Given Good Principles: A Lesson In Parenting and Every Day Living From Jane Austen

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Last week Ladybug graduated from preschool.  We are all very proud of her and the amazing young lady that she is growing up to be.  This child knows more about Scripture, about Jesus, and about Christianity than I ever did at her age.  It wasn't until I was in high school, probably, that I learned about The Fruit of the Spirit and The Armor of God.  She has so many of the principles of our faith down pat.  She knows it, but it isn't good for her just to know about it.  We know about a great many things, but that knowledge means nothing unless it is put into practice.  Of all things, it brought to mind a conversation in Pride and Prejudice, near the end, between Darcy and Elizabeth:
The line, “ As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit.” just hit me as I thought about myself and how I am raising Ladybug.  It also made me think on how I was raised to think.

I'm going to be honest.  I was raised with a ton of improper pride and conceit.  I was taught to think more highly of myself because of the things I did and, often more importantly, didn't do. I have thought myself better than others because I supposedly followed the good principles with which I was raised.  Yet that improper pride has gotten me into more trouble than just about anything else.  Possibly the greatest lesson of my thirties has been than I am no better than anyone else.  We are ALL sinners and fall short of the glory of God.

Quite honestly, I am a wretched, wretched being.  On my own, I am quick tempered, rude, hateful, deceitful, and many other horrible things.  "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.."  The good in me is only that which comes from God.  I can know the Scriptures word for word, but unless I put them into practice, they mean nothing.  I want to be a parent who teaches her child, not just by reading the Bible with her and telling her what is right from wrong.   I want us to be a family of doers, not just talkers.  I want to lead by example and to teach her that "faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself."

The works do not save us.  "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast." The works are a result of our faith and appreciation of the gift  from God that our salvation is.   We are not entitled to God's love or salvation.  We can never be good enough or complete enough works to earn salvation.  It only comes through faith.  How can one claim to have faith, and not want to share it? We are like a tree, and when we have the Holy Spirit within us, we will produce good fruit, which is, "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

 The first fruit mentioned is love.  What is love?  "Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."  Love is neither proud nor conceited, and that brings us back to these questions:

  • Are we living  like Mr. Darcy, pre-Hunsford?  
  • Do we thinking meanly of the rest of the world beyond our own circles?  This is a big one for all of us who attend church.
  • Do we put into practice the principles, the commandments and scripture that we have been taught and study? 
  •  Do we know what is right and wrong but not put it into practice, all the while patting ourselves on the back for being such good people?
I am thrilled beyond imagine that Ladybug has such an extensive Biblical knowledge.  My prayer is that we raise her to be a doer, to always put all of that knowledge into practice because that is what she has seen from me.

Learning Grace As a Parent

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

I never really thought much about Grace until recently - not deeply at least.  Having grown up in church, grace has never been a foreign word to me.  "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound," and other hymns have *ahem* graced my lips all of my life.  I have been fascinated by the word, even naming characters for it.  I don't know if I really understood the actual definition of what grace really is though.  It was something I believe that I took for granted and (oh how I hated the thought) felt entitled to it.  It was to me, something that was that I didn't really ponder.  Then my precious, sweet, easy-going baby grew up to be a willful, determined, intelligent, opinionated toddler, and grace suddenly took on an entirely new meaning to me.

If you Google "Grace" you will see this definition.  The second noun is the one that is important to me; "the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings."  It's a mouthful, isn't it?  What does it mean, really?  Along with searching the Bible, I decided to read the book "Grace" by Max Lucado.  He pretty much sums it up by this quote, "Whenever God looks down at you, this is what he sees:  the prefect Lamb of God covering you."  Even at our best, we are but filthy rags to God.  Grace is Jesus covering us and filtering out our sin.

We are nearing the Easter and Passover season.  The Israelites were spared from the Angel of Death because of the lambs' blood covering their doorways.  Jesus Christ became the ultimate sacrifice and freely gave himself to cover us, our dirty, sin-covered souls, so that God could look upon us.  No other sacrifices are needed, because he was blameless and perfect.  He covers us, so that God can look beyond our sin with love and yes, bestow blessings upon us.

