Married with Children- Mom's Panel

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Almost monthly I have the fun sitting on a Mom's Panel with a group of ladies, sharing with other moms the best things we learned about parenting, in the stage of life we represent.

Each of us is from a different era of life and momming. This last week on my blog I've shared the highlights from toddler and elementary years, teenage and college years, and today will hear from the next mom in our panel.

Sharon represents moms of Married Children, and the wonderful Grandma stage of life.  

She makes everyone laugh when they want to squirm, with her words of wisdom peppered with a generous spoonful of sugar- humor. Clad with all kinds of zebra striped, polka dotted and neon duct tape hanging on her arm like bracelets, she is trying to start a new wedding trend. So on to number 1...

1.  Every mother of the bride and groom gets a roll of duct tape at the wedding, to put over their mouths for at least the first year of their children's marriage, or until they learn to keep their mouth shut. Only take the duct tape off to eat and offer encouragement. (Communication that's encouraged? Love your grown children unconditionally and encourage constantly. Find positive character traits and offer genuine praise. Study your children's spouses personalities and backgrounds and learn to understand them. Communicate with genuine love and respect.)

2.  Practice until perfect, instant forgiveness.  The phrase "if momma ain't happy ain't nobody happy" still applies, but after my sons married, "I ain't momma no more". Their wives must be given top priority. I've learned to rejoice and encourage the health of my children's marriages.

3. Offer my best advice ONLY when asked and accept the fact that it will not be taken. Parents of grown children must "cheer from the stands" and give them the freedom to make their own decisions.

4.  Grandchildren are the reason to have children, but I have learned that my grandchildren do not belong to me. That means that their parents choose how they will be raised, disciplined, schooled, churched or not, etc. I am part of a support system to strengthen their parents decisions, and not in competition for their love. I play with them without the use of technology, I am the memory maker, and love to spend one on one time with each of them, sharing my faith and values as well.

Number 5 deserves an extra comment here. We have presented our Moms Panel in front of hundreds of women. The first few times, we all noticed, then noticed some more, then giggled about, and finally acknowledged out loud to each other, that the atmosphere changes when Sharon shares this next one. The atmosphere either stiffens, women look sullen or just plain ticked off... or there may be an audible groan.

So common is this reaction that Sharon now announces from the podium to all groan together, a solidified effort...that if we groan together audibly, that perhaps everyone can break through the unpalatable nature of this last one. Here it is..

5.  I've learned to allow my married children to form their own new holiday traditions and in the process make some new ones of my own and be happy about it. Sharing my children and grandchildren with "those other people" at holidays is a good thing but must be learned with gracious cooperation.

Ouch.  At least she's funny when she says it! Many a women have told Sharon that her portion is ultra convicting, but such good advice...and delivered so well they receive it gladly. And are grateful.


Teen Years and Off to College- Mom's Panel Tips

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 We are on tour through the 40 minute Mom Panel presentation that I and 5 other ladies are a part of locally!

If you jumped on mid ride, check out these previous posts to catch up. This is what we do, and then don't miss yesterday's tips for raising toddler and elementary aged children HERE.

Today's tidbits  are for those TEEN YEARS and COLLEGE YEARS.

Julie, our panel Mom who has all boys, one about to marry and the youngest a senior in high school, shares her tips for TEEN YEARS.

1.  Use the phrase "Help me to understand..." instead of "Have you lost your mind!?" or the infamous "What were you thinking??!!" This phrase encourages real dialogue instead of arguments. You'll use it a lot.

2.  There is typically nothing that will happen in their lives that 2 years or even 2 months won't solve. Many things can seem so devastating at the time, but when I had my children think back to 2 years before, whatever was bothering them then had been resolved. This helps them put things in perspective.

3.   I've learned to host events in my matter how expensive or painful that is! I could learn more in one evening hosting an event than in a year's worth of conversations. Get to know the kids who are influencing your child. Then you are better equipped to guide your teen on friend choices and give insight when needed.

4. Don't sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. Is it a heart issue? Deal with things involving the heart immediately, but everything else, bite your tongue unless it's critical for their safety.

5. I've learned not to overreact or jump in too quickly. I need to respond vs. react. Unless it is life or death, I try to take a few minutes to collect myself before responding to any sort of conflict involving my child.

Dorea, also a mother of all boys, the youngest of whom is a senior in college, shares her tips about parenting during the COLLEGE aged years, or as she says, having "adult" children, who are growing into their new role.

1.  Each child is different, there's no cookie cutters in life. They will each have a different experience. Don't place your own expectations on their growth and maturity.

2.  Let them choose the place, the classes, the course of study. This is part of their learning process! Hold your tongue. They may change their mind multiple times. That's ok. Let them learn it themselves.

3.  You've had them 18 years. It's too late if you haven't taught them to make their bed, choose friends wisely or manage their money. Sink or swim, let them. Don't nag.

4.  Encourage them. Communicate in their style, whether it's texting or tweeting, learn it. Send prayers or scriptures or encouragements. Cookies and notes sent to college early on mean a lot, but don't over do it and embarrass them.

