Hi everybody! I'm on the road right now with a not-very-strong internet connection, so my Wifey Wednesday post will likely be delayed until Wednesday afternoon when I get in a better hotel room. In the meantime, if you have any great marriage advice to offer our readers, just leave it in the comments!
I don't think it's wrong to yell at God. After all, most of the Psalms are just David yelling at God. I think we read them wrong. We tend to read them in a pretty reading voice like this:
"O God, where are you? I am surrounded by enemies and pressed down, and I cry out to you."
But I think David said it like this:
"O GOOOOOOOODDDDD!!!!! Where are YOU?!? !? I am SURROUNDED by ENEMIES here, God, and I'm pressed down!!!!!"
You know what I mean? And since God knows what we're thinking anyway, we may as well be honest and yell it out.
There have been times in my life when I've yelled a lot at God. When my son was diagnosed with a terminal heart defect, I was devastated. I cried. And I yelled.
But one of the things that made me scared to yell too much was the idea that I might tick God off. And if there was any chance He was going to save Christopher, I had to be picture perfect and figure out what God was trying to teach me through this.
At some level, I thought that if I could just figure out what God was trying to say, then maybe the pain would go away. Maybe Christopher would get better. Maybe the grief would lessen.
What God showed me was that I was asking the wrong questions. I was making the whole thing about me, rather than about God. And I was misunderstanding the way that God works.
If you're having trouble walking through suffering, or if you've ever cried out to God and tried to figure out how to appease Him, this might help. It's an article I wrote about some of the things that I learned when I was walking through that really hard time. Is death a punishment? Is God really mad at me? If you've ever felt that, I hope that these words can help you see His love through whatever storm you're going through.
C.S. Lewis, after the death of his wife, remarked that grief felt a lot like fear. It was the same sickening pit in your stomach that precedes something truly awful. That’s what I felt, too. But what is it, exactly, that we’re afraid of? Facing the future alone? Forgetting? Or that this feeling will never end?
Perhaps it’s a combination of all of them. After Christopher’s death I was scared simultaneously of forgetting and of never being able to cope well again. During his illness and after his death I wailed many questions at God to try to make sense out of what was happening to me. In many ways, though, this quest was self-serving. I reasoned that if I could just find the reason for this storm, then it would stop. So I searched my repertoire of explanations for suffering in order to make sense of it. As I did so, these are the questions that vexed me.
I think the reason many of us feel chronically tired or unsatisfied at home is that we ask the wrong things of ourselves. And we ask too much of ourselves.
We're expecting to be able to keep a perfect home. We're expecting our kids will always get along. We're expecting to be able to make a blissful life for our children, where they are free to experience all kinds of activities and sports, to see what they are good at. And we're expecting to love all this work.
But if what if we have the wrong starting point? What if life isn't supposed to be endless chores? What if there's something that's more important? And what if our attitude towards our children is skewed?
I don't think our homes need to be perfect; I think they need to be comfortable, and there's a big difference.
If you're battling with this, listen in to my latest podcast! It's from an interview I did with Focus on the Family on my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum. It's only six minutes long, so you can listen while you surf the blogs!
I'm going to have a new podcast up every Tuesday. Some will be interviews I did, some will be radio shows I hosted, and some will be snippets from talks that I've given. Hopefully they'll all be an encouragement to you! You can listen to last week's right here. Have a good one!
For those of you who aren't familiar with the book, I wrote Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight because it seemed that was the one area that Keith and I were always getting into conflict over.
I decided that I had two choices: I could either get him to want it less, or me to want it more. And since the first was never going to happen, I decided to focus on the second, since that's the only thing I had power over anyway. Believe me, I tried the flannel nightgowns and everything to make him not want it, and it didn't work!
The book ended up being a fun research project that I like to say my husband is happy I did. So if this has been a problem in your marriage, I hope it can help you, too!
For the rest of you, I'm sorry that you didn't win! But I'll be doing more giveaways soon. For instance, I've decided that on the last day of each month I'm going to award a book of mine to whichever blog has referred the most visitors to me this month (because they have me blogrolled). I'm pretty sure who's going to win this month, but I'll announce that tomorrow! But if you blog roll me now, you have a good chance of winning in October!
If you're running around like a chicken with its head cut off, it's easy to blame it on outside forces. I'm just so busy. The kids are busy. Nobody helps me. I have too much to do.
But let's be honest: how much of that is your own doing?
Heart of the Matter Online has been looking at my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum this fall, and it's time for the chapter 3 installment!
Here's what Lori, the coordinator of the book club, said:
...are you concentrating and focusing on God's purposes for you and your family or are you spinning on a hamster wheel just running in endless circles, not one step closer to becoming the person that you were put on this earth to be?
Sheila suggests that we look at our standards. We all have em! Some are high, some are low and MANY are unattainable. Many of us have as Sheila examines, "exhausting standards, unattainable standards, stifling standards or conflicting standards." Most of us fall into one or more of these categories.
I do. I fall head first into unattainable, exhausting and conflicting standards at times......There, my secrets are EXPOSED!
How can we change it? I've learned that sitting around waiting for "my people" to change is a waste of my time and energy, I need to change myself.
HOW? We can examine these three questions that Sheila asks us on page 58-59.
Are all members of my family looking more like Christ?
Are you a good steward of your gifts?
Are you providing a stumbling block to others?
When I begin to use the gifts that I've been given by God to serve others, when I begin to look closely if I am helping my family become more like Christ, and examine if I in any way cause someone else, especially in my household to stumble, I'm on a path to line up with God's will for my life.
Facts are that chores HAVE to be done. Sinks accumulate dishes and laundry piles up and SOMEBODY'S GOTTA DO IT.
And now let me add some of my own stuff! We looked in chapter 1 about how exhausted running a house can make us. And in chapter 2 I showed how life really has become more complicated.
But now we get down to the nitty gritty. Are you your own worst enemy? Do you set ridiculous standards for yourself? I used to, and it's still something I fight against. I worry so much about whether or not the house is clean--even though I'm not naturally a clean person. But that doesn't mean I get up and clean. It just means I worry about it!
I'm getting much better as I get older, but it's always been a struggle. And I find that the standards that I set are often informed by our society rather than by God.
Yes, we need clean homes. Yes, we need good meals. But most of all we need to honour God and use our gifts, and if we're honest, we'd admit that there are times when our focus on our homes causes us to lose focus of the stuff that really matters.
And this goes especially with kids. I was listening to a great broadcast this week from Focus on the Family about parenting, and the speaker made the point that "there are a ton of thirty-somethings in this world who have made their beds and their rooms are tidy but they're not following God." And I asked myself, what have I stressed with my kids this week? Have I prayed with them, or have I demanded that they make their beds?
