Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Job Description for Moms: Intense

It's easy to forget the intensity of the day-to-day job of motherhood.
For a quick reminder, check out this job description for moms from a column I wrote several years ago for Hearts at Home.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Investing in Relationships

One of the things we get to do as grandparents is offer a respite to our children as they parent.
Inviting our grandkids over for an evening or a week-end allows their parents to go out for dinner or to get away for an overnight mini-vacation, and it allows us to connect with our grandkids in fun ways.
We had an opportunity to do this recently. A long week-end with four of our granddaughters included a trip to our local Children's Museum as well as a trip to our local zoo where we saw the bears and tigers get dinner, walked through the tropical rain forest house with birds swooping overhead, and watched a river otter glide gracefully through his pond.
We also made sure there was time to relax. Although our usual week-end chores still had to be done (and the girls got to help with those!) we had time to watch a movie together, play in the yard, color, blow bubbles, and just hang out. There was a lot of eating (especially ice cream -- ice cream with strawberries, root beer floats . . . ) and a lot of just talking.
Our kids had a good time getting away, and we had a good time connecting with them.
If you're having grandkids over this summer, whether it's just for an evening or longer, here are some things you might want to think about:
* Food -- have plenty of it, and make at least some of it fun. Ice cream usually works, but so does popcorn and orange juice, or cupcakes with lots of fun frosting. Be sure you have any special foods you need for kids with allergies; one of our granddaughters is lactose intolerant so we make sure we have milk she can drink.
* A good balance between being busy and being together. Cooking together is a good way to spend time with grandkids, and conversation seems to happen naturally in the kitchen.
* Have some fun things to do at the house. For younger kids this might be as simple as a bottle of bubbles and a good supply of coloring books and craft supplies; for older kids it might be a classic movie with popcorn, or a chore like painting the porch that they get to do with you. Or get out some family photographs and tell family stories.
* Plan something fun you can do as a treat. We live in a place where there are lots of options: museums, parks, zoos, and friends to visit. What's special about where you live that you can share with your grandkids?
Inviting your grandkids to spend time with you is an investment in your relationship, with delightful dividends.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Making a Family

I like John Rosemond, and this morning I had a chance to hear Dr. James Dobson interview him on Focus on the Family.
Young parents have a daunting task these days. They work hard, they try hard, but culturally they get little help in raising responsible, healthy children. Many times they are nowhere near extended family, and even if they are, we grandparents keep pretty busy ourselves. Too many times we aren't as available as our kids might hope.
Making a family takes time and commitment, and it requires an understanding of what children really need. Dr. Rosemond offers insight into what it takes, and encouragement for everyone who works at making a family.
I encourage you to click on the link and listen to what Dr. Rosemond has to say.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Once Upon A Time . . .

One of the abiding pleasures of family life is sharing stories.
Whether it's a traditional fairy tale or a true story from the family archives, children are enchanted by stories, and stories offer adults a way to share insights, lessons, and faith in a kid-friendly way. Even better, sharing a good story is fun for everyone.
Once upon a time is one way to start -- you can read it here in the article Once Upon A Time I wrote on the Hearts at Home website.


One of the best stories we can share is the Easter story. During this Lenten season, we can get ready to share it with our children. Here, in another article I've written on the Hearts at Home website, Teach Them Diligently, you can get some ideas for preparing to share the story of Easter with the children in your life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

One More Way to Share an Experience

This is a great time of year to encourage grandkids to enjoy the natural world.
Nature guides are one way to do this. Check at your local bookstore for the laminated, EZ-fold type of nature guide that fits into a pocket easily, and choose one that a grandchild might use to identify trees, birds, or flowers.
Or visit your local bird-supply store for a CD of birdsong that helps listeners identify which bird sings what.
Purchase one for yourself and one for your grandchild, then share the adventure.
If you live at a distance, send your grandchild one guide, keep one for yourself, then write an e-mail note or send a letter describing the trees you've identified, or the flowers you've found with your copy of the guide. Ask your grandchild to let you know what she's found, and how she uses her copy of the guide.
It's just one more way to share an experience and stay in touch, all at the same time.

A Gracious Gift

Wisdom is always available, but sometimes seems to be in short supply.
Maybe that's because we don't always value it very much.
I think that has to do with our goals, with what we want out of our lives.
If what we want is a stable and happy family, wisdom is indispensable. We'll learn to value its role in helping us create stability, closeness, warmth -- all the things we need to keep a family in good shape.
Wisdom is ultimately creative. When we apply wisdom to our lives, we create space, time, and energy; we redirect resources to what is good, pure, and lovely; we affirm what is of God. The result is freedom to become what God created us to be.
The apostle James says all we have to do is ask for wisdom, and God, who is generous, will supply it generously.
What a gracious gift!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Preparing for Parenthood -- and Other Things . . .