5.  They'll probably be dating, trust them. They must live with their choices. They know your values already. Have open communication. Be careful what you say- remember that person they are dating could be a member of your family one day!


Toddlerhood & Elementary Years

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Those early years...they are immeasurably fun, and yet can be incredibly hard at times too.

Yesterday we introduced the Mom's Panel with the help of my friend Sharita.

Our panel has a blast traveling around and sharing with moms of all ages and we are honored to be a part of encouraging them in their journeys of motherhood.

As I said yesterday, in our 40 minute talk, Sharita covers her "best things she's learned about momming through the toddler years".

She and her hubster have a precious son Jackson, 5, who is lover of all things Captain America, LittleBigPlanet and basically anything boy. I have seen her in the midst of her mom-ness and I can attest she is a great one. What I love about her style is how she has Jackson think through issues and she also has him repeat words back to her for reinforcement. She's a good mom.

Before telling our tips, here is a disclaimer: As we always say on the panel as we share, it's easy to sit up there and talk about these lessons (or write them out here so easily), but the lessons came with years of struggle, fatigue, exhaustion, perseverence, effort, wanting to quit yet starting over, again and again. None of these were accomplished or learned overnight by any stretch! And some still get worked on.
Here's a few nuggets from her 10 things she shares to encourage other moms in the TODDLER stage:

1.  I keep relationship with hubster at the center...the main focus. Jackson joined our world that was already in motion. He isn't the center, but a welcome member.

2.  Consistency, consistency, consistency especially in discipline. It's easier to let things go, but we can't. Never discipline in anger. Deal with the heart issue and discipline with a loving heart. Never inflict shame and guilt. Reinforce love after discipline.

3. Playing with my child is super important (outside, inside, in the dirt, with sticks and mud) We play what he wants, on his level. I also make sure he has time to play alone as well, to stimulate creativity, imagination and reflection.

4. My own priorities have to shift for the greater good of my family.

5. 3 words: first time obedience. This is something we are always working on.

Next in line on the panel is myself. Now my girls are all teenagers, but I happily share about the elementary years for this panel. Why? Because I have come to realize that much of teen success depends a lot on what happens in the elementary years. So here are some tidbits I've looked back on and been glad we did in the ELEMENTARY years:

1. The importance of teaching respect as the foundation for life. Being respectful to parents and other adults was required. They'll have to answer to someone their entire lives. Having respect in place will make life much easier for them.

2. It's worth any sacrifices made in order to be available to enjoy life with them.

3. It's ok to say no to them and they will survive. Even if they are "the only one who can't or don't have one".

4. As a parent, it's important to say no to your own adult peer pressure. We all still face peer pressure, in the form of "all the other parents let their kids" or "Nobody else's parents care or check". Just like our kids, we have to be strong enough to stand up for our own convictions, even when others don't agree. If we constantly cave, we are modeling "caving in" to our children. If we stand up for convictions, that's what we are modeling to them.

5. Use the term age appropriateness to decide when to let freedoms be granted. Sometimes kids ask to have or do things that there's nothing wrong with- so instead of saying a fast yes, or an absolute no, think of it in terms of "is it age appropriate"? They have a lot of years to get through, and it's best to spread freedoms out. Instead of no, it can be "not yet, but in a year or so that might be ok."


Mom's Panel- Encouraging Moms of All Ages & Stages

Almost monthly I have the fun sitting on a Mom's Panel with a group of ladies, sharing with other moms the best things we learned about parenting, in the stage of life we represent. Each of us is from a different era of life and momming.

Sharita represents toddlerhood, I recall elementary years, Julie tells about teen years, Dorea advises on college age/young adult stage, Sharon chimes in with humorous convicting advice for those with married children and those who become grandmas. Caroline ends it representing those whose life has taken an unexpected turn and who parent alone. This is our only pic, minus Caroline who was on missions.

All in all, it's a 35 minute presentation, from becoming a mom, to ending up a grandma. Pretty cool!! I want to share some highlights this week from all the tips that are shared during Moms Panel.

But to start, my friend Sharita (the toddler mom, center in picture above), already featured Moms Panel on her own blog, so let's just read hers! I encourage you to check out her blog, Above the Fray, because it's full of insight, encouragement and sheer entertainment. Her writing style is amazing and is like dessert for the mind! My favorite humorous post you must read is If You're Gonna Fall, Stick It!

So here's Sharita, in her words:

"I get to be part of a really awesome panel of 6 mamas. The purpose? To encourage moms in their current season of life and give them a heads up about what's ahead. If you're not a mom, stay with me because the material we share actually applies to all people. Grannies, Papaws, Cousins, Godparents, Siblings, Foster Parents, Guardians, Aunts and Uncles even. Everybody can walk away with helpful information. Promise.

The cool thing about the panel is that it's comprised of 6 women and we're all from different walks of life. Each mama shares ten things she is learning or has learned about her current season of life. It's funny. It's real. It's encouraging. I am on the panel and I laugh, cry and learn something new every time we speak.

Just to whet your tastebuds... here are a few juicy bits.