Chores are vital. I talk about that in the book. But they are vital because they teach responsibility and independence; they are not vital so that mom can have a trophy house. And if we start to emphasize the house rather than the home, we're ignoring God's gifts.
So that's what chapter three is about! Check out Lori's interpretation, and then why not pick up a copy of To Love, Honor and Vacuum and join in the discussion (click here for Amazon)? It's not too late to join, and it's so much easier to read along with other people!
You can watch a video book trailer from To Love, Honor and Vacuum here.
It's Monday, so it's time to get our menus ready for the week! It's something I really believe in, and considering I desperately need to go grocery shopping (we're out of milk and eggs), I better get my menu done now or I won't but the stuff we actually need!
But before I start, I have something I'm so PROUD of I have to share it!
I ATE ALL MY VEGGIES!
You know when you go shopping and you pile the celery and the lettuce and the endive and the cauliflower and the beans and the peppers and the green onions and all this GREEN stuff into your cart, in a health frenzy, and then it just goes slimy?
Well, we bought a ton of veggies over the last few weeks and we've honestly eaten through them. I have half an onion and some peppers left. I am so proud. So those are top on my list at the grocery store again!
The only problem is that I'm heading out this week for a speaking tour. I leave Tuesday night and I'm not back until Saturday night. What do you think are the chances that the kids and Keith will eat these veggies when I'm not here? Pretty slim, I'd say. But I'll buy them anyway, just like we all do, because it makes me feel like a good mother.
Speaking of which, last week I was in line at the store and the couple with the cart behind me had a toddler, three packages of Joe Louis, four 2 litre bottles of pop (with sugar and caffeine), several things of chips, and spaghetti-O's. There was probably was $35 of groceries in the cart and there was absolutely nothing healthy.
I know we should judge each other based on the content of our character, and not the content of our cart, but that was extreme. And that toddler was HUGE.
Anyway, back to the menu.
I'm trying to plan for things they will actually cook while I'm away, so Keith doesn't take them to Pizza Hut every night. The girls are getting pretty good at making dinner themselves now, so here's my plan:
Monday: Roast Chicken with potatoes and carrots. My night to cook, so I'll do a big roast to have some leftovers for soup for lunch the next day. The best roast chicken is just to put garlic cloves in under the skin and inside the cavity. Don't put too much salt on the bird because it actually dries it out. Save the salt for the gravy. Just add garlic and then baste it a lot, and it will taste great. It's super easy!
Tuesday: Meatballs and Rice. I just love homemade meatballs. I mix them with pinapple juice, tomato juice, and whatever barbecue sauce I happened to have in my fridge. Throw in a bit of chili sauce for some bite, and it's really good! It's just a mixture to use up all those little bits of stuff that's left after summer, like mustard and sauces, and it always seems to work. The key is to make sure you have something that's a little sweet, something with a little bite, and something that's a little sour. So if it tastes too sweet, just throw in something sour. And keep throwing stuff in until it tastes good! I've come up with great concoctions that way, and then you get rid of so many bottles!
Wednesday: Spaghetti. This one's Katie's night, and she can handle spaghetti no problem!
Thursday: Pizza. Keith does a great pizza, so I'm sure he won't mind.
Friday: Shepherd's Pie. Rebecca's turn. We just mix the ground beef with a can of tomato soup, 2 tsp of worcestershire sauce, some garlic powder, and a tiny bit of barbecue sauce. Top with frozen veggies, and you put mashed potatoes over that whole thing. It's super easy; even a kid can make it. The only hard part is peeling the potatoes. But everybody loves it. Too bad I won't be home to help eat it!
There. So I've planned their menu. Now I get to come home and see if they actally eat it!
I'm sorry I'm not linking to recipes, but to tell you the truth, I don't use them much. I just have my favourites that I make. It's easier that way!
This is a busy season in my life. I'm working hard, speaking hard, and somehow trying to homeschool my girls through it.
On the professional front, I have a number of goals that I want to meet by Christmas, and I'm well on my way to it.
But I feel discombobulated. I've been managing to keep on track with my devotions with God, which is vital, but I've lost out on "fun" time with my girls. We spend a lot of time schooling together, and doing church together, and even looking after other kids together, but just doing fun things? Hasn't happened lately.
And I haven't knit anything in an age! And I'm starting to feel it.
So last night, when I actually had some time and we had my niece and nephew over, we got out the Carcassone game. And we played! It was wonderful.
For those of you who have never played this game, it's a fun one. It's really easy to explain the rules (you can do so in under 5 minutes), and the game itself usually takes 30-45 minutes, so it's not overly long. Ages 8 and up can play. But it was great to do, because with my niece and nephew it's hard to know what to do with them. Usually these cousins tend to go off and play with my youngest, but lately I've been noticing that the play isn't the best.
They often bicker and argue, and they're at that age (pre-teen) when imagination games don't work as well. So they often insult each other instead. Not a good thing.
But we could never get niece and nephew to just play board games with the kids. Now that we've all played one together, I think my kids will be able to convince them to play sometime, even if Keith and I aren't involved. In fact, this morning my niece was playing with Katie, and that's great. It's much better than the other things they've been doing lately. It's just hard when family members don't share all your values. These kids watch movies & TV shows I won't let my kids watch, and sometimes they tease my kids because of it. My kids don't mind, but it also doesn't make them overly enamoured to play with their cousins.
With board games, you have a safer environment. It's structured, and everyone can have fun. The conversation is often centred on the game, rather than on teasing or one-upmanship. So it's a more positive environment.
When the kids were little we started with games I didn't like, like Candyland. But we graduated to MasterMind, Apples to Apples, Carcassone, and Blokus, and those even adults can enjoy!
We really are a games family, but for months the games haven't left the cupboard. We've just been too busy. And I forgot how fun they were.
Tonight the four of us played The Settlers of Catan. Now that is entertaining! Even teenage boys enjoy it. You have to be about 8 or 9 to understand the rules, but after that everyone has a great time. I've even played it with all adults!
I don't know why we go through these seasons in our lives when we don't do the things we enjoy and that bring the family together, but sometimes we get so busy we ignore the fun. I think we're going to try to play board games at least once a week again. It really does bring the family back to the table.
And when you're playing games, it's easier for regular conversation to happen naturally. The kids tell you what they're thinking about while they're rearranging their cards, or while it's someone else's turn. You really get to know what's going on inside their heads. Sometimes, if you just try to talk to kids, they don't tell you things. But if the conversation is secondary to something else (like a board game), it often flows more freely.
So the games have come back! Now I just need to start knitting again...
This one was definitely my bestseller at the conference I spoke at last weekend. I told them afterwards I should have been talking about sex, since that's what everyone seemed concerned about!
