children

Apparently, I’m just a younger version of my mother…

You know when you start using vernacular like “Back in the day…” or “When I was your age” with your kids, you’re getting old. It’s the equivalent of hearing your own parent’s versions of how when they were young, they “walked 2 miles to school, uphill in the snow…both ways”.

Today, I was sharing with my son how when I was his age, there were no such things as vcrs. There were no dvd players. No personal computers. No cell phones. Not every home had a telephone or television, for that matter.

He seemed to be taking it all in stride, until I mentioned the fact that the only day I could watch cartoons was on Saturday. He was positively shocked by that little revelation. Never mind the fact that we didn’t have all the technology. It was the cartoons that shook the foundations of his world.

Of course, I had Captain Kangaroo and Sesame Street to wake up to every weekday morning. My son has never watched either. I recently introduced him and his little sister to Bert and Ernie via Youtube, as well as the Yip Yips – we spent an hour laughing until there were tears in our eyes. I don’t know what this says about me, honestly.

Television today just isn’t the same, which is one reason why we don’t watch it. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the old days, where cartoons only came on early Saturday mornings and were off by 10am – simpler times, because I’m really at heart a pretty simple person. Plus, I really dislike that glazed look my kids get when they spend too much time in front of the television (my uncle Jim used to call it the “boob tube”).

Good grief, I not only am looking more like my mother the older I get, I’m starting to sound just like her too. I walked two miles in the heat just to write this blog post tonight…

So what shows did you watch when you were a kid?

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Swiss Family Robinson we are NOT.

My two daughters recently built a tent outside – obviously, they have never read Robinson Crusoe or Swiss Family Robinson, or they’d know that you don’t accessorize a teepee with poison ivy. Yes, the calamine lotion has been flowing freely at our house this week.

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Raising Boys Ain’t for Sissies

My mom and dad were the quintessential blended family. He brought a sixteen year old daughter into their marriage and she brought six hungry boys.

You would think that seven mouths to feed back in the late sixties was enough, but apparently, my mom had a thing for even numbers, so they had me, rounding it out to an even eight. By the time I was two, I was the only girl in the house, because my sister had left home and gotten married at a young age. Yep, it was just me and the boys.

Growing up in a large family comprised of mostly males, I learned a thing or two about how a boy’s mind works. I learned how to climb trees with the best of them, could spit as far as half of them and I kicked some serious hiney in poker. I discovered that breaking things just to fix them was called “being mechanical” and that if someone hurt you, all you had to do was put your fist through something and it immediately caused you to forget the original problem.

I was the girl in high school that had mostly male friends, because that’s just who I identified with and understood the best. Boys were so much easier to be friends with because they didn’t care if you had a spot on your shirt or if you wore makeup or not.

I was not allowed to officially “date” a boy without a chaperone until I was sixteen. Of course, that had never even been an issue, because all the boys I liked simply saw me as their “sister” (or one of them) – something I was good at being.

Oh, and the fact that I still had two brothers at home that lived to make my dating life miserable. One time a boy called me on the phone (and I really, really liked him, too) and one of my brothers happened to answer. Instead of handing the phone over to me, he said “Well, Karen can’t come to the phone right now – she’s sitting on the pot.” He never called me back. Wonder why.

Now that I have a boy of my own (a middle child with two sisters), I often think back to the days of growing up with my brothers. There is a balance to be struck there somewhere, I am sure of it.

While I want him to be tough and tenacious, I also desire for him to be tender and softhearted towards the women in his life. I want him to respect his sisters in a way that I was not by my brothers. I was their “little sister”, someone of little significance in their world of finger wrestling and frog giggin’. Oh, they included me in many things they did, but now that I am older, I am more aware of the fact that it was mostly at my mother’s insistence, rather than their inclination to have me around because I was a kick in the pants.

My heart’s desire is to raise a godly young man who is much like my brothers in the sense that he knows what its like to enjoy being a boy, but who isn’t afraid to let his true feelings show at any given time.

I don’t want to raise a sissy. I don’t want to raise a macho male chauvinist, either.

I am sailing in what is unchartered waters for me and it’s a tad bit intimidating. I can see the curve of the earth and it sometimes feels as though I’m going to drop right off the edge, only to find out there’s another vast sea of obstacles to navigate my way through. As each course is completed, I am a little closer to victory and the finish line — oh how I want to finish this race as his mother well.

