Tuesday, July 31, 2007

But What If It's Hard?

There are things that all of us know that we should be doing.

Some of them are short-term.

Some of them are life-long.

Some of them are a one-time thing.

But what if it is hard? I think of people who do what is hard everyday--not for fame or fortune, but because it's what they should do, and hopefully what they enjoy doing.

Moms weave the joy of seeing a child's first steps with the sorrow of seeing her fall, literally and figuratively over her lifetime.

Fire fighters, police officers, and those who serve our country at home and abroad wear a uniform that proves their desire to help, serve, and protect our country, knowing that with the pride of that uniform comes some personal risk each time they report for duty.

Medical professionals often reap a large salary, but must also sow seeds of despair in with the seeds of hope.

A wronged spouse who chooses to save the marriage must offer forgiveness each day. The spouse who has wronged must be able to accept that forgiveness.

The answer--
If it's hard, do not do it on your power. Trust Him who has all the power.
. . .being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Inspired by "What Soldiers Do" from Monk and Neagle's 21st Time CD, releasing September 18:

I know it's hard to see me cry, but but your mind at ease.
God is watching over us, so we can be at peace.

I've been listening, and it really is good. Listen to five songs here. Preorder an autographed copy and check out their fall concert tour (opening for MercyMe and Aaron Shust).

Monday, July 30, 2007


To call reading a challenge--well, for me, it's just not an apt description. But I like goals. I like focusing on reading what has peaked my interest, or what I feel needs to be read, and joining up with other like-minded bloggers in challenges has been a lot of fun for me. So, here's an update on current reading goals, and my list for two new challenges:

First, my own Read Together mission:

I have given up on Nancy Drew. No offense to you Girl Sleuths out there. It's just not a good read-aloud, and what happens when a read-aloud is not compelling, is that I don't really read to her. So, I'm going to let Amanda finish it on her own, and perhaps as a nod to her request for us to read Nancy Drew together, I will finish it on my own as well (which still counts as part of the mission). So last night we started Little Women. It's so good! I had thought it might be too "old" for her yet, because I know I was older when I read it, but I think it's going to be just fine, and it's written in a good read-aloud tone.

If you have completed some books, please post reviews and link up. There are some great reviews up already (especially for teens), so browse through the links if you can.

The Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge is going well (I just love the unique theme here!). Not only did I win a prize drawing, but I've now finished two of my six books, and have begun a third, and a fourth just arrived from my request at the library:

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins takes a California girl to India with her family. Her mom wants to return to the Indian orphanage from which her white American parents adopted her over thirty years ago. Like other Perkins books I've enjoyed, this one features a protagonist who really is a heroine. A real girl, but one who I would love for my own daughter to look up to. In this case Jasmine "Jazz" Gardner is an entrepreneur, a good big sister, and a respectful daughter. She's at that crucial age of fifteen. She's growing into a beautiful young woman, but she doesn't yet know it. What she does know is that she's in love with her best friend and business partner.

The sense of place, India, is strong in this novel. As I read, my mouth watered for the creamy sweet tea and spicy Indian food that Jazz learned to make from her new friend and family's helper, Danita. I could just see the bright and flowing sarees and salwar kameez that the women wore (and I also longed to be able to dress as comfortably). The fact that the country was viewed from the eyes of a fifteen-year-old American visiting there for the first time, helped me identify even more, since her thoughts were similar to the ones I would have as well. I recommend this book. I rate this G, and would be good for ages fourteen up (just because of the romantic notions, which I plan to help my daughter avoid for the most part until she's "of age").

I also just finished A Girl Named Zippy: Growing up Small in Mooreland, Indiana as well. This was okay. I had heard so much about it, but perhaps because I've read several really great memoirs this year, this one did not completely wow me. I do give her 5 stars for writing in the voice of a child. Most of the story takes place when she's about five to nine, and she retells this portion of her life without regard for repainting the memories in a better light (although there may be some embellishment which makes her funnier or eccentric, as memoirists are want to do). As far as creating a sense of place, which is what books in the challenge are about, she did a great job of created the small-town world of a young child. Were I not familiar with small-town America, I think that this book would have given me an accurate feel for that realm, and as stated in the challenge, the place is integral to the book. Her whole point is that when and where and with whom she grew up influenced how she grew up. I rate this PG, for language.

Now, for the challenges I'm joining:

The Semicolon Saturday Review of Books Challenge
allows me to read some of those books that fellow bloggers have been reviewing and linking up to her site since she started the Saturday reviews just over a year ago. Cool idea, because each week I inevitably find one that I would love to read, so this will give me a nudge. The sign up is open, but if you sign up by the end of the month (tomorrow) you are eligible for her prize drawing. This has given me the nudge to get this out of draft and actually published!

A Girl From Yamhill, the autobiography of Beverly Cleary, recommended by Carrie K at Mommy Brain

The Deer on a Bicycle by Robert McManus, recommended by Carrie at Not Alone. I started this months ago, but it's been put aside. In order to be sure I finish it, I'm putting it on my list.

The Art of Civilized Conversation, recommended by Mt. Hope Academy (if I can get it from the library)

Sense and Sensibility recommended by Carrie K. at Mommy Brain

The Kite Runner--I know that this is one of the places I heard so much buzz about the book, so I'm going to check my bookmarks and the archives. If I don't find it, I'll add another book.

One more title to be named later--one I can snatch it up off of the list and read it within a few months. I also reserve the right to switch if another really great book comes up in the next few months.

And we're going to try:

Before There Was Disney--a challenge hosted by Toddled Dredge. It goes so perfectly with Read Together, so feel free to jump in yourself and dovetail the two. Just read a book with your kids that you haven't read before that is now a movie. Go back to her site and post your results on August 20. She gives a whole list of suggestions. We just read Ella Enchanted, and we read Mary Poppins last year (both of which I would recommend), but we are going to try to tackle Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, since we've seen the movie and the Broadway show. I will be interested to see if, like Mary Poppins, the Broadway show (which I preferred to the movie) mined from the book.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Great American Supper Swap

The Great American Supper Swap by Trish Berg sets out to "solve the busy woman's family dinnertime dilemma." We all face different challenges in getting dinner on the table, be it a dislike of cooking, being away from home during the dinner-making hour, little ones underfoot or some combination of these factors.

