Tuesday, January 31

Angry People and Forbidden Parking Spots

Wow, there are a lot of angry people in the world...or maybe they're just all in Buffalo.

I'm guessing that's not the case though.

I was the victim of an angry person assault recently. Here's what happened...

Last Friday I was doing a little bit of writing at Panera and had my laptop with me and had it plugged into the wall. About an hour into my time at Panera I met up with an older, very experienced local freelance writer to chat about the business, etc. Because I got very involved in our conversation, I had shut my computer down and set it aside. By the time we finished chatting I needed to run over and pick the girls up from preschool.

No, I did not forget my computer if you're wondering if that is where this is going.

I did, however, leave the power cord plugged into the wall in the process of quickly packing up my computer and running to the car to pick up the girls on time.

Perhaps the real lesson here is...SLOW DOWN...I seem to get into a lot of trouble for moving too quickly sometimes....

That said, I realized later that day that I had forgotten my power cord, called Panera to confirm that they had it (they did) and told them I'd be by the next day to pick it up.

Enter crabby person portion of the story...

Scott was gone with Ava on Saturday morning (he took her to a ski lesson), so Ella and I were flying solo. By the time we cleaned up a lot of the house, put a weeks worth of laundry away and got dressed, it was 11:45...by the time we pulled into Panera's parking lot it was about 12:15 on a Saturday afternoon.

Have you ever pulled into a Panera parking lot at 12:15 on a Saturday afternoon? Yup...it was exactly what you'd expect. Jam packed with cars, parked and looking for spaces, and not a space to be found...It was also snowing pretty heavily and cold and wet so the thought of parking far behind the restaruant and dragging my 3 year old into the mob scene that Panera was did not strike me as particularly appealing....

I knew that they had my power cord behind the counter and that I would be very quick...

I made a judgement call...pull into the handicapped space at the front of Panera (where I could see the car through the front window), throw my flashers on, lock the doors (Ella was in the car), and run as quickly as possible so as to not keep the space from someone who needed it.

I figured, honestly, that if someone who really needed the spot showed up that they would be clued in by the fact that my flashers were on and they would wait the minute it would take me to grab my power cord for me to pull out and they could have their spot...

Was it a selfish decision? Perhaps. Until you have run errands with small children in the car on snowy, slushy days, please don't judge!

Can you see where this is going?

I ran in, went straight to the counter, asked the girl for my power cord, she asked her manager and he said, "Yes, we have it. One second."

In that one second, the tallest, angriest woman I have EVER encountered planted herself square in front of my face.

She was probably in her late 40's, about 5'11 (to my 5'1) and the anger in her face nearly knocked me to the floor before she even spoke.


She was screaming at me in front of the ENTIRE restaurant.

"Uh... I'm uh...sorry...I just needed to grab...."


"I'm sorry my daughter was in the car...and I just needed..."


I'm honestly not sure what else she said. She continued to scream at me as I stare at her dumfounded.

Seriously. Is this an issue of Seinfeld? Funniest Home videos? Some other reality show. I have NEVER parked in a handicapped parking spot in my ENITRE life and the one day that I do, with my FLASHERS on and my 3 year old in the car, I get verbally accosted by this woman?!

I was getting quite angry at this point...

"Excuse me. I said I was sorry. My 3 year old is in the car and I needed to run in here for 2 minutes."


In the meantime the cashier handed me my chord and started wide-eyed at the vicious dragon lady yelling at me.

I looked at the cashier with wide eyes, looked at that lady...

She pretty much looked like this...

"Whatever!" is all that came out of my mouth...not very graceful, or insightful, or poignant...I was completely flustered...

I ran so fast that I nearly knocked an older couple over when I pushed the door open to go outside...

"I'm sorry...I just got yelled at," I said...they stared too...

I got in the car and pulled out as quickly as possible...

And then I started crying...big...alligator tears...I was so flustered by the entire situation...

You see, I'm a pretty nice, easy going, person. I'm kind to other when I'm out. I smile at people. I even sit for several extra minutes when an elderly person tries to strike up a conversation at a coffee shop because they are alone and want someone to talk to.

I am a NICE person. Nice people don't know what to say to very, very angry people. We don't encounter them that often.

