Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Forgiveness isn't easy...

A few weeks ago, I started blogging about having conversations with your kids. It may have seemed frivolous to start with a discussion of personality. I also pointed out that your children are unique. They are not you and you are not your parents. The reason I started out with these two notions were so that you could have the opportunity to adjust your expectations.

I started with the easy stuff. Now comes the hard part. Forgiveness. In order to really have a clear conversation with your child, you need to come with a clean slate. You cannot do that if you have bitterness and resentment that has been built up over the years. It causes you to project onto their motivations. This bitterness could be from past interactions with a current or past spouse, or with your parents, or with your in-laws, or the list goes on. Sometimes the person you need to forgive is yourself. In any case, it needs to be done so that it doesn't affect your other relationships, especially the one with your children who are less likely to understand.

What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is more than forgetting. It is more than saying, "That's ok," when somebody says that they are sorry. The fact is most of the time when you need to forgive somebody, that person never asked for forgiveness. And truly, the thing that they needed forgiveness from wasn't ok, but the fact that you offer forgiveness now makes it as if it never happened. Does that mean you never think about it again? Well, it's supposed to, but I am not a robot. So often, I have to ask for forgiveness if I do think about it again. That's my own sinfulness, not the other party's.

The world has provided such a crazy, messed up view of what forgiveness is that the only thing I could think of to do was to share my testimony. In advance, let me apologize to my parents who are wonderful people and did a great job of raising me. They are not responsible for other people's actions! In addition, let me be clear. This is not about me. This is about God and His glory, so please although I appreciate the compassion, don't send me a bunch of messages about how sorry you feel. You are not responsible for somebody else's actions either!

There is no easy or appropriate way to say that when I was a girl I was molested by my paternal grandfather. (I could try to hide who it was, but he has passed away now, and while trying to tell my story, it was just too hard to keep that a secret.) I think that we all have heard this story hundreds of times. It's unfortunate that we have. But it is not those events that are my story or my testimony. My testimony begins when I realized that I was still allowing those events to dictate how I behaved in certain circumstances. It dictated who I trusted. It definitely dictated my ability to sleep properly.

Forgiveness is a hard process. And it is definitely a process. I went to a couple of people, but they didn't know where to help me start. The thing is that forgiveness is also very personal. But I can tell you what I did and maybe it will help you.

The first thing I did was ask God to help understand my grandfather more. Why would somebody do something like that? There are all kinds of crazy answers out there, but I knew that God could tell me better. He did. Through prayer, I realized that my grandfather had a horrible upbringing. He had been abused himself. I felt blessed that I did not have parents like that. It helped me to have some compassion for him. It wasn't overnight by any means, but I started to feel some sympathy for him. I know it doesn't make sense to many people. That's why I am telling you. Only God can help you do something like this.

After I started to feel some sympathy towards my grandfather, things sort of snowballed from there. I found myself caring about his welfare. It was clear that he was unwell. You just don't do that kind of thing otherwise. But here we were his family and we were turning our back on him, throwing him out like trash, like he didn't matter. I felt like we needed to get him help. Some people would say that even turning our backs on him was better than he deserved. Plenty of people told me that for justice to be served that he deserved prison or even worse. Once again, I can only point you back to God. I am thankful that I don't get what I deserve. Oh so many times, I have not gotten what I deserved. Praise the Lord for that!

Soon after that I found myself praying for him. I prayed that somebody would come into his life to care for him physically and mentally. I prayed that if he had not made a profession of faith that he would do that, because I knew he did not have much longer to live.

All of a sudden, one day, I remembered something fun that I did with my Grandpa and I laughed. It dawned on me that I loved him. I did. I had not only forgiven him, but I had done it without him asking for forgiveness. Not only had I forgiven him, but our relationship together was no longer defined by that. It was defined by going swimming (seriously ALL the time with the swimming!), and hanging upside down in the tree in the backyard, and his conducting the orchestra on the radio while we sat in downtown Washington, D.C. traffic, and regular grandfather/granddaughter kind of stuff. Just like with my mother's father, who I have great memories about baseball and football, this was no longer any different. I was very sorry when he died, and I hope that I will see him again one day in Heaven. That may be upsetting to some people. It may be hard to hear or understand. But that is the power of God.

Why do I share this story? First, for myself, if I could learn to forgive others in that same way, imagine the freedom I would have! I need to remember every day that it is possible. Second, for my friends, I share this with you, because you can be set free from bitterness too. It just takes one step towards God and one step away from wanting vengeance.

I am absolutely here for anybody who wants to talk about how they can find forgiveness in their lives. Whether you are trying to find forgiveness for yourself for the first time or the hundredth, or you want help to forgive somebody else, my door is always open.

Love you guys! You can do it with God!

Developing Character isn't easy!

If you have ever done a "Character Curriculum" like Konos or a Bible study that works on a character trait, then you may have noticed the following trend. You start to do a unit on something, only to really struggle with it desperately in your own life. We did a unit on responsibility, only to find out that the kids were slacking off in their chores. This had not really been a struggle in the past, at least as far as I was aware. We did a unit on courage, which brought forth struggles on peer pressure. Some of these struggles were met with success. Others had less than desirable outcomes. However, all of these things provided us with great discussion opportunities.

It's like the old wives tale, "Don't pray for patience." This has grown to the point of supersition among even the most devout Christian woman. I have friends that say it. I refuse to do it. I pray for the strength to deal with I already have on my plate rather than pray for patience. (I'm really weak though, and I have a lot of faults. So, don't use me as a role model. Ever. I only write this blog so that I can tell myself what to do, you know that, right? I knew that you did.) So, what do we think will happen when we pray for patience? That disaster will strike? That our children will behave poorly? Really? More than yesterday?

Why do these things happen? The truth is that these struggles were there all along, but you only noticed them because you began the study. I'm not saying that God doesn't use these studies to grow us, but don't think He is sitting there waiting for a study on stewardship so that He can cause you to lose your job. If we really think hard about it, we know that's not the way God works.