But when it comes to sex, we women are conflicted. Sure, it's nice. It can even be fun. But then, chocolate's fun, too, and it requires much less energy. So why don't our husbands enjoy eating chocolate while giving back massages? Life would be so much better, wouldn't it?
Nope. If you don't believe me, you'll have to read the book. But if your conflicting sex drives is a constant problem in your marriage, and your sick of fighting about it, believe me, I've been there. So I did the research, which my husband enjoyed, and I wrote the book.
Do you want to win it? Here's how! Just leave a comment below (and be sure you fill out you leave a blogger profile or an email address), and I'll randomly draw someone on September 29.
Good luck! And why not pass this contest on? Link to it on your blog, too!
If you're not a reader, you can download my talk "Light My Fire", or purchase the CD, here. And if you have specific questions about sex, I post them (anonymously, of course), and answer them on my main website! You can go here and read what people have already asked! And then just ask me here.
There are three types of people in this world: people who are late, people who are early, and people who show up at 1 minute past the designated time.
I am the latter. I am never early because what's the point? There's too much to do! So I time everything down to the last detail, so that I can leave at the last possible moment. Hey, you can always throw another load of laundry on, right?
I know the schedule for all the traffic lights in the area. I know which ones to avoid at what time. I don't even take the same route around town, depending on the time of day, because it may shave off a minute or two. I'm a little bit neurotic.
But I'm also rarely very late.
My daughter is early. She is always early. It drives her nuts that I don't want to leave when she is ready, even if I'm ready, too. This throwing one last load of laundry on is completely beyond her comprehension.
So she is extremely responsible. Nevertheless, that does not always stop her from being late. Such is the lot of teenagers.
Let me explain.
Last night was Youth Group night. Our junior high daughter was with friends at church, but our senior high daughter wanted to go with friends to the mall (they were accompanied by an adult). We said sure. They said they'd be back at 9:00. We should have known better.
So we dutifully showed up at 5 to 9 to collect said senior high daughter, but she wasn't there. We waited for a while, and then decided to go get gas. We got back, and still no Becca.
Then Keith's cell phone rang. They were running late, and she gave us instructions on where they were. We picked her up. No problem.
It wasn't that she was in any danger, it was just aggravating. We knew she was with responsible people.
But at what point should we take the plunge and get her a cell phone? She should have just called us the moment she knew she was going to be late, but she doesn't have a watch, and she was relying on someone else's cell phone. That someone got talking to someone else (hence why they were late), and she didn't want to interrupt.
She really doesn't go off on her own around town very often, but I'm wondering if maybe it's time. Or perhaps we should just get her a watch so she knows what time it is! But that's not always that helpful because she's not the one driving, so she's not the one who determines whether they'd be late or not.
I'm not particularly fond of cell phones. I have one and I hardly ever use it. We never use up all of our minutes. I just use it for emergencies, or if I need to check in at home while grocery shopping.
Teens, however, as soon as they have them, seem to be on them all the time. They text people constantly (HIYEEE :) :) :)). It gets really annoying.
So any advice? What have you decided, those of you who have teens? And most importantly, how can I do this cheaply?
Okay, I am very proud of myself! You have to give me a hand, here, because I figured out how to edit video! I spent this afternoon making a video book trailer for my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum. The volume went funny in one really short place, but overall I think it's not bad.
What do you think? It's only a minute long, so it's easy to watch!
I swear, though, my daughter is much better at video editing than I am. But I'm learning!
And, of course, here's the obligatory ordering information!
You can get an autographed copy from me here, or get it on Amazon here! Now I feel like I can relax again!
Every Friday I write a family column that appears in several papers. Thanks so much to everyone who left encouraging words about the last one!
Here's this week's. It's more light hearted!
Next time I go to the orthodontist’s office I will have to wear a paper bag over my head. I just forgot yet another of my daughter’s appointments.
It was easy to rationalize away the first one we missed. Keith had the girls that day, and we just didn’t share information in an appropriate way. In other words, I forgot to tell him. The second time, though, was entirely my fault, and I didn’t have a fallback excuse.
Feeling very badly, I promptly instituted a new fixture in our house: the calendar on the fridge. All our appointments were dutifully recorded, so that none could escape our notice.
However, the fridge door is not the most ideal place for a calendar that uses wipe off markers. People constantly rub against it as they stare, mouth gaping, into that appliance, in the process obliterating our appointments forever.
The third one I forgot, though, is still easily forgiven, because my mother’s best friend had died and we were rushing out of town for the funeral. How can an orthodontist compete with a funeral? In my moments of honesty, though, I admit that I would have forgotten anyway. It’s become a habit.
The strange thing is that I don’t forget anything else. My dentist, doctor, and optometrist have nothing to complain about. I’m at every committee meeting, every family meeting, every church meeting. But when it comes to my daughter’s orthodontist, I have a blind spot. I just can’t seem to keep appointments in my head.
After the fiasco with the funeral we told Rebecca it was now her job to remember, since I was obviously not up to the task. She said she would. And she did remember, right after I yelled, in a panic, “Becca, when’s the orthodontist appointment!?!?!”. She checked her little yellow card, which she had helpfully stowed deep in her closet, so that she could find it if she ever had the urge to look for her old winter snowsuits. “Yesterday,” she meekly replied.
My husband once operated a full-time pediatric office, and I remember how we used to feel about those parents who continually missed visits. They’re scatter-brained, irresponsible, and pathetic excuses for mothers and fathers. And now I’ve joined their ranks. I feel like a slug, especially when I stare into my empty wallet and realize how much my lapses of memory are costing us. But we all have blind spots, don’t we?
And often our blind spots are exactly the things that bother us in other people. I get so annoyed when people fail to show up to meetings I’ve called, but here I am doing the same thing. Similarly, I’m forever thinking critically of parents who feed their offspring junk, but to be honest, if my girls ask, “can we have chocolate before breakfast?”, my response is usually, “Is your father gone yet?”. And if the answer is in the affirmative, we all partake together, if just a little, because it’s common knowledge that the chocolate you eat before your day really begins doesn’t count.
Perhaps you have blind spots. You get mad because your spouse keeps the house in chaos, but every time your anniversary rolls around the significance of the date bypasses that part of your brain which reminds you to buy a card. Or your mother’s overindulgence of your children drives you crazy, but you fail to see how taking them to McDonald’s because you can’t be bothered to cook is proof that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
None of us likes to admit our faults. It’s far more preferable to blame the rest of humanity for being worse than we are. Unfortunately, my orthodontist bills are making it harder and harder for me to do that. I have considered obtaining affidavits from my dentist and my doctor attesting to my exemplary record of attendance. (I did forget the time of a dentist appointment once, but I still had the date right, and that has to count for something.) I don’t think, however, that this will heal the breach. Only groveling is going to do it. I wonder where we keep the paper bags.