Poor Ella...I had promised to take her out to lunch. First we pulled into the grocery store parking lot where we were going to eat...I was still crying...we pulled out.

Then we drove 15 minutes back towards home and into the McDonald's parking lot...I was STILL crying....

I don't know what got a hold of me...merely the unexpected vicious anger from a very upset person...

"Sorry Ella."

"Mommy I'm hungry, are we going to get lunch?"

"Yes, honey. Sorry."

"Why are you crying."

"Because some lady at Panera was very, very mean to me. Does it make you sad when people are mean to you?"


"That's why we should always be nice to people."

I finally pulled myself together enough to go through the drive-thru to get Ella a cheeseburger.

At that point I was partially upset because the whole thing had upset me so much!

But, as Scott said when I talked to him, "You were just assaulted square in the forehead with the anger of the world...Can you imagine living that woman's life. Do you think her family likes her? Do you think she has great friendships? Maybe she's angry about needing to take care of her mother."

Yes. Yes. Yes.

All those things were likely true...

HOWEVER...even if all of those things were going in my life, I would be kinder to people in public...at least gently mentioning that I needed that spot for my elderly mother and ask if the person planned on staying there before publicly humiliating them without knowing the story!

For the record, eight minutes after I pulled out, drove to the grocery store parking lot and then past the front of Panera again... the spot was STILL empty.

Ephesians 4:32...Be kind and compassionate towards one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as Christ forgave you.

If I'm honest, I'm still working on the forgiveness piece here...that ladies face is planted in my memory for all time.

I did also learn several important life lessons...

First, forgiveness is not easy, but very necessary.

Second, I'm grateful for a life in which Christ governs my thinking, actions and reactions to people in the world.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly...Do not park in handicapped spots ever, ever, EVER! Even if you have 10 children under the age of 4 in your car and need to run in for 90 seconds...(For the record, I do often think those parking spots should say "Handicapped or for moms with children under the age of 3"!). 

Friday, January 27

Confessions of a Crabby Mom

I have been a crabby momma lately...

Just putting it out there...All the cards on the table...

It's partially the time of year-- Buffalo gets gray, gray, gray around this time...Sometimes I don't even realize it's impacting my mood and then we get a sunny day and I'll be dancing in the streets and inviting the whole neighborhood over and wondering, "Whoa! Where'd you come from lady?"

It's partially the season of life that I am in, and admitting that makes me sad...it makes me feel like my love for my girls should overwhelm any frustration, discouragement, and irritability I have about the day to day responsibilities of raising them, yet it does not.

If I'm being totally honest, I hear my husband on the phone somedays, talking to colleagues, and I find myself thinking, I want to talk to colleagues. I want to have creative planning meetings. I want to work on a professional project and realize the excitement of finishing it. 

There are many days when I think I would rather be doing all of those things than spending what feels like the entire day cleaning the kitchen, and putting toys away, and breaking up arguments, and listening to whining about 'no more snacks', or 'no more t.v.', or 'please clean up after yourselves!'

I know it's not that simple...it never is. Scott has an incredibly stressful job and it makes him weary some days too. And for him, after the weariness of his job he gets to enter into the craziness of mine.

Yesterday morning I received an email from a literary magazine looking for subscribers...I read through the email and checked out the link...want to know what I ended up thinking...All those people are celebrating and utilizing their creative minds. They are writing, and creating, and inspiring and working in creative settings where they encourage one another. 

I looked at the kitchen counters again...My workspace was not feeling very inspiring, creative, or stimulating.

One might think that I could find pockets of time in my day to do those things...I used to, a little bit more than now anyway...that was in the days of naps.

How about after the girls go to bed at night? 

Oh my word, I'm so tired by then that I numbly stare at my husband and try to find the energy to think of something to say besides..."Hi. How are you. I'm tired if you couldn't tell."

So after all of this, it came as somewhat of a surprise when I woke up at 6:30 this morning, sighing about getting out of bed, and realized there was a song running through my head...A song I used to sing in Sunday school when I was a kid.
"I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart! 
Down in my heart. 
Down in my heart. 
I've got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. 
Down in my heart to stay!" 
It was as if the activity director of some crazy kids camp had slipped next to my bed just before I woke up and started singing this song as loudly as humanly possibly, partly in jest and partly to get this mommas butt into gear and out of bed. JOYFULLY.

