Friday, April 29, 2011

What do you mean you can't read my mind?

It seems men are often accusing women of expecting them to read our minds. How was I supposed to know that she wanted that, or expected me to do this? She never told me , they complain to each other.
The thing is many women do not like to tell the man what they need, want, desire; at least not all the time. Women's rights may have come a long way but there are still plenty of men who do not like to be told directly by a woman what he should or should not do. And there are plenty of women who do not like to have to tell the man what to do. For one thing, if you tell him more than once then that is classified as nagging, the cardinal sin that any women could commit.
There is something much deeper I believe though. Women do not want to tell a man something because they have this innate desire to be understood without using words. A man who can decipher body language, and subtle hints is a rare prize. The man who catches on to his wife's longing glances at a clothing store and surprises her with a gift card from that store has accomplished no small feat. He has recognized the inner desire of his beloved's heart. More importantly though, he did not just recognize his wife's desires he acted upon it in a gracious and loving way. New clothing may not be an important thing in the long run, but for a woman it can boost her self esteem and be a creative outlet as well.
A woman longs to be known, loved, and appreciated on a deep level by her significant other. There is something innately satisfying when he brings home her favorite snack food without being asked. Or when she has had a long stressful day, he sees the despair in her eyes and offers to cook dinner for the kids while she goes out and drinks coffee with a friend. If a woman has to ask for something then perhaps she reasons its not really that important. If someone else lovingly gives it to her , then its a confirmation of that person's love and thoughtfulness. More importantly it tells the woman that she is valued and cherished.
I remember one time reading a department store circular and commenting on a special deal where you could buy a pair or sapphire earrings and necklace for a low price. My husband not only listened to what I said, he went directly to the store and attempted to buy the jewelry. Turns out the ad was for the following week. Undeterred though, he REMEMBERED what I had said about the jewelry and returned the following week and bought the jewelry. The fact that the jewelry was probably not real sapphire was irrelevant to me. I loved that jewelry because it was a physical reminder that my husband had not only listened to what I said, but truly heard me , and then acted upon it.
Trying to read some one's mind is not easy. It takes hard work, time, and commitment. It requires actively listening to your spouse. It takes a little bit of courage to act upon something that may be difficult or challenging. It takes thoughtfulness and creativity sometimes. In the end though, rest assured most wives do not really expect you to read their minds. Open and honest communication is the pillar of all relationships. Still for those occasional times when a husband does read his wife's mind, she will be grateful.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It ain't easy being green

Ok, I am not Kermit the Frog, but I still kind of feel that way sometimes. It seems as if so many things that I believe in and hold dear are outside the realm of "normalcy" whatever that is.
Most people assume that the best place for a birth to take place is a hospital. I believe otherwise. Most people believe that kids need the socialization and mom needs a break , so you should send the kids off to public school. I believe God gave me these kids for a reason and it wasn't to send them off for someone else to raise. Most people believe that kids "need" fashionable clothes and the latest electronic gadgets. I believe kids can entertain themselves by playing in the yard and consignment sales are wonderful ways to get inexpensive clothes. Most people think that letting kids watch several hours of tv a day is ok, after all its gets them out of moms hair so she can make dinner. Though I do allow my kids to watch certain tv shows on the Internet, I am very picky about what they are allowed to watch. My eventual goal is to wean them off of the internet tv shows. Most people assume that if your child has a minor illness you cart them off to the ER or drs office for some medicine. I would rather try natural things like fresh fruit, herbal remedies, and aromatherapy. Most people see nothing wrong with frozen dinners, occassional fast food, and processed meals. I dream of going completely organic, though I am still a long ways from getting there.
I honestly never set out to be so unconventional. Its just seems that this is the lifestyle that suits my family. Its the style of parenting that makes sense to me. Though it is difficult when it seems as if you are constantly going against the "norm" , I know that it is what God has called me to. I know that this is the right thing for my family. I love my family and I am constantly striving to find ways to be a better wife and mom. Though I am a long way from reaching my goals, I will striving toward the mark that has been set before me. I know God is right there helping me and cheering me on.
Thankfully, in the last few years He has given me a strong support network of people with similar ideals and values about childbirth and parenting issues. People who consider it "normal" to breastfeed, baby wear, and co sleep with a toddler. People who believe that kids are a blessing and debt is a burden not the other way around. People who see nothing wrong with having 4 or 5 kids, who adopt kids with special needs and kids of different races. Its still frustrating to constantly see so much negative media attention given to these parenting practices which are out of the mainstream. Yet I know God has allowed me to have the experiences I have had for a reason and I intend to learn and grow from them. Even if many people treat me like I am a purple polka dotted monster with two heads,, oh well so be it. There is only one name that someone can call me that will get a response from me. That name is "mommy", and I count it pure joy to be entrusted with their problems, dreams, worries, goals, and achievements. It ain't easy being green , but it is so worth it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm gonna tell ... "DADDY!!

