Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Satisfaction

Andrea at The Flourishing Mother is doing a great series on joy in the midst of mothering. Her recent post called Believing God tied having a joyful spirit to believing that He will give us the fruit of joy, as opposed to seeking fulfillment from outside choices. It reminded me of a study that I am doing in Isaiah. Isaiah 53:11 says

After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.

Jesus is satisfied because he has seen the light. He knows that he has done that which he was born to do. I think that I find satisfaction in the same way, and even in the little things:
  • Enforcing a rule or standard with my children
  • Enjoying a quiet moment with one of my children
  • Having a fruitful discussion with my husband or children
  • Discussing the things of God with a friend
  • Encouraging someone with God's word
  • Preparing a good meal
  • Finishing the laundry (well, I don't know if laundry is ever finished, but you know what I mean)
To an extent, it's about sacrifice. Nothing in comparison to Jesus' sacrifice, but sacrifice of the easy for the eternal. Sacrifice of my wants for what I need.

Along those lines. I'm pretty satisfied today.

I'm keeping up with the dishes, in spite of a broken dishwasher.

I waited at the end of the driveway with my daughter for the bus (which I don't always do, but she always enjoys).

I played a little game with Kyle, and observed him and praised him as he guessed the rhyming words on Blue's Clues (the Steve edition--we like Steve better here).

I spent several hours purging and organizing.

Homework's done, and dinner's in the oven awaiting my husband's arrival.

Easy Memory Keeping

This is a great habit that I started that scrapbookers and non scrappers alike can start to enjoy. The difference in approach is to make it topical, instead of a daily/weekly sort of memory keeping goal.

Every Mother's Day, my husband takes some snapshots of me with the kids. I posted this year's here (and got so many positive comments that I thought I would share some of my other picture-taking memory-making practices), and my profile pic is the one from last year.

Every Father's Day, I take a picture of my hubby and the kids. Here some of them are, since I think that they all look awfully cute.

2002
(This is one of my favorite pictures)

2003
(Terry gets to be with his FFM in this picture)

2005

2006
(Wow, Kyle has changed. Actually Amanda did too.)

I'm sure that most people take the requisite child with birthday cake picture every year. When I was a representative for a company called Once Upon a Family, I learned a great deal about keeping things simple. One product that they have (that you could make yourself with any small scrapbook) is a birthday book. It's small and meant to hold one picture of your child on their birthday. I know that keeping beautiful and detailed scrapbooks is a labor of love for some, and I did enjoy my years of scrapping. However, when I discovered this simple method, I embraced it heartily. Think of what you have preserved from your childhood. Probably not too much. Wouldn't one simple album with one picture of you a year be a wonderful keepsake?

The Mother's Day photos and Father's Day photos also go in their own albums. It is neat to see the changes that occur from year to year. Other ideas include an Easter album, a Halloween album, and a summer album, with the same idea of one picture per year. They are simple, they are fun to display at that time of the year, and the work of actually preserving changes and growth in the family is accomplished.

Simpler memory keeping--it Works for Me! Click over to see other participants.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Eight Things About Me Meme

HipWriterMama tagged me for this meme. I did the 6 Weird Things About Me back in January, and people said that they weren't that weird. Since then, I did think of one really weird thing, so I'll start off with that, and then just give you seven more things about me, that you might or might not know.

1. Whenever I open a public restroom stall, I half-expect to find a bloody dead person in there. Why?? I have no idea. That is weird.

2. My parents divorced when I was about 9, but they have always been very civil, which has made it easier. Combined holidays or family celebrations are never a problem to have both my mom and dad along with their new honeys. Even just a few years after they had divorced, my teacher awarded me the "most parents" in attendance at my open house, because my mom, step-dad, and dad all three sat side by side.

3. As an adult, I've never lived in the same house for more than 4 years (my mom and stepdad still live in the house I moved to when I was seven). My husband and I have lived in Houston in an apartment for 1 1/2 years, then a house for 2 years, then to Portland, Oregon in a house for just under 3 years, then a house in Houston for just under 4 years, and now we've been here in Connecticut for almost 3 years. Do you think a move is in my future??

