Mom Monday Week 52 – The Best Mom in the World

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My son slipped into my bedroom at 6am one morning. I was sleepy, so I decided not to move. There was plenty of room for him to just get under the covers next to me. We did not have to speak. I did not have to welcome him as I usually do, by raising the cover and saying something sweet. I knew he knew he was welcome. I just could not speak or move – I was sleepy.

He slipped under the covers without a word. Just when I thought I was off the hook and we would go back to sleep, he said, “Mommy, please turn around to face me.” I obliged without saying a word. Then he said, “You are the best mom in the world.” Now that’s something to wake up to, isn’t it?

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It was not the first time he said that to me. He says it to me a lot in different settings and at different hours of the day. Continue reading »

Here he was, in the wee hours of the morning, looking for maternal presence, wanting to go back to sleep next to the heartbeat he heard for the first nine months of his life. Expressing his love, too. Happy with me in general, but, probably, happy with me also because he asked me to do something and I did it (turn around to face him).

It’s such a temptation to give in to our children’s requests so that they will love us and declare us champion parents. No parenting book out there will give you the perfect knowledge of when to give in and when to refuse your children’s requests. I’m afraid you only have your own maternal instinct to go by. If you are a believer, you know there’s the Holy Spirit, too, guiding if you are listening.

So ignore the critics and the unsolicited advice givers and do your mommy thing. Give in when you know it’s right, set boundaries other times. Only you know what is best for your child. And only you can be “the best mom in the world” to your child.

Mom Monday Week 50 – The A-Bear

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Recently, I came across a great blog on gentle parenting or, as the blogger herself puts it, on how to yell less and love more: The Orange Rhino. Many of you may already be familiar with her work. I had never heard of her experiment to live yell-free for a whole year.

Her blog provides lots of tools for calming down. Her book, which I am in the process of reading, will walk you through 30 days of learning why we yell and how to replace yelling with successful parenting techniques.

As parents, we should all take the responsibility of calming our own nerves and temper down. Only we can do that for ourselves. The world around us will never be peaceful enough, quiet enough, or perfect enough to soothe our psyche.

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I applaud anybody who takes the time to share what has worked for her in that department. Showing some vulnerability in the parenting blogosphere helps, too. How many of us have read a blog and felt completely intimidated by the perfection exemplified there?  Continue reading »

Like Sheila of Orange Rhino fame, I have also learned that yelling does not help my parenting goals. I have never been a yeller per se, but I have lost my patience with my children more than I care to admit. So, over time, I started picking up parenting tools here and there, from books, websites, seminars and workshops – ideas on how to stay cool, besides prayer and personal devotions.

I really like the Orange Rhino products and will probably invest in some because I believe in reminders. I have already experimented with my own reminder, A-Bear, and I know it works.

An adorable plush teddy bear with an A on its tummy, A-Bear goes with me everywhere I go. It’s a long (and rather personal) story how I came to own it, but my A-Bear reminds me to tread softly around my precious children; to speak quietly and in love; to say please and thank you to them; to remain polite and respectful even when they are not.

I can use it as a pet or a stress ball. I can use it as a visual reminder. On bad hair days, A-Bear accompanies me from room to room. Desperate situations require desperate solutions, but this is one cute desperate solution. What are you doing to stay calm with your children?

Mom Monday Week 49 – Christmas Gifts

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What do you want for Christmas? I hope you get what you wish for. Here are my wishes:

1. Health for everybody in the family. Right now, my daughter is complaining of ear aches and is coughing at night. My son just finished his cold. I am still struggling with a bit of a cough myself.

2. Patience with my children and myself. I certainly need it as we homeschool and enjoy each other’s company 24/7.

Mom Monday Week 49

3. Peace on earth, good will among men. You know how that goes.

4. Good weather so we can spend some time outside every day throughout the winter. Fresh air does wonders for the mind and the body, but freezing cold air does not appeal to me at all.

Continue reading »

5. Last but not least, I wish for a less ambitious agenda. I am guilty of putting too much on my own plate and burning out like a candle in the wind. (Sorry, Elton John!)

Which brings me to my next point. I started knitting again. My mom taught me when I was a child, but I did not keep it up. For some reason, I decided to pick up a couple of books from the library so I can learn knitting terminology in English and get some simple projects underway.

Since then, I have knitted two pairs of slippers, a pair of leg warmers, and – don’t laugh! – a bean bag for the kids’ corn hole game. My daughter uses it as a pillow for her stuffed Panda, but at least it’s being used, right?

I will have to return with some pictures and simple patterns. There I go again, making more work for myself. There goes #5 above…

Mom Monday Week 48 – If Only

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This week, I took the kids to see The Nutcracker. Is there anything more beautiful around the holidays? I think not. “Our” Nutcracker is performed by The Appalachian Ballet Company. They have been doing this show for 46 years now.

