Ode to a Fridge

The doors open to reveal your soul
Oh, dear, in there is an uncovered bowl
Of eggs, flour, and butter so sweet
For cookies we’d all love to eat

Alas the shelves are loaded down
With food that once was golden brown
But now it sports a fuzzy do
My nose wrinkles and the kids cry, “EW!”

I’ve failed you my lovely fridge
With food that builds a nasty ridge
Of hardened goo along the shelf
I have to clean it off myself

But now you’re clean so off I go
To fill you with things that I know
The family will love to make me cook
When I’d rather sit and write my book.

You’ll hear it a lot around my house.  About every 2-4 weeks I say, “If you want me to buy food, it’s simple– clean out the fridge.”  I don’t tell them when, how, if, where, why.  I figure, if they want FOOD, they’ll do it.  Self-preservation is a great motivator.  Sometimes, the pickin’s in this house are so slim that they don’t delay.  Before I’m done with my reminder and promise of food, they’re in there pulling out the nasty old stuff and wiping down shelves.

(This is where a REAL blogger would post pictures of her gorgeous fridge with a single fuzzy container that looks suspiciously as if it was “grown” for this purpose.  I obviously do not have a REAL blog.  I have pride.  It’s sinful, but hey… I tell it like it is.)

Other times,, they wait a day or three.  Those always crack me up.  They’ll ask what is for lunch and I’ll tell ’em– “Leftovers.”  Of course, most of the leftovers in there are sporting fuzz. So, those things get pulled out.  They used to get put back, but someone (I have rocket scientists for kids) figured out that if you just put them in the sink, there’s less to do on clean out day.

Now, if they’d just figure out that there’s almost no clean out day if they just keep what goes IN, coming back out for a meal…

MMMWWWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAHAHAHAHHAAAAAAAA

Yeah, right.

Observer

I saw you.  I know you weren’t doing it “to be seen” but I did.  I don’t know who else might have– I love that you didn’t try to hide it.  There you stood in the produce department, pushing a cart with a little boy in it and with two more little boys around your legs.  It was amazing to watch.  Frankly, I don’t see that very often anymore– dads out with their kids, in the produce department no less.  However, that is not what impressed me.
So, what was it?  Your awareness of them while you still enjoyed them and did your errand.  You bagged your lettuce, corrected one son, delivered a single swat and a word of reproof to another one, and without missing a beat.  There was no anger, no ugliness, no haphazard reaction.  You also didn’t do what most dads I see do; you didn’t wait until your son became obnoxious.  You corrected him, he didn’t listen, you gave a swat.  It was automatic, unconscious, and yet deliberate.  In this day of fearfulness in being forthright with our kids, you did it without thinking about it– or at least that’s how it seemed.
It was beautiful.  By the time I chose my bag of Spring Mix veggies and turned around, you were all laughing– the perfect picture of how discipline doesn’t have to be heavy or ugly.  Your son was happy and secure knowing that his father loved him.
I also have to say that it was refreshing not to have to hear the correction.  I have no idea what your son did.  It wasn’t a tantrum, it wasn’t unkind or ugly– not in any way I could see– but it was most definitely something wrong.  It was evident that you weren’t going to scold a child for doing nothing.
Too often, I go into a store and hear (from several aisles over) some parent (often a mother– interesting, isn’t it?) shouting threats at her child.  She berates him, demands he stop his tantrum (and the kid is usually either totally silent or trying to drown out mom with his own verbal battle)  and threatens him with loss of toy, treat, limb, or life.  The language she uses will be hurled back in her face in just a few short years (if it takes that long) and she’ll wonder why he thinks he can talk to her like that.  Why indeed.
With rage barely contained, she’ll weave up and down the aisles, subjecting the entire store to her tirade (proving that she’s “taking care of it maybe”) before she checks out and drags the kid, kicking and screaming, from the store.  We’ll all sigh collectively and then shake our heads.
However, no one will even think of calling the police on that abusive parent.  Her horrible words, her entire demeanor that screams, “I don’t like you or want you– you disgust me” is perfectly acceptable.  However, had she dared to say quietly, “Stop your fussing right now” and–horrors!–delivered one stinging swat to his upper thigh for emphasis, she’d have to wonder if she’d be led from the store in handcuffs.
I understand that at present, people fear repercussions for being “the parent” in public.  Scolding a child (as opposed to screaming their heads off to make a scene and prove “who’s boss”), even the swat– it was exactly what this society needs.  Fearfulness is taking over Americans.  We fear “the village” and its idiots who set themselves up as advocates for poorly behaved children masquerading as tyrants. You were another brick built in the wall that separates family from state.  We are not under state rule but under state protection.  Thank you for standing up for that with your actions.
However, what I loved most was your interaction with your sons.  They truly love you.  I saw it in their eyes, in their laughter, and in the way they were absolutely at ease in your presence.  Being out with Daddy wasn’t just a treat– it was a common occurrence that FEELS like a treat to them.  That is beautiful fathering.  Thank you.
You  know, I wanted to stop and say something– thank you not only for not dragging all of us into your private corrective moment but also for taking the time to make it, but I didn’t want to embarrass you or your son.  You got in line behind me.  I got to see you interacting with your youngest while the other two went on some errand for you.  You know– that son who less than five minutes earlier had a stinging reminder to his backside that you won’t put up with his shenanigans?  Yeah.  Well, guess what.  Obviously, you’ve done your job well if you can trust him away from you so quickly.  You know his strengths, his weaknesses, and how to steer him in line.  I doubt he’ll be the kid that I cringe to see at the movie theater or bagging my groceries fifteen years from now.  He’ll probably be just like the nice kid who bagged them today.  Pleasant, helpful, and respectful.  Thank you for that.  Thank you very much.

