Thursday, October 28, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

the honeymoon is over!

Well, not really.

Having kids is like that first 1st year of marriage. Reality sets in. Same thing with having children. 'Cept I don't remember anyone talking about this in the context of children. So I will.

We tend to have romantic, fairy-tale, or Little House on the Prairie mindsets. And the American culture today with all the chick flicks and reality tv shows only serve to compound what I see as a problem. It's not real life.

When we're growing up we don't know this. In time, we do. Yet, it's already taken hold and flavors how we think, how we live, and what our goals are. Certainly a way of life can be admired and inspiring-- but somewhere along the way we have to find out what is right for our family. We don't all live in the same scene. Unless you personally know someone in an elite position, we would all be living in the same boat like the common people did back in the day.  There's strength in sameness. Either that, or misery likes company. : )

That said, it's way too easy to compare and that only distracts us.

There are wonderful moments in between the work. I don't have to tell you that. I remember dragging myself around the house with the stresses of unpaid bills and relationship challenges and then the 5 month old breaks into laughter because the 4 year old is making faces at him. Then suddenly, those stresses weighing heavily on me shatter into a million pieces.

Children are wonderful blessings but there is work involved. You may be exhausted with your little brood but the demands will never end. It changes but will go into their adulthood as they face the many challenges that you've already lived.

So, don't be surprised when what you thought .. changes. Nothing is wrong. It's life. Relax.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Sneaking a little blurb in here about patience in regard to writing.. and it's applicable to mothering, too.

Patience is the anchor that keeps me from wandering (or running) away from whatever circumstance I find myself in; whether in my newly developing writing career or being a mom. Life's lessons have taught me to be patient and that everything has a way of working out.

Writing happened quite by accident for me. As I look back over the last 6 years, I've seen the love of writing my thoughts about anything and everything in my blog turn into something much more that I had anticipated. Two years ago I found myself taking an online course Writing for Children. Next, I found myself at the Rochester, NY, annual Children's Book Fair. Then, winning two writing contests along with writing for an e-magazine.

When I completed my writing course and saw the list of links for resources I was completely overwhelmed. The first book that was recommended in that list was Writer Mama. Hmm. Good fit since that described me perfectly! I took that as a clue to stick with the author and follow her, along with a children's author. I haven't gone too far from these two authors since it's not humanly possible (at least for me right now) to have too many resources.

Impatience makes me expend energy that is often unproductive. I can tell when that happens because I am irritable. Feeling comfortable with who I am and how I am wired is one of the first steps in being patient. When you are comfortable with yourself you will be patient with yourself. It helps me to pace myself. It's a restful state of mind that provides more energy for writing and other things.

Recently, I have been submitting articles online and two articles kept getting returned to me for various grammar errors or wordiness. I was not happy by the 3rd reject and wanted to yell say, "What do you want from me?!" I caught my reaction and did not hop over to the forum to get my voice heard. I told myself, "Nope. You're going to receive this rejection, fix it, and resubmit!" And so I did.

A note for young moms: you'll always be a mother, but one day you may find new endeavors that you didn't even know you had in you come to fruition. Be patient!

you are the professional.

I cannot enforce this enough and I will continually beat this drum: you are the right mom for your kids.

Whether you are a young mom in her 20's or an older mom in her 50's (that would be me), we have been affected by the culture that has made us think we are somehow not equipped to be the authority for our children. I suppose Dr. Spock from the 1950's gets the flack for being at the forefront of bringing his professionalism to the table. Over the years I have seen unprecedented trends of taking more and more away from the individual and letting the "professionals" do it.

Listen up. No one knows your kids like you. God designed for you to be the final say, the authority. You know how something rises up inside of you when you have felt that line being crossed? There's a reason. It's almost sacred ground.

I'm not talking about yelling at the coach from the stands. I'm not talking about thinking your kids can do nothing wrong and being over-protective. I'm talking about the environment we live in today that has pushed its way into our families. We have to be aware.

There is a place for assistance. Yet, sometimes we may find ourselves second guessing our choices and decisions. Stop. You and your husband have the final say and it does not matter what others think. Establish that now and the "mom stuff" will be much easier.

Monday, October 18, 2010

get out of the rut.

When I began homeschooling, I had to make sure every base was covered. I was efficient with everything else I did and homeschool was no exception.