You can't sing that song, or have it go through your head and not partially allow a grin to form. Even if you wind up grinning at the irony of the fact that this, of all songs, would be the one going through your crabby head.

Alright God. I hear ya. So what's the deal. When I'm crabby and in this crazy season of life in which I feel a little lost, and discouraged what do I do? 

Clear as a bell....Have joy in all circumstances.

Grrrr. Joy. When I don't feel like it?! Can't I just have the role of Oscar the Grouch in this act of the drama of my life? Just for a little while anyways?! I can do Oscar REALLY well, I think it would be a good fit.

Clearly again...Your feelings are lying to you. Start speaking joy. 

And then I was reminded of a very important passage of scripture...
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 
 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
 Sometimes the actions need to come before the emotions. Joy is not merely available when we feel joyful. We are called to ALWAYS be joyful, in EVERYTHING. 

Shucks. I guess I botched that one. Fortunately God is a God of new beginnings...and not just once a year new beginnings, but EVERY day new beginnings. Boy oh boy do I need that everyday grace. Chances are I will practice this today and forget it by tomorrow...and then I'll get crabby and then God so very graciously will send the heavenly activity director to stick a really repetitive children's song in my head so that I get it again.

You see, all those songs our children are taught in Sunday school, they're not really for this season of their lives...I mean, they are, but they aren't. The real reason for those little songs and verses, those memos of encouragement, is so that they lodge themselves in our children's hearts. Then, someday...

When, just like Ava asks so frequently, "Do I get to do all these things when I am a mommy?"

And the answer is yes, except that she is tired of doing them, that little bubble of a song will float out of the space in her heart and will encourage her along for another day...and she will have the tools she needs to take her from crabby mommy...to well, at least not so crabby mommy...

And that is something to be joyful about.  The gift of a childhood song reminding me to have a joyful heart in these days of raising children. 

Off to start my day...And look up that song on You Tube so I can teach it to the girls today! 

Found it!

Tuesday, January 24

No Nap No News

Want to know why I don't write a whole lot of blog posts about the girls crazy days any more...

If you guessed that it's because they don't have crazy days any more, you'd be...wrong!

I'm sure you weren't thinking that anyway...not with these girls.

Nope. I don't write here a whole lot anymore because instead of finding that I have more and more time as they get older, I have less and less...especially since Ella decided to put the nix on her napping...

That's right, with the end of the binky era came the end of the nap era...apparently naps were only appealing when there was a piece of suckable rubber to accompany them...Sigh.

So, little Miss Ella who is not even 3 has not been napping for a good two to three months now...that means mommy doesn't have a whole lot of down time during the day.

Not only is she not napping, but they go to bed earlier (like 8:15) and Ella is typically up by 7:15...which means the time I used to get in the morning to pray and read and write...well, it's been significantly shortened...

What's a momma to do?

Keep on keeping on, I suppose.

So, life is still crazy here... I still wonder if we own a zoo rather than a home on many days...

Here are a few pictures in lieu of the words I have no time to write...

Ava had a "Happy Birthday Jesus" party at school...that is her teacher holding the cake, and then Ava getting ready to pray before we ate cake!

Ella got two stickers from the doctor's office...most kids put them on their shirts or coats...not this one! 

matching Christmas jammies...

new hats!

new sunglasses!

on left...Ava's g-bread house from school...on right, ours from home...I know, I know, you can place an order for some of this g-bread beauty from us early next December! 

the chalk board I briefly brought upstairs until E wrote ALL over it with a marker...that was the end of that! For the record, I think some kids get an extra gene that makes them write on walls, tables, counters...anything that should NOT be written on...A NEVER did this...E, she writes on EVERYTHING she should not! 

Apparently, when hiding from mommy who is running around like a crazy lady yelling at everyone to clean up their junk...the cupboard is a really good hiding place! 

p.s. just realized that I had intended to post this to my Our Little Monkey's page...haha...managing to different blog spaces doesn't happen very well with the conclusion of naps either!!! 

Monday, January 23

Managing Momma Monday: Happy Wife, Happy Life

      Several years ago, while we were still living in Massachusetts, a friend from our church (a guy) gave Scott a "welcome to fatherhood" gift.