Camping Take One

So, a bunch of Braelyn’s friends were going camping last weekend.  This was going to be a huge HUGE thing for Braelyn since she can’t remember our single attempt at camping.  We lasted 2 hours in the blasting sand and then gave up.  So… off to Darwin Falls they… didn’t go.  When the weather wasn’t going to be the low “50’s” like the weather had promised (a week before…snort), they opted for a different camping experience.

Last week, I didn’t have photos to do, but now they’re done.  Emma!

Facebook

Funny website.  I got an account because I wanted to play Mafia.  Played for the first year or so, but the gals I liked to play with seemed to stop playing and new people came in with less than stellar language choices, so I stopped playing as well.  However, it’s been a lovely way to see what’s up with friends and family I don’t get to see much, leave a message for a kid, or tease my husband.  I like it.  Sure, I get frustrated when someone posts something indiscreet and dishonors parents/spouse/or the Lord, but for the most part, my Facebook friends are pretty decent people.  I like them.

However, this week I found a new use for it.  With so many people in the family and all of them coming and going, I’ll give a message to a few and assume they all got it.  OR, I won’t say something that I want to say because I know I’ll miss someone and then be frustrated that they didn’t all get it.  So, last weekend I got a great idea.  I sent a Facebook message to all my kids who had it.  Then it was easy to give the rest of the family the “heads up.”

The topic?  Bathroom Common Sense  (Not to be mistaken for bathroom sense of humor).  This is what I sent.

Dear Residents of the Havig Household,

Sons, Daughters, and beloved friends… lend me your eyes.  I’ve noticed a few things that would make the bathroom stay a lot cleaner and be easier for Andra to have to clean if we all did a few small things.  None of this is burdensome, rocket science, or in any way meant to be a horrible punishment inflicted because I am the vicious mother that rumors insist I am.  It’s just what my mom used to call common sense.  So, if you would be so kind (or even if you don’t wanna be kind, do it), in the future, please observe the following requests.