All subjects were covered thoroughly. If one of my children looked ahead to a story in their reader and wanted to read it I cringed. It was out of order! And no, I did not let them. If an interest was sparked in a science lesson it killed me to think that we would spend too much time there because we needed to move on and make sure the book was completed. Things had to be done a certain way because I was afraid I would miss teaching them something very important! Not only that, but the loose ends were not giving me a sense of accomplishment. I like finished projects.

Well, 24 years later I am very different. That's because I have a bird's eye view with a few graduated kids under my belt. I now know that yes, there is something to be said for being thorough, but kids are very resilient and learn in so many ways.

Take history for example. There's only so much American History. And throughout the elementary school years a child will keep learning the same thing with more information added in the older grades. Same thing with science. So it isn't going to hurt to take a month and take out wonderfully illustrated library books, go on field trips, watch a documentary series, or create art projects that will reinforce a topic. For instance, if you are reading a chapter in 4th grade about the Solar System and your child shows interest in the planets or the stars, then by all means do not go onto the next chapter! Have fun exploring for a few weeks.

In our culture, it is difficult for us to vary from the way things are normally done. Education is pretty much out of textbooks and is quite appealing to children who love to read and take tests. But even these children will benefit from hands on learning. Even if your child is in public school, you have an important place in the education of your child. It's not all up to the school or the "professionals" as if you do not have the credentials. No one loves your child the way you do and you will be surprised how much you have to offer.

Don't fall into a rut. Life is full of wonder and excitement. Schoolwork doesn't have to be mundane. Kids are not meant to conform to one way of learning. Relax and let much of it happen quite naturally. Just like you didn't have to teach your little one how to put one step in front of the other to walk, or how to move his mouth to chew his food, there's a lot of learning that naturally happens even in academics. Your enthusiasm and a little guidance will get them started in the right direction. Don't miss out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

KID Find

Reader's Digest Bible For Children: Timeless Stories From The Old And New Testament

Several years ago I came upon this Children's Bible at TJ Maxx. It was the illustrations that caught my attention. Your chid will get lost in how well the illustrator captured facial expressions. And the best part is the Israelites look Jewish. So does Jesus. 

A keeper.

Monday, October 11, 2010


"Apparently hand-clapping rhymes and songs are actually linked to cognitive skills. Research by Dr. Idit Sulkin, of the Ben-Gurion University Music Science Lab, found that young children who naturally play hand-clapping games are better spellers, have neater handwriting, and better overall writing skills."

This explains why I am good at spelling, handwriting, and better overall writing skills.

"A sailor went to sea, sea, sea,
  to see what he could see, see see..."

Friday, October 08, 2010


Taking a break today from a  Mom Stuff post, although it is applicable to moms!

Today was my first day of real productivity in the writing world. Some time ago I realized that I like order but I am not naturally organized. Order is just coming into a situation and taking chaos and bringing.. well, order. I can do that easily. Organization requires a deeper level of thinking. I have had to learn to be organized to some extent but have finally accepted who I am and how I process. That doesn't mean there can't be some tweaking...just not a complete overhaul or nothing will get done since that will make me come to a screeching halt. We don't work well in ways we are not wired to work.

For instance, I know people who use daytimers and make lists. I cringe at the thought of it. I tried it and it doesn't work for me at all. I am a calendar gal. Everything is jotted down in that little square.

Also, I've always been good at keeping many things organized in my head. It's worked for managing 8 kids and the maple syrup business and more so why would I change it?  Simply put, we are a curious lot and we are good at looking over the fence to see how someone else is doing something. In time we will find that we are expending precious time and energy trying to be someone we are not. We aren't being true to ourselves in living the way we were created. Funny how we can be such a multi-faceted society yet we are attracted to sameness!

At any rate, I had to get the creativity and organization out of my head and in motion because I was not always seeing results in my new endeavor: writing. In order to do that I had to begin setting goals and be productive. At the same time, I had to be true to myself. And today I met my first goal with intended regularity: 2 hours on Friday mornings set aside for my "job". Writing. It's a start. And I feel really good.

That's not easy to do when you've been a mom for almost 30 years (and a homeschooing mom). But I have reached a time in my life when I can and should write. It took some "switching gears" since I've been in a kind of auto pilot for a long time.