So if all these things were happening before, and we are just are more aware of them now, what should we do? Use them to develop the character of your children and yourself. Hey! That's why you started the study, right?

All of this to say, if you ever wonder why I post that I am going to discuss something on my blog, and I don't come back to it for a while, chances are good that we have had to deal with that issue at home ourselves. Usually, if I catch on (and because I have blond hair that's not all the time), I will try to deal with my issue myself before I continue to post about it. If you are wondering, will we ever get back to confrontation versus correction? Absolutely. Is she ever going to post about dealing with putting your past behind you? I'm trying to get there this week.

And once again, I reiterate, never, ever think that I am telling you these things because I have them nailed. If I ever do anything right, don't look at me. And if I have ever done anything wrong or do anything wrong, please forgive my hurtfulness and arrogance.

Love you guys!

Monday, March 30, 2009

What does it take to be a "Boy Mom"?

Sometimes when I start telling a story in my Coach Mom way, someone will say, "That's why you are a 'boy mom' and I'm not." I wonder, what does that mean exactly?

Is it because I am a "tomboy"? Because to be fair, my sister Meredith has only boys, and she's about as far from being a "tomboy" as I am from being the Queen of England! She likes clothes, and makeup, and decorating shows, and well, all those things I hate! So that can't be it.

Does it mean that I let the kids live when these things happen? I don't know. Was there another option?

Maybe it's just the way I have a reputation for presenting my story. I think the problem is ya'll think I'm joking or exaggerating. I'm telling you, these things really happen!

Here's a few quick stories to entertain, while I try to put together a blog from about the 8 that are running around in my head right now.

I can't stand phone solicitors. We canceled our phone service and went with cell phones only. This has cut down on many of those pesky calls, except the crazy factory warranty one that everyone gets on their cell phone. AND, the one Phil got from our oldest son last week to try and sell us meat. Mike wanted Phil to ask me if I wanted some. Sure, I want the only time you call me in three weeks to be to ask if I would like to buy some meat from the back of a truck. I think Phil said something to the effect that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to ask me. Then, he asked Phil to ask around at church. Phil told Mike that he was welcome to come to church with us. Honestly, you cannot make this stuff up.

Trampoline enclosure = $159...trampoline mat = $98...not knowing that your neighbors didn't have those things = $9.99 for more blond hair dye...listening to Tutone tell everyone that if he had known that he was going to land on the ground instead of the trampoline that he could have done three flips instead of two...priceless?, not really!

And finally at lunchtime today...

I believe this answers the question about whether or not Tutone is back to normal after his concussion. He's baaack...

Tutone: "Can we have spaghetti and meatballs for lunch instead of sandwiches? We'll make it ourselves."
Coach Mom: "I guess so."
Tutone: "Can we have chips too?"
Coach Mom: "Do I look like Monty Hall? What do you think this is? "Let's Make a Deal"?"
(...Tutone strikes a pose that looks like he is about to Karate chop someone...and begins to sing...)
Tutone: "NO! I am the LUNCHtime negotiator!"
Coach Mom: "Hahahaha. Still no."

In case you are wondering, if my kids know who Monty Hall is...well, of course, they do! I showed them on youtube! You can find it all on there!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

These kids are amazing!

Watch this video!

My friend Sarah, over at Fanning the Flame, has a very talented son. He is trying out to perform at a jazz festival with his partner. She would love it if you would go and vote for him today! If you are a homeschooler, you may be interested that she has even gone so far as to offer a give away contest on a Latin curriculum just for listening to them play! I say listen to them play anyway. It was a blessing!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lions...and Otters...and Beavers...Oh My!

Yesterday, I called my friend Lauren on the phone. Mind you, I didn't get to speak to her on the phone until about two hours later. However, I did get to listen to little Lion girl and Otter boy argue each with a phone extension in their hand. That was fun. But after I got over my frustration that I wasn't ever going to talk to Lauren, I sat back and enjoyed the show. I found their interaction a perfect example of siblings of these different animal types trying to communicate. It also reminded me how birth order and gender roles can often affect these types as well.

The Lion girl is a little more than a year younger than the Otter boy. But that didn't stop her from attempting to dominate their interaction. She was the first to pick up the phone.

Lion: Hello
Coachmom: Hi, Lion. It's Aunt Chris. Is your Mom there?
Lion: Yes, she is in her room.
[I forgot. She's very literal. You must always ask the next question first to cut down time.]
Coachmom: Thank you. Well, can I speak to her?
Lion: I am on the corded phone.
Coachmom: Well, can you get the other phone and go get her?
Lion: Sigh. Just a minute. OTTER!
Otter: Leave me alone LION! I am playing a game.
Lion: OTTER! Pick up the extension phone. Right now!!!
Otter: Why? Liiion. I don't have to.
[about this point I am about to jump through the phone and strangle them both!]
Lion: OTTER! Pick up the extension. Push the talk button. Lay down the phone on the counter. Do not hang it up again. I will come downstairs and get it from you!
[This is good. We are getting somewhere. Of course, I would think so, because I am a Lion.]
Otter: FINE!
Lion: Good!
[Dial tone....]

Interestingly, I used to think that your first born would automatically be your driven child or your perfectionist child. But this is why I like these personality profiles. You begin to see that there are many types of driven people. A Beaver is a perfectionist (and not perfectionistic, because that is not a word and they will find it on their test) who is on the quieter side. A Lion is driven to accomplish things and an extravert.

There is a birth order theory. It is worth investigating is your quest to discover more about your child. More and more people have told me that their families do not fit this mold. There is a variables page that can explain why this is true. My family did not fit into this mold either, so don't feel bad. But do look at it and see if it is helpful to you.

It's also important to note that contrary to popular opinion, girls and boys, men and women are different. Gasp! It's true. And not just for the obvious reason. There are many things that make them different and this will show up in the way they react to things as well. Anybody who tells you that boys and girls will react the same either never had a child of each gender or is in denial. Work as hard as you like to try to condition them to be the same, they are different.