As the mother of a toddler, I am faced every day with the dilemma of whether to hand out discipline to my child when she acts out, or to look beyond her defiance with love and just love on her.  I don't believe in not disciplining my child.  It is my duty to her to teach her right from wrong.  That said, I am not without understanding that sometimes there is more to her behavior than just acting out for the sake of acting out.  I need to take into account whether or not she is tired, if she isn't feeling well, and several other factors.  Often, though she is a strong-willed girl, her actions aren't a deliberate test of my authority but her way of letting me know that all is not well in the the land of Ladybug.  It is during those times that I realize that I need to cover her with love rather than punishment.  The lesson that she needs to learn is that there is nothing she can do to lose my love, just as there isn nothing we can do to lose God's.  That is grace.

I honestly don't know if I received a lot of grace as a child.  Guilt I was given in abundance, but grace.... I don't know.  I think that in a way it was thought that I was, but really it was sugar-coated guilt.  Maybe that's the opinion most children have, thinking more on the negative consequences of things.  I'd like to think that, but in all honestly I think one of the reasons I haven't thought much on it was because it really wasn't something I knew first hand from my own personal experiences.  I want Ladybug to know what grace is firsthand so that she won't have to be in her mid-thirties before the concept really starts to click.

So, when she is seriously trying my patience I need to think (and pray) before I dole out punishment and consider whether or not she instead needs grace.  It's not always easy to give grace either.  There are times when sending her to her room for time-out seems just easier.  No one ever said being Mama was easy though.  How fortunate for me that I have a savior who bestows grace upon me and teaches me so much more about my relationship with Him through mine with my daughter!  Ladybug may not deserve to be hugged rather than punished at times, but then neither do I.  What a blessing parenthood is in that we can grow and learn just as much or more than our children if we are open to God's prodding!
 "Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.  And he raised us up with Christ and gave us a seat with him in the heavens. He did this for those in Christ Jesus  so that for all future time he could show the very great riches of his grace by being kind to us in Christ Jesus.  I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God.  It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it. God has made us what we are. In Christ Jesus, God made us to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to live our lives doing."  Ephesians 2:5-10 New Century Version (NCV)

Mama, Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

First of all, I want to thank you for all the prayers last week that we not have an ice storm and lose power.  We had mostly sleet, rather than freezing rain Sunday and never went without electricity.  So rather than huddling by the fire together with blankets, Ladybug and I introduced Bart to Frozen.  Even though it's a musical, he didn't hate it.  We have quickly grown to love the songs from the movie, especially "Do You Want To Build a Snowman?" and "Let It Go."  Ladybug can belt those two out like crazy. (And by crazy, I mean that sometimes she might sound a bit maniacal, but I love her)  Also, we like the movie, because it's not your run-of-the-mill princess movie.  We're fine with her enjoying it as long as being a princess doesn't become an obsession.  Right now, Ladybug is obsessed with Olaf.

Anyway, this new fascination with Frozen has brought with it a deepening of Ladybug's already growing interest in snow and snowmen.  Sunday when the sleet was falling hard, and the temperature falling harder, she begged to play outside in the snow.  Yesterday while it was still far too cold, she begged to play in the snow.  Today the sun came out, the temperature came up, and she really started begging to play outside in the snow.

At first I didn't want to.  I was afraid it would either be too cold or too muddy.  We needed to eat lunch.  She needed to take her nap.  I needed to do housework while and after she napped.  I had managed to get quite a bit accomplished earlier in the day, and I really wanted to just knock most of my weekly housework out of the way today.  Then she asked again to go play in the snow.  In.the.snow.  It was 41° today, and the snow was seriously beginning to melt.  It's March.  Hopefully (please, Please, PLEASE) this will be the last winter storm of the season.  I might be free the rest of the week to hang with Ladybug, but the snow would be gone.

We've played in the snow a lot this past winter and last, but we have never built a snowman with Ladybug.  The snow dripping off my roof was like a clock ticking, reminding me of why I'm home with Ladybug.  Yes, I'm supposed to do the housework, and my house if not overly dirty.  That said, my main purpose at home is to bring up Ladybug and be her Mama.