     Mark's (the guy) wild hair and ruddy face often welcomed us at the door to the elementary school where our small start-up church met. It was a small community and everyone knew everyone, we visited each other's homes, we held each others babies...there were not a lot of resources but there was a TON of intimacy and fellowship. I loved that about that church.

     Mark's son's were a bit older (teenagers), his wife ran her own business, he worked hard as an electrician to meet his family's needs. He was the kind of guy, you could tell from his face, that knew a thing or two about life.

     The gift he bestowed on Scott was likely one of those nuggets of wisdom he had learned through his years and experience as dad and husband.  He jovially presented Scott with the gift in church one Sunday. It was a sign that said...

     The sign is floating around the house somewhere...We seem to come across it at random moments and end up joking about it for several days. We always intend to hang it up and then it finds its way back to a corner of our basement before we get a chance to do so. Scott would probably tell you that there is more truth to that sign than to anything else he has learned in his life as a husband and a father...

     I'm not so sure I'm happy he feels that way...

     The last time it was out and about and making it's way into prominent spots in our house  (jokingly on top of the counter or a workbench or some other place one of us would place it as evidence for the other), I remember being a quite convicted by that little sign. 

     I know that when that nice guy from church gave the sign to Scott it was meant to be in jest at the life and the relationship that typically ends up coming to fruition between men and women, especially after they have children: Nagging wife...Henpecked husband.

     Wife has a honey do list. Wife wants football turned off. Wife wants help with a meal, or vacuuming the floor. Wife wants husband to be more gentle with the children, more engaged with their discipline, more spiritual, more hands-on, more in tuned with all of the details going on in her head at any given moment of any given day. 

     Basically...according to the sign...if man does all of the things we want of him, then we will be happy and life will be good.

      How's that approach working for you? I know it hasn't been super successful over in this little corner of the world. 

     That sort of mentality does not really seem to lead to a happy life...it simply seems to lend itself to a husband who feels undervalued and not appreciated...maybe a little bit sarcastic and resentful at the expectations set for him. It lends itself to a wife feeling self-righteous and deserving and frustrated that her husband is not meeting her unachievable expectations. 

     At the end of the day...it's just plain selfish. 

"But for Adam no suitable helper was found," says Genesis 2:20b. "So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God mad woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said,

              This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
              She shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be untied to his wife and they will become one flesh."

     I am convicted by the words of that sign. But I am even more convicted by the words of God. We were created to be our husband's helper...Not the other way around, which is how we ironically often like to see it. 

    This week I'm going to make it a priority to ask my guy if there are any ways that I can help him?  He's probably going to be so shocked that he might fall right over and onto the floor. 

    More than likely he will get a broad smirk across his face because he'll know that I recently read something, or heard something, or was convicted by something that I know I should be doing...He might even guessed that I've blogged about it and now need to follow my own advice....I'll smile back and say, "I know babe, I'm trying." 

     Meanwhile, I may just try to unearth that sign from our basement this week. I'm going to put it in my office...a space in which the sign will be meant not for my husband and how he should be approaching our relationship, but a reminder to me that I have the power to bring happiness into my household simply by, well, being happy...

     Sometimes that's a choice. Sometimes that's a feeling. Always it should be the aim of our actions as women who set the stage as the 'barometers of our homes' (not sure who said that, but I love it's implications). 

     Be a happy helper this week and see for yourself if it doesn't lend itself to creating a happier life. 

     Little Writer Momma

P.S. On Mondays the idea is to offer thoughts, ideas and suggestions on how we can be better wives, moms and quite simply, women in general...If you have a recent post that in some way, shape or form, does that, please link up here! (I.e. it could be a way you are teaching the Bible to your children, thoughts on how to manage your emotions, eat healthier, provide healthier meals for your family, organize your house...etc, etc. etc....the list of ways we "better" ourselves and our homes is long and broad...so feel free to link up and hopefully encourage someone else along the way! 

Wednesday, January 18

Because We Said "I Do"

If you happened to read the post on my Monkey Business page earlier this week, you will know that I have been thinking about, and planning to blog on, the topic of marriage...

