Friday, December 29, 2006

Guest Blogger...Gina Conroy

New Christmas Traditions

For years, decorating the Christmas tree has always stressed me out! I think it stems from memories as a child having to help my single-mom drag the real tree into the house, up the 13 stairs and hold the prickly thing while she screwed in the bolts into the tree or vice versa.
Inevitable there'd be arguing.

"You're not holding it straight!"

"Yes, I am" and I've got the scratches to prove it.

"Hold it still."

"I am! Are you almost finished?" (And that's the rated "G" version. )

There was just something about all the work it took to set up that tree that took the fun out of. But I sure did enjoy the ornaments and dousing our Charlie Brown tree with tinsel! Nothing was more thrilling to sit back and watch the blinking lights twinkle on the ceiling. It made the effort worth it.

But years later, after I got married and had kids everytime we'd put up the real Christmas tree the stress would bubble up from within me. Me holding the tree straight, getting scratchy arms, spouting the same familiar dialogue. My attitude was rotten and so unChristmasy that putting up the tree just wasn't fun for anyone.

This year was different. It was probably the first year I didn't get stressed out putting up the tree. Mainly because I didn't put it up and relinqueshed control to my kids which for this control freak is no easy task.

Several years ago I caved in and bought an artificial tree. It was the most realistic looking tree I could afford and so far it's been a blessing. My nine year old LOVES to build things, so when he was itching to build the tree I said, "go for it." His little brother (6) and sister (4) happily joined in, Gracie echoing my instructions "Joey in charge."

And it was a beautiful sight watching the three work. Timmy handed Joey a limb. Joey fanned it out to look like a little Christmas tree. Gracie got to put it in the trunk and then Gracie and Timmy would switch. They even left the top two layers for Chris who was busy finishing his school work.

So although I do miss going to the tree lot and picking the perfect tree and that pine tree smell of a fresh cut Christmas tree, I don't miss the stress. And that is the best Christmas tradition ever!

Gina Conroy Anytime Prayers for Everyday Moms-- Available now!
Carnival of Christian Writers:
Portrait of a Writer...Interrupted:

Thursday, December 28, 2006

10 Things I Wish I Had Known by Amy Wallace

10 Things I Wish I'd Known About Life

1) What many people didn't learn in Kindergarten, they didn't learn in college either.

2) Choosing to be kind might not get you further "up the ladder" but it will make falling asleep at night much easier.

3) It really does take more muscles to frown than to smile and that's energy wasted.

4) A good night's sleep covers a multitude of sins you might otherwise commit.

5) Chocolate might not be good for the backside, but it's great for the heart.

6) Walking probably is better than chocolate, but it's not near as much fun.

7) A good kiss burns far more calories and less bridges than a fight.

8) Words spoken in anger have the worst boomerang effect.

9) Chocolate body paint only sounds like a fun idea.

10) Each day is a precious gift best unwrapped after a strong cup of coffee and a good dose of prayer.

Amy is married to a hunk, a homeschool mom of 3, writer, youth Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. Those are some of the hats she loves to wear, but who Amy really is can be summed up in this: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with laughter.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Guest Bloger...Judy Fedele

Counter Productive

I admit it. I’m a Food TV junkie. We had the channel when I first got married, and I learned a lot from the Food Network about cooking. (Plus amassed a binder full of recipes to boot!) When we moved from our apartment into our current house a few years ago, we scaled down and just got basic, basic cable. No more Food TV. Then with the arrival of our two children, the mere idea of fancy sauces and unpronounceable French techniques took a back burner to the more practical seaweed & octopus (top ramen noodles and a hot dog cut lengthwise into eight slices.) My husband has simple tastes, too. A nice plate of pasta will fit the bill any night. So there’s not much room for creative cooking, at least not at this time in my life.

Recently a deal came along for a combined internet, tv and phone service at a good price, so we upgraded. Which meant a return to my long-lost love… Food TV Network. They have all kinds of new shows, plus a few oldies whose faces and shows I remembered. Like a kid with an endless pile of candy (no, honey, that’s my Halloween stash…) I switch it on whenever I get the chance. Folding laundry on the floor in front of a cooking show can sometimes be the highlight of my day.