4. I'm not a put-together, organized type of gal. I am a clutterer. However, I have been reading up a lot about it, and I hope to cure myself!! The book that I am currently reading and finding myself all through it is Organizing for Life: Declutter Your Mind to Declutter Your World. So far I've just read about why I have a hard time keeping things in order, but I'm hoping to figure out how to make some new habits once and for all. Oh, you think I could get off the computer and start cleaning up? Well, that might work, but I think I'd rather read about it.

5. Along these lines, due to information in this book and also in Chocolatheraphy (which I reviewed at 5 Minutes for Mom), I may have a bit of adult ADD. I certainly am distractible, I get bored with routine tasks, I have problems with self-control (like talking, something I struggled with as a child as well), I am forgetful. . . . I'm not into labels, but I am going to look into ways of coping with the way I might be wired.

6. Along the 5 Minutes for Mom reviewing lines, I have really loved doing my new book column, 5 Minutes for Books, which appears Mondays at 5M4M. I have really been trying to break into freelance writing, and this has felt like a big step forward in that venture--meeting deadlines and trying to put forth my best work (unlike what I post here, which is sometimes pretty off-the-cuff).

7. I enjoy all kinds of traveling. This weekend we camped with my in-laws, but also did some sightseeing (more on that later). I've taken long car trips, either camping in a trailer (thanks to my grandparents who have helped me see almost all of the U.S. as I was growing up), and I've taken long flights. I've been to Europe twice, Canada a handful of times, Mexico a few times. I've cruised (once, but would like to do it again), had trips where we walked and toured and saw everything until we were exhausted, and quiet beach vacations where I enjoy the sun and the ability to relax.

8. As a result of being a procrastinator (see number 5 above), I have run out of gas. More than once. More than twice. I think it's been a while since it happened (many years), but it's happened at least 4 times that I can remember.


I know it's been going around for a while. I'm supposed to tag eight, and that's a lot, even on the front end of a meme! I will go ahead and tag people, but if you've done it before, just skip it (or if you've already dodged a tag or two, no problem). If you've already done 7 things, see below how I can make this exciting for you!

Helen
Beck
Lauren S.
Dianne
Laura
Laura
Rebecca (who I know doesn't do memes usually, but she could make it a fashion meme!)

In fact, if any of you want a topic, as Lori did when she did the 7 things (including Lori, if you want to do another 8 on a different topic), just ask me. Lori, consider yourself tagged as well!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day This and That

It is Monday (for a few hours yet), so you can find me reviewing at 5 Minutes for Mom. There are five different book giveaways today, so be sure to throw your name into the hat.


Memorial Day is supposed to be the unofficial ushering in of the summer season. I'm not feeling it so much here. Because of snow days, plus two days that the schools were closed this month due to storms that knocked out power, my daughter doesn't get out of school until June 25!! So, although the weather has been really lovely, I just can't start feeling the lazy hazy days of summer quite yet.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Tale of Two Shoes

"Kyle, you need to get your shoes on so we can go to Bible study. You'll get to see your friends. Let's go."

"I wear these shoes," he argued.

"No, Kyle, you can't wear your basketball slippers. Those are inside shoes. You need to wear your sandals to church."

"But it might be funny," he explained.

Yes, funny. Do you see what I'm dealing with here?

I didn't post any Mother's Day pictures, but I'll do so now to help underscore my point (and yes, I know it was 2 weeks ago, but remember, I'm still playing catch up). Look at his face!




FYI, my little icon picture is from Mother's Day last year. We've all changed. I do not like my hair in these pictures. After we ate (a very nice lunch at a local inn that Terry arranged all on his own, a week in advance with NO prompting at all), Terry took some more pictures outside at my request. For some reason, Amanda looked really grumpy in all of the pictures except this one, and both of us are having some weird wind/ hair issues here. You can click on any of them and view them bigger.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Empathize with your Enemies

What's the first thought that comes into your mind when you read that scripture in Romans 12 "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse"? I usually try not to think about it. However, this week, I tackled these thoughts over at Faithlifts. Please click over and check it out.

You can consider this an installment in my Romans series as well. I sort of trailed off there. . . .

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This and That--the "Finally, a Post" edition

So, the posting has been a little scarce, but it's not because I've run off with John Stamos. We've just been a little busy. The process of getting ready for visitors, then having visitors, then trying to get back to your normal life takes some adjusting. Plus, it's spring. That should be enough of a reason, right? Actually, I really have been enjoying sitting outside reading or writing or whatever while the kids play.