My complete review is up (Monday) at 5 Minutes for Books, so click on over to read it and to enter to win your own copy. If you'd like to find out more about supper swapping, you can ask her a question this week. Trish Berg will be reading and answering your questions about supper swapping in the comments right here. She also has a website. She will be making her first national television appearance on The Harvest Show on August 7. Click the link to check for affiliates (including DirectTV and other regional channels).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Guy Not Taken

I enjoyed Jennifer Weiner's first novel years ago at the recommendation of a friend who had just read it. I really enjoyed it, but she went off my radar screen for a while, because none of her other novels had come out. When a publicist contacted me and asked if I would like a copy of The Guy Not Taken for possible review on my blog, I said yes very quickly!

This is a collection of short stories. I do not seek out short stories to read, but I don't dislike them. I just don't know if I would think to buy a collection of short stories. However, after reading Fifteen Candles recently (which I will review Monday in the 5 Minutes for Books column) and then this book, I've decided that a collection of stories or vignettes is perfect reading for a woman who doesn't have hours on end to read a novel, or someone who devotes her time to pursuits other than reading (be it TV or housework, both of which I can easily give up if a book is beckoning).

What made this even more enticing is that the first three stories feature the same characters, making it read almost like a seventy-six page novella. By the time you get through those stories, you'll be hooked. The fact that they all deal with a guy--taken or not taken as the case may be--and I think that most if not all of them also feature swimming, binds them together in another way. The strongest tie is that they are all written by Jennifer Weiner, an excellent storyteller.

Several stories and characters will remain with me. My favorite is "The Mother's Hour," which deals with a playgroup and an unlikely friendship between two women. "Oranges from Florida" is the most different from the others, most obviously because it's written from a male character's point of view, but in it's unique voice and theme, it stands out. The story for which the collection is named, "The Guy Not Taken," will be going into movie production soon. I think that most of us have mused about what our life might be like if we ended up with a different guy (I say mused, not wished). Marlie explores the reality of this fantasy and actually gets to see the "what if."

I will definitely be reading more from Jennifer Weiner. I was glad to have been reminded of her work. She has a blog, Snarkspot where she discusses books and writing and motherhood. There's also a link to her reading a bit of one of the stories, "Swim." The reading guide at the end of this collection contains insight about how and why she wrote each of these stories, as well as questions which would be great to explore with a book group or some girlfriends.

*I always feel rather puritanical when I'm reviewing fiction or memoir, because I always feel like I need to call attention to any excessive language or "romantic" scenes or violence. The reason I do this is that I take seriously the admonition not to cause another to stumble. Each of us have sensitivities to different subjects. I've often read a book or seen a movie based on the recommendation of someone who I thought had similar ideas to mine about what was appropriate, and been surprised. So I've come up with my own system for rating books so that each reader can decide for herself if a book is within the boundaries of what she would enjoy. I would rate this a strong PG (and check my guidelines, because it's not exactly the same as the movie ratings).

This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Bloggy Business

First, two bits of timely business:

Mandisa is going to be on Live with Regis and Kelly today! If you go to their site, you can get a free download from her CD, which releases on Tuesday, so check it out. I really did like the two songs that I received on the CD single from her label.

The Dog Days of Summer made my sitemeter go crazy, like nothing before. Yes, bigger than the Blog Party from 5 Minutes for Mom, bigger than the mama of all events, the Bloggy Tour of Homes. Because I got my name in the top 20, and because bloggers love books, I guess, I had 600 hits the first day. 600!! Then 300 Tuesday and 200 Wednesday and then still a few extra visitors with 150 Thursday. Wow.

So, thanks everyone! I hope that some of you will check in here or Mondays at 5 Minutes for Books regularly to see what else we are giving away.

So--the winner of my Pick a Book is comment number 27, Becky at beckbeck. I am going to be generous and allow her to pick up to three books from the list, instead of just one. Email me (check the sidebar or my profile for a link) with your book choices and your address!

Secondly, I've wanted to talk about comments. I love to hear from my readers. I don't mind or think it's rude if people "lurk" (read without commenting), but I have realized that one reason I really like blogging and keep blogging is community. So that means I usually comment on blogs I read (not every post, but if I'm reading, you'll hear from me), and I like it when people add to the thread by giving me their thoughts or reactions. *Update at 11am* I certainly am not implying that every single reader should comment on every single post that they ever read, but just that it's nice to hear from you once in a while, especially if you have something to share.

If you check the box, you are more likely to hear from me in reply to your comment. I don't leave replies within the comments, because I don't think that people regularly check back, unless someone asks me a specific question and there is no other way to reply. Do you, as readers, expect me to? I don't want anyone to feel as if I am ignoring them or unappreciative of their thoughts.

Also, even though I don't select my blogroll based on "I'll read your blog if you read mine," I am more likely to check in with your blog if you comment here. Partly to be nice (you know, like returning a social call), and partly because I'm reminded about the blog (as I was recently when Jen Rouse commented, and I was so glad because I found her cute post on Confessions and Contradictions), and mostly I think it goes back to the community thing. I do moderate my computer time somewhat by not checking many blogs every single day. It's quicker and more efficient for me to check in every few days or weekly. However, if I do have a minute, I am more likely to want to drop in with someone who I feel like I have a relationship with. I'll stop now before you call the internet stalking police on me.

And finally, I have updated my blogroll. I have decided that I instead of just having my must-reads on there, and some rotating spots (who was I kidding--those have been up for 3 months or more!) I have a feeling that it will change in the next couple of weeks, because I'll gasp and think, "I forgot X! I love checking in with her occasionally. I can't believe it!" But I have found that if it's not on my blogroll, I forget to check in (whether it's once a week or even less frequently than that). *Update at 11am* I sort of have it there in the sidebar. Flooble doesn't appear to be fully functioning, so I'll have to be sure I entered all the code, so it won't collapse, which I think is fine for a while. I also don't know how to change the color to make my background, but I know someone who will be able to help me, but unfortunately, she's a bit busy this weekend, so I will leave it as is for the time being.

That's all. Any thoughts on these issues??

