Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

Purple Crayon Catastrophe

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

About ten years ago I had a conversation with Bethany that went something like this:

Bethany at 5. She has always liked to accessorize.

Bethany: “Mommy, do people need clothes in Heaven?”

Me: “I don’t think so, Sweetie. Why do you ask?”

Bethany: “Well, I really like my clothes and I want to take them with me when I go to Heaven.”

Bethany’s love for pretty clothing and accessories has only increased over the years, and I must say, she gets it honestly. I “get” this child of mine, truly. So today when I heard a scream coming from the laundry room just three hours before she was to leave on a weekend youth retreat, my heart sank. “Did I do something?” I wondered. It’s not easy being the mom of three teenage girls with varying laundry schedules, rituals, and demands. I wondered if our 18-year old machine “greased” her favorites. Did a sister throw in a black hoodie with her favorite white tee? While I had no idea what awaited me as I entered the laundry room, one thing was certain … Bethany was not happy.

The culprit was, and I mean “was” in the most past tense possible… a purple crayon. The only thing left of the crayon was the wrapper. The rest of it was distributed in spots of varying sizes all over Bethany’s very favorite shirts. Yes, the shirts that she’d carefully selected and planned to wear on her weekend away – ruined.

P1220895

The culprit… the crayon that is no more.

Esther, seeing and seizing an opportunity to make a bad situation worse stated, “Bethany, just be glad you didn’t break the washing machine. Your clothes actually don’t matter too much, ya know.” (Did I mention our washing machine is old??)

P1220878

Sarah’s spotty camp shirt. Hoping it can be replaced this weekend

Sarah entered the scene and realized her camp T-shirt, a souvenir from one of her favorite weeks of her life, suffered the worst purple-spottiness of the whole load.

Anna and Christina were frantically trying to finish homework so they could enjoy their weekend away and needed quiet. There were some un-quiet requests for me to “Make it all stop!”

I will spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that the Jobe house experienced a wee bit of drama this morning. I know I should expect such tension right before a spiritual retreat. Doesn’t Satan like to attack on Sunday mornings as well?

I may or may not have added to the emotion. Haven’t I instructed these girls of mine to check pockets? Ugh. This was the day I was *supposed* to catch up on school work. We had stuff to do! The kitchen needed attention. I like rooms left clean. And there is always math. Besides, the girls do have other things they can wear, and I’m a believer in natural consequences. They’d just have to deal with it and get back to packing and leave me alone.

I instructed them to separate to cool down because there became a bit of blame-casting. Who *really* threw the clothes in the dryer where the setting-in-of-purple occurred? “Who really cares?” I thought. I told Bethany to google “wax-removal.” I went to my room to pray. And the Lord reminded me of an incident that happened on my wedding day.

A young child had thrown birdseed from a punch cup on me as my groom and I left our reception site. After leaving, we escaped to our new apartment to gather our suitcases before heading off to our honeymoon. I panicked and fought back tears as I noticed little spots all over my dress. Because I borrowed my wedding dress, I spent quite a bit of time selecting the “perfect” going-away dress. Money was scarce, and I got it at a good price, but I could not afford to replace it. I knew in my heart after seeing those spots that my “going-away dress”, after only a 20-minute debut, was truly “gone.” However, I spot-treated it, threw it in the wash, and hoped for the best. Of course, having only been married a few hours, I had not mastered the art of communication with my new husband. I failed to tell him it needed to drip dry. He, being quite eager to leave to make our dinner reservation, put the dress in the dryer once it completed the “gentle” wash cycle.

The dress, which was punch stained and, after drying, small enough to fit a doll, was certainly ruined. I tossed it in the pile of wedding-gift-wrap garbage before leaving for the first dinner of our new marriage.

Today, after I left the laundry-room fiasco and escaped to my room, the Lord reminded me of a precious gift and the ending to my wedding-day story. When Daniel and I returned from our honeymoon, a $100 check awaited me. My mother-in-law heard what happened and wanted to replace my dress. This gift spoke love to me. She cared about something that I felt silly admitting even mattered.

So, today, after a few minutes with the Lord, I left the house and headed to Old Navy, praying as I drove that I could find a blessing for Bethany… and quickly!