I told my sister-in-law that I would send her a picture of Kyle's new haircut that he got the day she left, but why not just post it for all of the internet to see?


He looks good. I haven't really mastered the gel thing, so this is the salon look. You also get to see the typical fake goofy smile.

This is what he looked like before the cut (with my cute niece) and instead of a fake smile, a sandwich shoved into his mouth:


If you were to ride in my car, or come to my house, you would likely hear the Wicked soundtrack. I am hooked. I have most of the songs memorized, and because it's Broadway, I have to do a little face/eyebrow/ voice acting, too, right? I am reading the book right now, and I am going to do a post comparing the two (and maybe even including the Wizard of Oz book as well). And if you're lucky, "I'll teach you the proper poise, when you talk to boys, little ways to flirt and flounce--oooh!" (from the great song "Popular," that everyone should download whether they have seen the show or not).


My mom gave Amanda the Kid's Cookbook when we were back home in April. The reviews on amazon are fabulous, and I agree. It's meant for older kids (it says 9 and up), so it's real recipes, and they are good. I am very proud to say that my 8 1/2 year old daughter made this whole dinner on Saturday pretty much by herself (with me just lurking around).




We had green salad with vinaigrette (page 68), crunchy coated chicken breasts (page 81), smashed potatoes (page 89), and for dessert, frozen fruit and yogurt pops (page 42). For the record--had I tried to serve her mashed potatoes with skin in them, she would not have eaten them. It's one of the perks of her selecting the menu and cooking it herself. She ate them up.




In the background, you will also see my broken dishwasher. This is a really serious problem for me. I do not wash dishes. As my husband said, I can barely keep up with them when the dishwasher is doing the work for me! The repairman is coming tomorrow. I've had it for about 13 months, so it's out of warranty. What's up with that?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Free Book!

I know I've been a little scarce lately. I've been busy. I've started a post with some updates, and I haven't even been able to finish it.

However, it IS Monday, which means it's time for 5 Minutes for Books, which means a great review targeted just for women, and usually a giveaway as well. So, click on over.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Star Struck

Have you ever had a celebrity sighting? What did you do? Did you stare? Run? Talk to him? Take a picture of her? Ask for an autograph? Scream like a young Beatles fan?

The latter is what happened when my sister-in-law and I saw Wicked in NYC (more on this later, because it was so absolutely unwickedly wonderful!). We were sitting in our very good orchestra seats waiting for the show to begin. A very New York looking couple had come in and sat two rows behind us. The man was dressed all in black, and the usher shook his hand when he sat him down. I sort of looked at him, but I really noticed the woman, who was dressed in this very short red draped dress--sleeveless, and with lots of gold chains or belts or something on her. She definitely stood out from the rest of the matinee show crowd who were dressed more comfortably than stylishly. I didn't stare but did point out the flashy woman to my sister-in-law.

Then the screaming began. From the back of the first level, there was standing up, screaming, and pointing. I honestly thought that a rat or a dog was loose and people were watching it run around. We kept turning, but didn't see anything. Then we heard people around us talking about ER. It suddenly clicked for me, so we turned and looked again. Indeed this is who was sitting two rows behind us:



At intermission, we and everyone else around us turned, and they were gone! The woman who had been beside them had to tell all the teeny boppers who actually came down to the seat (and even took pictures in the seat he had occupied), that they had left right before Intermission. Right after the show began, they returned to their seats, and again left the theater right before it was over.

While all the screaming was going on, and we were turning trying to figure out what all the hubbab was, he was staring straight ahead. Deadpan. No expression at all. My sister-in-law said that she locked eyes with him, and his expression still never changed. She wanted to ask him what happened on ER last week, because she missed it, but it was too bad that he wasn't available for questions (since you can't read the tone, I will go ahead and say that this was sarcastic, and she of course would not have asked him about the ER show she missed. . . probably).

As calm and cool as I tried to be, it was sort of distracting being that close to a "star." In fact, after we verified that he had returned for the second half, I heard him laugh out loud, and jabbed my sister-in-law to let her know, "I just heard John Stamos laugh. Did you hear it?" I know that some of this is natural, and even self-imposed in their line of work, and I certainly don't pity him or other celebrities, but it must be so annoying. It made me appreciate the fact that I could simply enjoy my little afternoon of freedom from the sometimes-boring routine life I lead at home caring for my home and family.

