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The Crazy Orchid Plant and Parenting Insight

Sometimes there are things right under our noses that can speak to our hearts. Take this crazy orchid plant as an example. It sits on my bathroom counter and each morning is something I see as I get ready for the day. 

I have N.E.V.E.R. been able to keep an orchid alive. Ever. It has been a bit of a frustration to me, because despite following all of the “rules” they end up deader than dead. 

My last birthday, as in 2016, I received not one, but TWO orchids for my birthday. It was a wee bit of irony and hilarious all rolled into one. The joke was I would kill them for certain.

The blossoms that were on the plant when I received them fell off. Part of me wanted to pitch the plants and be done with it. This time though, I ignored all the rules and cared for them my own way. I added in new stakes for each of the stems to help protect and strengthen them.

After months and months of nothing (literally 11 months), a few little buds began to push their way through on one of the plants. New growth was coming. 

I haven’t always done everything perfectly as a parent. Let’s put that in the 90% range of imperfection. I make mistakes. A lot. 

But it’s the daily tending that produces results. There’s not a one time fix. As much as I sometimes wish there were, it takes a whole heap of patience and grace on my part. And more patience.  

Sometimes an approach needs to change and different support needs to be given. Each of our kids is different and needs different help and care – different stages require various approaches as well

It may not be on my timetable either, but changes are happening, things are being absorbed, and little by little we see the fruits of our time.

There is probably definitely a lot more I can unpack from this crazy plant, but every morning this one orchid is a reminder to me of patience and perseverance in the parenting journey. 

And that’s something I definitely need a daily reminder for. 

Do You Struggle with Anger?

Does the above resonate with you? (It does me. A lot.)

In the past I’ve mentioned that anger is one of the things I struggle with most in parenting. Somehow, the kiddos in this house can push every single one of my buttons in the first fifteen minutes of the day. 

For real. 

From the many emails I received from you all after I wrote that initial post, I know I’m not alone in this struggle. And friends, the struggle is daily. It isn’t something that I read a book on and it was gone overnight. It’s a daily walk and one that I need t0 constantly pray about. Constantly.

Parenting is a journey that forces us not to be selfish and roots out all those areas that selfishness rests. And no matter how often we think there MUST have been a mistake in God giving us the children in our home (especially the ones that push our buttons), God knows exactly what we need and each and every one of our children are gifts from Him. Added to that, my anger – my temper, well it’s not something that I can just overlook. There is something that can be done, because anger is something that can be worked on and tempered – it isn’t a lifelong sentence unless I allow it to have a grip on me. 

But sometimes it seems like that, doesn’t it. The hardest part is often admitting that the change needs to come from me. No matter what circumstances are going on around me, I still have a choice in how I react to all that surrounds and happens around. I can CHOOSE to respond different. To not blow up. To count to 10. Or 100. Or just step away from the situation.

The Temper Toolkit

Over the last few months I’ve been watching (and rewatching) videos from the Temper Toolkit course by Lisa Jo Baker. You all – it is so very full of encouragement, helps, and reminders on who God has created each of us to be. Here are just a few: 

  • You are not a bad mom just because you have a bad day. 
  • My kids were each given to me on purpose (no mistakes!).
  • Taking a break is important – and needed – in my role as a mom. 
  • It’s okay to ask for help – and admit I am wrong. 

The course features 7 videos (under 15 minutes each), transcripts of each video session, audio downloads of each session, phone lock screens and printables, and 5 additional bonus sessions to further encourage and help you in your journey. 

I purchased the Temper Toolkit a few months ago because I just needed the little reminders (and Lisa Jo also made some beautiful screen savers and printable reminders to go along with each of the lessons). I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual person, so seeing prompts and verses really helps me out. And often I need to hear and see those reminders again and again. 

The Temper Toolkit course is currently waitlisted/closed – and as soon as it becomes available again, I will let you all know. If you have been a reader of Homeschool Creations for any amount of time, hopefully you know well by now that my heart is to help encourage and provide tools for other moms in their homeschool and parenting journey (and yes, you dads too!). 