Raising Preschool Children

Never bad mouth spouse, parents, in-laws to/with/in front of the chi'ren. Save personal gripe sessions for a confidante (not your child) who will listen to you, pray for you and then tell you to snap out of it!

 Raising Elementary Ages

My example trumps all. We can say what we want to our children, but they will follow what we do. How I live matters.

Raising Teenagers

I have learned not to overreact and jump in too early... I need to respond vs. react... I realize my child will pick up on my emotions and it can possibly make things worse.

Raising College Age "Adults"

You've had them 18 years... it's too late if you haven't taught them to make their bed, wash their own clothes, be responsible with money, choose their own friends and study. Sink or swim... let them... and don't nag.

Interactions w-Married "Children" and Grandchildren

Love grown children and their spouses unconditionally. Encourage constantly. Find positive character traits and offer genuine praise often. Communicate with genuine love and respect.

Raising children as a Single Parent

Choose to go on living rather than allow myself to be paralyzed emotionally and spiritually... living in a long-term dazed state. I may have to make this choice repeatedly.

And that's just an appetizer! I hope something encouraged or inspired ya! Pass it on or live it. Community is a huge part of raising young'uns so don't discount yourself if you aren't a parent. We all have a part to play in the lives of people who are younger than we are.

And as far as the mom panel goes, it's a full dose of laughter, truth and encouragement. Pinky swear! We travel and we're willing to talk to anybody who'll listen! Holler if you'd like to have us come share the full monty!


5 Things Stories- Juanita Jernigan, Lisa's Mom

Let me introduce you again to my friend Lisa Bain. She has guest blogged for me before, when she shared her very personal journey as a single mom during an earlier time in her life, when her children were young.

She is one of the most inspirational people I know. I call her the Happiest Person on Facebook. Because her posts are always either encouraging like this:

or they are silly like this:


One would assume that she's led a charmed life and has had little to deter her from her amazing smile and outlook, but not the case. Lisa is an example of how to live through life's difficulties with faith in God and a smile on her face. Interspersed with many meltdowns, tons of humor, and most significantly, lots of prayer.

I wanted to know how she was raised and hear more about her family. Lisa has shared much of her story with me and I know her parents are such a foundation, and a perfect example of being in love still after many years together. Her dad, Bill Jernigan, VP of Learning Resources, and also the Director of International Programs at Oral Roberts University, I remember from being on faculty when I was a student. Her mom I've heard so much about, so I asked her to please ask her mom to share 5 things she's glad she did raising her children. Juanita Jernigan gladly shares her story here: (Lisa adds in her thoughts in parentheses).

1.  I'm glad we had family time everyday together. We always had dinner together at 5:00 pm. We were tucked in bed every night with prayer time and it was there we shared about our day. I'm so thankful for those times. (Lisa- So am I. Some of my most healing times were those moments with mom where I opened my heart, shared my hurts from the day, and we prayed together, and I always felt better when we were done talking and praying.)

2. I'm thankful we planned every year a fun vacation. We always went somewhere. Even if the money was tight, we had somewhere fun planned. (Lisa- I have some of the best memories on these vacations. Mom and Dad always made family a priority, no matter what.)

3. I'm glad that I was able to work from home as a piano teacher. I was involved in the kids activities and if they needed me, I was there. I am thankful I was there with them. (Lisa- One of my most dear memories ever was coming home from school on the bus in a snowstorm. The bus got stuck a mile away. My sister and I decided to walk home. We got to the front door, and our feet were so numb we couldn’t even feel our toes. We were frozen! I remember thinking “thank you God we made it home, I am starving and frozen!” Then I opened up the door, and the smell of homemade beef stew filled my nostrils! It was pure heaven! I smell that smell to this day and it takes me right back. Mom had the fire going, and 2 bowls of stew waiting for us with crackers and hot chocolate, on the fireplace hearth. My sister and I ate by the fire that night. It was the best meal I have ever had.)

4.  I am thankful for the way my husband and I disciplined together. It was never in anger, always in love. (Lisa- and I have to vouch for her on this one. They disciplined right! I remember having my rebellious times and my parents were firm, but yet so loving in the way they carried out the discipline. It was hard to stay mad, or rebellious! There was a lot of communication, prayer, unconditional love, and guidance. I remember how much of an impact it all made on me. There was never once in my life a word spoke in us or to the other in their marriage. I realize how blessed I am to have grown up in a home like this. It is rare these days, and I realized that now more than ever.)

5.  I am thankful we were active in church and had our children active in youth groups. (Lisa- I was at church when the doors opened. I loved my youth group so much, I didn’t mind being there almost every day. They opened their home up for the youth weekly. They had meetings, activities, dinners, for all the kids. They even chaperoned on the missions trips. They were involved. This made such an impact on me as well. My dad was very respected and even taught classes. I remember the class he taught to the youth group on Revelation. It was amazing. My Mom and Dad were loved by all the kids.)

Lisa's final thoughts- Our house was a home of peace and everyone who came in felt it. Everyone was welcome, everyone was loved. I have such a precious memory of helping my Dad build an extra room on the back that was used for youth group meetings. It had a pool table, stereo, and a big television. We had a blast in that room! Our youth group loved coming over and my parents loved it that way.