  • When you take a shower, please put your towel over the rod, hamper, or on a hook– this also includes whatever towel you used to step on when you got out of the shower.
  • When you use up the last of the shampoo, conditioner, face wash, shaving gel, or anything else inside the shower, please throw away the empty container.
  • If you get hair in the drain, it goes in the trash, not on the corner of the tub.  Just sayin’.
  • When you’re done in the shower, please close the shower curtain.  Leaving it open encourages the growth of mold and mildew.  My lungs can’t take it.
  • Do not store things in the window sill anymore.  This is why we bought the corner shelving thingie that I will put up when I’m done writing this.
  • When you wash your face, brush your teeth, or do anything else that requires a sink and water, please put the toilet paper on the back of the toilet and wipe down the sink when you’re done.  This has the brilliant effect of keeping the toilet paper from being soggy BEFORE use.
  • Your clothes can go in the hamper instead, but thanks for trying to give me new floor coverings.  I don’t like carpeting in bathrooms.
  • If you get toothpaste anywhere but running down the drain, please wipe it up.  I’ve grown out of the toothpaste glob decor phase.  It had to happen sometime.
  • If the trash is overflowing, please take a moment to tie up the bag or call Andra in to take it out.  Shock me once in a while and do it instead of demanding she does.  After all, she does a lot more around the house than most of you.
  • The back of the door is not a closet.  I am speaking to myself here as well.
  • Leaving the door open a small crack when you’re just putting on makeup or curling your hair lets others know that they won’t scare you off the pot if they knock.
  • We do not have a fan in the bathroom.  Do not shut the window.  Just don’t.
  • Shoes are kept in the hall closet, not the bathroom.

I hope you enjoy your time in the bathroom.  In the event of an emergency, stay calm, take a deep breath, flush, and don’t forget to pull your drawers up!

Now… we’ll see how this works.  Let’s just say that knowing they all got it helps!  I think it looks pretty good… and I’d like to keep it that way for the 2.3 days that it might manage to do that.

P.S.  I did not get the corner rack put in… it won’t hold anything heavier than a body scrubber.  It went back to K-mart.  Guess they’ll have to learn how not to have twelve different bottles in there.

Art Class– Home School Style

One day my fabulous illustrator, Craig, and I were discussing Thomas Kinkade. I was curious to know what other artists think of someone who became wildly popular.  Let’s just say I wasn’t surprised when he sent me a link to his blog and pictures of his Thomas Kinkade wallpaper border– liberally decorated with dragons, dinosaurs, monsters, and all kinds of fun stuff.  With a sharpie.  I showed Ethan.  Ethan already thought Craig was the world’s most awesome guy after seeing the Tardis” in the most recent map for my book, but a guy who draws on the wall with a Sharpie… ON PURPOSE???  WOW!  This dude is COOL.  Instantly, Ethan wanted to put together one of our Kinkade puzzles and do the same thing.  Craig challenged Ethan to do it.  The kid worked HARD on a very large puzzle– only to have it destroyed by children Morgann babysits.  He was daunted.  Then he found this one and begged to do it.  As you can see, it was missing a piece, but he didn’t mind.

Lessons Learned~

Photo compliments of Istockphoto.com I buy all my photos from Istock

I have a few warnings for mothers…

Your children learn how to cope with life from you.  If you fall apart when everything isn’t smooth, don’t be surprised when they do the same thing.

Your children learn contentment from you.  If you are always wanting bigger, better, or simply different than what you have, don’t be surprised when they aren’t satisfied with what you do for or give to them.

Your children learn manners from you.  If you are demanding of others, don’t be surprised when people don’t want to be around your children because they learned to be demanding from you.

Your children learn appreciation from you.  If you want appreciation for what you do for your children, you might want to show it when others do for you.

Your children learn service from you.  If you want your children to have servants’ hearts, you must first show them what that looks like.

Your children learn joy from you.  If you wonder why they whine, pout, sulk, and throw ‘grown up tantrums’ as teens or young adults, look in the mirror.  There’s a good chance they learned it from you.  Teach joy instead.

There was a time a while back when I had never been so unmotivated to help others.  I’ve never seen others so very entitlement oriented and unappreciative of that which is done for them.  I’ve never seen such immature fits of temper from people who are supposedly adults.  And in every single case, I have to pause and think about whether it is mom or child that is the offender.  These grown children are exact mirrors of their parents– and it’s not a good thing.