If only we could go through life as gracefully as ballerinas, perpetual smiles on our faces. Sigh. Big sigh. At this time of the year, I am struck by the idea of grace, graciousness, and gracefulness. Not just achieving goals, but the manner in which we achieve them. The beauty of Tchaikovsky’s music, the colorful costumes, the ethereal gliding of ballerinas remind me it’s not just about getting to the destination. It’s also about the journey. Mainly, it is the journey that counts more than anything.

Mom Monday Devotional for Homeschooling Moms

Both my kids loved it. My son told me at the end, “It was wonderful, mommy! I loved it.” My daughter made several positive comments throughout the show. Well, that’s a relief. It was their first time seeing a ballet and this gives me permission to take them back to see another one.  Continue reading »

To be technical… I took my daughter two years ago to see The Nutcracker, but she does not remember anything. Which brings up the question, why do we take two-year-olds to ballet shows? Maybe because mommy needs to see something pretty and fluffy? Yep, it was definitely for my sake that I went to see The Nutcracker two years ago. My son was sick and my daughter was only two. I really did not have to go. I could have even gotten my money back.

But we go because moms need to see art, to inspire us to keep pursuing our own artistic endeavors. Teaching, by the way, is an art. And, even though our homeschool resembles more Greco-Roman wrestling at times, and not so much a Grand Pas De Deux, the results will be beautiful. It’s a promise from the One Who called us all to homeschool our children.

Mom Monday Week 44 – All Sugared Up

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It seems that I wage a daily battle against sugar. This season, more so than other months. Between Halloween, my son’s birthday, and my husband’s birthday, we have been floating through a sea of candy, chocolate and cake. Coming up in three short weeks, Thanksgiving itself, with several pies for dessert.

Look, I am health-minded enough to say, “No candy.” But my husband thinks our kids should be allowed to have a bit of candy now and then, as long as they behave. Thank God for my husband, who balances me out. So we dance this dance daily, negotiating how many pieces of candy corn we should allow or if we should allow any at all.

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It is our responsibility as parents to raise children who understand nutrition and what is good for their bodies. Sugar is not good for your body. Period. Taste buds do not have to be trained to like sugar. It is concentrated enough to overwhelm and give an addiction after a few tries. American sweets seem to have a lot more sugar than European ones, too.

A friend of mine has not given her daughter, who is two, any sugar yet. As a result, this child is calm, peaceful, and reasons from cause to effect. Yes, even at two. I watched it happen and it helped me stay even more resolute against sugary foods.  Continue reading »

Here’s how we set up some limits. We took the kids trick-or-treating in downtown Gatlinburg, and now they have two buckets full of candy – I told them we will make it last through Easter. By the way, this article in Today’s Christian Woman expresses very well why we allow trick-or-treating in our family.

I made a couple of LEGO brick cakes for my son’s birthday party. The first one just did not seem enough for all the guests. Now, what to do with all the leftover cake? I would share it with others, but I have tried in the past and been refused. I will probably end up throwing it away.

Better in the trash than in our bodies, wreaking havoc and weakening our immune system. Did you see that diabetes is at an all time high in New York City? We are all sugared up. It needs to stop. As we raise the next generation, let’s teach them to stay away from empty calories as much as possible. And the best way to teach them is by example.

Mom Monday Week 43 – A Thorn in the Flesh

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Many of you may be familiar with Apostle Paul’s expression, “a thorn in the flesh,” the Christian equivalent of Achilles’ heel – a weakness, a downfall, an irritating situation or physical ailment that one has to live with. Something that can only be managed and not get rid of.

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But Paul was not just venting about his weak eyesight in 2 Corinthians 12:7 when he said, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”

His intention was to teach all of us a huge lesson. Those weak spots in yourself, be they physical ailments, bad habits, lack of skills, or whatever else holds you back, were allowed by God in you for your own good. That’s right. The very thing that you see as a weakness actually helps propel you forward in your character.

Continue reading »

You know the story of poor King Nebuchadnezzar in the book of Daniel chapter 4. He became so conceited about his achievements, God had to humble him to give him a chance at perceiving the real Source of wisdom, skills, and wealth. Nebuchadnezzar ended up being thankful for his thorn in the flesh, as humiliating and humbling as it was.

So the next time you are tempted to get discouraged because of your thorn in the flesh, remember that God’s plan was for you to live with that thorn and through that thorn and in spite of that thorn.

Perception is reality. I distrust my own perception of things – but not enough. I pray to remember to pray this daily, “Open my eyes that I may see.”

Mom Monday Week 42 – When It Rains

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You have heard the expression, “When it rains, it pours.” You have experienced it in all its symbolic glory, no doubt. When the kids misbehave, they all misbehave at once, while you are talking on your cell, getting a meal ready and watching helplessly as the house phone rings – no doubt, hubby trying to let you know something important.

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When bad news hits, it hits on all fronts: your work, your kids’ health, their school performance, your husband’s parents etc etc etc. Fortunately, the rain which pours can also bring about happy events, all at once. Happy in our limited scope and worldview, mind you, for we have established several weeks back that all is relative and that all things work together for good, according to Romans 8:28 and many other Bible verses.  Continue reading »

So whether it is good or bad from your perspective, let the rain pour. Let it pour because you know that plants need water to grow. And we all have seeds planted in us which need nourishing: seeds of patience, kindness, selflessness, and self-forgetfulness. Seeds of Christlikeness – God in us, the hope of glory.

