Tuesday, October 18, 2016

That Time When Popularity Had Me in a Choke-Hold

When I first started blogging, I had a little community.  It was little, and I had trusted followers and friends on a little site called 'chattablogs.'  We were part of a bigger blogger community, and although that site one day fizzled out and dried up, I kept blogging. I blogged with the hopes that I had kept a faithful few that had gotten to know me and my writing style.

As I grew in blogging, I faced many roadblocks. One of the hardest was overcoming my incessant desire for more followers, readers, and comments.  If I broke a record for myself, say, most page views, my mind would immediately jump to my other stats. Not enough comments. If I achieved a goal such as "write a novel" or "write a guest-post for so-and-so," I would then feel a subsequent creeping sense of failure for something else... Not enough followers on Twitter or instagram.  If - in my mind- I didn't have enough people clicking over, commenting, or interacting on one of the many SM channels, I felt like a failure and I would complain in my head, and often to Stephen.

The other problem I found with blogging was the need for constant comparison to other bloggers, to see how I measured up against their stats. When I visited anyone's Facebook blog page, I would immediately begin the comparisons of numbers, pictures, and "about me" descriptions. If they were vying for yet another award a creeping sense of failure would attack me, once again. Rather than community, I began to feel competition. Rather than friendliness, I sensed vacancy. The vacuous need for growth in numbers was clearly the driving force behind many of these blogs.

As you can maybe tell by now, I was setting an impossible standard for myself constantly. I have to admit, I still think about these things. But at some point, I reached an impasse. If you haven't reached that "point" yet in your blogging journey, fellow Bloggers, then I assure you, you will. You will or it will kill you (or you will die trying... haha ;) I realized that I had achieved goals for myself, and that made me happy. I realized that popularity had me in its jaws, and the clenches were tightening over time, rather than loosening. When I noticed all of the little things people said, and all of the numbers over on SM starting to affect my mood, less positively, about five years ago or so, I realized I needed to take a break from blogging.

I have taken various breaks from blogging. Some longer than others. Sometimes I have shut down a blog all together. But I'm proud to say that prior to reaching my most consistent blogging routine, I had to let something go. In order to be truly proud of my work as a blogger, I had to let go of something HUGE >>> my desire for popularity.

I admit it: I see people in the blogosphere who are literally "Royals." They have all the awards, accolades, privileges, and opportunities. They have the numbers. In fact, they're "America's Next Top Model" of blogging.

But honestly? It makes me sad.

It makes me sad because I remember being there, and I have never felt so alone.

Nothing satisfied me.

Nothing made me feel truly accomplished.

Popularity had me in a choke-hold, and my desire for "more" became my obsession.

When I see people doing all that they can to add to their numbers, and still they're trying to get more jobs, and more people on their team, and more of x, y, and z, I'm glad to say I've pretty much let it go.

Does that mean I've given up trying to grow? No.
Does it mean I now have a ticket that gives me the opportunity to stop trying? No.

Does it mean I have immense peace? Yes. I know my purposes better now. I can measure growth in terms of little things- a kind comment. Yes, one comment that makes my day. That's a success in my mind. Seeing personal improvement in my writing, reading, mothering, or other hobbies as a result of the community I have here. That has not come with some pricks to my pride, some falls, some failures, some mistakes, and even- yes, some lost friendships.

I love blogging. I suppose I have found a modicum of success in blogging. Truly, though, I love all that it has to offer. I have made friends, I have grown, I have changed, and my skills have been sharpened. It all feels worth it to me now, somehow. I'm thankful for this crazy, unpredictable, awesome awesome awesome medium. Blogging has been a gift to me.

But--- you see, I'm not in it for popularity.  Shedding that feeling of competitiveness is like curing a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. It is like a cleanse or a fast.  You can set it where it belongs, on the shelf, and move on with life. Keep trying, keep going, don't stop. But don't dwell in the numbers, don't worry about approval. Shift your perspective. As soon as you can. Let go of counting- it's all fiddlesticks anyway.

I'm not in it to play the popularity game. Why?

Because that, for me, is a satisfying place to be.

