Realize This is the Real World

By: Shannon Boatwright

So there’s this video circulating on Facebook. It’s been out in the web world for over 6 years now. But it’s resurfaced, rightly so, since we’re in total back-to-school mode. I’d seen it before but I recently watched it again, getting a good chuckle. As a good, hardworking teacher, you certainly get the point of the video. Any school employee that deals with craziness from parents will get this video.

Sure, there are unworthy people out there in the education system who should not be granted the privilege of teaching or even be in the presence of students. Sadly, passionless, burnt out, sad sacks exist in the education world. Sometimes you just can’t avoid those types. But the truth is, they are far and few between. There are millions of truly passionate teachers and dedicated folks who do care so very much and try their hardest to do everything they can do to provide the best education for our children.

 

Watching this video again reminded me of the great privilege I have to inspire, educate and hopefully create outstanding, respectable, hardworking individuals that will contribute to society. All that said, as you watch the video and chuckle too, whether you’re a parent, grandparent, guardian or supporter of children and education in any form, please remember that all the weight does not fall on the shoulders of the teachers, administration or support staff. An enormous part of creating, building, and molding a successful student must come from a student’s support system at home AND must be met with an individual student’s own effort and dedication to doing their best.

Like the school voicemail message states, this is the REAL world and “your child must be accountable and responsible for his or her behavior, classwork, and homework.” The answer to why a particular student is failing at anything, may not be due to a teacher’s fault. Always stop to consider this and make sure that your student, your child, is making an honest effort.

My personal mantra for the new school year, as a passionate, Arts-loving Drama teacher, is one of Brendon Burchard’s many fabulous quotes,

“Grant me the strength to focus this week, to be mindful and present,to serve with excellence, to be a force of love.”

Here’s to a successful new school year that will hopefully produce a sea of inspired, educated, standing-ovation-worthy students that will move on to do great things in their lives that will make a positive difference in this crazed world of ours!  🙂

To The Mom of the Little Boy in Church

By: Crissie Kirby

boy in church

I see you enter the church with him and his precious smile lights up the entire sanctuary. I see you settle him with a snack or drink or with books or coloring pages and crayons. I hear you quietly try to shush him during the service when he talks. I smile at you and think that one day I’m going to tell you how much I enjoy seeing him in service, but I fail to do so because well, most days, I’m busy watching my own boys who (most of the time) settle in quietly on their own, but still have questions or are involved in the service and are perched quietly at the front of the church waiting to light or extinguish the candles. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll get teary-eyed talking of the time, not so long ago, when my boys were doing exactly what your son is doing now. A wise woman used to tell me not to worry about the noises my boys made in church because she enjoyed seeing them there. Some days I would just smile and silently think that she had to have lost her mind when it seemed that something was being dropped every five seconds or someone was asking questions every two.

The old saying “with age comes wisdom” comes quickly to mind because now I understand what she was saying and why she told me to stop worrying so much. First off, you are doing your son a great service by bringing him to church and keeping him in “big church”. He’s learning from an early age what takes place during the entire service and how to behave during those times, even if it seems that it is taking forever for him to learn and you really question if he ever will. (Please no one get bent out of shape if you think I’m shaming you for utilizing a children’s church because I’m not – every family does what works for them.) You are exposing him to your family’s belief system and I applaud you for that. For me, though, I am grateful for those moments when I can see your precious son holding your hand as you return from communion, and remember my own two little boys who no longer hold my hand as we walk quietly down the side aisle from communion. I can glimpse my past in your little boy as one, or both, of mine participate in the church service, leaving me sitting alone in my pew.

So to the mom with the little boy in church, please just let him be little, let those of us around you soak up his innocence and laughter and questions. Allow us to quietly congratulate your decision to bring him to church, even when we fail to verbally tell you so. Allow us to remember the days when our little boys were the ones laughing and making noise and asking questions. One day, I promise, you will be in my position wondering where the days and moments went.

Summer Reading

By: Leah Prescott

One of my most fervent hopes for my children is that they grow into enthusiastic readers. A couple years ago, when we were struggling through blending and painfully making our young readersway through the repetitive BOB books, I thought for a while it might never happen. But something finally clicked with each of the girls and soon they couldn’t be slowed down. One of my girls particularly races through books at a pace that challenges the library’s young reader section.