Housework will always be here.  As soon as something is finished, something else is waiting to be cleaned again.  Ladybug will only be two for eleven more months.  It might not snow at all next year. She might not always love the snow and snowmen as she does now.  I may not appreciate every moment of this stage of life, but I cherish as many as possible.  So today after nap time, I built a snowman with my daughter.
Actually we built a Snow Doc, but we did it together and had fun doing it, singing songs from Frozen.  I thought about building it while she slept, but I realized that she wanted to build a snowman.  She wanted that experience.  It may have been easier to do it alone, but wouldn't have been the same as doing it together.  I would do it again, because Ladybug's time with me as she is now is as fleeting as the snowman.  Soon enough I'll have all the time to clean house while Ladybug is out with her friends.  Right now she is mine, and I'll gladly drop everything to build a snowman with her.


Monday, January 20, 2014

When I was a little girl, there was probably no place I loved to be more than home.  I remember feeling safe there and warm.  You know, that kind of warmth that's like a blanket that wraps around you on a cold day.  It was an older home with a porch that wrapped around two sides.  I loved that porch and spent many hours playing on it.  It didn't matter that it had only one bathroom, and that everyone's preferred route was through my bedroom rather than my older sister's.  It didn't matter that the central air went out at some point, and we used a huge window unit.  It was where my bed was, where my Cabbage Patch Kids and other toys were, and where I could just be me (for the most part).  It was where I was the most comfortable, most confidant, and had the least concerns.  It was paradise to me.  No other place could be as comfortable, as safe, or as perfect for me.  That security of home lasted until I was ten, and my Dad passed away.

Since then I have felt home-ish at times, but that security and warmth I knew my first ten years is lost.  That home I loved so dearly and felt so warm and secure in quickly became a cold, empty shell where I no longer felt very safe at all.  Though I have had many perfectly wonderful homes, that original perfect home for me is no more and will never be again here.  I love my home we have now, and I feel as safe and warm as any adult who knows the harshness of this world can be.  I can decorate it to my heart's content.  I can rearrange the furniture and even buy new furniture, but I will never completely reclaim that initial  absolute comfort and contentment.

That is how life is supposed to be though.  There is only one home for me, and it's not on this earth.  The home I had those first innocent years of my life was my earthly archetype of Heaven for me.  If that home filled with flawed parents and children was a paradise that I still dream of to this day, how much more awesomely wonderful will Heaven be?  To be in God's presence.  To never know pain or suffering again.  To be warmer and freer of troubles than I was even as a little child?  It's beyond my imagination!  I love and am thankful for the home I have now, but Heaven is the home I long for.  It is the only permanent home that neither wind nor rain, illness nor death can take away.

Today I have a little girl who loves home.  Every time she asks to go home when we've been away, and she proclaims uninhibited joy just at being home, I think on the home I knew when I was her age, and the home I shall go to some day.  I am thankful and pleased that this is her safe place.  This house, the home that Bart and I have created, this is where she feels completely safe, completely comfortable, and completely provided for.  It is her stability.  We have thankfully been able to give her a stable, safe, warm home where all of her needs are met.  That is our job.  I believe that is one of the most important jobs of every parent.  Every child should know the unequivocal joy, comfort, and stability of home.  How are we to convey to our children the wonders of Heaven if we do not give them the closest example on earth?  Just a thought on a Monday.  What are your thoughts?

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”
 - John 14:1-4 ESV

Things To Do While Waiting On Your Toddler To Potty

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

We are in the very early stages of potty training at our house.  It's going rather slowly, and I won't rush into the details because I don't want to give Ladybug ammunition to hate me later in life.  Needless to say, I've been spending a great deal of time just hanging out with her while she sits on a potty-chair, awaiting the (hopefully) inevitable.  I'm quickly learning that it can be a huge time-suck, but I'm always looking for things that I can do while hanging out with her since I can't really let her completely out of my sight.

  • Things to do on the iPad or Macbook
  • Read a book on iBooks
  • Catch up on Bloglovin
  • Shop iTunes
  • Blog
  • Catch up on Facebook or Twitter
  • Get Lost on Pinterest  
  • Shop online
  • Watch an episode of Downton Abbey
  • Read an actual book
  • Read a magazine
  • Read the Bible
  • Sing songs
  • Practice counting and saying the alphabet
What have you done to pass time while waiting on a little person to potty?

