What Do You Want For Christmas, Mama?

If your kids are like mine, they probably ask you for hints of what you would enjoy for a Christmas gift.

Homeschool Moms' Winter Summit

Why not suggest they give you a weekend retreat? The tickets to this event are $89, and if you share a room with 3 friends, like I did last year, your room will be $30/night. That makes this gift $150. Maybe your children and your parents could go together to get this for you.

The planning team of The Homeschool Moms’ Winter Summit is working and praying daily to do our best to bless as many moms as possible with a weekend of refreshment and encouragement.

If you have family or friends asking you what you want for Christmas, suggest they buy you a ticket to The Summit! You will come home with new determination to finish well the task God has put before you.

Remember, all those registered by December 31 will be put in a drawing, and 2 ladies will have the cost of their registrations refunded! 

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World’s Okayest Mom

Have you ever had a day when you felt like everyone else in the universe is better at stuff than you are? Sometimes I look around and wonder how everyone else ended up with so much more talent than I have.

I know I surely can’t be alone in this feeling. I recently saw a friend on Facebook shyly confess that she has never made a gingerbread house, nor has she provided that opportunity for her children.

This time of year, I think it’s easy to feel deficient in the Awesome Department when there are all sorts of creative parents posting about their Elf on the Shelf abilities, sharing their houses decorated for the holidays that look like they come straight out of a magazine, and taking (perfect) photos of their exquisite holiday recipes.

About that last link with the darling Christmas decor? Yeah. My house looks N.O.T.H.I.N.G. like that. I’m just trying to figure out if I can scrub the Kool Aid stains off my living room wall or if I need to paint over them. Yes, on the wall. Because we are talented like that.

Last weekend this feeling of inferiority hit me pretty strongly when I volunteered to help decorate for our church’s annual Christmas musical.

photo-22

I was given very detailed instructions about how to lay out these wreaths on each table. I even had a paper to look at that listed what items should be included in the wreaths. 6 small pinecones, 3 large pinecones, 3 shiny gold balls, 3 matte gold balls, and 6 red bows.

Easy right?

Well, apparently not when you are as dense as I am. My first problem was when the explanation included, “… the middle pine cone…” I was all, “IT’S A CIRCLE! How can a circle have a middle???”

It took 3 different people explaining it to me and demonstrating specifically how the wreaths should look before I finally got it! (The circle was divided into 3 segments, each having a middle pinecone.) I was beginning to understand how my children who struggle with algebra feel when I can tell they are truly trying to understand the concept I am repeatedly explaining, but it is just not clicking.

It turns out it is very important to stagger matte balls and shiny balls, and small pinecones and large pinecones. You see, it isn’t pleasing to the eye to have them right next to each other. Anyone with artistic sense would know this! Which is why I didn’t know it.

Also, it looks better to arrange pinecones instead of just tossing them in the air and letting them fall where they may in the greenery. Lesson learned.

Then, on the way home from that exercise in humility, I got lost taking a shortcut to a friend’s house. A friend who lives less than a mile from the church. A friend whose house I have been to a dozen times.

And while I was lost, I got pulled over by the Po-Po for making erratic turns without using my turn signal. That’s right.

That right there is what you call insult to injury, friends.

After all of that fun, when I finally got home and was belting out my favorite power ballad from the new movie “Frozen,” my sweet, darling, innocent 13 year old said, “Why are you singing it like that? Are you signing bad on purpose to be funny?”

If you are keeping score at home, let’s review the things Connie is bad at:

  • All things decorative. 
  • All things directional.
  • Turn signal usage.
  • All things musical.

Days like that can leave a girl feeling pretty much like a loser!

So, to make myself feel better, I decided to make a mental list of the things I am good at.

  • Getting out of traffic tickets.
  • Encouraging laughter in my home. (See above video.)
  • Keeping up with old friends. (I recently Facebook chatted with my husband’s 8th grade date to his athletic banquet in 1978 and my friend from first grade, who was also my college roommate in 1984 and my maid of honor in my wedding.)
  • Nursing a baby, making a peanut butter sandwich, and giving a spelling test all at the same time.
  • Not losing sleep over Kool Aid stains on the wall.

These may not be things that would win “The Voice” or look pretty on a magazine cover, but it gives me no small comfort to know that I am good at them, dang it! And maybe, just maybe every once in a while I can encourage some of you that it’s okay to be the world’s okayest mom right along with me.

Let’s be imperfect messes together!

What are you good at? Please, share!

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Oh, Baby!

(Edited to add a link to show you who I wrote this for.)

When you are expecting and you didn't expect to be expecting

A friend recently confided in me what she has only told her husband.

They are expecting their Nth baby. (N = the number that will make people think you’re crazy + 1)

She shared some of the same feelings I remember so well so many times.

  • I am FREAKING out!
  • What are we going to do?
  • How will we afford it?
  • I am already overwhelmed!
  • How will I handle one more?
  • What will our friends and family say?
  • People will think we are crazy.
  • I’ll be embarrassed to announce it.

Yep. Been there.

And do you know what? The baby came anyway. And people did think we were crazy (still do).

I told my friend that I was just gonna shoot straight with her. No sugar coating. Here are some of the things I told her and what I want to tell any of you who are in the same boat.

There will be days, lots of days, when it will be loud and rowdy. There will be plenty of times when you will be tired and there won’t be enough money. There won’t be enough sleep. Or time. There won’t be enough of you.

The baby will cry when the toddler is crying and that will make the 4 year old cry. And then you will want to cry. And sometimes you will.

But God will provide. When you can’t. Because you can’t.

He will provide the energy to clean up one more mess. He will provide the patience to read the same story one more time. He will provide the perseverance to buckle one more car seat over squirming arms and legs.