That didn't happen on Sunday because my two year old woke up a LOT earlier than expected...a lot of things don't happen in our marriage these days because of child related issues that are unexpected...kind of ironic, huh?

And that is the most challenging part of this season of life...connecting with one another in the midst of what feels like utter chaos. Scott and I joke that we had the best marriage on the planet (we really did!) and then we had kids...

And now...well, it feels pretty normal, and crazy, and up and down and hard some days...but we are committed to one another and that is the most important part. At the end of the day, even when the day has been hard, there is a security because I know he's not going anywhere and neither am I. We made promises to each other, but even bigger than that, we've got God on our side.

For the record, when you've got God on your side you're in good company. I've been reading the book of Numbers over the last couple of weeks, and now that I think about it, God's relationship with the Israelites is a little like my marriage sometimes...up and down...a lot of whining and complaining, a lot of repentance and forgiveness, and God ultimately and always providing for their true needs.

Numbers 21:34 says, "Do not be afraid of him, for I have handed him over to you." God was talking to Moses about a battle they would be entering into...guess what happened? Yup. God took the whole town and all it's people DOWN.

I couldn't help to read that and think, Wow...My God is powerful.

And Praise God that He is...

When the battles of our marriages seem insurmountable...our God is bigger.

When we feel like we're driving each other nuts and are simply living in a plutonic take care of the kids relationship with no passion...God is bigger.

When we're tired, stressed, have given all we have...God is bigger. And stronger.

When the vows we made years and years ago seem like naive words spoken when loving was easy and  children were a mere notion...God reminds us that HIS promises never fail, and if we cling to Him ours do not have to either.

There are days, sometimes weeks, when we don't talk deeply, hug whole heartedly, connect intimately,  or encourage each other as much as we'd like to...neither of us...because parenting is so incredibly demanding...

Life is hard, marriage is hard, raising children together is hard. And that's when things are going well.

That's right, Scott and I have nothing major to complain about right now...He has a great job that allows me to stay home with the girls. We have a warm house, a refridgerator full of food and healthy children. We have it easy and it still feels hard.

As one of my MOPS friends said earlier this week..."We're all dealing with the same stuff, it's just that no one talks about it."

I'm here. I'll talk. I'll tell you why too...

I want you all to know...you're not alone. I want you all to know...you did NOT marry the wrong person just because times feel hard...It IS hard sometimes, but it is also very good...

There was a wonderful, wonderful article by Dr. Tim Keller that was published in  Relevant magazine this month. I'll leave you with his words.  One of my favorite parts of the article is the title, "You Never Marry the Right Person." 

You should take time to read the whole thing, but, in part, he says:

"Some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation...Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires...[They are looking for] a marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fullfillment.

...The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is-- we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ then we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us."

You should know that I still have a GREAT marriage. It is not supernatural and always happy, smiley and easy. Nope...it's pretty normal. We have days when we drive each other nuts and then Scott picks up a pound of my favorite coffee from Starbucks (Verona, for the record) and the girls and I buy him crazy colored carnations from the grocery store and make cards (like yesterday!). 

It's crazy. But it's good. And I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Tuesday, January 17

Hi friends...

Perhaps you'll remember I told you about the A-Z scripture memory challenge we're taking part in...Well this week we're moving on to "B"! 

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. Acts 16:31

The girls and I enjoyed learning the "A" verse, and as a matter of fact I've now got Ava saying, "Mommy, can we do the memory verse thing..."

And then I'll start...


And she picks right up...

"For me and my house we will serve the Lord!" 

We've got a whole little cadence, sing songy thing we do...it's kind of cute. 

My MOPS friend Sarah E. started doing the challenge with her girls as well and sent me this picture of the picture she had her daughter draw to help her remember the verse! 

How stinkin' cute is that?!!

So cute that I'm going to steal her idea this week (hope that's o.k. Sarah?!) and have my girls do the same.... Sarah is a former kindergarten teacher and FULL of great ideas for teaching little ones...Great job Sarah! 

She doesn't know it yet, but I'm going to pay her to homeschool my kids next year... (:

So anyway...if you haven't started, it's certainly not too late! We're only on the second verse and you get two whole weeks to learn it. 

Head on over to Cindy's She Sparkles site to read all about it! 