So, my productivity is: one article completed and submitted today. And my goal is to continue writing 2 articles a month along with working on the books that have been in my head for over a year for 2 hours on Friday mornings. The next goal is to carve out the time for the an additional day or night for writing.

It won't get on paper until I do it. I know that now. And today really is the first day of the next part of my life. No longer will I feel that pit in my stomach with a new children's book published thinking how I have got to get going on my books. Because now I am working on my goals and being productive.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

round and round we go.

I recently wrote, "It's okay to do the same thing over and over again everyday." Creepy thought isn't it?

There is nothing wrong with routine. We are not spinning our wheels when life isn't that exciting. It's just that we live in a world that keeps us on an emotional high most of the time and we cannot function well if it slows down. Even if you are not so anxious to live life to the fullest, you will find yourself being swept up in the current.

Getting up every morning and doing the same mom stuff day in and day out is routine. There are highlights for sure. Yet you may find somewhere in the back of your mind that you are not really doing anything. You can read all the books and attend all the meetings but you have to find your own nitch and yes, encouragement.

Godliness with contentment is great gain.

Listen. I know that no matter how much you are trying to believe it, it's still unbelievable that if you did nothing else but raise your children and serve your family that it is enough. If you lived 60 years ago it would have sufficed. But today, we are inundated by everyone's 2 cents and second guessing ourselves. 

Life really isn't that complicated.

There is something to be said for seizing the day but the key is moderation. The key is not to feel like you are a failure or a slouch or disqualified or not as good as someone else. 

     “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Thank-you, Dr. Suess.

Are you getting this? Isn't it glaring the requirements we place upon ourselves and others? Everyday we pull out the ruler and measure everything ... everything is viewed through a lens of performance and productivity. 

We all can't be leaders that are visible and blazing trails of productivity of major proportions. In fact, I think there are only a handful of those kinds of people and they are rare. Most of us are quieter and can lead right in our own homes, reproducing who we are and what we are all about to our children. And throughout the centuries, the beat goes on. The mom has the baby, the mom raises the baby, the mom points to the right path to live life.

And so it continues.

Routine, but not boring. Okay.. sometimes boring but interspersed are wonderful surprises because God is like that and He has made creation like that. That's why when we look at the moon for the thousandth time or we spot a cardinal against the white snow or the sound of the wind soothes our soul, we are able to continue on with contentment. Because while I am spoon feeding my 9 year old the same food that I fed 7 other children, I hear the gathering of geese, I see the colors changing outside the window, and I feel the chill of the breeze... the same routine things that have gone on all my life. And yet, they still bring warmth to my heart.

Don't be wasting time looking for something grand. Or you will miss out on the simple pleasures that are meant to be grand. 

Monday, October 04, 2010

KID Find

I won this book as my comment on the Writing For Children Center was added to other comments and my name was drawn along with 2 others. 

What caught my eye was the front cover. I think the illustrations of the book is equal in importance to the content. 

"This heartfelt tale begins with a ship sailing across the sea underneath the moon. From there, the fathers of all creatures great and small come home to their little ones. The dog father runs home to his little puppies; the father bird flies home to his little birds. Even the daddy longlegs creeps home to his little daddy longlegs! his simple, sweet story culminates with a sailor – the human father – coming home from the sea to his little boy." Shavounda White

 Margaret Wise Brown ever-so-simply tells a story of that special bond between father and child, and with it, sends a simple message even the smallest of children can understand…daddy will be home soon. With Stephen Savage’s bold colors and beautiful illustrations, this story will make bedtime or anytime a great time to bask in a father’s love.

I understand that this is not the best book for children who do not have daddy coming home to them. Yet, I think that perhaps there is still comfort in reading this to a fatherless child. I think there is a special place in God the Father's heart for the abandoned.
  Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will take care of me. Psalm 27:10

Friday, October 01, 2010

I'm bored!

I had an interesting conversation with a professor this week at the eMarketing conference. We were talking about shrinking attention spans, the rise of snack-size media, and the tyranny of output. “Never are we bored these days,” the professor said, referring to the over-supply of distraction. “That’s a problem,” he maintained, ”because boredom is the mother of creativity. There is no creativity without boredom.”

Credit goes to iPlot.