My parents always have prayer time with each other every night. (and still do!) If I call during that time, I know she will let me know and call me back later. It’s a priority. God has always been the first priority of our home. It never wavered....He was always front and center, no matter what.

(Bonus #6) Mom said she is thankful for the way she and Dad always let us know how much they loved each other. They adore each other, and it showed. My father has never uttered a cross word or even so much as raised his voice to my Mom. He adores her. His words were always of adoration toward her, and they still are. I watched a beautiful marriage modeled before me.

I credit that modeling to helping me see the vision I want and have for my own marriage now. I hung onto that vision during my years of being a single mom, after an unexpected divorce.  During those times of feeling abandoned, that foundation  helped me keep the faith that God still had a beautiful plan and husband in my future.

And here is a picture of that wonderful husband Skipper, a perfect match for Lisa. With Mom and Dad.

Now we can see the great foundation that was laid for Lisa and her sister growing up in this family. She was equipped in many ways to ride the ups and downs of life that have come her way, with a faith that remains solid through it all.


Parenting in the Wilderness

Lucky for you, today's post is from my friend, Tracy Schaller.

Tracy and her husband, Mark both went to college with me way back when. In fact, I remember them like this:

Remember that guest post from my friend Lucy about Raising a Daughter with a Disability? Mark was the team leader for that missions trip that Lucy and I were both on. Not sure if Mark knew Lucy and I snuck out and raided the pantry, but oh well.

Mark and Tracy were dating during that summer that Mark, Lucy and I spent in Amsterdam. The days of receiving letters from back home were exciting, I do remember that. The funny thing is, I never really knew Tracy very well, just through Mark that summer. I know he adored her.  I didn't get to "know" Tracy well until Facebook this last year! Isn't that funny. There are some people you can get to know and relate to, when you find them posting things that you would post, you like the comments you see, common opinions are realized. Facebook is a funny thing, but it IS possible to get to know someone through it.

NOW, Mark and Tracy have 7 beautiful children, ranging in ages from 4-18. They have been married for almost 23 years. An amazing example of a great family.

I just had a feeling. I asked Tracy if she would share something on this blog. Usually I give people a direction, or theme. This time it was an open ended question. She responded with this beautiful devotional for parenting that she wrote. I will let it speak for itself. I'm sure it'll speak to you.

"Parenting…no one ever said it would be easy.  And if they did, they lied.  There are definitely different seasons in parenting – depending on the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour, the moment!  Often it seems like a mommy finds herself in the “wilderness season” more than she cares to be. 

Here you may feel hot (bothered, sweating, as in -"I don’t know what I am doing, I’m not even sure how we arrived here, and how do we get out – alive"), thirsty (for His wisdom, His knowledge, His understanding, His answers, His comfort…are you parched yet!?)  

At these times your children may feel like the desert animals – serpents and wild animals.  I think it is safe to say – we have all been there and have experienced that!!

The beautiful thing is that there is hope!!  Here are just a few reminders that just may help you during this season of wilderness mothering.

He knows your name and is calling…(Hagar heard Him call while in the wilderness – Gen 21:17-19 – He opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.  I’m so thankful that there is always a few places small springs of water rise to the surface and give enough moisture for growth.  May He open your ears to hear and your eyes to see.  His presence is near.  He is our living water – our oasis!!  He uses all for growth!

He wants us to simply be in fellowship with Him – abiding – resting – trusting, peaceful – not afraid.  Song of Songs 8:5 “Who is this coming up from the DESERT leaning on her lover?”   If we lean on Him – He promises to direct our paths.  It is He who is pouring living water in you and through you  (to help others find the Oasis – Jesus – in their mothering.)  This verse reminds me of my job – abiding – and His job – giving me strength. 

It reminds me that it is okay to look odd to this world in my mothering – they will eventually say and ask, “Who is this LOVER of hers?”  Oh, that is my heart’s cry…may they see Jesus.  My reactions during the wilderness season matters – others are watching!  The only way for me to be a terrific mom is my leaning on the Creator of my children!

Finally, I love His promise to mothers!!  Isa. 40:11  “He tends his flock like a shepherd.  He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart, he gently leads those that have young.”  Ponder it!!  Allow Him to be all this to you – this moment!

We all know that parenting isn’t for wimps.  “Keep Calm and Carry on”, my mommy friend. 

Lean on Him – abide, hope, rest, know His love, wait on Him….His promises are sure and true!"


Supporting Chivalry

Unbeknownst to me, my daughter decided to try something, after reading one of the recent "boy opinion" blogs that I posted. After she shared this story with me, I asked her to write this up for you! We were pretty stunned that the same day of her experiment, a comment was made.

"So after reading the blogs about guy’s opinions, I decided to take some of it to heart. The next school day I decided to only wear mascara and eyeliner. I went all day without any comments and I hadn’t really expected any. Then in 6th hour I was working in a group with two guys, and they asked me if I thought one of the girls (my friend) was pretty. I said she was beautiful, and she really is one of the prettiest girls I’ve met. The guy that asked me agreed, but said that she would be prettier with less makeup. I was slightly confused by this, considering the only difference between our makeup was that she was wearing very light pink eyeshadow. It was well done too, so I told him that. He then proceeded to tell me that more girls should do their makeup like I had it done, because it was more natural. So that was very shocking to me, because apparently wearing eyeshadow makes a huge difference to them!

