It's going to be a fun summer!
Medley Number 4 had his birthday in April and we're just now getting around to throwing him a party! Last day of school, early out, and a trip to 4Golf with a few buddies. They played golf and tag and … then we went for ice cream. Those boys are fabulous.
It's going to be a fun summer!
When I was pregnant with Clayton I read a book that encourage parents to allow others to give their kids nicknames. They said more names, more love. Those nicknames represented connections and relationships that will enhance your child's life experiences.
Friends, coaches, and others have given Clay some names - Mr. Chisum, C-note, Clay Dogg, and others...
When others show favor to your kids, it gets your attention. It makes you proud.
Clay got his first graduation gift. It was from neighbors we had not even sent an announcement to. They just loved my kid.
I appreciated that so much. I was overwhelmed. It hit me big.
The 5th and 6th grade girls that I have been teaching on Wednesday nights since they were in 1st grade, were invited to sit in on youth group for the first time. There was a special speaker and an extended worship time. You could tell they were nervous as we filed into "big church" and as the service progressed, they relaxed. As we were leaving, they were talking about how they couldn't wait to be in youth.
Being in a youth group was essential to my well-being. I cherish the relationships and lessons I learned there.
Those years can be difficult and lonely, struggling to fit in, taking on new responsibilities, and filtering messages from all sides. Teens can use as much encouragement and love as we can give them!
I had a verse taped inside my locker each year. One of the most memorable I remember, I traced a picture our of my Precious Moments bible. The verse read, " I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord...." Reading Jeremiah 29:11 between classes offered comfort many times.
Here are a few options for middle school or high school lockers you may know of...
My sister made appointments for all of the girls to get a royal make over at the Bippity Boppity Boutique during one of the first days on board. She booked it online weeks before we ever set sail. With the on board credit we recieved from our travel agent, it was virtually free.
Girls can be princesses, mermaids, Tinker Bell, Minnie, or a pirate. When you make the appointment they ask for dress and shoe sizes, and the child’s personal dress package is compiled and ready when you arrive. My tween choose to be a Disney Diva and was embarrassed by all of the attention and fru-fru, but at the end when she saw how adorable she was, she was pleased.
She giggled the entire time. The bet part was that she made friends with the girl in the chair next to her. They ran around and played together the rest of the trip.
We love Santa Land. Even though the kids are getting older they still enjoy this tradition. Every year when we top the hill on Broadway and can see the lights welcoming everyone to Santa Land, they kids still gasp. It was nothing different tonight.
Everyone should take the time to walk around, look at the scenes, and huddle with friends and neighbors by the fires. Most nights there are live music performances. There is hot coca for sale and of course, the main attraction is Santa Clause.
These days it's a given that at some point our children will have a cell phone. Just like the gift of a bicycle, there are some basic rules and responsibilities of cell phone.
When our oldest child recieved his first cell phone, which he was probably too young to have, we looked in quite a few places (There is a great list here) to creating a cell phone contract to teach him about the responsibilities that come with having a cell phone, as well as the consequences for not seeing those responsibilities through. We went through the contract, asked and answered questions, and have since edited and revised the original contract based on usage and trends.
Cell Phone: Tween Responsibilities
We chose to stay on the 2nd floor in an inside stateroom to save money. We knew that we wouldn't spend much time in our rooms and with it being our first cruise, we honestly just didn't know. In hindsight, a little port hold would have been fun, but I'm not sure it would have been worth the extra cost.
There was a generous size double bed and a couch that slides into bund beds. We had 2 adjoining rooms and there was plenty of room for all of us. As a matter of fact, one afternoon towards the end of the cruise, we can back to the room and there were probably 20 teenagers in the kids room watching a movie!
When you first meet your housekeeping staff, they will ask you questions about how you want the room, the beds, etc. We asked them to leave the bunk beds out in one room and to leave the couch in the other. There were a few times that we asked them to go ahead and make the couch in the kids rooms, but you never know when a mid-day nap for the kids might just do the trick.
There was storage everywhere. We unpacked the first day, slid the suitcases under the bed, and just enjoyed the cruise. There were 6 of us. We had several drawers that went unused.
I saw an idea on Pinterest to pack a shoe rack with pockets and hand it in the closet. I filled the pockets with suggested items like baggies, medicine, band-aids, our FE lists, etc. and it was a fantastic idea.
We joined a Facebook group made up of people who were going on our cruise. They answered questions, alerted us to deadlines and things to look into, and create groups for Fish Extender Gifts. Outside each stateroom door there is a fish hanger and this is where those who choose to participate, hang their pockets, stockings, file organizers - all decorated and festive. Our groups were made of 10 families and by joining the group you agree to bring treats, gifts, momentos for the others in your group. For our group, you could bring whatever you wanted, no price range, no rules about the number of days, or even if the expectation was for a gift of each person or for the cabin... It was all up to the giver.
I cannot even tell you what fun this was. Our family signed up in a different group for each cabin and the variety of gifts was astounding. We were absolutely blessed. Each time we came back to the room, the kids - young and old - would check their pocket to see if they had a new FE gift.