I love Jesus. I love how he cares about little things. Bethany lost a tan striped shirt, a true favorite of hers. I found one, slightly different, but very similar for only $7.50. Other casualties of the purple-crayon wash were two flannel button-downs. I found prettier ones that, with my coupons, cost only $10 each. I quickly glanced at the clearance section and spotted a coral cardigan that looked beautiful with the tan-striped shirt. On one of those manequins, a lovely tan scarf that would “tie it all together”caught my eye. It was 35% off.  So, I de-scarfed the dummy, and, in only ten minutes of total shopping time, left Old Navy with all these items for an extremely reasonable price. I have shopped multiple stores on all-day trips with much less success!

P1220874

After arriving home, I walked in the front door, glanced upstairs, and saw Bethany working on her soiled items. I eagerly walked up to the laundry room, handed her the bag and received one of those hugs that a mom does not quickly forget. The new clothes… a perfect fit. Another small miracle.

I document this event so that I will remember that the Lord doesn’t always care about those “natural consequences.” He wants me to love and show compassion. He wants for me to always be willing to alter my to-do list – a list I hold onto pretty tightly sometimes. He wants me to leave the drama that is so rampant in this highly hormonal home and ask him for direction. His ways are good.

It’s true that Bethany can’t take her clothes with her to Heaven. She has matured quite a bit since our conversation years ago and knows her stuff has no eternal value. However, a pretty new sweater for this weekend is a symbol.. her mama loves her and her father in Heaven loves her even more.

DSC_1079

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Cream, Please?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

This little girls likes treats!

A funny…

Yesterday, Esther accompanied Anna and me to town for one of Anna’s dance classes. Shortly after dropping Anna off, we approached McDonald’s. Esther asked sweetly, “Mommy, how about if you and I get a little treat.”  I responded, “Not today Esther, we need to get home.”

A few stoplights later, Esther tried again with a “good for us” tactic. “Mommy, mommy… Sweet Frog! Frozen yogurt is healthy. We should do that instead!” Again, I denied her request.

One stoplight later, as we approached the last “treat spot” before the stretch of highway leading home, Esther says, “Chick-fil-A! It’s my favorite. Chick-fil-A ice cream isn’t expensive. Please, Mommy?” I responded just a little more firmly, “Esther, we are not getting ice cream. We need to get home.”

Esther, a little exasperated but as persistant as ever and with a “let’s-end-this-now” tone responded, “Mommy. I do NOT want to fight with you about this, OK???? I just want some ice cream.”

It was the tone I use and the exact words I use when requesting my children do something they don’t want to do. I know she has heard, “Esther, I do not want to fight with you. Pick up your toys and put them away (and then there is usually a warning of consequence.) I need you to obey.”

Now, for the record Esther did not get her ice cream. She also was reprimanded for her tone and given a little “respect” talk.

But I am still chuckling. You can’t blame her for trying 🙂

Esther’s Prayer

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

My sweet Esther became a Christian today.

I had no idea that Daniel was filming with his iPhone. What a precious blessing to have a portion of our conversation recorded! All day I’ve smiled thinking this will be such a treasure!

Before he began recording, Esther came down from her room to proclaim that the Bible says in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me.” This has been a verse she’s been working on in AWANAS. “Mommy, I want to be a Christian and I need to know how right now!” she proclaimed. She had been talking with Bethany who encouraged her to talk to Daniel and me.

We discussed sin and her need for a savior. I can’t even begin to describe how precious her words were. Shortly after she admitted she is a sinner, Daniel began the recording…

Sure… She doesn’t have a complete theological understanding. She is young. But Jesus calls little children unto himself. He is working in my little one’s life. She “wants to believe those things.” (And about those earrings… I wore some big hoops today with little jade beads. I think they were a tiny bit of a distraction:))

I am rejoicing that she is a child of the King!

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14


What’s up?

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Yes, that's Anna... Watch out!

I’m just three days shy of one month with no blogging updates. I don’t have writer’s block. Everything is ok. I am just ending the month of madness – and I’m not talking about basketball.

Since Easter we have:

Christina turned 14!