Discouragement can run rampant and it’s easy to feel like a failure. Quickly. Whether it be in the area of housework, budgeting, organization, or just taking care of ourselves. Homeschooling is one of the many hats we wear!

And mommas – if there is something I can pray for you with today – or tomorrow – or the next day, would you please leave a comment or feel free to email me? I would be honored to pray with you. Sometimes admitting we struggle is the hardest and first step – and I’m hear to support you if I can. 

Struggling with Anger and Frustration

One thing that I do not often talk about here on the site is my level of frustration that builds up often with our kids. I am far from being a patient mom, and it is very much a struggle for me to reign in my emotions at times. Add to that mix a similar-tempered husband and two kiddos that seem to be able to push every button known to man, and there are days that I want to hide under the covers or in the bathroom and count to 10. Or 1,000. 

A reason I don’t share about this – I am FAR from an eloquent writer and often have trouble adequately putting into words how I feel. And I don’t want my words to be misinterpreted or misunderstood, especially when it’s about a subject that I know so many also have issues with – and I am not an expert. I’m right in the trenches with you all. 

Raising kids is not near as easy as it seemed it would be. You know, long before we had children and we had this idyllic world going on in our heads. Back when we observed other parents and thought, “We will NEVER do that with our children.” 

Silly us.  

But back to that frustration and anger, eh? 

When you add to the mix a family of loud and boisterous children, including a mother who isn’t exactly a quiet herself – well, many situations can be culled into the ‘perfect storm’ for disaster, especially when I’m tired and not on guard to control myself and my reactions to situations. It’s hard to know when to step in, when to leave something alone and keep my mouth shut, when to back down, etc…etc… 

Believe me, I’m the first to beat myself up for my attitude and lack of self-control or over-reaction. I get frustrated with myself, feel I am forever a failure as a parent, and then worry how our children will turn out in the future. 

You all – to just interject here – we do have great kids. No, they aren’t perfect. We struggle with similar issues other families do including pushing limits, bad attitudes, and whining, but they really are great kids. 

FullSizeRender 2

A book I’ve been reading lately (and HIGHLY recommend) is Triggers by Amber Lia and Wendy Speake. I’m a girl that needs short chapters to mull and meditate, but there are so many nuggets in the book that get right to the heart of the matter for me – and are ENCOURAGING. 

I don’t know about you, but with my propensity to feel like an absolute failure in the parenting department, encouragement for my heart and direction for the next step is always welcome. Triggers has 31 chapters – umm, perfect to read a chapter a day, no? And lots of great stuff to underline, dog-ear, and refer to on tough days. Or every day.

Here are a few snippets that caught my attention recently. And by ‘caught my attention,’ that means taking a picture of it to send to my hubby, underlining it, dog-earing the page, and copying it down into my journal to review constantly. 

Parents of strong-willed children must choose words that build up their God-design, not tear it down with blame and shame. God didn’t make a mistake when he made them tenacious. You honor God when you honor your child’s hardwiring, even if their personality rubs you wrong. (p. 43)

Ouch. Something I struggle most with is the personality of a child in our home – one that is suspiciously similar to mine (shocking, eh?). There are days I honestly cry an ugly cry about this issue. It’s not that I do not love this child, but it is a sincere struggle for me.

Reading that snippet brought renewed tears to my eyes, but in a different way. I KNOW that God created each of our children uniquely to be who they are, and sometimes it is (and will be hard), but it was the honor part that really struck me. How often do I make that internal decision to mentally stop and remember to honor, rather than run through a mental list of everything that irritates about the personality, focusing on the negatives. Yes, there is conviction in there for me, but also encouragement in how to refocus myself toward honoring both that child and God. 

It’s not my job to strangle them into submission. I am responsible to navigate my own free choices, not control theirs. I can only hold captive my own tongue, leading by example, training them to do likewise. (p. 30)

Oh – I could run with this one. So very, very far. The power struggle can be so very difficult. The home I was raised in left little room for arguing, and while submission to authority is important to understand, there was also very little room for grace. This area is another that I have such a hard time with – finding that balance and understanding the need to lead by example, when so often the need to ‘prove’ who is in charge doesn’t feel like it should be done with humility (especially when the precedent set for me left no room for argument). 