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Eight Things about My Marriage

Summershine tagged me for the Marriage Meme. It seems easy enough, but I kept drifting into our wedding or our courtship, so here's eight things that I came up about my marriage:

1. I've been married for fourteen and a half years.

2. My husband remembers our anniversary better than I do. I get mixed up. It was January 2, which I always have to remember because we had to have our rehearsal on December 31, two days before, because the church was closed for New Years' Day (but I always seem to think it's January 3rd).

3. We waited five years before getting pregnant with our first child--on purpose. We married fairly young (I was 22 and he was 23), so we had some time and we wanted (okay--HE did) to spend it together before kids came on the scene.

4. Terry is still great about being sure he has enough time with me all to himself. We try to take at least one trip alone at least once a year--for just a weekend if that's all we can manage. I strongly recommend this practice! Living near New York City now, and not having family close by to babysit for us, we often stay overnight in NYC when we go when we can get our college babysitter to stay with the kids. Even that small effort is so refreshing and rewarding.

5. We don't really fight that much. I'm sort of a fighter (arguer), but he's not, so that's a good thing. Ever since about our 7th or 8th year of marriage, we don't usually get under each other's skin. If he's in "a mood," I just let him be and try not to be too sensitive. If I'm in "a mood," he just waits it out.

6. We really complement each other. We are quite different, but it works. If you know personality types (I love Myers-Briggs), Terry is ISTJ and I am I/ENTJ. He is neat. I am not neat. His love languages are Acts of Service and Quality Time and mine is Words of Affirmation (and then maybe a side of Quality Time). Understanding these differences helps us make the most of them and accept each other as is, letting some things roll off our backs when necessary.

7. I am thankful for the family that came along with marrying my husband. When we all walked back down the aisle after the wedding and gathered in the bride's room while the guests filed out, Terry's grandfather Pepa hugged me and said, "Now I have two granddaughters." Terry's sister Dana, granddaughter number one, is like a real sister to me. She is ten years younger than Terry, so I first met her when she was only eleven or twelve and that helped us to bond as we grew up together.

8. I think we have done the "leaving and cleaving" thing very well, and our marriage is better for it. We lived in Houston when we were first married, where my family lived, but Houston is big. Giant, really. We lived on the far north side of town, which separated us by an hour from my mom and my grandmother and about forty minutes from my dad. A couple of years later, we moved to Portland, Oregon, then back to Houston, then to Connecticut. The physical distance has helped, but it's really been a state of mind. This is our family, and we try to protect it at all costs.

I already posted this picture in this post, (my third post ever), but I'll repost it for those of you who haven't seen it:

Now I'm supposed to tag. This was Summershine's first tag, and she was so excited, so I'm going to tag some newer bloggers as well, and maybe they'll be excited. I'll tag Stephanie at Stephanie's Mommy Brain, Carrie at Not Alone, Lori at Lori's Comfort Zone, Sportsmomma Beth, and a new-to-me blogger I discovered from the Dog Days of Summer Giveaway (wowee that was big, eh?), Michele at Philoxenos.

If you don't like to do memes, or don't want to do this one, feel free to skip it. If you do it, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can check it out!

How Much Do You Like Starbucks?

Do you like it enough to visit all 171 Starbucks in the Manhattan area? Mark Malkoff took the challenge. Did he make it? If you have ten minutes and fifty-four seconds, you can find out:

A few questions for you Mark Malkoff. Certainly you are googling your name to see the far-reaching publicity that your stunt is getting you and perhaps you will land here. If you do, I'd love to hear your answers to the following:
  1. Did you not know that Starbucks carries decaf?
  2. Did you know that you can get a preloaded Starbucks card? Wouldn't that have been faster than cash (although not for the bribes)?
  3. What's next? My friend Andrea*, who forwarded me this challenge, needs something to beat.
*Note to fellow bloggers: You know how some of your real life friends delight in seeing their name in bloggy lights, without regard to personal privacy? Andrea is one of them. Yes, Danielle, I know that you are one, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

I've never participated in Wordless Wednesday, because I'm not.

Wordless, that is.

My computer screensaver is the photo slide show, and my computer sits on a little desk in my kitchen (and it's always on), so we all enjoy seeing whatever pops up from the last 3 years of picture files on my computer. Kyle especially likes it and always says, "That's you, Mama!!!" or "Look--Manda!!" in the sweetest and most excited three-year-old voice that you can imagine.

I often feel like a tired and impatient Mommy, drained by these kids whom I love and with whom I DO enjoy sharing life. Yesterday I felt particularly tired and out-of-it, so seeing these two pictures of Happy Mommy pop up on the screen within a few minutes was a very sweet and blessed reminder.

This was taken in March of 2005 before Amanda and I went to the Sock Hop at her school when she was in first grade:

This one was taken when we were on vacation in Vermont in April of 2006:

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oh Luuu-cy, I'm Ho-ome

I have shared that Amanda has been enjoying some of the classic TV shows on TV Land. Topping the list are Leave it to Beaver, The Munsters, and I Love Lucy.

I found some cool scenes from I Love Lucy at this site.
Ricky Ricardo: [with heavy accent] I won't switch apartments. Understand?
Lucy Ricardo: Yes.
Ricky Ricardo: What did I say?
Lucy Ricardo: "I wun't swish aparments".
Ricky Ricardo: And that's an Ultimatum.
Lucy Ricardo: An ultimatum?
Ethel Mertz: Well, I'm not surprised.
Lucy Ricardo: I am. I didn't think he knew how to pronounce it.
I can't help but make the observation that Kyle sounds an awful lot like Ricky Ricardo.
Mom: Kyle, did you put your toys away?
Kyle: Yes. I did.
Mom: Kyle, did you finish your snack?
Kyle: I didt.
What? You did, or you didnN'T?
Kyle: I didt. Tuh. Tuh. Tuh.
Mom: Yes or no?
Kyle: No, I didt.
Oh well. It didn't seem to harm Ricky Ricardo any. Kyle isn't exactly swarthy, but maybe the Cuban accent will be a chick magnet. Maybe I should get him some bongos?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Dog Days of Summer

Comments are now closed and my winner has been announced!

Shannon is doing something cool. She's hosting a bloggy giveaway carnival. I don't know about you, but I've won a handful of giveaways, either from participating in book challenges, or just signing up when someone is giving away something. It's really fun!