2013 Rewind Friday: Train Up a Child

Friday, November 8, 2013

From now until the New Year, I'm going to be re-posting my favorite posts of 2013.  Here goes the first.  The first is from August 14 titled, "Train Up a Child."  Please feel free to comment.

"At what age—and how—did you introduce religion to your kids?"
I saw this question on my Facebook newsfeed posted by a popular and respected parenting magazine a few days ago.  With it came an overabundance of emotions within me.  At first I laughed at what, to me, seemed like a ridiculous question.  After all, my religion isn't just some elective part of my life that I can choose to share with my daughter when she's older.  Then I realized that is exactly what it is to many, ever so many people today.  In fact a popular thought among parents is to not expose impose any certain belief system upon a child until that child is able to choose whether or not he or she wishes to take part in it.  My question is, if you're not exposing your child to what you believe, what are you exposing them to?  How does one parent without exposing their children to their beliefs?  I guess my last question is, is it possible to not expose your children to your beliefs because you lack a solid foundation of beliefs yourself, and / or don't put them into practice?

First of all, to answer the initial question posed by the parenting magazine:  I prayed for my child before she was ever conceived.  I prayed that she would be conceived at all, that once she was conceived she would be delivered healthy at full term, and I haven't gone a day without praying for her!  I believe in having my child in church every opportunity I can have her there.  I believe in reading the Bible and her Jesus Storybook Bible to her regularly.  I believe in letting her sing songs about Jesus, Noah, Zacchaeus, and others from the Bible.  I love that she loves VeggieTales.  God isn't just religion in our house.  We have a relationship with him.  He is our Heavenly Father.  Jesus wasn't a good man or prophet, he is our living, risen savior.

I thank God every day for the solid foundation I have in my relationship with him.  I don't agree with a lot of the things my mother did in raising me.  I am very thankful that she took me to church at an early age, and that it was never a discussion of "if" we were going to church on Sundays, but it was a discussion when we didn't.

I have lived through some very dark, very difficult times in my life.  I am thankful that throughout each of these times, I have never been without that foundation of Christ in my life.  It has been the only thing that has carried me through the most difficult of times.  When friends and family have failed my, Jesus never has.  I feel the blessed assurance of the Holy Spirit within me in the happiest and most trying of times.

So, why wouldn't I want to share this with my child from Day One?  Why wouldn't I want to share this with everyone and shout it from the rooftops?  I certainly want my child to be raised with a solid, firm foundation so that when she's older I won't have to worry about her falling for just anything when she will inevitably be searching for something to believe.

What are your thoughts on this?

Hollow Trophies

Friday, October 25, 2013

I read the other morning on Facebook about a football little league in Keller, Texas where they aren't handing out trophies to every kid that plays anymore.  The league wants to teach kids that the have to go above and beyond just participating in order to receive a trophy or medal.  They want kids to know that "they have to give their all to be successful, all the time, not just sometimes."  According to reports, parents are thrilled with the change.  I have to admit that I am too.  I hope that it catches on everywhere.  I don't think kids should get trophies for just participating.  There are some very important life lessons to be learned in kid's sports that aren't being taught anymore, because we're taking all of the competition out of competition.

We've made childhood too soft today.  We spend thousands upon thousands of dollars making playgrounds where children won't get so much as a scrape of the knee on them.  Every kid makes teams for sports where there are no winners or losers, because they don't keep score.  Each kid goes home with a trophy whether or not they did anything to deserve.  Those trophies go into a pile in a closet or some other out-of-the-way place and collect dust because they don't mean anything to the kid.   He or she will get another next season too.

A mother of one of the little leaguers in Keller, Texas stated that "her son has multiple trophies that don't mean anything to him, but, his championship trophy is what he treasures the most."  Why does he treasure that trophy?  Obviously because he had to work to achieve it.

We need to let our children fail.  We need them to learn that good things come to those who work hard for them.  We need to not hand everything to them on a safe, non-breakable, BPA & PVC-free plastic platter.  We need to teach our children to be hard-working, gracious winners and also how to lose and lose well.  It will help them later on in life when things inevitably don't turn out as planned.  By denying our children the chance to win or lose, we deny them the coping mechanisms to handle rejections and even corrections later in life.  Like it or not, there are winners and losers in life.  One team scores fewer points than another, and sometimes kids don't even make a team to win or lose.