As a rule, I tend to be go-go-go all the time. My household is super busy, and I do my best to keep on top of everything. So when I can multi-task and do more than one thing at a time (like laundry & tv) I go for it.

It amazes me to watch professional chefs churn out fancy-schmancy meals with such ease. But of course, these folks have the benefit of all the needed ingredients right at their fingertips, plus all the cooking school skills to help maximize their time. So in the sterile world of television cooking, it really is possible to create fabulous feasts in 30 minutes or less. And though I also love to cook, I’m not the fastest knife in the West. Could use some culinary arts training myself to pick up a little speed.

I do try my hardest to be organized and efficient in the kitchen, but it seems like all I do is run in circles from one task to another, never quite finishing any one thing before I start up with the next. Counter productive behavior. With a busy family it takes a ton of effort to do all the menu planning, fridge and freezer purging, shopping, unpacking and stocking, prep work, cooking, getting everyone washed and sitting down, feeding the family, and keeping them seated during the feeding. Not to mention all the cleanup when everything else is done. Kitchen work consumes me; I want it to be the other way around. I’d like to be ‘Counter Productive’ – productive at my kitchen counter, where, like a commando mission, I get in, get out, and get on with my life.

Maybe if I wasn’t interrupted so much by the kids, the dog, my husband, (my kids), phone calls, other demands on my time (and my kids again), I might find it easier to focus and get it done. Seems I’m in a season of distraction. I once heard that the more interruptions you get in your day, the more valuable you are as a person. Well, I guess all the “Mama! Mama! Mama!’s” I get every day definitely qualify me for super valuable status.

So, maybe my family won’t be dining on escargot in a pastry dome, chateaubriand with bernaise Sauce and chateau Potatoes; or sea bass poached in a court bouillon with sauteed batonnet of carrots and zucchini anytime soon, (though that actually sounds pretty good…) but I don’t think they’ll miss it. They’ve got me around, and the time I invest in my family is, well, the icing on the cake. And it’s pretty good cake, if I say so myself. Even if I’m the one who has to clean up the crumbs.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

10 Things I Wish I Had Known by Gina Conroy

10 Things I Wish I'd Known About Parenting

1. Don't believe you'll exercise and drop the weight when your six weeks recovery time is up. You'll be too exhausted to get up off the couch and your crying baby will want to be held all the time. Though if you put on a infant carrier, he makes a great weight for squats!

2. Infants don't know the difference between 1 am and 1 pm and just when you think you're about to lose your mind, they'll start sleeping through the night!

3. No matter how many times you discipline (spank) your two year old, he'll keep getting out of his bed at nap time and when his nap time is over, YOU'LL NEED A NAP! Connection BEFORE correction!

4. An 18-month-old won't remember the expensive Disneyland Trip when he grows up, no matter how many life-size characters you meet, but the photos you take will make him think he remembers and will be priceless!!!

5. What's a cute habit at two (like "shaking your booty") isn't necessarily cute to your child's teacher at preschool!

6. When you're eight months pregnant, television and the computer are great babysitters, and won't turn your kids into vegetables even if they watch and play for three hours while you take a nap. And yes, two and a half year olds know how to change computer CDs.

7.Lock up all your toddler's crayons and markers. It's okay to stifle their creativity, especially if it'll save you hours of work and hundreds of dollars.

8. It's okay to let your child crawl in bed with you in the middle of the night, even if there's no thunderstorm.

9. Start that scrapbook NOW!!!! When the kids muliply and photos pile up, and you decide to scrapbook you WILL totally have forgetten which kid is which.