As we wrap up our homeschooling year in a couple weeks, I’m looking forward to reading more books with my girls. Even though they are strong independent readers, there is still something magical about reading aloud together. I look forward to introducing them to some of my favorites like “Pride & Prejudice” and “Anne of Green Gables” with an almost giddy anticipation. Revisiting your childhood’s joys with your own children has to be one of God’s sweetest gifts to parents. Right now, we are reading the Five Little Peppers and it’s bringing up some very helpful conversations about entitlement in our family.

If your children are reluctant readers, here are some things you can do to help draw them into the world of literature:

1. Visit the library weekly and check out an abundance of books. Don’t give up, even if your kids don’t show much interest. Don’t forget to show them that YOU read too (blogs and Facebook do not count).

encourage kids to like reading

2. Do some research into your child’s favorite toy, movie, character or subject. Whether it’s Minecraft, cupcakes, kittens, or hula hooping, chances are, you will find a book or series that will spark their interest.

3. Keep books in the car. I sometimes regret that our minivan didn’t come equipped with a TV, but my children can get in a lot of reading in the car just from riding around town during our typical week.

4. Go media-free. Having a TV and video game free week, month or summer may be exactly what your child needs to finally embrace books. We have done this a couple times and it always helps us center our attitudes and hearts, as well as free up time for more productive hobbies like reading.

encourage kids to like reading

5. Discover audio books. The library has a good collection of audio books for adults and kids, as well as downloadable content. There is also Amazon’s sister store, Audible.com, although I confess it intimidates me. Whether you choose classic literature or a Magic Treehouse book, audio books can help your children connect to the stories in a way that reading might not have.

6. Throw a book party. This might take a little more preparation, but why not plan a book-themed evening with food and games related to a story or series? This could be elaborate as a Cat in the Hat dinner party or as simple as a Tom Sawyer picnic.

As a kick-off to a delightful, book-filled summer, don’t miss Storyfest 2015! State Museum and Library will host this free event on Saturday, June 6th from 9-4. The event will include crafts, presentations, face painting and more. Find more information here. Happy Reading!

Transition

By: Sherree Thompson

SherreeWith the onset of New Year comes renewed goals and resolutions.

Our goals for our financial future, for our children’s education and of course, personal growth, cannot be met without change. For these goals to resonate, I must return to the world of employment. As you know from my last post, my son just had his fifth birthday. His birthday also marks the anniversary of me being home and out of the workforce.

I know far too well that I am not alone in the world of stay-at-home-moms. This community has been really good to me. The support I have found in them has been amazing. I also know many of them who have returned to work for a number of reasons. And that is how I am finding comfort. Knowing I am not alone when “returning to the real world” (as some have said to me) somehow brings solitude in such a nerve-wracking decision. What I didn’t know or expect is how I actually feel about being at this particular step in life. I am a freaked-out, scared, nervous wreck. I mean five years is a long time (or “A bunch” as Daisy says) to not have worked. I’m not saying that balancing the house, family, and the rest of the crazy isn’t work, because we all know it is. But to be accountable to someone that is giving me the vehicle to reach these life goals is scary. Having to be ON-TIME in itself is almost impossible for me right now. And then to function at someone else’s level of expectation and be accountable for maintaining (or surpassing) that level is major. I struggle with meeting my own expectations. Yes, I realize I said accountable twice. I felt the situation warranted the overuse of the word.

I always knew that I would go back to work. There were days I’d beg to go back. I just never expected that when the time actually came that I would feel this amount of heartbreak having to leave the children. There is worry that goes hand-in-hand with entrusting someone else to fill my shoes on a daily basis. I’ll take comfort in my mom-community. Knowing they are there giving me their trusted contacts, ways to navigate being a working mom, and just cheering me on. I take comfort in knowing I am not alone during this milestone transition and trust that God’s plan is in place.

Let’s Do This!

The Joneses Had a Baby

By: Lara Winburn

I am not very cool. I want to be, but I am often late to trends if I know them at all. Case in point. Years ago, I kept hearing my friends talk about David Yurman – I finally asked one of them whether he was someone we went to college with.

Therefore, I do not keep up with the Joneses. Even if I wanted to, I would always be a few steps behind. Don’t get me wrong, I often want to, but the Jones’ seem to have more time and money than me. But I was really surprised when I noticed it seems some folks are now keeping up with the Jones’ baby.

Since having children, I have learned there are cool daycares, the right dance studio, popular parks, and even strollers that are up to par for the Jones’. I mean -even I have a particular luxury stroller with a certain man’s name (thank you brother-in-law)….but I would venture a guess that Steve’s stroller for $200 less dollars may be just as good (sorry brother in-law). My stroller might be equipped for a marathon or off-roading, but this driver is not.