By the way, I will be taking a two-week long hiatus from blogging. Find me on instagram for #31daysofdrinks! ;)

Thoughts? Comments? ;-)

Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Friday, October 14, 2016

Art Camp! 7 Fun Fall Crafts For Kids

The girls are on Fall Break right now, and rather than tell you about the things we *hope* to do for Fall, instead I'm going to tell you about how we tried to do Art Camp during their break. This way I can tell you how it went and show you some pictures of what we made!  I got this idea when I was talking over some ideas for Fall Break with Frances, and she said, "Mommy, making art is my favorite thing. I love making art."  So I suggested Art Camp, and she was over the moon excited.
At Starbucks, planning and getting ready for our week

This is ironic that Frances was so excited, because usually Molly is my art girl. Of course when I floated the idea with Molly, she was more than game. I think Frances is coming into her own with her interest in all things artistic. (Just as an aside: when I ask Frances what she wants to be when she grows up, she says, "Everything." I asked her what that meant and she said, "Artist, Singer, Mommy, and everything else." :-0 haha) And Madeleine is generally as easy to please as her sisters. If art is involved, she's there. If Anders is going to tag along, well, that's fine too! ;)

Want to see what we made?


Paper Mosaic Pumpkins

- cut orange, green, and brown paper into little tiny squares (kids can help, but they don't have to!)
- Note: if the child is younger, make their squares a bit bigger.
- use glue to attach them in a pattern on your paper
-to make this a bit simpler, try squeezing a small circle of white glue on a scrap paper. The kids can dip the paper into the bit of glue, then place it on the paper


Button Candy Corn Art
- using clay, playdoh, or cornstarch dough, (we did homemade dough) shape into a triangle with rounded corners
- add white, yellow, and orange buttons, or beads, in lines to make a candy corn
- I promised my kids a reward of candy corn at the end of the week for a job well done at Art Camp :0)

Autumn Trees
- two ways: first, using tissue paper, add fall leaves to your trunk with glue
- using fingerprints and q-tips, add tiny leaves to your cardstock trunk

Spider Web Art
- two versions: first, draw a web using white pastel
- paint over it with differing shades of blue and purple (liquid watercolor and watercolor paper will work best)
- second, draw a web using white crayon
- again, paint over it with differing shades of blue and purple
- sprinkle salt on your painting as it is drying

Painted Leaf With Name Letter
- using wooden leaves, and wooden letters, paint and attach using wood glue, when dry
-hang with string for a garland or use to decorate a mantel or door
- Here's a good tutorial featuring pumpkins (very similar), another great idea

Baking Soda Dough Playtime
- mix together 1/2 c. cornstarch, 1 c. baking soda, and 3/4 c. water to make a ball of dough for each child (more detailed instructions here)
- have fun playing with it
- ask the kids to make fall-themed shapes (trees, pumpkins, leaves, gourds, etc.)

Salt Dough Pumpkins & Candy Corn
- make homemade salt dough
- bake in the oven (more detailed instructions here)
- paint orange, decorate when they're done
- we do this all the time-- any time we have extra time on our hands
-bake on a 200 oven for 2-3 hours, longer depending on the size of your ornaments
Edited to add:

Tea party and spider webs! ;)

Our final product

Interested in doing this yourself? Here are all of the materials we used:
tissue paper
wooden letters
wooden cutout leaves
liquid watercolors
cardstock- black
construction paper
dough ingredients

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Lewis Carroll, Fear-mongering, and Jealousy

Lewis Carroll

My favorite person in literary history has to be Lewis Carroll. I know that's a strong statement, but I think about him all the time. I have been very influenced by Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, I love his poetry and riddles, and his biography veritably changed my life. I first learned about him at my Christian High School math class.  We talked about genius, how math and logic are connected, and we watched a biographical movie about his life.

I think what I adore about Lewis Carroll was that he was so gifted, and very blessed during his life, but as he was a strong Christian, he suffered very, very deeply.  He was misunderstood.  He was accused of things he didn't do. He didn't get everything he wanted in his life. But if you think of how many children he inspired, and how many people he touched by his influence, it is mind-blowing.  Our collective imaginations have been transformed by his work. I think he deserves a bigger place in history than he even now has.
If you haven't read any of his great works, or if you want to read a stunning biography, please keep Carroll in mind! So. good! Do me a favor and at the very least, try a read aloud of "Jabberwocky"


Seemingly unrelated, I want to talk about fear-mongering for a minute. I see people throw around fearful talk all the time. One person in particular who has a special penchant for arousing our fearful emotions is Donald Trump. I've written about him in the past - Why I Will Never Vote Trump, and Vote With Your Whole Mind. I do not like him, Sam I Am.

My Dad is a physician. All growing up, I remember he would tell us stories at the dinner table. He usually told us someone came in, and how that person was doing, and what they talked about. There was usually humor and laughing at dinner, as I recall. However, during the rare occasions that he mentioned that person's health or something specific related to geriatric disease or any kind of health problems, my Mom would interrupt. Many times, she would say, "We don't want to hear about that, Henry!"  Or just "Henry!" Or sometimes, "HENRY!!"  It was quite comical, actually.