So often my ‘leading by example’ hasn’t been prefaced by humility or holding captive words. Again – convicting. 

Here’s the thing. I know I’m not alone. And admitting we struggle in this area is tough. I know for me, the ‘perfect homeschool mom’ model is one who never raises her voice and is always the example of humility to her family. THAT IS SO FAR FROM WHERE I AM. It’s a daily struggle. Some days and weeks are better than others, but it is a real struggle and an area I am quick to judge myself and feel that I don’t measure up. 

Are you struggling with this area as well? For our family I want to change the dynamic (with the help of Jesus) – and would love to pray for your family as well. If you aren’t comfortable leaving a comment on this post, please feel free to email me directly. 

Hang in there and know you are not alone. Grace to you today and a hug from me to you. 

 

 

Being Intentional with My Girls

intentional ways to connect with daughters-1

Our girls are growing up. Realizing that in a few short years our oldest will be out of the house is nothing if not a wee bit scary. While I realize our relationship extends far beyond the time our children are in our house, one thing I want to ensure is that we are talking and being intentional with the moments we have right now.

Sometimes (read, often) I am a huge failure in this area. Yes, we homeschool and are home a LOT with our kids, but being in the same room doesn’t mean that we are connected. Quite frequently it can be completely opposite that. In the midst of being a parent, there are times that can be hard. Moments that instead of building up my girls, words are said that hurt and are immediately regretted. Hormones are running rampant, and trust me, that’s not an excuse, because it comes from both sides – child and adult.

I’m not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination. At all.

My heart is to connect with these two growing young women in our care. To laugh. Cry. Hold them in the midst of their hurts. Know who they are at the very core of their being. That means being intentional in the moments our days together in every little way that I can.

Recently I read Enough: 10 Things We Should Tell Teenage Girls by Kate Conner which led me to pick up the companion book, 10 Things for Teen Girls, for both of my girls to read. It covers the main issues that girls today face and has been a great jumping off point. So far one of our girls has read it and then immediately put it in the hand of her sister.

In turn I’ve pulled out something else to use with our girls. Face to face conversations are necessary, but sometimes hearts can be spilled in the pages of a journal. Since I’m not the greatest (just being honest) at coming up with deep thought questions, this journal will be making the rounds in our house, a separate one for each girl and me to share together. Yes, it’s a little silly at times, but we need those times too.

Date nights/mornings between the kids and the parents are coming back into play too – it’s been far too long since we were intentional about it, and it made such a difference when we did. Sharing an ice cream or a basket of fries is something simple, but a great way to be together in the little things.

Every little thing is a part of the process toward growing together, which I desperately want. It may not always be easy, but it is ever so important.

Do you have special things you do to connect with your kids more intentionally? Please share in the comments below – I’m sure we all could use some ideas for our families as well.

When It’s Time to Have the S-E-X Talk

the SEX talk with Passport to Purity

Yes, I did just type THOSE letters. Take a deep breath and keep reading. I promise, it’s all good!

It wasn’t long ago that I was almost sick to my stomach anticipating a weekend away with my oldest and THE BIG CONVERSATION (yep, the sex talk) that we were going to have. We both returned from that weekend having grown closer, questions answered, and an open door for future questions and talks. In short, I was so relieved.

That said, my anticipation of taking McKenna (our now 12 year old) out for the night with just me to have the same talk – well, it was MUCH different. I was actually excited because I had one talk under my belt and a love for a program that made the entire adventure fun.

Before I go much further, I will say that McKenna is an entirely different girl than her older sister. Where one is more reserved and self-reflecting, the other is energetic and burns with the passion of a thousand suns (emotionally and otherwise). Dresses vs. sports jerseys. Quite frequently – polar opposites.