Monday, January 16


It's Sunday afternoon (though this will post on Monday)...the husband is out with the kids running errands...I had them all morning (he left at 7:15 for church) and it was a "momma needs a break" kind of morning that resulted in yelling, and punishments and kids in their rooms.

They were not being nice to each other. They were not being nice to me. They were not being nice period. 

...That makes mommy...not nice....

I'm not a yeller. I was yelling. So loudly that my littlest one put her hands up to ears to cover them while I went on and on with my rant...(I must admit I almost started laughing when she covered her ears...in my few short years as a mom I've NEVER seen that! But I kept my game face on to prove I meant business). 

"You two are driving me crazy! You two need to be nicer to each other! You two are family and are treating each other terribly!!! We should not be treating each other this way if we love each other. Do you think God wants you treating each other this way?!!!" 

God probably doesn't want me yelling that way either, for the record...but I was at my wits end.

I hope I'm not being too honest here...my hope is that you would know that I have crazy days, frustrated days, kids who like to drive each other crazy...and then I get a little crazy in between...

Big sister likes to instigate. Little sister likes to retaliate. Little sister cries about big sisters instigating. Big sister cries about little sisters retaliating...which ended up being a metal bucket of crayons to the forehead this morning. 

I sent little sister to her room and told her she was naughty. I sent big sister to her room and told her she should not be frustrating her sister to that point. I sent myself to my room and threw myself on my bed and said, "God you've got to help me NOW!" 

He did. He gave me words. He gave me an extra measure of patience and a moment of compassion. And then the phone rang...it was my sister asking if I had her son's blue dog. Little did she know I had the dog AND an earfull!  

So...this is supposed to be about goal setting, and managing our lives in better ways, right?

I tell you all that background to let you know, that I am trying...trying...trying...

But my trying is in the midst of the chaos of life...I suppose all of our trying always is, isn't it? 

I'm trying to set goals for this year; to become a mom who reacts with more patience and less anger, to be a wife who can give more of her time to loving her husband even though she has nothing left at the end of the day with kids, to seek God more and my selfish desires less...I try. 

And so today I'm still trying to figure out what my goals are supposed to be for the year...I want to be more disciplined mostly...in as many areas of my life as possible. I'm getting up earlier and praying more. I'm eating better. I'm not exercising more or less...I'm pretty consistent there. I'm trying to be more disciplined in my writing-- the when and the what. I've tried to be consistent here in the Monday/Wednesday posting...

Despite all my trying sometimes I still feel as if it is not enough, or not the right thing, or not leading to any measurable change. I hope that is not the case...

I want you to be encouraged, but all I can say is...Keep trying...Keep Going...Keep Praying...Keep Dreaming....

As my very favorite poem reminds us...

Hope is the thing with feathers
that perches in the soul, 
It sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all. 
(Emily Dickinson)

Our goals, our dreams...they are the hope we throw out into the world...God has placed them in our hearts and it is only in His will that they will come to fruition in any way.

Sometimes they need a little tweaking, because He has placed them there, but we have added our spin to them and then they become something they were not meant to be. This is where better listening ears and praying hearts come into play.

Sometimes they need a little patience...a tulip does not emerge from the ground overnight...it is planted...it needs time...and eventually it grows...they are often planted in the Fall, and rest dormant under the ground for months before they poke up...in the right season. 

So...my goals for this year will remain slightly ambiguous and hazy...they need to be because of the season I am in. But I hold onto them and allow them to rest in my soul because I believe in their power to take flight when God is ready for them to. 

By the end of the year I hope to have prayed more, loved more, have written more...

I hope to have eaten less, yelled less, and have been less selfish...

If I could publish a couple of articles in magazines I have not yet been published in I will be extra excited (the list is long (of the places of have NOT been published), so you'd think that would be easy...but sadly that is not always the case!).

If I could reach my weight goal of 125 lbs, I'd be extra happy (though I'm becoming more content in the skin I'm in...truly). 

If I could put a book proposal together and write a couple of chapters for at least one of the books knocking around in my mind...well...my mind would be more restful anyway...

If I don't do any of these things...I hope that I will learn to trust more fully the plans that God has for my life and be peaceful in the place He has me. 