        I also resolved a couple weeks ago to remember to thank even the smallest act of chivalry. (All girls want to marry a “prince”, but if no one ever supports chivalry then we won’t have any left!) I have actually made a few unlikely friends by doing this, and it’s starting to become a habit. A couple mornings ago I was walking into the school building and this one guy had been holding the door open forever and nobody said a word to him! So I said thank you when I passed him, and he kind of gave me a surprised look, and 2 or 3 kids in front of me turned to look at me with similar looks. I continued walking, but it surprised me that they would find it so odd to say thank you. My new thing is that I may not have a lot of power, but I can still empower people with little things like a smile or thank you."


Actual Quotes from Guys- Part 4

Earlier this month we shared actual quotes from teen guys as they answered the question "What are 5 things that girls do that's annoying?"

If you missed out, a high school senior shared his thoughts right HERE. Two middle schoolers share their opinion HERE, and two more high school guys give insight HERE.

This week I met some friends for dinner at Olive Garden. As we were leaving, we exited at the same time as a large group of teens. My friend overheard a couple of the guys saying how they just wanted to get away from one of the girls- she's too much, tries too hard, always trying to get in our pants (sorry, just keeping it real to tone of story). How I wish I'd heard this myself- I would have been tempted to pull the boys over for an interview! Their comments seemed to come from irritation and mild frustration, not meanspiritedness. Interesting.

I'm coming back to this subject of what guys think for a particular reason. Well maybe more than one reason. 1) It's interesting 2) Their answers continue to surprise me and raise hope 3) we can tell girls this and that, but maybe for some, it will help hearing it from guys themselves 4) our girls are so programmed and coddled by media daily, that many are morphing into what they "perceive" girls should be (and assumedly what guys want), only to find that in fact that is not what many guys admire in a girl!

 It appears that many guys admire character, which is a great message for our girls.

So far, it seems that perhaps many guys have been wrongly stereotyped into a false role, of being only out for one thing. Or only wanting one type of girl. I wonder how much they feel pressure to be that sort of guy, even if that's not who they really are. Obviously, some guys probably are out for one thing, but what an unfair stereotype if many do not fall in that category!

One thing I know, when asking this question to boys, of different ages, in different schools, from different states, without the guys even knowing other guys are being asked,  the answers are largely similar. That's why I wish I could have cornered Olive Garden guy, pulled out pen and paper and had a conversation. This is another random guy, (who didn't even know there was a question), saying the same sorts of things! A common thread unfolds...

Today we have some input from high schoolers in Iowa, answering the question "What are things that girls do that are annoying?"

1. When a girl (or anyone for that matter) is conceited or brags, for the sake of envy from their peers.
2. When girls are loud and obnoxious to get attention.
3. How a girl is willing to step out of her own shoes for the sake of popularity or approval. (to clarify, he said that this is when a girl will change who she truly is, in order to be accepted or popular).
4. Girls that won't listen to advice from friends, family or other trusted people.
5. When girls will flaunt or show everything they can, just for a few extra gazes her way.

A few bonuses from other guys-

1. Taking millions of pictures of themselves

2. Putting themselves down to fish for compliments

3. Using useless acronyms

A girl wanted to throw in a response too so this comes from her-

4. When girls flirt with guys when they know they are unavailable

5. When they know they are pretty but they say they are ugly just so they can hear someone tell them they're not

In no way am I slamming girls by writing this series- obviously, I spend all my efforts in support of girls! But I think guys have good things to say, and it seems many are happy to vent the frustrations.

It's worth hearing.


Thank Yous, Paper and Pen

I heard it's National Card and Letter Writing Month!

In fact, the news came from a fun little website I discovered recently, The Art of Manliness. Check them out for all things Man.

Go with me while I try and tie a few thoughts together, tied all up into one blog topic.

The news of National Card and Letter Writing Month took my brain to the memory that there are handwritten thank you cards on my table right now to be mailed.  And one thank you note received this week from a young adult.

I was just so impressed when I got this card in the mail. So few people take the time for handwritten anything nowadays, and handwritten thank yous are becoming more rare. Verbal thank yous are not lacking, thank goodness, but let's face it, isn't it fun to get something handwritten in the mail??

I try and always have my own girls do thank you cards. We don't hit 100% in the busyness of life, but it is definitely a manner I hope they take into adulthood with them. These are almost ready to be mailed.

Following this train of thought, I'd like to introduce you to another website also found through the fabulous world of Facebook, Manners Mentor, Inc. This is an impressive website on all things manners in today's world, including things like cell phone ettiquette.

If you read the Art of Manliness article, it will take you back to the long gone days of formal letter writing. Reminds me of the movie "Kate and Leopold" with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman.  Hugh Jackman comes forward in time to modern day. His formal ettiquette is found to be bizarre and humorous to the modern day characters, but in the end, Meg Ryan's character is won over by the honorable way he treats her.