My husband's commentary on my personality profile was a perfect example of this. Somebody pointed out that I was a Lion. He said, "No, she is a Lioness. Have you ever seen a lion? They are lazy, but a lioness works hard. A lioness is the hunter. The lion just sits around waiting to be fed." I thought that was funny.

One final comment on these personality profiles is do not use them exclusively. Do not put your child in a box because of them. Your child will exhibit unique traits that you will need to take time to get to know. This is a great starting place, because they will enjoy that you are trying to get to know them. But honestly, this is still all surface level. You will need to understand more about them and their motivations to really understand their behavior.

A perfect example exhibited itself in our family on Monday. Tutone is the type of kid that you would think based on his personality profile is an extravert. He used to be very introverted. He would be drained to be around people. That's how you know if you are introverted or extraverted. But at some point that changed. Now, he acts very brave, when everyone else is around. If it's just us, he never wants to try anything. He learns everything in front of a crowd. I believe he will be the guy who dies doing something that started with, "Hey dude! Hold my beer. Watch this!" Monday, he decided it would be a great idea to do a back flip off of a trampoline. Unfortunately, he didn't tell us until he started to feel sick on Tuesday. He's fine though, just a mild concussion.

On the other hand, there is Super. His personality profile shows that he would be introverted. But honestly, both my kids are extraverted. Being near people winds them up, that's how I know. It's just that he has more traits that put him on the introverted side of the personality profile. He is a Golden Retriever-Beaver. I am a Lion-Otter. But here is something he does just like I do. He will try anything alone, with nobody watching. He wants to make his mistakes and learn from them without an audience. I feel the same way. Call it pride if you want, but I'd rather figure it out first before I make a fool out of myself.

The point is that nobody should be put into a box. That's why there are so many choices for tests. Use as many of them as your child will allow you to. Most kids and youth I have met are perfectly willing to allow you the time to find out about them. You can tell them, "It's all about you!" Paint a picture of your child, your unique creation. Maybe while you are doing this, you will learn more about yourself in the process. And maybe, just maybe, you will start to learn enough about how to communicate better with them the next time something starts to go wrong.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chris' Crazy Crockpot Corner

In the bottom right-hand corner of this blog, you will find a new feature. I call it the "Crazy Crockpot Corner". If you have a recipe for the crockpot that you would like to share, be sure to email it to me. But beware, this feature is not for the faint of heart. Because I use my crockpot to cook dinner almost exclusively, there will be recipes down there that you might be surprised find. Nobody, even the Irish, could eat Guinness Stew every night!

You may say to yourself, "Is she insane, you cannot make this in a crockpot?!?" Well, of course I am insane! That's been firmly established, but I don't see what that has to do with whether or not my recipes will work or not! So I will make this oath...I am not just copying recipes from other places on the internet. All of these recipes have been tried by my family. As best I can, I copied them exactly the way I last made them (inside joke to all my friends who know I hardly ever make the same thing, the same way twice).

Why would anybody use their crockpot to make dinner every night? Remember, I said almost every night. Fridays, I use my bread machine and my pizza oven. On weekends, I use my microwave (leftovers don't you know!). The main reason is that by the time we finish with school, it's time to run off to an activity in the afternoon such as piano lessons or swim lessons. Then as soon as we get home, it seems like we have 20 minutes to eat, before it's time to run off again -- to Scouts or Youth group, or....

I know that I am not alone in this. I hear the same complaint from many mothers, nor is this a problem that is exclusive to homeschoolers. In fact, it's probably more prevalent outside of homeschooling. It's also been proven that the families that eat dinner together have children who communicate their problems more effectively to their parents, which has been what we have been emphasizing. What to do?

I solved this problem with my crockpot! Now, when I get up in the morning I toss things into it and it's ready when we run in the door. We can spend our 20 minutes together eating, because it's ready when we get home. We can talk pleasantly (yes, surprisingly when you aren't as rushed it is a little more pleasant) together over dinner. To be fair, sometimes it takes a little more than tossing in ingredients. But I am blessed with sons who like to eat, so I am teaching them to cook. In the morning, it's part of the chores that we divide out getting ready for breakfast, cleaning up, and getting ready for dinner. It's marvelous to have more time in the afternoon to (gasp) workout occasionally and in the evening not be so rushed!

I hope you enjoy! Crockpots aren't just for stews and chilis anymore! Although once in a while, for all you traditionalists, I may throw in one of those recipes as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

I've noticed that over the years words change their meaning. Sometimes words with opposite meanings have even come to mean the same thing. Cool can mean awesome. Hot can mean awesome. But then again, awesome can mean...awesome. You get the picture. But I thought before we got into our next topic, I would talk about two words that often get used the same, but really do not mean the same thing.


something that is substituted or proposed for what is wrong or inaccurate; adjustment; discipline

an open conflict of opposing ideas, forces, etc.;

Hmmm...okay...the dictionary says that these words are not the same. But, just in case...let's try the thesaurus.


amendment, improvement, modification, repair, reparation

battle, contest, crisis, hostility, showdown, strife, warfare

I'm not making this up folks. Look it up for yourself if you want to. Since I will not be using these words the same, I thought it would only be fair to let you know, that they are not the same thing.

As I pointed out in my earlier post, our goal with communicating with our child, I assume, is correction. In other words, I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that when you do whatever it is you are doing right now to communicate with them it's because you would like them to change a behavior. I mean otherwise, you and I wouldn't really be having this conversation, right? I'd be off sipping a cup of tea, listening to birds chirp in the sunshine and the sound of children laughing as they cheerfully do all their chores and never, ever fight...what? Oh, I'm sorry did I drift off for a minute there? Where was I? Oh, that's right. Confrontation. Lovely.

Do yourself a favor. Learn from my mistakes. Confrontation is not an effective method of correction. Ok, that's it. I'm done. Oh, you wanted more information than that? Yeah, because it's really not as simple as it sounds is it? Later, I'll be talking about correction, where, when, why, how...