Wait--maybe there are more similarities between us than I first imagined. He had to dodge the attention of adoring fans while trying to enjoy an afternoon out. I had to plan an afternoon out so that I could dodge the attention of my adoring kids. It's hard to be so beloved, eh?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Are you Bert or Ernie?

I was watching Sesame Street this morning. Well, we have an extra toddler in the house because my sister-in-law is visiting with her 23 month old, so the toddlers were watching Sesame Street, but I actually get a kick out of it, too.

I love Ernie and Bert. I particularly recall the nighttime scenes. I found a great website that details the plot outlines of Bert and Ernie:

Ernie insists on watching Bert sleep. He sings a song about sleep, initially to Bert's dismay. He soon falls in, though, and then finds that Ernie is the one who has fallen asleep!




I was thinking that we all are either Bert or Ernie in our relationships. I am Ernie--the exuberant botherer. My husband is Bert--the more sensible one who Ernie irritates. My sister-in-law is the Bert in her relationship, but only in comparison to her husband who is really, really an Ernie.

One of my friends insists that we each have a role in our little circle as well: the worrier, the fun-maker, the decider, the nurturer. . . .

So, are you Ernie or Bert? Does your answer change depending to whom you are comparing yourself?

Sunday, May 13, 2007

You Don't Have to be a Mother

Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
Romans 16:13


Do you skip over all the genealogies and lists of names when you get to those chapters in the Bible? One thing I love about BSF is that we study each chapter and try to glean God's reason for the inclusion of each verse in scripture. I thought that this verse was especially relevant for this weekend. There are many women for whom Mother's Day can be hard: those without children, those whose children may have gone astray, or who are facing some other difficulty that causes them to look at their role as "mother" in a different light.

Let this verse remind you that regardless of our present situation, as women we do nurture and influence someone. It could be a close circle of friends, our husband, nieces and nephews, stepchildren, or friends of our children. Rufus' mother influenced Paul and think of how many people he has influenced, perhaps as a result of the care and attention that she showed him at some point in his life.

I had a really nice day with my family today. Terry had made reservations over a week ago(!), so we had a very nice lunch. Kyle even stuck it out, so we could enjoy a leisurely meal. Amanda presented me with a poem that she had written at school. Kyle slept late. All good stuff. But something unexpected really brightened my day. I had an email "Mother's Day" greeting this morning from my favorite babysitter and college student. I thanked her this morning at church and she said that she was sending one to her mom and thought of me as well.

Being in the throes of motherhood can sometimes cause us to stop looking around at who else might need us. We also sometimes influence people in ways that we don't know.

The post below (about my special friend who sent me the unexpected greeting) was originally published August 21, 2006:

I have come to realize that we influence others more than we know. How many of you have a book on your bookshelf that someone else recommended? How many of those reads actually ended up changing your outlook and affecting you? What about your favorite recipes? Are they all ones that you found on your own? You probably cook some of the things that your mom or grandmother cooked, or you may have a new favorite or two that was passed on from a friend. A Christian friend might make a comment about something that they have chosen to avoid (a certain TV show or movie or music), and that gets you thinking, "Perhaps I should also avoid that." How many times have you run out to Target to stock up on the latest sale item touted by a friend?

Last fall I was talking with a young girl at church who had finished high school and was taking the first semester off. She didn't like high school at all. Her father wanted her to go to college. In the course of our chat, I mentioned that there were many two year programs that were specifically designed to train you for a specific career, which would allow her to begin supporting herself, and to take courses related to her end goal. I think she might have equated college with four years of boring classes. I mentioned things that I knew existed, such as dental hygienist school, an education degree at a four year college if she thought she might like to teach (because she loves children), and we talked a lot about nursing. Because my sister-in-law is a nurse, I know a little bit more about it. I know that nurses are in demand, and whether you have a two year RN degree or a four year BSRN, you can make pretty decent money. The other thing I love about nursing for a woman is that one could actually continue working after having children, on weekends or in the evenings, contribute to the family income, and mostly stay home as well, if that is a goal.

My young friend had mentioned that she was going to be registering for her classes. The next time I saw her, I asked her if she had chosen her classes, and if she was just taking the general first year stuff. "No, I'm doing the nursing thing," she answered casually.

