Friday, November 15, 2013

10 Ways to Help Our Kids Develop a Thankful Heart

As a mom of three boys, I LOVE it when they genuinely appreciate me. When they say, “Wow Mom, thank you so much for making cupcakes for my class.” Or perhaps, “I really appreciate the way you washed my sheets mom.” Or maybe, “Mom, I know that it took a lot of time and energy for you to plan my birthday party, and I just want to let you know that I noticed it, and I think you’re an amazing mom.”

Wouldn’t it be awesome if they talked like that all the time?

Unfortunately, I am more likely to hear the following sentences from my boys: “But why can’t you buy me those new Nikes?” and “Everyone else’s mom showed up at my school party today.” Or “Mom, you haven’t washed my favorite jeans yet?!?!”

It seems that being thankful is not something that comes naturally. I’m learning that it is something that must be intentionally taught and, perhaps if modeled correctly, “caught.” I know that it is much more natural for me to complain about the traffic, about my job, about my dirty house, about my weight, than it is to be thankful for anything.

So, how can we teach our kids to be thankful? How can we model a thankful attitude for them to catch? Here are 10 ways we can help our kiddos develop a thankful heart.

1.)  Pray for them. They’ll be such happier people if they learn to be thankful and content. Pray that God would help them to develop a thankful attitude that will last their whole life.
2.)  Discuss Bible stories. The complaining Israelites (Numbers 11), the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19), Paul in prison (Philippians 1 and 4)
3.)  Expose them to people who have less than they have. Take them to minister to the homeless or at shelters or nursing homes. If they’re anything like my kids, they may know, in theory, that some people don’t have homes, but until they actually meet someone who is homeless, they don’t truly grasp that there are people who really live under bridges and on benches. As a family, pray for these people on a consistent basis.
4.)  Make them work . . . hard. Just like you’ve always heard, you don’t appreciate something until you work for it! Teach your kids to scrub the toilet and maybe they’ll be more likely to aim better! (Sorry, I’m a mom of boys. I couldn’t resist.)
5.)  Enrich their lives with relationships with people who are different. I can’t let my kids think that everyone else in the world lives in a house just like ours and in a town just like ours with skin the same color as ours. What kind of self-absorbed adults would they grow up to be if they thought everyone was just like them?
6.)  Let them hear you thanking God. In the car, as you’re waking them up in the morning, as you’re doing dishes, sing songs of thanksgiving. Share with the cashier at the grocery store all about God’s goodness!
7.)  Let them hear you being appreciative of others. “I’m so thankful that my boss lets us wear jeans on Fridays.” And, “Thank you Lord for blessing me with such a hard working husband.”
8.)  Give history lessons. Tell you kids how long it took you to save money for your first house. Tell them how you had to work your way through college. Tell them how their grandma had to share a bedroom with her three sisters until she married grandpa and moved out of her parents’ home. Tell them those stories over and over so they can tell them themselves.
9.)    Work together on projects. Not only will this encourage kids to be thankful, but it will also create memories of accomplishing something together as a family, and provide a story they can then relate to their children one day.
10.)                 Make them pay for things with their own money. There’s no better way to learn to appreciate the value of a dollar. “Want a new pair of those really expensive jeans? Fine, you can use your birthday money to buy those.”

The biggest blessing we can ever thank our Lord for is the gift of salvation that was purchased by His Son. It is an eternal blessing. I’ve been quoting this scripture to myself a lot lately:

James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

“Thank you Father God for all of your blessings, especially the blessing of salvation and the promise of eternity with You. May we always have thankful hearts, acknowledging that every good gift comes from YOU!”

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Husband's Favorite Dinner - Chicken n Dumplings

My Husband's Favorite Dinner . . . . . Chicken n Dumplings

It's a cold November night. The perfect night for my husband's favorite dinner, Chicken n Dumplings. I make my mom's recipe, and Kevin thinks it's awesome. It's not too difficult or time consuming to make, which, of course, is a must for me! I put a whole chicken and water in the crock pot this morning before I went to work. By the time I got home the chicken was cooked and there was a wonderful broth. Here's the recipe:
cooked chicken (boned, take off the skin and fat)
about 4 cups of broth
salt and pepper
about 4 cups of milk
2 cups Bisquick
Put the chicken and broth in a big pot and bring it to a boil. Add water until it reaches about 2 quarts. Bring it to a boil again. Add about 3 cups of milk. Boil for about 10 minutes. Drop dumplings by spoonfuls into soup. Cook on low for about 10 minutes. Turn off the stove and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

To make dumplings: Stir together 2 cups of Bisquick and 3/4 a cup of milk.