But there a place for confrontation? We will talk more about this tomorrow (hopefully)!

God bless!

No, really? Who IS this kid?

After all this posting about who your child is not, why don't we find out more about this person with whom you have blessed? There are many "tests" out there that will help you find out things that you need to know about your child. In many cases, if your child is now a pre-teen, or teenager, they have changed drastically from the child you once knew. So if you are saying to yourself, "Oh, I did that already," but it has been five years ago or's time to do it again.

Some tests that I have found extremely helpful in learning who my kids are...

Learning styles tests

These are important to communication and not just teaching. Why? The fact is they are the same thing. Most of the time when you are "communicating" with your child, you are really trying to teach them something or at least, that should be the goal!

Let's say that your child is a visual learner and you are constantly explaining things to him using lots and lots of words. Good luck with that. People who are visual learners generally do better if they see a diagram of something or if they watch someone demonstrate what they mean. On the plus side, these are usually the kids who can find things that are lost or will go right back to where they left something, that is...unless someone moved it. That's because they can "see" it in their minds. What if your child is a kinesthetic learner? You could explain until you are blue in the face, but until they start to do something themselves, they are never going to learn. Trust me. I have one.

Also, remember how someone sends a message is not necessarily how someone receives it. For example, both people in my house who are the biggest visual learners...yeah, we are the biggest talkers. So it would be better I guess if we were surrounded by auditory learners, right? But we sure aren't made that way ourselves!

I highly recommend the book, "Discover Your Child's Learning Style" by Mariaemma Wills and Victoria Hodson. Not only does it have a test to determin your child's learning style, but also explains the different styles, and how to work with children with them.

Personality Profiles

There are many different types of personality profiles.
Try to steer away from ones that make determinations based on silly things such as your favorite color. Also, definitely stay away from profiles that emphasize one personality as better than another. The point of the test is to help each child (and you) know their strengths and weaknesses. Incidentally, it would be good for you to know your own as well! If your personality is one that is in contrast with your child's, you need to understand that this is not something that is personal, nor is there a "right" or "wrong" way to be. There is a right and wrong way to act.

This is why we are spending time trying to find out how to communicate, so your child understands the difference between "butting heads" and "drawing boundaries". We all bring different gifts and talents to the party for a reason! Yet, we all have these faults we need to work on at the same time. Try to find out what your child and yours will before the ruckus starts. It will save you a bunch of grief.

I recommend the Gary Smalley "animal" personality test, even most people who cannot stand someone putting them into a box, can relate to being an animal. Of course, like everything else, it's a generalization. Most people who I know seemed to enjoy it. I'm sure after you see the test, you won't need me to tell you that I am a Lion-Otter (Lion for work, Otter the rest). I really loved my friend Jamie's reaction when he saw the test. He said, "They don't have a category for Weasel." Hopefully, your child won't need that category.

Another choice is the old stand-by -- the Myers Briggs Test. My husband is not a big fan of Carl Jung, however we knew that anyway because his personality profile told us that he wouldn't be.

Love Language

Finally, and not because it is least, but because I want it to stick in your mind, is the Love Language. What is your child's Love Language? There are five of them. We have a tendancy to speak to each other in our own love language instead of the one that the other person can hear. Over the years, we may begin to speak our spouse's love language because we learn their love language. But we need to understand that children do not even know that there is such a thing as a love language. Unfortunately, if we do not speak our child's love language, they totally miss the fact that we love them, especially during those trying teenage years. Meanwhile, we scratch our heads and say, "How can they not know that we love them?" But the reason is because we are not speaking to them in their language. There are five languages - words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

This is one my favorite series of this type of non-fiction (the other I will talk about in another post). "The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers" is a must read for any mother, whether you have a teenager or soon will!

That's great! I read all these books. I administered all these tests. Now what?

Now, let's say you have a Lion-Otter, who learns by doing things, and needs to be shown love by many words of affirmation, but shows love by lots of physical touch. Meanwhile you also have a Golden Retriever-Beaver, who learns by seeing everything, who needs lots of words of affirmation, but shows love by acts of service. Well, then you would be insane like me! So let's not go there. No, I'm kidding, sort of. That's what you have to figure out.

Slowly once you learn these things you start to learn what to say and what not to say, what to do and what not to do. Watch their body language. Do you see the wall go up, when you start to do or say something? Well, then try to do something to lower it again. Usually, your child will have a "tell" that says, "I'm no longer listening to you." Stop then. There really is no point.

Correction needs to be to correct. It does you absolutely no good if they stop being in a receive mode. It may make you feel better to "vent", but it's not constructive!

So, that's the first thing to start "experimenting" with...and that's the real reason why we took the time to do these tests. Find out how you can break through that wall and communicate with your child. Look for the signs that you are getting through and look for the "tell" of the wall.

God bless! Peace be with you and your household!

Spring is in the air!

Spring is here! I know some of you are still waiting, but here in Texas we have the colorful flowers, blooming trees, and warmer temperatures to prove that it is that time of year again. This brings Coach Mom out of hibernation! I know, scary thought, that I could dig deeper to find even more energy! Hopefully this means that I will actually be able to catch up and put into words the many posts that I have had rolling around in my head. Also, I am hoping to tell you all about our marvelous mission trip over Spring Break to Beaumont, Texas!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Who is this kid?

In my last blog I listed some people whom your child was not. I also listed some people whom you and your spouse were not. I will now list a very important component of this exercise.

Your child is not any of their siblings.

This is one of the hardest lessons to learn. DNA is a freak thing. How can children be so different from one another? I tell people all the time, "Siblings are not opposites of each other. It's more like a color wheel. Think of each one as a complementary color." If you think of your children as opposites, that can be dangerous too.

And yet, even though we know that they are not the same, we attempt to treat them the same. Even worse, we get upset with them because we are afraid they will make the same mistakes as their siblings. Or we compare them with their siblings and wonder why they cannot do things the same way. Sigh. What a mess!

