Saturday, June 25, 2005

Parental Guidance Required

My husband and I have been participating in a small group at church, going through a 6-part parenting study, called Parental Guidance Required, by Andy Stanley and Reggie Joiner. We're not typically the parenting class participant types. We've cringed and groaned through the years at the parents who would volunteer to sit through 16 weeks of the Ezzo's parenting classes when they could have just read the books, and at parents who seem to be basically addicted to and helpless without a class to tell them how to be decent parents. The only reasons we decided to try this one were:

-it is geared for the stage of parenting that we're getting into
-it's not a "do it THIS way" kind of thing
-it was only 6 weeks long and there isn't a book that we could just read (although I guess we could have bought the DVD ourselves)
-and we wanted to try to make some more personal connections with other people from our church

Last night was the last session, and I was just thinking about and appreciating what we've gotten out of it so much that I thought I'd share.

The first thing we learned was about how we are in a society that emphasizes experiences over relationships. It'd somehow be better for Sissy and Junior to be carted to and fro to every kind of sport, dance, or activity, rather than you staying home and playing Monopoly at the kitchen table and talking and laughing with them. Somehow our society has bought into the idea that if you don't keep running, the kids are going to miss out on some important experience that they could have had, and it would be terrible. Unfortunately, with all of this well-meaning running around, we often forget that the relationships in our children's life are extremely important both to their present and their future.

Next we talked about the 3 main relationships in a child's life:

We talked and learned about how to "dial in" and "dial out" wanted or unwanted influences as we see the need.

One of the best things in this class for me was the message that parents need to learn to shift their parenting style as the children grow, from making all of the decisions when they are babies, to setting a child free to make their own decisions once they are adults. Somewhere in between there is the need to gradually make a shift, where we are no longer relying on our size and position to be in authority, but instead relying on the investments we have made in our relationship with the child, so that they trust us and allow us on the inside of their life, and that we have "earned" the right to speak into their life and influence them when the Big Stuff comes along later on in their young adulthood when they no longer *have to* do what we say. This is not a thing where we can be heavy-handed until they turn 18 and then set them free, but a gradual loosening of our rule, allowing the child to make decisions, knowing that we support them as they choose and also make mistakes. Basically, if you have not gotten your child's heart by the time they are in the middle school years or so, you probably will never have it. So, we have to invest richly in the relationship all along the way, treating the child with respect and love as we lead them by our own example, integrity, and the (hopefully) strong relationship we have with them.

Last night's message was about the need for us to dial in other adults into your child's life that will echo your values back to the child when they cannot or will not come to their parents with problems or the need for advice. So often parents figure they have a youth pastor at their church, and they kind of blindly assume that this will be a good influence on their teens. Often it is quite the opposite! What I was so thankful for was that at our church there is a very strong emphasis on building up relationships, so that we actually have a real chance of getting to know people deeper than a passing Sunday morning understanding, so we can know who we may want to try to "dial in" to our child's life, in order to have a support network in place for the times when they will go to someone else.

Having older mentors in place is something I've been thinking about lately because I've been planning a very special 13th birthday celebration for our oldest child. I guess you could think of it as a Christian Bar Mitzvah sort of thing, although we have no interest in trying to be pseudo-Jewish. I was inspired many years ago when our oldest was probably 5 or 6, that it is a valuable thing to take the time to make th 13th birthday an official "coming of age" sort of experience, as so many other cultures do.

One of my regrets is that my teen years were largely wasted. Now, I was not a bad kid, and I was involved in a large number of extra curricular activities at my school. I had plenty of friends, went to church, had an active social life, dated. Some of what I spent my time on was fine, but I think the regret comes in where I did not have any real *direction* for my life at that point. Isn't being a teenager all about having fun and going to school and doing what you can to get into college?

It seemed that all the special chapel speakers that would come to my Christian school were extremely preoccupied with whether or not all of us kids were having sex or getting into "heavy petting" as they called it back in those days. Somehow I think that all of this well-meaning teaching about keeping your morals straight mainly served to teach us that the boy-girl relationships were THE thing in our life, and that our interest in all things sexual was certainly the hottest topic on our mind, so perhaps our noblest goal would be that we should just cross our legs and keep our clothes on and hope for marriage at an early age.

What a waste.

Yes, teenagers have a lot of hormones and curiosity to control, and to various degrees they are interested in romantic relationships. But, one thing the adults didn't count on that teenagers could use is some encouragement to look beyond themselves, to set serious goals, to put their energy and passions to good use for God, their society, whatever. I don't know why the left it out, because even the Bible mentions it in 1 Timothy 4:12 "let no one despite your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity." Apparently young people have had the capacity to be even a positive example to *adults* by their life and Christian faith.

I think teenagers are ripe for whatever you can turn them on to. Tell them what they're most interested in is sex, I bet you'll be right. Put them in a youth group that is extremely service oriented or goes on a lot of missions trips, get them into an apprenticeship situation that they are interested in, either way, they'll get into it. Aren't we so often a product of the expectations put upon us? (that can be a good thing, too!)

Since I've had all these years to let this "coming of age birthday party" idea percolate in my head, it's become increasingly important to me to have a set time when we publicly say to our children, "You are crossing over from child to young adult. You now have 5-7 years to prepare yourself for adulthood. We want to take you under our wing in a purposeful way, to help you to learn and grow in the ways you must in order to be a responsible adult."

One of the things we plan to do at the party is to have some men that are in our son's life speak about what it means to be a Christian man, and to encourage our son as he grows in this way. We have been thinking about who we will ask, who are the men that we want to hold up as examples, to say, "If you ever don't want to listen to us, listen to them!"

One of my strong beliefs about parenting is that it is a ministry that God gives us that does at least as much to challenge and grow *us* as it is for the children. It's exciting, I think, to see how it all plays out to motivate and challenge us along our path in life. What is God teaching you through the most important relationships in your life?

Friday, June 24, 2005

Floatie Swim Suit Safety Alert

As you may remember from recent posts, we have an Easy Set pool at our house. It's a pretty big one, and we have floatation swim suits for our three youngest boys to wear, although we keep the pool shallow enough that all of them can walk around in it and still have their heads above water. Last year when I bought the suits the baby was 1 and the better quality suits did not come in his size, so I got a cheaper one, which he had continued to wear this year.

The other day the kids were playing in the pool while my husband and I sat on the deck watching them and chatting. Our youngest, who is now 2, lost his footing in the pool and very quickly was floating face down in the water. Fortunately my husband saw it right away and got to him within just a few seconds, so everything turned out ok.


The problem is that this suit was not designed to flip a child over onto their back if they needed to rely on the floatation! Our baby was helpless, face down in the water. He would have actually been safer with no suit on at all, since he would have been able to stand to his feet after losing his footing.

It only takes a very few moments for a little one to drown. I am so thankful we were right there with our eyes on the pool happenings.

We tossed out that suit and today I went and bought him one of the better ones, that are designed to keep a kid floating on their backs. Just thought someone else might appreciate the reminder. Go check and see if your little one's floatie suits will flip them to their backs in their moment of need.