Now, as you may guess, my Dad has the healing charism.  He has the disposition to be in a hospital, visiting patients, without being phased by death and disease -- or at the least, he is able to stay peaceful and calm in the midst of those situations.  However, my Mom kept him from bringing up disgusting or terrifying things, or discussing them at the dinner table.  I have always believed that if something causes you to worry, it will do no good bringing it up over and over again. I'm pretty sure fear-mongering isn't helpful, particularly, if like me, you struggle with anxiety.

Some examples:

"What if we end up dying like 'so and so'?"

"St. Therese had a horrible death-- here are several very specific examples of why!"

Or, fear-mongering in marriage:

"If you say that again, I will leave you!"

"This isn't going to end well!"

All of these things will do no good and instead will give you more worry than you need.  If you need to skip details when in discussion, please for the sake of your sanity, do so.*


I think many would-be creatives (would-be politicians? ahem) do not understand that if you want to be creative, you have to suffer, and they need a certain disposition and certain experiences, in order to lead a creative life. For Lewis Carroll, achieving a creative life meant a deep passion for children and children's stories. This was one of the main ways he was misunderstood.  Because of his close relationship with the real "Alice," he was accused of loving children too much, as many of his stories were borne of real interactions with her. It seemed strange that a professor of Logic at Cambridge would want to take a child to tea, but he was just that kind of person! He bore that cross with humility and courage. As a creative type myself, I have to cast aside all of my burdens, and especially my anxieties, or I would be apathetic about the things that really matter in life.  I have gotten flack from non-creative types, because they do not understand my brand of humor. They do not understand that mourning is a big part of being able to make art (or in my case, read and write).

Do you will that you would be able to make art? Do you have creative passions that you have pushed aside? My biggest advice to you would be to shed your doubts and fears. Shed doubts about your own abilities. Shed fears about what people will think of you or how they may judge you.  Do you dream of lucid thoughts and clear thinking? Do you wish to be a clairvoyant, or more articulate? Cast aside fear. Lay down the arrogance and jealousy. Move forward with the grace and courage of God, your Maker. Make a practice of not allowing yourself fearful or anxious thoughts. Turn off the news or radio any time the announcers and politicians bring up fearful things. It will do you good to do so.

We play into the Devil's hands when we use fear as a motivating power. That is exactly what he (The Devil) wants us to do. The spirit of God is one of peace. If *fear* is the platform, we play into the enemy's hands. Terrorism is the perpetration of terror and fear. This is a time of great need for strength, respectful dialogue, and courage.
Also: Donald and I are like green eggs and ham- and it doesn't end well. ;)
Linking up with Tuesday Talk

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

For Those Times When You Just Need Grace (With a Playlist)

I was feeling overwhelmed and unproductive. I listened to this podcast. I decided to take one day and track my time.

A couple of things about this day: it was an early pick-up day, meaning the kids were done at 2:15 instead of 3:15. Also, they had no ballet on this particular day. Also, the little kids didn't have any activities, which means it was a "stay-at-home" day for Mom.

-7-8am breakfast, make lunches, do hair- oldest 3 go to school
-8-8:30 screen time
-8-8:45 clean up
-9-9:30 walk (get ready, get everything together, change diapers)
-9:30-10:30 go to the store, put it all away
-10:30-11 clean up, let the kids play, feed Annabel, put her down
-11-11:30 clean up, play with Anders, check email/phone
-11:30 eat lunch
-12pm read, play, put Anders down
-12-12:45 clean, write emails, make lists, etc.
-12:45-1:30 read
-1:30-2 clean and pick up girls

After School/Evening
Don't judge me, but I allow a little extra screen time in the afternoon. It helps them wind down, and they take turns on the iPad for games. They're usually so burnt out from being at school all day that this down time is all they're in the mood for- not everyday, some days we play outside during this time, sometimes they have Ballet, etc)
-2:30-3:30 screen time for kids (some watch a little kid show, bigger kids play iPad), put clothes away for Mom
-3:30 Art lesson
-4-5 screen time, (usually trade iPad and TV)  pick up, set the table
-5:30 dinner
-6-7 Homework and playtime
-6:45 Go for a walk (just Mom), Kids play or hang out with Daddy
-7-8 Bathtime & Bedtime for kids
-8-9 Show for Mom
-9 Shower
-9:30 Listen to podcasts, scroll instagram, clean up, wind down
-10:15 bedtime

The reason I decided to track my time on this particular day was so that I could hold myself accountable to temptations, such as "scroll instagram for an hour," or "read for 5 minutes," or "forget about chores and sit in my bed listening to podcasts." lol

But it turned out to be helpful to see how routine-oriented our days really are!
Making time for reading, writing, sewing, and baking is manageable, based on how long the kids nap in the afternoon each day, and how I choose to limit screen time, outside-the-home activities, and just generally practice self-care and self-control! Of course it helps if I don't need a nap.