When I was in the sixth grade, I tried out for the girl's basketball team.  Everyone tried out for the team.  I assumed I would make the team.  Everyone always made the team, and all of my friends did. I wanted so terribly to make the team, and I think that I worked hard to improve myself over time, but it just wasn't enough.  When the jerseys were handed out, I didn't get one.  I didn't make the team.

Yes, it hurt at the time.  It hurt more than just about anything else in school ever had,  but it didn't have a detrimental effect on my psyche.  Instead, it made me stronger and more determined to find things that I excelled at and to work hard at those.

There is a huge part of me that wants to shield Ladybug from all pain.  I want to protect her from the hurt of being excluded from things.  I want to protect her from the hurtful things others will say about her, because that is the nature of children.  I want her to succeed in everything she does. I don't want her closet to be filled with hollow trophies.  I want her to be able to pick herself up when she falls.  I want her to learn from her failures.  I want her to learn how to deal when someone says something unkind to or about her.  Most importantly, I want for her to know the satisfaction of working hard and earning honors, a spot on a team, and a trophy or medal.

  • What are your thoughts on the new policy that the Keller, Texas football little league has adopted? 
  • Do you think kids should get trophies for just participating
  • Do you think kids should have to earn their rewards?  
  • Do you think that we have worked so hard to make things "fair" that we've taken important life lessons out of things like sports for our children?

Don't Throw Away the Dandelions

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I think that I log on to Pinterest in order to read memes, funny memes and serious, thought-provoking memes, more than anything  To me, they're usually a nice distraction from everyday frustrations.  There are two serious memes in particular that are related to parenting and have struck a serious chord with me.  I posted them both below, because I think that they're both very true statements.  I hope that I never forget them.  I know from experience how very true they are.  You see, I was the child whose mother didn't listen to her, and I was the child who brought my mother "flowers," only to have her throw them outside and complain to me for bringing in weeds.

 You know all of those heartwarming blog posts where daughters extol all of the virtues of their awesome mothers?  This isn't one of those.  This is me being honest, because I think that the blogging world needs a bit of honesty and reality to go against the seemingly perfect lives that no one lives.  The truth is that I don't really talk to my mom.  You know, we don't have long, meaningful discussions - ever. I don't tell her most of what is going on in our lives.   What I do share with her, I edit more than I did any research paper in college.  Our conversations usually revolve around the weather, people I don't know, her endless complaints about various other family members, and as little information about what's really happening here as possible.  She was the last person I told I was pregnant with Ladybug, and I did that because I felt that I had to in order to keep down my stress.

I don't really remember a time when I did tell her things. We have never had the type of relationship where I felt comfortable telling her anything. When I did attempt to talk to her, she would only half listen enough to get details horribly wrong or to criticize whatever I was telling her.  She would rather have read my diary (if I kept one) than ever stop criticizing me to listen to what I had to say - about anything.  To this day, I have to psyche myself up just to call her up on the phone once a week.  I give her as little of myself as possible in order to protect myself.  Yes, it sucks.  Yes, I've tried to make things better.  This isn't about getting help with that relationship.  It is what it is.  Now I don't care to anymore.  I just don't want to have the same relationship with my daughter as my mother does with me.

This is not a mom-bashing post, really. I'm not ungrateful for all that my mother did to raise me.  I do love my mother, I just don't want to be like her, especially when it comes to being a mom.  I never want Ladybug to feel that she can't tell me something; good or bad.  I don't ever want her to believe that I'll think something so very big to her is unimportant to me.  I don't want to throw away the dandelions.  I want to listen to and enjoy the small stuff with her, so that when the big stuff happens she'll want to come to me.  I want to remember take a moment from what I want in order to listen to her enough in conversation to be able to pick out a gift for her come her birthday or Christmas.

The truth of the matter is that my mother doesn't know me.  She doesn't understand me.  She never has and never will.  She assumes a great deal, and we know what becomes of people who assume things. She's never stopped pushing me to be what she thinks I should be in order to actually become acquainted with who I really am.  It's a fact that I've not only reconciled myself to, but I've moved beyond it.  I don't want to be sixty-four years old, wondering why my thirty-three-year-old daughter only calls once a week or so.

