Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday Pouting Session

As I mentioned earlier in the week, I got laid off last week. Along with so many OTHER changes that loosing a job will create, I also loose my company lap top.

So, in order to be able to continue being mobile, I woke up this morning at 4:15 so that I could get to WalMart by 4:45 in order to get in line for a laptop.

And wouldn't you know... The laptop that was on sale that started at FIVE AM was sold out at THREE AM.


Then I stood in line for one hour to get to the section where they had all the flier-sale toys and videos. I asked no less than 4 people if that was where I could find the Wii Carnival game for $10. I was assured I was in the right line. When I got to the entrance, I asked again, and was told that they didn't have any because they didn't come in their shipment. GREAT! I decided to go in anyway and get whatever other Wii game I could get my hands on. As I was WAITING IN LINE to leave the game and toy area, I saw a manager, and asked her if they would still honor the $10 price of the Wii Carnival game since they didn't arrive for the sale.

She replied, "Oh, no ... they DID arrive. We're just sold out."

Crestfallen. Again.

As I was winding my way out of the toy area, the manager came running up to me with a Wii Carnival game!!! She found one just laying on top of some other toys and brought it to me.

God bless that woman. GOD BLESS her. Whoever she was. She just saved me like $30!

And really -- it was silly I even went out, because I've been done with all my Christmas shopping since November 2nd or 3rd. I just got SUCKED IN to Black Friday.

I guess I need to learn all the tricks of the trade if in the near future, Black Friday stands to be the best way that a family on one income gives their children a great Christmas, huh?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is so much I'm thankful for... my family, in particular, comes to mind, as they have done so much to help and support us through this past year. Now as we face a particularly challenging new year, I know that God will continue to be faithful to us, and will continue to bless us exponentially. I'm excited to see what he has in store for us

I pray that you and your families all enjoy the love and warmth of good food, love, and fellowship on this special day of Thanks

Cultivate a thankful spirit... it will be to thee a perpetual feast. There is, or ought to be, with us no such thing as small mercies. A really thankful heart will extract motive for gratitude from everything, making the most of even scanty blessings!" —Author Unknown
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Life Changes You Never Think Will Hit You

You would think that when you turn 42, your huge life-impacting changes are over with. Life is secure, mortgages are close to being over, you're far into your career (having worked hard in your youth to get where you are) and retirement is right around the corner.

Unless you live in today's world, with today's economic problems.

Instead of having a secure sense of life-impacting changes being over when I turned 42 last week, I was given notice that my position was being abolished. My company has no new work the rest of the year, no new work for next year, and numerous of our current jobs are ending within the next six months, with many people coming off of job sites.

At the time they gave me this news, they were still holding out hope that we would win a multi-billion dollar job, but today, we received word that we lost that bid.

This indeed is a life-impacting change that will affect more people than just me in my company.

Last week, 20 people were laid off. Today, close to a hundred people that were assigned to this "job in waiting" were told that there is no longer a "job in waiting." More people will be laid off next week, the week after, and the week after that.

I'm fortunate to have a full month's notice. I may not be as fortunate to find a job or retain our current home, but I'm so blessed to have a relationship with a God who is in the business of miracles. I'm also blessed to have a husband who is so positive and strong. My heart was saddened for how my child's life will be changed, but I'm positive that God will provide and take care of us.

God is in charge. God knows what we are facing, in fact, he knew before I did and before my boss did.

I'm excited to see what God's plans are in our life in the next coming months. Maybe it is to get my masters in counseling? Maybe it is to finally finish writing one of the many books I've started and actually "market" it to potential publishers! Maybe its just to take care of my family, or maybe its even to get a new and better job.

Whatever his plans are, I'm excited, because I know He's walking right beside me, and so is my husband, child and family and friends.

Please keep me and my family in your prayers. I would truly treasure them!

Walking in faith. Walking in the hope. Walking in Christ - the only true way to go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

...Keepin’ it real banana!

