Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Book review: Grace-Based Parenting

A couple years ago, at a women's Bible study, one woman said, "My sister always had a great way of teaching her kids about grace. She would punish them -- maybe by saying they couldn't go to the park like they planned -- and then an hour later she would say, 'Get your shoes on so we can go to the park.' And when the kids acted surprised, she would say, 'God shows us grace, so I'm showing you grace.' "

Then she kind of chuckled and said, "She usually did it when she realized the punishment was a bad idea, like when she told them they couldn't go to the park, but then they were all driving her crazy by staying inside."

The other women in the Bible Study all said, "Oh, wow! That's so great! What a great way of teaching grace to your children!"

Now if you know me at all, you know I'm very Skeptical and Difficult, especially in Bible Study Settings, and something didn't seem quite right about it to me. I pondered it for a while and thought:

1) If you, as a parent, make a bad decision about something, you should just admit it was a bad decision, or that you changed your mind. Don't pretend to make it a lesson about something just so that you can save face.

2) The whole point of grace is that it is freely bestowed out of generosity and kindness. To say, "Eh, never mind, I guess I'll show you grace because my original plan won't work" seems to miss the whole point.

3) The concept of grace must be something bigger and more meaningful than simply, "I can and should punish you, but I've decided not to."

4) What would, in fact, be a better way to truly show our kids grace?

Well, I recently am finding out some answers to #3 from a book I'm reading called Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel.

It's strength is also what makes it slightly aggravating. This is not your typical parenting book of "here's what to do when you kid does this, and here's how to handle when your kid does that." Rather, it talks about what grace is, with plenty of scripture, as well as quotes from people like Philip Yancey and CS Lewis, and talks about what that might look like in the relationship with your parents.

A large portion of the book discussed the fact that all humans, even before The Fall, were created with three needs:

1) A need for love and security
2) A need for purpose
3) A need for hope

and then addresses what a parent meeting those needs might look like.

Or maybe what it definitely would not look like.

It's very thought-provoking; the type of book that's best when you read it slowly, think about it, then re-read parts again. It's the kind of book I wish I had a group I could discuss a chapter or two with every week. I think it would make a great study for an adult Sunday School class.

Chapter Three

[Guest writer Rachael was fully sedated for an MRI this morning, but she was still able to contribute her latest installment. The vomiting has finally stopped around here, so hopefully I'll be back tomorrow.]

The Mystery Princess
by Rachael, age 7

Chapter Three: Inside the Castle

When Mother and Father's car had droven away, Anna gave one good look at the castle. Mother was right: it was royal. It was pink, with shiny blue jewels everywhere on it. And at the very top, there was a balcony. It pointed upward. And hanging from the bars, there was a jewel and the words "ROYAL BALL." This was good. Now Anna knew that she was at the right castle.

She went inside and discovered that the inside was better than the outside. There was a beautiful red carpet with jewels on it. It went across the whole room. The banister was decorated with pink hearts. And there was a clock that almost touched the roof. There was a shiny black piano, and someone one was playing it. He was in handsome clothes and playing "Here Comes the Bride."

It was supposed to be nice and royal, but every lady was anxious to have it be their turn, so it wasn't a lovely picture to the king and queen, who were sitting on high thrones.

She saw that on the red rug there was a line of really pretty women, and she considered her the nicest one of all. At the end of the line, there was a Prince, and he was in very handsome clothes.
He had black shoes, black pants, a white shirt, and a red tie. From top to bottom, Anna thought he was the handsomest person in the whole ballroom. She saw the whenever a woman came up to him, the woman would curtsy, but the Prince always shook his head, and the woman would walk sorrowfully away.

When it was Anna's turn, she remembered that she was pretending to be a princess. So when the Prince asked her name, she said, "Anna. I'm a princess."

The Prince couldn't say anything else. He was too surprised. He thought Anna was really a real princess, so he said to Anna, "You're the one! I'll find a room for you to stay in with me til the marriage." And he ran off.

Anna shouted, "But I'm not a real princess! I'm just pretending to be a princess!" She couldn't spread the news that she wasn't a real princess to another woman, because there were no other women. They had all left.

And then she soon found herself in the most beautifullest, softest, silkiest bed she had ever been in. She thought of home. She thought of her cat. Even though she didn't like Grace, she still missed her.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Our guest writer continues ...

[The blog is continuing to be run by seven year old Rachael until the rest of us all get well.]

