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!