I'll leave you with some very insightful words from a book I've been reading called, "A Woman's Passionate Pursuit of God," by Karol Ladd. 
"Progress is a good thing, but the downside is, it causes disruption-- maybe a detour-- and a fair amount of mess to make the desire improvements....Being under construction doesn't always look pretty, but as progress and improvements are made, we begin to get a glimpse of what the architect is doing, and our faith grows in the process." 

Keep moving on in all of your messy and glorious "progress"!

P.S. If you think you're living the "mess" all by yourself, head on over to The Gypsy Momma's page today...I LOVE her insight, her heart, her HONESTY!! 

AND...find out what the "B" verse is in the A-Z memory verse challenge...You could win a Starbucks gift card if you visit today!!!! 

Friday, January 13

Are you Tiger Mom or Swamp Mom?!

     My friend Maria Divencenzo is a local (Buffalo, N.Y) children's book author and founder of Winterlake Press. She has oodles of years of publishing experience (working for and writing for big New York publishers) and most recently published two wonderful children's books through Winterlake Press. We own both, The Scariest Dream Ever (which is really not that scary, it's pretty funny actually!) and The Star of Christmas. My children love them! 

     More than all of that though, she is a wonderful mom to four children!  Last week she posted the following on her blog...You HAVE to read it...It will allow you to sigh a great big deep breath as a mom and remove some of the pressure we all place on ourselves...

     When you're finished reading it, pop over to her blog site, Quing of the World,  and leave her a comment! Since we all know our children don't always give us the thanks we probably deserve, sometimes we need to do it for one another!! 

  I'll just add ahead of time...I'm definitely a swamp mom...how about you?! 

By: Maria DiVencenzo

Woohoo for us!

Tiger Mom is back in the news.

Now in paperback- to tell Western parents how to raise successful, high-achieving kids

Child steps out of line? Tell him he is lazy and pathetic- garbage, even. Kid gets an A minus on a test? Excoriate, punish and shame her into working harder. Children are strong enough to accept shame, and improve from it.

Tiger Mom- who admits to reacting with 'a screaming, hair-tearing explosion' if her child got a B, would work through hundreds of practice tests with her child for as long as it took to get the grade up to an A. She presided over hours of daily piano and violin practice-criticizing all mistakes. Accepting only straight As, she made certain that her daughters were No. 1 in every subject- except gym and drama.

Tiger Mom's parenting practices led to recitals at Carnegie Hall and acceptance to Harvard; to crazy successful daughters who are highly capable of, well, everything that matters. Her cubs are so successful, they don't think twice about the sleepovers, play dates, extracurricular sports, plays, musicals, TV, computer games, or instruments that they were not allowed to play or participate in.

Fun? Singing on stage?  Guitars or drums? Social stimulation? Mindless relaxation?

Nonsense! Western child's play! Useless pages in the chapters of the Western Parenting Playbook.

Ditto the chapters on Indulgent Mom. Or Fun Mom. Or Tired and Unmotivated Mom.

Tiger Mom insists that we not mistake her for our Western Helicopter Mom- the super-achieverwho hovers over her kids, protecting them from every potential obstacle or failure, micromanaging and bailing them out throughout childhood.

Tiger Mom thinks Helicopter Mom is nuts. While a Tiger mom may be maniacal with her children from ages 5 to 12 in order to produce kids who are daring and self-reliant- Helicopter mom is simply destructive. She carries her kids' gym bag to practice! Brings a forgotten lunch box to school! Hires independent college counselors to fill a sixteen year old's summer with exotic activities that will distinguish him from thousands of other perfect students as they compete for selection at top colleges and universities. 

Tiger Mom's kids don't need those independent college counselors. They can do all of that stuff for themselves.

So what are Western parents to think of Tiger Mom's Parenting Playbook?

We are supposed to be appalled by it.

Tiger Mom laments that we incorrectly respect our kids' individuality. We are too supportive and nurturing,  encouraging our children to pursue their true passions as they decide how to live their lives. She thinks we should be teaching our children to never give up, to choose hard work instead of excuses, and to hold themselves to high standards, so they can achieve anything they want in life. 

We do that. Don't we?