Kids, Chores, and Money

Another blogger was asking for suggestions on chores that kids can do, and also about allowances and spending money. Rather than waste all that blabbing over there in the comments section, I shall share my vast knowledge with all of you. :)


For at least 5 years now we have used what I call "Areas" as guidelines for chores for the kids. Basically, I have split the house up into zones or areas that kids can clean. Right now I have 3 kids who have their own areas to clean, but in the past I have had only 2.

Areas at our house:

Pick up and put away all the stuff from the kitchen, living room, and hallway floors, and vacuum then as needed.

Pick up and put away all stuff on the stairs, landing, laundry room, and downstairs hall, plus vacuum as needed.

Family room: pick up and put away stuff from floor, general straightening of room, plus vacuum as needed.

I have kids ages 12, 9, and 7 that each have one of these areas assigned to them. The oldest child also handles most garbage detail and helps with yard work, as does the 7 year old. The 9 year old helps with childcare assistance when needed.

The 7 year old started having an area when he was 4. I gave him the area that I could best and most directly observe, to make sure he didn't get distracted, and also to teach him to do it decently.

We usually do "area pickups" every morning before we go on to doing fun stuff, so the house isn't embarrassing if someone stops by, plus it's just nicer to live in. A lot of days I have them wait and do the vacuuming at the end of the day, though, if I anticipate an especially crumbly meal or a lot of sand tracked through the house or whatever.

After they pick up their areas, they also spend approximately 15 minutes picking up their rooms. 15 minutes is plenty if you keep up on it, and usually affords them time to periodically do some extra cleaning type stuff like fishing out stuff from under their beds or decluttering a surface or shelf.

Most days all the kids cleaning is done within 30-40 minutes, so it's not a big deal.

We sometimes have extra work days when things have gotten particularly messy or if we have something special coming up that we want to be prepared for.


We don't give allowances. Nobody gets paid for the basic stuff that needs to get done around the house. Nobody pays me to do the laundry or make the meals or clean the kitchen, so why should the kids get paid for contributing to the overall maintenance of the house? I sorely detest a child who thinks they deserve money for every little thing they do.

What we *do* practice, is offering extra jobs that *are* for pay. At this point I pay the kids $1 per 15 minutes of work, and as they get faster and better, I will increase the amount. (slow workers get less) (It was a lower amount when they were littler) I think $4 and hour for a little kid is pretty darn good money. So, very often they will come up to me and ask "Is there any extra job I can do for money?" They always have to have their regular stuff done first. Some of the extra jobs we pay for are:

washing walls
cleaning vehicles inside or out
extra yard work
picking up in rooms that are especially trashed or have an extra need
washing windows

So, an enterprising child can easily earn $30 a month if they only work 15 minutes a day. When they bemoan wanting money to spend at Dollar General or whatever, we encourage them to work and save for the thing they want, and we break it down into "If you only worked for one hour you could have the money for that" so that they see the connection between working and earning to have things they want.

Having them have to work extra for money has also revealed which kids are hardworking and which are lazy. One of our children is particularly averse to doing any extra work, so he has a lot of disappointments while walking past the toy aisle at the store. :) But, by being able to see so clearly that he is being lazy, it helps us to be able to say NO WAY to getting him the extra little stuff that he wants. It would only encourage the laziness even more. Now, when my hard working and industrious child wants something but doesn't have the money right then, sometimes I will strike up a deal to get the work done in order to pay off the purchase, and that works well too. That kid is encouraged because she is being rewarded according to the character she has already demonstrated, and it encourages her to keep going in the right direction. This is a good example of separate but equal parenting! The goal for both children is the same, but the mode needed to get them there is different.

Our oldest son handles much of the money that goes toward his expenditures now, thanks to a plan that we adapted after hearing about it from a friend. (thanks Jill!) We figured out how much money he would need in a year for
buying gifts
going to camp
giving to charity
spending money
school activities/sports
and then divided it by 12. He gets that amount of money each month and is responsible for saving it for the longer term things, and using it for the shorter term things. I think we started this with him when he was 11 and now it has been about a year and a half. Overall it is working well. He does manage to spend his money on things that aren't budgeted in (like PS2 games) but he has also found creative ways to cut costs on other things. He has chosen not to do some things that he probably would have done if we were just going to pay for it. He considers more carefully what to buy and where to buy it based on seeing what he's got and knowing how far it has to go. Obviously he has made some choices that aren't that great, but we want him to make those poor choices now and learn from them, rather than later when the stakes are so much higher.

We have occasionally decided to pay for stuff that came up at school or whatever that we did not anticipate and had not budgeted in, and we help him out by pointing out when he could benefit from a good bargain on some clothes of whatever he might be needing.

We're still a work in progress, of course, since our oldest isn't yet 13. But, this is working well so far.

I did learn of a neat site called Chore Buster that can help families organize their chores. For me, I like just keeping it simple and having the kids stick with the same areas for a pretty long time. They learn how to do the area very well, and I don't have to constantly wonder "Who was supposed to clean this area?" We generally switch areas 4 times a year, when I see a need for a change.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

On The Road Again

So I've left you all dangling on the edge of your seats wondering, "Did Dolly Mama get her car working again? Or is she still sitting at home counting all the things she can be happy for even though she can't leave the premises?"

Well, last Friday my husband had to work so he arranged for a tow truck to come and get our Burb and take it to a repair place. After a few odd mistakes the Burb ended up at my husband's fire dept. rather than at the repair place, and in a fit of whimsy he decided to try once more to see if the car would start. And, of course, it did.

It started!


So the next morning he took it to Auto Zone or something to they could hook up their little diagnostic computer thingy to see what might be the problem, and nothing showed up.

Huh, again.

So, our Burb has been driving fine, we paid the bills, and life rolls on.

In a fit of post-broken-down-car idiosy, I drove the kids approximately 40 miles to see a free showing of Rugrats in Paris at a movie theater. I guess I just wanted to take them to do something special to celebrate being able to GO somewhere. The funny thing is, I detest the Rugrats and haven't even allowed my kids to watch any of their stuff in the past.

I have continued my lawn-mowing fitness regimine faithfully, but now the hubby has pulled the plug on me! We haven't had enough rain and so the yard is kind of burning out and he says "No more mowing" until things improve. Sure, just my luck! As soon as I figure out something I like to do that would help my work off some flab, I can't do it any more. So, what shall I take up now? Power mopping? Scrubbing walls from top to bottom? I could probably stand to do a few of those things. I guess I'll spend some time creative thinking about such things until I get hit with enough inspiration to carry me through.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Plethora of Home Organization Ideas for You!

SOCKS! SOCKS! SOCKS! Let's hear it for sorting the socks! I've had several different methods for matching up and keeping tabs on the socks, and the system I have now is the best so far.

I have one bin that all kid socks go into once they are matched up. Before they get matched, they get set on the top of the washer as I fold the clean laundry. After all the clothes are folded and put away I match up socks and plunk 'em in their bin. The ones without mates get hung up on this shelf with a clothes pin to wait til it's mate turns up. Often I find mates among the ones hung up and the leftovers on the washer. Socks that stay on the shelf too long, get mercilessly thrown in the trash, so that within a day or two it's mate will turn up. Oh well! I don't have any walmart bags full of mismatched socks any more, and the whole process goes a lot faster now.
Posted by Hello

A few years ago I decided to end the madness of having dressers in each child's room. I was sick of little kids changing their clothes half a dozen times a day and dropping their cast-aside clothes on the floor. I was sick of delivering folded clothing all over the house, and having it get messed with by the kids, with the contents of the drawer always looking like they were stirred up with a stick 5 minutes after I put them there.