Mmmmmm - Comfort Food!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Nov. 6, 2013 - The "Mom-Hood" Impact Upon Teachers

 I have had the experience of being a teacher pre-momhood and mid-momhood. I haven’t yet experienced being a teacher post-momhood, but I’m sure it’s a stage all in itself.

And, as a teacher in those different stages of my life, I have recognized that I am a far different teacher in my current phase, mid-momhood, than I was in my last phase, pre-momhood.

Let me explain.

I was first hired as an eighth grade English teacher in 1997 at the ripe old age of twenty-two. I agonized over my lesson plans and my room arrangement. I followed every policy of the school to a tee. I called, emailed, and wrote notes to parents. I threw myself passionately into different thematic units that I prepared for my students. With each new unit, I entirely transformed my classroom. I had creative components for each unit. I had guest speakers out the wazoo. Once I even had a guy with a domesticated wolf come and show his wolf to my class while we were reading Call of the Wild. My students won essay writing contests and poetry contests. I utilized technology in every way I could possibly conceive, which in the late 90’s mainly consisted of desktop computers and video cameras. I pretty much rocked my pre-momhood teaching experience.

And then I had kids.

I took a break from teaching for a few years. I had three babies. I made bottles, changed diapers, went grocery shopping, made a menu for the week, clipped coupons, cleaned my house, set up the blue plastic kiddie pool, planned birthday parties, volunteered at church, cleaned the high chair about a million times, took a zillion trips to the library, played at the park, and in general, had the time of my life. 

Then I went back to teaching.

When I went back to teaching, I had a new perspective. You see, I had experienced teaching my own child to read. I had experienced having my own child in a stranger’s classroom. I had experienced the pride of a 100% on my child’s spelling test. I had experienced homework. I had experienced reading logs. I had experienced little league. I had experienced a child with a lower than grade level reading level. I had experienced the pain of rejection vicariously through my son. I had experienced the pain of “not getting it” of “not being noticed” of “not being the teacher’s pet” of “no one in class likes me” of “too much homework” of messy backpacks, of not the right type of clothes, of money needed for lunch, money needed for fundraiser, money needed for pictures, money needed for weekly ice cream, money needed for art supplies, money needed for the carnival, money needed for the jog-a-thon, money needed for the field trip.
And it changed me. It had changed the way I taught.

It was entirely unintentional. I didn’t plan it or think about it at all, but when I went back to teaching in my mid-momhood stage, I suddenly had a new perspective, a new insight. For some reason, I no longer punished students for not having a pencil. I just loaned them one of mine. (They usually don’t give it back, but I’ve learned that spending about a dollar a week on pencils is worth it.) Inexplicably, I started keeping a basket of candy in my classroom and rewarding students for good behavior, good grades, and just for no reason at all. I don’t know why, but I also started keeping granola bars in my desk for those students who didn’t happen to get breakfast that morning. I started giving hugs. I started writing notes to my students on their papers.

Here is an example of the type of notes I’ve started writing on my students’ papers –
“I think you are so awesome! Hey, next time could you please write complete sentences when you answer these questions? Thank you so much, June Bug!”

I don’t know what happened to me. I hadn’t attended a conference or a seminar. I had not received a big pep talk from my principal.

Oh, and the biggest change of all . . . I stopped assigning homework. (Yep)

Now, before you get all angry and start thinking that I think mid-momhood teachers are the best teachers in the world and pre-momhood or non-momhood teachers are crappy, hear me out. As a mid-momhood teacher, I no longer have time to agonize over lesson plans. I decorate my classroom at the beginning of the year, and it stays that way all year. I haven’t had one guest speaker. (Human or wolf) I don’t always incorporate technology or creative assignments. So, me as a pre-momhood teacher was definitely better in some areas than me as a mid-momhood teacher. These days I sometimes run a little low on energy, passion, creativity, and new ideas. But, these days I have a boundless supply of compassion, grace, understanding, and concern for my students that I never had before. And, the coolest thing is, my students can tell.

In a few years, I will more than likely experience post-momhood teaching. I have a feeling that will be a real kick in the pants.