I have failed in every area of my parenting.  We all will.  We’re fallen sinners and we take our eyes off Jesus and let them rest on the waves and the ugliness of life takes over.  I look at my kids, and I know that the only reason they aren’t glaring testimonies to my personal weaknesses is because of Jesus.  But I’ll tell you, after watching what I’ve seen, I know this.  I will be even more diligent in the future.  I will keep my eyes on the goal, my prayers flowing heavenward, and my heart rooted in the Word or I’m going to be looking back  and realizing that MY grown kids are the ones that are bringing shame to me– because they’ll be exact reflections of my ugliness.

I know that our children have the Holy Spirit to sanctify them.  I know that at some point they stand before the Lord as individuals who choose sin over godliness and answer for it.  However, you cannot watch what I’ve seen in these situations and not see that who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, are reflected in our children, and if our weaknesses are what characterize us, it is not only not pretty… it’s also misery on people around you.

Stepping off soapbox and smashing with a hammer.

Doo-Wacka-Doo

 

On any given day, the words might come.  I’ll be working on a card, cleaning off the couch, writing my book, or helping someone with something, but if Stephen is here, it’ll happen eventually.  He’ll crawl up next to me, point to the youtube tab on my browser (the one I keep there almost exclusively for him) and say, “Doo Wacka Doo?”  He loves it.  One minute he can be all over the place, climbing the walls, and in his aunts’ hair, but then,  WHAM.  Doo Wacka Doo starts, and he climbs up onto the couch, curls up next to me, plops his thumb in his mouth, grins around it just as his mother used to grin around her pacifier, and watches it.  Before the song is completely silent, Emma rushes over.  “Standing on a Corner?”

Song by song we go through the “ThunderTube” playlist.  They love Life with You, Ireland’s Call, and Young Love.

Teach those kids the good stuff young, I always say!

Mirror Image~

I have a few warnings for mothers…

Your children learn how to cope with life from you.  If you fall apart when everything isn’t smooth, don’t be surprised when they do the same thing.

Your children learn contentment from you.  If you are always wanting bigger, better, or simply different than what you have, don’t be surprised when they aren’t satisfied with what you do for or give to them.

Your children learn manners from you.  If you are demanding of others, don’t be surprised when people don’t want to be around your children because they learned to be demanding from you.

Your children learn appreciation from you.  If you want appreciation for what you do for your children, you might want to show it when others do for you.

Your children learn service from you.  If you want your children to have servants’ hearts, you must first show them what that looks like.

Your children learn joy from you.  If you wonder why they whine, pout, sulk, and throw ‘grown up tantrums’ as teens or young adults, look in the mirror.  There’s a good chance they learned it from you.  Teach joy instead.

I have never been so unmotivated to help others.  I’ve never seen others so very entitlement oriented and unappreciative of that which is done for them.  I’ve never seen such immature fits of temper from people who are supposedly adults.  And in every single case, I have to pause and think about whether it is mom or child that is the offender right now.  These grown children are exact mirrors of their parents– and it’s not a good thing.

I have failed in every area of my parenting.  We all will.  We’re fallen sinners and we take our eyes off Jesus and let them rest on the waves and the ugliness of life takes over.  I look at my kids, and I know that the only reason they aren’t glaring testimonies to my personal weaknesses is because of Jesus.  But I’ll tell you, after watching what I’ve seen recently, I know this.  I will be even more diligent in the future.  I will keep my eyes on the goal, my prayers flowing heavenward, and my heart rooted in the Word or I’m going to be looking back at a week or two like the past few and realize that MY grown kids are the ones that are bringing shame to me– because they’ll be exact reflections of my ugliness.

I know that our children have the Holy Spirit to sanctify them.  I know that at some point they stand before the Lord as individuals who choose sin over godliness and answer for it.  However, you cannot watch what I’ve watched these past few weeks and not see that who we are, our strengths and weaknesses, are reflected in our children and if our weaknesses are what characterize us, it is not only not pretty… it’s also misery on people around you.