Tiger Mom says we work too hard to protect our kids' self-esteem. Instead, we should protect our children by preparing them for the future; arming them with skills, work habits and inner confidence that can't be jarred by failure.

We do that. Don't we?

Westerners may not utilize shame as motivator, or demand near perfection in academics or music performance in elementary school. But a whole lot of us are planning, working at and maneuvering our kids' childhoods in ways that will best set them up for success.

And how do we Westerners evaluate success for our kids?

"I think for a lot of parents, college admissions is like their grade report on how they did as a parent." Madeleine Rhyneer, dean of students at Willamette University observes.
College Admissions?


Sports. AP courses. Standardized tests.  Musical instruments. Voice. Languages. Art.  We spend a lot of time, effort and money determining how our child can stand out during the College Admissions process.

A late summer NY Times essay depicts how parents have stoked the process to new heights: "Students preparing to apply to college are increasingly tailoring their summer plans with the goal of creating a standout personal statement.. for the Common Application.  ...A dizzying array of summer programs have cropped up to feed the growing anxiety that summer must be used constructively. Students can study health care in Rwanda, veterinary medicine in the Caribbean or cell cloning at Brown University, or learn about Sikkim, India’s only Buddhist state."

Bruce Poch, the former dean of admissions at Pomona College, said his staff sometimes joked about the “complete disappearance of summer jobs,” as college applicants flocked to internships where they could work with friends of their parents- internships that spruce up a college application.

"Suddenly, the idea of working as a waitress or a lifeguard seems like a quaint relic of an idyllic, pre-Tiger Mom past," author Jenny Anderson muses.

So has Tiger Mom prodded our competitive, fearful Western natures into action in the twelve months since her book and parenting philosophy shocked a nation?

Nope. We did it all by ourselves. 

This past August at my daughter's convocation ceremony, the Dean of Admissions at the college profiled a few members of the incoming class. These students were as accomplished as they were brilliant: one spoke five languages, another helped build an orphanage in Haiti, one played cello with six National Orchestras, yet another started an ice cream business as a young teen.

My younger daughter- now a senior in HS who has just completed all of her college applications- listened to this staggering list of student accomplishment and gasped, "I am never going to get into college!"

Poor kid.

You see, she knew that she didn't get Tiger Mom or Helicopter Mom for a parent.

She got Swamp Mom. 
Not the Swamp Mom who provides fresh water and oxygen for life- as all good swamps do. 

Swamp Mom who,  life-logged, sometimes can't see the forest for the trees. 

Not the Swamp Mom who teems with life- moving gracefully, slowly, deliberately through time.

Swamp Mom who has lots of kids and obligations, and repeats upon the hour: "I am swamped!  You'll figure it out!"

If you google Parenting Styles, you will not find "Swamp Mom.'  (In fact, unless you are studying Developmental Psychology, you will scroll through all those pages and weep.) 

But Swamp Mom exists. 

She doesn't read manuals or parenting magazines. She loves and works and tries and listens and loses it, works and worries and loves some more.

Then she wakes up the next day, and REPEATS.  For a childhood.  Or two.  Or four.

Swamp Mom can be a treasure. Or a terror. She measures urgency by a look in a child's eye, an expression on her face, the decibel of a scream, or the discovery of blood.
Swamp Mom isn't going to sit with a child and work through hundreds of math problems that she forgot how to do long ago. She demands respect for others- instead of straight A s.

Swamp Mom won't preside over three hour lessons. She sends kids away to read, play guitar, play with friends, to mindlessly-and imaginatively- kick a ball or relax under a huge summer sky.

Swamp Mom can't take her kids to fix Haiti, so she'll drag them to the City Mission.

Swamp Mom skips summer camp so her kids can visit with- and learn from- elderly relatives.

Swamp Mom defines success as loving, being loved, and making a positive difference in the world- not by the name of a school that appears on a diploma.

Tiger Mom, Helicopter Mom, and all the other moms in the annals of parenting might think Swamp Mom is nuts. But she doesn't mind- because she sees herself in all of them. 

Swamp Mom isn't going to appear on the Today Show. Or a postage stamp.

But if you are a Swamp Mom, take heart.

Swamp Mom's kids seem happy.   

A couple of them are even going to respectable colleges.

She was swamped.  So they figured it out.