I think a lot of times, I go to bed and feel a failure because I am always interrupted, or I am lazy to jump to my responsibilities of caring for the house while the kids need to be fed, dressed, picked up after, and changed. These interruptions are built into our schedule, so it is far less likely for me to become exasperated. There is enough time to empty the dishwasher AND do my other chores while watching and correcting the kiddos.

But this shows that I am accomplishing a lot, even if I'm not lovingly reading them 1,000 pages aloud everyday or teaching them how to read, or turning them into rich, famous millionaire saints. ;)

I don't have to stop and take a picture of myself in the mirror and post it to my instagram followers to feel good about myself. I'm confident in myself without needing that kind of flattery, and without the need to show off. "I JUST WENT FOR A JOG!!" #50likes

The key to these really popular posts is that flattery isn't the same thing as love. "Never trust a flatterer," they always say.

I don't need all of that attention to not feel a failure.

Mainly the reason why? Because it's empty anyway. It's like Brangelina's divorce. They will probably sell the story for millions, but where does that leave them? Famous and sad.  I'm not saying you shouldn't try to grow on the internet. But if you're doing it in a way that leaves other people sad, maybe you should reconsider your motivation, and if the gold stars really are worth it to your overall mental health.

"A kind word makes anger go away, but toxic thoughts cause them to brew."

This is my "new translation" of an old verse.

Do you ever wonder why the battle against vices can be so hard?

When you are flying high, soaring on the wind without a care, and you hear someone else is low, do you have trouble imagining why?

And then, when your own world is rocked, and you're the ship wrecked on rocky shores, isn't it hard to imagine waking up sun-shiny?
Do you remember that little song "Let Her Go" by Passenger that came out a few years ago? Such a good song.

He says:
"Well you only need the light when it's burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go
Only know you've been high when you're feeling low
Only hate the road when you're missing home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go...."

The poetry really articulates sadness well.  Why does darkness- sometimes- feel so very, very dark? And why do we miss it just when it vanishes?

I think it is because we live in a toxic world.

When you're smooth-sailing through your morning errands, and someone makes a horribly rude comment, or treats you less-than with-dignity, or if envy for the narcissistic show-offs can de-rail you, and it's not fair.  It brings up old wounds. It deflates the soul like a balloon ten days after the party.

*just to mix the metaphors a little further* cough...

How can we show ourselves grace in the midst of a broken, fallen, hurting world where toxicity abounds, and kind words sometimes feel like they are few and far between-- an exception rather than the rule?

1.  If you wake up feeling non-sun-shiny, remember: whatever you are facing only has to be faced today. Even if it feels insurmountable, just do you and just do today. And track your time!

2. Put yourself in God's presence, pray, and ask for wisdom and peace.
Just asking God to fix it in a Hail-Mary-ten-times kind of way can bring a little piece of peace in the midst of the hard places.  And then, stop. Really! Just stop there. A little really can go a long way.

3. Seek out wisdom, rather than toxicity. Hold THAT in your heart. So that, when you face a toxic world, you have inner wisdom to deal with temptation, bad thoughts, and bad ideas.

4. If your heart is hurting, perhaps you are longing for another world. In the City of Men, you are desiring the City of God- as we all are.  Focus on the philosophy that the world is passing away, set your thoughts on that- because "out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." So when you hear toxicity coming out, you will understand that what goes in will come out. Give yourself the grace to know that you have another chance and you can always apologize and right your wrongs when you hurt the people around you, or when they hurt you.;)

5. Fast and Pray.
No one is perfect. Not even the models, the superstars, the NFL players, the Pope. But we can practice self-control, and sometimes this can do far more good for our wounds than begging God again and again to "Fix it."  Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and try again.

Translation: GRACE.

6. Be around supportive friends (or call a friend/sister/cousin to catch up!)

7. Listen to good music.

And on that note... here is a playlist for the hardest days.

