Friday, January 22, 2010

Reviews

Some exciting things are happening 'around these here parts' (that was for you Tres). I have officially opened my own Amazon Affiliate Store located at the bottom of my blog. It is filled with our handpicked favorites. That is to say that our favorite books, toys, household goods, and the yummy foods that we buy on Amazon will be in our store. I started off selecting some of my favorite Children's books last night and will continue adding things as time becomes available!

I have also received my first book from Thomas Nelson Publishers that I get to review! I am so excited about this. As a Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger I am sent a free copy of the book that I would like to review from the ones that they list for me to choose from, and then I write up an honest review about it to post here and a few other places. My first book is....drum roll please...The New King James Version New Testament Audio Bible entitled the Word of Promise! It is dramatized like Audio theater with some pretty awesome actors and actresses! But I am not telling any more until my review!

I also have the distinct honor of reviewing two of my friends books. One is Called Saint's Treasure by Mark Durham. His wife is one of my PWOC friends and I couldn't be more pleased to be a part of the marketing of his first authorship (I hope that is a proper word because it sounds great to me!)

Lastly, a very dear friend of mine has written a children's book that I simply love. I will be reviewing it first as I have owned a copy for sometime. The review is a surprise though, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading and I pray that you have a fabulous weekend. Stay tuned for updated puppy pics and for now I leave you with my favorite quote from my home this week!

Violet, sitting at the lunch table, looks at Brendan and says with such simple earnest, "Daddy, I love you, I really love you, I really do, in real life!" HAHAHA I love my children!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Attachment Parenting part 2

Today we had a better day! Hallelujah! Although it must be in the air right now for kids to be fussy, fighting, whiny, and all of the above! I put my kids down early tonight and I know it was a good choice. It seems that I am not the only one as at least 6 of my friends updated their status messages to read something about fussy or whining children!

I have two things to announce before I begin. First my camera battery charger has been found and the battery is charging as we speak, so look for pics of the puppies tomorrow! The second thing that I wanted to mention is that I know have an official Amazon Store. It is the same store and shopping as Amazon.com, however it is a place where I can highlight my favorite products and products that we have used. If you use Amazon.com please enter Amazon through our storefront and make sure to check out the items we recommend! I have started the store off with some of my favorite children's books!

Attachment parenting is great but how do I get to know my kids. I mean, they are still figuring themselves out...do they really have anything to get to know?

I love that question, to be honest it cracks me up! the author of the question has such a good point, however, the answer is a resounding YES! your kids have plenty to teach you about who they are! Can you think back to your childhood and notice things that you did/loved then that you do/love now? I know I can!

Jesus knew this full well when he said to "let the little children come" to Him and "to have faith like a child" He knew that children are more intelligent than adults in many ways! Sure we have years of experience but that is not always what is needed to understand something. Sometimes experience and book knowledge interferes with a true understanding. So instead of telling your kids what books to read, what subjects to learn, and what games to play, each and every time; ask them what they want to learn about or do.

I just love how in-to the president's and America's government Aidan is. I would never have thought to delve so deeply into presidential facts and knowledge this early in his education. However, I do not ever want to hinder his education because I have to teach him something else right now. I would much rather him love to learn than to resent the lessons that are being force fed each day. Now some of you may already be arguing this point in your minds. I am not going to let him rule his school day. He will still have to work on penmanship, spelling, math, reading etc. But he can also learn those things through the subjects that really get him going!

Avagrace has a fascinating way of seeing and describing the world. If I just sit and listen to her I learn so much about her. It is so important to meet our children where they are and to try to give them special time to do what they love to do.

While we have only one vehicle and Brendan working afternoon-evening shift our extracurriculars are limited. That does not mean that the kids cannot become interested in them. I have learned so much about topics I was never interested in just because my kids were interested in them and so I helped them to find more information through the Internet, books, and trips to the library (which is thankfully in walking distance!)

A child that knows that you are interested in them and not always trying to 'tell them what to do' is going to be more apt to talking to you, asking your opinion, and respecting said opinion. By spending time with our kids and allowing them to teach us things, does not make them more powerful in a battle of power. Parent child relationships do not have to be that way. They can be nurturing, guiding, and cooperative while still maintaining the parent-child (versus parent as a friend) dynamic that is so needed today! When was the last time you sat down to color with your kids, asked your kids to show you how to do something (like ride a skate board), or read a book with them about something you have little or no interest in?

I challenge you to try to do something different with your kids this week. Build a Lego tower, make a mud pie, create a paper-maiche volcano, or look up how a helicopter works online, together! Then come back here and comment to share how it went! Sound good?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

a funny thing happened today!