SO, We took 2 shelving units we had that are approximately 6 feet wide, stacked them on top of each other in the laundry room, bought some plastic bins, and revolutionized our life!

Ever since then the kids' clothes are in the laundry room. They go in there in the morning to put their new clothes, and their dirty ones can get dropped right into the dirty laundry basket. (I say can because they often drop them right on the floor, like all the rest of the kids in the world, even though the bin in *right there* and just as easy to drop things into...) Then all that stuff is already right where I need it to be hanging out next to the washer. When the laundry comes out of the dryer, it gets folded and put right back in it's bin all in the same room. My husband finds it pretty handy to have his stuff in there too, since he gets up earlier than we do when he has to go to work. He can do all the bathroom stuff plus get ready in the same room and not wake anybody up rattling through a dresser if he forgot something.

The kids have more space in their rooms since they don't need dressers, plus those pesky dresser-tops aren't in their rooms just begging for clutter to accumulate.

This room does get messy if I don't keep up on it, but even so, I'd rather have this one room fairly trashed compared to when I used to have kid's clothes dragged from one end of the house to the other!
Posted by Hello

The other half of the story.... Some of the kids only need one laundry basket to hold their stuff. Posted by Hello

Inside the bathroom closet I have 2 shelves for keeping all those bathroom odds and ends. These two little plastic drawer units were about $5 each and as you can see they fit pretty well perfectly. Great for hair accessories, potty treats, lotions and dental floss and whatnot. Posted by Hello

I also have this handy little unit which I found in the tools section at Walmart. I guess it's for keeping nuts and bolts. These smaller drawers are so great for:
band aids
nail polish
parts to the hair clippers
my make up
spare buttons
safety pins
and much, MUCH more!

Seriously, this has been so nice. I wrote on the drawers with a Sharpie to label them, and now everybody can pretty much find what they are looking for. Also, there are little drawer dividers, so you can organize as picky or general as you like. Posted by Hello

On the inside of our bathroom closet door I have this shoe organizer thing. Starting at the top I have labeled individual pockets for each person to keep their own toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, or whatever is specifically theirs. I thought of this because I think it's completely gross to have all the family toothbrushes bumping up together in one cup. What a way to spread germs! Anyhow, I digress. I also have spots for items we use often enough to want to grab and put back in one easy step (lint brush, hair straightener), a pocket for some socks for little guys, and at the bottom all the little boy's shoes. They love their shoes so we have had to put a childproof doorknob cover on the outside of this door to keep them from changing and strewing shoes all the live-long day. Posted by Hello

Kitchen cupboards: Years ago I was a Tupperware lady and got a whole boatload of Modular Mates to organize my cabinets. It has been such a nice thing. I can always see what I've got and if I'm running out, I always know that my staple items have a place to be put away. We don't have many partially-opened bags or boxes of things just waiting to attract pantry moths or ants or mice. You can find a lot of these containers on ebay for way cheaper than you can buy them regular retail. Tupperware ladies usually have cabinet storage worksheets available so you can figure out which containers will fit the height, width, and depth of your cabinets, plus what size containers will fit the foods and quantities you use. They can even come do a planning session for you, but if you have them come, don't go and buy your stuff from ebay! Have a party for her and earn a bunch of it for free. OK? You can also use other kinds of containers, obviously. Posted by Hello

Jake the Great turns 7 today! Wouldn't be a birthday without a Hulk cake, now, would it? Posted by Hello

Last Sunday our oldest child was baptized. It was a really meaningful day for us, and our whole family was really blessed by it. Since our church meets at a school, they had the baptism outside in this stock tank. Fortunately the water they put in it was warm! There were two other boys that were baptized that day. Each family had an opportunity to say something to or about their child beforehand, and then afterwards, when they were in dry clothes, there was a great time of prayer for each of them. My son seemed to really feel the significance of the day. Posted by Hello

Dunked, and...... Posted by Hello

Baptized! Posted by Hello

Friday, June 17, 2005

And so another week is coming to and end. It's PAYDAY here, so we should be getting on the bandwagon (ha! I accidentally typed 'badwagon'--too true!) to get our vacationing Suburaban fixed, and once we do I will be driving around town feeling so thankful that I can do things like take kids to see lizards at the library's summer reading program. ha.

Squiggy Magoo's been wearing undies, with limited amounts of potty success. But I am happy to report that in about 3 days he's only used about 4 diapers. So, hey! A new way to be thrifty (not recommended if you have carpeted floors).

I've continued to be a flab-losing maniac, push mowing our yard to perfection, so much so that today there is not a single place in our lawn that I can justify wasting gas to mow over. Yesterday I got busy using the weed whipper, (which I was told by friends at small group is an odd name for it. I guess names for weed whippers are regional, sort of like 'coke' 'cola' 'soda' and 'pop') and did so much of it that once I was done my arms actually felt like I could barely hold them up. Heck, at lunch I could barely lift a glass of water to my mouth. I think I'm going to have to pace myself on the weed whipping a little better. At least I realized that I should switch arms part-way through the process. So, either I am totally and completely out of shape, or I *really* worked hard. Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is, it's all gotta add up to helping the overall bod situation, so I'll take it.

My oldest child, Sullen, will be coming home this afternoon from the camp where he has been since Sunday. I have missed him! I don't remember missing him much the past 2 years that he was gone, but I suspect that may be because I was so busy with babies that the week flew by before I had time to notice. Anyhoo, this time I've been having these melancholy thoughts about how it won't be too many years before he'll be grown and move on to college or jobs or a new place to live. sniff sniff

Well, onward and upward, people! Got kids to feed and supervise and laundry to complete and clutter to tackle. Have a good one!

Speaking of having lots of kids.....check these out!

Jesse Owens, seventh of eleven children, famous runner, 1913

Edith Bolling Wilson, seventh of eleven children, wife of 28th President Woodrow
Wilson, 1872

Thomas Edison, seventh of seven children, Inventor, 1847

Mina Miller Edison, seventh of eleven children, wife of Thomas Edison, 1865

Harriett Beecher Stowe, seventh child, author, 1811

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, seventh child of which only two survived, Austrian
composer, 1756

Jacques Offenbach, seventh of ten children, French composer, 1819

William Steinway, seventh of seven children, civic leader and marketing genius
and maker of Steinway pianos, 1836

William Henry Harrison, seventh of seven children, Ninth president, 1773

Franklin Pierce, seventh of eight children, 14th President, 1804

William McKinley, seventh of nine children, 25th President, 1843

William Howard Taft, seventh of ten children, 27th President, 1857

Charles Grandison Finney, seventh child, great evangelist and theologian, 1792

Nate Saint, seventh child, Ecuadorian missionary supply pilot and martyr, 1923

20th President James Garfield had seven children

22nd and 24th President Grover Cleveland had seven children

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Trying something new

For those of you bored to death by housework strategies, walk on by.

