Is It Any Wonder?

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Why decorate ornaments when I can decorate me?

Do you ever have visions of how you think a certain aspect of your life will turn out and then get to that point and think….what happened?

It can be a two-sided coin really…or…are there any three-sided coins;)? Sometimes I look around and think, “I could not have planned it better, this is “perfect”.”

Then there are other times that I think, “Oh dear, this definitely isn’t what I wanted, can and should I change it?”

And every once in a while I have times when I think, “This really is best, but it’s not what I planned or even could have imagined.”

The last thought is what I’ve had with Christmas over the last few years. My husband and I decided a few years back that the going here and there, and doing this and that, which had been our custom at Christmas, was really taking away from the peace we felt we should be feeling at this time of the year. We vowed to focus more on our own nuclear family and keeping things low-key and Christ-centered.

We noticed an immediate change in the spiritual environment in our family. Things were indeed happier and more peaceful. Actually it felt just how we thought it should….but….why did I always have a bit of a melancholy feeling during some days of the Christmas season?

I finally decided that it was a my psyche “mourning” the visions I had created and the traditions I had left aside in order to find the best way for us.

So strange huh? Even though you know something is “best” or “right” for your family and yourself, sometimes you still yearn for “what might have been”, even though you know the fantasy you created in your imagination is next to impossible? And probably not even healthy.

Well, this year I found that my melancholy temptation, that I usually can just push aside, was being more persistent. I blamed it on pregnancy, lack of sleep, a travelling hubby, some stress over finances and changes that need to be made in our homeschooling, trying logically to explain it away and move on so I could enjoy the season and more than that make it a happy season for my family.

I would wake up and get myself motivated for a few hours but it seemed that I was running out of the ability to fake it. The last few days it was taking nearly every ounce of energy I had to get out of bed and keep the act going.

Finally this morning I really didn’t think I could do it. During my morning prayers I pleaded with the Lord, “Please, please, please, I have to do this. I know my life is not bad and I know there are people out there that are much, much worse off to worry about, but I have to have your help. I need to make this day special for my kids. If I can’t be happy I need you to help me fake it so they can be happy. This day is not about me, please, please help me.”

The Lord never lets me down. It was a bit of a bumpy take-off to the day but I finally just said, “I can’t, you have to support me through this.” And a little miracle happened. I let go. He took over. And it was a good day. I became happy. At first it was an act, and then it was real.

After I put the kids to bed I was pondering on what happened….what was the turning point? What happened?

I finally concluded that the Lord opened my eyes so that I could really see, more than anything see my kids. Children are so wonderfully happy with simplicity and reciprocate such an overflow of love with the smallest acts of love shown to them.

On our way home from watching a movie and delivering some Christmas treats my 9 yr old son said, “ Mom, doesn’t it seem like it feels happier on Christmas?” When I asked him why he felt that way he said simply, “It’s probably because it’s Jesus’ birthday.” It was then that is hit me. Is it any wonder?

Is it any wonder that Christ was sent as a baby to the earth? Is it any wonder that we call babies “bundles of joy”? Is it any wonder that no one can resist the laughter of a small child? Is it any wonder that though the textual references in the bible are few in regards to Jesus’ childhood we do know,

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. [Luke 2:40]

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” [Luke 2:51–52]

Today is was confirmed to me once again that our children are not only our responsibility, but also our teachers. They are wise beyond their years, they understand what is truly important and know truth when they hear and see it. Is it then, any wonder that the greatest gift to mankind came in the form of a child?

John 3: 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

For this wonderful gift I will be eternally grateful. Even more amazing that we can not only be eternally saved but like I was reminded of today, we can be saved…day by day.

Merry Christmas!

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Mommy said so….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou probably thought I had forgotten about it….but I don’t think any parent EVER forgets about the topic of discipline;)

Nope, sorry my writings are so random, it’s therapy for me as it helps me put my ponderings into more concrete insights, so I can actually make change….thanks for your patience:)

Anyway, so along this more recent in-depth study of discipline you know what thought keeps coming back?

“Meg, until YOU change, there will be NO change.”

Well that’s a bit disheartening for me, but it’s true. I’ve read and studied discipline since before having children and for the type of household and family culture I’m striving for, it is just NOT going to happen with my current habits.

Here the low-down:

I’m a control freak

I’m a perfectionist

I’m nearly OCD when it comes to planning and organization

I’m bossy

I’m NOT touchy/ feel-y nor do I deal well with high-emotional situations

Can you see where these traits might just cause some conflict in any home? But especially in a home where the other members are:

Care-free

Fun-loving

Impulsive

Independent

Fearless

High-emotion and physical affection oriented

Its a precarious mix to say the least.