The giveaway that I am sponsoring will tell you a little something about me:
  • I'm a mom (Amanda is almost nine and Kyle just turned 3)
  • I try to eat and prepare healthy foods
  • I love to read and soak in information
  • I also love to read for escape and entertainment
I have been a part of several author tours here at my blog and received some review copies of books that way, but in the last couple of months, I've made sort of a job of it when Janice and Susan asked me to help start a books column at 5 Minutes for Mom (this "job" pays in books and writing experience). So, I am giving away one of the books below, which were just gently read by me before reviewing them. If you want to find out more about the book, click the link to go to the review.

I will ship to U.S. or Canada for this drawing. When I draw the winner, I'll ask which book you would like, and I'll send it along. Please be sure that there is a way for me to reach you (blog or email in your blogger profile or leave an email in your comment) and/or come back here Friday to see if you won!

* * * * * *

My regular column this week is the review of one of the best books I've read so far, Here for You: Creating a Mother-Daughter Bond that Lasts a Lifetime. Click the icon to find out more about the book and for a chance to win your own copy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can We Talk Purses?

That purse meme was going around a while ago where the blogger was supposed to show her purse. I never got tagged for it, and I never stole it or accepted an open tag because I didn't really have anything to show.

However, I just bought myself what I think is a cute, fun summer purse at TJMaxx (for $14.99!). I couldn't wait to show my friends who actually care about stuff like that, unlike me who generally carries the same purse for a while, with little regard to fashion or style other than "I like it" and "It holds what I need."

Case in point? The purse that I was carrying before is a $5 Vera Bradley knockoff that I received free as a gift at our Ladies' Retreat in May. I really liked it because it was roomy enough to carry a book on those occasions when I needed a book, as well as a spare Pull-Up or a sippy cup since I am no longer saddled with the diaper bag. In fact, it seems that it was a bit too roomy. This is what I removed from the purse:

The big pile of paper in the middle is all trash! I did indeed have a book in it (which I hope to review soon on 5 Minutes for Mom). The money you see was the money that was just loose in my purse. I need a new wallet, too. And, really, you never know when you might need a pack of Equal or a Tootsie Roll Pop. . . .

Someone is going to have to remind me in October that I can no longer carry my cute, fun summer purse, but for now, I like it and I feel all stylin' and snappy. Am I wrong?

By the way, this is not a bloggy perk in any way (although if they want me to try out the service and blog about it and turn it into a bloggy perk, I would be more than glad to comply). I think that I found it when I clicked through an ad on Org Junkie Laura's site. Have you see Bag Borrow or Steal? It's like Netflix for handbags!! I don't know if I would ever pay the monthly fee (since, as I stated, I carry the same purse for a long time with no qualms about trendsetting or matching or anything), but if you're a bagaholic, this seems very cool. I did browse around the outlet section of the site where they sell the slightly used bags, and found one I would love to buy, but it seems that it is no longer available. However, I think I'm going to try to stay somewhat up-to-date in the purse department, so I'm going to keep browsing and see what I can find so that I'll be hip and stylin' this Fall (or at the very least avoid being tacky and out of it).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bloggy Perks

I know that some people feel like accepting free things and then blogging about them is somehow a sell-out. I think that those people are really like I used to be--a bit jealous that no one wanted to send ME free stuff. I've gotten a few books from authors and publicists, and I am NOT complaining about that. I'm going to read anyway, and I like to share what I'm reading.

Anyway, I'm creating this new label, "bloggy perks" which will mark any of my product/books/music posts that are somehow sponsored by a company who sent me something free. This is NOT a pay-per-post sort of thing. Anything I write is generally borne out of my personal experience with said product, but I am creating this label so that I don't have to always say, "The publisher sent me this book," or "The music company sent me this CD." However, I will always be honest. If acceptable from the company, if I hate it, I just won't say anything. So if I'm blogging about it, it's because I like it. Some companies want the buzz anyway, so if you read something lukewarm, that's my honest opinion which they are seeking.

Sound fair??

If you read Boomama (and um, who doesn't?), you know that she's been posting a bit about Monk & Neagle. Because of her far-reaching influence (which she always uses for good and not for evil), they have arranged for 100 bloggers to receive copies of the new CD to help spread the word. Click the link, and you, too, can sign up to receive one, or at least listen to five of the songs (in full, I think). Wow, they ARE good. I can't wait to get the whole CD! More to come. . . .

monk & neagle banner

You Won!

Well, if your name is Karlene and you blog at InkSplasher, then you won!

I will send the copy of Deconstructing Penguins tomorrow, hopefully! Any of you who didn't win, are welcome to click through my amazon link to order it, or beg your library to get it. It is as good as it sounds.

I was browsing around at Karlene's site (she has some great book chat), and I found this personality test. I love that kind of stuff, so I took it. I'm Woodsy:

Because Woodsies know exactly what they want, other people can find them intimidating and may feel insecure around them until they get to know them. That's when they realize they're the most fair-minded and non-judging people. Employees love Woodsies because they know exactly what's expected of them. Grandchildren love Woodsies because they have incredible patience, especially as they mature. They're also very big-hearted and gentle.

Although Woodsies do like power, they won't tolerate unfairness and genuinely try to see other people's point of view. They're great leaders and have a protective nature. Because they are so strong-minded and know what they want in life, they generally do well in high positions of business or politics. They can bring great ideas, insight, and inspiration to the world.

I thought it was accurate, but then reading it over it again, I'm not so sure. However, I'm happy to know that I will be a patient grandma, because it's escaping me as a mom!

I actually took it because I thought I would match up with Karlene, Leafy, but my close second was Fruity, and this is fairly accurate as well.

You are self-aware, emotionally balanced, and almost everyone likes you because you're so positive and friendly. You are a very inspired individual and have a gift of being able to empathize with others. Fruities are true-blue, dependable friends. You can't categorize them as introverts or extroverts - they go back and forth between the two. Fruities are the type to have many acquaintances but only a few they call their best friends. They keep their true friends throughout their entire life. They're very willing to please others and can sometimes be compliant and dutiful at times when others would flee the situation. They have a great need to belong.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

My Childhood Home

Owlhaven is doing this great link-up meme about sharing memories of our childhood homes. She describes it this way:

What I want to hear are details that were important to you as a child: your secret hideout under the stairs, the single-paned picture window you licked and froze your tongue to one winter morning, the backyard tree you climbed, the way your mother washed your hair in the kitchen sink every Saturday night, or any other strong indelible memory you have.