The Mystery Princess
by Rachael, age 7

Chapter Two -- Going to the Ball

The next day, Anna woke up. She knew she was excited for something, but she didn't know what. She got up and wandered around the room, but when she got to the trash can, she saw her Decision Chart and remembered that today was the day of the ball. She had used that chart to make the decision of the ball, and that's how she had thought of the ball when she saw the chart in the trash. She had thrown it in the trash, because what' the use of a Decision Chart when she had already made the decision?

She dressed up extra pretty and thought of something. "I know! I'll pretend I'm a princess! So I'll look extra pretty!" And then she looked for her very best ring, her very best dress, and her tiara.

When mother was driving her and Grace to the ball, Anna thought of the Royal Time she would have, and the pretty dresses she would see.

"I want to go with Anna!" said Grace.

"You're too little," Mother said. "Anyway, four year olds can't marry."

"They're too small," added Anna, trying to act like she was a real, live princess.

Grace started to cry.

"Oh, stop it!" said Anna, forgetting that she was trying to act like a princess.

When she got there, she couldn't see much because the car was little and there wasn't much windows. Only the windshield and the two windows for Mom and Dad. She could have looked out the windshield, but there was too much stuff piled between Mom and Dad.

But they could see, and they thought it was a beautiful sight. "Look at that royal castle!" said Mother to Anna.

"I can't see a thing!" said Anna, who was trying to hear and talk over Grace's crying.

When she got out, Grace was done crying. "Bye, Anna!" said Mother and Father.

"Bye-bye, Anna!" said Grace, half talking and half wiping the tears still remaining on her face.

Our guest writer for today

[As we are still not completely healthy in this household, I have called on seven year old Rachael, who is not currently ill, to take over the blog until we all recover.]

The Mystery Princess
by Rachael
(a book for teenagers)

Chapter One -- News of the Ball

Anna was frustrated and was tied from the ball that she had been invited to and the ice skating she had practiced really hard on. They were both on the same date.

At this particular moment, Anna was walking up and down the hall of her house. Her hands were folded and she was thinking hard. But then she suddenly thought to herself, "Ice skating is nothing. But a ball would be really fun and fancy." She made up her mind to go to the ball instead of her ice skating class.

Later on she was cross-stitching and thinking of the great decision she had made. She had told the people in charge of the ball that she was going to the ball. The king and queen were delighted. They were always happy whenever they got new customers for the ball.

Just at that moment, Anna's little sister Grace walked in and said, "What are you doing?"

"Shush, Grace. I have a problem on my cross-stitch."

Grace said, "You're always cross-stitching! I want you to play Follow the Leader with me."

Anna said, "And you're always playing Follow the Leader. Anyway, I'm almost finished. Seventeen year olds always enjoy doing cross-stitch."

Anna was seventeen years old, but acting like she was twenty. Grace was four years old, and as Anna always says, she's always playing Follow the Leader.

"No!" Grace said. "I want you to play NOW!"

"Stop complaining!" said Anna. "Look, you made me do a mistake."

Grace came over to see.

"I don't mean that kind of see. I mean 'see' because I want you to be sorry."

"I'm never sorry for you," said Grace, as Anna shouted, "Mother! Grace is bothering me!"

Mother came in and said to Grace, "Grace, Anna's busy. You can play Follow the Leader with me."

As Grace ran over to play Follow the Leader, Anna's cat came into the room to be petted. "I have no time, Sooty. I have to do my cross-stitching."

Sooty looked up and did a sorrowfully meow and Anna gave Sooty a pat. "I know you feel bad. But you'll just have to wait."

[Stay tuned for Chapter Two - Going to the Ball]

Monday, December 22, 2008

So it's come to this: A clip-show post

[The title is a reference to this Simpson's episode.]

Here, for your reading pleasure, is some of my favorite past posts to entertain you until we all feel better:


This post is significant because it generated the only real negative comment I've ever received. I was anonymously told I "sound very narrow-minded."

I kinda like this one because it's a nice blend of my own personal interests and what my kids are into.

If you missed this short anecdote the first time, a lot of people thought it was hilarious.

If Rebecca S. or Kim or anyone else from USC is reading, these musings about eighth grade would be very interesting.

Here's a conversation from some public school teachers about why homeschooled kids have no social skills.

And finally, some one I know e-mailed me saying I should submit my rant against John Rosemond to the local paper. (I didn't, although I was very flattered.) I expected it to get some negative comments, but it didn't. I guess not enough people are readers here to care! :)

Another one bites the dust!

Well, I guess it was inevitable. Rachael woke up at 3:00 am vomiting.

Cleaning up sheets and mopping the floor in the middle of the night has got to be one of the looooow points of parenting.

I seriously have about six loads of laundry to do today, between soiled sheets and blankets and stuffed animals, and soiled towels and rags used for clean-up, and just the clothes from vacation we still haven't washed.