Several years ago, when my friends boys were 4 and 6, I was over at her house visiting. Her youngest was WILD about the Wiggles, and loved to dance to the DVDs. He would ask her to get up and dance with him, and she would. She told me it's fun, and that one day, I'd be doing this with Hunter, because you'll do silly stuff for and with your kids.

I laughed.

And I said something like... "Not on your life! I HATE the Wiggles and dancing like that's just silly!"

And you know what? I never had to dance to the Wiggles.


Fast-forward to the year 2009.

A new group is emerging ... The Fresh Beat Band (that's them to the right). They're not all that great yet, and even quite silly... but Hunter loves them. They are a new group that beat box, rap, sing, break-dance, hip-hop dance, and act silly while teaching kids how to spell, rhyme, think fast, dance, work together, help each other, and other lessons that are passed through the music they sing. They also teach them how to be creative by playing music on ordinary items like boxes, trash cans, lids, etc.

Hunter loves to turn them on and jump on my bed, dance, sing, rap, break dance, hip-hop, spin, jump, body slam (well, not really), and act silly like they do. In turn, I LOVE for Hunter to turn them on and jump on my bed, dance, sing, rap, break dance, hip-hop, spin, and jump so he burns of energy (especially on rainy days!).

And then, two weeks ago ... two.weeks.ago. -- a day I'll permanently mark in my brain -- Hunter asked me to dance with him to the Fresh Beat Band. And I did. Because my son asked me to. And I love me some Hunter (name who said that quote first: "I Loves me some...").

And now I know what my girlfriend meant.

We danced to "Bananas" a silly song that has words like this: "Peel banana, feel banana, keepin’ it real banana!" And we had so much fun. If you look back, the Wiggles weren't that great when they first started either, but the Fresh Beat Band has some really fun, wholesome and engaging songs. Given a few seasons, I'm sure they'll get better.

So anyway, I now dance with my kid, and have fun doing it.

So hip hop, and pop, and have a great day dancing with your kids!

"Na na na na na na na let's go bananas!!!"

You can see 10 of their videos by clicking HERE.

You can read about them HERE.

I wonder if I should record these songs to play at Hunter's wedding???

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Experts from today's post were originally published on June 27, 2006

Today is Veteran's Day, and I'd like to honor a friend of mine:

Justin Davis
Son, Friend, Youth, Soldier
Child of God
1987 - 2006

On June 26, 2007, I received a heartbreaking call from the Youth Pastor of my church telling me that a former youth of mine, Justin, who was located in Afghanistan, had been ambushed and did not survive. Justin was barely 19, young, full of life, with a contagious grin. His mother's only child. A beautiful young man with so much potential. But yet, God knew his plans for Justin's life.
Several months prior, he was deployed to Afghanistan. On his last Sunday at church, he told me he was afraid and started to tear up. I hugged him, and for some reason, I felt led to grasp his face. I said to him, "Justin, know that you are a child of God. Be sure of your relationship with Christ before you step foot on the plane to go over there. Be certain that you can always cry out to God, and that he will never, ever leave you." He assured me that that he was a Child of God. Saved. He knew God was with him, and would not leave him. He knew who he could call on. I hugged him, and prayed over him. I prayed a hedge of protection around him. I prayed that God would put a fleet of guardian angels around him. I prayed that he would always sense God's presence.

We were both misty eyed, but I knew in my heart, and still to this day feel, that Justin was where God wanted him to be. Justin was in a place that tested his faith. It required him to really believe in something he couldn't see or feel or taste. Justin had to lean on God with all he was worth. He never would have been challenged in his spiritual walk like that here. If Justin had not enlisted in the Army, I don't know what his future would have held back here, but I'm certain that if Justin had been faced with a tragic end here at home, he may not have cried out to God. Why? Because we have everything here in America. We have no need to lean on God as if our life depended on it. But in Afghanistan ... that's all you have. That, and your fellow soldiers.

Justin was was a member of the A Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 10th Mountain Unit. The 1-32 Infantry has hundreds of men stationed in the high mountains on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and the soldiers spend an enormous amount of time in the field hunting down the enemy. It is difficult work, and it can be dangerous, but the soldiers are masters of the task. You can see why they need our prayers!