I recently heard a mom talking about where her daughters would debut. In the small town where I grew up, I did not know anyone who debuted. (That might have changed since I’ve moved away.) In my early college years, I had a lot of fun at parties watching my friend’s debut. Who knows, maybe one day I will really want my daughter to debut? I am all for a good ball. But you know what, this girl talking about where her daughters will debut has a two and four year old. Heaven, help me. I am not yet thinking about debutantes and white gloves-I am still stuck on pampers and white bows.

Don’t even get me started on the Jones’ and their birthday parties. They have “pinned,” smocked and cake-popped us a birthday heaven. I attend these parties, I ENJOY these parties, but I know I cannot keep up. I am okay with that. Why should I try to keep up? Like I said, I am not cool.

sophieI do want my babies to have the best. I want them to have wonderful friends, a good education, themed birthday parties and even cute clothes. That means that sometimes we need to be at the popular park, which is probably the safest. And even if I don’t always know exactly how to get there, I have a fast and very maneuverable stroller for the trip. Maybe I will see you and the Jones’ there.

But this is what I do know: this parenting thing is hard enough without feeling like we need to keep up with the Jones’ baby. For now, you will find me at home with my family and a very popular French giraffe named Sophie. (One thing the Jones’ and I probably have in common.)

Mommy Must-Have: Girls’ Night

By: Leah Prescott

Movies

I am so grateful that through my life I have had so many wonderful girlfriends. Now that I am a Mom, I cannot imagine facing this monumental task without the support and advice of other women who have gone before, or who are currently “in the trenches” with me. Since I’m staying home with the kids, I feel sort of like these other Moms are my co-workers. We face the same challenges, we share strategies, and we commiserate with one another.

The “workplace” would be a lonely place without this fellowship! So through the last several years we have made it a priority not just to have playdates and parties as families, but to have girls’ nights, which we anticipate and savor. They are a life-saver! We share laughter, fears, and problem-solve together. How can I make potty training easier? How to approach modesty with our daughters? What can I do to cut down on whining between siblings? And, always; has anyone figured out a way to keep the house clean with all these little people running around? (The answer, for the record is, no.)

This week, we stepped outside the norm and went to the movie theater. I confess I have almost stopped going to the theater. I guess I am getting old, but I just don’t typically enjoy paying through the nose to watch 20 minutes of previews in a room of questionable cleanliness with tons of strangers who may or may not be respectful of other viewers. I don’t mean to sound like a prude, but why do they make movies these days so VIOLENT? Not to mention, my bathroom is not close at hand. Anyway, you get the drift.

I recently made an exception to the rule and gladly forked over my $9.50 to see “Mom’s Night Out” with some of my fellow moms. I wasn’t sure what we were about to see but I was pleasantly surprised. Hilarious, heartwarming, and poignant, this wasn’t a Christian movie, but a movie made by a Christian. Rather than awkwardly building a film around the message, this movie had a strong cast, fantastic writing, and smooth direction.  The uplifting theme was smoothly delivered without sacrificing entertainment value and I felt as if I had been personally thanked by the director at the end of the film for my service as a mom. I was smiling about this movie all week and there are a couple lines that may just become catch phrases among my crew. “Stress paralyzed” is definitely a thing.

I encourage you to make time to have girls’ night with your friends this week. Start a book club, craft night, margarita Monday, or just invite your neighbor over to share a cup of coffee. We all need the camaraderie and support. And if you have a chance to see “Mom’s Night Out,” let me know what you think!

A Double Helping of Unsolicited Comments

By: Leah Prescott

Becoming a mom times two totally rocked my world. At my 20-week ultrasound, my husband and I expected to find out the gender of our baby. Instead, we were told that we were going to be parenting TWO babies. To say we were surprised doesn’t begin to cover it. Nearly eight years later, I still feel kind of shocked when I remember that day and everything that came after. Fear, joy, excitement, and a little more fear.

Twins

Since having twins, there have been lots of surprises. Some of those were normal parenting lessons (the bath isn’t a potty-free zone?! When they stay up late, children actually wake up EARLIER?!). One thing that I never anticipated is the public’s reaction to twins. Suddenly, a simple trip to the grocery store was complicated by multiple questions, comments, and sometimes strange anecdotes. At the time, I was so overwhelmed and stressed that I found it frustrating to be approached so often by strangers. But now, I smile when I remember those times. For a while I felt a bit like a celebrity and it was fun getting reactions anywhere we went.