So before you start any conversation with your child, remember this is a brand new person. They are unique. They are not like anybody else on this planet. They have different things that motivate them. They are going to have different things that interest them. This means that when you are trying to communicate with them you are going to want to know what their "triggers" are - the good ones and the bad ones. I reiterate, you are the adult. You may wish you were not the adult. But you are! Which means, it is your responsibility to conduct this conversation in a civil, constructive, and instructive manner.

How to start a conversation with your kids...

This seems like such a simple thing doesn't it? Talking to your kids? Honestly though, is it?

I am going to spend the next couple of blogs sharing tips on how you can break down the walls that form between you and your kids. But first, let's set some ground rules. Let's start with you and your expectations. The fact is are the adult. You need to be the bigger person. When you have a problem with your child, this should not sound like a squabble between siblings with a "he (or she) started it" mindset. If you find yourself sinking to that level, you need to stop and take a break before you continue any conversation with your child.

The main types of conversations you can have with your child are "chatting", "instruction", and "we have a problem". Chatting or instruction can easily turn into "we have a problem" so tread carefully!

Everything hinges on you and your attitude. Parenting is hard. Anybody who told you otherwise was lying. If you don't have teenagers, awesome! Now is the time to start working on these ideas so you are ready by the time you have them. If you do have teenagers, you need to understand, life is a process. It's daily. Keep working on it. So how do you do that?

Here are the ground rules...

1. Your child is not you. What?!? I know! It's a concept isn't it? I know people who will read this and think, "Oh, thank God!" I know other people who constantly expect their children to think like they do. They never seem to communicate clearly with their children because they are expecting their child to just "know" what they meant or do things like they would. It just doesn't work that way. God made each of us different, thankfully or the world would be quite boring!

2. Your child is not your spouse (or ex). Again, I know! Crazy concept! They may look like you. They may look like your spouse. They may even have character traits of one or both of you. But, your child is completely unique. Being angry with your child when they exhibit a trait that annoys you when it annoys you because your spouse or ex-spouse exhibits that trait isn't fair. You need to check yourself. It's almost better to find a way to get a sense of humor about it.

3. You are not your parents. Whoa! I see a pattern developing. You may think your parents did a great job raising you. You may think you had the worst parents on earth. Either way, you are not them. You are you. Somehow you are going to have to come to terms with raising the kids that God gave you with the personality God gave you. Weird, huh? You may find yourself saying things your parents said. Of course! They raised you and you learned from them how to be a parent. You are still not them. We will expand on this more in a future blog.

4. Your spouse is not your in-laws (or ex spouse is not your ex-inlaws). You may like your in-laws. You may think your in-laws are insane. You may like them sometimes in small amounts. Either way, your spouse is not them either. Wow! This is really something isn't it?

Why did I bother to lay all this out? I mean, you saw the punchline before I got there, right? Sometimes you know something in your mind, but you don't know it in your heart. Sometimes you know it, and then you blow your stack and you forget. Sometimes I talk to you when I am talking to myself. Sometimes I talk to myself when I am talking to you. Get it?

Anyway, the deal is often do we start going after our kids with an agenda that has absolutely nothing to do with them and everything to do with us? Your purpose on Earth is to instruct your child in the way they should go. Absolutely! Totally with you on that. But, as my friend Derek says, "Is this really a moral issue?" I mean, is it something that requires correction, or is it a personal problem with you? If you spend time frustrating your child over little things, you are going to build yourself a big wall. Then when it comes time for a BIG thing, you are not going to be able to talk over that wall. Don't worry, we'll delve more into this later too. But in the meantime, in my next blog we are going to take some time to get to know this great unique person that God blessed you with!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I know you've been wondering...

I know you've been wondering what the "hot topic" is that I hinted in my past blog. I'm sure most of my friends think that they know what it is already...but surprisingly it's not politics. Well, not entirely. Although I am passionate about politics, this blog is generally about our lives with our kids.

The "hot topic" that I am getting prepared for is talking to your kids (da da dum). A few Sundays ago, our pastor pointed out that people really don't like it when you give them advice about parenting. He is right. But since some of my friends asked me to share my experiences, it's not really unsolicited advice is it? Besides you don't have to read it, do you? ;)

Actually, it made me laugh that my friends started asking me about how to survive life with teenagers. But God has a strange sense of humor. I guess if I can learn something from my mistakes and you can learn something from my mistakes, then it all is somehow worth it. In any case, writing as I am making mistakes is a cheaper form of therapy than the one the world subscribes to. Unfortunately, Super and Tutone read this blog I have to be careful not to give away all my secrets. Otherwise, Tutone will find a way to use my tactics against me.

There are two big reasons that I am changing the direction of this blog. First, many of the things that I wanted to talk about were interfering with my ability to write anything else. It was overwhelming. Second, Coach Mom has hung up her cleaning whistle. Ok, I haven't hung it up entirely. But as I pointed out in my blog on goals, I evaluate how things are working seasonally. I needed a break from being the "bad guy" all day long. I could no longer be the educator all day and then the choremaster all afternoon. It was getting to me. I needed some time with the kids where I felt like I wasn't "on them". Unfortunately, I didn't pass the whistle on to anybody else. I just stopped checking up on them. This resulted in a situation which will now require us to replace Tutone's bathroom floor. Sigh. Remember, to quote Tim Lambert, of the Texas Home School Coalition Association, "You get what you inspect, not what you expect."

So Dad will be the new inspector, so that Coach Mom can take a break. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that opportunity. But if you do, I suggest that once in a while, you switch roles that way. Shaking up the kids that way is never a bad thing. It keeps them on their toes. The boys were hopping to keep those bathrooms clean this week. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Back to Resolutions...

So what, if anything, does being a Renaissance Woman have to do with creating resolutions?

Remember, a couple of weeks ago, when we discussed that creating a resolution was nothing more than a fancy term for setting a goal? No? Then, you might want to make one of your resolutions to start taking ginkgo biloba. Every year, actually seasonally, when I go through the process of goal setting, I choose goals based on the triangle principle - healthy soul, healthy mind, healthy body.

