Practical Idea

5 Simple Ways to Love your Kids

A little bit of thoughtfulness can go a long way.   I have made it part of my personal mission statement to act on those divinely-inspired impulses as they come to mind  – right in that moment – if I am able.  Otherwise, the moment passes, and the opportunity is lost to forgetfulness.

But…I tend to be better at practically sharing the love with friends and neighbours than I am with my own crew.  This school year I’m determined to be more responsive to the day-to-day opportunities that arise but I also think it is important to add some intentionality to my plan.

As far as my kids go, I recognize that I can have all the best intentions in the world but unless I make a commitment to actually put those ideas into action, they just bounce around in my brain and leave me feeling like a neglectful parent.  Don’t ya just love false guilt?

I have also learned (from experience) that parenting goals need to be simple and realistic.  It is easy to get overwhelmed trying to live up to the impossible expectations that I have set for myself.  So, in an attempt to be deliberate AND reasonable I am narrowing my focus.

I am working on a parenting manifesto but since it is in process, I decided to at least get rolling with a few accessible goals.  (For a beautiful and inspiring example of a parenting manifesto – and a multitude of other glorious things – click here.)

As we embark on another busy school year, I’ve designed a little experiment to connect intentionally with my kids and I’m using the 5 Love Languages as a guideline.

With four kids, we have determined that all the Love Languages are identified in several combinations so I’m trying to cover all the bases in equal measure. We have other routine things in place (like shared journals, gratitude books, and a prayer wall, and highs/lows at dinner) but I need a few new ideas to keep me motivated and connected to my crew.

So, here’s the plan to fill up those love tanks:

1. Words of Affirmation:  Little Love Notes

I’m going to make a special point of writing down the wonderful things that I am noticing in my kids.  Handwritten notes of encouragement are a great way to celebrate growth in character or to communicate support or caring.


A classic spot for these little love notes is in their lunches.  I have found that Super Sticky Post-Its are fantastic but I am also a big fan of the new Rice Krispies prepackaged treats that have a label built into the wrapper. Keeping some blank pages of printable address labels handy might work as a quick way to stick a quick message onto a granola bar.

We also have an “inbox” (a hanging wall file) for each person in our family.  These are organizationally functional spots for important school papers and artwork but I hope to also claim them as a little in-house mail system.  I can also leave a Post-It note on the back of their bedroom doors, on the bathroom mirror, or on their headboards for them to see first thing in the morning.

2. Physical Touch:  Snuggle Therapy
Physical contact is so important.  I wrote about the importance of Snuggle Therapy in a previous post and firmly believe in its power to dissipate tension and work through particularly emotional days.  But snuggles can come in many forms:

  • sharing a story
  • praying together wrapped in a prayer shawl
  • holding tight when tears are inevitable (theirs or mine)
  • slow-dancing to a quiet song
  • alternating foot rubs
  • bedtime cuddles

Basically, I’m consciously choosing to linger in those opportunities for physical touch because even a few moments in a warm embrace goes a long way, doesn’t it?

3. Quality Time:  Sunday Morning Breakfast Dates

With four children and both parents working full-time, it is hard to get that one-on-one connection as often as you (or your middle child) might like.  My husband and I both decided that we had to reclaim a time in our schedule that was rarely disrupted and make a commitment to create a rotation to go on mini-dates with each of our children.

Sunday morning seemed to offer the golden opportunity; while both parents were around to trade-off babysitting we could also go out inexpensively for some quality time with each child.  We often add a little walk to a coffee and muffin date to extend the opportunity for conversation (and to add a little activity into our weeks).  Each kid gets a date with Mommy or Daddy every four weeks.
4. Acts of Service:  Chore-Free Gestures

Every so often, I’m going to try to take something off their to-do lists.  We have very specific age-appropriate daily and weekly chores for all members of our family – it’s the only way we survive in our busy household!

Because this is my primary love language, I understand the impact of someone taking something off of my endless list so I’m going to try to do the same for them.  I’m going to target times when it would be particularly helpful like after a tough or tiring day at school or when they have extra homework or an extracurricular commitment.

I also want to surprise them, on occasion, with a clean room (although, admittedly, this may be motivated more by impatience than any feelings of love).