Linking up with Tuesday Talk and 7QT
Don't forget! Join me over on instagram for 31 days of drinks! #31daysofdrinks
You can also follow me on Twitter- I'd love to have you there! I'm quite active and I enjoy that platform.  If you want to connect with me via Facebook, I'd love to have you. Finally, find me on Google Plus.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Monthly Recap vol. 37~ September 2016

I love the Fall, you guys. It has been an unseasonably warm September, although I know it always takes awhile to get into full swing here in the South. However, I am LOVING these cool mornings. I love to open the doors to the back porch and enjoy the cool, crisp morning breeze. Ahhhhh.


Trying back to get to my yearly goal for reading on Goodreads, (as of beginning of September, I had  read 35/50 books) I tried to catch up a bit. In order to meet my Reading Challenge goal by December, I needed and still need to read about 5 books per month! If I don't meet my goal, oh well. At least I have 5 healthy children and a happy baby and fries with that diet coke. ;)

Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner

I read this while waiting in line for my kids in the carline pick up at school. She delves into the meaning behind many of the Jewish traditions from her childhood. As a convert to Christianity, she schools us on how to apply these disciplines to a Protestant life. Unfortunately, I don't think the modern Christian church has adopted many of these teachings yet. I also cannot help but thinking that after many beautiful, strong books about faith, she ended up getting divorced from her husband, something our Church looks down on more heavily than the Protestant churches' traditions. Honestly makes me think of Elizabeth Gilbert announcing she's a lesbian: So sad! Really? Did this have to happen to someone with such a gift (and for Winner, with such a faith?) I know these things happen and I don't judge you if you or someone you love is divorced. What I am saying is: Let's be honest about it. Let's know the Church teaching on it. And let's call it what it is: sad. Maybe this honesty will turn the statistics around. We can only hope. ;)

On the Other Side of Fear by Hallie Lord

I'm nothing if not honest, and I have to say that I did not like this book and found it rather depressing. The premise seemed to be "baby Catholic realizes her errors," because the idea of trusting God should be second nature, not new information (which is what the idea for this book is based on.) I felt like this was another book that rushed to print and it was written for the sake of the author to compete with her homeboys. #ontheothersideofjealousy Her first book about spicing up marriage did not seem to me to glorify God, but rather to cause envy to those who may perceive that she is so lucky to have the marriage that we all wish we had- romantic husband, beautiful wife- such an idol in our culture today. I think you shouldn't waste your time. Or money.;) #blowitoffcompletely 

Coming Clean by Seth Haines

I was really excited about this book when I first started digging in. The writing is solid, almost poetic. Grounded in Scripture, which my childhood Protestantism secretly rejoiced in, it's about how he battled severe alcoholism and coped with sobriety. This all, in the wake of his son's failure to thrive and unexplained illness/syndrome (they're not sure as the book starts), so he must deal with his own demons. He must decide how long to remain sober, because it is numbing his ability to forgive and see things clearly as his son struggles. He is a good writer, this will keep your senses and your mind interested. The gradual tapering off of fine detail and the repetitive nature of the second half of the book earned 4 rather than 5 stars in my book.

Love & Salt

I decided it was time for a reread of one of my favorite books from the past 5 years. This book happens to also feature two Catholic women, which of course is right up my alley. They write letters to each other as one is converting to the faith. They seem to have a pretty strong faith, and they both go through hard things through the course of the letters, and it's a refining book for sure. If you're a young Catholic woman and you've never read it, put it on your TBR list right away.

Now I can safely say that I have inched that goal up to 39. 11 books to go. I figure that if I read 4 books in October, 3 books in November, and 4 books in December, I will be up to 50.  :-D Feels good to do the math like that. :0)
The nice thing about hot Fall.... you can still grill out all through September
BUT if you live anywhere other than the hot South, be thankful. In fact, thank your lucky stars over and over and over again. Our afternoons didn't break a temp below NINETY degrees until around the 17th.  Even then it only cooled off in the afternoon a handful of times. :'-( Yes what you think I am saying is what I am saying. It was that hot every.single.day.


Stephen is still obsessed with The Flash. I watched about five or so episodes and decided to return to Old Faithful. I rewatched a few of my all-time favorite movies while folding laundry:Sweet Home Alabama, Beaches (not joking), The Notebook (again, not joking, sorry) and Harvey. Siiiiigh. Jimmy Stewart is a-ok! And I just don't know. Ok, here it is. I'm #comingclean. I really like Bette Midler. I like her. I like her music, I think she's an excellent actress, she can do anything (act, sing, record albums, tour, etc) and well there you go. #confessions #windbeneathmywings #wbmwforever


Read from bottom to top #welldoneamerica

Rapunzel, Anne Shirley, and Jo March

~Funny Things They Say~

Madeleine: I left my tic-tacs right here on the desk. And since today is tomorrow, I can eat them now.