Way back when, there was no way to communicate besides writing. Even when I was in college, not that long ago, the highlight of our day was checking to see if there were any notes left for us in the "note box" in the dorm lobby. All we had was handwritten notes and telephone calls (one phone in our room, attached to the wall). 

I still have every note my husband left me in that little note box while we were dating in college. Back then, amazingly enough, I put them all in order, and it tells a great little story. These poor kids nowadays will not have a handwritten history like that. (sniff, sniff.) They don't know what they're missing!

Recently I saw this cool story on the news. A lady is making jewelry out of old letters that her grandparents wrote back and forth in WWII, telling their love story. She calls it Wearable History. You can watch the video HERE.

Wrapping this all up?

1.  I like manners.
2.  I like handwritten notes.
3.  I appreciate websites that are trying to keep and bring back forms of ettiquette.
4.  I hope and wish younger people keep up handwritten communication.
5.  I love paper. My daughter and I went into sensory overload at a store in Dallas called Paper Source.  If you get inspired to pick up a pen, they have some beautiful paper!!


Our Easter in Pictures

Somehow these three sweet little girls....
turned into these three amazing girls!
So on Easter, I never know what traditions to keep up from younger years...just when I think everyone is too old for a tradition, I'll skip something only to hear fits about "Why didn't you make ___?" and "Of course we still want an Easter egg hunt!" 

So I prepped eggs to color and had eggs for an Easter egg hunt ready, just in case. It's always been a big part of Easter for us. 

We never got around to it this year, because we were distracted with lots of fun with this wonderful group of college kids who joined us for Easter dinner. Why disrupt a flow of fun?

I'm quite sure they were being goofy here. The guys were making fun of the pose.

See the lovely table my daughter decorated, before we moved everything so they could all see each other!?

The one tradition that will never be skipped, or forgiven if it was, the lamb bread. Be careful what you start when they're young, moms! :)  Actually, I love making this lamb bread. Over the years it's finally become easy to make. Not so much in the beginning. 

It represents the Passover Lamb, and ultimately, Jesus. When the kids were younger, we'd comment about what the Lamb symbolizes as we made it or had dinner. This year when I asked,  I was met with silence and stares. Time to move on. HA. They all know already. 

It's sad to tear it apart and eat it.  Especially the head.
But I'm sure it was sad to give up the cute little lamb to be sacrificed back in Bible days too. 

Here he is before he's cooked. He gets so puffy when he's done! Wait, I can't figure out how to reposition the picture. Oh well, here he is, uncooked and sideways.

So outside to take some family pics while we were dressed up. 
After 20 plus years together, my hubby and I still don't know how to pose together without looking distorted and unnatural. We discussed it before taking this picture, trying to remember what we've found to work. Obviously, we forgot.  What an unnatural pose. And we all laughed that my husband  says he doesn't know how to smile in pictures naturally. So he says "Yaaayyy" every time. Ha!  

Being in a family of all girls, he nicely puts up with all the picture taking.

I was a little sad that we never colored Easter eggs, so I colored six by myself. I just had to try the idea I saw on Pinterest of using a cupcake pan to dye eggs in. What a brilliant simple idea. It works. I'm sold.

I did not Easter egg hunt by myself though. I let that one go this year.

It's been a busy month! We celebrated all three girls birthdays in the last few weeks also.

Grandpa decorated that last cake, a dollar for every year :)  The cake is Grandma's famous Carrot Cake.

And we celebrated one tablecloths birthday. Yes the tablecloth was bought from Lillian Vernon by Grandma on my daughter's first birthday. It has celebrated every family birthday since. So happy 18th birthday tablecloth!

What a great month, but I'm ready for a relatively "blank" calendar for the next few weeks!


5 Things I Learned in Middle School- Guest Blog

It's no secret that middle school is a somewhat awkward transitional time for young teens.

Through the wonderful world of social media, I've met a blog friend, Michelle Icard, who specializes in assisting teens and parents through these tedious and somewhat treacherous middle school years. She's funny, down to earth and shares many of the same desires I do for helping teens navigate successfully through difficult years. We've tweeted and emailed and even chatted on the phone with each other! If you have a tween or young teen, you'll want to check out her fabulous website She shares a guest post with us today.

5 Things I Learned in Middle School

Funny what memories poke out above the rest. In my 25+ years since middle school, here is a collection of random moments and lessons that are oddly prominent in my memory.

1) Change your rhythm as necessary.

The DJ at our middle school dances ended every dance by playing Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven. No one wanted to be left out of this last opportunity of the night, so even girls like me who went unasked for the duration of the evening remained hopeful that some boy, any boy, who had previously been too afraid to make a move, might ask her to dance. Many times it didn’t happen and I would spend those last eight minutes and two seconds of the night observing the Stairway to Heaven ritual with some measure of enjoyment. It was funny to watch the throngs of temporary couples struggle with that song as it moved from slow to medium pace, then hard rock, then super slow again. Even though we all knew the inevitable weird pacing was about to happen, no one knew what to do about it! Do you let go and rock out? Do you keep swaying with your arms wrapped around each other only faster? Do you morph into a weird group dance at the fast part, AGH, but then here comes the slow ending and you’re all left facing each other having to make eye contact. I could see the distinct look of fear on their faces as Jimmy Page took over.