I may write out a little “get out of a chore free” coupon to give them a choice once in a while about how and when they want to cash it in.
5.Receiving Gifts:  A Token Trunk

I already have a “gift cupboard” where I house lots of little gifts for a variety of occasions (hostess gifts, kids birthday party gifts, encouragement tokens and the like).  I’ve decided that I need a separate bin of little treats, toys, craft supplies, and wrapping to pull out just because.

I’m generally quite skeptical about the dollar-store-loot-bag kind of treats that break before the end of the first day but I don’t want to spend a fortune so I’ll have to get in the habit of grabbing some bargains when I see them and tucking them away. I’ll look for sets of things that I can split up like 4-packs of PlayDoh or Crayola Stampers Markers.


I’ll look for ways to surprise them with a little token.  Maybe I’ll leave one in a coat pocket. I could hide something under a pillow. (Who says the Tooth Fairy gets to monopolize that location?) I can place a little gift in a backpack to be found later. I could get a few and set them our on their breakfast or dinner plates.

Of course, free or homemade gifts (like home-baked cookies, a new playlist, a craft or a photo) can be wonderful and personal options as well.

Another part of the experiment is to carefully observe how my kids react to each of the love gestures.  I have my suspicions about their primary love languages but this should help me to examine my hypotheses.

I am curious, though; do you have any plans or practices for showing love to your kids in the everyday busyness of life?  If so, would you share them with me?


Confessions of a Selfish Mom

“I wanna do what I wanna do.”

This is my 2-year-old’s newest chant.  My heart chimes in with an amen, I hear ya, little man every time it is uttered.  And I wonder if that makes me a selfish mom.

Like many moms, I know I need to look after myself but so much of my time and energy is poured out into my husband, my kids, my home, and my work that I don’t know how to juggle it all. I often struggle with the guilt associated with taking “me-time” and making decisions to meet my personal needs.  I often feel that I am not fulfilling my motherly duties if I take time away from the kids so I tend to neglect myself under the guise of caring for others.

I’m convinced that there is a spectrum that lies between

selflessness ______________________&___________________selfishness

and I’m really not sure how to pin point the golden mean.  In this case, Aristotle’s virtue between the two extremes is a little vague for my liking.

I know that we must take care of ourselves as moms in order to be able to take care of our families but the litany of items that “ought” to be addressed in my life under “self-care” constitute a full-time job and I already have at least one of those.  How can I stay spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically healthy and have time for anyone else?

Every mom knows that the job is draining; everyone wants a piece of you but there are not enough pieces to go around. So we can’t keep running on empty and expect to carry on without deficiencies in one area or another.  I know that taking time to care for myself is necessary in order to be any good to those who depend on me but trying to discern the practical parameters of my self-care is really tricky.  Perhaps, I am lacking wisdom and should ask for it…so, wise ones out there in cyberspace, what say you?

Currently, I try to take one night of the week and break from my motherly duties.  I try to be as consistent as possible to keep our family routine intact so that the kids can expect it. This seems reasonable enough but it is the daily disciplines that seem to be so elusive.  I have trouble finding moments throughout my day to refresh.  And even if I should miraculously find a spare 10 minutes, I don’t always use these precious few breaths well.

So, I guess what I am really asking is, at what point does self-care descend into selfishness? I know we invest so much of ourselves in this holy calling known as motherhood but is it okay that sometimes I just wanna do what I wanna do?

Rant, Reflection

I Can’t Do It and Neither Can You

So that resolve thing?  Yeah, it’s not working.

I keep trying to do things on my own and my resolve lacks results.

So, here’s what I am learning.  No amount of doing on my part is going to help.  This is a difficult realization for me to admit.  You see, I’m a doer and a doer that can’t do anything is a force to be reckoned with.  Just ask my husband.  I don’t like to wait;  I want to take action.  I want to develop a plan and implement it.  But manipulation of the externals rarely succeeds in bringing about internal change.  And therein lies the problem.

This frustration is at the heart of Christian experience, right? The Apostle Paul got it.  It has to be God doing the work because we’ve got nothing.  No amount of wishful thinking or good intentions is going to accomplish the work He has started.  Only He can do that.  And so we wait on Him.  Argh.