Madeleine: Yo-Yo peed in the glitter box.
~enter discussion of whether or not it just sounds cool to say that or if she really knows it's litter box~ (she's still not sure)

Madeleine: Mommy! I smell the homemade pizza you just made!
later: Thank you for making homemade pizza for dinner, tonight Mommy.
(it was enchiladas, and I haven't made homemade pizza in months...lol)


Juice! As I mentioned, I love making juice in our juicer. I think my favorite is either peach, celery, apple, or Garden Party which consists of (in my world): spinach, carrot, apple, parsley, pear, and sometimes green pepper or ginger. YUM Yum yum.

Speaking of which: a little announcement. In which, I post #31daysofdrinks in October!
It has become a sort of tradition. Every October, over on instagram, I post a picture of what I'm drinking every single day.  I'm so excited to do it again! Fun! I've already started! #31daysofinstagram #31daysofdrinks


Lemonade @ The Fike Life
This resonated with me because our house here is a step up from our house in D.C. and it seems Blythe won the jackpot with that house. Look at her garden/yard (that view?!)

My Hardest Part of Being a Mom at Home @ Whole Parenting Family
Again, resonated. Yay Nell. So good. 

Fighting a Growing Season @ Humble Handmaid
I think I will forever and always love this blog provided she keeps posting. #Goodpost.

Felipe @ Camp Patton
#shedtears #sosweet #allthefeels

~My Top Posts From September~

Come on, October! I was Born Ready for you.
Linking up here and here

Friday, September 30, 2016

Struggles With Children (7QT)

Children are hard. Children can be difficult to deal with. Some days, I feel like I am a big, fat Mom failure and I am doing. everything. wrong.

It can feel humiliating, discouraging, and frustrating. Very often, I think that children throw tantrums for one of three very common reasons: Hungry, Tired, or Teething. Usually, it isn't their fault that they feel terrible, and they are expressing common feelings. The way we deal with it as parents is the key. Staying patient (and remembering that they're not doing this on purpose or "at us" or to make us mad!!) is so important.  But I think we can also look to some other reasons for bad behavior, and I call this "spiritual training."

As a Catholic, I know Mass and the sacraments are of utmost importance. Hail Mary's have to help, too. But as a convert, I still struggle to know exactly where all of the entry points for my faith are, and where they intersect into life. (If you have any ideas, you can always leave them in the comments for me;)

Here are 7 reasons I struggle with children/ children can be hard:

1. Children do not comprehend their wrongdoing.

Without the light of relationship, we walk around like blind people- and we are "blind leading the blind." As soon as we have children, light comes shining in. We as parents have to have names for various behaviors and missteps, so that we can "teach and correct in all righteousness." We need to correct issues of self-control, not call it "sugar cravings" or "sugar crashes." We need to correct anger, not dismiss it as "behaviorally misguided." As I go through the drive-thru on my way to Whole Foods, I recognize my own hypocrisy, and the truth that children are sinners, not simply the products of an All-Organic diet done right or done wrong.

2. Children do not apologize.

"Oh, I'm so sorry Mommy... I will never do that again. I am remorseful and repentant." Is this something you hear often? Is it something children are born knowing? NO. It must be taught!  Slowly, patiently, the parent must instill holy humility in their child. They're not born knowing how to patiently bear with others in love! As they grow out of frustrating teething melt-downs, they grow up into thoughtful, smart kids. Toddlers can be thoughtful, too if we are teaching them songs about love, kindness, and sharing. They get these things; we need to know that they are not too young to grasp this - especially as we model it for them.

3. Children do not get accountability.

Naturally, if a child has a struggle (such as anger, blowing up, etc.) they will not willingly seek help. They don't have the self-awareness to recognize that their behavior is something they can take responsibility for. This is something that can be taught. They can learn to "Count to Four," if the parent will discipline the child. They can have hidden away somewhere inside the holy words of the fount of life, rather than curse words and/or rotten song lyrics.

4. Children operate on power struggles.

"I said no," will be answered with "Yes, I want to do this, and I will do it." A power struggle is based on having control.  A child wants to have control over what is around them, but they don't know how. In a good world, you can give them the skills and the "power" to be able to operate in a grown-up world, so that life is not exasperating for them- skills such as wiping up their tray, clearing dishes away from the table, putting dirty laundry in the hamper. Surely if you don't, you will be dealing with even more temper tantrums and control/power issues. Again, as they get older, the stakes for anger are higher, and it isn't just a bucket of grace poured over their poor, tired aching mouths, at it again with the teeth. There are consequences for missteps: lost friendships, disrespect from authority, a bad reputation.

