Friday, February 12, 2016

Perfecting the Dance

In the beginning, we stepped on each others' toes....a lot.

And while our technique's still not perfect, I believe we've learned a little bit about marriage.

It's the back and forth, the give and take, him leading while I follow.  It's getting comfortable with the rhythms of life, anticipating how the other one will respond, and learning to overlook the little missteps.

How could I have known that nearly 25 years into married life I'd still mess up so often and say the wrong thing, that there would still be moments of my cringe-worthy selfishness tripping us up?

And who knew how much I'd admire him, wonder at his wisdom as we parent our teenagers, appreciate his leadership of our family, respect the depth of his character, which has never come into question.  It's focusing on these things that smooths out our steps, brings us back into unity.

The dailiness of marriage isn't always easy.  There's baggage from the past and pride in the present; there's "I know best" and nagging and disagreements.  But there's also morning hugs and goodbye kisses and funny moments and shared hopes and dreams.  There's someone to hold you through life losses and soul-rending heartaches and surgeries and illnesses.

So where did it all go right?  It was on that cloudy summer day, when I accepted my partner's hand, we stepped out into married life, and our two hearts committed to finishing the dance together.

To my wonderful husband, an early Happy Valentine's Day!  I love you!! 

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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Teaching Our Children Manners: Out-of-Date Or Still In Style?

Showing respect for others by displaying good manners never goes out of style!

Way back in the beginning of this blog, I did a series called Mannerly Monday.  Each week I shared ideas on how we as moms could help our children develop good manners in many areas of their lives.

Almost seven years later, I finally decided to compile these posts into one easy-to-find spot!  If you've been following along for all that time and actually remember reading these from when they were originally posted, thank you for sticking around!!!

Table Manners

Manners at Mealtime Part Two

Manners in Public Places

Mannerly Monday - Shopping Edition

Teaching Our Children Manners for Good Communication

Kudos to Emily Post

Being a Mannerly Host

Living Mannerly at Home

Manners for Church and Places of Worship

Rearing Boys to Be Mannerly Gentlemen

Mannerly Monday: Girls Edition

Solving Conflict in a Mannerly Way

Respect for Others

Manners for Traveling

Reflecting Manners in Our Appearance

Mannerly Monday Conclusion

Do you spend time working with your children on having good manners?
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Monday, February 8, 2016

Top 10 Things I Love About Having Teenage Daughters

As a young mom, I occasionally heard older parents discuss the difficulties of parenting teenagers.  Now that I have two teenagers, I will agree that these years have their own set of challenges.  However, I've also found that there are many delightful aspects of raising teenagers!

Here are ten of my favorite things about having teenage daughters.

1.  Having in-house fashion advisers.  My daughters are good about letting me know which outfits are winners and which ones need a little help.

2.  Getting to know their friends.  Both of my girls are blessed with some spirited, delightful friends and I enjoy interacting with them.

3.  Their enthusiasm for life.  They get excited about things like dressing up in school colors for spirit week.  They are still full of hope and adventure, novices at life with so much potential and possibility ahead of them.

4.  Traveling together.  Our girls pack their own suitcases, plan their own entertainment for the trip, and manage their backseat experience themselves.

5.  Seeing them build relationships with other adults.  There are certain teachers that my girls really enjoy and I appreciate the time these adults invest in our daughters.  Not long ago, I was in a restaurant with my girls and some friends when one of their teachers walked in.  They were so excited to go over and talk to him in an outside-of-the-classroom environment!

6.  Watching them develop individual interests.  Our younger daughter started cheer leading at school this year  That's not something I would have pictured one of my daughters doing, but she has thoroughly enjoyed it!  It's fun to see them increase in their abilities and try new things.

7.  Listening to them begin to think through their faith.  A couple of times recently, we've had some interesting talks after supper about issues our children have discussed in their classes.  It's a privilege and a great responsibility to begin to guide them in their own spiritual walk.

8.  Supporting them in their chosen activities.  Whether it's cheering them on in basketball, cheer leading, or at a fine arts competition, it's a lot of fun to be there encouraging our daughters.

9.  Their help around the house.  When I need their help, they can step up to the plate and vacuum, clean a bathroom, or finish putting together a meal for me.

10.  Watching movies together.  They're old enough now to enjoy many of the movies my husband and I do, so it's fun to watch and discuss these movies together.

These are some great years of parenting!  I'm trying to treasure each of these moments as I know they'll pass too quickly.

What's something you love about the stage your child is in?

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Saturday Salutes

Sunset view from our Myrtle Beach hotel room last weekend

Janelle has 29 Days to Love That Sticks.

Michelle shares a List of Easy Valentine's Day Crafts for Kids. 