We begin laying the foundation for our future relationships with our children from the get-go.  How we act to our children now will have a direct result in how they react to us later in life.  Keep the dandelions they give you and make necklaces and bracelets from them.  When your child wants to whisper something in your ear, even gibberish, bend to her  level rather than shoo her away from you.  When Ladybug hands me dead leaves, I happily take them.  When she wants to tell me something, I make sure to listen even though 65-70% (at least) of what she says is still unintelligible.

God blessed me with this beautiful, fascinating person in my life.  I get be her mom.  That's a privilege I'll never take lightly.  I think I'm the big winner here.  I definitely don't want to take such a blessing for granted, and I never want her to feel that she can't talk to me.

Faith of Our Fathers

Thursday, January 10, 2013

I'm cross-posting today with yesterday's post at 365,000 Words.

My Dad was a man who lived fairly simply.  He loved hunting turkey and deer, though he rarely killed anything because he loved nature.  He liked fishing.  He enjoyed technology.  He loved history and reading.  I only realize now that I inherited my love of history and a great deal of my love of literature from him.  I would often misplace library books because he would "borrow" them.  Oh, how I wonder what our conversations would have been like had I known him and he, me as an adult.  

I don't have much that was his, because he really didn't have much.  He didn't have collections of things really, except for a few nice guns.  He gave all he had to give us a better life.  Other than a wallet and one of his watches, all that I really have of his besides his eyes is his Bible.

In my early years, I don't really remember Dad going to church all that often.  He worked on the railroad and was often "out" on Sundays or resting after coming home late.  However, when I was six he had his second heart attack and had to undergo triple bypass surgery.  It was then that he gave his heart to Jesus, and he was a different man all the rest of the days of his life - not that he was a bad man to begin with.  He wasn't.

He got his Bible the following Christmas.  Like many other people, he didn't like the archaic (though some of us call it poetic) language of the King James Version, but he read his New King James Version as voraciously as he did my library books he would "borrow."  I remember discussions and debates he would have over scripture and sermons.  The greatest comfort I have had regarding his dying so long ago is the knowledge that without a doubt he is in Heaven.

I'm finding myself, in my most trying of days as a new mother, seeking solace, inspiration, and hope not only out of my own copies of the Bible but his as well.  Not only am I reading the words of my Heavenly Father, but also I'm reading the same words that were read by my earthly one as well.  I am very thankful to have witnessed the faith of my father, and I pray that some day Ladybug can say the same of her mother.

Know When To Fold 'Em

Saturday, October 20, 2012

This was taken five years ago.
For quite a while, B and I have been looking forward to taking the Firecracker to my old stomping grounds for the Poteau Balloon Festival.  We really enjoy watching the balloons and taking pictures of them, and also were looking forward to catching up with some family.  Unfortunately we hit one of those less than desirable milestones of familyhood, our first shared family cold.

First of all, never brag too much on your baby.  Just don't.  Last week I was in for my yearly exam and was bragging to the doctor who delivered Firecracker how great she was, even during teething so far.  Dr. H. had mentioned how snotty her kids had been when they teethed, and I mentioned that Firecracker got a little snotty, but wasn't too bad yet.  I guess it was Tuesday that Firecracker started acting really grouchy.  She was also very mouthy and drooly, so I chalked it up to cutting her top-front two teeth.  Tuesday night she started getting really snotty, and then she (and I) didn't get to sleep that night until around 3 am.  Since then, we've had good moments and bad moments.  Then Thursday my nose started running and wouldn't stop.

By Thursday night, I felt pretty much like crap, and B's throat started bothering him them.  Still we at times we felt better, Firecracker seemed better, and we hoped we would be well enough to go to the balloon festival.  We left NWA on Friday, because we were going to help B's parents set up a new computer on Friday.  So, a little after we got to Greenwood, we drove into Fort Smith to visit Best Buy, then Target, and get some supper.  BTW, I was not impressed with the Fort's Logan's Roadhouse.

Friday night got rough around  bedtime, because even though Firecracker has been doing better, the pack 'n play is not her bed, and Grandma and Grandpa's isn't home,  and she didn't sleep in her room.  I was stuffed up and had horrible acid reflux.  B was very congested and didn't sleep well at all.  By noon Saturday it was decided that we didn't need to go to the festival.  I added that we just needed to go home.

