Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Rivalry

I am hoping to get this posted before I start getting *HATE* texts from those of you who are staying up waiting for me to get busy. :-D

Anyway...I have had two separate topics on my mind all day & still haven't quite decided which one to write on tonight.  Both topics are issues that I am dealing with right now, although certainly not for the first time!


Let's go with.....


Me (to hubby), "Which topic should I write about?"
Hubby (always so helpful), "Whatever you feel inspired to write about."


Ok, how about (DRUM ROLL, PLEASE):


Yes, we do actually have kids who argue, fuss, fight & bicker.  They are bossy, and sassy, too.  Ugh.  I am a person who truly shies away from conflict.  Hate it.  Absolutely HATE it.  I am equally adverse to bickering & general ugliness.  I don't like loud words.  So, when my kids get into these sorts of moods, it is like <fingernails on a chalkboard> to me, & I deal with it accordingly.

My kiddos were so excited (and so was I) that today was a day off of school (teacher training).  A day with absolutely nothing on the schedule.  So, we slept in a bit & then had breakfast (biscuits, gravy & sausage).  From the time two of my kiddos got up until we sat down at the table (about 45 minutes), they were at each other's throats.  Ugly words, mean actions...the works.  I cautioned them several times...but they just didn't believe me.  Normally, they sit next to each other at the table....and, when they came to the table, they pushed themselves as far away from each other as possible.  This is where I stepped in.  I moved them closer....much, much closer.  Almost touching, actually.  Then, after thanking the Lord for our food & praying for the attitudes at the table, I dropped the bomb on the two peace-breakers:  They would be spending the ENTIRE day TOGETHER.  No reading (yes, a punishment for my kiddos), no electronics, not even any Adventures in Odyssey.  They had the choice of either sitting & staring at each other all day or playing---nicely--together. 

I warned them that, should I hear any harsh words at any point in the day, I would tie their arms to each other.  Yes, I would do that...I have, in fact.  Amazingly, they were pretty kind all day long.

Now, do I think that there will be no ugliness tomorrow?

Nope.  I'm not naive.

Will I force them to be together?

Yes I will.

I do not believe brothers & sisters should fight.  They should be friends!!!  After all, we all have to learn to deal with & appropriately handle other people throughout our entire lives.  The home is where we start that learning process.  Rubbing shoulders day in & day out can really start to wear on attitudes.  Maybe one has a headache.  Or had a bad day at school.  Or is 'hormonal'.  In my book, none of these are justification for treating others badly.  I tell my kiddos (large & small) that we all have to handle our emotions, physical discomforts, disappointments and still treat others the same way we wish to be treated by them (See: Golden Rule in the Holy Bible).

I have found through the years that, when we allow an undercurrent of frustration to continue between kids, maybe chalking it up to 'a stage', it affects our whole family.  If brother picks on sister, sister sasses back, brother pesters again, sister cries....Mom & Dad get stressed...Mom yells at another kid...that kid is upset & gripes at a sibling....well, you can see where it goes & it's not good.

As with any other behavior we wish to instill in our kiddos, teaching them to manage their attitudes & treatment of others takes time and training. 

If your kids don't get along, then I would recommend that you create situations that require them to work together.  Maybe doing a joint chore or playing something together such as a game.  One time won't cut it.  You will need to have them be together-a lot.  Supervised togetherness.  Nip any bickering in the bud.  Provide consequences of ugly words or fighting.  Gush compliments at politeness & considering each other.

This kind of training can be done at any age.  Well, maybe not an infant...but you get it.

The key is that YOU are there...maybe in the background, but YOU are constantly monitoring the situation for glitches so that you may quickly step in while the fuses are still hot & redirect. 

God put each person in our families to help each one of us with an area in our life.  The family home is the ideal place to be tried.  This is just as true for children as adults.

Teaching our children to get along when they are young will go miles towards helping them handle others in their adult lives.

DISCLAIMER:  Yes, I have 'off' days too.  Yes, I yell at the kids.  Yes, I have to apologize.  Yes, I am not perfect.  Just so ya know!  :0)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: To Share, or Not to Share...THAT is the question!

Well, I blew it!!!  I totally forgot to blog yesterday (Wednesday).  And I even had a topic all ready & everything.  Just.  Totally.  Forgot.  I know some of you will forgive...and some won't (you know who you are! :))

So, I'll just keep right on as if it's Wednesday & nothing is any different.

A sweet mommy friend of mine was puzzling over the issue of sharing the other day.  Hmmm....well, we've DEFINITLEY been there, done, it seemed like a timely topic.

Sharing is competely optional.


All done.


Fooled ya!

Seriously, it is, though.

Like most good mommies, I wanted to teach my 2 sweet little girls to share politely with others as well as EACH other without fuss.  Of course, I also wanted world peace & and an end to world hunger.  Yeah, they are all pretty much in the same category.  When we first encountered this issue, my hubby & I *SURPRISINGLY* didn't see things the same way!!  What?!?!  You teach your kid to share, no questions asked, right?  Not according to him.  Ooooohhhh.  I fumed!  He was really so strange. *sigh*  God love him.