On Friday, July 20th, put your post up on your blog. I’ll put a Mr. Linky up on my blog so that you can sign in with the address of your post. If you don’t have a blog, you can leave your story in my comments section on the 20th. Then you can go to visit others who are sharing their own memories. I think that reading each other’s childhood memories of ‘home’ will help us as parents get a better feel for the types of things that make childhood memorable for children.

I thought I'd post mine a couple of days early to help spread the word here.

I moved into my home when I was about six years old. My mom and step-dad still live there now. The house was a typical mid-seventies style house. I remember the light green low shag carpeting, the wood-paneling, the avocado green kitchen, and the gold and orange wallpaper in our bathroom.

Since I was the oldest, I got to pick my room. I chose the smaller room with the smaller closet. Why? It had two windows, each situated towards the corner side of the back left side of the room. I liked that. I remember my red Holly Hobbie bedspread and matching curtains. Sometime later I was allowed to move into the biggest room on the second floor, which had previously been a playroom, which never got used in that fashion. In fact, I really only have a couple of memories of that room. One is playing, "Don't touch the floor." We would crawl and hop along the furniture (including a harvest gold wide-welt corduroy sofa which has been re-covered and is now in my basement!) and swing across doorways on the doorknobs. Once I moved in, I got to paint it. It was peach. I loved it. For some reason, we actually did use the smaller room when it took over as the extra bonus room. I remember using the sofa in there to read and playing Atari: Asteroids, Pac-Man, and Zelda.

I remember doing cartwheels in our big front yard, and playing tennis and kickball in the street and the cul-de-sac. I walked home from elementary school every day, usually alone, thinking imaginary thoughts and wishing I could fly.

I remember that as I grew up, my friends were always made welcome, even if they had to push clean laundry aside so that they could sit on the gray leather sectional sofa. My best friend would just come in without knocking with a "Hi, Mom" to the "mom" with whom she spent the most time with outside of her own.

I remember the pets over all those years: Mindy, Pruff, Doogie, Mork, Dork (cats who were all offspring of Mindy I think, and who came and went to some extent), and the dogs Wendy, Brutus, and Heidi. I even remember the neighbor's dog who Mom let in for fun every now and again.

There were meals eaten in the kitchen, with the ceiling fan turned off by mandate of my step-dad so that the food didn't get cold. There were meals eaten out as a family, and those shared on TV trays in the living room.

The place where I grew up has changed and evolved without me. There are now different pets, different room set-ups and different family habits. But I still carry memories of Home.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Rock

Deuteronomy 32:3-4
I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
upright and just is he.

2 Samuel 22:31-37

As for God, his way is perfect;
the word of the LORD is flawless.
He is a shield
for all who take refuge in him.

For who is God besides the LORD ?
And who is the Rock except our God?

It is God who arms me with strength
and makes my way perfect.

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he enables me to stand on the heights.

He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You give me your shield of victory;
you stoop down to make me great.

You broaden the path beneath me,
so that my ankles do not turn.

For more of my God-thoughts today, click over to Faithlifts to read about All He Has Done in my life, as well as get a recommendation on a Bible study that I'm enjoying this summer.

Flip the Switch

Recently we were watching an episode of the Backyardigans. This particular imaginary journey took them into the world of the future. Two of them were cop-bots, and two of them were robots who had turned bad. What's more, the bad ones had plans to make all robots bad by flipping their switches from good to bad! I somehow missed the defining moment of the plot, which happened when these bad-bots with a plan somehow got their switches flipped from bad to good, but I did notice that they liked the change. In usual fashion, they sang--about how happy they were that they now they felt inspired to do good deeds now instead of being trapped by the evil desires of their bad selves.

Can someone check my back and see if I have one of those switches?

I don't?

Oh, how I wish I did!

For now I will have to cling to these promises, both for myself and for my two little bots who are never quite sure how their switches are set either:

2 Corinthians 5:16-19

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them.

Philippians 1:4-6

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Authentic Parenting

This week at 5 Minutes for Mom, I interviewed Mary DeMuth about her new book, Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (you can click the link to buy an autographed copy from her website). Click over to read more (especially about the p-word), and here's a bonus question just for you:

JD: Since we stay so busy today, we have less time for communication as a family. Do you have any tips on how to connect as a family on a regular basis?

MD: Every family is different, so it depends on your own family culture, but I can say that the best thing we do is eat dinner together. It’s where we reconnect, talk, try to heal from and process the wounds of the day, and laugh. Another is to make it a point to read to your children. Choose all sorts of books, nonfiction, fiction, picture books, and keep your ears open. Right now, my eldest daughter and I are reading a book about why people don’t believe. My son and I are reading the latest Tolkien book. My youngest daughter, I’m happy to say, loves the Bible and wants me to read it to her. Just recently we have started to listen to books on CDs in the car. We’ve really enjoyed that. It gives us something shared, something to discuss, and it passes the car time in an enjoyable way.

Oh, yes--Reading Together! I can relate to that.

By the way, 5 Minutes for Mom has a cool new look, so if nothing else, click over to see that.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This and That from the Weekend

Amanda and I try to grab a couple of hours alone on Saturday or Sunday when we can. If we don't have family plans, we will often head out and leave "the men" at home. The last couple of weeks we have gone to the library so that she could report on her participation in their Summer Reading Club. She's read over 1200 pages so far this summer (in about three weeks)! My efforts in seeking time alone were rewarded.

As we were walking into the library she asked me, "Mom, do you think I talk
too much?"

"Well, what do you mean by that?"

"I mean, do I talk too much so that it's annoying."

"Not really. Usually it's fine, but sometimes it is annoying if you don't stop talking when someone asks you to, or if you are not letting someone else talk when they want to share something.

I think that you are interesting, and I'm glad you can share what's on your mind."

Later I told her that I was really glad that she could bring up those sorts of things with me. In the future I may have to pray for quick wisdom to answer much more difficult questions, but I'm glad that the precedent for open discussion and questioning is being set.


My library has a book sale every year, and people donate throughout the year. If the books are not deemed worthy for the sale, they are put on a bench in the hall, free for the taking. I got some great children's books. I love Carl, and we only have Good Dog, Carl. The classic Golden Books look great, too. I could have brought home about ten more of those, but even when they are free I have to limit my book consumption.