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I have a quandary that I need some help with, but first I want to give you a little background.
My mother is licensed in using the MBTI personality indicator. Basically it's a very complicated personality test which, once you've taken it, will spit out which of 16 personalities you are based on four spectrums (spectra?). Many of us may know the DISC thing, or the Melancholy/Sanguine thing, but this is much more exact.
And lots of fun, as most of these things are! For those of you who know anything about it, I'm an ENTJ.
But that's beside the point. The real point that I am trying to make right now is that one of the questions they ask that you have to answer honestly (and quickly) is which do you like better: justice or mercy? It's not an ethical dilemma, it just uses the answer to score you on one of the spectrums.
Anyway, I've taken the test a few times and I always pick justice, although I'm uncomfortable with that. I think I can be a little too black and white at times, and not enough into grace. But this is a personality test, so I was just being honest.
Last week, in my column, I wrote about how too many women act stupidly when alcohol is involved and get themselves into dangerous and compromising situations. I tried to go out of my way to say that if they are abused in these situations, the men should still be tried to the furthest extent of the law, but the point I was making is that we women need to start acting more wisely. It's ridiculous to think that we can just get drunk, or go into strangers' homes, and be perfectly safe. All the emphasis on teaching men that "no means no" and that they shouldn't abuse women is fine, but is it really going to deter abusers? And if we're not similarly teaching women to be street smart, we're putting them in a really difficult situation.
I never drank on the college scene at all. In fact, I didn't drink until I was 28 and it became socially necessary. We were having all these colleagues of Keith's over for dinner and they always brought wine. It became increasingly embarrassing to turn it down, and I didn't want to give the impression that being a Christian was all about what you couldn't do. So I started drinking wine at dinner occasionally, and that's as far as it goes.
I have never been drunk, or even close to it. And to tell you the truth, I don't see what's fun about it, but obviously a lot of girls must enjoy it.
Nevertheless, I really think that we need to be smarter in how we act around alcohol and the opposite sex, and we need to teach the upcoming generation the same thing.
So that's the background.
Then the hate mail started. I've received some emails from people really complaining about the column. How dare I blame the victim! I'm putting women back in the Dark Ages, etc. etc.
I've always had a hard time with hate mail (I get quite a bit of it because I write in the secular press from a very socially conservative point of view), and I find it difficult to think that people don't like me! But that's a personal weakness I have to overcome.
But this column didn't sit well with me afterwards anyway. I just felt like maybe I was being too harsh. At the same time, it needed to be said.
So now I'm just struggling with it. I wish I could take some of it back, because I think it was too harsh. I probably shouldn't have used the word "stupidly" so much. But it's what I felt, and I still think it's true. But even truth can be presented in too harsh a way, and I'm afraid I did that. So I'm just struggling with that a little bit today.
I guess it's my lot in life as a writer.
Anyway, if you want to see for yourself, the column is here. And now I think I will have a shower and try to wash it all away so I can write another one! Maybe about birth order this time. No one can get mad at me for that, can they?
I've just launched my podcasts! Every week I'll be adding an audio clip that you can listen to, or you can subscribe to and download automatically whenever there's a new one!
So if you want to hear what I sound like, just click here and listen to the first one! It's part one of an interview I gave a while ago with Focus on the Family. I'll be publishing the other parts in weeks to come.
I hope to publish a new podcast every Tuesday. I know I'm a day late this week, but you can't expect everything to go right on the launch day, can you?
So I thought I'd address one of the big issues that it covers right here on Wifey Wednesdays.
And that issue is: what is the matter with him anyway? Why is that all he ever thinks about?
If that thought has gone through your head, then you are not alone. That's what many of us think when it comes to sex. And the reason is that for women, sex is a choice. Affection is the need. For men sex honestly is a need. They could take or leave affection.
So we don't speak each other's language at all about intimacy.
The title of one of the chapters in Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight is "He's not an Alien". Here's an excerpt from that chapter:
We women may have difficulty understanding the sexual temptation men feel because we're not as prone to it. And when our husbands try to explain their struggles, we may ourselves feel temptation: the temptation to hit them over the head with something hard. But we shouldn't react in anger, because that's simply a man's nature. When men are exposed to sexual stimuli day in and day out, sexual tension can build up that is very difficult to deal with. It's similar to how you may feel when you skip a meal: you get really hungry for the next one. When men keep "skipping meals"--building up sexual energy without getting release--they can become almost desperate. They may, to us, appear so pathetic that we wonder, Who is this sex maniac I married? But more likely, you husband is not sex crazy. He's just...a man.
So here's your first lesson: Repeat this to yourself over and over: "My husband is an alien". He is not made like you. If he desires you frequently, there is nothing wrong with him. Judging him according to your framework isn't fair. He doesn't share it. His desires are not wrong any more than your need for affection is. It's just different. But it's also the way God made him. Obviously he needs to exercise self-control--we all do--but he is not a freak. He is simply a man.
And here's the neat thing about men: if we want to really keep them feeling loved and happy, it's not that difficult. It doesn't take a rocket scientist. You just have to initiate intimacy a few times a week. (When you initiate, and show enthusiasm, it means so much more than if you just "put up with it". Men need to feel wanted, not placated).
But we may think this isn't fair to demand of us, because we're tired, and we have babies, and he never does anything for us. But if you wait for him to meet your needs, you could be waiting forever. If, on the other hand, you decide to stretch yourself and give yourself to your husband, it's amazing how the dynamic of your relationship may change.
I always find that when my husband and I are going through an especially good period sexually a lot of the ongoing disagreements we've been having melt away. He's much more affectionate. He's more fun to be with. And he's better around the house!
I'm not saying you should do it just for that reason; men will resent that. But when you become selfless, chances are he will react in a similar way. When he feels loved, he stops withdrawing.
I know this is hard, because there are a ton of things that can interfere with our own sex drives: our body image, past abuse, pornography, stress, medical conditions, pregnancy, menopause, kids, etc. A lot of these I deal with in my book, and I'll probably have a Wifey Wednesday just on pornography soon. I had to overcome a lot of things in my own marriage, and I'm still working on some issues from my past. But we can do it.
The problem is, I think, that many of us women don't feel like we should have to. It just seems like too much to ask of us. But if an angel from heaven were to come down and tell you that there was something you could do to help your son or daughter feel loved, wouldn't you do it in an instant? We all want to be giving when it comes to our children. But the thought that our husbands might need something from us is just wrong.
We need to get over that. Our husbands do need us. And that's the way God made it. When we learn to give to our husbands, we become more selfless people. And that's what marriage is for.
