choose what we do.  We’re also going to make gifts and goodies and leave on neighbors’ porches with a little poem about the Nativity.
  • We are learning a special birthday song for Jesus.
  • We have this GREAT little Advent book for the girls, it’s short and has great crafts for their age and it’s just so good!  They love it!  It focuses on Jesus and not candy and not ‘what’s in it for them” type stuff.
  • Their Mimi gave them a little advent calendar that has a photo of the nativity on it and you peel back the little boxes for each day and it slowly gives scripture to tell the story of Jesus’ birth.  They LOVE it!
  • We’re slowing down on materialism.  We are filtering pretty heavily any movies that focus on getting piles of gifts under the tree and part of the perks of not having television (we watch movies via computer and ipad and projector), no commercials telling my children they need the latest crap!!  And, we’ve adopted the 5-gift rule: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.  They’ve only been told to pick out ONE gift they’d like from mom and dad and the rest will be a surprise.  There are a couple of stocking type gifts too.  Oh, and something we saw at Walmart and hubby couldn’t resist.  Other than that, we’ve asked family to only give money or experiences.  The girls REALLY want to go to Disney.  And truth be told, they keep asking if we can throw out most of the toys they do have… there are too many even for them and they get so overwhelmed.  (We will be purging many but we WON’T be restocking after Christmas).
  • We are filling our home with Jesus-centered music.
  • We are spending quality time with each other.  Quiet, stress-free, wonderful quality time.  We are just loving on each other.

This is for us.

You might not be where we are right now, and I’m okay with that.  I won’t be arriving at your house with the Christmas police to cite you.  Because as I said, this life is a journey, and we’re still on ours…



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