Visited family in Greensboro

Danced in a ballet recital

Celebrated Christina’s 14th birthday at Carowinds

Continued with church activities including youth, worship practice (Daniel), MOPS mentoring (me) and babysitting (girls) and hosting small group

Endured end-of-grade testing

Played in the end-of-year band concert

Celebrated Mother’s Day

Wrapped up co-op classes, including the two classes I taught

Secured a braces date for Nathan

Continued private music lessons and ballet

Delivered a few meals to friends recovering from illness

Continued with swim practice for Nathan

Cheered Anna on as she got her learner’s permit

Exercise myself with some consistency

Gone to Carowinds again!

Met with a planning team for some educational classes for next school year several times.

Cleaned out our attic (a huge undertaking for a busy month! But yeah! So glad it’s done before it’s too hot to work up there!)

Celebrated the graduates of our homeschool group

Rejoiced in the marriage of two dear friends

May events still to come:

A piano recital for Christina

A tonsillectomy for Nathan 🙁

A huge dance recital for Bethany and Anna

A birthday for Daniel’s

And then, finally, summer 🙂

For the past several years, May has been exceptionally busy. Every class has an end-of-the-year recital or party. We must test the children. Folks graduate. We celebrate. And I end the month a little tired but so thankful; thankful for the academic and spiritual growth of my children; thankful for our church family; thankful for teachers investing in my children’s lives; thankful for dear ones graduating; thankful for the blessings of homeschooling; thankful for God’s grace throughout another school year and thankful for the summer weeks ahead.

Grandall and Esther on Easter day

A Must Read

Saturday, March 5th, 2011

Excellent read… a must, I think, for parents striving to teach “1st time obedience.”

“The mature parent should consider the state of the child, his emotional needs, physical needs before meting out harsh discipline.

Formulas like “First Time Obedience” do not necessarily reach the heart!”

http://www.itakejoy.com/first-time-obedience-really/

Loving the Little Years – Motherhood in the Trenches

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

I just finished an excellent little book – Loving the Little Years – Motherhood in the Trenches by Rachel Jankovic. Rachel is “in the trenches” with five children five years old and under. She writes from the perspective of a mommy with her sleeves rolled up and working hard – not from one kicked back after raising her children and reminiscing about the “good old days!” Having four girls and a son including a set of twins, she and I share a heart for mothering as well as very similar family dynamics. As she described many Jankovic scenarios, I was reminded of many Jobelette “in the trenches” days about a decade ago!

This little 102 page book contains twenty essays that address  the heart of the mother before anything else. There are no chore charts, meal plans or checklists. This may strike young mommies as odd. Don’t all parenting books contain tips from the experts to make life with so many munchkins more manageable? Consider this quote, which still  spoke conviction into my heart though my 5 under 7 are now 15 down to 8…

“When Scripture says to bring children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, it is not talking about finding the most effective way to organize them. This is a very easy trap to fall in, because the more children you have the more difficult it is to keep them clean and clothed and fed. Just the basics of life are a full time job. … What you are doing is finding a way to contain your children, control them and keep their sin from making you look bad. But you are not actually dealing with anything. The fact that your children have learned to go with the household flow and do their chores does not in any way offset the fact that they spend all their available free time sulking in their room. Christian child rearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge. The more children you have, the more you need to be pastorally minded… If you are being a parent who is pastorally minded, you will stop whatever it is that you are doing to go see how your daughter is up in her bedroom.”

I call such bedroom checks “eternal time,” a term borrowed from a dear friend of mine. In taking time away from dinner prep, math homework or laundry, we’re focusing on the eternal living souls of our precious children. We are tending to our little lambs, making sure their hearts are ok. Eternal time can be terribly inconvenient – especially when there are lots of lambs to tend to and they are all hungry. Rachel makes the point that, if you are blessed to be the mother of many young ones, you must make special effort to see each child as an individual. Schedules and charts are fine and needed, but they can give a busy mother a false sense of security or success. Children quickly pick up that peace in the home matters more than peace in their spirit when the schedule is too highly valued. One observation that I have, as a mother of older children as well as a couple of littles, is that the older they are, the more eternal time they need. Teens and tweens don’t, by any means, have it “all figured out.” They also don’t go to bed at 8:00 allowing you to complete unfinished tasks. Thus, as the littles age, you get to sleep through the night which is wonderful, but you often have midnight counseling sessions 🙂 Mothering gets easier in some ways and harder in others.