10. Never leave home without a change of clothes for your kids, antibacterial soap and a walmart sack!

Gina Conroy

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Guest Blogger...Nicholas J. Fedele


Today I want to brief you on the subject of underwear as Christmas presents. This is a hot–button topic with me. In the rememberance of the Christmases past of my childhood, receiving unmentionables posing as valid gifts had made me so bitter that even to this day I still break out in a cold sweat whenever I’m given a gift wrapped in an irregular box.
Now that I am a grown man and a father however, I have begun to see the advantage and wisdom of always having clean, fresh underwear readily available. You may perhaps be involved in an accident that renders you unconscious and requires an emergency trip to the hospital. Or you could get your clothes drenched in a rainstorm, not realizing that your white khakis (or blouse, if you are a woman) become transparent when wet. This becomes clear when you arrive at the office for work. In both cases, clean undergarments are essential.
So while I cringe to think of them as Christmas presents wrapped with pretty ribbons and bows, I have reconciled myself to the fact that mama was right and wise and thoughtful. Some gifts were not what we expected, but exactly what we needed.
Now that the year has come around to December again, it’s got me thinking a lot about the story of the Incarnation and how the coming of Christ in many ways was similar to receiving underwear for Christmas… Not what we expected, but exactly what we needed.
Being an unmarried, pregnant woman in Mary and Joseph’s day was a capital crime. And it was certainly not the ideal situation Joseph envisioned for the beginning of his marriage with Mary, his beloved. Between angels waking him up in the middle of the night, pestering him to take Mary as his wife and a Roman census necessitating the long and arduous trip to Bethlehem, not to mention finding no room at the inn once they got there, and having to hole up in a stable with the animals, well the whole thing was just so… weird! In fact, it must have affected Joseph so strangely that in every account of the birth of Christ in the gospels, Joseph never says a word, he just does what he’s told to do like a man too overwhelmed to do otherwise. Shellshocked is the term, I believe. Though obedient and noble, he had to be thinking to himself, “This is not at all what I expected…”
But through his sacrificial love for his betrothed, his unwavering obedience and his heroic nobility, prophecy was fulfilled. Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea just as the prophets foretold. This has been a sign to the world throughout the ages that He was the promised one, the Messiah they had been waiting for.
I am convinced that the lowly circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus serve at least two purposes. First, the birth of the Christ Child in such mean circumstances was a tactic that God used to get in ‘under the radar’ of the enemy. If Jesus had come as he deserved, announced as King, Satan would surely have attacked the Child and His family immediately. He knew the prophecies and he was ever watchful.
However Satan would never have imagined that God would come to Earth as He did. Born of an unwed teenage peasant girl, witnessed only by barn animals and shepherds and laid in a watering trough. It was not at all what the devil expected, but exactly what was needed.
More importantly, the lowly birth in the manger, attended by animals and the lowest of society, the shepherds, demonstrated to us that God was now fully a man. Subject to everything men endure, He was able to relate to us and understand the human condition in a unique way, even for Him. And Jesus in return showed us what the Father was like so that we could come to know Him, understand Him, relate to and love Him in a whole new way as well.
So the gift of Christmas was Emmanuel, God with us. And He came not wrapped with royal robes, but in swaddling clothes. Kind of like nice warm underwear. Not at all what we expected, but exactly what we needed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


An Interview with Kim Stuart

Take one twenty-nine-year-old woman, add a career, add a husband, add a home, toss in a best friend, and you have a great life.

Add a baby. Not a problem. Still can do.

Add a seductive ex-boyfriend moving a few houses over. Hmmm, a little more complicated, but managing.

Add a blonde twenty-something ski bunny flirting with your husband. Uh-oh. Did we mention the postpartum body? Somebody press the panic button.

Pile on returning to work after maternity leave, and sprinkle in a nosey Mommies Group . . .
And you've got a Balancing Act--a hilarious look at the challenges faced by modern women as they juggle careers, marriage, and children.

What inspired you to write Balancing Act?

I was neck-deep in the throes of motherhood and found it could make me laugh until I made unfortunate snorting noises, cry until I needed to breathe into a paper bag, and hang my outgrown roots in forced humility, and all before nine a.m.

I wanted to write a story that would acknowledge both the chaos and the blessing, the euphoria and the nagging doubts involved in mothering a child.

More than anything, I wanted to write a story with authentic, achingly real characters who struggled with faith and morality as well as sleep schedules and diaper rash. I figured if I could imagine my friends becoming engaged with the story, I was on the right track.

Is it true you wrote this novel while pregnant? What was that like?