5. Children will try to make you very, very sorry.

Children will do everything in their power to make you jealous, angry, etc. Think I'm making this one up? Does it sound too negative? Imagine with me a hungry, teething, tired toddler. Reason doesn't work. You ask them to take responsibility, and they will run to Daddy, saying, "This is YOUR fault, Mommy! I'm not talking to you anymore!" Now imagine this heightened. I don't know what having teenagers is like, but I'm sure it is *hard.*

6. Children don't change (or don't want to change).

Children live in a constant state of denial. Are you expecting them to just naturally want to talk it out, apologize sweetly, and change themselves? No, because anger is toxic. It makes people poisonous. This does damage to moods, spirits, and souls. To bring wrongdoing to the attention of children: this is your job and it is the slow work of God. Holiness doesn't happen overnight. Does that mean we should give up?

7. Children don't care.

Ultimately, this is how children act. Their deepest sympathies are with themselves. This may sound very negative. The hope is that they should outgrow these character deficiencies. By caring about them, encouraging them, building them up (not bullying or putting down*), they learn to care for those around them. They learn to control the anger and stop it before it starts, because they have tasted the sweetness of peace, and it is something they want to repeat; it is something they want to return to.

We have a no tolerance rule for a very few things in our house. Childish behavior? We know they'll eventually outgrow it (they'll have to), but don't let them joke around and slough off correction. Like dirty humor, poor behavior has to be something you have zero tolerance for. If you have a problem with it, or if you are in the company of someone who does, get space. Get away. They won't change, they won't apologize. Why stick around getting hurt over and over again?

I posted this survey to my Facebook page:

What do you think? Do you care? ;)
*Sometimes, the adults are still trying to figure this one out;)

Linking up with Kelly @ 7QT

Monday, September 26, 2016

An Open Letter to the Bad Drivers of the World

~Disclaimer before I begin dishing on bad driving: Talking about driving does not come easy to me. I do not consider myself the best driver out there. I also do not enjoy swinging judgments around as if I were the perfect one! So, taking these things into account, I hate to share thoughts about driving, because I don't want to hand out free advice, and then eat my words later. But on the other hand, I feel like I have a bit of experience with this sort of thing. And hey,  the truth is, if you have feelings that strongly contradict what I am about to say, you could always leave me a comment, or write your own post!! :0) And with that, we're off! ;)~

Dear Bad Drivers of the World,

Here is a typical scenario.

I gather all of my kiddos to the car. Some are sleeping. Some are cranky. I get snacks. I get water. I buckle them all in.

I'm in a hurry.  I don't want to be late for school pick-up.  I also hate traffic, and frankly, I hate the  driving, a la people who drive too slowly.

I drive swiftly, but within 5 miles of the speed limit. (This is something I learned when learning how to drive, was ok and not against the law, ahem... correct me if I'm wrong;)

I drive on a two-lane street for about 5 miles to get to the interstate. It isn't a crowded part of town, and there is a long turning lane.  However, the lanes are quite small, and it is easy to feel crowded when passing people on this street. They are not too small to drive at the limit, and you can use the left lane and pass someone if you need to.

As per usual, I was driving about 5 over the limit, (the speed limit is 35), when I am slowed down to about 15 mph by a red pick-up truck.  I slam on my breaks and I cruise behind him. I am so bored at the crawl, I'm tempted to pick up my phone. I opt to turn on the radio, or sometimes I pop in a CD. "Feelin' Groovy" by Simon and Garfunkel comes on.  I get in the passing lane (so important- the passing lane is the left lane, people), when again, I'm faced with someone going about 10 miles under the speed limit--- in the passing lane. (RAR- claws out;) So many things are wrong with this scenario.

I slow way down again, and this time I'm a little frustrated, and I'm starting to get grumpy (mostly because this is a theme of my life every.single.day and frankly? It gets old and music doesn't help;). I can't get around the first car. And now I'm stuck behind someone driving slow in the passing lane, and I therefore have nowhere to go but very, very slowly.

I'm OK, until I see that the lady is looking at me in her rear-view mirror. She's a fifty-something woman with thick black glasses, and she looks right at me in her mirror. At first I think she's giving me a smile of kindness.  A flicker of hope! Not everyone in the world is evil! But then, when she slows down even more, I realize. It's pity. She's trying to teach me a lesson about how going 40 in a 35 is somehow criminal. HMPH. All of the emotions. All of the bad emotions. They're all there. They're bubbling to the surface. This, my friend, is not wrong.