Stepping off soapbox and smashing with a hammer.

Book Review: Raising Godly Tomatoes ** Win Free Copy**

Title: Raising Godly Tomatoes

Subtitle: Loving Parenting With Only Occasional Trips To the Woodshed

Author: L. Elizabeth Krueger

Publisher’s Synopsis: Weary of struggling with your toddler? Frustrated with the failing advice of secular psychologists and permissive parenting gurus? Leery of the strict focus on rules and the hyper-regimentation advocated elsewhere?

If you are simply looking for a straightforward Biblical approach to parenting that focuses on the heart of your child, as well as his outward actions, then Raising Godly Tomatoes is for you. In these pages you’ll find a wealth of common sense and godly wisdom, a guide to applying reasonable discipline, and instructions on how to build a close relationship with your child.

Raising Godly Tomatoes encourages parents to keep their young children — their little ‘tomatoes’ — lovingly staked to them, in order to train and apprentice them in a godly way of life that will prepare them for Christ’s calling in the future, and render them a pleasure to live with today. Elizabeth is a Christian homeschooling mother of ten children, ages 7 to 27. She lives with her children and her husband of 30 years, in the state of Michigan. She enjoys quilting, riding horses and playing her violin. She also spends much of her spare time encouraging parents daily via her website at RaisingGodlyTomatoes.com.
This is one of the most common sense approaches to parenting that I’ve seen in a long time. It has zippo to do with over-spiritualizing our gardening practices and everything to do with proper training of mind, body and spirit of our children.

I found Mrs. Krueger’s book both sensible and balanced. The simple premise is, “Keep children in sight and/or ear shot until you can fully trust them out of sight and/or earshot.”  While not exactly a complicated concept, it is quite revolutionary in today’s parenting climate.

When you think about it, the concept is simple common sense.  If children are to learn how to behave and what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, we must be near them in order to demonstrate proper behavior and nip improper behavior in the bud.

I was surprised by several of the reviews I read on Amazon.com regarding this book. To read what some had to say, you’d think we read entirely different books. Mrs. Krueger encouraged parents to be reasonable, consistent, and most of all, loving! There is no pressure to isolate ourselves from everyone around us and where anyone got that idea, I cannot fathom! There is no encouragement to physical harshness of any kind.  While Mrs. Krueger does not discourage corporal punishment, she certainly does NOT encourage the use of it on whim or for simple childishness.  What is advocated in this book is, as the title says, “occasional” and obviously (if you actually read how she encourages constant loving interaction) nothing extreme or excessively harsh.  While I think the change would be initially difficult for both parent and child, embracing the simple principles of togetherness with your children and the consistent discipleship of their character will certainly foster close and loving relationships. I recommend that readers find Mrs. Krueger’s website by the same name and read excerpts from the book and make an intelligent decision based upon rational assessment rather than overly dramatic misinformation.

I decided to give a copy away to a commenter because I believe that this book could really encourage mothers.  So, to enter, simply post a comment and tell us the best parenting advice you’ve ever received.

Trickle Down: It’s Not Just a Financial Theory

Ronald Reagan will forever be remembered as the “Trickle down” guy (suddenly that sounds like a major Depends malfunction.  ew!).  I actually agree with his economic “baby” and just like many other principles, it applies to more than economics.

Trickle down works in families too.  There’s that obnoxiously true saying… come on, repeat it with me, “If mama ain’t happy…”  Seriously, the day I realized how true that was was started a huge change in my home.  Does that mean I’m always “happy” now?  No, but I do have better control over how I express my displeasure and that control seems to have extended to limiting how often I am truly… um… dis-pleasured.  The same is true for older children.  Their misbehavior and disobedience/defiance often sets the tone for the younger children.  Pretty soon, you have not just disrespectful oldest, but four kids all clamoring for most obnoxious child of the month.