Today was a horribly challenging day in each and every way! How interesting considering yesterday's post was all about the importance of a loving relationship with our children. I was going to follow it up today with all of the lovely ideas that I have come upon to help encourage such a bond and instead I tell you this.

Don't ever forget that some days are not going to be a roses and Sunshine. Some days, even though you are firmly against yelling and you swear you will never utter the words Shut Up to your children, you are human and you will make mistakes. Your children are children and they are human too. They will push each and every button that you might have all in the matter of five minutes. And in those very same minutes you will have car trouble and because you have only one car for seven people it will be devastating, and just seconds after you find out about the car trouble a dear friend will be calling because they really need your prayers, and a dog will vomit on your floor, while the other one escapes to run around a neighborhood with a leash law for the fourth time that day, all while the baby has a blow out for the fifth time, and by golly you have no clean laundry because you were backed up on it anyway! (Not that this has happened to me, ever) Never fear, our Lord has suffered so much more than this and he experienced anger and frustration and sadness, oh so much sadness! So get into the habit of singing "Praise YOU in the Storm" by Casting Crowns! btw they are one of the best groups ever!! Check out the YouTube Video here!

So as I have experienced quite a day, a day that I am ready to put to bed I might add, I can tell you one thing that I was reminded of today that I do hope you have.

It is of the utmost importance that you have a church family. That is a group of fellow believers, those of like mind and like heart, that will walk along side of you even when you are sitting at the dinner table grumbling that you feel like you could throw your children out the window (come on now I know I am not the only one that has sarcastically said that to my children as I pick them up and try to do it, all in jest of course! just to lighten the mood). Or crying because you miss your deployed spouse, or worn out from life in the trenches. Everyone needs a safety net of people that don't need to know why you are feeling or acting the way that you are because they know that you are an amazing person. A group of people that love you and want to help you just because. A group of people that have your best interests at heart and will be there when you have lost control of your heard of children and you just really need a hug and for someone else to say "your mom already said no and I think you better try really hard to obey because God gives long life to those who honor their mother and father."

Tonight, I am so very thankful for my Tinker Chapel family. A family that loves me and helps to cheer me up because they see the chaos that can sometimes be raising five little ones! It is a family that understands this crazy thing called "the military life" and it is a family that is undyingly devoted to Jesus. If you do not have a family like this, please contact me and I will join you in prayer and in any other way that I can to help you find this! If you are in the Central PA area I can tell you that my Home church is one of the best in the world and no matter where I live they will always be one of my very important life lines. I pray for them daily and would love to send you their way. First Baptist Church of Gettysburg! (I even have the address if you would like :) )

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Key To Parenting (part 1)

What a bold and presumptuous title! Do I really propose that I know the KEY to parenting. Is it truly possibly to know what the KEY to parenting is? I mean, sure, I have five kids and I have a degree in behavioral sciences with a concentration in family and attachment studies, but do I dare say that I am an expert by suggesting that the key to parenting is so easy to find?

Well, NO! Of course not. I am truly not claiming expertise in an area of life that must adjust to the tides at every days weather. However, I do want to speak on what I have found to be the key for me and a key that should be on everyones' parenting key chains!

First I must give you a bit of background on my adventure in parenting. This adventure officially started 8 years ago, however it actually started long before that!

In the last year recorded in my baby book my mom wrote that "Ginny wants to be a mommy. It is all she talks about." From birth I had that desire. I played with baby's and couldn't wait until I was old enough to babysit. I was the kid at the Lake that wasn't playing with kids my own age, instead I was playing with the little ones and making friends with the moms asking if I could hold their babies. I watched mothers, studied mothers and babysat every child I could (many times for free). Although I was a dreamer with many other goals, being a mommy was always my hearts desire! Just look at how God has blessed me!

In High School I took Human Development and Family Studies and just about lost my mind when I realized that I could go to college to do research in the way families interact and the way people raise children. I read about everything family that I could get my hands on and I spent time around every 'big' family that I could. My best friend was from one of the loveliest blended families I have ever come into contact with and I was more than blessed to be loved and welcomed by her mom and step-dad who jokingly called me "Alice" from the Brady Bunch since they had 3 girls and 3 boys all around the same ages.

When I became pregnant with Aidan I knew that I was going to do things differently, not intentionally really, just because I so confident in my parenting abilities before I ever even became a parent. Now I must say that as a teen I was an idealist and could be ridiculously judgemental when it came to parents. I was horrified at the things moms would say and do as mothers. I was the first to judge when a mom would leave the house without a hat on a tiny babes head etc. And now many years later I have decided that my favorite meal just must be my words because I have eaten every single one! Parenting, and more specifically parenting so many little ones, has taught me that while I have great 'instinct' or as I like to say God given abilities and desires and I also have book knowledge on family studies, living in the midst of it is like a final exam that never ends but is always final!