Meanwhile, I'm about to be late.

That does it. Pulling into the turning lane, I quickly pass her.

Now before you judge me, know that  1) I have no memory whatsoever (or at least no recent memory!) of passing someone in a turning lane. This is not my normal modus operandi.

And 2) Like I said, this is not a busy part of town (at all).  And this is taking place in a mid-sized city, on a very empty street. This is not New York or D.C. There were no cars in the turning lane. There were zero cars coming toward me, who would use the turning lane for anything. This was a long stretch of straight road, where I can see for about a mile ahead of me.

But as these people are probably bored and driving to the store to get milk, I have to get on the interstate and pick up my kids before it's too late.

I'm not speeding. And no, it's not a dire situation. I'm simply trying to drive at a semi-normal pace, just as every parent would like to do when dropping their kids off or picking their kids up from school.

When I get on the interstate, FINALLY, I try to make up for lost time.

Do you know how to quickly pass someone? I learned this by driving in D.C. traffic too many times to be healthy for anyone.

You put on your blinker, and then when there is a space, you pass without hesitation.


In fact, you can nose your way into another lane. If you are an experienced driver using caution, I don't care how busy that interstate is. It is - in fact- much, much safer to put your blinker on, pass without hesitation, and GO!

In Tennessee, I have seen this situation too many times: two lanes turn into one, so as the right lane, in this case, is closed, for about A HALF A MILE, NO ONE is using the right lane BEFORE it is closed. Make sense? No one is driving in the lane that's about to close, because everyone's in a hurry to try to get into that open lane. Did you know that you can take turns merging? (I think it's officially called the "Zipper Merge" and it's done in D.C. traffic all.the.time. ) But no one in Chattanooga does this.

Why? Because *no one knows how to merge.* Insane! Zipper merge, people. Don't cause a traffic jam by not using *an open lane*! Learn how to merge safely and quickly.

In any case, Please for the sake of all that is SANE... even if you don't get the other things I'm saying, people stop driving so slowly.

It isn't safe.

It isn't nice.

And if someone passes you, that's because you're driving too slowly. And yes, it is a form of DEFENSIVE DRIVING. (Which I had to take when I was 16 after getting pulled over by a cop- oops).

Don't try to "get even" with faster drivers by flying around them and speeding off into the sunset! Drives me crazy; happens all the time. People get offended when others drive the speed limit. (?!) Also, don't get in front of that person and purposefully drive slow (and not bother to get out of the way), to teach them a lesson. BAD. DRIVING.

Someone tries to "get me back" and fly around me? Or slow way down so that I can't get off on the exit I need?  Road. Rage.* On really, really bad days, I do get angry. I try not to. I try to pray, I don't try to win. But when people are this horrific at driving, and when road rage seems to be a common issue, in (certain areas of) our city, it can cause me great pains. :-O

Most of the time, I just wave and smile, or give them the peace sign. I'm serious. I do not- I repeat, I  do not and will never flip anyone off- I'm sorry. ;) The peace sign in a rearview mirror works wonders for clearing the air of anger or panic. Try it sometime! :0)

If you are a nice driver, GOD BLESS YOU. I think we can ALL agree that we should be awake and alert when driving. We should not drive drunk or distracted. But here's the rub:   If you aren't a nice driver, I have a quick question for you: I don't care how morally upright you are, how can you expect people to be nice in return?!

If you see me on the road, and you give me a look of pity out of your rearview mirror, here is a fair warning: I will put my blinker on, I will stick my nose out, and within the speed limit of course (always), I will pass you. At some point. ;)

~Last Disclaimer: this does not apply to bad weather, medical emergencies, or other wayward situations;) Also, even though I have had tickets and wrecks in my teens and early twenties, ever since living in D.C., I have never gotten a speeding ticket, I have never gotten into a wreck, and I am a much more careful driver, ironically enough.~

1. Drive the speed limit at least
2. Pass in the left lane
3. Don't drive slowly in the passing lane
4. Don't hesitate when changing lanes
5. Don't try to get even with- or teach a lesson to- faster drivers (Peace sign ;)
6. Zip.per.merge. (If this means nothing to you, see the above link).

Ok. I'm done ranting. Once again, if you are a good, kind, patient driver who assumes the best of others, you get a sticker. If you drive without road rage, or without causing road rage to others, may God shine down his light on you, may you be blessed abundantly with rays of hope right this minute, and may you speed off happily into the sunset. And to everyone else, take a hint.



*M.A.R.R. stands for "Moms against Road Rage" and I'm starting it. Right now.
linking up with Tuesday Talk