It's fun to watch our kids prepare for parenthood.
Some of them focus on reading all the books they can find about becoming a mom or a dad.
Some of them spend a lot of time talking to people who've been parents for awhile, asking questions and listening to stories.
And some of them just try to wrap their minds and hearts around what's happening, and wait to see what it's like.
In each case, they prepare in ways as individual as they are, keeping in mind the dreams, hopes, and goals they have for parenting their children.
No matter what we do, preparation is important, and it helps if we can keep what we are preparing for in mind. You can read more about preparation in my post on Inspired Bliss.
What are you preparing for?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Welcome, Welcome to the World . . .

What a month! We celebrated the arrival of grandchild #11 a few weeks before we expected to, but with great joy. After a few difficult days, he's healthy and home.
Watching a new baby meet the world is a privilege, and watching your own child learning the challenges and pleasures of becoming a parent is one of life's sweetest treasures.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Five-Year Journal

I was talking with a group of younger friends last week, and one of them shared about a “Five Year Journal” she'd begun keeping lately.
It had been a gift she'd set aside and then found. Each date of the year had its own page, and each page had five sections, one for each of five years, each with only a few lines. The idea is that it's fairly easy to write a few sentences on those few lines each day, and so have a record of what's happening in your family.
So far, she's delighted with the results, remarking how even a few sentences can bring a whole event or day back into remembrance.
I've been keeping a similar journal the past few years, mostly with weather notes, but there are family notes sprinkled in. I've been keeping it long enough to know what my friend is talking about -- it's delightful to read back through this journal.
What if we kept a grandma's journal for our grandkids, each day recording some interaction with them, or some memory we'd like to share associated with the day? Even a few sentences each day would give them some kind of record of who we are and how we think about the world, what we've seen of the world.
You don't have to have a fancy book to do this; you could even do it online. The important thing is to begin!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some Forwards are Fun

From my friend Rose:

Retarded Grandparents
RETARDED GRANDPARENTS - (this was actually reported by a  teacher)
After Christmas, a teacher asked her young pupils how they spent their  holiday away from school.One child wrote the  following: 

   "We always used to spend the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa. They used to live in a big brick housebut Grandpa got retarded and they moved to  Florida  . 

Now they live in a tin box and have rocks painted green to look like grass. They ride around on their bicycles and wear name tags because
they don't know who they are anymore.
They go to a building called a wreck center, but they must have got it  fixed because it is all okay now, they do exercises there, but  they don't do them very well. There is a swimming pool too, but  they all jump up and down in it with hats on.  
 At their gate, there is a doll house with a little old man  sitting in it. He watches all day so nobody can escape. Sometimes they sneak out, and go cruising in their golf carts. 
Nobody there cooks, they just eat out. And, they eat the same thing every night --- early birds. Some of the people can't get out past the man in the doll house. The ones who do get out, bring food back to the wrecked center for pot  luck. 
My Grandma says that Grandpa worked all his life to earn his retardment and says I should work hard so I can be retarded someday too.  When I earn my retardment, I want to be the man in the doll  house. Then I will let people out, so they can visit their grandchildren."
             .....  PRICELESS

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Little Perspective

One thing grandparents can be really good at is perspective.
At a time when it seems as if the financial world is melting down, as if jobs are disappearing right before our eyes, as if everything we've worked so hard for is at risk, it's good to have someone around with a little perspective.
Grandparents can represent continuity, stability, and yes, perspective when things seem to be turned upside down, because chances are we've seen something like it before, and lived to tell the stories. That can be reassuring to someone going through financial instability for the first time.
And if we ourselves are feeling a bit scared, it's good to remember what Eugene Peterson has observed in his book Tell It Slant: “It doesn't take us long to realize that we are set down in a world prodigious in wealth. The Creator is incredibly generous. We are given what we need but also much, much more.”
Our job is to keep our own eyes on the Creator, and to remind our children and grandchildren that one way or another, God is our provider, and He is faithful.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Two Reasons to Use the Good Dishes . . .