Now, looking at it from a big picture standpoint (and considering my last post🙂  I think we have a lot to learn from each other. That being said, no one is going to want to listen to me if I’m a witchy, party-crashing, beast that only talks to give orders and demand obedience.

Besides my theological research, which I’ll share in a separate post, my latest VERY helpful book on the topic of discipline has been this book
What I love about it is it shares how societal culture has led to a shift in family culture, thus creating a need for different discipline approaches. Also, it helps YOU as the parent, define your parenting style and explains why that can cause conflict or future discipline issues.

What I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE about the incredibly smart author is that she’s created a whole step-by-step/systematic approach to tackling the subject of discipline AND she has a great website (www.positiveparentingsolutions.com) that offers free webinars, free trainings, and free surveys (to find your parenting style).

One of the very first things that this discipline approach suggests is to spend more quality time individually with each child, actually at least 20 minutes each day per child. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for awhile, even before reading this book, especially when I noticed that quality time and physical affection were so high on the “love languages” for my kiddos (you can find out more about love languages and discovering those of your family here) But when I heard the reasoning and statistics for the quality time, it motivated me more to try for more consistent individual time with each child.

Now, maybe it’s not a big deal for most, but when I think of 20 minutes each child, each day I think….”How in the….?”

So I figured I’d start with 10 minutes each day each child…but even that was too much and crazy/stressful for me, so I switched to once a week. We call is our “date night” each kid gets one night that they get to stay up 20-30 (sometimes more) minutes up past bedtime to have a date with me. Each child chooses what they would like to do (except for T.V ). This means Engineer usually chooses his latest project, we are currently working on a hot-air balloon. Fiesta usually wants to do nails and/or makeup or color pictures (Wanna see when she gave me a makeover? ). And Elf often does nails too but likes to read stories a lot as well.

Honestly, some nights it’s hard for me to calm my to-do list going in my head, but by the end of the date I’m always more relaxed and refreshed.

Even more rewarding has been the immediate changes I’ve seen in my kids, especially Fiesta. Most notable the day right after their date, they are more compliable, talkative (in a good way), understanding, compassionate and overall in better spirits. It has really been a blessing for everyone. Now I just need to work up to more time, on a consistent basis.

I’ve especially noticed that Elf really needs time every day, so I’ve been trying to be more creative with “dates”. We cook, bake, read, sit and talk, make something, have a tea party, go to the park or on an errand drive (if Marvel is home so we can go just the two of us). I’m really hoping it will become more natural to me as time goes on so I don’t treat EVERYTHING like a check-list. But step-by-step, here I go.

You can see other posts on my discipline journey here.

So please do share….What changes in your discipline approach have had immediate changes?

By the way, I’m not getting paid for the “advertising” on Amy McCready’s book nor website, I just love it and thought someone else might find it helpful. The link to the book is an Amazon Affiliate link, however, so if you do decide to buy the book I would greatly appreciate you using that link to support this site. Thanks!

Have It All

Image                                             I am so blessed to already “Have It All”

“ My husband and I have been married for 42 years. We never had much (in the way of material things). My husband made minimum wage when we got married and it increased up to 15% as the years passed. We never had a car. We never went to a restaurant. But I never regret my decision to stay home and be a wife and mother. We enjoyed coming home and preparing our meals together. We would go for walks in the park and just enjoy each other’s company. We were happy, our children were happy and I was there whenever they needed me.”

I could feel the tears well up in my eyes as this gentle, smiling woman stood up behind me in our women’s congregation at church to share her experience. She was petite, her clothes were faded and would be considered “out of style”, her face and hands wore the marks of someone that had worked hard and long her entire life. When I thought about raising a family on ONE MEXICAN minimum wage income I hung my head in admiration and a bit of shame. This woman’s contentment and peace radiated from her being and she stood up to share with us, and remind us, what we, as women, came to this earth to do.

The messages that bombard us on a daily basis are often overwhelming, sometimes downright nauseating.