I was four months pregnant when I attended a writers’ conference and received some very positive feedback from an editor at NavPress. She encouraged me to send my manuscript to Nav’s fiction line when I got a chance.

My “manuscript” at that time was around three thousand words, the very rough beginning of Balancing Act. I found an expanding uterus to be like my own private motivational speech. It was a fixed deadline, so to speak, and I like deadlines. So each afternoon, while my two-year-old napped, I’d waddle over to my laptop and crank out my thousand words. God is good, I finished the book, and my water broke, in that order.

Experiencing mommy-hood for the second time, did you go back and make revisions?
My son, who just turned one, is very different from my daughter, who is now four. Mitchell wants me with him, wants to cuddle, and thinks I’m a rock star even with morning breath. Ana, however, is very independent, cuddles only when feverish, and minces no words regarding morning breath. So I feel like I’m revising all the time, trying to keep up with their very different needs and personalities. My most major revision, however, has been throwing out Neurotic Kim and going for a more laid-back approach out of necessity. Funny how four years of parenting does that to a girl.

Did you use true-life stories in your novel? Can you give us an example?
While Balancing Act is absolutely a work of fiction, there are threads of my own experience woven throughout. Nora, the baby in the book, is loosely patterned after my daughter, Ana. She gets to talking in the sequel, Bottom Line, set to release in May. I see a lot of Ana in that part of Nora’s story.

The protagonist, Heidi Elliott, certainly has my sense of humor. Like Heidi, I taught high school Spanish. Like Heidi, I identify with the tightrope walk of a woman living in this century. I know the chaos of working, mothering, wife-ing, and trying to be plain old me, for crying out loud. And like Heidi, I’ve had a certain amount of distrust for church-run women’s groups, always fearing they’ll make me quilt or something.

But I’ve assured my family that unlike what occurs in the book, there are no skanky dealings in my marriage, that I don’t know any well-endowed heiresses, and that none of my relatives are represented in the characters. Well, that last part isn’t entirely true, but you’ll have to wait to read my posthumous memoirs to get the full scoop.

How do you balance motherhood and writing?

It isn’t pretty, I’ll tell you that much. Far easier to make up a story about the balancing act than to actually do it well oneself. I’ve been known to type while my son drools on my big toe and my daughter screams the soundtrack to “Little Mermaid” in the background. This system does not seem to reap the most productive writing moments. So I have help. God has always turned out to be sufficient when I let Him. My mother, bless her, and my babysitter, Ashley, bless her too, help me out for a couple hours each day so I can write. My husband is a fantastic human being who assumes I can conquer the world and should. My friendships keep me above the surface just when I think I’ll sink.

And on grace-drenched days, there’s always naptime.

Author Bio: After teaching Spanish and English as a Second Language, Kimberly Stuart took a huge increase in pay to stay at home full time with her daughter, Ana. She lives in Des Moines, IA. While writing Balancing Act, Kimberly was pregnant with her second child.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Guest Blogger...Judy Fedele

Everybody Wants a Piece of Me

Nudge, nudge. “Not now, Zoe.” The dog’s wet nose insistently pushes at my hand. “Cut it out, Zoe. I have to fold the laundry. Nudge, nudge. I sigh and reach out to scratch the dog’s fuzzy white head. “I can’t scratch you forever, you know. I’ve got to finish this laundry, I have dishes to do, dinner to get ready…” The dog does not care about my long list. She just wants attention. A thin wail, sounding much like an angry sheep, cuts in through the baby monitor. “Great. Now Delia’s up. And I have to pick up Jaime from school in twenty minutes. I’m never going to get anything done. Terrific. I never get a break.”

Little insistent voices all day and all night. It seems like everybody wants a piece of me. “Honey, can you throw in a load of whites? I’ve got nothing clean to wear.” “Mom, can I have a snack? I’m staaarrrrrrrrving. And will you play Barbie’s with me? Will you will you will you pleeaaasssseee????” The baby toddles over and clutches my leg. The arms go up. I continue cutting up the potatoes for dinner. The crying begins. “I can’t pick you up, babe, I have to get this done or we won’t have dinner. Delia, please. Give Mama a break. Five minutes. That’s all I ask.”