Justin served bravely, along side hundreds and hundreds of our armed forces - men and women.
To each person out there still protecting our country, thank you for fighting bravely. Your lives are different when you return home... permanently changed from all the atrocities you see on a daily basis -- horrible things I'm spared from because you are over there protecting us.

On this Veteran's day, I thank you! It's not much, but it is from the bottom of my heart.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Parenting Issues

Sorry this post is so long and somewhat discombobulated, but I just have to release everything in my head.

Please know, that I’m sharing this post only to encourage other parents going through the same thing. Because I know how much encouragement I need on a regular basis … and recently at our women’s retreat, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that it’s been particularly difficult and rather discouraging raising a child at our older age, because all of our friends/peers currently have TEENAGERS or COLLEGE-AGED kids and are unable to commiserate, as they are in a different stage of life than we are. They are at an established authoritarian place in their relationships with their kids, as well as becoming their friends. I, on the other hand, have a 4 year old that likes to push every boundary. Some might think its cute… but I just wither inside when he misbehaves terribly in public.

On the other hand, all of our friends that DO have a child either the same age or close to Hunter’s age are all in their twenties and early thirties. They have energy. They stay up all hours of the night. They can chase, and chase, and chase their kids, while keeping up with their energy levels. Their minds are not forgetful, and their spirits are not battle-wounded and they are able to come up with fresh and great discipline ideas. Their batteries are fully charged and ready to go.

My batteries are about dead, and sometimes I feel like I’ve been fighting in the front lines with William Wallace (Mel Gibson) on Braveheart.

My husband has been gone this entire week hunting. He’s in Kentucky. Eight hours away. Sob.

My husband does a LOT of stuff around the house to help out… including cooking on weekdays, because I get home too late from work to start a meal from scratch (which is what we prefer – healthier).

I’m tired and want my husband back.

Anyway… it has been very hard trying to get done by myself everything that the two of us normally do! Especially with a particular 4-year old who is going through some tough developmental stages right now (who will remain nameless to protect the “innocent” – HA!)

So, HUNTER (the innocent) has been quite a handful. He is going through an “anger” phase, and is learning how to control and express his emotions. It’s been such a joy. Really. NOT.

Both my husband and I have had incredible parenting breakthroughs over the last couple months, due in part to James Dobson’s “The New Strong-Willed Child” CDs, and in part to (but mostly) just crying out to the Lord for help and clarity. Sometimes, the only thing that has kept us going on the path of sanity is the knowledge and understanding that a strong-willed child raised in a Godly home, with Godly values and principles, by Godly parents, will turn out to be a strong-willed Godly adult.

I don’t know about you, but to me, that is such a comfort, praise God!

Some of the things my husband and I have started doing is NOT disciplining out of anger by counting to 10 (or 1,000); being very consistent (this is so much harder than it sounds); finding creative, but effective disciplining methods for our child’s personality (spankings do NOTHING for Hunter); and disciplining with soft, calm tones in our voices.

Another time, I’ll share with you an example of what I went through this week, but first, I want to explain some of the things we’ve changed.

Hunter is a dramatic child. I have NO IDEA where he gets that from. It certainly doesn’t come from his mother who has a personality of an EXCLAMATION! POINT!

We have found that if we raise our voices and scream at him (which for some reason, I had really taken to doing), he will scream back at us like a crazed lunatic. Now, I have always been a huge proponent of speaking gently and kindly to your child. HUGE. Especially when I didn’t have children of my own. Until I had my own child, and then, out of frustration, threw that silly theory out the window.

Over the past few months, my husband has been encouraging me to tone down my voice and decibel level when I discipline Hunter. Surprisingly, I’ve noticed over the last few weeks that if Hunter does something worthy of discipline, I don’t have to raise my voice. I simply have to walk over to the wooden spoon, pick it up and go to punish him. He knows he’s done something wrong. Believe me. I don’t need to yell or scream. I just spank, and calmly, without emotion explain why I spanked him, and tell him I love him. All this while he proceeds to scream in such a dramatic fashion that I fear the neighbors might contact Child Protective Services thinking I’m torturing the poor child.