Magazines pretty much just equal extra clutter around here, so I don't often buy them, but free is a different story. No, I'm not a vegetarian, but I really do love vegetarian cuisine. In fact, I think that if I had a personal chef, I could instruct him/her to prepare vegetarian meals for me all week long. Last week I checked out a great book called Spices of Life. It's not vegetarian, but it's more Eastern/Global than American, in that when meat is used, it's an accent, not the mainstay of the meal. There are informative two-page spreads about health in between each of the chapters. Another favorite is A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop. One thing that I really liked about this one is that he is a dad and wrote many recipes with kids in mind. Do any of you have any vegetarian-type cookbooks you enjoy?


I wanted to offer up proof that we are trying to put some of this stuff into practice. We went on a really nice hike later Saturday afternoon.

It was shady and really nice. There was quite an incline heading up, and then it was very flat coming back down the other side of the loop. We weren't sure how Kyle would do, and at 37 inches tall and 30 pounds, he's too big for the backpack carrier now. But he walked the whole way.

I'm not sure what the distance was, but we walked at a decent pace for about 25 minutes or so, and then we took it really slow for the last 25 minutes, because we had to indulge one of the all-time-favorite nature activities: throwing rocks into water.

To top it off, when we got home, I kicked the soccer ball around in the driveway for a little while with Amanda.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Deconstructing Penguins

I am going to do my first Read Together prize drawing this week to include the participants who have already signed up. So, as long as your name is on THIS LIST by Wednesday, July 18, you will be eligible to win a copy of this book, sponsored by me, which I will pick at random.org on that day.

I came across Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading in the way that I come across many books. I made a purchase on amazon, and the screen then showed me what other people had purchased with the same browsing history. I won't get into what I think about the fact that amazon knows more about me than some of my best friends, but I love this feature. This was a great book that I was happy to have stumbled upon in this way.

Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone run parent-child discussion groups at a library. They start with second grade and are now facilitating groups all the way up to 8th grade. They don't ask the typical questions: What did you think when Mary rejected her friend? How do you think Joe felt when his Dad left home? Rather, they deconstruct the book using classic plot, theme, and character elements and in doing so, find out what parents and kids really think about the story and the world. The very first book that they discussed was Mr. Popper's Penguins (hence the title of the book).

This would be a wonderful book for any teacher (in the classroom or home), librarian, or reading group facilitator (for children--or adults, for that matter). I enjoyed the layers of deconstructing a book that they modeled by sharing transcripts of the interaction in their reading groups, and it will help me as I discuss books with Amanda, as well as encouraging higher level analysis as she speeds through books on her own.

The Appendix includes lists of books that they've used in second through fifth grade, as well as in-depth examples using Mr. Popper's Penguins, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Charlotte's Web, Babe, Animal Farm, Bull Run, The Giver, The View From Saturday, The Phantom Tollbooth, and The Call of the Wild.

So, if you want to be eligible to win a copy, be sure you've signed up to Read Together (click that link for all the details).

There are other prizes to come: The publishers of the Fairy Chronicles have offered at least one giveaway at the end of the challenge, and Mary DeMuth will be giving away one of her books as well (which is actually quite appropriate because in her new book Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, she mentions reading together as one way to connect with your child). These prizes, as well as the $10 gift certificate that I am giving away, will be drawn from those of you who post about specific books (either a review of the book, or thoughts on the process regarding that particular book). The Mr. Linky will be available on THIS POST until August 26. You can "enter" more than once by posting multiple reviews/posts. I do ask that in your post, you link back to one of the Read Together posts so others can join in if they choose.

Read Together Reviews

This is the official place to link all of your reviews. If you need all the details about the Read Together mission, click the picture above to see the main post.

Each time you discuss a book that you've read with your child(ren), write a post either reviewing the book, or sharing something you discussed or learned with your child(ren) through the process. My first post follows as an example.

Then, link the post here by August 26. Link directly to the post, and include the name of the book in parenthesis, so that people can browse if they'd like. For example: Jennifer (Ella Enchanted and Nancy Drew).

On August 27, I will post the winners of the prizes. Multiple posts (of chapter books) do qualify you for multiple entries into the drawing.

Amanda and I are still plugging along on our read-aloud of Nancy Drew. Having VBS in the evenings this week has slowed us down. Also, this does not really fit my criteria for a good book to read aloud, which is namely short and a story that moves pretty quickly. But she specifically wanted me to read my first Nancy Drew, so I am. I have been very impressed that she has already read through so many of these, because the vocabulary is very advanced. Her contextual reading skills have always been good, so I guess it doesn't slow her down. We have stopped and discussed certain words as we are reading aloud, so it's offered me good insight into her vocabulary level.

However, we did both read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. I read it first, and then she read it. It was a well-crafted story, and appealed to Amanda because of the suspense, I think. The last part of the book was really a page-turner, because I wanted to see how Ella would fare. Also, as the Cinderella link became more and more obvious, it made me marvel at the author's ingenuity. I tried to use some of the "deconstructing" techniques from this book. We discussed themes a bit, but I think that I might use one of the books that serves as a detailed example in the book so that I get a little help until I am a bit more comfortable with the process.

It's that simple. So if you've already completed a book, go ahead and link up now if you'd like.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Potty Training Shoes

I wasn't going to buy Crocs. But I did, first for my daughter, who "needed some" because they were cool and comfortable and she had to have a strap on the heel for recess. Then I decided to get some for my son, once I saw how they withstood dirt and water and all the things that kids get into when playing outdoors. He loves them. So much so that for the first few nights he slept in them.

As a side note, may I proudly state that he is 38 months old and still loves his
crib. I asked the doctor about this, and she said, "It's the safest place for him."
It buys me time, because when he wakes up, he lounges a bit. Anyone
else want to share how long your child was encased in the crib??

However, I have found something that has made them worth the $25 cost. As regular readers know, we are potty training. If he has an accident and is wearing his shoes, well--they get wet. I've noticed that his tennis shoes especially haven't really lost the odor. Any suggestions on this? I've tried febreze and I think I even tried some vinegar and then leaving them outside to dry and air out.

Rubber shoes that don't absorb odors and are even dishwasher safe = Perfect Potty Training Shoes and that definitely Works-For-Me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Children Should be Seen and Heard

"Children should be seen and heard."