I’m just trying to figure out how to live in that holy dependency.  Seriously, how do we practically depend on God for strength?  (And don’t comment in Christianese; “let go and let God” just doesn’t deal with this very real struggle honestly enough for me.)  I know that trying to “figure out” the mysterious movement of God is a bit of a fool’s errand.  But I’ve got to do something!

Often, I feel like there is little point in trying at all:  what I want to do I don’t do; but, what I don’t want to do, I do. Yeah, I get that, Paul.  For all those areas that need discipline in my life, I am at His mercy. Somewhere between grace and application a balance can be found – not that I’ve found it, I just choose to believe in that hope.

But how do we allow God to work in us to break us free of these chains?  I have to believe it is possible and that I’m just a work in progress with a long way to go to completion.

I suppose I should feel it is freeing to know that this work is not up to me.  Somehow, that’s not where I’m at and I want to be able to accept that I can’t do it.  And I want that to be okay.

Looking for some wisdom?  Can you supply it?


What to do When you Hit the Wall

Stone-walling. That’s the recurring tactic of my son, Wes. When something is bothering him, he withdraws and shuts down. Completely. It’s a rather disturbing version of the silent treatment, though often with tears. Despite my constant cajoling for him to “use his words”, this little man has trouble articulating what is wrong and this big mama has trouble penetrating the silence. Frustrating combo.

You may have read about our sharing journals in my other post. Just last night, Wesley wrote “snuggle me pleeeeese, mom!” (large enough to fill a page) and drew a page full of tears to accentuate the need he was feeling. He ripped the pages out of his journal, snuck out of bed to sit on the stairs, and passed them to his father (who found him there) to give to me.

Insert teary eyes and a quick leap from the chair to his rescue here.

We headed to my bed for some Snuggle Therapy and, once we had a few laughs, his sadness had dissipated significantly and he fell asleep feeling loved.

Thank God.

All’s well that ends well. Or is it?

He is the kid who says ” you never listen to me” but he really means that I don’t understand him. And, the truth is, I don’t. But I want to. So, like most moms, I struggle to find ways to access his personality and understand his needs; but, it is a perplexing task to say the least. And it is so easy to feel defeated.

Intense, withdrawn, cerebral, compassionate, sneaky, tender-hearted, active, funny, introverted and slightly melancholy – that’s my Wesley. He fluctuates between moments of sincere concern and patience with his siblings and flat-out punches to the face. Always retreating and hiding to cope with his guilt (like most humans). He is amazingly complex and, seemingly, so out of reach?

On days that I seem to be a particular failure as his mom, I have to remind myself that I am the mom God wanted him to have. This combo was meant to be! Oh, boy! That means that I am what he needs, or at least I can learn to be, right?

So, here’s what I’m learning about hitting the wall, Wesley-style:

1. Snuggle first, talk later. Physical affection breaks through that tough exterior like nothing else. In this case, a hug is worth a thousand words.

2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If I can give him my undivided attention as often as possible in any given day, I will minimize the risk of intense outbursts; or, at the very least, lessen their severity and duration.

3. Understand the reasons, but don’t make them excuses. A lack of sleep, a sugary diet, a tough day, or an overload of people will all trigger Wes’s emotional upheaval. If I know that one (or any combination) of these factors is at play, I can chalk his difficulties up to the source and address the root of the problem as part of the solution.

4. Don’t give up. It is so important that I work through the discouragement of misunderstanding and keep trying to “get” my kid. It would be so easy some days just to default to Daddy, but that’s a bit of a cop-out. He needs to know that I will keep trying, despite the difficulties and that Jason and I are both in his corner.

5. Embrace the morning. The fact that each new day presents an opportunity to do something differently is such a gift of grace. What happened today does not have to determine tomorrow’s agenda. As Anne of Green Gables would say, “tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes in it.” Together, Wesley and I are learning this truth.


That’s my boy, on our breakfast date. The morning after.

Ah yes. New mercies.

Do you have a Wesley in your clan? What do you do when you hit the wall?


If it’s not one kid it’s your mother!

So I am currently home taking my sixth sick day of the school year and it’s not even the end of November!  The trouble is, I haven’t even been sick yet!