Here's a video clip of me talking about this same thing at a conference. Hope you like it!
To find out more about Honey, I Don't Have a Headache Tonight, click here! (or here for Amazon)!
What do you struggle with when it comes to intimacy? Do you have questions? Advice? Why not participate in Wifey Wednesday! Just create your own post, use the picture at the top of this post, and then enter your post's URL in the Mr. Linky below!
One of the hardest things to do as a woman is to relax.
Think of all the things that we have going around in our heads at any one time: everybody's schedules, doctor's appointments, what we're making for dinner, what's in the fridge, what's on the grocery list, whose birthday is coming up, creative discipline ideas, projects at church, and the list goes on.
But the problem is that we have to find a way to contain those things so they don't spill over into our whole lives. We've all known times when we haven't been able to be good moms, or we're not really "present" with our husbands, because we have so many other things on our minds!
So how do you relax?
I think we all need times to rejuvenate, everyday, just us by ourselves. That can be hard when we have little kids, or when we work full-time, or when we homeschool, or even just when we have busy lives.
So here's what I recommend: when the children are little, teach them to nap. And it is a skill! Too many of our children won't sleep unless they're lying on us or walking in a stroller. You have to teach kids to fall asleep in their cribs, and that means not always rocking them to sleep. You have to leave them in their cribs awake, and let them fall asleep on their own, even if it means they cry initially. You're actually doing them a favour. Teaching someone how to fall asleep on their own is such a blessing, because it's a great skill to have!
Then take that time for yourself, even if it's just to nap or take a bubble bath. But don't do something useful! Don't vacuum, or pay bills, or anything else. Just take some time just for you.
The other stuff can get done. Position the baby in the room with you while you clean, and talk to them later. I used to put the play pen near the computer, so I could pay bills while singing with my child. But when they had naps, that was my time.
Then, when they get older, keep the tradition that for half an hour or an hour after lunch everybody is in their own rooms. They can be reading, playing, or whatever, but they're quiet in their own rooms. Trust me, you will thank yourself later for doing this! But giving everybody some downtime after lunch is so relaxing. And if you start young, and make it a habit, even the most rambunctious boys will often comply.
If that won't work for you, here are some other ideas to get times to yourself:
Trade baby-sitting with a friend. You take her kids two mornings a week, and she takes yours. Then spend one of those mornings doing errands, and the other one just relaxing.
Arrange for your husband to put the kids in bed so you can have a bubble bath. Explain to him that you need this time for yourself so that you can be more "with" him later! Otherwise as soon as the kids are asleep you'll want to be off on your own to make up for all that time by yourself you didn't get during the day.
Go to a gym where they have childcare! Leaving your children in a high-quality gym childcare isn't the worst thing in the world, and many women find working out relaxing on the brain, if not on the body!
Take walks with your children in strollers. If they fall asleep, you can just contemplate the fall leaves!
Allow your children 1/2 an hour to an hour of videos or TV a day, and use that time for yourself: to read a book, do your devotions, or just to rest.
If you're at work, leave the building for your break or your lunch. If you stay, chances are someone will want to talk to you. Try to get out on your own!
Remember, we all need downtime. If you try to take every available second to get your housework done, you'll feel worse in the long run. You need some quiet minutes everyday just to clear your head. It makes you a better mom, and it makes you a better wife.
So make it a priority to carve out some time for yourself! Make sure everyone else in the family realizes this is a priority, too! You'll find yourself feeling very rejuvenated!
I posted earlier about my frustration with piano lessons with my youngest child. Basically she refuses to count, which you need to do once you get to a certain level, and she really hates reading music.
Julie asked in the comments if this was really such a big deal--maybe Katie should just learn the way she wants to learn?
And I want to address that, in a broader context so that it has more relevance even for parents whose kids don't do music lessons! So if you don't have kids in music, you can skip down a few paragraphs to get to my parenting philosophy, if you want! Otherwise just keep reading!
I spent quite a while with Katie away from the piano yesterday just making sure she "got" the concept of counting, and she does. For a while I was afraid that she might have a learning disability or something, but she doesn't. She can count, she just doesn't like to. And last night she actually did when she was practising, so to me that's a big breakthrough.
But here's our philosophy about piano first, and then we'll get to more generic parenting stuff: we have the kids take two types of lessons. The first is the typical one, with the reading music and counting and learning to play difficult pieces. I don't know what the piano system is in the U.S., but right now Rebecca is in Grade 7 and Katie is Grade 6. We've told them they have to do up to Grade 8, but I think Becca will go on to Grade 10. Katie certainly won't.
Then they take a lesson with a friend of mine who plays in church, mostly by chord sheet or by ear. So she's teaching them to do it that way, and Katie's really quite good at that.
But my friend, who is am amazing pianist, probably the best I know, says that the other type of lesson is important, too. You have to be able to read music in case anyone ever plops it in front of you. And you have to have the background in the notes and understanding how they go togehter. She has her Grade 9 piano, and says she wouldn't be as good as she is now if she didn't have that base.
So even though it's easy to say that we should just let Katie quit the classical stuff, I really think she needs to be able to play sight music, which is what we're working on with her.
Now to generic parenting stuff.
Let me back up for a minute. One of the big issues with kids today, I believe, is that the world revolves around them in a way it didn't for kids a century or two ago. In those days kids had to work, and work hard. Today, from the moment they are born, our lives revolve around our kids. They become the centre. We take them on play dates, take Mom & Tot swimming, buy them lots of toys, and expect very little out of them.
When they go to school they learn all about self-esteem and how special they are. What they don't get to do is be productive. Children, I believe, have a healthier sense of self when they feel self-reliant and useful. But children today aren't useful; too often they're accessories of the parents while we buy them all the latest things and try to make their lives go as smoothly as possible. But real life doesn't work that way. In real life your life only goes smoothly if you work and are responsible. But we don't have very many ways of teaching children that today.
In our house the kids do work, though not nearly as hard as children used to. But they have their chores, and they make dinner occasionally, and they clean toilets. It's great.
Nevertheless, I'm not sure where they actually learn the value of hard work. We homeschool, so they miss out on two things from school: getting 100% for working hard, but also having to sit through something they really really don't like. On the one hand, I'm ecstatic that they don't have to go through that. I hated watching the clock inch towards 3:10 when we would get out of school. I try to make schoolwork fun for the kids, and interesting, and for the most part I think I succeed.
But at the same time, at some point children need to learn the discipline to plow through something they don't like. In life sometimes we have to do things we hate for the greater good. And the sooner you realize that since you have to do it, you may as well have a good attitude about it and get it done, the better. When they complain and whine about it, they make everybody miserable.