Don’t worry. He cries like that when we put him in time out, too.

Another change I made was I stopped repeating myself over and over and over: “Hunter, pick up your toys. Hunter! Pick your toys up! HUNTER – PICK YOUR TOYS UP RIGHT NOW!”

It was totally NOT effective with Hunter.

After analyzing what I had been doing with my husband, and complaining that he never listened or obeyed, we came to the conclusion that I was parenting too much from the chair (side-lines) and expecting Hunter to obey immediately. Again, Hunter is a strong willed child. He is going to buck anything and everything he can, including and especially instructions from a side-line cheer leading parent. He needs a hands-on, in your face parenting style that constantly reminds him he’s doing something. So I had to become far more involved than I had ever thought would be required of a parent. Normally, when a parent says “pick up your toys and put them away” you can expect your child to obey immediately.

With Hunter, I have to keep bringing him back into focus. I will stand next to him while he does his cleanup tasks, sometimes helping, but mostly encouraging him to concentrate on his task and make sure that he doesn’t get easily distracted (which he does and will). He also likes it when I count for him (like timing him) - because he thinks he’s going to beat some kind of world record. Cracks me up.

Other times, I have to go and take him by the hand to his shoes on the floor in the family room, and ask him to pick them up and put them in his shoe bin. I follow him to make sure they actually get put in the bin without ending up on the floor in the dining room because he stopped to pick up a crumb or penny or toy on the floor.

Some people say it might be ADHD. Others say it is typical 4-year old BOY behavior. Regardless, I need to be a “proactive” parent, not a “side-line” parent (which works nicely for some, but not for us).

Another discipline tool we use is the toilet. I know some may think what I’m about to say is extreme, but you have to put it in context with the type of child you have. We use the toilet (with the lid down) in the powder room as his spot for time out. Our stairs are in the middle of the family room, and he has access to way to many distractions to focus in on the fact that he is being punished.

The powder room, however, has absolutely NO distractions, and it just breaks his heart that he can not be in the same room with everyone, or watching TV from the steps. My sister and brother-in-law discovered the “power of the toilet seat” when they were temporarily staying in a smaller home with 4 children. They had to get creative on where to put a child in time out without the other kids distracting them, and soon enough, the toilet became the place of choice.

Whether it is the laundry room, the powder room, or a quiet corner, a place without distraction is what works best for Hunter when he’s put in time out.

Consistency, while innocent sounding enough, is the hardest with us. When you threaten a punishment, follow through, and BOTH parents need to be on board. My husband and I have had a tough time on this one point. I’m far softer than he is (as is the case in most homes), but I’ve had to toughen up. For instance, if Hunter does not have a green day at school, but rather a yellow day, he isn’t allowed to watch TV, play with friends, or eat any treats. That’s easy enough… but if he has a RED day, all those apply, plus he gets a spanking. Usually red days are pretty bad, and it’s hard for me to come home with my child after giggling and smiling in the car, and look in his book bag and find out he had a red day and I have to spank him. My heart just drops. He would fight us at first, but now, about a month into this, he just turns to face me, puts his hands and head into my belly, and I give him two strong swats. He usually cries quietly, and holds on to me while I explain that every time he comes home with a red day he gets a spanking. It’s heart breaking for the mom (or dad) but when your child responds the next day with a green day, it confirms that you’ve done the right thing.

The most important thing I’ve learned (thanks to my husband) is to remain calm. Calm, calm, calm. Sometimes, I have to pretend to be a robot, or an alien who can’t speak or react… just to keep me focused on remaining calm and monotone, but it has been one of the most effective changes I’ve made.

Yes, all these changes are and have been great. No, it didn’t happen over night. But praise God, because of these changes, discipline is getting easier in our household.

I have spent many hours crying, and praying that God would help me be a better mom, and while I’m not there yet… I can definitely see Him answering that prayer.