So now all five of us have been hit.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Where I've been

I read recently, "My biggest blog pet peeve is people blogging about why they haven't been blogging lately."

Good point, but in this case I think it's okay.

We were in Disney World for a week. I thought we'd have WiFi there, but you had to pay ten dollars a day for it. Everything cost an absolute fortune there, and yes, I know it's silly that it should surprise me. We were going to have our laundry sent out, but then saw the price list and quickly calculated that it would cost over a hundred dollars to do about 3 days' worth of laundry! So instead I used the coin-operated machines, which was still pretty pricey -- $4.50 a load!

How was the trip, you ask?

Well ... four out of five of us (including me) got a stomach virus. Rachael was the only one unscathed.

Now we are home.

And I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A stay-at-home day

Sadly, we don't have too many stay-at-home days.

Actually, the sad part is not that we don't have them more often, but that we don't have the option for them very often. The girls have weekly dance classes, and we all attend a weekly Bible study. Add to that things like grocery shopping, our Endless Doctor Visits, and occasional rehearsals for me, and we're all running around more than I would like to.

But today it was was raining, and we stayed home, and it was nice.

This morning we made cut-out Christmas cookies. Benjamin got his own wad of dough and had fun playing with the cutters as well.

Rachael did her ETC (phonics) and is supposedly doing her math right now.

I washed the sheets and did a load of laundry and we cleaned up the playroom, which was a disaster area. Is there anyone else who often has a room go from Perfectly Tidy to Disaster Area in less than thirty minutes?

We ate mac and cheese for lunch (yuck, not my first choice, but we have practically no food in the house) while watching Little House on the Prairie. We had read a few of the books together and then got Season One of the show, and we really like it.

Our "book study" for this week is Jan Brett's The Wild Christmas Reindeer. We already read it today, and hopefully in a little while I will muster up some energy to make Reindeer Cookies with pretzel sticks for antlers and M&Ms for nose and eyes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sometimes it doesn't pay to do things early

I tend to make Christmas cookies and give them as gifts. I like to bake, and to me homemade cookies is a really nice gift that people don't need to find shelf space for.

I made several batches of cookies a couple weeks ago and put them all in the freezer with the idea that, ta-da, I was ahead of schedule on something!

The problem with that, if you haven't guessed already, is thatby now many of the cookies have been eaten.

Rebecca saw me take a cookie out of the freezer yesterday and she said, "Why do you keep those cookies in the freezer?"

I said, "Well, the idea is that I won't eat them, but it doesn't seem to work, does it?"

Tomorrow will be a baking day for us.

Monday, December 8, 2008

So, how's that experiment going, Jen?

Some of you may be wondering if I've stayed successful in keeping off the computer between breakfast and 3:00 pm, as I wrote about here.

The answer is: Yes!

And it's been great. Things have more peaceful and calmer. I'm more focused on whatever I'm doing, whether it involves the kids are not.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Unconscious Mutterings

  1. Love affair :: cheesy movie
  2. Bubble :: bath
  3. Pimple :: pop
  4. Knocks :: on wood
  5. Persistent :: annoying
  6. Infected :: cut
  7. Yay! :: Aw, that's the end! (from Schoolhouse Rock)
  8. Repaint :: the house
  9. Daily :: Nightly (the title of a Monkees song)
  10. Quickly! :: rabbit

From Luna Nina

Friday, December 5, 2008

By popular request -- the songs I remember

Kim, my buddy from Johnston elementary (who I danced with in the fourth grade talent show to "Stayin Alive"!) asked me what songs I remembered singing in chorus, as I mentioned in my Christmas MEME.

There were so many I decided to make it a separate post:

Sung to the "American Bandstand" tune, although I did not know it at the time:
Come on and boogie ... Come on and boogie with me ... come on and boogie around the Christmas tree ...
and, later:
Let's get together, and sing a carol or two ... we'll build a snowman, and decorate him like you ...

(some sort of song about Pablo, a Mexican reindeer)
Without him ... Santa would not know where he's going ... ay-yi-yi-yi,
Without him ... he would not know if it was snowing ... South of the Border?
Pablo can do the cha-cha-cha,
He makes the children laugh, ha-ha
All the muchachos shout, "Ole!"
"Pablo, please hurry back!" they say.

In fifth grade I was in "Special Chorus" (which was an audition-only group, but it sounds like we're retarded or something) and we did a very simple song and dance routine to "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" with batons wrapped in red and white paper to look like Christmas canes.