(The truth is, I’m actually at home for another sick day because of dental surgery and it is February 14th, but it seems I neglected to post this blog before Christmas.  Can’t imagine why I didn’t have the time then!)

It seems that the Covey clan is getting hit hard this fall with every communicable disease going.  From colds, to lice, to flus, to pink eye – if it is out there, someone in our house has had it since September. And it never fails:  we don’t get it at the same time, the virus staggers its way through our family and turns a 24-hour bug into a week-long saga.

I’m sure there are many factors that have contributed to this current dilemma in our house, not the least of which is the fact that I have young children who do not use discretion about appropriate places to stick fingers and frequently rub eyes, pick noses, and chew on fingernails!

Yes, I have taught them about germs and proper hand-washing but they seem to be willing to risk it when mom is not looking.  The thought process is something like this: this one time won’t matter, what mom doesn’t know won’t hurt her  or it’s not going to happen to me. (Come to think of it, that sounds like a teenage mentality!)

Alas, no matter how often I disinfect, we are at a stage in life that seems to be characterized by illness (or perhaps, antibody development if you are a “glass-half-full” kind of person).

I have a bit of a unique (and wonderful) daycare arrangement for my kids.  For the most part, my mom is their Nanny.  It is win-win-win:  I know they are loved and safe, mom has a source of income, and the kids have their grandmother as an important part of their lives.

I must say that it is very comforting going to work each day knowing that they are in the care of family and able to play with their beloved toys and nap in their own beds.  It also means that I do not have to have all four ready to go in the morning by 7:30am when my husband or I have to leave for work.  And, as many of you moms know (especially those who have to drop your kids off somewhere in the morning before work) the morning routine can be a nightmare so this is a bonus that I do not take for granted.

But, I have run into a glitch in my splendid plan:  illness. What do I do when that wrench gets tossed in? How do I juggle my obligations? And what do I do when Nanny is sick: take a sick day to cover her shift? (I did.  That’s why I’m home blogging instead of working!)

Truly, if it’s not my kid, it’s my mother!

If I actually calculate the number of days in total that at least one person in our family has been “under the weather” it is a least triple the time I have taken off (I think we are at least 20 days now).  Jason has also been unwell and has taken his share of sick days to care for himself and the kids but even with the two of us the burden can be overwhelming.

How are working parents doing this? One friend assured me that it does get better as the kids get older (they are sick less often, for a lesser amount of time, and are able to care more for themselves) but in the meantime it is really hard.

When I am not at work, I have a guilty conscience and I feel I am being irresponsible, even when circumstances are out of my control.  I am learning from Andy Stanley’s book, Choosing to Cheat, that parents often have the wrong perspective on that.  I am trying to remind myself that my primary responsibility is my family and that not caring for them in their illness is actually the true irresponsibility.  I can tell myself that 1000 times but it doesn’t negate the very real pressure on working moms (and dads) when it comes to this issue.

I wish I could be more like my husband who is far less swayed by the opinions of others and is content to do what is necessary, in spite of how it may be perceived in his workplace.  I am learning a lot from him about not getting caught up in the “shoulda, coulda, woulda’s” of people pleasing and false guilt.  He’s good for me (more on that in another post).

I would be interested in hearing about other working moms and how they handle the disruption that illness brings to their schedules.  I am learning to expect the unexpected but I still need practical help with how to manage it.  Can you identify with the struggle to care for little ones at home and the demands of your career? Do you have any tips or sage advice that you would be willing to share?

Note:  Since January, I have enlisted the support of another excellent in-home daycare provider and that has helped alleviate some of the pressure!  Options and backup plans seem to dispel some of the worry associated with the inevitable changes in plan that characterize parenthood.

Practical Idea

A Little Idea to Share

If you have been following my blog at all, you’ll know that I have 4 children under the age of 10. As you can imagine, it is tricky to provide undivided attention to each of them in the amounts they might desire. I was concerned because of the frequency of the situations that arose where one of the older kids had something they urgently wanted to tell me or ask me but I wasn’t able to listen at that particular moment. Of course, this bothered me because I wanted to be sure to keep the lines of communication open and not have my kids feel like what they wanted to share was unimportant. So, I thought I’d try to put a new idea into motion.

