Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Easter Eggs

Like most, our annual tradition is to dye eggs-Easter eggs, at Easter time. So, because I have been doing this a loooong time, I have thus saved a ridiculous amount of egg cups, dippers, and dyes-all essentials for proper egg coloring. This is how we do it.

1. While the eggs are boiling slowly on the stove, the kids and I gather around the the table to make the different dyes. We get everything ready for our hard-boiled eggs dying to begin.

2. Because waiting is sooooo dreadful, I've come up with "empty-egg" dying! I have taught my children how to 'blow' out eggs. We use push-pins or tacks to make a small hole at the top and bottom of the egg. Then, over a bowl, we blow! The egg is empty in minutes! and then on to the next!  After each child has blown out at least four eggs each, we begin to paint, decorate or dye each egg. I must tell you that 'blown out' eggs FLOAT! So, a whole lesson can be taught on what makes the boiled eggs sink!

 The BEST part is when they are all through they can be displayed! All  the eggs in my 'chicken' (above) are eggs that have been blown out. Now we can enjoy our Easter eggs during the Lent season!

With some of the blown out eggs we decided to make a hole in the middle of the egg, stuff it with a cotton ball, and place a chocolate bunny inside or a cross made of play-doh.

Oh, lastly, we use the eggs that have been blown out for dinner! I scramble the eggs, make some bacon and biscuits and voila! dinner is done. 

3. By the time they are done with dying their empty eggs, the hard boiled eggs are waiting patiently for the children.

 I use two dyes of every color: Two reds, greens, yellows, blues, purples, pinks and oranges.
Yes, if you've counted that's 14 egg shaped bowls of dye.
 This reduces many arguments and that my friend is free motherly advice ;)

A very Happy Easter to you and your family! 
May you "grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ."
 (Ephesians 3:18) 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Farmer Boy: Advice for This Mama

Reading page after page from the very descriptive and informative book, Farmer Boy, by Laura Ingals Wilder, has actually made me reassess my own parenting. I started out simply reading the book as a read-aloud to my children filled with the excitement of creating our own lap-books, learning about life on the farm and enjoying a world in a simpler time, but as I close the book each day I find myself questioning my own mommyhood. I mull over the Wilder family as they work relentlessly and struggle together. They labor in unison. Each working hard. Each knowing their role in the family. Each working tirelessly for their family to succeed. I've asked myself, "How did Almanzo's parents do it?" "What do they know that I clearly do not know?" "How do they get their children to do chores and heavy jobs without complaining?" THIS mama needed to know.

The story I read that has truly stuck with me was the chapter entitled, "Ice House." In this chapter we learn how the family had to gather ice, chop it, and store it. It began with the father, brother Royal and Almanzo traveling to a nearby pond that was frozen, then sawing 20 inch by 20 inch blocks of ice, loading the wagon, hauling it home and very carefully and very precisely stacking the ice so it would last all summer long without melting. This job was hard, heavy, and exhausting work and all taking place in 40 degrees BELOW zero! In all of this work the task left for the boys was to load the ice house with the ice the father delivered to them from the pond. Little Almanzo, age nine, and his older brother Royal, age 13 were left at the ice house to stack the ice. They were left ALONE to do a grown up, man's job. They had to stack it perfectly and to insulate each ice brick with three inches of saw dust--this was a no-joke job. Their work was important to the family and had to be done right. At one point, they were hungry and tired, but did not stop to rest, or to even have a snack.

I'm sorry- WHAT???!!!
Let me say that again, "They were hungry and tired at one point, but did not stop."
Did you also catch what I said earlier?
"They were left ALONE to do a grown up, man's job."
Again-- WHAT???!!!
How in the world did Almanzo's parent's teach him to: a) work hard, b) do the job right c) not complain and d) do what was right when no one was looking?
I needed to know.

Well, in doing more investigating I found out that spankings were a part of their life. If Pa told you to do something, you did it- period. The child knew there would be consequences to disobedience. Mind you, they always had a choice: obey or disobey. Clearly, Almanzo and his brother chose to obey consistently. Clearly, the parents were consistent in the ramifications to disobedience.

Thus the mystery was solved. I found where my problem lied- inconsistency. Try as I may, consistency has been difficult for my husband and I. The resolve to discipline a child for an infraction habitually has not been easy. The findings made me feel like a failure. I have trained, I have disciplined, I have yelled, I have given grace-I have done many different things and I think I've caused a bit of confusion. Without consistency I find I have not gained in my children what Pa had worked in his-a team.

So, day after day I journeyed on in this book and I could see that it was lovely for my kids, but honestly it was painstaking for me! Each day I yearned to be a better parent. I prayed to God for help and tried not to hang my head. AND then it happened! The chapter I needed to read. "Keeping House" on page 203. Pa and Ma were heading off on a romantic week's long vacation for two. They had never left the children alone for a whole week and unattended before, but they gave the children instructions on meals, chores, etc and started on their way without even looking back. The pit in my stomach grew deeper-"When could I ever do that? Golly, I'm the worst parent!" I thought to myself. Then as I continued to read I discovered that these well behaved children weren't the very best without Pa or Ma standing over them. They were like any child. They ate bowls of ice cream, ate watermelon for dinner and did NO chores while the parents were away. They laughed and played the whole week. I was shocked and some what relieved!