So, once the new computer was set up, we came home.  I think we were all very glad to be home.  B and I are miserable one minute and not the next.  That seems to be how Firecracker feels too.  This weekend, we had to learn to be the parents who had to decide not to do something we really wanted to do in order to do what was best for our child, and our family as a whole.  No one has had any fever.  This is just a plain old cold.  I can't remember the last time I had "just a cold."  It sucks, and apparently I should get used to them, because kids get up to 10 a year.  I guess parenting is sometimes a lot like gambling according to Kenny Rogers.  "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run."

A Verb Too Few Practice: Parent

Monday, June 25, 2012

By now, everyone who doesn't live on a mountain top somewhere with only their trusty goat companion has heard the news story about Karen Klein, the bus monitor who was bullied mercilessly and to tears by children.   It has brought about a call to action to teach children more about not bullying in schools and an unbelievable show of support for Ms. Klein.

What those kids did is horrible, no doubt.  They should be punished by their parents for treating anyone in the manner shown in the video.  However, I don't think that there should be yet another class teaching them not to bully at school.  I'm pretty sure they hear enough of that these days when they need to be focusing on academics.  This happened not because of any failing on the school's part, but the parents'.

You see, if we don't want our children to treat people, any age, race, or heritage in such a manner, then our kids need to learn respect, kindness, and compassion.  Those things shouldn't have to be taught in school.  Our children should be taught how to read, how to do math, and about Paul Revere in school.  They should learn these basic fundamentals of life at home from us.  We are our children's' first and most influential teachers.

There's a reason why kids who grow up in abusive homes are more likely to be abusive parents.  That's all they know.  Telling a child to "do as I say, not as I do," doesn't work.  Doing right in front of your child and leading by example will.  If you want your child to respect others, to treat them with kindness, to show love, then do it yourself.

Parent isn't just a noun. It's also a verb.  It's the act of raising a child.  Raising a child isn't all cute outfits, and chauffeuring to little league sports, dance lessons, and other activities, or at least it shouldn't be.  It's teaching a child what the word "no" really means.  It's helping him or her to understand that life isn't always fair.  It's teaching them to accept that there are always going to be winners and losers in different things in life and to be gracious either way.  It's showing them how to have compassion for others, to love one another as we've been commanded, to judge not, lest they be judged, to do to others as you would have done to you.  If you want your child to be a good friend, then you have to be a good friend.  Lead by example.  Every once in a while, go out of your way to support someone else.  Be selfless, not selfish.

I'll be honest here.  I am a blunt, snarky person who likes to poke fun at people I like.  Get that though, I poke fun at people I like, hopefully in a manner that isn't hurtful.  I have been known to be rude to people, especially salespeople at stores when my blood sugar is low.  My tolerance for just plain stupid is very low after dealing with the public so much during my adult life.  That said, since Firecracker was born I have tried to be more compassionate and gracious.  Truthfully, it's like they put something in that spinal block in the OR when she was born, because  all I could do was thank my OB, thank the nurses, thank the anesthesiologist, thank everyone.   I'm still and always will be very grateful for the wonderful care we received when Firecracker was born, because these people held both our lives in their hands, and they didn't have to be so nice and quite honestly wonderful.  Maybe it was the sheer joy from everything, but I think the change in manner has carried on to today, twenty weeks later.  I want Firecracker to grow up knowing that she has a mom who'll stand up for her, be her champion, but also is gracious and compassionate, so I pray and work to maintain as much of that joy every day.

It took me thirty years to learn that a healthy family isn't one that berates you and guilts you into doing things.  It took me thirty years to learn that a family that seems healthy on the outside for all appearance and quite honestly in the opinions of the dysfunctional family, isn't when everything is a game of who has the upper hand and can hold things over the heads of others like a Sword of Damocles.  I learned an accepted that those things were true, because that was what I knew from example - at least since I was ten.

Every day I pray that I act in a manner in which I want my daughter to some day emulate.  I pray that she never needs a class to learn not to act like those kids on the bus, because she has already learned that it is wrong from watching B and me in our every day lives.  Too few people practice it as a verb, but to be a good parent, you must parent.