Five minutes for me! I scream in my head. It seems as though that never happens. When I get the rare down time, I don’t use it for me (an unheard of luxury!) – it goes into the next round of dishes, laundry, dinner, whatever needs to be done, or finished, or started again. It’s endless, the list of things to be done. And the list of needs, well, that’s another impossible to-do list. I’m like a juice box, sucked dry. I get it from all quarters: the baby, my older daughter, my husband, the dog – even my mom with her calls and emails nagging and nudging about every little thing. Will it ever end?

Yes, actually, it will. Those non-stop, whining little helium voices will get older soon enough. They’ll be able to get their own snacks. They won’t want to play with me anymore. They won’t want their tired mama around every second of the day. Yes, kids grow up. Their needs change (though there will always be needs) and I will (God willing) always be here to meet them, as best as I can. I was strongly prompted of this recently when I came across a note from Jaime. I was cleaning her room and found a little crumpled piece of paper shoved in the back of her closet. It said, simply, “Mom, will you please snuggle with me? Because I love you.” At the time, I was probably too busy with something or other and didn’t get the chance. Or more likely, I wouldn’t make the time. When I saw that note, I was reminded of how precious my children are. Their needs, so insistent now, are so much more important than all the things that keep me so busy. The gentle nudges are their way of getting my attention. Just like the dog with her pushy nose and endless itches.

Yet I do need my own time to refresh, or I’ll have a hard time meeting all those needs on a daily basis. I relish the time I spend with friends, time at MOPS, any little bit I can call my own. It is so important for us as moms to recharge ourselves, so we can keep on keeping on.

I admit, it’s a busy time in my life, being the mom to small children. But I love it. I love those two little faces, I love all the joy and laughs they bring. They are a lot of work, granted. And it’s never quiet at my house. But you know what? It will be quiet soon enough. For now, I think I’ll enjoy the nudges.

Find out more about Judy's MOPS group at:

Friday, December 15, 2006


My friend Janet sent this to me and I thought I'd pass it along...

I have written an adaptation of a booklet for moms, If My Kids Drive Me Crazy, Am I Bad Mom? . . . which was published by NavPress in their Questions Women Ask Series, copyrighted in my name.

It's a six-lesson mini-course for individuals, twosomes, and groups of moms that includes questions, projects and scripture studies. Topics include:

-- What No One Ever Told You About Kids
-- Surviving When You're Still A Kid Yourself
-- Creative Choices For Harried Moms
-- Being There and Finding Yourself
-- Getting Acquainted: The Strangers At Your House
-- Hanging In For The Long Haul
-- How Will I Know If I'm A Good Mom?I

t's now a 20 page (10 page, if printed back-to-back) 8 1/2 x 11" plain paper format that I'd like to make available free to any individual moms or moms' support groups.

Here's the deal . . .
1) send me your name and snail mail address
2) I'll send you ONE copy of my material, with permission granted to make as many copies as you want for yourself, your friends, or your moms' group.

Janet Chester Bly com

Wow--thank you Janet!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas...Presents vs. People

Here's an interesting ariticle comparing the generations and what "really" excites them about Christmas and the holidays.

"Notably, the older one is, the more likely they are to say that they most look forward to spending time with friends and family for the holidays. Almost three-quarters (74%) of Baby Boomers (those aged 42 to 60) and 76 percent of Matures (those 61 and older) say spending time with friends and family is the one thing they most look forward to for the holidays. The youngest age group, Echo Boomers (those aged 18 to 29), are more likely than the other groups to say that getting presents is what they are looking forward to this holiday season, although this is low on everyone's list (7% of Echo Boomers vs. 2% of Gen Xers aged 30 to 41; less than 1% of Baby Boomers and no Matures)."

Read the rest of the article...what are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Being a Mom

We are sitting at lunch one day when my daughter casually mentions that she and her husband are thinking of "starting a family." "We're taking a survey," she says half-joking."Do you think I should have a baby?"

"It will change your life," I say, carefully keeping my tone neutral."

I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations."