Was it difficult to get it organized and made and packed? Of course. Was it worth it? Definitely.
Another fun surprise were the amazing towel animals on the bed each night. They were so creative and fun, it was delightful to see what new creation would appear each day. At the end of our cruise there was an event with the housekeeping staff where they taught us how to make several (probably the easiest) animals.
Laundry takes over my life. If I didn't have my mom living close and helping out with the house and kids after school, I'm certain that there are days that my children would be naked. Piles of laundry on couches and beds and NEAR the laundry hampers makes me a little nuts.
Something had to give. We needed to take control of the laundry issue. Always looking for become more organized and teach the kids life skills, we gave every one a laundry day. This makes us do about ONE load of laundry every day. From start to finish – washed, dried, folded/hung, and put away. Using some laundry rules and hosting "laundry school", we taught the kids what to do, showed them how to do, watched them do it and then expected them to do it.
Here are some things we did to make this happen
Organize the Laundry Room
We have front load machines, which makes it easy to load and move. I made the detergent and stain removers in an accessible basket.
Taught them How to Prepare the Laundry.
Sorting out whites, darks, colors, bedding, towels, etc.
Checking pockets for forgotten items
Reading the care label of each unfamiliar garment before washing
Turning printed shirts (such as T-shirts) inside out to prevent unnecessary wear on the printing
Recognizing when they have an appropriate-size load of laundry - not too little, not too much
Recognizing items that should not go in the washing machine, such as dry-clean-only or hand-wash-only items.
We wash everything in cold, but we explained that different colors and types of laundry are separated and washed in different water temperatures or require additional products to help clean them the best way. You will likely have to repeat these instructions many times before it all starts to make sense to a younger child.
If there are clothes that get stained or need extra care, I typically ask the kids to put those items on top of the washer and Billy or I take care of those.
Taught them How to Use the Washing Machine.
They already knew about about the controls and we only use a few of the functions on a regular basis. I even made a magnet (with pictures for the kindergartner) to help them remember what to do with a normal wash cycle. We also talked about
Reminding them where the lint-catcher is, and how to check and clean it out before they start adding damp laundry to the dryer is a constant. We remove the laundry a few pieces at a time, shake them out to remove all washer-induced twisting, and place them in the dryer.
Thanks to a tremendous Good Housekeeping list about how often to clean everything, I updated our chore chart. Let me tell you the kids were thrilled. Ok, maybe not. However, with the new more specific chore chart, they know what's expected.
Now that they are older, they can do more to help around the house. They will probably tell you they are slaves and do everything, but here it is in black and white.
Everyone gets a day off. Some days people have two things to do in one day, but trash and dishes must be done everyday and there are only 4 kids so... sometimes it happens. They will live.
Knowing what they are expected to do saves me from asking and asking and asking for things to be done the minute we walk in the door. I don't like starting our evenings like that and t hey certainly don't like it. It's posted. Everyone knows.
We looked at our family schedule and made some adjustments for recurring events that happen during the school year. There is grace. Sometimes life is nuts and dusting just isn't top priority. That's ok. Those times come with permission and reshuffling.
Chores that are not completed result in the child owing some of their allowance back to us.
Trying out the chore chart before school starts. We may go through a few drafts, but with trash, laundry, and dishes being done every day, I think that we are off to a great start!
This morning I saw a story about a new Dallas Cowboy football player, someone we got from the Redskins. I was impressed. At the end of the piece, the newscaster said that the way he lives, specifically the car he drives, reflects his core values of hard work and humility.
This video is from 2013, when he was still with the Redskins.
I started to think about core values. Since I was in Junior High, I've used a planner and not too long after that I discovered Franklin Covey's time management system, a system that is based on core values. They ask you to write a personal mission statement and define goals around that. If it doesn't align with your mission, it doesn't belong on your task list or on your calendar. It made saying no to the good things, to make room for the best things a bit easier.
Ben Franklin has a famous list of governing values and sometimes he lived by them and, like most of us, sometimes he did not. Legend has it that he would focus on one of the character traits util he felt it was mastered and move on to the next. The blog, Art of Manliness has a post about defining your core values and he says it prevents you from making bad choices, gives you confidence, and makes life simpler.
A quick google search about Alfred Morris liked to this video that makes it clear where his values are centered. Lifeway suggests the first core values your children should know. We as parents can model these, talk about them, hold our children to a standard, but ultimately, like Mr. Morris said it had to become his faith, not just that of his parents.
For some children, making that relationship with Christ their own takes a little longer, but I'm holding on to the promise that if we raise our children up "in the way they should go, they will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).
Franklin Covey has a tool to help with developing mission statements and defining core values. As life moves and changes, it’s not a bad idea for me to sit down and re-visit mine.
Really, I never thought that I'd say, "... table for 6, please." going to dinner with my family. I had plans to be a professor and travel the world. I moved from Missouri to West Texas for graduate school and was just passing through, when I met a man that captivated my heart and held my hand.