Melanie tells us 5 Things Every Husband LOVES to Hear.

Judith writes about When Your Morning Needs a Makeover.

Tara gives us 10 Indoor Winter Activities for Preschoolers. 

I heard another great Focus on the Family broadcast this week.  Andy Stanley teaches on Building Guardrails Around Your Marriage.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: Spark Joy by Marie Kondo

Spark Joy:  An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is the follow-up book to the very popular The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  This second book is a detailed how-to guide to properly storing the items you choose to keep in your home, those things that "spark joy" for you.

Kondo walks readers through each category (clothing, books, papers, etc.) that you've tidied and gives suggestions for how to store each of them.  There are illustrations throughout the book showing folding methods and storage solutions that fit with her methodology.  The drawings are helpful in seeing how to fold odd-shaped clothing, arrange miscellaneous "komono," and organize your kitchen. 

This book, like the first one, contains occasional Eastern religion references to objects having "feelings," so I disregarded those portions of the book.  This is an excellent companion book to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but you'd definitely want to read that volume first.  It provides the inspiration to get you moving towards the goal, whereas Spark Joy gives you the nuts-and-bolts process of how to create a home that is organized and tidy.

Blogging for Books provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  All of the opinions expressed in this post are my own and I was not compensated for this review in any other way.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Losing the Mom Popularity Contest


There are some days when I'm sure I wouldn't qualify for most popular mom on the planet.

I think it's Keven Leman who says that if your kids are always happy, you're not doing a good job as a parent.  While we don't set out to make our children unhappy, if we have any rules or set any standards, there will be times that our children disagree with us. 

We had a situation recently where I just wanted to say yes to what my daughter wanted because it would have been so much easier - at least in the short term.  It's hard to make your child be different, to not allow them to do what "everyone else" is doing.  Especially in these early teen years, they're very sensitive to not fitting in with their peers.

It's hard to be that parent who says no - or maybe the one who says yes when no one else is doing it.  But I have to remember that these moments are building within our girls the ability to take a stand, to choose what's right (or at least obey what their parents believe is right!)  I think we'd all agree that this can be challenging, even as adults. 

My goal as a parent is not to be popular all the time, but to build character into our daughters' lives.  I don't have to look for these opportunities; they appear quite regularly.  When I need to say "no," I want to make sure the situation warrants it and then stand behind that decision.  I can make it as palatable as possible for my girls by being loving and gracious as I deliver my unpopular answer.  While they won't likely understand today, I hope that they see my heart and know that I truly only want what's best for them.  And isn't that the way our relationship with God works sometimes?

On days like that Saturday a couple of weeks ago, I remind myself that parenting with purpose is difficult.  I'm not here to please my children, but to rear them in the way that they should go.  God in His goodness often brings another mom across my path or leads me to a blog post that reminds me that I'm not alone, not the only one who's trying to do it right - not by a long shot.  (Example:  Kristen's post {Dear Parents} This Is Your Warning Label.)

So to all the moms who share these same struggles, taking a stand against some of our cultural norms, I encourage you to love your children enough to occasionally be a loser in the mom popularity contest!

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Goals for February 2016

One month into this, I have to say that I'm enjoying using monthly goals instead of yearly goals.  I feel like I'm more focused on what I need to do since there's a shorter time frame involved.

Here's how I did with my January goals.

Spiritual Growth:  Use the She Reads Truth app for Bible study every day.   Done every day last month!

Family:  Pray for each of my immediate family members for 5 minutes each  weekday (a total of 15 minutes).  I fell short with this just one day in January, so I'm considering it done!

Relationships/Service:  Text one friend each week to let them know I am thinking of and praying for them.

Personal Development/Health:  Practice the piano for 15 minutes a day, 3 times a week.  This is my fail for the month.  I followed through during the first week, then gave it up.  (Sorry, Mom!)  As little of a time commitment as it is, I just wasn't at all motivated to sit down at the piano.

Blog:  Focus on growing Pinterest boards and interactions.  I finished all my assignments on the monthly planner and saw some growth - especially in blog visitors - from Pinterest.

Here are my goals for February.

 Spiritual Growth:  Use the She Reads Truth app for Bible study every day.  I'll continue with this for another month.

Family:  Have a date night with John and a one-on-one outing with each of my daughters.

Relationships/Service:  Text one friend each week to let them know I am thinking of and praying for them.  Also continuing this goal for February.

Personal Development/Health:  Make one vegetarian meal each week.  Not only will this hopefully help us eat more healthily, it will also save money as I buy a little less meat!

Blog:  Focus on growing Pinterest boards and interactions.  I'm going to continue with this in February as well.

How are you doing with your goals?  Do you work better with long or short term deadlines?
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