Sometimes, just for fun, we use the good dishes.
You can read about our fancy ways on the Inspired Bliss website in Good Dishes and Other Graces, where I write about how we changed from who-needs-good-china people to a family using our good dishes even on ordinary days.
There are at least two good reasons for getting out the good stuff, especially when all the family is together:
* Making the effort is a way of infusing each day with beauty and grace.
* Your family will wonder what you're up to!
Even if it's just you and your husband (or you by your own self!) use those pretty dishes and that good silver -- you'll enjoy them much more on your table than you will if they're just stacked up in the cabinet.
And if you linger over dinner to tell family stories, so much the better!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Holiday Complements

Do you have any left-over candy canes from your Christmas celebrations?
Valentine's Day is coming, one month from today.
Here's a fun way to create a sweet treat with those candy canes as you get ready to celebrate Valentine's Day: just use a little glue to join two (wrapped) candy canes in a heart shape, or use a little stiff, sugary frosting to “glue” unwrapped candy canes. Let them dry to hold the shape, then share them with someone you love who has a sweet tooth.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Three Ways to Welcome . . .

Kathleen Norris writes about the importance of welcoming children into the family of faith.
How can we do that?
Here are three suggestions:
* Open your heart to the children around you. Let them see your pleasure in their company. Show your interest in what they are thinking and doing. Share your life with them by letting them join in your activities. Make room for them in your everyday life.
* Let them catch you doing good, and doing well. When you are helping someone else in Christ's name, invite the children around you to help. Find some way for them to contribute in a meaningful way. Include them, and let them see the care you take to do things well, to help with excellence.
* Make sure they know you are paying attention to how they are doing. Be sensitive to their wants and needs. Listen to their stories. Pray for their projects and efforts to do what is right and good.
Be present in the moment when you are with them.
Welcoming children into the family of faith is a natural extension of Jesus's taking the little children around Himself onto His lap.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wise Investment

Encouragement is a kind of investment in your family, whether you're encouraging your own child or your grandchildren. The Art of Encouragement on the Hearts at Home website talks about how you can encourage family members, and why it's so important.

Grandparents as Investors

A grandparent is an investor.
We invest in the lives of our children and grandchildren, hoping for a return we may not even live to see, although there are more immediate rewards.
Like any good investor, we need to study what we're investing in.
What are the strengths? Where are the weaknesses? How is management doing? How can we maximize the effect of our investment?
The difference, of course, is that we're investing something more than mere money. We're investing time, thought, and other kinds of resources in the lives of these ones we love. Bottom line -- we're really investing our own selves.
How are your investments looking?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

One Fun Way to Stay in Touch

Here's a fun way to lift your family's spirits in January: send them your favorite comic strip.
You can actually cut it out and mail it to a child or grandchild, or send them a comic (or a link to a comic strip you've enjoyed) via e-mail. (You can google the specific comic you're looking for, or just google “comics” and see what you can find. Or check out a site like King Features.)
If someone in your family is interested in politics, share an editorial cartoon.
It's a fun way to stay in touch with the people you love.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cartoons and a Merry Heart

When the morning newspaper comes, I like to read the comics first.
Why is it so hard to admit that?
On Sundays, it's Prince Valiant, Crankshaft, and Blondie. For Better or Worse, I want to know what is happening to Beetle Bailey and the Wizard of Id. Zits, Baby Blues, Cathy, Charlie Brown. I invite them all into my morning, first thing, along with Doonsbury and Frank and Ernest.
They all get first billing, over the front page, over Home and Gardens, over the book section and the editorials -- because they make me laugh, and sigh, and smile, and because those things help get the day started right.
Sometimes I clip a particularly great cartoon and tape it to the cabinet or closet door, where it keeps on making me smile. Or I fix it to the refrigerator door with a magnet, or put it in an album I pull out sometimes when I'm feeling discouraged. Cartoons make me laugh, especially the ones I've clipped myself.
Why do we take ourselves so seriously sometimes? “A merry heart doeth good, like medicine,” says the Proverb, and Jesus was known to slyly insinuate humor into some of his comments, even if the Pharisees didn't get it.
Come to think of it, maybe that's where Pharisee-ism begins -- with an inability to smile, to take ourselves and our lives lightly.
Go ahead -- clip a cartoon and start your own gallery. Smile a little. Laugh a lot.
Keep your heart merry, for Christ's sake.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Start the Year with a Laugh . . .

There's nothing like a good laugh to start out the new year:

When I stopped the school bus to pick up Shannon for kindergarten, I noticed an older woman waving at the window as she came down the sidewalk. "Is that your grandma?" I asked.
"Yes," Shannon said. "She's come to visit for Christmas."
"That's wonderful," I said. "Where does she live?"
"At the airport," Shannon replied. "Whenever we want her, we just go out there and get her."