McKenna though was very excited to have a night away with me in a hotel, so we started planning a few things to do just as girl time for the two of us, but very different from the weekend I spent with her sister. Truthfully, this was the most stretching time for me just figuring out what in the world we could do that wasn’t girly (no nails painted), but would be fun and memorable.

And we had the BEST time together. Really, this weekend opened up some great communication that has been trickling (and pouring) in over the past several months, something that the two of us have struggled with.

Several years ago we ordered Passport2Purity put together by Dennis and Barbara Rainey from Family Life Ministries. {It’s here that I will insert a note to say that if you are stressed about talking with your kids and not sure how to approach it with your kids, order it NOW to use together}.

Passport2Purity

The Passport2Purity Weekend Retreat Kit is hands-down a fabulous resource for parents to use and covers SO much more than just the basics. During the weekend we talked about friendships, peer pressure, sex, setting boundaries, keeping pure, and dating. While several of the topics having fully come into play yet, our time together gave us the opportunity to talk about things before they were issues and lay some guidelines in place.

Having the sex talk passort to purity

The entire weekend was laid out for us through the parent’s manual that comes in the kit and we listened to audio teachings from the Rainey’s, pausing the cds occasionally to answer questions together and have more heart-to-heart conversations. (Oh you all, this was the BEST PART EVER). .

Passport to Purity journal

McKenna had a blast using her journal {included in the kit} for her to take notes in as well. Prior to the weekend, Rick and I each took time to write her a letter that she read before our weekend away. But she wrote, doodled, wrote some more and has the journal to keep as a reminder of the weekend. It was so wonderful to see her thoughts in place too – people in her life that she considers influential (and yes, she had her sister in there too).

journaling passport to purity

Because she isn’t a girly girl (she is very much against anything that typically involved nail polish), we decided to head to a local pottery place, chose a mug, and worked together on something for her to remember the weekend by. Can you guess what she is making?

minion mug

The end product turned out so cute!!  She loves getting coffee on Sunday mornings, so for her, this was a HUGE treat! Besides that, the mug makes us smile every time we see it or she uses it. LOVE it.

We wrapped up our trip to a local antique mall where she chose a tea cup to use in our sit-downs in the upcoming years. The tea cup is something she can pull out if she ever wants to talk to me about anything, we’ll brew a pot of something, and together we will sit down together to talk. The tea cup also was to represent how delicate her purity is and how gently we need to care for it. She was thrilled to have a special cup for her {it took us nearly an hour to find the perfect one!}.

Over the last several months since our night away, the communication has definitely improved between us and opened up some good (and hard) conversations about things that are happening around us. I am SO thankful because it has given both of us a jumping off point into an otherwise uncomfortable topic.

 

Did you take a special weekend or time to talk with your child about sex and dating? Was there something memorable that you did together to remember the time together?

Note: This post was in no way solicited by Family Life – it’s just simply one mom and dad’s thankfulness for a fabulous resource for families to use! I love that we just need to order an additional journal for each child to use it again.

Registration is Open – Free Parenting Webinar on January 22nd

Get Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling – Free, Live Webinar!

Parenting Webinar with Homeschool Creations

Tired of the yelling?  Tired of the whining?  Tired of being tired? You’re not alone. 

From toddler temper-tantrums to teenage talking back, getting kids to cooperate can be both frustrating and exhausting. What is the key to cooperation? If you’re tired of nagging, reminding and yelling to get kids to listen – you won’t want to miss this parenting session!

Homeschool Creations is excited to partner with Amy McCready, founder of Positive Parenting Solutions & TODAY Show contributor to offer a FREE LIVE training webinar on Tuesday, January 27th at 9pm EST.   Discover proven tools for your most frustrating discipline dilemmas including the 5 R’s of Fair & Effective Consequences. This hour-long investment will lead to a lifetime of peace in your home!

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ABOUT AMY McCREADY

Parenting expert and “recovering yeller” Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the author of If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. Amy is a regular parenting contributor on The TODAY Show and has also appeared on Rachael Ray, CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Steve Harvey and elsewhere. In her most important role, she plays mom to two teenage boys.