Well, I'm glad I didn't tell her to jump off a cliff. But seriously, I am humbled and honored that she listened to me. I don't really see myself as the answer-giver to her. I think that her heavenly Father, who knows what she will enjoy, excel in and be able to achieve, used me to help her find a comfortable option for her. I hope she will do well. I hope that I will be able to continue to be an encouragement to her.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Have I Mentioned I Love Book Bargains??

I have mentioned a favorite little overstock bookstore that I frequent. Well, ever since my self-imposed book buying freeze back in March, I've tried not to be such a frequent visitor. I used to go after Bible study at least two Tuesdays a month, because it's right down the street from my church, but it's been a while since I've been in, because whether I "need" a book or not, I can't resist buying any hardback in the store for $4, or any paperback for $3, or finding even better deals on the dollar cart in the back of the store. . . . Well, I am on the email list, and I found out that they were having a huge $1 sale--not the slow-to-sell books that are usually there, but brand new, popular books!

Amanda and I went after her soccer game. Oh, it was fun. This is what I came home with:




Several are gifts or things that I can surprise people with, but all but about 4 of them were only a dollar. ALL of these books cost $30! Because they are remainders, occasionally the cover has been cut (probably by the box cutters), or there's a place on the back where the sticker ripped the cover (on the Judy Moody book), or it has some sort of a mark. Sometimes they are perfect.

I did just clean out my library, and managed to find 7 or 8 books that I could give away, but maybe I'll have to see what else I can manage.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Funny Begats Funny

One of the parenting kernels of wisdom that I picked up when my kids were small was that "sleep begets sleep." What that meant was that if your baby is sleeping well, often, and regularly, that he/she will sleep more. The whole "keep her up late, so that she'll sleep later in the morning" philosophy is not so successful, until they get to be teenagers, that is.

I think that funny begets funny as well. You know how you sort of play off the strengths of the friends whom you are with? I have a couple of girlfriends who really make me laugh. And in turn, I make them laugh. One of them is coming over tonight. Our husbands are going to be at the monthly men's Bible study our church has recently started and we are going to watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding (which you must see if you haven't already) and eat salad. And maybe popcorn. And definitely some Hershey's Truffle Kisses, a delicious limited edition flavor (which you must eat if you haven't already).

Anyway, I can guarantee that we'll laugh--at the movie and at each other. I don't know if it's really that funny begets funny or if it's similar to the fact that competing against a worthy contender steps up your athletic prowess (not that I would know anything about that). The end result is lots of laughs, which equals a really good time, at least for me.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Do You Have an Opinion?

I always have an opinion, and I love to share it. I've learned in my old age to gauge whether or not my opinion is needed/wanted. I need and want your experiences!

First--in the comments section, you can answer either of these questions:

What struggles do you have in making time for yourself?
and/or

What information would you like in an article about moving your family cross-country?

For my writing class, I'm trying to gather information to include in an article or two. If you would be willing to answer a few questions to help me gather some real-life examples, I would really appreciate it. So, if you have practical experience in any of the following areas, please email me at jennifer(dot)snapshot(at)yahoo.com (replacing the words with the symbols of course). You might not think you have anything of value, but I will email you some questions that might spark something.

  • Have you ever made a move from one region of the country to another? Or from one country to another?
  • Do you have any tips that have helped you handle anger?
  • How has your young child's life been enriched by interaction with a senior citizen? Or, what rich experiences did you have as a child with a senior?

Just tell me in the subject line which topic(s) you would like to answer questions about. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Make a Choice

I recently downloaded some Brandon Heath music at a friend's recommendation (if you click on his site link you can hear his great song "I'm Not Who I Was"). I've been thinking about his song, "You Decide:"
Everybody has to choose--sink or swim, win or lose.
Everybody gets it right--fight or flight,
So, will You decide?
Don't we choose every day? We choose to be selfish, or selfless. We choose to be lazy or to be industrious. We choose to be foolish or wise. We choose to trust or to doubt.

Sometimes we choose to complain. Sometimes we choose to seek the mind of God. What does whistling have to do with those choices? Please join me at Faithlifts today.

Yet Another Post about Potty Training

Yes, I know that you've been checking in wondering why I haven't reported about Kyle's progress learning to use the potty. I think we've been at it for three weeks. It's going fine. I'm still more potty trained than him. He tells me when he has to go. . . after he's already wet. But that's progress, right?