But that is not what I meant at all. I look at my daughter, trying to decide what to tell her. I want her to know what she will never learn in childbirth classes. I want to tell her that the physical wounds of child bearing will heal, but becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire will haunt her. That when she sees pictures of starving children, she will wonder if anything could be worse than watching your child die.

I look at her carefully manicured nails and stylish suit and think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moments hesitation.

I feel that I should warn her that no matter how many years she has invested in her career, she will be professionally derailed by motherhood. She might arrange for childcare, but one day she will be going into an important business meeting and she will think of her baby's sweet smell. She will have to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure her baby is all right.

I want my daughter to know that every day decisions will no longer be routine. That a five year old boy's desire to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

However decisive she may be at the office, she will second-guess herself constantly as a mother. Looking at my attractive daughter, I want to assure her that eventually she will shed the pounds of pregnancy, but she will never feel the same about herself.

That her life, now so important, will be of less value to her once she has a child. That she would give herself up in a moment to save her offspring, but will also begin to hope for more years, not to accomplish her own dreams, but to watch her child accomplish theirs.

I want her to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks will become badges of honor. My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who is careful to powder the baby or who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again for reasons she would now find very unromantic.I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say.

Then I reached across the table, squeezed my daughter's hand and offered a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all the mere mortal women who stumble their way into this most wonderful of callings.

Author Unknown

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Guest Blogger...Cara Putman

Christmas Cookies Galore.

This week we’re in the midst of a Christmas tradition at the Putman house. Christmas cookie baking. All kinds are sitting in my freezer already: chocolate espresso cookies, strawberry pockets, chocolate/marshmallow/chocolate, Gingerbread, chocolate chip, peanut butter, biscotti, apple date, and I’m sure I’m missing something. I think I’ll stop this year with sugar cookies; the dough is made, now to find the time and patience to cut them out.

I don’t know when this became a tradition. I just know that we have done it for years.

I love to bake, but finding a way to include the kids without going crazy has taken time. I think I did it this evening.

Jonathan is now old enough to help, so he and Abigail stood on chairs at the counter cutting out all kinds of Gingerbread cookies. I watched patiently as they consistently cut the cookies out of the center of the dough. Not the most efficient process. But God is using them to work on me.

Efficiency isn’t what’s important. What matters is spending the time with them. Building memories together. Using the cookies as an excuse to minister to neighbors and friends. But also letting the kids experience the joy of creating and giving.

So my prayer for me and for you this holiday season is that God will expand our patience so we can enjoy the season and traditions with our children.

Cara C. PutmanCanteen Dreams -- coming October 2007 (Heartsong Presents)
The Law, Life & Books:
Original Writer for Jake Tremaine at Scenes & Beans:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Ten Things I Wish I'd Known About Parenting by Amy Wallace

Ten Things I Wish I'd Known About Parenting

1) Three year olds really do think they rule the world.

2) So do tweens.

3) Mommies really can take a nap and the world will not self-destruct.

4) Pet fish aren't flushable; they must be buried.

5) Chocolate is a food group.

6) Children can be reasoned with and will be long as there's chocolate involved.

7) A piece of chocolate not only makes the medicine go down, but also peas, broccoli, and carrots too.

8) Subtle hints will be categorically ignored.

9) As "the baby" grows up, moms learn how to cry and cheer at the same time.

10) That the same instruction can be repeated ad nauseam and still be ignored...but somehow they really do "get it." Eventually.

Amy is married to a hunk, a homeschool mom of 3, writer, youth Bible study leader, and avid chocoholic. Those are some of the hats she loves to wear, but who Amy really is can be summed up in this: Amy is a daughter of the King learning to live and love with

Friday, December 08, 2006

Real life Freaky Friday?

Here's an interesting article about how parents are dressing like teens/tweens and more teens/tweens are dressing like adults?

See what they have to say and if you agree...

Middle school kids dressed for school like sexy twentysomethings at a club, and their parents dressed the same: the historical clothing divide between young & old is now so narrow - and cosmetic youthing procedures so prevalent – you’ll soon need a map to differentiate between the two groups. "There's an emerging trend of [younger] Millennials dressing like their Gen-X parents," generation expert Neil Howe recently told WWD about today’s 8-12 year old tweens. "If you have younger people dressing like people who are older, and older people who are dressing younger, you remove the need for peer separation [from others], particularly in the worlds of fashion, values and culture."