First, look at the three sides of the triangle and think of each part. What are some general things you would like to improve in each category? This is also a great exercise to work on with your kids. Let me tell you what the kids came up with when I worked with them on this exercise.




After you have come up with general categories for each side of your triangle, then start thinking about specific actions you could set for each of the goals you chose. For example, the child who chose "fellowship" under Soul, said that he felt like he needed to participate more in Youth Group activities. The child who chose "service", indicated that he wanted to participate more in homeless missions work. Both children chose "chores" under Body, because they felt like either their room (Tutone) or their bathroom (Super) could be full of germs that could affect their health. ( makes a Coach Mom proud.)

Finally, after you have assigned at least one, but no more than three, specific actions in which you could improve yourself under these goal categories for each triangle side, choose one from each side of the triangle to do this month. What?!? Are you as bad at Math as I am? So if you have 5 general goals under the Body side of your triangle and you assigned 3 actions to each, you would have 15 actions from which to choose. Either way, you should only have 3 actions that you are attempting this month, and they should not be from the same side of the triangle! Remember these are new things, not things you are already doing! No cheating!

Let's play pretend for a minute...

Abigail would like to start going to prayer meetings on Wednesday nights (Soul - prayer); she would like to participate in a Bible study (Soul - scripture knowledge); and she wants to start volunteering at the pregnancy center (Soul - service). She wants to read a book on the Revolutionary War (Mind - historical knowledge); she wants to compile her family history on the computer (Mind - historical knowledge); and she would like to volunteer at the local historical society(Mind - historical knowledge). She needs to get into a regular workout routine (Body - exercise); she needs to drink less coffee and drink more water (Body - food/water); and she needs to start counting her Weight Watcher points again (Body - food/water).

Oh wait! Shoot! I am Abigail. You know what's funny? I didn't even realize that this was my list until half way through making it up. :) Sharpest knife in the drawer that Coach Mom is! Anyway, I digress as usual, but you know that already. So, what would happen if Abigail made all these changes at once? That's right! We would have to call the ambulance or Bellevue (blatant Barney Miller reference for those under age 35 or who didn't grow up in NYC). So we only choose one from each side of the triangle at a time. We do this for one month straight.

You know, they say it takes 21 days to make a habit. I don't know about you, but I am more stubborn than most people. So let's make it a month. Then come back to your list, and add something else. If you keep going for three months, and then reevaluate next season, you will keep up this improvement process. You may not become a Renaissance woman. You may find yourself more of a generalist, someone who knows a little about many different things. But I still say you will find that it is well worth it! If nothing else, it will make you the talk of the town! You could tell them...Coach Mom said!

You can be a Renaissance Woman!

What exactly does it mean to be a Renaissance Woman?

Please bear with me while I go off into a very long drawn out boring sports story in which only I am interested. It is my blog after all. Mike Leach is the current head coach (yes, football!) of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. (Congratulations Coach on your new contract extension!) He has a J.D. from Pepperdine University School of Law. Emory Bellard, creator of the Wishbone formation, described Coach Leach as performing the best offensive coordination effort in the country. After his big win against University of Texas in November, while the whole country (ok, college football fans) were talking about Michael Crabtree's last second catch what was he doing? He was quoting an exchange between Winston Churchill and Nancy Astor, the first woman to sit in the English House of Commons, from a book he was reading, "The Wicket Wit of Winston Churchill".

Coach Leach has been described as either a Renaissance Man or a flake, maybe both. But what exactly does this term mean? Well, we get a clue from the context of this story. Unless, of course, you tuned my story out, that's been known to happen from time to time. (Don't think I don't notice!) A renaissance man is defined as someone who is skilled in multiple disciplines. This is based on the artists and scholars of the Renaissance Era in history. There is also another term that people like to apply to this level of skill and knowledge called a polymath, which comes from the Greeks.

Why is a becoming a Renaissance Man (at this point we will start changing the title to Renaissance Woman) so important? The greatest of all Renaissance Men was Leonardo da Vinci, and he gave us a great guide for this behavior. See if it sounds familiar to you. Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant man who excelled in all areas of his life. He realized that it was important to build up every part of you. This means not just your mind, but your body, and your soul. In a way, it's like a triangle. If one part of your triangle collapses, so too then do the other two sides.

Ask yourself, how many times you have neglected sleep only to have it affect your ability to think? How many times has a headache affected your mood? The answers to these questions are so obvious that the questions seem almost rhetorical, however I ask them for a reason. Da Vinci said "I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."

We know these things, but we do not do them. It is so frustrating. Fortunately, God loves us. He gives us grace. The ability to get up and try again tomorrow, and not just tomorrow, but later today. Don't wait until tomorrow!

Also, you are not alone! Paul wrote, in his letter to the Romans, "So the trouble is not with the law...the trouble is with me...I don't really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don't do it. Instead, I do what I hate...Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord." Don't let someone tell you that you cannot do it! You can do it! You just have to figure out what "it" is...don't worry we will talk about that some later today or tomorrow. (You knew we would, right?)

There are many philosophies in existence that discuss the balance of the human being with these parts - mind, body, and soul. All I know is that when I filled the hole in middle of my triangle with God, everything else began to make sense. Somebody greater than Leonardo da Vinci once said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30)

Long overdue...

I have been taking a break from blogging. Not because I wanted to or needed to, mostly because I have been reflecting on the topics of this blog. After consulting with the people who coach Coach Mom, I have decided to take their advice. Please be advised that some of the topics of this blog may be different than those you have read in the past. I hope that you will still enjoy them. It may be after I get some of these topics written, I will find myself right back to the same old thing...or maybe not. It could be I will find myself blocked by some of my friends on Facebook, but I would hope not. Either way, not blogging about these topics is interfering with my ability to blog about anything else! Now that I have built up the drama...on with the show!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Haven't you learned anything yet?