Rachel, in each of her essays, addresses the heart of the mother before the behavior or management of children. Unlike children, there is one thing that absolutely must be organized:

“The kids can be running like a bunch of hooligans through a house that appears to be at the bottom of a toaster, and yet, if organization and order can still be found in my attitude, we are doing well. But if my attitude falters, even in the midst of external order, so does everything else.”

I could not agree more. And that organized attitude starts with knowing where to find our peace!

Other topics you’ll read about in this little book are child training, the “bulk” effect (which comes with having many young ones at once), the physical scars of motherhood, little girl emotions, being “overwhelmed,” “me time,” and more! In reading it, I’ve been reminded of many “mothering in the trenches” moments, and I plan on sharing a few of them in the weeks to come.

A False Reality

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

If only Alexander had a blog....

I had an interesting conversation with a friend this evening at Panera about the false reality that blogging and social media creates. I’m afraid I’m guilty of contributing to this. I don’t want to write about “Tina and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.” When I write, it is my goal to encourage others. My mother taught me long ago that whining is not allowed. Thus, I tend to write cheerfully or not at all. Yet, just in case anyone is wondering, my house is a mess, my children often fuss, I sometimes spend the whole day in my pajamas and occasionally I’m just plain old grumpy and have to apologize to my family for sporting a ‘tude. I’m selfish with my time. I’m impatient. My three year old watches way too many videos. I haven’t exercised in 8 days. There. Feel better?

Seriously, I think that blogging, facebook, twitter (which I don’t use) and whatever other social media exists can create a false reality and this can be damaging – especially to our young people. Those of us who grew up without knowing everyone’s business also know that just as we untag ugly pictures of ourselves, everyone else does too. We know our friends’ two year olds throw fits once in a while. No one’s life is perfect. However, our teens don’t realize this. They see the parties they missed. They see “wall to wall” conversations they weren’t invited to join. They wonder if they are the only ones having to work on a snow day when, according to status updates, everyone else is on the slopes. They spend ridiculous amounts of time looking at their friends’ smiley albums and videos. They wonder why no one “likes” what they say or do. They feel left out, alone and maybe even depressed. Compared to the very happy life of their facebook and bloggy friends, their life stinks.

It’s up to us (parents) to help our teens with reality checks. These are some of my thoughts of things we can do:

1. Encourage them to be sensitive with their own postings.

My girls have seen many party pictures they wish they’d attended. Thus, when one of my girls took fun videos at her birthday, I encouraged her not to post the video for all her friends to see. I reminded her that not all of her friends were invited. I had to limit the guests to about 8 so I could fit everyone in my van. “How would you feel if _____ saw this?” What started off as a fun way to relive a silly moment could easily hurt a friend. Needless to say, the video wasn’t posted publicly. Teaching children to think about others is important. Of course, we can’t control what others post but in talking about such situations, our teens can learn that usually, if they feel left out, it’s not the intent of their “friends” for them to feel that way.

2. Help them to invest in real life friendships.

Being the social director of teens and tweens is hard, but I think it is very, very important. They are driven to want to be around their peers. When my children were little, I did not drive them around to play dates often. I had 5 children under the age of 7 and couldn’t handle more than that. They played with one another. They still do. However, now they crave friendships outside of the family and I believe that is because they are hard-wired that way. They won’t be under my roof forever. Investing in relationships is healthy. Learning to be a loyal friend is important. I am so thankful that all my children have meaningful, deep friendships. They don’t need 700 facebook friends. What they need are a few (or even one!) dear real life friends whom they really know. Real friends bring joy!

3. Limit their time on facebook, blogs, etc.

Our kids need to be doing other things. They need to be living – not just watching others live.

4. Help them stay active.

Everyone needs to get their wiggles out. Even teens. (Even moms, I think). Exercise produces endorphins which really do make you happy – much more so than looking at other peoples’ vacation pictures.

5. Talk, talk, talk to them about everything!

I’ve asked my girls many, many times details about their friends’ posts. My girls are often shocked that I notice issues and bring them to their attention. My point is that I want my children to see that public postings are viewed by everyone on their friends’ list – even old people like their mother. It’s my goal for them to evaluate everything they say and learn not to take everything they read at face value.