I also remember the entire cast of the chorus's version of Alice in Wonderland in fifth grade. (Kim and I were cards, which is a nice way of saying we failed the audition.)

And, of course, who could forget going to King's for ice cream after a concert? I still have a Pavlovian desire to go get ice cream after I perform.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Further proof that I'm cheap ... er, I mean, a tightwad

Yesterday I went to the doctor.

First, I parked in a nearly office complex so I wouldn't have to pay for parking (which saved me at least $3). Then, I asked the doctor if he had any samples of my medications (which saved me at least $60).

Heck, I don't know about you, but I call it smart.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas MEME

Ah, MEMEs are great: the thinking is done for you. I found this one at Stephanie's site (although I deleted some of the questions due to laziness).

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?
Egg nog, but only about 2-3 sips

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree?
Wrap presents

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white?
The few lights on our front window are white, but I'm thankful that there are people to take the time to hang up colored lights

4. Do you hang Mistletoe?

5. When do you put your decorations up?
The weekend right after Thanksgiving

6. Favorite memory as a child?
Oh my gosh! If you know me well, you know not to get me started on childhood memories or we'll be here all week! Here are some things that pop into mind:

- Sledding down the big hill in our backyard in Pittsburgh
- Making a Christmas tree with my mom that's basically a big, conical popcorn ball decorated with gumdrops on toothpicks
- The Christmas chorus concerts at Johnston Elementary (yes, I can even still sing of the songs; how weird is that?)

7. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree?
Most of our ornaments are ones the kids made, gifts from my students, or handmade presents over the years from my old college roommate, Anne

8. Snow! Love it or Dread it?
Love it, miss it, wish the kids could have more of it

9. Can you ice skate?
Yes, but I prefer roller skating

10. Do you remember your favorite gift?
Yeah, my kid not dying when she was in ICU during Christmas 2005, hey, how's that for a gift?

11. What tops your tree?
It's Rebecca's job to put the star on top

12. What is your favorite Christmas song?
I like them all, but a couple favorites are Little Drummer Boy and Do You Hear What I Hear (which we sang at the fourth grade chorus concert at Johnston Elementary)

13. Candy canes, yuck or yum?

14. Favorite Holiday Movie?
A Christmas Story, but unfortunately I'm the only person in the family who likes it
I also really like Charlie Brown Christmas. and Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, if anyone remembers that one

Car unkee down!!

Very often, these days, we hear, very earnestly, "Car unkee down!" (Car wants to get down.)

It means that Benjamin saw a car on the back of a truck, or on a tow truck.

Or he's thinking about the time he saw a car on top of a truck. Or he's playing with his cars and put one on top of a bus or truck.

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Monday, December 1, 2008

How to take pictures like a professional

Back when Rachael was three and Rebecca was one, the three of us were featured in a local newspaper article about doing sign language with your babies.

A photographer came to the house to do a photo shoot, which I thought was really fun.

The way he took the pictures really stuck with me, as it's so different from how schmucks like you and me probably do it.

For example, first he had the three of us sit in the living room, with me holding a book and a girl on each side of me, and he asked me read to them. Then -- click click click click click click! He probably took at least fifteen pictures of us in that position.

Then he had us sitting so that Rachael and I were both signing "more" for Rebecca. Same thing -- click click click click click click click!

And so on.

I'm guessing he had taken at least 40 or 50 pictures when he left here.

And guess how many photos were in the paper? One. And it was a really good picture.

I think we schmucks should take a lesson from that. I love looking at people's pictures, but always get mildly annoyed when I see an album (or a pile of pictures, or a blog) that have eight or ten pictures of almost the exact same thing.

Or when people say, "Here's pictures of my trip/baby/whatever" and give you fifty pictures. Don't make me wade through everything! Pick out the best key shots and then show them to people.

Or the worst is when some of the pictures are fuzzy, off-center, or capture people with a weird facial expression.

will not go to hell for throwing away photos that came out badly.

Thanksgiving photos

We spent Thanksgiving with Rob's family in North Carolina. It's exactly three hours away, which is the perfect distance -- long enough to make it interesting, but short enough that we usually get there just before the kids start to fall apart.

Benjamin had a great time with Aunt Carol's boyfriend, John. (My FIL is in the background).

This is Robert's mother, father, and sister, Carol.

For dessert we went to Grandma Glo's house, where Robert's cousins were visiting from Kansas. This is DeeDee, her daughter Camille, who is twelve, and nine year old twin boys named Garrett and Schyler. Their youngest child, Quentin, was probably running around somewhere and isn't in the picture.

Here's a sweet picture of my Rachael and Rebecca. Rachael is getting so old, isn't she?
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