One day my girls are going to have jobs. They're going to have homes to take care of, jobs to do at church, income tax forms to fill out. You can't procrastinate forever. You have to just do it. And I want to feel that my children were trained that when distasteful things come along, you take a deep breath, work as hard as you can, and get it over with.
I don't want their whole lives to be about that; I really don't. On the whole, I want them to have lives that are interesting and broadening and exciting. Occasionally, though, they do need to buckle down, and they need opportunities for that.
Rebecca, my oldest, will. If she doesn't like something, she has realized that just getting it over with is the best offense. So she does. But Katie, with everything in life, doesn't. Her first instinct is to complain, whether it's schoolwork or chores or piano. If it were just piano, I might let this go, and let her learn only the way she wants to. But it's with everything in her life, and so I'm really worried that it's more of a character issue.
So the reason that I am so strict with piano is that I want her to learn that valuable lesson. Practising for 25 minutes a day, hard, isn't so bad. She has the rest of the day to do things she likes, after all. And if she put her all into it, she'd be done lessons for good in a year and a half. She really would. But at the rate she's going it will take three years. I'm not trying to make her whole life hard, but learning to overcome procrastination and laziness is an important skill to teach children, and it's one I'm still battling with myself.
Does that make sense? Have you ever experienced this in your home? I think Katie will be an incredible pianist one day. She's already at the point where she could play for church. But even more than that, I want her to a person who doesn't complain, who is helpful, who is the first to jump in when something needs doing and just gets it done. I think 11 is a good age to start learning that. We'll see how it turns out!
According to birth order experts, the first child encapsulates all your hopes and dreams for the future. Because they are the first, your life is totally taken up with them, and they are totally taken up with you. They don't have any older siblings to stare at or to watch, they only watch you.
Thus, they tend to become the overachievers, the ones who want to please the parents. They have strict standards for themselves, and are far more likely to be perfectionists than other kids.
When the second one comes along, though, the parents are looking for something else. They want someone who can meet their emotional needs, instead of their dreams in the long-term. So the second born is a little more carefree. And it makes sense, because as a baby they're not primarily being stimulated by over anxious parents. They're watching a toddler fall all over themselves.
Nothing is set in stone, of course, but this is a pretty good guess as to what your children will be like.
And mine fit it to a T. Rebecca is my overachiever. It's hard to get her to do something if she's afraid she may fail. Right now the homeschoolers are trying to put together a soccer team, and though she loves soccer she doesn't want to play because she doesn't think she'll be good enough. But they need her for the numbers!
My Katie, on the other hand, I have to push to get her to try and do something well. One I have to push to not try so hard; and one I have to push to try at all.
Often Katie's schoolwork is sub par, and I know she could do better, but she rushes through it. And Becca? She tries too hard.
One thing that we're really struggling with Katie with right now is piano. She can play by ear, so we have her taking lessons to learn to play by chord sheet. But she's also taking the traditional lessons, and she hates counting. Just hates it. She cries when we make her count, and she whispers it, and I just can't understand it. Can someone have a learning disability about counting? Someone who is three grade levels ahead in math? Does that make any sense?
I hate the fact that we always butt heads over piano, and I always lose my cool. But she drives me nuts sometimes. She's my cuddly baby, and she's the one that in some ways is my emotionally close one, but Rebecca is closest to my personality. Rebecca is more the one that I understand, because I am a firstborn, and my husband is a firstborn, and my mother is a firstborn, and my father is a firstborn, and Keith's father is a firstborn, and Keith's mother was the last girl followed by a string of boys that she had to raise, so she has firstborn tendencies. And then there's little Katie that none of us can figure out.
It's not her fault. And I do love her dearly. I just don't know how to motivate her because we are so different. So that is my main topic of prayer this week: how to mother her better. I don't think I'm doing a good job when it comes to motivating her for piano or schoolwork because I can't figure her out. So if you could say a prayer for me, and leave a comment, that would be great!
Do you love leftovers? I do, because they're easy, and they're cheap! They're our family favourites!
I'm planning on cooking this week so that I have a bunch of leftovers in the coming days that I can do something with.
But here's a tip: don't throw anything out. No matter how small. I keep all those leftover veggies, and leftover meat, and even leftover gravy, and freeze them in small tupperware containers or ziploc bags. That way I always have something I can use to make a soup, or a meat pie! It's great.
We have a lot of beef in our freezer, so I'm going to start with a roast, and then make a leftover dish with it, and then make a soup from that. So one roast can do us for three meals. Maybe it won't with you if you have a huge family, but try to buy one that is big enough!
The problem with meals like roasts and whole chickens is that you eat the meat separately. They're tasty, but you tend to eat more meat than when it's in a casserole or a soup and it's mixed in with other stuff. So the more you can mix it in, the better the leftovers are! You may only have two slices of beef left, but that's enough for a beef barley soup for a family of four, and then you just serve it with a big salad and some rolls and you're all set!
So here's my menu plan for the week:
Monday: Beef Roast. I've got the fresh potatoes and fresh carrots to go with it! I just wish I was as good with gravy as my mother-in-law is.
Tuesday: Chicken Stir Fry. Again, I have some veggies I need to use up, and this is the best way to do it! Plus, in a stir fry, two chicken breasts will work for our whole family because I just add mostly vegetables.
Wednesday: Pork roast. I want some pork leftovers, too! They're great for Asian soups with noodles later on.
Thursday: Beef Barley soup and salad and rolls. I'm going to try doing the rolls in my bread maker, because I haven't used it in a while and I really do like homemade bread. I seem to use it in spurts, and then it will sit under the counter for ages. So it's time to get it out again!
Friday: Asian Pork Soup.This is definitely our family favourite! If you want to make an Asian soup base, just use:
one litre of chicken stock 3 tbsp soy sauce 2 tbsp rice vinegar 2 tsp sesame oil and then throw in a bit of fish sauce or oyster sauce if you have it.
Add to that things like:
Ramen noodles. You can buy them plain in packages really inexpensively! Cans of those mini-corns. The kids love these! Sliced mushrooms Leftover chicken, beef or pork
Then serve on the side:
Lime wedges Bean sprouts
It's really yummy. I like it with a bit of ginger on top and some hot sauce, but I usually add that to my own bowl because the kids don't like spicy!
Saturday: Beef Leftovers. I'll figure this one out when I get there! I have a bunch of recipes I use, but they all go over rice and they're all yummy. So I'll see what I feel like!
Sunday we're out of town, so I won't do that day. But that's what we're having this week! I hope you can use up your leftovers, too!
Thanks for dropping by! Be sure to stay and look around a bit. I have a book giveaway going on, advice on marriage and parenting, and much more!
