When Mama’s not happy….

Image

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.

Advertisements

Fill ‘Er Up!

Image

So I promised in my last post that I would explain the crazy card-stock people standing on my kitchen counter….well, would you believe that they are part of our discipline training?

I’ve used various methods for teaching discipline training but it usually turned out that when it all came out in the wash I was using a punishment/reward program that was only an extrinsic motivation. I didn’t and don’t want that. I want my kids to WANT to OBEY, to WANT to be GOOD. Not because they want something in return or are trying to avoid a bad consequence. I want them to do good for the sake of BEING good. To FEEL what is the right thing to do. Does that make sense? Yes, its ideological and asking a lot of small children but I’m also all about reaching for the moon and at least catching some stars along the way.

One night as I was washing the dishes ( when I do my pondering 🙂 The thought came to me (yep, can’t take credit for it:) of revamping an idea that my husband had used for his team-training modules at work. For his example, he had used buckets and each team member was to fill it will nice things they noticed about others (there was more to it than that but you get the jist). Anyway, I thought that if I could help my kids visualize what their behaviors caused (or contributed to) in themselves and others than maybe it would help them want to make better choices.

So over the course of several Family Counsels this is what we did. Note: when referring to “good” and “bad”, it was based on our family rules and religious beliefs.

FC 1: Had a discussion/devotional on covenants or promises that we make to our Heavenly Father. When we are Christian people what do we commit to do and be?

FC 2: Go rock hunting!

FC 3: Make our own “mini-me”. Using manila folders the kids (and I) drew and cut out a picture that we made of ourselves and taped it to an glass jar full of rocks/beans (we couldn’t find enough rocks)

Image

FC 4: Discuss how our spirit can FEEL good choices and bad choices. Also, when we make good choices we can have the Holy Spirit to guide us and we have more happiness as a result of both.

FC 5: Discuss that our jar is like our spirit, when we do good things it fills up, bad things take away. Explained our goals of trying to keep our own and others jars filled up during the next week. If someone makes a bad decision then they must take rocks out of their own jar and anyone else that was involved in the decision (sometimes the whole family!). Then they need to think of a way they can fill those jars back up (“I’m sorry” is a start but more action is required). Also, if someone is “caught” doing good things without being “motivated” then they get to add to their jar and anyone else involved in their making a good decision (usually Mom is happier!)

Of course, this isn’t a perfect model of life. Also, the first day was a bit of a hassle trying to manage all the jar nonsense. I really thought about giving up in the first couple hours but even though it was involved and seemingly fluffy…. For us, I think it fulfilled it’s purpose.

By the third day, I could see my kids realizing how their behaviors affected not only them, but others. This time they could SEE a model of what happened to their spirit. For the first couple of days we really focused on how someone FELT when they made a good or bad decision so they could recognize that they could be guided, if they chose to be. I was especially impressed with how much understanding my 3 year old gained in this process- it seemed that  a light bulb went off for her when she saw that SHE could choose how her day would go.

We still have such a long way to go and this is only the beginning of what we’ve been doing as we concentrate on discipline (stay tuned for more posts on our triumphs and failures!), but it was a step or two in the direction we want to be going and that is always so encouraging!

So, what types of activities have helped your family understand or become more disciplined?

Monkey See, Monkey Do

ImageOne of my son’s first words was “Crap”.

One of my daughter’s favorite things to do with her dolls is put them in “Time Out”, not always nicely.

When my children have a disagreement among themselves, more often than not, yelling is involved.

When my oldest daughter doesn’t agree with you she gives you a face that looks like she could slap you upside the head.

So why did they or do they do these things? Take a guess….

Yep, when my son was little I used the word “Crap” about as often as I said “No”. My daughter gets “time out” frequently of late, and I’m not always nice about it. I yell…..WAY more often than I should.  That look on my daughter’s face? Well, it’s like looking in the mirror for me.

The nice thing about this phenomenon is that it IS like a mirror that MAKES you face your weaknesses. The bad part is seeing those weaknesses ALL the time and facing up to them and THEN having to train it out of your child as well.

So, why the confession? More of an analysis for me really. I would say about 95% of the time, when I encounter a behavior and/or pattern in my children that I do not like I can trace its beginning back to teaching and training done in the home.

I’ve been thinking this over as I consider our character training for this next academic year. Thinking about what I MUST DO and BE in order to me the mother God and my children are expecting of me. The thing is, I can teach and train ‘til I die….but if I’m not talking the talk and walking the walk, there is very little likelihood that my children will have the character that I aspire them to have. No one listens to a hypocrite.

Does personality matter? Yep. Absolutely. That’s why the teaching and training cannot be identical for each child. That is also why it gets so complicated when you have more than 1 child in the home to deal with.

It’s just like a chemical reaction. There are some chemicals that we don’t mess with too much because they are so volatile. The same goes in the home….there are some personalities in our family that should not be corked in the same bottle for too long. There are also things we know that in our family we just steer clear of….our main triggers are over-scheduling/fatigue and “bad” (for us) eating habits. I know that when we start mixing in one or both of those ingredients there is bound to be a blow-up with someone.