A few other moms have asked about it so I thought I should share it with you:

Purchase a simple journal and present it as a gift to your child with the idea that it can be a place for ongoing sharing. Essentially, my child is free to write in it at any time though they usually write at bedtime, if I am out of the house, or if I’m not available for conversation and they have a pressing concern or idea. They can include anything that they want to share with me, and write as much or as little as they wish. Then, they leave the journal on my pillow. I find that I read them just before bed and then, after writing an appropriate response, I place them on their bedside tables where they will see them in the morning.

This little system provides an opportunity to be involved in one another’s lives in a variety of ways, most of which are very light-hearted and fun. In particular, though, I am finding that it is also a great place for kids to ask a difficult questions, to share a hurt or an apology, or generally to communicate things that are hard to say out loud. It is amazing what they will write but not say and, as their mama, I want to know what is occupying their little hearts and minds. Usually it is in the form, “Dear Mama, …” but not always. Sometimes I write little comments in the body of their letter if it makes more sense to do so. Sometimes the kids will enhance the comment or letter with drawings or doodles.

Inside the front cover, I wrote a list of possible items to include in the journal to make it clear how broad its applications could be and here it is:

  • a thought
  • a verse
  • a worry
  • a joke
  • a question
  • an idea
  • a quote
  • a suggestion
  • an apology
  • an update
  • a memory
  • a reminder
  • an encouragement
  • a need
  • a request
  • an anecdote
  • a hurt
  • a promise
  • a drawing
  • Any other thing you want to share with your mama!

So far, it has been used regularly (practically every day) and it is really helping to make us all feel that much more connected. I have encouraged them to write things in there particularly when there are times that I cannot give them my full attention but they are concerned about forgetting something important. I try to do the same for them. It has now become a wonderful part of my nightly routine to read their thoughts and to respond to them.

Certainly not rocket science, but it has been rewarding to share in this simple way and I’m hoping it will be something we can continue to do. Perhaps, because we have developed this communication habit, it will even work in the teen years! Too optimistic?

And (insert shameless English teacher plug here) it is an excellent way to promote and develop literacy skills!

Currently, I am using it with my 10-year-old girl, Gwyneth, and my 8-year-old boy, Wesley. I have a few friends that have recently tried it with their children that are around the same age. Just the other night, though, my 4-year-old, Edmund, asked his Daddy to help him write an “I love you” message in Wesley’s journal while I was out so it seems I may have to get him started as well!

Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it with your child(ren). I’d love feedback and ideas about how to modify it for different ages, stages and/or purposes!


Marathon Days

I had one of those parenting days where things seemed to be caught in a negative vortex that was spiraling out of control. Staying home all day with four kids at this stage of life, I should probably assume that any day has the potential for disaster! Every parent knows how the demands and pressures of caring for even one kid can totally drain you physically and emotionally. (Perhaps that is why our fourth child, Fraser, has the nickname, “Frazzle”!)  Also, if you are a parent, you know about the phenomenon that occurs as children feed off your emotions:  bad day for mom breeds bad day for kids and the vicious cycle continues.

From getting slapped in the face by my 4-year-old to playing judge and jury for each victim of sibling rivalry to burning my banana muffins to my husband texting to say he was going to be late (and he was supposed to BBQ for dinner!), the day just seemed to go from hard to harder.   And the common factor in the day seemed to be the propensity for multiple kids (and mom) to melt down simultaneously in a cacophony of whining, screaming and crying (or some combination thereof) with very little reprieve in between tantrums.  (Many of you moms are nodding your heads right now in a “been there, done that” solidarity, right?).

It was a marathon today that lasted at least 10 hours and truly, who wants to run that long? Isn’t the average marathon time like, 41/2 hours?  I must confess, I am not proud of my performance today.  Certainly not a personal best. But I am hoping that some reflection will help me to prepare for the next big race.  Lord knows, it could be this afternoon!

After reflecting (read: complaining, whining, venting, walking, and praying),  I have come to some conclusions about how I might have navigated the ups and downs of the terrain today with more grace and stamina.  Thought I might write it down to remind me to learn from my mistakes.