Women should be equal with men, have a career that “fulfills” them, be able to come and go as they please, we travel to exotic locations, we look like a photo-shopped model at all times, we are completely up to date on all social media news, we have a delightful blog that oozes with wisdom and cuteness, our homes immaculate and beautifully decorated, our yards manicured, our gardens from which we home can all of our produce  is free of weeds, our children (2 of course, one boy, one girl) clean and neatly dressed in the latest styles, our meals perfectly balanced and prepared on time, our laundry ironed, folded and put away neatly by color and season(there are no dirty piles of course!), our budget balanced, our investments thriving, our cars (at least one for work and one for family) are washed and waxed and sitting in the spotless garage, we are involved in every sport and extracurricular  activity available, we attend and participate in all local political meetings, on the weekends we are volunteering at the animal shelter or food bank, on Sundays we’re at church, we teach Sunday School as well as facilitate other ecclesiastical meetings, a constant smile on our face and pleasant word on our lips….oh, and didn’t I mention, we’re writing a book….;)

The over-riding theme is that we can “HAVE IT ALL”. If we want it, we can have it, come and get it.

What I’m worried about is that it seems less and less women are worrying about what “IT ALL” really is, and where these messages are coming from. I find myself getting on to the treadmill of trends every so often myself. Sometimes I have to have a near breakdown before I realize I’ve forgotten my purpose.

Thus far, there have been two periods of time in my life where my desire to “HAVE IT ALL” nearly destroyed me.

The first time was as a pre-teen, going on teenager. My idea at the time of “IT ALL” was very much influenced by my passion for dancing. Unfortunately, I gave into the idea that I needed to be a certain way in order to succeed in the world of dance.

Long story short, my obsessive desires and thus behaviors led me very nearly to my death bed. Instead of fulfillment I felt emptiness and self-hatred.

Finding solace in the scriptures and prayer I remember when the sudden and forceful message came to me that I was not here on earth to be “fulfilling” myself, but to be a wife and mother. I remember the feeling that my future children were counting on me to be the mother that they deserve and I could not do that on the road I had taken. Fortunately, my ever faithful family and friends helped and supported me as I back-tracked and got on the right road.

The second time I felt myself getting horribly off track was during my last pregnancy.

As any wife and mother I have many responsibilities. Choosing to Homeschool adds another obligation, along with our extracurricular activities. I am very involved in our church and helping with our family business. Plus for me, pregnancy is hard work! 😉

Instead of pacing myself and setting priorities I started giving into the ideas of the world, of how I needed to be, what I needed to do, and how I was supposed to manage everything.

Where I ended up was one day having a complete melt-down, becoming a completely hellish beast to my family and finally driving off into the country-side, barely being able to see through the constant flow of my tears. I felt completely out of control, like I didn’t even know myself anymore.

Once again I turned to the scriptures and prayer and I felt the answers come. I slowed down. I prioritized and focused, and my patient husband and family road the bumpy road with me as I got back on the right road.

For me, the right road is focusing on the family. I believe women were put here on earth to nurture and guide their families towards Christ. The family is not a trophy nor a hobby, it is the whole purpose of life. We are here as families to return to God as a whole family.

Women are the hearth-makers, with whatever circumstances we are given we can make our house a home. Women set the mood of the home. The husband is the head, we are the neck. We prepare, love, teach, guide, listen, help and nurture. This is our sacred responsibility; this is why we are here.

So, am I against careers, cleanliness, cash, and calisthenics? No, of course not. Nor any of the other wonderful and engaging things this wonderful world has to offer. I just have to remind myself that just because it’s good doesn’t mean its best. And what’s good, or even best, for another may not be the best for me. I have to remind myself what my first priority always must be.

Because when it comes down to it, when all is said and done… if I can look back and see that my husband and family were well-cared for and happy.  If I can say that I did my very best to lead and guide them towards Christ, then that is “IT ALL”, for me.

It’s Your Call

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Walking through “Las Piedrotas” in Tapalpa, Mexico. Can you see the little munchkins waiting on me up there? 

Sometimes answers are like walking out of a cave into the bright sunlight. An instant warmth and sense of deep awareness.

Other times it’s more like waking when it’s still pitch black outside, an then watching as the shadows slowly disappear, and the sun takes its’ rightful place in the sky. Blackness fading away to grey and finally a bright yellow of newness and understanding.

Yep, sometimes the answers come very clearly, very forcefully, there is no doubt. But many times, or should I say, most of the time, my answers come with a little insight here and a little more there. Like a sculptor that methodically chisels away at a block of marble to release the masterpiece waiting beneath its’ surface.

I’m dealing with one of those right now. The second method. The slow elimination and determined chipping away. You see, I know there is a God. I know He is there. I know he listens when I pray. I know He answers. But just as any loving parent, I believe He knows that we cannot just be given the answers to all of our questions and problems. Sometimes He answers immediately and clearly. Sometimes he leads us and guides us almost just as clearly. And sometimes I think he says, “It’s your call”.