Even more so, I want my son to finish well.

What are some things you do with your boys to encourage them in this area? How do you teach them to strike a fair balance between the extremes?

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Six

On August 1, 2002 at 3:31pm you made your appearance with barely a sound. I couldn’t see you, but your Lulu could and she says to this day that she was so frightened for you because you were blue and not making any noise. But you perked right up and began to cry lustily after the first couple of minutes.

Of course, you just had to go and get jaundice – but I must say that you were the prettiest yellow baby I’d ever seen. Each time we took you back to the hospital for light therapy, you would cry as though the world was coming to an end. I think it almost did for me. That was a heart-wrenching thing for a mama to watch — the nurses would poke your little heel with a needle and squeeze and squeeze until enough blood was out for a culture.

Thankfully, you finally decided enough was enough, you’d had all you could stands and you weren’t going to stands you no more. So you got over the jaundice and we were finally able to enjoy having you at home without the daily hospital trips.

These days, you’re a little too smart for your own good…you can read many things by sounding words out and you love to write letters to folks. (even if you don’t get all the letters in the right places – your earnest heart is what’s so sweet).

You love to break things just so you can show me you’re able to fix them. (We’ll talk about my mp3 player later, son).

You are a superhero part of the time and a preacher the rest. If you aren’t rescuing one of your sisters, you’re telling them exactly what their character flaws are and how they can get right with Jesus.

You recently told me that you want to have 100 jobs when you grow up. But the top three that you want to be are a preacher, business owner, and a toy maker in a factory. Those are mighty fine and lofty goals, son.

You have a tendency to be rough in your play, but your littlest sister looks up to you and would go to the ends of the earth for you, as would your older sister.

You’re the only boy in our family, and we’re so thankful for you – you are the last of our line.

The last to carry on our family name on your daddy’s side.

Finish well, son.

But for today? Enjoy six.

You are a daily reminder that life is waiting to be lived to the fullest.

Think I’ll go an enjoy it with you now.

Happy Birthday, AJ.

Love, Mom xoxo

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Hope You’re Not Udderly Disappointed in This Post…

I’m a list-maker by nature. It’s almost an addiction with me. I have one central list that I use on a daily basis and when it becomes too hard to read as I’ve marked things off, I rewrite whatever’s not done on a new sheet of my yellow Ampad efficiency tablet that sits right by my keyboard, alongside my John Deere coffee mug and my Dell keyboard.

I marked so many things off of my to-do list this week, I actually had to get a new pad. Forget going to a new sheet. I went to a new pad, people! I’m taking productivity to a whole new level…instead of focusing on things I haven’t accomplished, I’m going to try turning over a new leaf and start writing things down that I have accomplished that weren’t originally on my list, just so I’ll feel better about myself. Oh, I kid. (sort of) And the first two paragraphs of this entry have absolutely NOTHING to do with the latter part. Just keep that in mind, won’t you?

Friday was Chick-Fil-A’s “Cow Appreciation” Day and if you dressed like a cow from head to toe, you got a free meal. My eldest daughter got up really early and started working on her costume. She cut up black pantyhose and safety-pinned them all over her t-shirt and culottes, and then moved on to her sister and brother’s. The girl printed out cow ears and noses, fitted them onto headbands and sunglasses, colored white socks to look like cloven hoofs and even painted her face (I made her wash it off before we left, however – I felt she looked more like a ghoul than a cow). I wore a white t-shirt that we painted to look like a cow and we were off to the mall.