For the rest---

I've been trying something new. In the past several days I've had a realization that I have not been completing household tasks. My guess is that this started (and continued from) many years ago when I was so busy with babies and little ones that I rarely could finish one thing before having to move on to some other part of the house.

I got very good at always looking around the room I was in to see if there was anything I could take and put away in the place where I was heading to. True to my"Bloom where you're planted" mindset, if I had kids that needed to be supervised downstairs, I would stop cleaning the kitchen and go find something to work on in the room where I was needed. I would save up mountains of laundry needing to be folded and take care of it while I watched a movie. I'd just hop from room to room, doing a little here and a little there to improve wherever I was.

And, that is, I think, a very good way to make progress on your house while taking care of several small children, because the babies and toddlers need and deserve your attention so much more than any room in your house.

But, I realized that I'm in a different season now. Yes, I still have some small children, but not so little that they need direct supervision from me every moment. Plus, I have some older children now that do a decent job of keeping watch on littler ones while they play in another room.

I was feeling kind of discouraged that every room looked a mess. Nothing was really done all the way. So I decided to try something out: completing things!

So for several days now I've been fighting my habits in favor of my goal:

When I rotate laundry and a load comes out of the dryer, I've been taking the 5-10 minutes to sort and fold and put it all away rather than leaving it for later. I've even got a nice little system for the socks, so they aren't piled up on me either.

For the basket of towels that comes to the laundry room, rather than just drop it off and figure I'll fold and unload later, I just take the few minutes to get it done and send the empty basket back downstairs.

When I see that the toilet is looking a little less than sanitary, I take the 1 minute to go ahead and pour in some cleaner and swoosh around the toilet brush. (it helps that I keep these things right in the bathroom where they are handy)

I'm trying to see the end of a meal as my time to completely put the kitchen back together, from the table being totally clear and wiped, chairs pushed in, dishwasher loaded and run, counters wiped, leftovers put away, large baking pans hand washed and put away. Too often I had been leaving various aspects of this "for later" and therefore the kitchen has not felt very nice.

When I'm in the laundry room I try to bring it back to nice-and-neat every time. We keep all of the children's clothes in there, plus it's a bathroom, so it can get messy to a great degree very quickly. I spent a long time nicely cleaning it the other day, but realized it needn't take so much effort, if only I'd take a few moments to spruce it up when I go in there through the day.

So, it's a small thing, but it's a big thing, because it's a shift in habit and thinking. It's rare that all the rooms in my house are all nice at the same time, but it's mighty nice to have the ones that *are* nice to be totally nice, rather than all of them in a mid-cleaning disarray.

Maybe this idea can help you. :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

The Mixed Blessings of Poverty

Alright, ok, we're not *actually* to poverty levels here. The word just worked better than the alternatives.

In my Fat Kids post I mentioned my needing to lose 25 lbs. and stated why it was still waiting to get lost. What I realized today was that in my zeal to own up to my own weight issues, I had not given credit where credit is due. I actually *have* been working on losing weight, and have lost quite a lot of it in the last 2 years. (I only kept track of this year's weight loss for the first few months, and I think that puts me at having lost something like 12 pounds between December and February) I've done tiny amounts of actual working out, and larger amounts of controlling what I eat, although not perfectly. So, it's actually a work in progress.

A few weeks ago I decided to at least walk some laps around our back yard each day, since that is exercise available to me to do for free while doing my regular jobs of playing lifeguard and supervising children at play. Our back yard is a large rectangle on a hill, and it is probably about an acre. The first day I started at only 2 laps around the perimeter, and added an extra lap each day until I was begging for mercy (which I believe topped out at 7). But what this reminded me of is that I simply detest doing exercise that is only exercise. When I am walking laps there is no destination, and so my focus seems to always rest on the number of laps and how much I do not want to do any more of them!

SO, (getting to the mixed blessings of poverty thing) our riding lawnmower died at the end of last mowing season. We debated about buying a new one, but instead invested money into the Supermom business, and struck up a deal to have our lawn mowed for us in exchange for some tutoring I was doing. That worked well through May, but since then the tutoring has fizzled out and the grass has not. We don't want to go into debt for a mower, and we certainly aren't in a position to purchase one. We have great neighbors who will let us borrow thier riding mower, but frankly I just don't want to be a big loser and have to use their mower every single week!

We have a perfectly good self-propelled push mower, and although our yard is a big one (1.4 acres) and it has the hill, I don't think that it's beyond the realm of reasonableness that we could just push mow it. I figured that if we did a little every day that we can, and did it in sections, we could keep up with it just fine. We've got 2 sons that are decent at mowing, plus myself and the hubby. Even if it's terribly hot, seems like we could work on it for short bursts and still manage it.

So this week I decided that this would be my new workout regimine, even if only for one day. :) I mowed the other day until I ran out of gas, and today had more gas so got out there and push mowed half of the back yard plus the entire front yard. Yowza! I have the sunburn and blisters to prove it! All the while I was thinking to myself that I have definitely walked more doing the mowing than I would have if I walked laps, and the pushing up the hills is certainly working a lot of muscle groups. All in all, a good workout. So, I think I'm going to try to just keep up with that and see how it does for helping me to work the fat off.

Another thing I'm thinking about is potty training. Just one more kiddo left in that department, and I am looking at the dwindling supply of diapers thinking that maybe I could just put him in undies and see if he'll adjust. He has already shown a lot of interest and even made it to the pot several times, so if this momma can get off her rear and make it a priority, it may be able to get done. (We can afford more diapers, it would just be nice to not need them any more.)

Finally, since it'll be another Pay Period of Poverty around here, thanks to the Burb repair, I'll be looking once again to meal planning centered around the mighty fine remains of my Y2K bean stash (kidney, black, pinto, and garbanzo, folks!!) and the hubby's venison catch from last fall. You know, I've never once regretted stocking up for Y2K. Having food items on hand in case of lean times has always been a blessing. We've used up a lot of it, but the BEANS live on.

Don't worry. We won't have to eat beans every day or anything. It'll just be a good way to s-t-r-e-t-c-h things out once again. :) I'm good at that. Hey! Speaking of which, do you know about The Dollar Stretcher? It's a great site with lots of tips for saving money. Check it out!

For indoor fun when the sun's too hot, we've been indoors playing and I've been reading to the kids. We're doing summer reading programs at two different libraries, so we have lots of reading goals to meet. Our current book is a spectacular one: Little Britches by Ralph Moody. This is the first in a series of 8 (I think) books that Ralph Moody wrote about growing up in the early 1900s. In Little Britches, Ralph is 8 and his family moves from New England to a ranch in Colorado because of his father's poor health from working in a wool mill. The books are sometimes described as Little House for boys. That's pretty much how they read. Lots of adventure, hard work, and family values. My very favorite things about this story is the rich relationship that Ralph and his father have, and the wisdom and care in teaching that Ralph's father practices. The fatherly wisdom amazes and inspires me, and confirms for me my belief that having a strong relationship with your children, and therefore having their heart, is the greatest tool you can have in being able to teach, lead, and help them.