I wanted to share the bane of a potty training mom, in case you haven't been in my shoes in a while (Speaking of shoes--I would NOT recommend stepping into the shoes of a potty training kid. You can't be quite sure what you might find. Trust me.):

The Self-Flushing Toilet.

Kyle does not like to sit on the potty most of the time anyway (although once he's there, he's doing a good job of doing what he's supposed to). Throw a self-flushing toilet at Panera into the mix, and I'm not sure if I'll ever get him to go in public again. In fact, at Costco today, we used the public facilities, and he said, "Not scare me?" and I had to assure him that it was not a scary potty.

I have solved the Panera toilet problem, and I thought it was worthy of sharing with all the Works for Me Wednesday moms: As I squat beside him, I cover the sensor on the back of the toilet with my hand, ensuring that it won't flush with my little guy on the seat.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

They're Much Cuter than Roaches

I lived in Texas most of my life. In Texas, especially if you live where there are any trees, there are roaches. Big (2 inches long or longer) gross roaches. I do not like them. Even though roaches get a bad rap as being associated with filth, while you can control them, no home is totally immune to them. As much as I have always hated them, I was always thankful that in Houston we didn't have to deal with mice. I wasn't sure I could deal with mice.

I was wrong. A woman doesn't know what she's made of until confronted with reality. We now live in a country-ish setting in Connecticut. There are mice here. In the first month that we lived here, our dog caught one in the front yard! I won't go into the details, but last year about this time we saw a couple of the little critters. They are little. And kind of cute. In fact, in all honesty, they aren't much bigger than the roaches. At that time we signed on with the quarterly service of pest control so that I could remain ignorant and feel safe. Other than seeing a dead one in the garage last month, the pest control seemed to be working. Last week I saw some, uh, evidence that it was not working. The service call was scheduled for later that week, so I wasn't too worried about it. So, now I go back to my blind faith that the pest control will work and I try not to think about it.

I could have titled this post You Might not Want to Come over When I Invite You for Dinner as a sequel to You Might not Want to Invite me to Dinner, but I think that my northern and/or country friends will back me up here. It's just the way it is.

Monday, May 07, 2007

5 Minutes for Books



I am so proud to announce my new affiliation with 5 Minutes for Mom. Janice and Susan wanted to kick off a new regular column highlighting the great books for moms and kids that they get a chance to read, but they are too busy making the site bigger and better each month to not only read, but also post reviews about the books. That's where I come in. I will be reading and posting right along with them. Each Monday, one of us (or a couple of us some weeks) will post a recommendation of a book or booky type product that we think that cybermoms everywhere will want to read. Today we kick off the column with a review of a book which has been one of my favorites for about a year. When Janice mentioned that she had been wanting to post about it for some time, the decision was made--effortlessly. Click the banner to read more. And, in true 5M4M fashion, most weeks (including this one) there will be a giveaway as well!

Because of this new association, I voluntarily removed myself from this contest, but if you haven't already seen it, click over. There are such wonderful prizes to be won for the rest of this week.

mothers-day-button-180-pixe.jpg

Queen of the Castle


When Lynn Bowen Walker contacted me to offer a review copy of her new book Queen of the Castle: 52 weeks of encouragement for the uninspired, domestically challenged or just plain tired homemaker I was so pleased, because it looked like it would be right up my alley. When the book arrived in the mail, it was one of those that just cried out to me, "Open me! Look inside!" The cover can say a lot about a book, and this one tells it all, showing a woman balancing her entire life. The book is written in a 52 week format, so that the busy mom can cover one chapter each week, but I found myself browsing through and reading the parts that I really thought I needed right away. The chapter titles are very helpful to locate the information you need. I highly recommend this book for its clear presentation and easy format which includes quotes from many homemaking and mothering and women's books on the topics that she is covering, along with a word of the day, and plenty of anecdotes, and oh yeah, chocolate recipes.

Thank you Lynn for stopping by to promote your first book, Queen of the Castle. It is a book that I will be recommending, especially to moms of multiple kids or ones with a busy schedule (oh--isn't that all of us?), or moms like me who have never felt comfortable with the daily practice of housekeeping. In fact, I've already bought my first gift copy.

  1. The title of your book is Queen of the Castle – can you tell us the story behind that title (I’m also curious about the king and the princes)?