On the other hand, some of the comments could be offensive, annoying or just plain creepy. So, for your amusement and edification, I give you:

9 Things to NEVER say to families with multiples

9) “Who is older?” This question seems relatively benign, and of course it’s fine when coming from a friend or acquaintance. It just becomes very, very tiresome when coming from an utter stranger. Imagine how it feels to be a child who has always been compared to her sister. She’s had to compete for attention, had to share everything, and always been confused for another human being. Now suppose a stranger is rubbing it in to you that,
through some cruel twist of fate, your sister just happened to have been born nearly a whole minute sooner. And the stranger is somehow implying that this is relevant to your life in a way that your family has never taught you. See why it bugs me?

8) “She’s the leader, right?” There are a handful of twin groupies who seem to think they are gifted somehow in labeling a child they have just laid their eyes upon with character qualities or gifts based on arbitrary observations from across the food court. If you bring these comments to me, be prepared to be shut down. Honestly, I will tell you “no” even if you’re sort of right just out of sheer obstinance.

7)  “Which one is the evil twin?” I absolutely cannot believe that was a real question but I swear to you it was. I just…..I can’t….there are NO words. Also, please don’t tell me stories of twins you know with bizarre and frightening medical histories. No one wants to hear those. While we’re on the subject, if you are the lady who approached me in Kmart and told me about one of her twins who was kidnapped from the hospital over twenty five years ago, never to be seen again; I am haunted by your story, but why did you have to tell me about it, WHY?

Beach babies

6) “Do they have the same thoughts?” I have actually gotten this question more than once. At first I thought the asker was joking but then I realized they were serious. Maybe a little too much sci-fi in your life? On that topic, have you noticed that the media nearly always portrays girl twins as either creepy ghost sets or sexy adult pairs. What’s with that?

5) “You do know how that happens, right?” For obvious reasons, I dislike this rhetorical question. I’m going to add to this one any other comments or questions that suggest or allude to any of the reproductive “magic” that occurs behind the scenes to bring a baby into this world. Several times, I’ve had people question the conception circumstances of my children. I mean, they are random people asking me this in the line at the grocery store. I’m really upfront in general, but from a stranger? WOW.

4) “You have your hands full!” I know that this is a really common one for lots of families (since when is three children a “lot” of kids?). Maybe I am just being too sensitive, but somehow it feels like a put down. Am I wrong here?

3) “Are they twins?” This doesn’t bother me, and honestly now it makes perfect sense. The girls are older, not exactly the same height, usually doing different things with their own hairstyle and clothing choices.  It was back when they were sitting side by side, identically dressed in their double stroller when the question really seemed like a display of ignorance. But who am I to judge? I’ve also had folks say they have never met twins before, so I guess it isn’t so weird to have trouble identifying this bizarre sighting out in the real world.

2) “Better you than me.” I guess I understand where these guys are coming from. I mean, we’ve all been there, when we see someone else and think, “I couldn’t do what they are doing.” And I think these folks really have the intention of paying a compliment. I just would prefer to hear, “You are doing a great job.” I will never forget one day I was at Target with the girls when they were still tiny and a little girl came up to marvel out the twins. She turned to her mom and said, “I wish Sarah (obviously her small sister) was a twin.” I thought it was the sweetest comment from a big sister. Her mother gasped, “Oh God, no” and my heart broke for that little girl. What a message to send to your daughter!

1) “Double Trouble.” When it comes down to it, the top comment to NEVER say to families with twins has got to be “double trouble.” Even though each person mentions it with a smirk that tells you he thinks it is the most original comment ever made, it is in fact the single most over-used expression in the history of multiples. I have heard it dozens and dozens of times. It is so hard to react to this one at this point. I used to laugh as if I were amused. Sometimes I would say “double the joy.” Now I just throw up my hands in frustration or nod in agreement, depending on my mood.

Honorable mention goes to “Buy one get one free” or “two for the price of one.” Of course, categorically untrue (I’ll show you the NICU bills) and only a hair less common than “double trouble” but still far less aggravating due to the perceived positive spin. Points for the effort, but we’ve still heard it too many times to count.

So that’s it, my list of the worst comments to say to families with twins. I should add that I have gotten some absolutely lovely comments from people as well. Some beautiful good wishes, kind encouragement and sincere prayers when I really needed them! When in doubt, if you meet a parent of twins and aren’t quite sure what to say, there’s always a great stand-by: “When can I babysit?”