Warning Labels

Thursday, May 31, 2012

There should be a warning label stuck on the diaper of every shiny new baby who leaves the hospital stating that the week following vaccinations is most probably going to be a week of sheer hell for the parents.  It should inform parents that their sweet, happy child will be anything but for at least a couple of days after her shots.  Said warning label should also advise parents not to do anything that involves sharp objects like cut fruits of vegetables or shave for their own safety.

If you haven't guessed it already, the Firecracker had her four month vaccinations Tuesday.  She seemed mostly fine Tuesday, if not a little fussier than normal and sleepier.  Wednesday morning she woke with a 101.4° temperature (and a smile, believe it or not) and grew progressively fussier all day, and I had had very little sleep the night before due to being woke up by her at two, Lucy at two-thirty, and Firecracker again at five for a bottle.  By five yesterday evening, she was one unhappy camper.  I left to get groceries, came home, and she had passed out on B's lap in between the worst screaming sessions she has ever had.  She even screamed through bath time, which is often her favorite time of the day.  Today she's was a little fussy, but she also spent most of the day sleeping on my lap.  Tonight (finally) she started to act her normal self again.  She even squealed with joy some while we played fetch with Lucy and Dory with me wearing her via Baby Bjorn.

Meanwhile, throughout all of this I have merely survived.  At times I almost didn't even do that.  This is the point where the warning about sharp objects comes into play.  I almost amputated my left foot this morning while shaving my legs.  Well, actually it looks more like I tried to peel it like a squash - a bloody squash.  Of course I injure myself like that on a day when B is working in Tulsa also.

Last night, B let me go to Walmart looking in his words, "rough."  Basically I probably looked like every white trash welfare recipient I usually poke fun of.  I'm just thankful that I did have the forethought to change out of my shirt that was covered in formula, because Firecracker was more interested in getting her food all over me than in eating it yesterday evening.

Truth be told, I knew this was coming.  I expected it at two months, and wasn't at all surprised that it happened this week.  I guess that I'm so used to her being a fairly good baby that times like this really, really throw me off of my game.

Also, nowhere in this post did I decry vaccinations.  I don't like what they do to my baby short-term, but thank God for what they do for her and protect her from in the long-term.

What I've Learned In Three Months

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Firecracker turned three months old yesterday.  She's already such a big girl compared to when she was born.  She's holding her head up like a pro and still hates tummy time.  Somehow she managed to roll over several times last Tuesday and pretty much refuses to do so anymore, stubborn child.  Raising her is very much a learning process for B and I both.  Here are a few things I've learned in the past quarter-year:
  • Huggies leak.  They may be the diapers that have the cut-out for the umbilical cord for newborns, but you might as well let your baby go commando if you put him or her in Huggies.  If you like holding your baby and feeling baby pee pee spread all over your clothes, put him or her in Huggies.  If someone gives you Huggies as a gift, be polite then take them back to Walmart or Target or wherever they may possibly have come from and exchange them for Pampers Swaddlers.  They're almost exactly the same price and don't leak.
  • Just as soon as you get a routine figured out, it will change.  It may be in little ways, but it will change.  Babies are constantly changing, so that means their needs are constantly changing too.
  • Pear Juice is wonderful if you have a cranky, constipated little monster.
  • Swaddle blankets are awesome.  Firecracker has never been swaddled at night, but that is.the.only.way she'll take a nap.  She actually seems to enjoy what I call, "Baby Burrito Time."  We like Summer SwaddleMe here.
  • Play mats are worth the money, and I'm hoping the jumparoo I ordered yesterday will be too.
  • Schedules are great but should be flexible.  At our house, we try to use a lenient EASY schedule.  Learning about EASY was one of the best things ever.  If there is a baby #2, we're starting him/her on EASY the day we come home from the hospital.
  • In our house, the bouncy seat is sort of known as the "baby toilet," because that's where Firecracker does most of her pooping.
  • Speaking of poop, we've learned to always be ready to throw the laundry around so you can soak anything tainted with poo in the washing machine for a while.
  • Dresses and shirts are cute and all, but they're totally impractical with a baby.  They just bunch up in the back in car seats, bouncy seats, and while being held.   Onsies are the way to go just for these reasons.
  • Enjoy every day, because the changes come far too quickly.

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