That's one of the mottoes at Amanda's school, as an obvious contrast to the earlier philosophy that "Children should be seen and not heard" (and I think before that the mandate was that they were neither seen nor heard!).

I do value my children's opinions and feedback. I want them to be able to discuss a disagreement without it always seeming like they are just talking back. It's a fine line. I want them to be able to join in our conversations at the dinner table--asking questions, contributing their opinions, sharing a story.

Last weekend we went out to dinner with a young couple with no children (not for the next week or so anyway!). Amanda was participating in the conversation in a very polite and interesting way (one thing that I love about her personality is that she's not afraid to talk to adults). She was sitting quietly and said sort of under her breath, "I want to talk, but I don't know what to say." I suggested that she could tell Mrs. W. about the fireworks she saw in Washington D.C. Then I had an even better suggestion: "Why don't you ask her if she saw any fireworks, and then I'll bet she'll ask you if you saw any, and you can tell her."

I could do a better job at the fine art of conversation myself. Helping her learn small talk caused me to actually put some thought into it and probably taught us both something.

It struck me that by including our children in different social situations, we really can teach them these sorts of things. They also learn that fine line of when it's okay to talk, and when it's better to remain quiet. Being able to sit quietly in these kinds of situations is an important skill for them to learn, but it is an area that I know Kyle (who just turned three) has not learned. When I have to attend a short assembly at Amanda's school, or some type of meeting, I know that I usually cannot do it with him there. It rattles me too much. There is definitely a time for the "children should be seen and not heard" rule, and it's something that he and I have a hard time dealing with.

I would love to hear any tips from parents of children who are loud and wiggly by nature if you've had any success in this area, or if you're just hopefully waiting it out like me.

Monday, July 09, 2007

No Child Left Inside

I came across this Connecticut initiative while cruising some of the State Park's sites. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection wants to encourage Connecticut families and visitors to enjoy all the recreational resources and outside activities that the state has to offer. It's a great idea, since kids are living much more sedentary lives. With the onset of No Child Left Behind, "testable" topics of education has been emphasized, and arts and physical education has been de-emphasized. Many schools have realized this mistake, so they are now making efforts to correct it by instituting minimum activity standards, between recess and formal P.E. programs. At my daughter's school, now recess cannot be taken away as a punishment or as a time to use to catch up on missed work to underscore the importance of physical activity.

It reminded me of what I learned from reading Fat Proof Your Family: God's Way to Forming Healthy Habits for Life. Most kids and adults are not meeting the minimum activity levels, but one recommendation that he gave is that if children are made to play outside, they are guaranteed to get more activity than if they are sitting inside (reading, watching TV or playing video games), which is a goal for my children. Here are the daily guidelines taken from the National Association for Sport and Physical Education, printed on page 157:
  • Toddler-- 1 1/2 hours (30 minutes of planned physical activity and 60 minutes unstructured free play)
  • Preschooler-- 2 hours (60 minutes of planned physical activity and 60 minutes unstructured free play)
  • School Age-- 1 hour or more (break up into sessions of 15 minutes or more)

For my full review of Fat Proof Your Family and a chance to win a copy, click on over to

Saturday, July 07, 2007

We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Browser

My laptop is ancient. We've had it for four years, which in computer years equals seventy-nine years old. It has served us well, and the even-more-senior citizen desktop computer still continues to run well for the children's computer games and internet access, in spite of the fact that it uses the Windows 2000 operating system. Anyway, the memory has gotten a little clogged, with digital photos and my itunes library, both of which were not so common four years ago.

So, I often visit my Add/Remove Programs section of the Control Panel to see how I can create a little bit more space. I also went through my three years of digital picture files and pared them down a bit, getting rid of duplicates and less-than-stellar photos.

It was on one of these visits to Add/Remove Programs that I saw that I had both the older version and the newer version of Firefox installed. So, I removed the older one. Only that suddenly left me with no Firefox at all! Woe is me! My husband is not convinced that Firefox is the way to go, and insists on holding on to Internet Explorer. So, since it had been removed, I decided to be the bigger spouse, and sacrifice my favorite browser for the good of the a few extra MB on the computer. So for a week or so, I slugged and trudged through the world wide web using IE. Clicking through to read new Read Together signups on Mr. Linky was often more than the poor little browser could handle, causing a complete freeze-up. See, I'm a multi-window user. I cannot simply perform one task at a time--I need to check my email, compose a blog post, find a link to include in my post, read someone else's blog. . . . you get the picture. IE could just not keep up with me. This does not even mention my very favorite feature of Firefox--the auto spell-check. Anything I type, be it an email or a comment on a blog post is spell-checked as I go, with a little red line alerting me that perhaps I have misspelled a word.

So, Firefox is back. I would like to play homage to it by employing a favorite device of mine--the cheesy song*. Thank you, Neil Diamond (without whom the cheesy song humor punch might die out). I'm sorry I ever let you go, Firefox.

Hello, my friend, hello
It's good to need you so
It's good to love you like I do
And to feel this way
When I hear you say

*Have you seen the commercial for the turn-by-turn navigational system? That gives me a chuckle every time, as I hear the opening cords of the following Bonnie Tyler song.

Our Country's First Ladies

I know that some kids love a good history book, especially when it's presented in fact form. For example, my daughter loves the Don't Know Much About series. Our Country's First Ladies is a fact-filled and beautifully illustrated and photographed book that kids might enjoy in a similar fashion. The forward is written by Laura Bush, and the author writes an introduction about the importance of the role, as well as important firsts for women in the different cultural periods.

Each of the forty-four first ladies is given a two-to-four-page spread, which starts off with a beautiful portrait. Then there is a fact box which I enjoyed reading through to compare facts about each of the first ladies, such as age of marriage (several of them, even in the earlier years, were older than I expected, and more than a few were divorced), age when made first lady, and age at death. The text on the facing page includes information about how she met the President, any "firsts" of the office, and causes that she supported.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.

This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books. Click over to read others, or add your own review or book mention from the past week.