In the second book, Man of the Family, the mother is the one who inspires me the most, with her great bravery, determination, creativity, and industrious life. The way the children work tirelessly for the good of the family is also wonderful.

I love sharing this tale with my children, since there are so many excellent examples of characteristics I hope for all of us to have.

It can be challenging to read to my brood, since the littler ones are often very rowdy and interrupt as I try to read, but we're working on that and it's getting better. The older children usually love to come and relax as I read them a story and we talk about what the words mean and what we think about the way the family handled one situation or another. It's one of the best, free family activities I can recommend.

So, once again, thrift ain't so bad. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Fat Kids

The other day I was reading a blog that I frequent, and in it the author was bemoaning the fate of her child, who was really upset from being taunted at school about being fat. Although of course I do not want her child to be made fun of, and if I ever found out that one of my own children was treating someone poorly or saying mean things because of their weight/appearance/whatever they would be in deep doo doo. BUT, it got me to thinking something that I guess might sound mean to say, but it seems not too many people are willing to say it.

When kids are fat, it is their parent's fault.

And usually where there are fat kids, there are fat parents.

I never can understand how when an adult who has suffered through the misery of being fat sees that their children are going down that same road, are not motivated to make serious changes. My husband's idea about this is that maybe they just don't know how. But, you know, I find that hard to believe.

As pathetic as the Food Pyramid is, it is downright Super Duper Healthy Eating compared to what most people do in this country. Kids are taught this stuff from preschool, and parents see these pyramids on the backs of cereal boxes and on posters at the doctor's office and so forth. The biggest intake of food is supposed to be fruits and vegetables. The smallest is supposed to be fats, oils, and sweets.

But what do so many people seem to do? They live it upside down! Never or rarely buy fresh fruits or veggies, but manage to offer up chips and soda every day! I have been amazed and horrified at how soda is pushed even on preschoolers and kindergarteners at school, both for special parties, as well as for behavior incentives. Parents often drink an entire 2 liter or more of soda in a day, a common staple beverage.

True, I don't want kids to be picked on in school. BUT parents, it is YOUR JOB to make sure your child does not get fat! It is not cute for a 3 year old to be 60 pounds! You should not give them soda for a job well done. When you see that your little one is getting on the chubby side once they are not babies any more, you need to make smart choices about what you bring into the house from the grocery store. You cannot buy ice cream and soda and candy and cookies and serve dessert regularly and give them tons of fried food! You have to give it up even for yourself until you get the situation under control.

You have to limit their computer time and their PS2 time and make them go out and play. You have to get them moving, give them a chore that requires some physical output like pushmowing the grass or weeding or walking back and forth in the yard helping you stack wood or rearrange the garage or shed or whatever. Those kids have to get off their butts and MOVE, and therefore, so do we!

Parents also need to stop making excuses for their children's weight. I am so sick of hearing crap like, "We have thyroid problems in our family" or "She is very big-boned." The last person I heard give me that thyroid line was chowing down on 5 different desserts at a potluck, saying that no matter what she did she never lost weight because of her faulty thyroid. Yes, a thyroid on the blink *can* cause difficulty with weight loss, but, uh, eating a bunch of desserts at one sitting doesn't exactly make me think you're working hard to do what you can to fix it. (oh, and there's medication and/or nutritional supplements for that thyroid as well)

As for big boned--tell me about it! I'm 6 feet tall and definitely on the bigger-boned side of things. Right now I am overweight by probably 25 pounds, which I attribute to 6 pregnancies and a lack of time or motivation to deal with it. If I would work out 4 times a week and eat more raw fruits, veggies, nuts, and seeds, and stop eating all sugar, I believe I could get rid of that 25 pounds in 4 months or less. So, I take responsibility for where I'm at. (I'm feeling a challenge coming on)

What I want to say is this: I was never a size 2 kid. Or a 4. or a 6, 8, or 10. I was surrounded by mostly teeny little friends who were cheerleaders. But I was not fat, and I was not made fun of for being taller or bigger than the rest of them. So, although I realize tiny is in vogue and has been for some time, I don't think anybody gets called Fatty for being a normal, healthy weight for their body frame. Being a big gal doesn't mean you have to be a fat one.

One of the best things parents can do for their kids is to watch out that they don't set their kids up with bad eating and living habits. I don't mean that you have to be super athletic or go hiking every weekend. Just get up and move, go outside and breathe fresh air. Do stuff that is not a seated activity. Park your car toward the end of the mall parking lot and get some extra steps walking in and out. There are lots of free little ways to do a little more for your body in the course of regular life. And if you're already into a fat crisis, then yes it'll take more than a little weeding to fix it.

It's a whole lot easier to not let them get fat in the first place, than to deal with a crying little girl after school and trying to put a 9 year old on a diet.

Parents: If you won't change for your own sake, won't you do it for your kids?

More helpful free tips can usually be found through your local Cooperative Extension Office, Health Dept., or family physician.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Another case of lost in translation

Last night as the hubby and I were sort of drifting off to sleep, I was telling him about the emerging church article that I wrote. In the course of the conversation I said to him,
"So do you think there is something patently evil about that?"
to which he pauses, and then replies:
"Well, I think there have been patents that have been bought... and patents that have been sold... and some of them are evil....."

And I'm like, PATENTS?! I'm not talking about PATENTS!! I said patent-LY!!!!!! ( breaking out into screeches of late-night laughter)

Him: Patently? What the heck are you using such fancy words for????

I'm still laughing about it today. Those midnight conversations sure can be interesting.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Long-Winded Thoughts About The Emerging Church

In the past I've written about my family attending a local Assembly of God church, and also about some of the wild-and-wooly goings on that take place there. Last fall some friends and aquaintances from our former church (that we went to for approx. 9 years before we moved too far away to comfortably attend) started a new church plant that is about 25 minutes away from us. It was described as very different from the typical church experience, very kid and family oriented, and specifically working to reach young families that are currently not attending church, possibly because they don't feel that the typical church experience is something they want in their life. It sounded both interesting and questionable to us. The thing that allowed us to give it a chance was the fact that we knew and respected so many of the core people involved in the project. The lead pastor for this new church is the former assistant pastor of our former church. This was considered a church plant, so it was a project being done with full support and endorsement of our former church. We felt that we could trust the heart of the endeavor since we knew that so many of the people were sold-out followers of Christ who were not interested in a watered-down version of what the Christian life is all about.

So, we visited, and we liked it. And the kids liked it. And we visited some more. And our 12 year old son liked it and would say to us that he had really appreciated the sermon (always very down to earth). He had always hated the AG church, and the kids there had been some of the rudest and nastiest kids we have ever encountered, so who can blame him? (all those spirit-filled, speaking-in-tongues parents with all those bratty rotten children!) We started going twice a month. Eventually we kind of stopped wanting to spend time at the AG, and have switched over to this new place. My husband and I joined a small group (something the AG does not offer) and we are making connections that we appreciate.