I was thinking one day about the saying, “A man’s home is his castle,” and decided if that’s true, then our husbands are the kings of our homes and we get to be the queens. I like the idea of being queen! In our home I’m married to the ever-cheerful Good King Mark, king of home renovation projects, and the mom of two outstanding princes who are way smarter, way funnier, way more charming than I’ll ever be. They will make fine kings someday.

  1. I find that I often write about things which I know are important, yet have oftentimes fallen by the wayside. Putting it out there and getting my thoughts on paper about how important it is often helps me to be more accountable. Has this been the case for you with Queen of the Castle?

That’s an insightful question, and it’s probably truer than I’d like to admit. I’ve always enjoyed the “have fun with your family” part of my job. But the housework part is tough for me. I can walk by piles of papers or a basketful of unfolded clothes for days and not even notice them. It’s kind of embarrassing to have written a book on homemaking when you’re not so great at keeping up with housework. But that’s one of the reasons I wanted to write this book; it doesn’t help me to read tips from people who organize their clothes in their closets alphabetically. I could never do that! I need to hear from women who don’t have it all together, who have rooms in their homes that look like they’ve been hit by a tornado. When I hear from someone who has struggled but keeps picking herself up and trying again, that’s what helps me.

Perhaps that's why this book has been such an encouragement for me. It prods me to do my best, but does not overwhelm me with a level of housekeeping that I know I will never attain (and I'm not even sure I want to).

As for being accountable, the biggest help for me there is to have people over often. There’s nothing like knowing people are on their way over to make you suddenly see the piles of mail everywhere.

  1. Most of us have areas of our housekeeping that we do well (or that we don’t absolutely hate doing), and then other responsibilities that we only do to keep the sanitation department at bay. My passing grades are in laundry and cooking, and my failing grades would probably be everything else, bathrooms and floors specifically. What are yours?

I think I keep up pretty well with dishes and laundry. I don’t mind cleaning toilets, and we’re usually fully stocked with toilet paper, library books, and home-made cookies. Where I fall down abysmally is in vacuuming, mopping (what’s a mop?), ironing, and dealing with paper clutter. And maybe a few more . . .

I don't know what a mop is either. I know that some of those gifted in the cleaning arts regularly wet down every hard surface floor in their house. I find that spot cleaning works really well for us. Actually, when I do clean the kitchen floor, I do it "Cinderella style" on my hands and knees. By that point, it needs it.

  1. In addressing the balance between getting involved in outside activities and keeping the house, you shared a great question that you ask yourself when evaluating a commitment: Do these activities really reflect your goals? As one who has always chosen (or felt called) to be involved in some sort of ministry or volunteer work, this is a perfect reminder for me. Can you share a story about a time that this question helped you pare down, or convinced you that it was okay to continue in spite of personal sacrifice?

The time that leaps to mind is when my boys were in second and third grades and I was asked to help lead women’s ministries at our church. I prayed about it and really sensed God directing me to say yes. Over the course of the next couple years, a lot changed in my home responsibilities – mainly as my kids got older, their homework load drastically increased. Nights when I should have been home helping them study for their next day’s spelling test, I was off at church leading Bible studies or attending meetings. After two years, I really needed to step down from my church responsibilities. My kids were just at a point where they needed me more. Sometimes it’s a question of timing – an activity that was perfect for you and your family last year, no longer fits so well. We need to be willing to keep re-evaluating.

Thank you for the reminder that we not only need to ask that question, but keep asking it as we evaluate each new season.

  1. Mother’s Day is this week. You devoted a chapter to this day, sharing about how God ended up giving you the true desire of your heart "the ones I didn't even know I possessed: the chance to love and nurture my children, to experience every moment possible of this job of motherhood." And sagely summing up the experience by stating that "When we take on the job of motherhood, we have no idea what's coming." What are one or two things that motherhood has taught you about yourself?

I was surprised to find that, in the end, the desire of my heart was really to be a great mom. I was not someone who grew up playing with dolls and dreaming of the day I’d be a wife and mom. If you had asked me when I was younger, I’d have probably predicted I would have been more career-oriented. But when you look into your baby’s eyes, and hold him for the first time . . . I just melted. I knew I didn’t want anybody else to raise my children. I wanted to be the one to help them take their first step, to read with them on the couch, to teach them how much God loves them. I’m so blessed God allowed me to do that.

And then He allowed me to write a book, too. How cool is that?!