Ask me...before I ask you...

Hey Central! I'm coming for you! VBS 2009 will be here before you know it!

We have lots of spots available mate! You know you had fun last year!

Actually, apparently I'm too nice. ;) Shelly's in charge of recruiting. So hurry up and call her quick!

Hmmm...what should you do. There are lots of spots to choose from...

You could be the Outback Guide for the Bible Study, or help in Crafts Crossing; and I know we have many talented people that can help in the Opera House! How about some guys to help on Recreation Rock or in the G'day Cafe? We always need help in Missions Harbor! And we will need a ton of Shepherds to lead these Kidaroos around the Outback!

Have an age preference? Hey, we've got kids of all ages! I'm sure we can find a group that you would like.

You know, every VBS I think of this lady I used to work with named Mabel. She used to take a week off from work every year to work VBS. I didn't know what VBS was. She said, "Baby, when God's ready for you, you'll know what it is." Well, isn't that the truth.

But you know what? If Mabel was willing to spend one of her two weeks of vacation a year on serving God...well, do I really need to say it? Tom has arranged for us to have VBS in the evening so that we will not need to do that. And if you put it on your work or home calendar now, I'm sure you can let your "boss" whoever that is know that you will be leaving a little earlier that week so that you can make it to church to serve by 5:45 pm.

After all...if you look at the bottom of this webpage you will see that you have given 132 days, 4 hours, 58 minutes and 30 no 29 no 28 no 27 no well you get the picture...that's a lot of notice!

Now, get in the game!

Time to Revisit Resolutions

For the next couple of weeks, I am going to be revisiting New Year's Resolutions? What! Why? Well, you probably fit into one of the following three categories: you made a resolution and you already broke it; you didn't make a resolution for one of various excuses, I mean reasons; or you need to be teaching this lesson on resolutions.

What are resolutions anyway and why are they really important? Hey, you there in the back! Sit up and pay attention! Resolutions are really just another packaging of goal setting. Goal setting is important. And sorry, not just for Type A personalities like me. It's been proven that people who set goals get things accomplished. Why do you think corporations spend so much money on those time management conferences, because they like feeding you sandwiches and cookies with your diet Coke?

Think of the things in your life that you wanted to do when you grew up. Did you ever do them? Wait, see. You really did set a goal at some point. So obviously, there is something to this whole thing. But maybe there's a little more to it than just a wish that something would happen, right?

So are you ready to get in the game? I have my whistle. I have my play book. What do you need? Start thinking about what position you want to play! Couch potato? Or potato masher?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's Flu Season! Time for a Search and Destroy Mission!

Have you ever watched Monk? Well, when my family watches the opening credits in every scene no matter what he is doing, somebody says, "There is nothing wrong with that." If he is sorting the kitchen cabinets, Super says, "There is nothing wrong with that." When he is vacuuming the top of his curtains, Phil says, "Well, yeah, you've got to do that." For me, I relate to the part when Monk pours boiling water over his toothbrush. Hey, come on! It kills germs. But fortunately, my BFF Lauren bought me a special toothbrush cleaner for Christmas. It works much better than boiling water!

During flu season, cleaning your house becomes even more important than usual. When I get sick, or feel it coming on, I start looking for germ hide outs. Want to do a fun science experiment? Swab your house for germs and look at them under the microscope, that will really make your kids start cleaning. But unfortunately, it will probably give you mysophobia.

So what can you do to fight against germs? Get a good defensive game plan. Sack germs before they can pass themselves on to your kids! Here are the offensive plays for germs and the defensive plays that you can use against them!

  • Kitchen sponges - Do NOT even get me started. But I am not the one who said this, honey. It's been proven by scientists. A kitchen sponge can carry up to 134,ooo bacteria per square inch! Why does this happen? People use sponges for more than one purpose. Using the same sponge to wash dishes and wipe counters? Not a good idea! Cross-contamination is common. You might not even realize that you wiped up raw meat with it. Nasty! Another problem? Keeping a sponge too long. Moist environments like sponges breed germs. Get in the Game: Change sponges every week. If it is not time to change sponges but you think it has been contaminated, then run it through the dishwasher.
  • Kitchen sink - Many people believe just rinsing the sink out at the end of the evening is sufficient. But sorry guys! Germs are living in your kitchen drain. It's a place that you pour the juice from raw meat, dirty water, and all kinds of other things that I don't want to think about! BOYS! Get in the Game: The FDA suggests a recipe of 1 tsp bleach to 1 quart of water allowed to sit in the sink for 10 minutes.
  • Faucet handles -Surprisingly, kitchen faucet handles have more germs per square inch (13,000) than bathroom (6,000). Either way, it's germ heaven. Get in the game: spray a disinfectant on your faucet handles. On the bathroom faucets, twice a week. On the kitchen faucet, every day.
  • Door handles -Your hands and your children's hands touch these constantly. They touch things like the dog and then they touch the door handle. It's been proven that most illnesses are passed by hand to hand contact. Your door handles are a place where this is happening indirectly. Get in the game: When my kids were preschoolers and not as good about washing their hands, and not as good about not putting their hands where they didn't belong, I used to cover my doorknobs with fabric squares and tie it around with a pretty ribbon. Then at the end of the week, I could take them all off and throw them in the washer. The best part was I could play this off like it was a seasonal decoration. I had different fabric for Christmas, Valentine's, St. Patrick' get the idea. The other less fun thing, but easier thing, you can do, is spray your door knobs with a disinfectant at least twice a week.
  • Toilet bowl - Ummm....duh? But here's the facts. 3.2 million (can you hear Mike Myers saying "million" here?) germs per square inch. Get in the game: Here is the thing that people forget about...clean the outside of the bowl as well as the inside. It takes longer but it's not just about the inside. Clean the lid! Clean the handle. That's what your hands are touching! Clean the floor around the toilet. Nasty! Enough said? And if you have boys, make them clean this. It will make them aim better!
  • Bathtub - Again, it's all about the drain. The drain of the bathtub has 120,000 germs per square inch. So it's not just about getting rid of the bathtub ring. Get in the game: Like the kitchen drain use the bleach recipe and let it stand for 10 minutes. Do this after you have cleaned the tub normally?
When Phil and I got married, we used to argue about (oh, I mean discuss) which room needed to be cleaner -- the kitchen or the bathroom. I said the bathroom, because you are naked in there and I have a thing about toothbrushes! He said the kitchen, because you prepare food there. Well, I know most people think I am more stubborn than he is and that may be true, but he is smarter. (Shh! Don't tell him I said that. He has a big enough head!) When you are right you are right, as my mother would say. The kitchen is a germ magnet, and you have to keep it clean! Besides, now I have kids and if you use them right, they can keep both places clean. ;)