Here was his thought:  "If it belongs to you, it's yours.  You have the CHOICE to share."

I didn't like that.  Nope.  But, being a good wife (and seeing as how he said this was how it was gonna be), I adopted his rules.

Ya know, I really did marry the smartest man on earth!  I now totally, 100% agree with this thought!  With that little bit of background info divulged, let me elaborate for you.

There are some definites in parenting.  Your children should obey (the first time, everytime...), should be polite & well-mannered, should grow up to be productive members of society. 

Then there are the gray areas.  These are the things we want to instill in our kids that we see as good character traits.  In my mind, this is where sharing falls. 

Sharing is an abstract thought, something that we can all choose to do.  Or not.  Sometimes, sharing isn't even the right thing to do.  Yes, you may have a stick of my gum.  No, you may not share my husband.  See what I mean?  Some things are just not meant to be shared (toothbrushes, underclothing, laptops, Kindles....)

So, how did we teach our kids to share (we DO participate in this practice, after all)?
Well, we leave it up to them.  If they are playing with the new toy they recently received for their birthday, and a sibling or other child wants to play with it, they have the option of saying no.  It is, after all, THEIR toy.  It was specifically purchased for them.  This goes for items they have purchased with their own money as well.  Pretty much anything that is specifically for them.  Consider this:  we, as adults, have those untouchables.  Those things we kinda don't want to share (like laptops), and it's ok  as long as that mentality doesn't extend to every situation where sharing is an option.

There are many things to address when teaching this to our kiddos, one of which is: Attitude. 

*Good example*
Child 1:  Can I play with your new car?
Child 2:  No, I just got this for my birthday, & I don't really want to share it yet.
Child 1:  MOM!!!  She's not sharing!!!
Mom: Well, honey, she doesn't have to, it belongs to her & it is new. 

Yes, we have had this scenario many times, no it doesn't always go smoothly (think toddlers), but we support the owner of the new toy in their decision - as long as the attitude & motive are correct.

*Bad example*
Child 1:  Can I play with your new car?
 Mom: You may NOT scream!  You do not have to share your new toy, but you DO have to be nice!  Now, because you were screaming, you will need to put the toy away & you won't be playing with it anymore today.

This is a pretty straightforward example when the item belongs specifically to the child. 

However, I do want my kids to learn to share, after all, it is something we ALL have to do no matter how old we are.  Not only that, we have to learn to do it with a cheerful heart. 

How do we teach that? favorite way to teach kiddos is through object lessons.  They are very tangible, real ways for them to "see" what you want them to learn.

In the case of teaching sharing, I might do something like this:
Get out something like cookies which they will invariably as me for.  How I respond depends on what I am wanting to teach.  If one kid has been real bad about not sharing, then I won't share with them.  I will explain that I just don't feel like sharing MY cookies with him.  They are, after all, MY cookies.  Yes, there will be frustration, even tears.  I will then explain that, when they are selfish, it hurts others.  Later, if I see that they have had an about-face about sharing, I make a HUGE deal of it!!  Praise, praise, praise  (and maybe even a cookie).  I tell them how proud I am of their act of selflessness.
*Note:  this may take a while, but it does work*

I have also made a show of sharing with other kids & excluding the selfish one.  Sounds harsh, doesn't it?  It may be, but it is effective.  No one likes to be left out.  I make sure to let them know WHY  I am not sharing with them.  I may say, "I am not sharing with you because you don't like to share with others, and I figure you're ok with that (they're not).  If you choose to start sharing nicely, then I will be happy to share with you, too, but for now, I am choosing not to share with you."  My choice, right?

Putting the choice in their hands is tricky, but if you are faithful to educate them on how to consider others, it can work grandly.

What about if it's a kid who is over visiting?  They get carte blanc with your kiddo's toys, right.  Not necessarily.  I mean, if I have company, do I let them use any & everything in our home?  No.  Certainly, if they ask permission, I will probably allow it (unless it's my toothbrush...) 

If you are having company, then pre-think some of these situations.  Does your child have a special toy (doll, expensive toy, lovey...) that they are particularly protective of?  Then put it away.  There is nothing wrong with not granting access to EVERY toy in the house.  Close doors (we have even put notes on closet doors:  DO NOT OPEN OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO CHOP YOUR FINGERS OFF!!!), pull out non-threatening toys & bring them into a common area.  The more you do to alleviate stress, the more your child will enjoy their play date.  I will admit that this idea didn't come to me until we'd had several kids.  I believe it came when we had some company with particularly unruly children.  During the course of the evening, their child (8-10 years) crawled into my little girl's doll carriage & flattened it.  He also got into the baby's crib & caused some damage.  OOOOHHHHH!!!  I fumed!!  His parents laughed it off: "Boys will be boys".  Um, not 'round here!!!  So, next time, I set some unwritten rules...then quietly went to make sure they were being observed.  Closets are off limits, as are bunk beds, and any closed door.  Yes, I have also spoken directly to unruly kiddos if their parents don't seem to be, shall we say, concerned.