Every Friday my syndicated column appears in several newspapers across North America. Here's this week's:
I was perusing the news a while back and two stories on the same day struck me. In one, the website YouTube was being criticized for lax rules when it came to uploading violent content, after a video of a 25-year-old young mother being gang-raped was posted.
The crime sounds hideous, and indeed it was. But as I read the background, I became even more depressed. In this particular case, the 25-year-old had invited several neighbourhood teenagers into her apartment, some as young as 14, and ended up serving them champagne. The teens spiked her drink, and after she passed out, these girls invited the boys to assault her.
No one deserves that, and apparently the woman’s two children witnessed the attack. This is horrifying in and of itself, and I do hope the perpetrators, both the boys and the girls who set it up, receive harsh punishment, though I rather doubt that will happen given their tender ages.
Nevertheless, I still have to ask: why was she serving 14-year-old kids champagne? Please understand, I am not saying that she deserved to be raped; but one can act stupidly, and there are consequences to acting stupidly. Personally, I think we should avoid stupidity as much as possible.
The second story bore a remarkable similarity. In this California case, four teenage boys, aged between 15 and 17, invited two teenage girls, aged 14 and 15, that they had met on the street home for a drink. The girls acquiesced, got drunk, and were then sexually assaulted.
Again, they did not deserve that, and I do hope that the perpetrators face justice. But why in the world were two teenage girls going into a stranger’s home to drink?
We may want to live in a world where we can do anything we want to without facing consequences, but life’s not like that. And when we act stupidly, harm can come to us. So let’s stop being so stupid.
A number of women I know remember waking up after a party to find their clothes disheveled with no recollection of what happened. I can imagine how traumatic that would be. But let’s face it: going to a party where there is lots of drinking is not necessarily a safe thing to do, even if you know the people who are there. Likewise, you may think a guy is great, but going to his room or his apartment alone before you know him that well isn’t brilliant either. Warning bells should go off in your head. If they’re not, there’s something wrong.
We constantly educate boys that “no means no”, and that date rape is wrong, and all of that is well and good. But when are girls and women going to wise up to the fact that alcohol and safety don’t mix all that well?
Across the country right now many teens are away from home for the first time, enjoying the freedom college or university bring. Parents may have dreams of academic pursuits, but in truth the first pursuits on university campuses are often far more base and more dangerous. Part of maturity, though, is recognizing danger and acting responsibly so as to minimize risk. The immature of any age discount risk. The mature are on the lookout for it.
Success in life, then, must ultimately include internalizing some basic facts. You reap what you sow, and you shouldn’t let your guard down. These aren’t fun rules, and they’re not widely taught anymore in this politically correct world. But we should teach them—not to get men off the hook, but simply to protect women’s safety.
Tragically, sometimes things happen even when we are taking every precaution. There are never guarantees. But we certainly can lower the risk that we’ll be victims of violence. Mature people understand that. Maybe it’s time, then, for all of us to grow up.
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Reality Check, the book, is a fun read of 84 of Sheila's favourite columns. And they're short reads! Great for the bathroom...
In September and October I am speaking seventeen times. Robert Munsch, who writes children's books, considers seventeen a funny number (Moira had seventeen uncles; She jumped on the bed seventeen times; they had seventeen pizzas). It's his favourite number.
But somehow it's not so funny when you have to get up there seventeen times and your hair has to look good. Many of the talks are repeats, so I only have to prepare a few new ones. But it is still a little nerve-wracking, and I got in a very bad mood last night just thinking about it.
Things look better this morning. Except for my hair.
So I am going into the hair dressers and I am going to do something radical.
I'm sort of a "dirty blonde", as we used to say in the eighties. I'm not a brunette, but there's very little true blonde in my locks, either. So for the last several years I've been highlighting it blonde, and cutting it short.
My hairdresser, who is also a friend, is sick of it. She has a very short attention span and likes more of a challenge. So now that we've found one look that isn't bad for me, she thinks it's time to mix it up a little. And since I have no backbone, I have decided to go ahead.
She thinks I should do a dark wash, go back to a little darker than my natural colour, and then do some light highlights around the face. And leave it longer this time. I have asked other friends and my husband what they think, and they agree.
So I suppose I shall have to go through with it. I guess I can always dye it back if I hate it, but I've never really been dark before. The length thing sort of gets to me, too. When it's short it's easier to style. As soon as it gets a little long I get bangs in my eyes and I have to tuck it behind my ears, and sometimes, in the middle of talking, it wiggles out from behind said ears and can stick out. And I don't want to look like Prince Charles.
Nevertheless, I will trust her, and tonight I will have a different head of hair. I'll post pictures if I'm not afraid to take them.
I just wish I didn't have to go to the hairdresser today. I have a lot to get done, and it's a little overwhelming. And lately small things are getting missed.
For instance, I forgot Rebecca's orthodontist appointment again this week. This wouldn't be so bad except that it is the fourth orthodontist appointment we have forgotten. One I can blame on Keith, but the others are just me. We have tried different ways to remember, and it just doesn't work.
I don't forget optometrist appointments, or dentist appointments, or doctor's appointments, but I seem to have a black hole in my brain when it comes to the orthodontist. And now they're charging me for missed appointments, which really adds up.
The worst is that I remember how Keith used to feel when he had his office about people who repeatedly missed appointments. They were scatter-brained, irresponsible, horrible parents. And now that's me! But I'm not scatter-brained. I'm not irresponsible. It's just this one little part of my life. The other seventeen things I always remember, as Munsch would say.
I don't know how to convince them of that, though, so next time I go into that office I shall just have to wear a paper bag over my head. I'm seriously considering it. Especially if I end up hating my hair.
Heart of the Matter is using my book, To Love, Honor and Vacuum, as their book study this fall! I'm thrilled, because I know that many of us moms do feel taken for granted. We feel overwhelmed. We feel like there's way too much work to do, and we're never going to get through that mountain of laundry.
And if that's how you feel, this book can give you a new perspective on your life! It will challenge your assumptions about what housework is really for, and encourage you to make sure that your home is a place where everyone feels respected--even you!
If you want to be part of this exciting study, now is a great time to get the book and jump in! (Click hereto buy through Amazon). Often we buy books with the greatest intentions, but then we don't read them. Here you can do it with other women and read what they have to say.
We already looked at chapter one. Here's this week's study on chapter two.
Is there any escape from the mundane?? Not likely, but perhaps there is hope in our perspective. Did those women of previous generations have it any easier? Was life simpler? Did THEY escape the mundane?
Sheila Gregoire gives us a glance into 3 women's lives from era's gone by in chapter 2. One woman living in 1869, one from 1952 and a woman of our day, 2002. Why do we feel that somehow they coped better, managed it better, and somehow ended the day, "less tired."