I detest this answer. I don’t want to make the call. I don’t know that I’m ready to make the call. All by myself? All on my own? But am I really on my own? No, not really. He’s my Father. He’ll tell me what He thinks, but not directly, not obviously. I must search. I must listen. I must quiet my soul in order to hear.

That is what I’m in the midst of right now. It’s actually a question I ask myself every year. Am I still sure that we should be homeschooling our children?

For the first few years, I really felt a calling. I KNEW it was what we needed to do. As our journey embarked I soon discovered that our first child would have significant struggles in any other school setting, which added confirmation to our decision.

Then a few more moves, a few more children, a few changes of employment and a plethora of changes to our homeschooling….I felt I was starting to “get it”. I felt like we could make this work. I felt a culture forming that I craved. I smiled. We can do this.

But as I just told a dear friend who is struggling with the same decision, for different reasons…Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And just because you shouldn’t now, doesn’t mean you can’t later. There is a plan and a time for everything.

A couple years ago my husband started making the steps and changes necessary to be completely self-employed. At the beginning of this year we made the final and complete leap into the world of self-employment. This means he is working from home whenever he is not attending meetings, giving trainings and/or travelling. It has mostly been a gradual change and we thought that we were figuring it out. I have always tried my best to help with my husband’s work when he was an employee and now even more as we have a family business. But I admit, I am both hesitant and ignorant. Sometimes I just don’t know what in the world I am doing! I really don’t want to mess something up that is that important. Other times I feel like if I put too much into it than I’m neglecting my responsibilities as a mother and teacher. It’s always been a difficult balance, for me.

Over the past few months I have been reflecting a lot on my priorities in order to create a good balance and decide where I need to make improvements. It was amongst this journey that my husband asked one day, “Are you sure we are supposed to be homeschooling?”

At first I was a bit flabbergasted. Though not involved with the process much, he has always been very supportive of my endeavors.

Unfortunately, I continued to react with my natural responses to his critiques….defensive mode on….How dare he… After all we’ve been through? Does he not see I’m trying my best? Doesn’t he see that the kids learn better this way?

Wait….wait for it…ok, now reflection hits….but this is my husband. My eternal companion. My best friend. What if he’s right? What if I’m doing something wrong? What if I need to have my focus elsewhere?…..

Well, very long story short, by the end of the day I was an emotional mess. I have since been spending the majority of my thinking time grappling with this subject. I’ve searched, pondered and prayed….even fasted. I feel my answer is….It’s your call….not really what I was looking for….definitely not the easy route. I have already been guided. For the moment I’ve decided to finish the school year and come to a final decision by our summer break.  I know the answer will come. Hopefully it’s before I become a habitual insomniac 😉

To all of you who’ve struggled with this, or a similar decision….what helped you?

What Do You Think of My New Makeover?

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We made our traditional Christmas cookies on Monday (we added mint flavoring this year though, YUM!)  We had the Christmas trees, stars, bells, hearts, my son decided to make a nativity, a neighbor boy made a sign of “I love you” for his Mom…it was so fun and cute and the kids loved it.

I was really touched though when my oldest daughter (5 yrs old) brought me this little creation….”Mom!” she said beaming, ” It’s you! I made it for you!” It was so darling, and I loved how she tried to match my hair and eyes, it was one of those “Melt” moments that just sends a burst of joy through you.

It wasn’t until today that I was looking at it and the thought came to me, “Is this just a 5 year old creation or does she really think I look like an 80’s country singer?”….Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, it said “I love you, Mom”,  no matter what.

When Mama’s not happy….

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Ok, I promise I’m still talking about discipline, but let’s finish the sentence shall we? Well, in truth we could put a myriad of phrases but the one I’m thinking of is, “When Mama’s not happy, NOBODY IS!” Yep, sad, but true.

The truth of the matter is ladies, that a million other variables contribute to a happy home but one of the MOST IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTIONS IS YOUR ATTITUDE! You. Mom.   Youhave the majority of the say when it comes to what kind of spirit will be found in your home! I know! So amazing and overwhelming at the same time.

Fortunately, we have some amazing examples of the woman’s equivalent of Job. These ladies are AMAZING! They are a pillar of light not only to their own families but to the world.

But I’ve noticed that these ladies of Patience and Optimism seem to becoming about as rare as the pearls of which their lives reflect.