From advertising in schools, to indulgent parents allowing their tweens more freedoms & showering them with on-childish products & experiences, to the growing influence of older brothers & sisters amongst this family-centric generation, the disintegrating boundaries between age-groups has even made it to prime time. "We also see this on TV shows — that's very new. Even on something as racy and popular as ‘The O.C.' you have kids' and adults' stories interwoven, compared with ‘90210' or ‘Melrose Place,' where teens' and adults' worlds were very separate," says Howe. "Kids are more comfortable with adults mingled in with all aspects of their worlds."

Read the rest of the article here.

What do you think this says about us as parents?
What does this say about our kids?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Guest Bloger...Judy Fedele

Simple Things for Simple Minds

I think I used up my entire stock of mommy tricks this week. Little Delia is entering the ‘terrible two’ phase in full force. Her tantrum voice sounds like a pterodactyl with a bullhorn. It’s loud, screechy, and the precise decibel to pierce through delicate adult brain tissue. Children this age are impervious to the ‘no’ word: either they don’t understand it, or if they do, they’re deliberately deaf to its meaning and application. There is no explaining anything to a toddler hell-bent on her own will and way. What does work is to use distraction and redirection - then pray that they don’t notice you’ve pulled the old switcheroo.

The toddler years are filled with contradictions. This time is one of the most hectic and demanding, yet filled with the sweetest moments of mommy bliss unparalleled in any other time in parenting.

This age group is so tough to parent because they are a contradiction in themselves. They are coming into the “I do it!” stage where their need to express their independence outstrips their ability to make it happen. So while they frustrate easily, they are not easily soothed. But there are some great tricks to cope with these troublesome toddlers. Every parent has a handful up his or her sleeve. In my own experience as a mom, I’ve found that nothing soothes the savage beast quicker, or deflates an escalating temper tantrum, than the 3 B’s: balloons, band-aids, and bubbles.

Delia had the end of all meltdowns last week. Nothing worked to calm her down, not even a cookie – which works like a charm (or bribe) 99.9% of the time. After an hour of inconsolable howling, I carried her upstairs and put her in the tub with a capful of bubble bath. Badda-bing, badda boom, bubbles to the rescue! Instant bliss. Other times it’s a strategically placed band-aid, or a colorful balloon to lift the spirits of a spirited little lady.

The tricks we use to soothe our tiny tots should be something that they can relate to – something on their own level. Simple things for simple minds. Whatever keeps the peace in your own home – go for it. I know I’ll keep on doing what works for us. And though I may sometimes run out of patience, and often out of steam, heaven forbid that we run out of the 3 B’s! Which reminds me, I need to head out to the store to stock up on a few necessities. Especially Advil. Gotta protect my sensitive brain-tissue from the Shrieky-Shrieky Bird that lives here. Good luck to you and yours.

Judy Fedele

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

P is for Poser

When I was twelve, I made a list of all the things I would NOT do when I was a mom. I can't remember what it said, but I'm sure there were things like:

I won't make my kids go to bed at 9:00 p.m.
I won't tell them what movies they can or can't watch.
I won't limit phone conversations.
I won't bug my kids about their homework.

Of course, as it turns out, I'm even more restrictive with my kids than my parents were with me. Not only do I do all of the above, I also make my kids consider all their actions in light of God's Word. (Which is an even bigger responsiblity!)

Sometimes it's hard for kids to remember that we don't have it all figured out. Feel free to share this with your kids ... if you dare.

What Parents Wish Their Teens Knew ... but are too afraid to tell them.
by Tricia Goyer

1. Sometimes I feel like a poser. I can't believe I have to be the responsible one.

2. Sometimes I feel guilty because I don't think I'm doing a very good job.

3. Sometimes I want to watch the same movies and TV that you do, even when I know it's not good. It's hard to "be the example."