Parenting is the hardest job in the world and while this seems to be a popular coined phrase to appease the frustrated at-home mom, it is in fact the most difficult job one can ever undertake. You are expected to work every waking moment and every time you drift off to sleep you are awakened or stirred by needs or dreams about those needs that will soon be needing you! Not to mention a good dose of anxiety thrown in from the one who does not want God's children to succeed and you have quite a concoction.

So what is a parent to do? To spank or not to spank is NOT the burning question, nor is it even relevant when it comes to parenting. Because we have been so trained to watch behaviors in children and react or respond to said behaviors. I hear "spare the rod spoil the child" and "catch more bees with honey" but is this really the way that we must live?

When I look at the ways that God has raised His children I look at the first model that is the Old Testament. In it there are many laws. Many ways in which God reacted and preempted behaviors. Then I look at the New Testament and I see God working on relationships and getting to the heart of His children. Encouraging them to see that yes, the laws are there and are necessary to live the safest happiest life possible, however, I want you to live your life seeking relationships, building one another up, and living in love rather than bickering over how to live and who did or didn't do what.

I feel that the key to parenting can be found in concentrating on proper attachment. If you feel a great respect for someone you are going to stand a little taller, and talk a little bit different, and act a bit more controlled. The same is true with children. My son is the future president of the USA and he has a great love and respect for those in power. As a military child he loves the military and looks up to those high in rank. A few weeks prior to Christmas Aidan was able to meet Col. Jamerson the commander of Tinker Air Force Base, Ok. Not only was he thrilled but his usual dramatic animated self was so controlled I practically had to force the words out of him!

The key to parenting is to gain our children's hearts and to shepherd them in the ways that God is leading them! I am not saying that we should be our children's friend. Children do not need 'friends' but rather role models, mentors, teachers, leaders. Someone to engage them, get to know them, spend time with them.

How many of you really know your kids. I mean sure we know them, we have known them longer than anybody. But how many of you really k---n---o---w them? If you were to go to a book store and pick out a book that had nothing to do with a character from TV what would you get them that would just rock their world? What if the instructions were more specific and you had to get them a book that was not a children's book but one that taught them something like non-fiction, hobbies, arts/crafts. This may prove to be a tasks.

To me attachment was so easy to gain with my babies. In fact, the parenting of babies came very easily to me. I wore them as much as i could. In fact, I joked and called them my favorite accessory (bad joke I know). They slept with me until they didn't want to anymore. The nursed if they could and I followed their schedule until they were old enough to be encouraged into another one. I do the cloth diaper thing, feed them organic as much as possible, and keep myself abreast of all the medical advances and concerns. Parenting babies was where I have spent my time for the past several years all the while slowly treading into the 'school-age' years.

I use to think the school age years would be my favorite. I LOVE to do craft projects, science projects, field trips, cooking specials, and all kinds of activities with kids. I was like Mary Poppins to every kid I babysat meaning I would take my carpet bag full of activities that they generally did not do with their parents. The judgemental youth that I was thought it was because parents just didn't value engaging their kids, I was so ignorant and so mean in my thoughts toward parents.

I had no clue the stresses or other responsibilities of the adult life and I never realized how exhausting parenting is! Sometimes the things that I thought would come so naturally (i.e. doing art projects with the kiddos) are in fact quite difficult to accomplish! Yet they are the most important. In order to get to the heart of our children we must spend time with them.

(to be continued tomorrow as this is an incredibly long blog already, if you made it this far thanks! You are awesome and I am so thankful for you!)

God Bless!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Modesty

Hello and welcome back, or should I say thank God I am back. I have been in and out, there and back, so many times in the past two months it has been quite an end and start of years around here! I know many of you are anxiously awaiting pictures of our darling little doxies and I am anxiously awaiting an opportunity to put those pictures up. I truly want you to see just how beautiful they are! However, the time that I am having right now with a missing battery charger and some on going health issues that I am dealing with, well it has made a simple task of picture taking very not simple! I will tell you I am working on it and thankful for your patience!

A few of my friends have been talking about some of the things that God has been laying on my heart for quite some time. One of those things happens to be modesty and the way in which we dress in current society.

First and foremost I have to say that this is an issue that each person should think about on their own. I am simply expressing how God changed our hearts on an issue. This may not be an area of your life that he is calling you to change for Him at this time. Faith is about your relationship with Him, following His lead and while the Bible is the complete infallible word of God, he will use the teachings that he put in their to mold each of us on His timing. NOBODY has mastered every teaching and we all experience the lessons in a different sequence. This just happened to be one that we came upon now and I would like to share it with you. Happy reading!