What if a child repeatedly refuses to share what belongs to them...and they are rather...uppity about it.  Well, when the other children come to me complaining (c'mon, you know they will!!), I say things like this (keep in mind, I just love to use's a fault of mine...):
"Well, he doesn't haaaave to share, although I suuuurrreee would be happy if he did, buuuuuutttt apparently he is more interested in being selfish, sooooo you will just have to find someone else to play with since heeeee only likes to play alone."  All the while casting disapproving glances in the direction of Mr. Selfish.  Oh, how they don't  like mom to disapprove.  Very effective.  Especially if you coddle the complainer a bit, ("I know you are disappointed, would you like a cookie?  I know it's not the same as playing with a car, but maybe it will help")  I know, I'm evil.

As a closing, I would like to address older kid's belongings.  We have a household where we have (pretty much) adult children (don't tell her I said that) all the way down to toddlers.  This can create much anger, frustration & tears where belonging are concerned.  I can sympathize.  How many of MY things have been broken, used or otherwise mismanaged by kids?  How to handle? 

Well, cleanliness is strongly encouraged.  What is put away cannot be accessed by small hands.  If it was not put away properly, it's destruction gets little sympathy from me.  The key is to provide the older child with locations to safely keep their belongings.  Sometimes this is a safety issue.  My boys have pocket knives...their 2 & 3 year old sisters, do not.  There is a reason for that!  So, they are kept in a safe place in my room (I am planning to buy combination safe boxes for the boys for Christmas).  Smallish kids who get into things they shouldn't...are reprimanded immediately, sometimes having to replace items broken with their own money.

Ok, I have droned enough about this topic...I hope it helps.

Like I said, sharing is optional, and I chose to share this info with you.

You're welcome. :0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Job - Epic Fail!

I know some of you may have wondered where I have been the last couple of weeks.  Well, I've been here.  At home.  Having the time of my life.  Not the best time of my life, mind you...but it has definitely been "A" time of my life.

About 3 months ago, hubby & I made the decision for him to take a new job.  Hallelujah!!!  After 10 years of being self-employed, someone else would worry about taxes & payroll.  We have insurance and a regular paycheck deposited right in our account.  It's amazing....amazingly horrible.

You know, I have always been a believer in being careful what you ask of God because He might just give it to you.  I think that was the case here. 

Don't get me wrong, there were lessons learned from this experience, but when hubby announced that he was putting in his resignation....cheers went up all over the house!!!

So, what was wrong with the job?

Let me put it this way: in the month of October, he was home 5 days total.  Yeah.  Awful!  We knew that there would be some travel with this position, but it was estimated at 2 or 3 nights at a time.  Hmmmmm....we won't go into some long tirade about streeeeeeetching the truth.  Suffice it to was a tad more.  Like twice as much.  Every week.

Meanwhile, back on the home front....

I started out doing great!  We had a plan, a was all good.  Then came October.

As his schedule got more & more crazy, so did I.  I found I couldn't even enjoy him being home because I was already panicking about him leaving again.

Physically, I felt ill.  Exhaustion was taking a firm hold in my life.  Complete.  Utter.  Exhaustion.

I finally reached a place where I began to feel anxious & trapped.  Parenting 8 children with a partner is tough stuff.  Doing it alone: impossible.

Yes, my kids are great, but they are still kids.  They have constant, unending needs.  My days were a constant mental challenge.  My brain hurt.  The younger ones had gotten out of control...badly.  In short, I had gone into survival mode.  The highlights of my day were naptime & bedtime.

This past Saturday night, when I found out he wouldn't be making it home in time for church...I just fell apart.  When he came home & saw my status....he saw it as the sign he'd been looking for to resign.

Oh, the great relief!!!  I cannot explain how I felt.  I'm not sure I have fully comprehended it.  My body is still out of whack from the stress & anxiety I had been feeling.

I in no way want to put my husband in a bad light.  This time was miserable for him too.  We had prayed, counseled & really tried to put God first in the decision to take this job.  Maybe it was the right thing to do so that we would see that it was the wrong thing for us.

So, we are back to self-employment & the phone is ringing like crazy!!!  New opportunities are steadily presenting themselves.

God is good.  Yes He is!

We have grown from this experience.  We have learned more about faith.  I have learned that I cannot parent alone.  Maybe I could have done some things differently, but I now have a new appreciation for my husband's strength of presence.  Just having him here gives me strength to do what I need to do to be a good mom.

Do you find yourself in an impossible situation?

Have you prayed about it?


Every. Single. Minute. of Every. Single. Day?

Is He answering by asking you to give up something that gives you a sense of security?  Find your peace & security in's the only REAL peace & security you'll ever have.

My God is real.  I feel like I am recovering from a 3 month long illness.  Sometimes, I can feel the darkness creeping back in, but I have the strength to fight it because we are where we are supposed to be.

So, the moral of the story:

Make sure it's God's will & not your will.  If it's His will...YOU WILL MAKE IT!!!

Disclaimer:  I am not advocating that you make a sudden major decision because you are unhappy.  I am simply telling you my testimony...