Then it happened. A boy asked me to dance the final song of the night. And even though I had watched this scene unfold many times and chuckled inwardly at the absurdity of it all, I was totally unprepared for how to handle it myself. So I did the worst possible thing. I threw my arms around his neck, closed my eyes, and kept them closed for almost the entire song. Let me remind you, that’s a staggering eight minutes and two seconds of blind dancing. And did I change my pace? Of course not. I locked my body into upright rigor mortis and swayed slowly and blindly the entire time.

This is a true story but I think it works nicely as a metaphor for middle school in general. Everyone was afraid to change. And we were so busy watching each other’s trials, we hardly thought about making plans for our own success. If only we could have been more willing to adapt to our surroundings.

2) Absorb someone else’s pain.

One day in 8th grade, I walked with my friend Elissa past Mrs. Smith’s classroom to find her sitting at her desk crying. This is not something a student ever sees and we were caught off-guard. Elissa rushed to her side while I hung back at the door. The day was January 28th, 1986 and Mrs. Smith had just heard the news that the Space Shuttle Challenger had exploded only 73 seconds into its flight.

On board was Christa McAuliffe, a teacher from Concord, NH, and the first teacher NASA had invited into space. Mrs. Smith had made it all the way to be a finalist for NASA’s Teacher in Space Project but was not accepted to the Challenger’s crew.

I remember thinking, as Elissa hugged Mrs. Smith and offered to run for more Kleenex, that I was a little kid. I did not yet know how to absorb someone else’s pain but I think this moment was when I learned that I should.

3) No one is as perfect as they appear.

One day in 8th grade study hall, one of the prettiest, most popular girls in school ripped one. She turned fuschia, said “oops!”, covered her face, and laughed. Having been rejected by her and her friends, I was glad, SO GLAD, to witness what I was certain would be her downfall. You know what happened to her, right? As far as I could tell, nothing. Oh. My. God. Was I the only one who heard her heinous crime?

I could have learned something meaningful from this small but ear-shattering episode, like even the worst social blunders can be overcome with the right attitude, but instead I took away this: even pretty girls pass gas.

4) How to spell the word “separate”.

I was sitting in my 8th grade English class when Mr. NameIcantremember erupted into an aggressive, weird, and spastic attack against a poor student who had turned in a paper on John Knowles’ A Separate Peace with the key title word including three “e”s rather than two. It seemed to last forever and involved throwing the paperback across the room, tossing the student’s paper onto the floor, and a great deal of spittle being shot into space.

I don’t know if it was a late 80’s teacher thing, but I remember several outbursts from teachers who seemed to believe that displaying these acts of passion would inspire us to truly feel, to think, to learn! This one definitely had the biggest impact on me. I’m not sure it inspired me in a universal way, but I can promise you, I have never misspelled the word separate and I’m a little bit irritated at anyone who does.

5) Don’t believe the packaging.

“Whether you want to bring out your natural highlights or seek a sun-streaked look, Sun-In is the hair lightener for you. There’s no easier way to a lighter, brighter look than with Sun-In.”

Uh, no. Not if you are a brunette. Many girls I knew experimented with Sun-In in hopes of attaining a Christy Brinkley blond mane, but every one of us ended up orange.

Middle school was a time for trial and error, mostly error, and that provided lots of opportunities to relearn the same beauty lessons about working with what you have and not believing the marketing hype.

What middle school memories stick out for you?

Contributed by Michelle Icard, creator of the parent website and the programs Athena’s Path & Hero’s Pursuit, taught in schools and summer camps to help kids navigate the tricky new middle school social scene. “Like” her here:


2 High School Guys Tell Their 5 Things

I asked random teen guys that I knew to answer the question "What are 5 things that girls do that are annoying?"
They were eager to answer and gladly shared some insights.  What I find so fascinating is that of all the guys I asked, no one knew who else was asked or what anyone else answered (or even asked) yet the observations are all strikingly similar! Different schools, areas and ages, yet much the same.

Already this week TWO 8TH GRADERS shared their top things, and a HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR shared his best observations. Click on those links to see their lists if you missed out!

Last day (for now) of actual quotes come from a freshman guy and a junior in high school.

A Freshman:

1.when Girls talk bad about other Girls.

2. When girls honestly think that they look better with make up on.

3. When girls talk about their bodies.

4. When girls act like they are better than other guys or girls.

5. When girls don't appreciate who they are, or look down on themselves and try to get a guys sympathy for them.

A Junior:

1. Act dumb to be cool with boys and to get attention from boys. (He and a buddy were just talking about this…and how it’s a huge turn off. “Being smart does not intimidate us”, he says.  “Don’t be afraid to be smart…we like it.”)

2. Fishing for a compliment because of insecurity.  A girl saying “I’m not beautiful”  just so the boys feel they have to tell the girl she is. 