About 2 Sundays ago it was the day to celebrate communion. Our pastor talked about the Lord's Prayer, and about how so often in the Christian life we get stuck on modalities and forget about the relationship. For instance, thinking that if we read our Bible and pray each morning, that we can then kind of check GOD off of our To DO list for the day, and move on. He pointed out that we (hopefully) don't spend a few minutes with our children or spouse each day and then think to ourselves, "Phew! Got that out of the way. Check!" He talked about the Lord's Prayer, about saying it,and how sometimes we get so rote with it that we forget about what it means in terms of how we should be living. It was a great reminder about our utter dependence on God, our need to forgive others as a part of receiving forgiveness ourselves, God's holiness, God as our father, and so on.

After the sermon, we were invited to go around to 4 different "stations." These were situated around the room and had us all very curious, I think. There were various props, flickering candles, and such. I had been enjoying the beauty of it all during the service, and was eager to see what it was all about.

The first station I went to was entitled Letting Go. The station had some votive candles, some smooth, palm-sized garden rocks, and 2 buckets of water. The information at the station asked us to take a few moments to breathe deeply, feeling the oxygen going into our body, carbon dioxide going out, and to think about how God has created us as an integral part of his creation. We need oxygen, but expel carbon dioxide. Plants need the carbon dioxide, but expel the oxygen. Basically, an appreciation for the interrelatedness of God's creation and His design.

Then we were to choose a rock and think about our fears, about what God can do about them, and to take some time to pray about letting these fears go and trusting God with them. When we felt ready to release our fears, we could drop our rock into a pool of water.

The next station was entitled Self. There was a full-length mirror, some candles, an ink pad, a medium sized poster board, and some wet wipes. One of the first things written was the verse about us being fearfully and wonderfully made. Then it asks,

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you see something fearfully made and wonderful? Or do you cringe or want to look away?

What do you think Jesus meants when He told us to love others like we love ourselves?

What is the you or you? Who are you are the core of your being?

Find your pulse. Life is moving through you. Life is a gift from God.

Feel your fingertips. You are a unique creation. God only made one of you. You are precious to Him.

Use the ink pad to make a fingerprint on the posterboard and look at all the different, unique prints.

Ask God to show you the real you, without image, the you that He sees.

The next station was Hurts. There was a table with 2 piles of blank paper, some colored pencils and markers, and a large metal garbage can to the side. We are asked:

What hurts have been said or done to you?

You can take some time to draw or write about your hurts.

Then we are asked if we want to take our hurts along with us, or would we like to let them go?

We are directed to think about the need for confessing our sins so that God will forgive us. Also, about forgiving others trespasses. We are encouraged to let go of the hurts done to us, and to confess the hurts we have inflicted upon others. We can then choose to throw our paper with our hurts on it away in the garbage can. The sign at the stations tells us:

You are loved.

You are free.

You are forgiven.

The last station was the communion table, and it was entitled Here. We are asked:

Do you ever feel alone?


Do you wonder where God is?

Then we are reminded that God promised to never leave us or forsake us.

We are encouraged to know that communion is a way for us to have a tangible experience of God being with us and within us.

We then can take communion and pray for however long we want to.

I LOVED this church service. I loved having something experiential to remind me about God's love and power and promises. It was beautiful. It was peaceful. It was unhurried. It required me to slow down and really think about some things rather than just hurry up and take communion because it was now time to do so. I've never had communion mean so much to me.

I also really appreciated that these stations included our bodies, minds, and spirits to engage with the process. So often churches get stuck only wanting expression and experiences that are carefully measured and scientifically proven. Specifically, I appreciated the deep breathing and the appreciation for the interconnectedness of creation. Especially since I started my natural health professional classes, I have a deeper appreciation for how God made our bodies to work. So many times a church situation would frown on even mentioning deep breathing, for fear that it would somehow sound "new age-y" or something. This was the first time that I felt that my beliefs about the wonder of how our bodies and minds work, thanks to God's design, being acknowledged hand-in-hand with anything church related. It was so refreshing to be in a place that was not scared off by the body-mind-spirit package that God gave us.

Interestingly, a few days later, I got one of my regular encouragement emails for mothers, and in it was a reference to how Eastern Mysticism is sneaking into the Christian church. Immediately my little antenna went up, wondering if perhaps what I had loved so much about communion Sunday was what they were talking about. As I checked into it, sure enough, it was (in part). I found all sorts of articles that were concerned about deep breathing being encouraged, because it is used in yoga and transcendental meditation! Apparently, the yoga and TM people came up with the threatening concept of deep breathing. Somehow I had been duped into believing that it was GOD who designed our bodies to work well when we breathe deeply. Huh.

Another concern was the use of candles! Yes, candles are now a sign that something is going wrong at your church. I bet this is news to my Orthodox friends... (I wonder what they think about insense??) If your church dims the lights, it's even worse. Gotta watch out for that mood lighting, I tell ya. I wonder what this information will do to all those Christmas Eve candlelight services that everybody loves so much? Is mood lighting only ok at Christmastime?

Other surprising concerns were the use of hospitality! Coffee! Couches! Multi-media presentations!

There was also a lot of concern about something called Contemplative Prayer, which I have yet to hear discussed at my church and will admit that I know very little about it at this point, so it may indeed be a bad thing, I'm just not sure yet. Apparently the worry is that if people don't do all the talking during their prayers, and spend some time quietly listening for God, they might hear something that *isn't* God. Indeed, it's not a new problem that plenty of times people think they hear from God, but really they hear from their own imaginations or wishes or whatever, and I would even say that it is possible that someone could get some thoughts from some spiritual force that was not God and not good. So, I can understand the concern. But I don't see how deciding that meditating and spending time quietly before the Lord should be vilified because we cannot carefully control these things.

I think that what is a threat to so many Christians is that we are afraid of that which we cannot measure. A church service that does not have to stop at noon? Well, then, when will we know when to end?!

Not just 3 hymns and the offering, but instead a more open-ended, Spirit-directed worship experience? How will we know whether or not God wanted us to sing through that chorus 5 times rather than 3? What if we sing too long? Or the wrong song?

Someone having some sort of charismatic experience? Well, how do we know what's going on with that?! How do we know it's God and not something else?!

There is so much mystery to God that we cannot know or measure. Many people have simply cut the Holy Spirit right out of their church and life because they are afraid of what will happen and whether or not they will be in charge of it, and how they will know if it is God or not. These are normal things for humans to be concerned about, I think. But it does not seem to me that God works within our desires for secure rules and boundaries in all things.

One example is that the Bible doesn't tell us how often to have communion. It says, "as often as you do it." We're left to figure out the logistics ourselves. We're given tons of principles, with the particulars of how to apply principles being left up to us. Some feel that this leaves us all kind of floundering around in a space where nothing is clearly right or wrong. Maybe. But God did that. He choose not to tell us every little thing about how we have to apply His principles.

One question we may ask is WHY?

One reason that jumps out at me is that by leaving the application of His principles up to us, God knows that we will need to be in a relationship with Him, constantly open to His leading, examining our own hearts and motivations. "What do you want me to do, Lord? How best can I live this out in this situation?" With a list of rules, who needs a relationship? Do this! Don't do that! Easy enough, since all you have to do then is read the sign.