A 12-Step Survival Guide for Marathon Days:

  1. Breathe.  Do you ever notice how shallow your breathing gets when stress and anxiety build?  It’s staggering, really, that we could practically forget to breathe.  We all know the take-a-deep-breath-and-count-to-ten wisdom.  Well, there is something to that, cliché or not.  A simple pause to breathe deeply before reacting to the chaos swirling about can go a long way to prevent unnecessary casualties.
  2. Pray.  I was listening to Jars of Clay’s, Dan Haseltine, croon “I need thee every hour” as I drove this morning and I was reminded that I need to demonstrate my dependence on God through unceasing prayer as I go about my day.  If you want to tie step one and two together, try breath prayer.  My current favourite mantra:  Lord, give me strength.
  3. Solicit help.  There is no shame in realizing your own limitations.  Sometimes a call to a friend that will simply listen and validate your experience goes a long way.  Maybe you can farm a kid or two off to a neighbour for a much-needed breather.  Text or call someone who could provide an objective perspective on the day and/or a new parenting approach to try.
  4.  Diffuse the situation.   I texted my husband mid-day to solicit some needed support and encouragement and he advised me to counter all the whining with cuddles.  So, out of desperation, I tried “snuggle therapy”: I literally set a timer and forced my kids to cuddle me (and each other) for no less than five full minutes.  It definitely did not ultimately prevent further breakdowns but it diffused the anger in the moment and helped to deal with the crisis in a loving way for all of us.  Plus, there will come a time when my boys will not want to snuggle with their mom so I’m milking it for all it’s worth at this stage!
  5. Change the scenery.  I did not do this today, but I sincerely think getting out for a walk or a drive would have been a welcome distraction in the midst of the chaos.  Just to pick up and leave without a plan is difficult for me.  I am the kind of person that plans my spontaneity.  However, there is some freedom in knowing that you can retreat to nature or a friend’s house or an ice cream shop to mix things up for everyone.
  6. Let go of my agenda. I am a list maker but I have terribly unrealistic to-do lists.  I know I need to adjust my expectations for any given day and be realistic about what I can actually accomplish in one day.  Part of my stress comes from the imposition of this agenda on myself and my kids and I need to be flexible and more able to respond to the day as it comes, letting tasks go as often as necessary.
  7. Count my blessings. Gratitude fixes many attitudes, mine especially.  I should have asked the kids at lunch what I did at dinner:  help me to remember what I am thankful for.  Philippians 4:8 reminds mothers that, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Today I was thankful for iPhone pictures,  snuggle therapy, the fact that I labelled and developed a storage system  in the boys’ room (yes, that makes an organization freak like me quite happy), and the phone conversations I had with two good friends,
  8. Be consistent.  Today I committed the unpardonable sin as a parent:  I threatened a consequence with no real intention of following through.  The older kids had planned to go to the local library for a movie in the afternoon and I told them that they would not be able to go if they did not shape up;  but, the truth is, I needed them to go!  Empty threats are no good.  I should have said nothing or found another way to deal with the situation that would actually work.   (A side thought:  It seems that my kids are all struggling with tone lately, whether it is whining or screaming or sassing, so I am thinking of this new technique:  temporarily steal the buzzer from our Taboo board game and place it in the centre of the dining room table for easy access.  Every time a tone emerges I will instantaneously “buzz” that kid to remind them that the tone is in fact taboo!  Too extreme?)
  9. Apologize and forgive.  We have a rule in our home that when there is some sort of offence perpetrated by one party to another it must be “made right” before anything else can happen.  This consists of apologizing verbally to the victim (specifically, naming and owning the offense) and then receiving forgiveness from the victim (asking them not to do it again). So, on this type of day,  I spent a significant amount of time asking my kids to take responsibility for their poor behaviour so I couldn’t very well gloss over my inappropriate tone and remarks and expect to have any integrity left.  I had to humble myself and model this process of reconciliation and had to ask for forgiveness from the kids for the specific things that I had done that were angry and unkind.
  10. Tell myself the truth. Sometimes I can be so caught up in processing a day’s events from the wrong perspective entirely that I fail to recognize the lies in my self talk.  I can believe all sorts of things in a frenzied moment that have nothing to do with reality or logic and everything to do with emotion.  Jesus reminds us of the freedom that is found in knowing the truth (John 8:32).  Instead of getting caught up in the guilty suspicion that I am a bad mother and that I have scarred my kids for life, I should tell myself that there is a bigger picture that a sovereign God has under control.  That truth frees me to relinquish control and to renew my dependence on Him.
  11. Embrace a clean slate.  I always loved the advice that Miss Shirley gives to Anne (of Green Gables):  “tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it”.  If you know anything about this fictional character, she had a penchant for getting into mischief and often needed second chances.  That’s what I need too, sometimes, maybe even as much as Anne.  It is just one day, after all, and “Mama said there would be days like this”.  I need to cut myself some slack as a mom and surrender to the promise that God’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:19-26).
  12. Don’t move to Australia!  A temporary escape is one thing, but a total overhaul is too much.  In Bill Murray’s classic comedy movie, What About Bob?, the main character takes a “vacation from his problems”.  I think that is sound psychological advice.  If I can give myself permission to retreat from my problems, even for 10 minutes, I might be able to go back and face them with a new perspective.  Although they will not magically disappear as a result of my mini mind break, I might be able to frame the day more reasonably.  And, according to Judith Viorst’s book, everybody has bad days, “even in Australia”!
Book Review, Rant