My husband dropped us off because he had an appointment and was going to meet us back there when he was done. Picture this – high noon at the only mall within 2 hours driving distance and I walk in with my three calves wearing flip-flops and me as the mama cow. I held my head high and proud, however. I wasn’t gonna let my pride stand in the way of a free chicken sandwich. The sad thing is that I’m always saying I feel like a cow…but today, I also looked like one. All I was missing was Bessie’s bell. Needs more cowbell, I tell ya. (props to anyone who can tell me what that last line is from)

Fortunately, my sweet husband was gracious enough to leave us at the entrance where the Chik-Fil-A was actually located and not down and the other end of the mall (don’t think he didn’t think about it) because the looks we got when we entered? It took me back to ninth grade, it did. I was as self-conscious as a Freshman walking down the Senior hall for the first time. Thank goodness I had my Ray Bans on because people were giving us that “I’m not gonna stare” look where they duck their heads down and glance sideways until we walked by…you know the one. I simply smiled back and said in my most high school voice “Why don’t you take a picture? It lasts longer?” (okay, I didn’t say that, I only thought it)

My daughter froze when we got to the restaurant becuase no one there was dressed up, save one lone employee, who was wearing a “Eat More Chikn” t-shirt. No one. How sad, I thought. Of course, then I wondered aloud, “Oh my gosh…I hope we’re not here on the wrong day! I would be ‘udderly’ embarrassed.” (I have no shame)

But then the heavens opened up and I heard what can only be described as the melodious sound of the cowbell ringing – never had anything from the farm sounded so beautiful in my life. As the last customer moooooved over to make way, we stepped up to the counter with 492 sets of eyes on us, the manager came out from back and exclaimed exuberantly, “You-are-the-very-first-folks-we’ve-had-all-day-actually-dress-up!” Apparently, it is so special that it requires a manager to take the order and process it. After he handed us our order, he wanted us to go over to the cardboard cows and take a photo with him and the cows (so he could show his district manager?), which we did.

I felt like Chick-Fil-A royalty and wanted to bask in the glow of the adoration we were receiving from our Chick-Fil-A subjects until I remembered that I left my camera in the van with my husband and I would have no photos for the blog. I suddenly felt ill. I called my husband to remind him to bring it in and he promised he would – but he forgot. So when we got home and he dropped us off, I thought, “Well, it’s not during the moment, but I’ll take the photos before we change out of our costumes.” It was then that I realized the camera was still in the van. With my husband. Who was on his way out of town. Argh? By then, the kids were tired and sweaty and no longer in the mood for photo ops, so I did what any blogging mom would do – I pouted a little bit.

Now…If only I can figure out how to sneak that photo from the manager of the store – I’d be golden. Any ideas?

So did any of you participate? Or have you ever done anything for your kids that just about embarrassed you to pieces? Come on…fess up.

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I think my paradigm just fell off its axial..

My son uttered his first real curse word today. It was a proud parenting moment, let me tell you right now. Ya take them to church, ya model correct behavior, ya train them up and this is the thanks you get?

But seriously. He did. It was shocking to say the least, especially coming from the mouth of my sweet little boy who crawled up into my lap just last night and murmured sleepily to me that I was the best mama ever in the history of the universe. So how come I feel like I’m failing my kids miserably? First my three year old, and now my son.

His daddy did a very thorough job of explaining why we don’t use that word or any form of it in our family (hence, he lectured a bit) and asked my son where he heard it. I must admit that I had a knee-jerk reaction(sort of like when you drive by a police officer and you slow down even when you’re not speeding)and had to bite my lip to keep from saying anything, because for just a split second I had the ridiculous notion he’d heard it from me. But then I remembered that I don’t cuss, y’all. I don’t. Except for that one word, but I’ve almost stopped saying that altogether.

I realize this is just a small blip on the radar in the grand scheme of things, and I do believe he has learned his lesson as far as cursing goes. We are fairly proactive when it comes to many issues like this in our home, as we try to discuss them with our children before they ever come up. However, it has effectively served as a very potent reminder for me that as a parent, I have to be more aware of what my children are hearing and seeing.

As a Christian, I know that it’s easy for me to become desensitized to the things of this world, but that’s not always so for my kids. They are little sponges soaking up everything, the bad with the good – and wringing it out does no good. It’s still in there.

Phillipians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

We shared that with the kids again this morning and then prayed that God would help us use our mouths as instruments of praise instead of destruction. When we finished praying, my son asked the question, “But how do I get it out of my head if it’s already in there?” After explaining that Scripture is the only way to fill that void, I thought of a poem I once read that was written by Frank Outlaw and searched for it to share with him.

Watch your thoughts: They become your words.
Watch your words: They become your actions.
Watch your actions: They become your habits.
Watch your habits: They become your character.
Watch your character: It becomes your destiny.

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