4. Sometimes I give you a hard time about your relationships because memories of my old boyfriends still haunt me.

5. Sometimes I sign you up for activities just because I never had a chance to do them, but wish I did.

6. Sometimes I give you a hard time about your homework because I wish I would have tried harder in my own studies.

7. Sometimes I bug you about little things like your driving or goofing off because I did some pretty dumb stuff myself.

8. Sometimes I'd like to just throw up my hands and take a break. I keep going to show my love, even though sometimes it doesn't seem like it.

9. Sometimes I question my decisions. Okay, more than just sometimes.

10. Sometimes I forget to turn to God for help, even though I need Him most.

I know there are a lot of books out there that encourage parents to pray for teens, but today I'd like to ask teens to pray for parents. We need it!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guest Blogger...Cara Putman

Those Days

Ever have one of those days?

You know. The one where you are convinced ANYONE could do this parenting thing so much better than you.

The one where it’s too cold to go outside, and you know you could replace all our energy woes if you could just figure out how to harness the kids? Or every time you turn around your words and tone are so much sharper than you intended? One where potty training regresses? The three year old asserts all kinds of independence without the cushion of a nap? The six year old digs her heels in the dirt and refuses to cooperate because it’s not fun?

Anyone else ever have weeks, days, hours like that? Please tell me I’m not the only one.

I don’t have all the answers – even when it might sound like I do. But I know the One with the answers.

And on the hard days, I cling to the fact that my God sees all. He knows all. He doesn’t make mistakes. He knows the end result and still decided I was the best woman to mother my children. And even on the days that I really want to believe He made a mistake, another part of me clings to the comfort that He sees something in me that is just what my children need.

He also knew that my children were exactly what I needed. That they would rub (who am I kidding, sand-blast!) things out of my life that couldn’t be removed any other way. That my sense of inadequacy in parenting would drive me to my knees in fresh and on-going ways.

One thing I am learning is that this process does not end at a magical age. There is no magic pill or age that ends the angst. Instead, many mothers of grown children assure me (with the sweetest smiles) that you never stop mothering, worrying, and praying.

How does God whisper to your heart on those hard parenting days?

Monday, December 04, 2006

More buzz about Generation NeXt Parenting


Beach-Lit Writer, says...
"You know what I love about this book? It’s not dull. It’s not pages and pages of text in the same font, saying basically the same thing over and over again: Give it up, Mom! Your kids are beyond repair! That’s one reason I’ve forever chucked many parenting books. I know that I mess up on a regular basis; I don’t need to be reminded of that fact in 300+ pages.
Maybe that sounds harsh. But, seriously, give me something I can use. Okay, I'm teasing. Yes, there are some good books out there (and, from personal reading experience, some very bad ones). This one, however, is special.
In Generation NeXt Parenting , Tricia Goyer identifies with Gen Xers because, well, like me, she is one. She says, "My generation is serious about parenting—just look at all we expect from our children and ourselves!" Ooh, can I relate to that." read the rest

Buzz and a contest...

Here's what Open Book had to say:
"Tricia Goyer offers some amazing encouragement to those of us who grew up in the 70's and 80's as latchkey kids and divorce casualties. For anyone who's ever asked, "what on earth am I doing here trying to be a parent?" or even if you've got it all figured out, her book offers hope and help. Whether your kid is an infant or a teenager, each chapter addresses one aspect of parenting that applies to every age and stage of growing up." Read the rest here and leave a comment to be entered in the contest for a free book!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Kids growing up faster? Why?

'Teen Tweens': Kids are growing up faster – but is that a good thing?

Here's a challenging article from a San Diego newspaper stating that today's "tweens" are yesterday's teens. Some intesting things to think about. Here's an excerpt:

Beyond the drugs, sex and rock'n'roll their boomer and Gen X parents navigated, technology and consumerism have accelerated the pace of life, giving kids easy access to influences that may or may not be parent-approved. Sex, violence and foul language that used to be relegated to late-night viewing and R-rated movies are expected fixtures in everyday TV.

And many tweens model what they see, including common plot lines “where the kids are really running the house, not the dysfunctional parents,” says Plante, who in addition to being Zach's dad is a psychology professor at Santa Clara University in California's Silicon Valley.

Read the rest of the article and let me know what you think.

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