I gave my testimony in church Sunday. I spoke from Psalm 35. I love the image it presents of all this warfare and being attacked by something bigger and stronger. Something that is too powerful to take on by yourself. So what does the Psalmist do ? He calls in the big guns, more accurately he calls in His Father. It just so happens that his daddy is also the Creator of the Universe, the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the wisest , most powerful BEING that has or ever will exist. And oh yeah,, He LOVES David, and David knows this. Kinda cool huh?
So many times when I feel like I am under attack from somebody or something, I am learning to cry out to my daddy, Abba Father. My typical human response is to become angry, depressed, fight back, become indignant , complain, whine, gripe. After all it is not FAIR. What did I do to deserve the cop pulling me over just become I forgot to use my turn signal when there were no other cars around? I did not deserve my husband being rude to me, or not calling to say he was going to be 3 hrs late coming home from work. I did not deserve the bad attitude my kids were giving me, or a hundred other things that happen during the day. Then a gentle voice reminds me , "ah yes my child, but Jesus did not deserve the beatings by the soldiers, or the mockery of the crowd. Was it fair for the perfect unblemished Lamb to die on the cross? ".. Hmm well, I guess not Lord.
So what can a person do in those situations? He can simply and humbly bring his problems and complaints and sit them at the feet of the Master. Its like when my kids are fighting. I always tell them that if there is a problem they need to come tell me. If they just take matters into their own hands, then they are taking the risk of forfeiting my parental protection. If they bring it to me though, I can console them, pat them on the back, and sometimes I will punish the offender if I deem it necessary.
Just as my kids do not always know or see when I punish one of their siblings for a wrongdoing, we do not always know or see when God is dealing with a situation. Honestly we may never know this side of heaven, how the situation was dealt with. The important thing though is that we bring it to God, set it down before him and let him take the hurts, the cares, and the burdens on his shoulders. Best of all, He takes us into his lap and puts his loving arms around us and says , "shh, my child I will take care of it". Somehow it always seems a brighter day when I know that God is taking care of the situation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I have been feeling so overwhelmed lately with all the things that are required of me. Its a typical situation for any mom, and especially for those of us who choose to homeschool our kids. There are always dishes to wash, laundry to do, bill to pay, scrapes to kiss, meals to cook, and the list goes on. I have always felt my calling to homeschool was one of the most important duties I undertake. Yet when do I have the time to decide curriculum , make lessons plans, do the worksheets, crafts, projects etc that go along with the lessons, and let us not forget actually teaching the lesson.

It seemed I was only achieving a fraction of the things I needed to finish. What was I supposed to do? Well , I was reading on a homeschool yahoo group about a friend who was looking into . She wanted something to use with her kindergarten child that he could do with limited supervision during the period right after she had her baby. Several people recommended it very highly and my friend ended up signing up for it.

I started thinking of how difficult it was meeting the needs of a baby, toddler, kindergartner and two elementary age kids. So I talked to my husband , and we decided to sign the older two up. The demo lessons were great because it allowed us to see what kind of program was offered and how to navigate the activities.

We have been using now for about 4 months and we love it. My third grader can awaken early and do his work first thing in the morning. My 4th grader usually does his work late at night. If we have a lot of "extracurricular activities" in a week, they can work ahead on the weekend. The program keeps track of the scores and what lessons are finished, and all the parent has to do is print them off. The lessons are fun , interactive, and there are quizzes and tests to make sure the information has been understood. Its a big weight off of my mind. Its worked so well that my 5 yr old is now begging for me to sign him up as well!

Now if I could just find a program that does laundry and washes the dishes, I would be perfectly happy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Family focused, eco friendly , ideas to celebrate Christmas

Okay last time I threw out ideas for activities to do as a family. This time I am going to focus on more eco friendly gifts that don't require a lot of wrapping paper, and will not take up a lot of space. Gift that keep giving .... and giving : memberships and subscriptions.

Christmas gifts Part 2:

-membership to AAA. Roadside assistance, plus discounts on hotels, airfare, rental cars etc. This is great for the single lady, a military wife, maybe an older couple , or anyone who likes to travel a lot.

-membership to an Association of Science and Technology museum. A yearlong family membership to our local museum is only $75. Galleries and planetarium shows are free with membership. IMAX movies are only $2. per person. Plus there is a great little thing called reciprocity. It means that my family can also go to any other AS&T museum for FREE!. There are hundreds of these in the US and some in other countries as well. So rainy day for vacation go the museum, family tags along for dad's business trip; go to the museum during the day. Family fun and its educational.

-membership to the zoo Pretty much the same thing as above. Most of these have reciprocity with at least some zoos though you might not get in for free. There are also special deals for members. We had a membership to the Columbus Zoo for one year and went up for their members' only opening night of the Christmas season displays. Model railroads, cookie decorating, hot chocolate, lights display, life size cartoon character, and feeding reindeer. It was a great family trip.

-For a couple who likes culture try season tickets to the symphony or ballet. If there is a family friend theater production buy one time tickets for the whole family. If the kids are smaller though, you might just want to offer babysitting services. Perhaps even go with another family and they can offer babysitting and you could buy the tickets.