6. Direct them to daily count their blessings.

Ann Voskamp at A Holy Experience has taught me so much about gratitude. This discipline is life changing.

7. Model responsibility.

I hope my children see me investing WAY more in real life friendships than any social media. I pray they see me active – working in my home and investing in REALITY! They are my reality. My husband is my reality. My church and my friends and extended family are my reality. I pray they would see me use social media as a way to minister; to see needs and meet them… not to gossip or value someone else’s world more than my own!

How about you? Have you been affected by this “false reality” world of social media? I have, on occasion, and when I am I know it’s time to take a break from it and refocus! Have your children experienced this? What have you done to help them with reality checks?

My Texting Teens

Monday, February 7th, 2011

I don’t post much about raising teens. The reason? I don’t know much. I’m just beginning this journey. Maybe once Esther is a teen, I’ll have learned something. For now, Daniel and I are praying for wisdom… a lot.

Don’t get me wrong. I love, love, love my teens and I enjoy them! They are hilarious. It’s really fun to have older children who make you laugh because they are truly witty. It beats the same old knock-knock jokes that come with typical eight- year- old humor. They ask great questions and are growing in the Lord. They are truly a joy!

Yet, there are some teen issues that require boundaries and texting is one of them. This is new territory for me. I sometimes wish it didn’t exist yet it is here to stay, I am afraid. Last week at the Revolve Conference, a World Vision promotional video was played. The entire video consisted of words typed across the screen. I didn’t really get it. I’m moved by visual images of hungry children and I wondered why a video promoting sponsorship wouldn’t show the children in need. Then I looked around at the teens watching – fixated on each word. My friend beside me astutely stated, “This generation is affected greatly by texting. They identify. For them, it’s a powerful ad.”

Texting is as common to our teens today as a phone hooked to the wall  was for me in the 80’s. It’s the way

Goodnight phones!

teens communicate. Yet, unlike the phone, it’s accessible always. I never would have called a friend at 1 am growing up and such is quite common in the texting world. Texting can be distracting. It can be dangerous. And it must be controlled or it can be controlling.

So… 2 1/2 years into parenting teens I’ve learned a few things about texting.  Unfortunately, my husband and I have had to “go backwards.” This basically means that we, unknowingly or naively, allowed some things and had to go back and make rules that ideally should have been in place from the beginning of phone ownership.

Anna's sparkly cover

Because I’ve noticed that “What do you do about texting” is a very common conversation of teen moms, I’m going to share a few texting rules that we’ve “gone backwards” and implemented. Know that I’m not saying all families should do this. It’s just what’s working for us for now. As our children mature, the rules may change – some of them anyway.

1. All phones, ipod touches and computers stay in the den while we are home. This is the biggest change. This rule came about because we realized our teens were very distracted by their gadgets at night. They simply weren’t getting enough sleep. Also, our older children do their school in their rooms. Again, the phones, computers, etc were keeping them from completing their work in a timely manner. Now, because I hang out all day in the den and kitchen, which is beside the docking station, I can keep tabs on who is on task. Teens are having to learn to use old fashioned dictionaries and calculators instead of iTouch/iPhone apps during school time.

2. We (the parents) have all passwords and reserve the right to spot check conversations anytime we want. We also look online at the in/out activity. Too much texting (like an hour of back and forth) is checked out.

3. Our daughters may not text boys. They may respond if a boy (that we know) texts them, but again… no hour long texting conversations. If they need to text a friend who is a guy, they need to ask us about it first.

4. No phones are allowed at the dinner table. No texting is allowed during family time. Our teens must always put their phones away when we have guests.

5. Our children may not put in headphones without permission. I’ve spent too much time calling and calling and calling them to discover that they can’t hear me. This isn’t exactly a texting rule, but it’s a phone/ipod thing.

6. If texting and phone rules are broken, the privilege to have a phone disappears.

And there you have it. Now, I feel like I can live with my teens and  texting. It’s not out of control. Our children are not as addicted to their phones as they once were. One must feel for the oldest children. They are the guinea pigs. Hopefully by the time we have teens #3 and #4 (our twins), we’ll not have to “go backwards” as often. So far, these simple rules are working very well. What works for you? (other than maybe just not having phones at all?)