However, it is amazing how correcting the attitudes in yourself or one of your children can have a positive cause and effect in the rest of them.  Johnny has gotten away with being mouthy and rude for far too long and finally mom has had it.  She realizes he’s mirroring her in too many ways so not only does she have to put a stop to it in him, but she has to stop her own lousy attitude as well.  She learns to bite her tongue, stops the backtalk every time it happens, and sure enough, the rest of the children slowly follow suit.

Photo and others amazing photos can be purchased from istockphoto.com

Photo and others amazing photos can be purchased from istockphoto.com

Of course, this often reveals other problems you’ve missed due to being so annoyed at the smart mouthing.  Susie isn’t completing her work in a timely manner or is bossing the younger children.  It’ s amazing how weeding out one type of weed in the garden… making sure you have every one of those dandelions gone… reveals a bunch of fox tails!

Trickle down works both ways.  You get to choose whether the good is trickling down or the bad.  Your attitudes, behavior, and demeanor sets a tone that your older children will imitate and in turn, your younger children will learn.  Start with self, don’t wait to perfect it, just start there, and then move onto weeding the gardens of your children’s hearts before the weeds choke out the seeds that you’ve been trying to plant there.

Do Parents a Favor~

There is nothing (ok, so there is probably something but it feels, at this particular moment as though there is nothing)  more insulting than to hear, “It must be nice to have easy kids.”

Let me give you a news flash.  I’ve never seen an “easy” kid.  Even those who don’t challenge you directly, have their own quirks and problems that result in much work on the part of parents.  Just take note, right now, there are no “easy kids”.   There might be kids who pull wool over their parents’ eyes, kids who are hard for a time and then easy, kids who are easy for a time and then hard, but every person at some point in their life, must confront their own sinfulness and conquer it and it’s the job of parents to do their part.

But back to insults.  There is nothing more frustrating to a parent who has put hundreds or thousands of hours investing in their child, working through character flaws, training in obedience and godliness, only to have that effort tossed in the garbage with a thoughtless, “it must be nice to have easy kids.”

I’ve heard it, and I have friends who have heard it and I guarantee, we all have shortened tongues from where we’ve bitten the ends off trying not to make snarky retorts to the inaccurate and annoying comments of people who have no clue what we go through to “produce” those “easy kids.”

  • I’ve put a child’s entire birthday cake/meal back on the shelves and left the store with nothing for a bad attitude.
  • A friend has crawled in between bouts of vomiting to deal with a child who refused to obey before crawling back to that toilet.
  • Everyone of my babies (except the eldest obviously) has been put down mid-feeding while I dealt with an errant child who thought they could get away with murder while mom was latched to the infant.
  • I’ve held fake conversations on the phone, for hours, in order to train my children that it doesn’t matter WHAT I am doing,  I will stop any conversation and deal with misbehavior.
  • I’ve dragged sobbing children back to stores and made them return stolen items, pay for said items, and leave without said items.
  • I’ve spent four hours, at a friend’s house, working with a stubborn toddler, until she obeyed.  During pregnancy, while contracting, and wanting nothing but a long nap… for all of us!
  • I have a friend who has spent twice that time doing the same thing with her “easy kid”.

I could go on for hours, but the fact is, I don’t  have to prove to anyone that my kid is just as sinful as the next.  That really isn’t even my point.  My point is that when I say, “My kid wouldn’t ever try that in my home,” it isn’t because he wouldn’t have at one point.  It is because I worked hard, every day of their lives, from the day they were born until they leaned that mom and dad’s word was like the law of the Medes and the Persians.  It will not waver.  Yes I failed.  Often.  I will tell you, however, that I succeeded often enough to make a lasting impression.

Why do people recognize all the work that goes into an exquisite painting, a masterfully played sonata, or a hand stitched quilt but if a child is well behaved, it must be because  he’s “easy”.  Why do people think that “good kids” just “happen” to run in families?  Wouldn’t it make more sense that they’d be sprinkled a bit more evenly through the population?

Do hard working moms everywhere a favor.  Next time you see a well behaved child, make a positive comment about the child or their behavior.  Please don’t tell the mom how nice it must be to have an “easy child”.  It would truly be kinder if you slapped her in the face.