Then I have to consider needs. Physical yes, but mental and emotional more. We cannot listen and learn if our needs are not met. Just think about when you are physically ravenous….can you do calculus? (Well, I can’t do calculus anyway, but you get the point). It’s the same chemical reaction mix. If my kids are not “fed” with all of THEIR needs then very little learning will happen. This is also a tricky one because every child is so different and thus their needs are as well.

It’s tricky, no doubt about it. There are times I feel discouragement start to trickle into my soul, leaving deep black valleys that can quickly fill up with despair. I may have made changes but I have light-years yet to travel on my road to perfection. If it were just me that would be one thing, but I have these little angels in my home that I must guide along the way.

But I am not alone. YOU are not alone. What great trust God must have in us to lend us HIS children to teach and train. He will not leave us alone to do it. I have been running across this message in my devotionals all week, one of my favorite verses of scripture says in beautifully,

Matthew 7:7-8:

aAsk, and it shall be bgiven you; cseek, and ye shall find; dknock, and it shall be opened unto you:        8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that aseekethfindeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Whenever I feel alone, whenever I feel like I’m the only one working….I stop and reflect….God NEVER  leaves us alone….WE walk away from HIM. It’s a promise….we seek, we find….we knock, the door opens….we ask, we receive. Yes, I have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of changing to do. But I have peace, knowing that the One that knows all, will be my guide….IF I but LET Him.

The Pebble

Image

Do you ever wonder if you really make a difference? Do you ever wonder if what you’re doing really matters? Do you ever feel that your contribution is meaningless?

I’ve been thinking about this subject over the past few weeks. My thoughts became increasingly poignant when I watched a video the other day about WWII and some university students that tried to protest the Nazi regime through their own propaganda. In the end, the investigation pointed to 3, but mainly 2 students that had masterminded the majority of the information and distribution of the propaganda. They were executed for their efforts. However their legacy lived on and their voice was heard and made a positive difference.

After wiping away the tears, I got to thinking….am I making a difference? Is what I’m doing really going to matter?

My first thoughts were rather discouraging. But as I started to analyze my influence a bit more deeply I began to picture a pebble being thrown into an enormous lake. True, for the most part it would go unnoticed. But, that tiny pebble would cause ripples, even a bit of a splash, and had the power to even rock a boat.

I am not perfect. But I am trying my best. I am a child of God, a woman, a wife, a mother. I may not matter to others but I do matter to some, and I do matter to God. He sees me. He cares. He knows of my efforts.

I also know that every day I am making a statement. Every day that I choose to put my God, my marriage and family first I am telling them and everyone that will take notice that I know what real success is. Every day that I choose to use kindness instead of anger, disdain, or negativity, I am testifying that goodness wins. Every day that I choose to protect and sanctify my body with healthy habits and modesty I am showing God that I am grateful for His gift to me and my family and anyone else that will take notice that our bodies are sacred. Every day that I walk out with my family I am showing that I know that we are ALL beloved children of God, that He sees us, not our skin. Every Sunday when I’m going to church and spending the day in a worshipful attitude, I am testifying of my belief in the teachings of the Bible. Every day that I choose virtue and integrity over convenience and image I am telling my children what really matters. What I say and what I do says to the world and especially to my family what and who I am.

I think as Moms we sometimes get mixed messages.

The world tells us to do all and be all. This is more in the sense of superficial success, a skin-deep perfection…..have the amazing career, the money, the “perfect” body, the “perfect” house and the “perfect” family. Not only is this a tainted view of happiness, it never really brings happiness.

On the other hand, the Lord tells us to be virtuous and true to Him, our husbands and our families. Our purpose and mission is to teach and guide and lead the children of God to be the leaders and kind of people He wants them to be. What amazing trust our God must have in us women!

While trying our best and looking to God to fill in gaps, will bring happiness and even joy as we strive to fulfill this incredible role, it can seem daunting at times and we can become discouraged. Part of this discouragement often comes from the fact that although we have basic scriptural outlines and the Spirit to guide our efforts, we will find that there is no “blueprint” for success. Every woman and family is different and there are many details that the Lord will guide us in but not mandate.

Then we have our own personal demons to root out of our being. We all have weaknesses and while a spouse and children can help bring out the best in us, if we are not careful we and they can also end up with the worst of us.

Thankfully, this is all part of the plan. Just like a precious metal or gem, we cannot reach our potential without some tempering, some heat, some pounding off of rough edges.

As I was pondering on what I needed to do to be the kind of person that God wants me to be, and make the difference that I need to make in my children’s lives especially, I then pictured the little “Refresh” icon on my computer. Every now and then I have to sit back, look around, ponder, pray, study and click “Refresh”. The beauty of the atonement is that it works for everyone. I am not perfect BUT I can try again.