3. Girls that flirt with every guy, regardless.

4. Turning on their friends…best friends today and not friends next week.  Being nice to a girl’s face, then talking bad behind her back.  Throwing another girl “under the bus” to advance themselves in popularity.

5. Drama. Overinflating problems and making things out to be worse than they are. 

He said these next 2 bug him, but he doesn’t think they’ll ever change so he deals. 

1. Being emotional/moody.
2. Talking about feelings all the time.

(His mom and I chuckled over this one. Get used to it hahahahhaha!)

He also says the girl he is dating doesn’t do the top list of 5…and that’s why he likes being with her.

Our big bonus this week is from a young guy who heard this conversation and wanted to throw his two cents in! His answer?  "They’re kind of jerks to us!   Well, most of them are." 

So why did we ask this question? Girls have so many voices coming at them with how they are supposed "to be", tv shows, media, magazines, movies, etc. There are hopefully a few other voices telling them the truth- that what is portrayed in our culture is not necessarily the best way for girls to actually be!

And interestingly enough, how girls are portrayed and therefore feel pressured to become, is not even what guys find attractive in real life. And it's sure good to hear that! Girls need to know this.

Having had no idea what these guys would say when asked this question, I'm so happy to hear that guys care about how girls act, they don't have to see lots of makeup and skimpy clothes to be interested and that they like smart girls, contrary to popular belief....among many other noteworthy observations.

I'm struggling with the girls "fishing for compliments" line a couple of guys said. Uncomfortable with the idea that perhaps it's not uncommon for girls to do this.  It's a little embarrassing girls because the boys know what you're doing and are uncomfortable with it. It puts them in an awkward position of either leaving you hanging in insecurity, or giving a forced compliment (whether they mean it or not). Is that the desired goal? Surely not.

I'm also pondering a teenage girls observation this week- she thinks girls her age are more concerned about what other girls think about their appearance than what boys think.

That's a loaded thought. What do you all think?


More Guy Quotes! Two Middle Schoolers "Take" on Things

Yesterday produced one of the highest read blogs I've posted.

A high school senior guy shared some of his insight into what he's observed about girls. Check it out HERE if you missed it! It was wildly read- this must be an interesting topic!

I've asked a variety of guys, ages, from various schools to share (anonymously) their answer to "What are 5 annoying things that girls do?"

None of the boys knew each others answers, or even who I asked, yet the answers are SO similar.

Today, two anonymous 8th grade guys share their observations of the females at school.

1. Drama/backstabbing
2. Being Forward and flirty
3.Acting Loud and obnoxious
4.Pretending to be dumb and think that it's cute
5.Wearing lots of make-up and thinking you can't be seen without it. Keep it simple.

Another observant guy:

1. Act like they own the world.
2. Too dramatic.
3. Gossip about their best friends.
4. Talk too much.
5. Overly persistent…keep bugging you when they want something (i.e. pencil)

Can I just pause and say that all three boys so far have mentioned NOT liking how girls treat each other?! More of that to come, but I think it says a lot. Friendships are relationships, and what we practice in friendships shows some of our relationships skills (or lack of). Guys are watching this!

Also, this description of girls sounds like how girls are represented in much of the media today. Girls feel so pressured into roles like this, that unless someone tells them otherwise, they'll think that this is what teenage girls are supposed to be like! Uppity, dramatic, backstabbing, not smart, gossipy, made up flirty girls! (sounds like a few of the popular tv shows currently).

Guess what? Real guys don't like it.


Tomorrow- a couple of more high school guys share.

Quotes from Actual Teenage Boys- What Do They Think?

Not having any boys myself, I rarely get to hear the boys side of things first hand. When I get the chance, I love to ask about life from their view.

Mostly I listen to moms of boys and ask questions about how things roll on the other side of raising teens.

Knowing that I blog about life issues of raising girls, many times moms of boys come to me with topics from the boy angle. I love it...the point of view of what moms of boys wish girls knew.

I asked several moms of boys, in and out of state, to ask their middle school and high school boys to name the "5 Things That Girls Do That Are Annoying". Many boys said, "Just 5?" Hahaha.

Parents know we tell girls some things over and over and they may or may not "get it".

Who better to listen to than the guys themselves? The ones that girls would love to impress?

The guys that answered this question for me are great guys, and ones that girls would WANT to impress, and VERY anonymous. I cannot reveal my sources :)  But girls, you might want to listen up!

First brave guy, a high school senior:

1.Drama ( can I put that twice). Girls say they don't like drama, but they still take part in it.

2.They care about looks too much. It doesn't matter as much as they think it does.

3.Girls that are overly boy crazy. They start giggling and whispering. Guess what, guys know what you're doing and it's annoying!

4.Girls don't need to dress in provocative clothes to get our attention.

5.Stop acting like you're not smart. It's not attractive!

Oooooooooo!!!! Interesting.....! More to come each day this week! (I love number 5).

I wish that I could reveal the identities with the blog posts this week, and girls could see what quality guys are saying these words. They would be clamoring to line up with this advice, but I will restrain. I want willing participants to remain anonymous!

Special thanks to my first anonymous guy for sharing.

Addendum: see our two follow up posts from more guys right HERE and HERE.