Friday, July 06, 2007

I'm Neat

After I posted about the Organized for Life book and the challenge to tame paper clutter over at 5 Minutes for Mom, a representative from NeatReceipts asked me if I would be interested in trying out their Scanalizer, which offers a way to conquer paper clutter. I tried it. I loved it. Click over to read my full review, and see how you can win one of TEN units at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Today I logged in about seven hours in the car. Kyle and I drove to New Jersey to meet my mother-in-law halfway between her home and ours so that Amanda could come back home. Terry and I made the drop-off drive together on Saturday.

As a bit of background, I would first like to say that I learned to drive in Houston, Texas. The job I held in high school was in the Galleria area (not the cool Galleria mall, but an office in the area where I was a, um, telemarketer). So, I drove from my house in the Southwest suburbs to the Galleria on two different freeways during rush hour to get there. My friends and I left no freeway unnavigated during those years. No problems.

Driving in the New York City metropolitan area has taken some getting used to. My trips to and from LaGuardia involve going over the Whitestone bridge, and driving through Connecticut and New York, and entering and exiting several freeways. I don't think that I've ever gotten lost (although figuring out how to get to the right place to pick up passengers took several instances of trial and error and still makes me nervous), but all last year there was construction on the bridge, which could easily double the time it took to make the trip.

This particular trip to meet my mother-in-law on the New Jersey Turnpike also involves several freeway changes and the George Washington Bridge. That means that traffic is inevitably involved. So, I worry until I have navigated the many interchanges it takes to actually get onto the Turnpike. I worry as I'm sitting in traffic about how long I might end up sitting there, and if I'm in pre-bridge traffic, I am also fretting that I am perhaps not in the right lane at all and will end up in some neighborhood in the Bronx. I've never exactly gotten lost (although I once took a bit of an indirect route, but thanks to a toll booth operator, I got back to the bridge quite easily). I have sat in traffic--hours of traffic on one particular trip. But none of those things are really cause for alarm.

You see, I'm not generally a worrier. I'm fairly level-headed and rational, so my rational self says to my slightly anxious self, "What's the worst that could happen?" Ever since Terry and I made that trip on Saturday, I have been worried about this trip today. Would I have to endure hours of traffic with an impatient three-year-old? Would the children bicker? Would I get lost in such a way that the map wouldn't really help me? Perhaps I worry about things that are out of my control. I do like to have control.

But isn't that what is at the root of all worry? Will my child get home from school safely? Will the bully leave him alone on the playground? Will my husband get a job? We don't have any control over these questions. I do know that having bouts of anxious irrational worrying has helped to grow compassion in me. Some of my friends are worriers, and while I've always been able to support them in prayer, and I have never really judged their worrisome habit, I couldn't really understand. Now I understand a bit better.

This week I also learned to relinquish control to my Heavenly Father. I prayed. This morning I asked, "I don't know why I'm so worried, but give me peace and help me to trust You." I asked a couple of good friends to pray (and they are the kind of friends who actually did pray). I felt their prayers, and I learned to trust more. The drive was short. There was no real traffic and I didn't feel too uncertain (even though I took a different route this time).

So maybe next time I'll feel more confident. Maybe next time I'll pray more and worry less.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


I took this picture two years ago in Washington D.C.

Happy 4th of July!

I'm writing about another kind of freedom over at Faithlifts today. Click on over to read it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Raising Respectful Children

I interviewed Jill Rigby, author of Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World for 5 Minutes for Mom. Read the advice that this wise mom offered me and then click over to 5 Minutes for Books to read more (and leave a comment there for a chance to win a copy).

You underscore the importance of not losing our tempers, specifically with tweens. As the mother of an eight-year-old daughter, can I confess to you that it's a big struggle for me? It is hardest for me to be patient with her when I know that she knows better. How can I handle these situations without losing it?

Our duty as parents is to guide our children through example and instruction. Here’s the great pressure release valve…We’re not perfect and neither will our children be. Your child will “fail” more times than “win” in the first twelve years, because they’re in training.

Second, remember that your child really doesn’t know better, no matter how many times you’ve told her. If the word “Don’t” has been used to begin words of instruction to your child, she doesn’t hear anything that follows the word “don’t.” The word “don’t” is an off switch for children. Rephrase: Instead of, “Don’t put your wet towel on the floor,” say, “Put your wet towel in the hamper.” Do your best to get rid of the word “don’t” from your vocabulary.

Third, you must hold your child responsible for her behavior. Your responsibility is to hold her accountable. If she doesn’t put the towel in the hamper, use repetition as a discipline rather than losing your cool. She’ll have to pick up the towel and place it in the hamper twelve times.

You exhort parents to love lavishly. Why/how does this result in a respectful home?

As the family began to change in the eighties with the numbers of mothers working full time increasing, divorce rates climbing, and latchkey kids becoming the norm, someone introduced the theory that quality time with children could replace quantity time. When children do not receive enough time with their parents, when promises are not kept, one disappointment after another leads to resentment. Resentment leads to disrespect.

We’re finally being forced to admit the fallacy of that theory. Children need time with their parents and lots of it. Play time, Instruction time, Meal time, Bed time, Do nothing time, and on and on. Children should not be the center of the universe, but they need to be the center of someone’s universe. Children need to see your love for God spilling over in their lives. Children need to see love between you and your spouse in your daily interactions. Children need to experience the overflow of that love.

Lavish comes from the French word lavasse or lavache, which means “down pour of rain.” Loving lavishly means loving enough to make your family your number one priority…ahead of work, golf, hunting, fishing, sports, etc. Loving lavishly means loving so much you’re willing to discipline your children for their sake. Loving lavishly is putting the needs of your children ahead of their wants and yours.

A home filled with lavish love is a home filled with grace, mercy, and peace…a beautiful picture of respect!

Can we raise children of character without instilling them with a respectful attitude?

No, because attitude is at the heart of the issue. Character is born in the heart where the reasons why we do what we do exist. Doing the right things with the wrong attitude is not exhibiting character.

What is the correlation between respecting others and developing self-respect?

The development of self-respect begins with respecting others, not the other way around as society has tried to convince us. Choosing to be humble, choosing to help others who cannot help you, choosing to accept an offense without retaliation--this is the stuff that builds character and self-respect. Flip the words around to hear the truth, "Respecting others enables me to respect myself." If we don’t respect others, we cannot respect ourselves.

If you were encouraged or challenged by these words, I highly recommend Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World (and the rest of the interview at 5 Minutes for Mom).