50 Shades: Is “Mommy Porn” Really Okay With You?

Let me begin by telling you that, on principle, I am always skeptical of the “everybody’s doing it” philosophy of life.  I tend to be incredibly suspect of the masses.  I find myself asking why I would be interested in doing what everyone else is when I see the results of common choices.

So, given my bias that following the crowd is often unwise, I have chosen to address my concerns about the current cultural obsession with British author E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

I might be assuming too much here, but I suspect that many readers of this book have never before purchased or read erotic novels.  I feel fairly confident in this supposition because, until now, erotica has rarely, if ever, made the best-sellers list. And, if it has, it was minus all the hype because I never heard about it.

For most readers, James’s novel is likely a first encounter with this genre and I’m wondering why people (specifically women) are justifying it this time-particularly given the extreme emphasis on bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism that has caused such controversy?

As a Christian I could simply object on the basis of immoral content and as an English teacher I could take serious issue with the miserably written prose but I’d rather add some perspective to the discussion than dismiss the book without consideration.

My friends are all talking about it and, since I am confident that (for the most part) my blog appeals to the same target demographic as the novel, I am choosing to make this my first official book review.

Unlike most of the books I intend to review, this may be the first and last time that I actually write about a book that I have not read.

That’s right.  It is not on my bookshelf or my bedside table and I seriously doubt it ever will be.  But, before you consider dismissing my opinion on the “how-can-you-have-anything-to-say-about-it-if-you-haven’t-read-it” objection, consider hearing me out.

Continue reading “50 Shades: Is “Mommy Porn” Really Okay With You?”


Don’t Freak Out


My daughter approached me this morning saying, “don’t freak out mom, but…” Now, if you are a mother, you can anticipate my reaction to these words without hesitation.  My mind is racing with all of the scenarios involving permanent marker and glitter glue that could possibly warrant this opening line.  I paused, though, and realized that there are two ways to interpret her comment.  In both cases, there is cause for concern.

On the one hand, my six-year-old mermaid may have caused a mini-tsunami in the bath tub that will require several towels and a lesson in the principles of water management but, on the other, she may be highlighting a tendency on my part to, in fact, “freak out”.  Either way, I have a problem.

I’d like to think that my freaking out would be reserved for real tsunamis in life where my emotional response is proportional to the actual incident but I’m afraid that I tend to react to daily mishaps with less grace and calm then I might like to admit.

My daughter’s attempt to preempt these reactions when anticipated, leads me to believe that they are not becoming and perhaps too frequent altogether.  I have learned to expect a little mess with toddlers let loose in the house but I’d like to be better able to respond in a dignified fashion to the inevitable splashes on my bathroom floor.

I think I need to avoid “sweating the small stuff” (if you can pardon the cliché).  Life is full of little mistakes and my ability to avoid freaking out is directly related to my own perception of what really matters.  I need to learn that many incidents are not worthy of the reaction I give them and that I need to exercise a little more self control and perspective when confronted with a mess.   After all, it was only water.

If it was permanent marker and glitter glue then I might be justified.

(originally posted in 2009)