-If the family or couple is more into sports try season tickets for a local sports team.

-For the family who likes to read, try magazine subscriptions. There are usually grade school kids selling them in Sept or Oct for a reduced rate as part of a fundraiser. These are great because they receive a gift at least 6 times over the next year. If you order several different magazines they can then take turns reading each others for an added benefit. My kids love it when they have magazine subscriptions. They literally knocked the postman over one day when he was delivering their National Geographic. Even my 9 yr old who is not a big reader loves the magazines because it interests him, and its an easy read. He also loves gifts, and mail. I love to see him excited about reading.

-fruit of the month club, yes I know it was an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond which was based on a true story. Personally though fruit is healthy and my whole family loves it. Maybe not an ideal gift for everyone but for those who are into health food or just really love fruit it might not be a bad idea.

next Part 3 homemade gifts

Monday, November 1, 2010

, Family focused eco friendly, fun ways to celebrate Christmas

Halloween is over so it is officially Christmas season right? So in a small effort to thwart the mass buying of trinkets, gifts, and other items which will probably be laid on a shelf (or closet) and forgotten; I have developed a list of ways to celebrate the season without taking out a small loan or stressing yourself trying to find that elusive " perfect" gift.

Part 1

- Have a bunch of kids on your list? Take them ( and older siblings , and parents) to Chuck E. Cheese. Use online coupons and it can cost you less than $10 per person.

- Have a basement or family room in your house? Invite all your friends for a party. Have Merry Christmas Charlie Brown showing in the family room, while the adults can watch an adult Christmas movie in the living room. Have simple crafts for the kids, lots of yummy Christmas goodies, play Christmas charades, sing carols. The idea is to make memories, spend quality time with people, give the gift of yourself. Of course it is vital to take LOTS of pictures. If you are really into this, create a small collage or photo album for each family that attended. I promise they will treasure that night for a long time.

-If you are really adventurous invite your nieces/ nephews/ grand kids, etc for an all night sleepover. ( This would also double as a present for their parents!) If you have a fireplace let them roast marshmallows. Make some Rice Krispie Treats , or brownies together. Buy some sugar cookie dough and let the kids go to town decorating with sprinkles. icing, cookie cutters etc. Have a pillow fight in the bedroom. ( Suggestion- move all breakable items to another room first). Take turns reading Christmas stories aloud. About an hour before you are ready to crash, stick an old black and white Christmas movie. They should fall asleep in short order.

-Take your immediate family to a homeless shelter that includes kids and throw a Christmas party for them. Find simple ideas for Christmas crafts and help them make them. Teach the kids a few Christmas carols. Play some fun Christmas games and talk about the meaning behind a lot of Christmas symbols and traditions. ( Check out The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Whelchel for some great ideas). Bring some homemade popcorn balls or chocolate covered pretzels to give out to the kids.

- Practice some old fashioned Christmas carols and go caroling through your neighborhood. Don't like being outside? Try caroling at a nursing home instead.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown

A few years ago we were at Blockbuster around Christmas time. We could not find the Christmas movie we were looking for, so we ended up checking out Merry Christmas Charlie Brown. I could not remember much about the video, and I was not sure if the boys would like it or not. My fears were quickly however as they started to watch it. They began to life harder than I had ever heard them laugh. They found this simple , no nonsense , old fashioned video to be hilarious.

As I sat down to watch it, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was it entertaining my kids rather well, but it actually had a pretty solid biblical message as well. The whole point about how the Christmas season was too commercialized rang very true with me. I also loved the point where Charlie Brown in frustration asks if anyone knows what the real meaning of Christmas is. The oh so wise Linus responds by quoting the true Christmas story from Luke 2.

At one point Lucy sends out Charlie Brown to find a Christmas tree. She wants a shiny, pink, aluminum one. He brings back this small , scraggly, live tree. Everyone is furious with him, and he leaves in disgust. It epitomizes his desire to bring something true and real to Christmas despite everyone else's desire to have it be artificial and materialistic.

Fast forward to last night when I was at a grocery store. Before my astonished eyes, I saw it. A small , red box with a picture of a Christmas tree on it, and the words Merry Christmas Charlie Brown on the box. Some marketing guru came up with the ideas to mass produce an artificial replica of the Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Are they serious? Wasn't the whole point to show how unnecessary all the fake decorations and commercialization are? Weren't people supposed to understand that Christmas was about celebrating the birth of a baby King who was born in Bethlehem over 2000 yrs ago? That it does not require a lot of money and hoopla to celebrate HIS birth, but simply a servant's heart.

There are so many ways to celebrate the Holy day ( holiday) season. Why is it a prerequisite to be stressed and spend lots of money? I am not against decorations or gift giving if done in a good spirit. If it becomes stressful and the source of angst and ill will, then why do it? Personally I think people of any religion would be a lot better off simply to find something which they can do to help others and do that wholeheartedly. If it helps them in the process, then all the better. I don't know.

I do know that I want to spend quality time with my family this season, and I want to teach them to serve others. And I do not need to buy an artificial Charlie Brown tree to do that.