I hope this blog article was helpful to you! Good luck!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Even with all of the rave reviews that the Fireproof movie has gotten, I still haven't seen it. It is coming out on DVD, and I will see it then. But I have to admit, even though it has a great message about marriage, I am generally not much of a drama movie watcher unless it is a mystery.

Now comedies, I love those. I must admit that I got hooked on watching some videos on youtube this week by comedian Tim Hawkins. I think he has great marriage advice too!

For instance this video on things you don't say to your wife...

Or this video on how spouses should respect one another.

We got a little distracted from cleaning this week by these great videos my friend Patty put on her page. You can see why! On Tutone's blog and Super's blog, they have picked their favorites.

Friday, January 9, 2009

...It's Deep Cleaning Time, Again!

If you haven't read my blog article with the Super Clean lists, you might want to start there. If you have, you may be wondering the same thing another friend asked me this week. "Coach, what do you mean by Deep Clean? If you've been using the Super Clean lists all this time, what's left to clean?"

Hmmm...exactly! That's the problem! Everybody has stopped following the charts closely. They sort of, took a holiday. Plus, all the Christmas decorations leave behind quite a mess. Ask my friend Amy about glitter. On top of ribbon that leaves behind glitter residue, there are all those tree and garland needles, even artificial trees leave them, although not as many.

So this week, I didn't just super clean, I deep cleaned or as I told my sister Robin, I "Mama Carol" cleaned. My Mom taught me the power of three. I'm not sure that's what she called it, but since I love the number three, somehow it always stuck in my head that way. When you deep clean, you need to remember it is a three step process.

1. Remove the loose dirt.
2. Remove the grime or spots.
3. Make it shine.

How do you play this out on the "cleaning field"? It's going to depend on what you are cleaning. Let's start with the rooms I've gotten finished this week - my main living areas and bedrooms. Then in a later blog, I will come back to the bathrooms and the kitchen.

Wood furniture - 1. dust rag; 2. wood soap; 3. wood polish. Just wood soap won't do it. And if you don't dust it first, then you are just wiping the crud around for it to dry on and stick to it.

Glass table tops, glass doors or windows - 1. dust rag; 2. glass cleaner; 3. go back over the area with a dry paper towel. Be sure to look for streaks and in the corners. Windows will need the insides vacuumed out as well, and either the wood or plastic cleaned.

Wrought iron or stainless steel - 1. dust rag; 2. surface cleaner; 3. stainless steel polish. The polish makes all the difference in the world. But you have to use the surface cleaner first. If you use just the polish, you will still have the grime spots. If you only use the surface cleaner, you will be left with streaks.

Laminate floors - 1. broom and dust pan; 2. Swiffer sweeper; 3. Swiffer Wood floor mop. Obviously, you can use your own favorite product but these are mine. But the point is that you first need the broom to get up the big pieces, the sweeper for the silt and in this case glitter, and then the mop for the shine.

Carpet and oriental rugs - 1. vacuum; 2. spot treat; 3. steam clean.

Couches and chairs - 1. vacuum; 2. spot treat; 3. steam clean.

There are plenty of other things you have that are a mixture of these materials, but I am sure you are getting the idea, right? So remember, if you are going to spend your valuable time cleaning, make sure that when you are finished it looks like you cleaned!

Stay tuned for more!

Monday, January 5, 2009

That was fun! Now, who is going to clean this mess up?

No, I'm serious. Who is going to clean this mess up? Sigh.

Happy New Year!

We had a great vacation. I hope your family had a fun Christmas holiday too! We played board games; we played Wii; and we even went to the beach. But now it's time to get back to work.

If your family is anything like my family, which it's probably not, I mean what are the odds that there could be another family quite that cool, then you haven't taken down your Christmas tree yet. Of course, you are waiting until tomorrow or Wednesday for the Epiphany! That means I've caught you just in time to talk about how to organize your ornaments for next year! (Since in the U.S., Epiphany was officially celebrated yesterday, I felt it was acceptable to start putting everything away today except my manger scene. I will wait to put away on Wednesday. Yes, we might be a little traditional.)

It was actually my kids that let me know that we needed to take the extra time to put the ornaments and other Christmas supplies away properly. They didn't want to rush the job because they knew that they would just be paying the price next year. It's a good point. It does make it harder to find things. With a little extra care your ornaments can last for many years.

This year I decided that wherever possibly I was eliminating cardboard boxes. I got some plastic bins and in one case, Phil spent the extra money and bought me an ornament organizer. I would like to add another one next year too. For this year, I put the kids ornaments in the one he bought for me.

When I packed away my ornaments, I wrapped them in in tissue paper and then tucked them inside a plastic sandwich bag. And before you start with me that all this plastic doesn't sound very green to you...if any of you environmentalists would like to come and save the mice that have been known to come and live in my attic from my broom, feel free! Otherwise, I'll be saving my ornaments from their teeth, thank you very much!

I have the bins separated by type. There are bins for ornaments, bins for my village, a bin for garlands, a bin for lights, and on and on. This way when I send the boys up into the attic they will be able to find exactly what I am looking for with ease.

And the best part was they thought of it all themselves, even though it meant that they spend all extra time!