I started to view my parenting as not too shabby. I thought about it: my children do clean when I ask them to. They do work hard. They do try to work as a team, AND they do stop working when I'm not around! They are just kids and I am just not perfect, but together we do love each other and want the best for the family. We're human-we're sinners. They don't always work hard and I'm not always consistent, but when I really need them to dig deep, to work hard, and get the job done, they do. They do it because they love me and my husband. The Lord keeps telling me it's all about having a relationship with my children and I see it's come back to that again. What is a clean house, clean bedrooms and a perfect yard if I don't have a relationship with my kids? Nothing. I know I can do better and I know my kids can to, but it takes work to have a relationship and that has been where most of my focus has been. In a relationship there is grace and mercy, not just black and white verdicts. And I'm not saying that Pa didn't extend grace to his kids because he did, he just was definitely more strict then I am. I have found God calling me to more heart lessons than mere discipline. And sometimes the heart lessons are harder for me because I just want to view things more simply and give the correction, but long term I want a heart change and a relationship not a robot.

So, my house isn't as clean and as organized as I would love it to be, and I'm not as consistent as I ought to be, but I love each one of my children- I treasure them and they treasure me.  For now, they obey out of love and well, I guess, also maybe to stay out of trouble, that is if I remember to define the punishment! ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

They All Wanna Piece of Me!

I'm not sure it matters if you have one child or six children like me, every child wants a piece of their mama and I am no exception! I have also found that the age of the child apparently doesn't seem to effect their need for mommy either. 

For example: Every once and a while my little guy will ask to swing on my arm. Yes, that's right, 'swing' on my arm and yes, I allow this. But of course, my little girl sees her brother having fun with mommy and takes the other arm and begins to swing. But on this particular day my big boy wanted in too! My teenager. Okay, so this was more of a funny afternoon at our home, but there are days when, and I cannot stress this enough, everyone wants a piece of me!

Years ago when I was nursing my infants, golly! how they wanted a piece of me, but then as they grew into the toddler stage, surprisingly, not much changed. They still needed me at every turn. As they continued to grow and become more independent they wanted me to play with them, read to them and with schooling them, of course, they really needed me. I remember having this thought, "At some point, there will be a stage in my children's life where they will grow up and not need me as much or want me as much," but it just isn't true. I guess what I'm learning is, (now that I have teenagers), that all children, no matter the age, still want and need their mommy. 

I used to think that anyone could do my job. After all, what was I doing? 
Feeding, changing, cleaning, REPEAT. 
But with the feeding, and changing and cleaning, I have been talking to my children, encouraging them, teaching them and loving them in a way that no babysitter, nanny, or au pair, could love or teach them. (I don't know that I've always known that). But seeing my teenager come to get a hug or kiss, or even to tell me all about their day, or snuggle with me on the couch, I realize that I am important to them. 

I also used to think that the little people in my home or 'littles' as I call them, have more needs then older children, but that really isn't the case. Sure, my little guys need help with school, tying their shoes, and at tub times, but the big kids need help with school, help with the computer, and they need lots and lots, and LOTS of talking time. Mostly, I am finding that every child, no matter the age, need their mommy. Whether it be my kisses, hugs, gentle talk, or just special alone time. I had no idea how important my role as a mommy was until my children began growing into teens. 

So, if you are a mom of littles and think, "One day my little guys will be more independent and I will have more time to myself or at least some time to myself" think again. Your children, and your 'independent' teens, need you and what I'm's truly a wonderful thing. Yes, there are days where I wish I had a little bit more quiet time, but honestly, the fact that I have a relationship with my children and they want to be with me is more precious to me than being alone in my room and typing an article for the blog. I treasure my relationship with them. I adore being in there life, and learning about the things they are interested in and hear how they see the world or hear from God. They are fascinating people. 

So, after I had this revelation I went straight to the Scriptures to see what the Bible says about moms. I found a few great ones: 

"Truly I am your servant, LORD; I serve you just as my mother did; you have freed me from my chains."(Psalm 116:16)  Here we see that we are an example of Godliness to our children. They can follow in our footsteps into Righteousness. How exciting that my love for Jesus can and will be something for them to desire and follow! We are the first Christians in their life for them to look up to and know Him.

"My son, keep your father's command and do not forsake your mother's teaching." (Proverbs 6:20) We have the opportunity to teach our children the ways of the Lord and they are encouraged to follow it and remember it! What an honor we have been given. We need to teach them right!

And my favorite Scripture is this: "As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;" Isaiah 66:13 As an Italian, I am naturally an affectionate person, but as a mommy, well, maybe I over do it a bit! I love to kiss and hug them all day long. I love for them to curl up with me and feel at peace. I love for them to feel that they can rest and know I'll stay awake and watch over them. God uses this! God tells our children that He will comfort them as we, their mommy, has comforted them. God can do such a better job and yet He compares the comfort He will give to something we have given to our children. What an encouragement to us moms to comfort our children more so they can trust and know that God will comfort them. 

Mommyhood can be hard, I know. Some days the kids are just hanging all over me and I don't have a minute to myself. Some days everyone wants a piece of me, but it's a great thing. God will use it all to build my relationship with them which ultimately builds a relationship with Him.