He will provide those special, almost magical, moments when you look around and you can’t believe it’s yours. ALL of this is yours. This beautiful, messy, rowdy, lovable family. And you will feel sorry for people who think you are crazy because you know what they don’t. You are crazy blessed.

Blessed with laughter. Blessed with joy. Blessed with more love than you could have ever imagined one year ago.

And God will provide enough. Enough money. Enough time. Enough you.

And your children, all of your children, will look at you with so much love in their eyes that you feel like you might burst with loving them right back.

Smockity Kids

And you wouldn’t want it any other way.

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El Diablo Gato

Frequent readers here may recall that last year we hand raised and bottle fed tiny, week-old baby kittens when Mama Cat was killed by a neighbor’s dog.

At that time I was severely allergic to cats, but I sacrificed my nasal comfort and stayed jacked up on Benadryl for 6 weeks to make sure those kittens thrived.

As it turned out, the kittens didn’t at all appreciate or honor me for my sacrifices. They did not take my example of treating others the way you want to be treated or learn from my loving and gentle nature.

In fact the very opposite happened.

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We had created El Diablo Gato. That’s “The Devil Cat” for you non-Spanish speakers.

We gave away 3 of the kittens and kept the tiniest, most fragile one for ourselves. She was also mauled in the attack and we found her bloody and limp. I was pretty sure she would die before the next morning, but we managed to pamper her and love her back to health.

Even so, we are now very cautious around our little devil because we never know when walking too close to her or sitting in “her” chair might make her hiss at us and swipe at us with extended claws.

Since the whole “bottle feeding orphaned kittens” days, we have heard from more than one veterinarian that bottle fed kittens are the meanest things this side of junk yard dogs, which as you probably know are almost as mean as Bad, Bad Leroy Brown. And Old King Kong.

You see, since they don’t have a mama cat to put them in their place when they misbehave, and humans are generally much too sweet (and genetically impaired) to smack a cat across the face with their claws out, the kittens never learn how to behave as proper, civilized kittens should. They don’t have painful consequences for their misdeeds, as kittens do who are raised with their mothers, so they go about doing whatever they please.

This makes them very unpleasant to live with. In fact, one veterinarian said he gets requests to euthanize grown up bottle fed kittens more than any other healthy animal.

I visited recently with the woman who took one of the kittens we gave away and she showed me the bite and claw marks on her arms and legs. She said the cat regularly attacks her out of nowhere and hisses at her if she sits in a chair the cat was considering climbing into. She is afraid of the cat and doesn’t know what to do.

All of these experiences with El Diablo Gato got me to thinking about the scripture “A child left to his own will bring his mother to shame.” When children (or cats) are left to their own ways, undisciplined and untaught, they will surely grow up to be unpleasant company.

Mamas, take note. We can’t expect our children to see our good examples of serving others and cleaning up our own messes and not crying when we don’t get our way, and expect our children to follow suit. We must make them do what is right, and yes, even dish out unpleasant consequences for not doing it.

Now, this analogy isn’t perfect because I don’t have claws and my children don’t bite me around the ankles, so don’t be gettin’ all up in my grill, because I am not saying children should be treated like animals. What I am saying is I think there is a lesson to be learned here.

Mamas play a critical role in teaching our young to be pleasant. Disciplined. A blessing instead of a burden.

No one likes to be around undisciplined cats or children.

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Positive Parenting Webinar

Positive Parenting Webinar

Have you hear of Amy McCready? She is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and a “recovering yeller.” Amy reaches a worldwide audience with her Positive Parenting Solutions Online course and is a frequent guest on the TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, and elsewhere.

Well, Amy contacted me recently to invite me to participate in a positive parenting webinar. I am excited to partner with her for a FREE LIVE training webinar on Thursday, November 14, at 9PM EST.  You will walk away with proven tools for your most frustrating discipline dilemmas including the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences.

All you need is your computer. (No webcam required.)  You’ll see and hear Amy on your screen and you can even ask questions and she’ll make them part of the presentation. And I will be there via chat to participate in the discussion, too, so come and join us!

Parents RAVE about this session, so you won’t want to miss it! Tuck the kids in bed, and settle down with a cup of hot cocoa to discuss positive parenting with Amy and Connie!

Be sure to RSVP here, and let me know in the comments if you will be there. I hope to see you Thursday night!

And speaking of positive parenting, I participated in a Google Hangout last week to discuss tips and ideas for incorporating Bible study in your homeschool.

Be sure to watch this when you get a chance. There are some awesome moms here with great ideas for Bible study!

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On Gettin’ ‘Er Done

On doing hard things

I am so glad I have a mama who showed me all during my growing up years what is was like to look in the face of something hard and get ‘er done.

My daddy was out of town for weeks at a time, and Mama took care of 118 acres and 3 daughters, 2 of which had special needs.

Being alone never stopped Mama from plowing and planting a 1 acre garden, attending IEP meetings at school, bottle feeding a baby calf, or taking us to the lake on weekends and ballet on weekdays.

After Daddy was killed in an accident, Mama kept right on doing what needed doing. Dealing with loss. Raising teens. Carrying on.

Because of that tenacious spirit, when I am faced with a difficult task, I know I need to quit whining, pull up my britches, and get it done. Partly because this is what my mama told me to do all my life, but mostly because it’s what I saw her do every single day.

Last week, with my husband out of town, I took the little kids to the circus, took the teens to meet their favorite author, chopped the head off a badly mangled and dying chicken, and herded our neighbor’s runaway Great Pyrenees off the highway and back home after midnight.

I did all those things, not because they were relaxing, easy, or fun, but because they needed doing.

And by doing so, I know I am modeling for my children how to tackle a difficult task. To get ‘er done.

Just like Mama.

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