Brendan and I began praying about modest and what our family should wear about two years ago. Brendan and I had differences in opinion as it pertained to modesty since we first met and it was becoming apparent that we needed to be on the same page. The funny thing to me is that how much we neglect the fact that God is in fact the third strand of rope that is our marriage. He is the rule maker and safety net, the one that loves us most and blesses us with all we have. Yet it always surprises us when we realize a particular area of our life that He does in fact want us to be on His page about, even though we thought it was 'not a big deal.' When Brendan and I decided that we needed to pray about what modest meant to us God spoke to us and knocked us both out of the water.

In our opinion modesty is important to follow God's orders, to bring glory and honor to Him and to our bodies as they are His temple, and to bring glory and honor to our family as we are his vessel/servants/friends/children...The clothing that we wear portrays us to society and even though we all try to 'judge-not' it is impossible not to turn the switch of stereotypes or 'first-impressions etc. when it comes to how we cloth ourselves.

Something that sticks out to me about our foundation that is Genesis is the story about Adam and Eve creating clothing for themselves and then God creating better ones for them because what they thought was "covered" was not sufficient. So that tells me that it is better to be more covered than less.

Another thing that speaks to me not necessarily from scripture, although the scriptures would support this, but from our current culture and my own personal beliefs is that women are beautiful creatures. We are created to bring peace and order to a tough and sin-filled world. We are here to nurture, mother, help, and create. Our image creates a certain feeling in a man, in a friend, in a child. Obviously we know that men are attracted to women and we should know that it is just as much are responsibility to gaurd our brothers from the temptations of lust. Some think it is not important to be modest in front of the same-sex person, however, we want to be as approachable and safe as possible to encourage friendships. We also want to make sure that just as our home should be welcoming in appearance so should our bodies. As Christians we are also called to take into account all of our actions as well as each way that we influence those around us. Arguably the most effective way to learn over the long run is by example. Our example speaks volumes. Everything that we say and do is being watched by all and we need to know how to present ourselves in mind (words), body (clothes), and being (actions).

In the same way we need to make sure that our influence is a good one and not one that would cause another to sin. The Bible tells us it is better to pluck out our eye than to sin with it. That means that sin can occur in the mind by a simple thought or sight. You know the song "be careful little eyes what you see" that speaks to me so much because one sight of things that God detests is sin, and each time we view something that he detests it makes us more and more numb to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that is in us! I would never want my actions, words, or attire to cause someone else to sin. Instead I want to build others up!

Brendan and I were also compelled by the scriptures that describe a woman's clothes to be distinctly different from that of a man. Of course the scriptures from these passages were for written for a specific culture and a church that was quarreling over religious law. The point being that if the arguments over said religious law caused discourse in the body of Christ than they were focusing on the wrong things. The Lord wants us "to agree wholeheartedly with one mind." But again I revert back to Genesis where more conservative was better in God's eyes.

The last scripture that comes up a lot in the modesty debate is in reference to a Woman's hair but for now I will leave that one alone and come back to it later this week.

For now I will tell you what Brendan and I have decided for our family.
1. We will be very careful about what shirts our family wears as far as logos and prints because some just send the wrong message. We will not have belly showing and no deep v-necks. We are still discussing some other parts of this like shirtless men and bathing suits. Although our girls are not going to wear two-piece suits.
2. Girls should wear skirts or dresses whenever possible. We will wear leggings/bloomers under skirts and dresses and are gradually making the switch now. One style we like a lot in the cold is to wear jeans under our knee length dresses. It is fun and feminine. I have recently begun sewing again and I have made the girls a few pinafores that look so cute over a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans or leggings. They love them and they are so much easier to change if they get dirty rather than having to change the whole outfit. They are also rather inexpensive and I can make them out of repurposed clothes/sheets/etc... The point is to be distinctly feminine and Bren really loves the dress/skirt thing.

Have any of your experienced this conviction in your home? Do any of you adhere to the skirts and dresses rule? If so where do you get your clothing?

In switching over it has been very difficult to do all of this as long skirts are not popular and warm clothes for girls that are not jeans and sweaters is also a feat. Thankfully I have been switching over for two years and have found quite a few spots.
One that I found locally is CATO fashions, we have several in the Oklahoma City area and I know that they are in several states.

Here are several others, the first one is my favorite for skirts!
Hannah Lise
and my favorite for bathings suits is here at Black and White Apparel
Tzius

Modest World
Here is a directory I found of a few links I like
This is a lady named Cathy that custom makes them for you

I am sure there are many more. With these listings and the directory that I listed I am sure you will have a good start for your own search. I would love to know of any others! Thanks so much!