In a relationship, we often need or enjoy something fresh. We like to go on vacation to get a break from our regular life, and this hopefully rejuvenates us. We take our kids to the park or children's museum for something special and different to do. Marriages often benefit from going on a retreat or taking up a hobby together or trying out something new in the relationship. We like to shake things up a bit in our life, don't we? It's not that what we've got is bad, it's just that we benefit from getting a different perspective, trying something new, and infusing some excitement into our everyday life. We don't need to beat ourselves up saying, "We've done just fine with the furniture in this arrangement for 20 years! Why change it now?!" It makes sense to me that our relationship with God and Jesus Christ works the same way. We like our retreats. We like to read a new book that helps us learn and grow in our spiritual walk. We enjoy reading a different version of the Bible every now and then, where God's word makes a fresh impression on us. We may go through seasons where we are deeply fed by liturgy or tradition or charismatic worship or simplicity or whatever. I think this is not only ok, but good. It shows that we're growing and changing! I think that to expect ourselves to forever be feeling a vitality in our relationship with God and our spiritual walk by only doing worship one certain way is just not realistic nor consistent with how God made us.

Another thing that I believe is that God created us all unique, and He understands and celebrates the many differences in personality, culture, and place in history. What delivers a message to tribal people in Papua New Guinea is probably going to be different than what gets a message across to the ultra wealthy in southern California. What gets through to inner-city drug addicts is probably going to be different than what inspires the elderly in a Florida retirement community. With liberty in Christ, we don't have to force one exact plan for all people. The message is the same, but the vehicle for delivering needn't be.

Some people seem to feel like diversity among Christians is a bad thing. Why can't everything be just like the Early Church? or, the Catholic Church? Or, the catholic church (little c)? Orthodox? Baptist? Presbyterian? Methodist? Charismatic? Apostalic? You name it, there is somebody out there that thinks that we should all be doing that one thing. I just can't imagine how that could be so. With the billions of people in the world, all with varying personalities, needs, cultures, and points of entry, how could we possibly think that there would be just one way for all of these people to worship and understand God. How could the God who created so much diverse beauty and intricacy in His creation want only one style of worship directed to Him? How could it be that God expects all peoples in all cultures at all times in history to all experience His message and to worship Him in only one way? How could this make sense?

We even see diverse styles of worship within the Bible, changing over time and from people group to people group. We've got people that build altars and burn sacrifices, people that dance exuberantly before the Lord and play a wide variety of instruments in praise to God, we have house churches and outdoor down-to-earth storytelling to get the truths of Christianity across to people. We have radical healings and deliverances. We have small groups and large groups. We have communal living. We have people who do full-time ministry, and people who have regular jobs but do what they can to further the message.

So, why would we expect that since the Bible was written nothing in the church can or should evolve, adapt, or change?

Please know that I am in no way saying that "all paths lead to God" or that the message of Christ itself needs to be altered. The message is the same as always. It's the vehicle for delivering it that should adapt.

Getting back to the point of the objections I learned about the wonderful communion service I attended, the concern is that something New Age or from Eastern Mysticism or otherwise evil is infiltrating the church. I think that this is something worthy of checking into and being on guard against, especially since we live in a very relativistic society, and new age thinking is very prominent, but I think that oftentimes people are getting hung up on lingo and feel alarmed about things that maybe aren't so alarming after all.

For instance, a New Age-oriented person might claim that they got "bad vibes" from someone, whereas a charmismatic Christian-oriented person might claim that they had discernment of spirits and could feel that there was something evil about a person due to their spiritual gift. Basically, these two people are talking about the same thing, although they may attribute the source of their intuition differently. But, if a Christian person says that they feel bad vibes from someone, does it automatically mean that they are attributing their ability to feel this thing to someone or something other than God? No! It's just the lingo they used.

When reading the articles in objection to the Emerging Church movement (our church would fall into this category, I think) it seems that anything that is seen as somehow borrowed or adapted from anything that any other religion has ever done is therefore a bad thing. So, deep breathing is solely seen as smacking of Eastern Mysticism, rather than God's creation design at the root. Eastern Mysticism got it from GOD, folks! Experiential opportunities to more greatly understand God and Bible concepts are simply tapping into the ways God made our minds, bodies, and spirits to function. We're multi-faceted creatures, made by a multi-faceted God. It should come as no surprise that we appreciate a different way of understanding something every now and then. If some other religion has made use of this concept, then it is because they, too, have observed and understood how we have been made. They may not understand or acknowledge God as creator, but they see the truth of the design nonetheless. Issues like peace, joy, forgiveness, and love are also not solely appreciated by Christians. There are plenty of valid illustrations and experiences to help us grow in these areas, regardless of who thought them up first.

I look at these supposedly mystic practices being accepted by some churches today and I feel that Christians are reclaiming what is rightfully theirs: respect and appreciation for God's creation of nature, our bodies, our minds, our spirits, and a hunger to know, love, and experience God with all of us rather than only the rational, scientific, and measurable.

I think it's important for ALL denominations and styles of churches to be watchful that their practices and applications of Biblical principles are not in any way doing something we should not. We need to be careful not to water down the Bible in order to make the message "less offensive" or somehow more palatable to our wishy-washy world. But we also have to be watchful that we don't exalt tradition or personal comfort over being open to a new way to get across the same ancient message.

My husband and I will continue to beware of possible pitfalls at our new church. I realize that we may get farther into this and see a different side of it than what we are seeing right now. It may be that my church isn't all that "emergent" and maybe we aren't going quite so far in that direction as is described in some of these articles.
If my opinion changes, I'll fess up. :) I know that we definitely DON'T want to be in a church that teaches people that everything goes, that there is more than one way to be saved, or any of that. I really don't think that our particular place will do that, based on our experience with the majority of the members.

Some links that may be of interest if you want to look into this issue further:

Pro-Emerging Church Resources--
Vintage Faith
Something cool going on in Lexington, KY, where Christians are choosing to live in urban areas in order to reach those that are so often left out of the Christian loop.

Anti-Emerging Church Resources--
Emergent No
Lighthouse Trails Research

Monday, June 06, 2005

OK, I've seen it.

So I went to the Carl's Jr. web site to get a look at the commercial for myself. Actually, I saw the 60-second internet-only version, so I am assuming that some of what I saw is not even shown on TV. It's here, for the other two of you in the world that haven't seen it.


My opinion is the same. I wasn't so shocked. I didn't think it was pornographic. It's very sexual. It's funny. It's meant to be over-the-top. She's totally HOT for that Carl's Jr. burger! Wow, those must be good, eh?

No, I wouldn't want my kids to see it. But I also don't want them to see most of the rest of commercials that are on TV. Hence, no TV here. The end.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Pizza Night

Izzy Man comes to the table, gives a long and serious look at the food on his plate and says,
"What *is* this? What do you call it?"

Do you suppose the pizza was overcooked a little more than I estimated?


That Carl's Jr. Ad

I've mentioned before that we don't do TV here. So, I guess it comes as no surprise that I haven't seen Paris Hilton's Carl's Jr. commercial. Actually, I'm so behind the times I'm still trying to figure out how that girl got popular and famous in the first place. Weird.

But I digress.