Bob Dylan appropriately sung the words...
"Times they are a changin'"
The reality is that many things have changed.
We do not live in small, close knit communities as much as those sisters of the past. Our families are spread out, we cannot leave our children outside alone with the assurance that someone we "trust" would be watching out for them. With the reality of relocations and job transfers, we simply don't always stay in one place anymore.
With these changes, we've seen the role of women change as well. It's interesting to notice that while while women working "outside the home" is a relatively new phenomenon, the woman who was farming in a small town in 1869 was involved with every aspect of her home and often her husband's business. They really were a team. Today we've seen the emergence of husbands and wives moving often in different directions rather than collaborating in business together.
I spoke this weekend at a retreat just west of Ottawa. We were in the middle of nowhere, and it was quite breathtaking. And the weather was lovely. I really needed that time away from my daily life. I had been preparing for quite a while the talks that I was to give, but they were new to me. Yet I think because they had been so much on my mind for the last few weeks they just flowed perhaps easier than when I repeat talks I've already done!
Anyway, my text was the book of Ruth, though I talked more about themes than dissecting every verse. But to me one of the big themes is Ruth leaving behind an extremely dysfunctional and violent culture (Moab) and doing a 180 degree turn in her life, so that she left a great legacy (King David was her great-grandson).
So we talked about what it takes to do such a 180 in our own lives, and to break some of these negative patterns that we inherit from both our culture and our family.
I don't know where I got it from, but I am an angry person. I didn't grow up in an angry household, but I lose my temper quite easily, and I let other people rile me up. I'm not proud of this; it's simply a fact.
My husband is also very angry, though God has done incredible things in his life so that he's not nearly as angry as he was when he was a teenager.
But now we're raising two daughters who can also lose their cools quite frequently. I don't know where they get it from :).
This is not something I'm happy about, or something that I want to put up with. I want it to stop with me. And so while I was in the middle of nowhere this weekend, talking about breaking patterns, I spent quite a while praying and thinking about my own.
I let myself get annoyed by my husband way too much. We have a great relationship, but there's always room for improvement, and this is one of the areas where we there's a lot of room for growth. I think, somewhere inside my head, I believe that Keith's job on this earth is to make my life easier. And when he fails to do that, I get annoyed.
Because it's all about me, you see.
That's the root of my anger: the fact that it is all about me. It's basic selfishness. What if, instead, the reason Keith is put on this earth is to help me become more holy? What if, by loving him, I am going to grow?
That's really the point of marriage, isn't it?
We don't have a hard time loving our children. It's natural. We know they need us, and we don't resent them for that. In fact, we rather like being needed. But if our husbands need anything, it shows that their weak, selfish, or just plain wrong. And that's what's got to stop.
Why can't we love our husbands as much as we love our children? We may feel love to our husbands, but do we act it? Do we show them grace when they do little things that bug us, or do we snap back at them? Do we encourage them, or do we correct them?
I want to start encouraging and honoring my husband just by showing how grateful I am that he is here. But I can't do that alone. I need God's help, and that's the focus of my prayer life right now. If I can stop sniping at my husband, then I think much of the anger in our household will be diminished.
So what about you? Do you show grace to your husband, or do you snap, too? Do you let yourself become annoyed too easily? Why not pray for the grace to let little things go. After all, God lets so much go with us. Why not pass it along?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on marriage! To participate, just copy the picture at the top of this post and post it on your blog. Write something about marriage, and then come back here and enter the URL of your post in the Mr. Linky. And we'll visit you!
If you need to revive the romance in your marriage, Sheila and Keith's talk Light My Fire is a great start! Download it here, or purchase the CD!
I don't know if it's just their ages, but I have found that my daughters are becoming more negative. It may be hormonal, but I'm not putting up with it. I hate the negative tone that our house sometimes gets.
But I couldn't find anything that would really help, and I didn't want to just get angry (see my Wifey Wednesdays post for that!). So I came up with an idea that's working really well.
I divided up the things that the children do and receive in this house into rights and privileges. So for instance, meals are a right. Desserts are a privilege. Youth group and church are rights; computer time is a privilege.
And the privileges can all be taken away! I don't see why I should have to go out of my way to make them happy when they are not obeying me. So I have made an elaborate chart so that they have to earn points to get their privileges. And the best part is that points can be taken away for acting negatively.
Here are the privileges:
1 Hour TV 1 Hour Internet Visiting with Friends Ice Cream Out Lunch Out Dinner Out Field Trips Room Decorating Pick What Mommy Makes Desserts
And here are the points:
Morning Routine (1) Dishes/Dishwasher a.m. (1) Dishes/Dishwasher p.m. (3) Make your lunch day (3) Do your school a.m. (2) Do your school p.m. (2) Good attitude throughout day (5) Getting along (5) Random act of kindness (3) Good attitude with piano (4) Praise Sister (2)
Here are the penalties:
Bad Attitude (-2) Fighting (-1) Fight where you were the problem (-5) Trying to do minimum (-4) Teasing (-3) Insulting sister in front of others (-2)
The points are for one day, and they aren't transferable. So at the end of the day we have a total. The next day we start all over again, so that we can figure out what they earn for several days running. We keep the points sheets on the fridge for reference, and then in a binder with our homeschooling stuff with me for the rest of the day while I reward them (or penalize them!).
I haven't written down the costs for the privileges, but for instance for Dinner Out they have to have no penalties greater than -5 for a whole week, and to pick what I make for dinner they have to have 25 points in one day. You can assign whatever you want.
This may seem rather complex (my family works with complex), but you can do the same thing and make it easier to figure out. The kids now enjoy keeping track of their points, and they're always trying to do random acts of kindness and praising their sister so that they get extra points. They've caught on.
I think this only works with older children, but I know that it has transformed my house!
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We went on a hike today to a lovely area just north of where I live. We're learning about the Canadian Shield in Geography, and it actually starts about twenty minutes north of me (we're in the Great Lakes Lowlands), so we saw the transition and then hiked up a big rock. It was breathtaking.
But before we left for the hike I went on google to search for the trail. I entered the name of the town, the province, and the word hiking, and got a search result that looked like it was perfect. I clicked on it and graphic pornography showed up. It had obviously been hijacked.
I almost asked my 13-year-old to do the search for me. Am I ever glad that I didn't!
So here's my question: what do I do to prevent this in the future? Can you? Does something like Net Nanny protect even when a site has been hijacked?
And is Net Nanny good? We were using MSN with its parental controls, but the kids just hated it (and so did I). Everything was so slow and it was ridiculous, so we've cancelled it. I'm not worried about what they surf, because I know what my daughter does on the computer. But the chance that something like that could happen doing a perfectly innocent search has me spooked.
About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.