The desire to change is often with me but the urgency to do so has been heightened over the past week or so. This urgency to change was especially present today as I read and heard of a young mother, not much older than myself, that died a yesterday due to birth complications. Gratefully, she was a beautiful, Proverbs 31 woman that was ready to meet her Maker. Sadly, she left behind a young husband and 6 children, one of which she would never meet in this life. As I stared at my computer through a curtain of tears I began to think, “Am I ready?” “If I died today would my husband and children really know how much I love them?” “Would they remember me in a positive light?” “Has my pebble made all the ripples and splashes it was meant to make?”

I still have much work to do. I know that I am not alone in my quest. I know that my contributions seem small, but they are needed and they matter. I will “Refresh” and be better each day. Even if my life is only a pebble, the ripples will make a difference. Now I’m going to go hug my family and tell them I love them. Good night!

P.S. Here is the link about the woman I mentioned. A beautiful young woman that has left a husband and 6 children behind, please keep them in your prayers! Our Dearest Katrina!www.youtube.comhttp://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=GqBCZckcPSQ&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DGqBCZckcPSQ

Why We Homeschool

Image

You know, I never really imagined myself as a homeschooling mom. I’ve always been an advocate, but I thought “Oh, that’s just not for me.” In truth I thought I would do some “home pre-schooling” to get them ready but I always imagined myself going back to work once my kids reached school-age. I’m a secondary Social Studies teacher by trade and I love to teach but the idea of teaching small children terrified me (thus the “secondary” choice). And then to add in subjects that I’m not entirely comfortable with (like math!) just made the whole idea of homeschooling seem way out of my league.

To be honest, I still have days when I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but when I remind myself of the reasons we started this journey and the benefits I’ve already seen and can foresee, than even if I feel unqualified at least I feel like it’s worth it all in the end.

Whenever I make decisions I always try to research and lay out the pros and cons before I even go to the Lord with my choice. Once I’ve picked what I feel to be the best option then I pray for confirmation that it is also the Lord’s will that I follow that path. This always helps be feel a little more confident as well, because I know I have an expert on my side, no matter the subject.

When it came to the decision of homeschooling, it was good that I did some research and praying because my husband was a bit of a skeptic at first. Once I presented him the facts of homeschooling and my other non-factual feelings on the subject, in regards to our family and children, he was and has been very supportive.

My biggest reason for choosing to homeschool was for morality and unity purposes. We are a very religious family and after having been in public schools both as a student and teacher I know how swaying the pressures of the secular world can be. I also feel that for a person to really understand themselves and their religion it is best that there is not a huge separation of church and state. I think it’s perfectly logical and also creates a coherency when things such as Scripture and virtues and values are included and woven into curriculum just as I feel our religion should be woven into our lives. I also appreciate the fact that our family has more time to study our religious beliefs and talk about how they apply to us on a daily basis, simply because there is less coming and going and we can make the time. All of these habits and practices create a unifying affect for our family, we feel that we are a team because we are learning about every aspect of life… together!

Besides the statistical benefits that I found while researching homeschooling, there were several particular factors in relation to our family that helped me move into the homeschool world. First of all, after both teaching in public schools myself and seeing how limited I was by “the system” I really just didn’t want my children to be limited in the ways and by speeds at which they could learn. I started preschool with my first child when he was 18 months old and even at that young age you can begin to see potentials of learning. I knew that the traditional school system would not tailor itself to my child and his way of learning.

By the time my second child came along I was even more convinced as I watched her methods for learning. Now that we’re preschooling our third child at home I am very grateful that I can spend the time we need or speed up the process. I can teach subjects in unconventional ways and help my children understand concepts in the manner that best suits their unique abilities and understanding. Through our journey I have also had the advantage of being able to slow down on certain subjects or revamp my methods of teaching to help in areas of struggle, without “labeling” my student,  which I would not be as free to do in a public school environment.

Another factor that greatly influenced our decision to homeschool was our living circumstances. We tend to move more or less every 2 years for my husband’s employment. Our moves have thus far all been international moves as well. Besides the language and culture issues that one must adapt to, it is sometimes a challenge to feel security in such a situation. Thus to cultivate a feeling of security and stability in our family life it made more sense that the one thing that wouldn’t change would be our school. Each year we have the same teacher, we have more or less the same schedule, and we have the same people that we are already used too.

Truly, I love the concept of homeschooling. I really do feel it is the best way to educate a child. However, I am also a realist. I know that it is just not possible, nor healthy, for all families to use this method of education or at least not always. We actually did put our oldest child into a private school for a term during my third pregnancy, simply because I felt he was suffering because of my pregnancy issues. This was a very good experience, my son was able to become fluent in a second language because he already knew all the material in his native language. He also was able to open up more socially than before and made some very sweet friends. It was also helpful for me because I became even more convinced that in order to thrive, my son would need more than a typical secularized/rote education could provide. I became aware of issues that I had not noticed before and all in all I am very grateful that we had that opportunity.

I do not know what the future holds, and I cannot guarantee that with every child and during every school year that homeschooling will be the best option for us. But what I do know is that as I strive to follow the Lords will and what my children and our family need, we will end up choosing the best option when that time comes.