I was reading at a friend's blog about some thoughts on the way this situation is being handled. I've seen the conservative Christian mom types urging people to make calls and send emails and do whatever they can to protest this terrible commercial. I've heard about guys at the fire station watching the commercial every chance they can (which, since there are no Carl's Jr. places around here, I guess is only on shows that are talking about the big controversy. In other words, they never would have seen it if a big stink hadn't been made.). Then I read an article that struck me as more close to my own sentiments. The basic gist of it was that by everyone getting their knickers in a twist and creating so much hype around this issue, the conservative outrage has played right into the hands of the baddycats (as my friend Sooz calls 'em), and that energy would be better put to use either buying or not buying stuff from Carl's Jr. to show how you feel. Obviously, ads like this will continue if they are lucrative for the business they represent, and will cease if they cause sales to decrease. So, vote with your pocketbook, America. (and we are, which is why sex is used to sell everything, folks)

As I observe the movement to protest this ad, I am wondering what I'm missing. I mean, aren't there a zillion sexy ads on TV all the time, selling everything from soft drinks to soap? Aren't there commercial previews for all sorts of racy movies and TV shows, usually full of the sexiest, most outrageous, or most shocking tidbits? Basically, isn't it true that most of what is on TV, cable, and satellite, is constantly dotted with stuff that we don't want our children to see?

If you're so distressed about TV commercials, why do you expose your children to them at all?

Commercials are great influencers. They foster greed, discontentment, materialism, unhealthy lifestyles, sex, crude behavior, and more. So, even with Paris and her garden hose, were you thinking everything was ok up until this point? If you and your family have been tuning in to TV, then I assume the answer is yes. Or at least not an emphatic no.

I guess I'm lacking in sympathy here since we do without TV quite nicely. I know that not every family would want to or would even feel they were able to do so. But, really, if you are so concerned about not having your kids exposed to smutty stuff, why are you having TV-watching as a part of your life? Do you feel that a steady diet of those images and messages is a good choice for yourself?

I realize that some kids just don't have parental supervision and so maybe we are supposed to try to get smutty commercials off TV for their sake. But, frankly, any kid who is left with a TV and no supervision is a kid who will see stuff that kids shouldn't be exposed to. One way or another, it will happen.

I appreciate the idea that without trying to stem the tide, so to speak, that commercials will just get worse and worse. But, um, isn't that what we're seeing all the time? When have we seen any sort of reduction in violence, sex, or bad language in TV or movies? I think never.

To me, the problem is so much wider than the scope of this one commercial. The only answer I can see is for families that are truly concerned about these issues to put their money and lifestyles where their mouth is: stop watching TV, only watch TV under very carefully controlled situations (which a lot of people tell themselves they do, but they really don't), or get something like Sky Angel as an alternative. I guess TiVo can also be a good tool, and also whatever that thing is that somehow blocks out bad words...?

So, no protest letters for me. I'll vote with my lifestyle choices (in other words, my real values), thanks.

Boogie Nights

I bet you're all sick of coming here and seeing the picture of the wet bed, so I figured I'd do us all a favor and get something new going on. How about a temper tantrum to start the week?! Yeah! Hey--at least I didn't take and share pictures of the 5 yukky presents the dog left me this morning......

We've had a good, regular family fun week here. As you'll see from the new pictures, we've been playing in the pool, with the zip line, and just doing simple fun stuff. We made it through our 2 week Pay Period of Poverty and it was interesting when in the mindset of thrift, how much fun and good I could identify that we could have and do that cost nothing. It's good, I think, to go through times when we do not or cannot spend extra money, to help guide us back to very simple and wonderful things that we can do for free. Too often we get used to the things we do (and spend money on) and get bored with those and then automatically go on to more and more expensive pasttimes rather than simplifying and enjoying the blessing of the resources in our home and family.

Last night the hubby and I went to a wedding. It was kind of a difficult call as to whether or not we were going to go. Even though we had money to get a babysitter, I was still thinking in Poor Mode and feeling like maybe we should not go. I barely know the groom (somebody that works with hubby) and never met the bride. By the time we got a gift, I got shoes to go with my one wedding-worthy outfit, we drove 45 min. each way, plus paid a babysitter, it wasn't going to be cheap. But, hubby reminded me that although we need to be careful with the money, we're still gonna LIVE as well. And the reception was supposed to be a pretty fun ordeal, so off we went.

The wedding was nice, but the reception was GREAT. It was at this fabulous winery. When you enter the grounds you drive for several minutes through beautiful rolling hills, going back, back away from the road until you feel like you're in a private world. There are some gorgeous homes scattered throughout the property (which must be worth many millions) and then there is a main house that was built in the 1700s and has been beautifully restored and enhanced. There was a tent, and a covered outdoor patio seating area, plus pathways to walk, line upon line of grapevines like waves moving toward the sunset. The weather was absolutely perfect in every way. Not too hot, not too cold, just the right amount of breeze. There was cool jazz playing in the background, and formal waiters coming around with trays of drinks and foods. Zowee! I haven't ever been to any event that had wait staff, open bar, or a dance floor! All the weddings I grew up going to were the Baptist variety, which means that the reception is in the church basement or fellowship hall, and everyone sits at long tables and eats from cold cut trays and just talks and maybe for big thrills watches the bride and groom open some gifts. (yawn) My own wedding was much better than that, but I don't think you get to enjoy your own wedding as much as you should, since there are so many duties and traditions to take care of.

So, ANYHOO, I just chilled out, and loved every minute of this event. I was dying to dance, since I love to and never go anyplace where I can (well, ok, I *did* chaperone that middle school dance back in October, so there was that), but of course it took awhile for most of the people to drink enough to want to dance. Happily for me, it takes no alcohol to make me willing to get out and boogie. The hubby and I danced the night away and had a blast. This morning he is at work and I spoke to him on the phone. He said we have caused quite a sensation among the firefighters since they saw a different side of us than ever before. I guess they thought that people with 6 kids were too tired to have fun, or maybe we just sit around and count diapers and fold socks for fun. :) I don't know. I like to think that I was doing society a service by showing that a couple with 6 little kids still likes to get out and boogie and smooch on the dance floor and have fun. You just never know who might have been inspired!

The next fire dept. wedding is in 7 weeks. Sure hope it's as fun as this one was!

My daughter was the Mighty Princess of Temper Tantrums when she was a little tot, and one day when she was 2 my mother caught it on camera. I love having that red-faced picture of her to give her a small idea of what she was like at her worst. So, when Doodles started with a melt-down the other day, I chased him around with the camera. You can be sure he appreciated it. Posted by Hello

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ZiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiP! Posted by Hello

Can you imagine if this were an IMAX theater?? Posted by Hello

OOH Firecrapper! Those muscles! Wooo hooo! Posted by Hello

Jake the great Posted by Hello

Izzy Man Posted by Hello

Doodles Posted by Hello

After selling 4 dozen of my cookies on ebay, I'm now plotting to diversify. Next stop: my wonderful pancake and waffle mix. Want some? Yum yum! Posted by Hello

We set up our Easy Set pool on Memorial Day. The kids played around with 3 inches of water swirling around their toes for several hours. Now I get to spend my summer stressing about making sure nobody drowns! Posted by Hello