Now, what in the world does this have to do with discipline? Well, let’s remember that Proverbs tells us TWICE (21:9 and 25:24, must have been important!)

“ It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman [and] in a wide house.”

Oh dear…..again, sad, but true. I mean, have you ever been around a brawling woman? Unfortunately, I, myself, have been that brawling woman more times than I care to count and I don’t even like to be around myself when I’m like that!

So let’s think of that brawling woman in the arena of discipline….Well, there are two very important factors here:

1.)    If your kids don’t even want to be around you, they are definitely not going to want to listen to you or respect you either (unless it’s out of fear and do we really want that?)

2.)    If YOU are NOT DEMONSTRATING SELF-DISCIPLINE than how can you EXPECT it of THEM?

So what’s the deal? What is our attitude problem? Well, I think it’s as different women are but I think generally speaking the root of a bad attitude can be found in one (or a combination) of three places:

1.)    Skewed Priorities

Why didn’t I put “overwhelmed” or “on overload”? Well, cause to me that sounds like someone “put” those responsibilities on you. The majority of us, women in today’s world, choose their activities, obligations and responsibilities. We could argue on this a lot I’m sure, but all I will say is that even if you didn’t out-right choose something, you chose it by not choosing something else.

2.)    Bombardment

There are times in our lives that life just happens. The choices of others or other situations of which we have little to no control over become a main or the main obstacle to overcome. This can shape us in the way we choose to let it.

3.)    Health

There are also times or even life-times that are brought off-keel by health issues. These issue’s can be brought on by ourselves, others and sometimes by things that we can’t explain or control. This can be tricky because there are times when MORE than an “attitude adjustment” is needed.

So, now what do we do? We know there is a problem and maybe we can pin-point it and maybe we can’t. But how do we CHANGE? Well, this is what has worked for me:

1.       God

You may think I’m redundant on this but really, wouldn’t you want someone to help that knows all about you, even your potential AND can see the WHOLE picture? Asking for God’s guidance and help can lead you to finding the cause of your attitude issue, and also the solution for it. Sometimes the situation can’t or won’t change but WE can and with God’s guidance and strength, WE WILL.

2.       Slow Down

Ladies, why are we here? What is our purpose here on earth? Yes, our own potential must be reached, but I would argue that we will learn and grow more through our roles as wives and mothers than through any other endeavor. I know for myself that this is true. I have to remind myself that my priorities are my God, my husband and my family. Everything else can wait. I love this quote:

“What do you suppose pilots do when they encounter turbulence?… Professional pilots understand that there is an optimum turbulence penetration speed that will minimize the negative effects of turbulence. And most of the time that would mean to reduce your speed. The same principle applies also to speed bumps on a road.

Therefore, it is good advice to slow down a little, steady the course, and focus on the essentials when experiencing adverse conditions.” Pres. Dieter F. Uchdorf, Counselor in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

3.       Get Help

If you have yet to find the cause of your bad attitude then it’s time to seek professional help. There is just no reason for you and your family to go on suffering. No worries! There is nothing to be embarrassed about. Sometimes is simply a matter of “re-wiring” and balancing hormones and chemicals in the body. The body is like a machine, sometimes it needs a little adjusting.

Believe me, as I started studying these aspects of discipline I felt as if someone had knifed my heart and then wrenched it around in there for good measure. Ladies, I’m not preaching cause I have no room to talk. This is a daily and sometimes minute to minute struggle for me (You can tell cause posted before on it:) . But let’s rally together, as women and as mothers and make the world a better place, one home at a time.

First Day of School!

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As you can see, we are a very serious group.

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3 yr. old- Preschool/KindergartenImage

4 1/2 yrs old: Kindergarten/1st gradeImage

8 yrs old: 3-4 grade

Apparently I missed the memo on holding out the ears in the photo so we can resemble gorillas….

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Hey Mom! Don’t forget me! 9 months: “The Helper”

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Even the teacher dressed up….meaning I have a shirt on that fits, with no stains OR holes! I know, I know….pretty stylish!

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A little M&M Math (Well, technically they’re Lunetas…same thing just Mexican version)

ImageImageI love M&Ms, so multi-purpose….a little sorting, counting, and of course…eating!

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Science: Observations, Predictions, Solids, Liquids, Colloids….in other words, making a little Oobleck!

Unfortunately I didn’t think to take pictures of our other studies, too busy studying I guess! We’re excited about a new year of learning!

ImageNow you know where all the fingerprints on the lens/pictures came from!