Esther’s Big Pink Pocketbook

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

This is Esther and her big pink pocketbook. When it’s time to run errands, she flings it over her darling little shoulder and exclaims, “I’ve got my pocketbook! We can go now!” In it is she keeps her essentials. Today, there is a little book, a bracelet, some “lip-stuff” and a stuffed animal. Tomorrow, the contents most likely will change. She holds it carefully in her lap in her car seat. If she is given a treasure as we run around town, she has a perfect place to put it.

Esther could have decided to carry a purse for her treasures all on her own. Many little girls do, and she does have four purse-carrying big sisters as well as a purse-carrying mommy. However, modeling for purse carrying came from another little girl – one with cartoon-like blond hair, beady black eyes and green pants. We’ve read of her adventures about town with her mommy so many times that it’s a shame this child speaks in first person and never shares her name with us. This is a picture of our nameless friend, who happens to carry a big green pocketbook – much like her mother’s blue one… and, Esther believes, much like her hand-me-down-from-big-sister pink one.

Esther adores this story that we borrowed from a friend of mine. While I enjoyed reading it to her, I wouldn’t say it’s one of my all time favorites. It’s sweet, but it has only taught my daughter to carry around a pocketbook. Every time I see my cute three year old with her pocketbook of treasures, I am reminded of the powerful influence that stories can have in our children’s lives. If a little cartoon friend can convince Esther to carry a purse everywhere she goes, what else might she learn from stories? My hope is she’ll learn far more during our read-aloud times than the joy of pocketbook ownership.

I once heard, “You are only changed by the people you know and the books you read.” God changes us most definitely, but there is no doubt that He often uses other people and words (spoken or written) to do so.

I most certainly desire the truths of God’s Word to penetrate the hearts of my children. Yet there are so many good stories that testify of God’s faithfulness as well –  missionary stories, biographies and fiction that direct little hearts toward the Lord. Might the Bible story of the little boy who shared his lunch inspire my children to be giving and trust Jesus? Might a missionary in Africa become their hero? Might my children be influenced toward gratitude after reading of Laura Ingall’s joy in receiving a penny and a piece of peppermint as her only gifts on Christmas Day? The answer to those questions is yes! I’ve seen the power of a book’s influence time and time again in the lives of my children.

May I choose treasures to fill my daughter’s heart in the stories that I share with her. Just like she collects trinkets for her purse, may I collect and read edifying, wholesome books – books, full of life-giving, encouraging words and godly influence! And while I’m at it, I may just pick up our own personal copy of The Big Green Pocketbook – just for fun!

Mom Heart Conference

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Sally Clarkson is one of my favorite authors and speakers. I think this is the third time I’ve mentioned this on my blog. Several years ago, a group of ladies met in my home as we spent two years reading and discussing Educating the Wholehearted Child. We learned so much as we read Sally’s encouraging advice to home schooling mothers. I cherish those memories.

Sally once was a speaker at the NCHE Conference, our state’s annual homeschooling conference. Not only did I attend all her sessions, but I bought all her talks on cd and listened to them, lent them to friends, and again, was encouraged. At the same conference, I picked up her then new book, The Mission of Motherhood. I enjoyed it so much, I proceeded to buy 20 copies to give to every new mommy I knew. To this day, it is my favorite mommy book. No rules. No parenting philosophies. Just encouragement.

Her newest book, Dancing With the Father, was a Christmas gift that I bought myself. When ordering Odyssey CD’s and my husband’s Bible from Family Christian Stores, I couldn’t resist slipping in this one special mommy book just for me.

So… I am thrilled that Sally will be in Durham, NC for a Mom Heart Conference March 4-5th. It’s important to be reminded that motherhood is a high calling. When I am struggling with my mission of being a mother, Sally reminds me to turn to Jesus. The more I do so and the more I pray for wisdom, the more I enjoy and cherish each moment I have with my children.

I can think of no better winter get-away than a Mom Heart Conference. You can read about it by clicking the icon below. I am going to try to attend! Let me know if you are too!