Very cool, indeed.

  1. I enjoyed your chapter on hospitality. How do you incorporate hospitality at home when it’s “just” the family?

Well we don’t all get to sit down at the table and enjoy a meal together as often as I’d like, so when we do, we often dim the lights, light the candles, and play some pretty music. Also, I always hated the idea of making a special meal or dessert for some outside activity but then be yelling at the family, “Keep out of that! That’s not for you, that’s for the church potluck!” So if I’m making special food for an activity outside of our home, I always try to make enough for my family, too. If you’re already making five dozen cookies, what’s a couple dozen more?

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Resorting your Friends

I work with a friend of mine in my very part-time job. Honestly, I took the one-day-a-week job to take advantage of the time to fellowship with her as much as anything. To keep track of the tasks that we are each working on, we keep a task list on a spreadsheet. Last week I recorded that I had "resorted personal mementos." When she read the line item, it didn't immediately click that I had sorted the things, again, into the proper piles. She was reading it from the perspective of a person who was trying to keep a lot of balls in the air--family, work, and ministry--and the way the word read to her was "resort-ed."

She suggested that we coin a new term:
resort, verb--to induce a resort-like state on an individual in need of refreshment and release, by physical force if necessary
The resort-ing treatment is most effective if the client can be whisked away to an oasis. A resort vacation is effective because it is in a beautiful setting--mountains, beach or hideaway. It also works to de-stress those who are able to resort because they are removed from the large and small responsibilities and concerns of daily life.

Can this be done on a smaller scale? What can a well-intentioned husband or friend or mother do to help a friend in need of a little resorting?

  • Kidnap her. What's her pleasure? Shopping, movies, spa treatments, coffee and girltalk? When you see a friend reaching the brink of an overload, force her to make time for a small escape with you.
  • Kick her out. Most husbands know when their wives are in need of a personal retreat. If her husband is unavailable to kick her out so that she can spend a few hours on her own in her resorting activity of choice, as a friend, takeover the task. Show up at her house to babysit and send her on her way.
  • Kindle her fire. Encouragement can go a long way when we're feeling overwhelmed. Send a note or a card letting her know that you have noticed her perseverance. Be specific in your compliments about her attention to certain details in her life.
  • Keep it light. Make her laugh. Buy her one of your favorite comedies on DVD. Invite her over for a movie afternoon or an after-dinner late night. Call her and share amusing stories about your own recent struggles. Laughter really does relieve stress and help our troubles not to seem so overwhelming.
  • Knock on God's door. Pray for her, and let her know that you are doing so. Send her an email to remind her when you have uplifted her needs. Stop and pray with her, in person or over the phone when you can tell that she is in need of being transported from her current struggles.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Nuggets

I've been drinking in the parenting wisdom lately. I'm not going through a particularly rough patch, but I seem to be open to what's out there--learning from other moms, previous moms, books and my beloved podcasts.

This week on Homeword with Jim Burns, I have heard an interview with Ruth Graham (author of Things I Learned from my Mother) focusing on her mother's work in each of their lives. I was heartened to learn that all five of the children of Billy Graham were spirited and headstrong. They argued a good deal. They were a real family with the same problems with which many of us struggle. A few nuggets from the life of Ruth Bell Graham:
  • Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.
  • Make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes (don't look back).
  • She prayed for her children with a passion (and still does). One thing that she prayed was that her children wouldn't remember her yelling at them. She did yell. According to her daughter Ruth, they do not remember. This is something that I am going to start doing today.
There was also a great two-part interview with Jill Rigby regarding her book Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World. One great nugget I mined from those broadcasts was that we have traded self-respect for self-esteem. Our cheerleader philosophy of parenting, as most of us know, can be quite damaging to them. Being praised for things for which they don't deserve respect causes them to think that the world is all about making them happy, and in addition, can cause them to stop trusting us. A child who strikes out at every at-bat and misses catching a pop fly but is told, "You are the best baseball player ever! If everyone played like you, your team would be the best!" Interesting, huh? I am going to look into this book.

Another favorite is Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey. He recently had a series looking at Tim Kimmel's book, Why Christian Kids Rebel. I got some great advice about boundaries that I can start implementing now before my kids reach those teen years. Another thing from earlier in April was a three part series looking at Taming the Tongue, specifically on the language that we use and we allow.