Dare to remember that beyond the clouds, the angry clouds, as my son calls them, in his six-year-old imagination, the sun still shines. Recently, a relative of mine, who took her first flight ever in an airplane, shared with me how magnificent it was to soar above the clouds. She could not believe her eyes. She left behind a rainy, overcast city and boarded a plane which lifted her into the sunshine.

Today, take a flight beyond the clouds of rain and look to the Rain Giver. He will see you through this another rain, as He has many times in the past. And pray for eyes that see beyond the clouds, no airplane needed.

Mom Monday Week 41 – Raccoon Devotionals

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One day a week, I take the kids to Knoxville – two hours from where we live, both ways. We spend four hours there. After my son’s soccer practice and violin lesson, it’s off to the Adventurer Club (scouting with a Christian component).

devotional for homeschooling moms

By the time we return, I am exhausted. The kids are exhausted. They get silly and loud in the car. “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin,” says Paul in Hebrews 12:4. I keep calm, by God’s grace.

Continue reading »

Last week, as I turned onto our street, I whispered one more tired prayer for patience. I tried to remember the raccoon devotional the pastor had shared with the kids. Then I saw it: a baby raccoon stopped in the middle of the road. It turned toward my car and stared at me. I brought the car to a full stop. I asked the kids to come to the front to see the baby raccoon. It walked a few steps, limping. The kids went, “Awwww…”

The raccoon stopped again, still in the road. It turned toward my car and looked into the headlights again, as if to make sure we saw him. Then, he scuttled into the ditch, with a limp.

The kids were touched. They stopped the noise as they talked about the baby raccoon with each other. Then, it dawned on me: this was another raccoon devotional. God put that raccoon there – a hurt baby – to remind me how vulnerable my children are and how careful I need to be as I guide them. How I need to come to a full stop and look at them – really look at them – and see they act a certain way for a reason.

I felt encouraged in my role as a homeschooling mom. I can only hope this story encourages you, too.

Mom Monday Week 40 – Eight-Car Wreck

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In my neck of the woods, we have a dangerous road called Chapman Highway. It is the best alternative to avoid heavy tourist traffic on Highway 66, which is coming into the county from I-40. However, because of its twists, turns, and blind spots, Chapman Highway is best not traveled.

The other day, we traveled to Knoxville for my son’s group violin lesson. Once a month, all his teacher’s students get together for group practice, musical games and theory. It’s fun and educational at the same time. Parents and younger siblings sit in quietly, like flies on chairs, not walls.

Mom Monday Devotional

For some reason, I decided to take Chapman Highway instead of the regular route through the interstate. Good thing I was running a bit late. We missed an eight-car wreck by about 15 minutes. We crossed paths with an ambulance and three tow trucks, each carrying a smashed up car – the last three removed from the scene.  Continue reading »

The one car that looked like an accordion had a Florida tag. Maybe a tourist? Maybe a Floridian who just moved here, still in the process of changing his tags? Later, we found out at least one person was flown to a nearby hospital by helicopter – his injuries were that severe.

The worst part was driving through the actual spot. We could clearly see where a person had been ejected from the car. Though the highways had been swept up, dried up blood showed the shape of a person in fetal position. I cannot imagine he survived. There were large blood stains all over the four-lane highway.

Such an awakening in case I became numb to how precious life is. Every time I take the kids somewhere, we have a prayer in the car before leaving the driveway. It can become a routine. Terrible wrecks remind me every day is a privilege. “Teach us to number our days…” Psalm 90:12

Mom Monday Week 39 – Fall Decorations

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A few years ago, this friend asked me if I decorated for fall. I said, “No, I don’t decorate for fall.” We were both married with no children. She seemed to feel the pressure to decorate her home because she lived in a subdivision where people decorated. Plus, she was a successful REALTOR. Her neighbors knew she was a successful REALTOR. They looked to her for tips about their own homes and, indirectly, put pressure on her to keep her house just so.

Fall Decorations

I, on the other hand, was not that well-known in my subdivision. Plus, our neighborhood was and still is wooded. One can barely see the homes from the street. Whew! I don’t have to keep up with the Joneses in any way.

This year, however, I decided to put together a fall wreath. I explain here how I reached that decision. It was a lot of fun. I did it for fun.

Fun. Hmmm… Fun… When was the last time you, mom, took time for fun? Whatever fun means to you. I have a hard time with the concept of fun because I like to get things done. And, as a homeschooling mom, my list of things to do is long. It does not leave much time for fun. Continue reading »

And yet. And yet. And yet.

I have to work with myself and bring myself to a stop in front of the to-do list. Turn my back on it. Give myself one hour for fun. Walks, books, crafts, mindless TV, internet surfing, whatever. Fun. Stuff that does not bear the weight of responsibility.

Fun makes me a better mom. I can return to my to-do list. It will be there. Never fear. I encourage you to take time for fun today and this week.