Monday, June 18, 2018

Don't Tell Me You're Bored...Go Do Something About It

Summer is here and along with it comes a few inevitable sighs of “I’m bored.” “There’s nothing to do.” “There’s no one to play with.” or these days, complete silence that you dare not interrupt because they are so engrossed in some sort of screen ‘entertainment’.
If you read this blog with any sort of regularity, you know I don’t usually write about things like bedtime routines, homework, toilet training and things of that nature. I’m more about the emotional and mental aspects of parenting; self-confidence, respect, responsibility, kindness, and so forth. Or as the tag line says, “…getting to the heart of parenting from the heart”.

Today is not really going to be any different. Well, maybe a little different, but not much. Today I want to talk about the how and why of not catering to your child’s every whimper.
Newsflash! It’s not going to hurt them to be bored once in a while! That’s right—they will survive and in all likelihood, they’ll have a blast doing it.

When my kids were younger and would give me the “I’m bored” routine, I would tell them to go outside and ride their bikes, go catch tadpoles, weed two rows of the garden, build a fort, play games, read a book, or to go find as many different kinds of leaves, rocks, or whatever else they could find. One time I even told my oldest to take the video recorder (yah that was in the old days) and make a film about a day in the life of our family.
FYI: That video will forever be an epic classic. J

What I didn’t do was put the rest of the world on hold to find out what they believed would cure their boredom and make sure it happened. In other words, I made them fix the problem—to become their own solution. As a result of doing so, we have an epic family film, we had lots of interesting pets, forts under massive cedar trees became the place memories were made and secrets were shared, tumbling routines were perfected so they could be performed countless times for Granny and others willing to be an audience, silly games were played, miles and miles and miles were put on bicycle tires, big brother built a rope swing for him and his sisters, and on and on the list could go. There were also a lot of things done that shouldn’t have been, but none of them were serious and they all made it out alive, so….
The only thing they didn’t take me up on was weeding the garden. Hey, you can’t blame a mom for trying, can you?

Now I don’t want you to think my kids were allowed (or made) to fend for themselves all day, every day. No way! We spent a big part of each day playing, swimming, doing crafts, doing chores, reading, and just being a family.
But let’s be realistic and honest—we can’t and don’t want to entertain our kids 24/7. There’s a reason they learn to walk, feed themselves, take care of their own bathroom duties, and so forth. It’s called growing up and being independent, which is exactly what they are supposed to do. And part of that process is learning how to manage their time wisely and productively.

Yes, it is your job as a parent to set boundaries for their solutions to being bored, and yes, it is your job to make sure their solutions are safe and acceptable. In the process of doing that this summer, though, make sure the solutions to the problem of boredom teach them something—either about themselves or how to do something new.
Don’t let them settle, no, don’t allow them to settle for staring at a screen or being a video game recluse. Get them up and moving, learning, experiencing, and growing.

 
Love,
Momma D
                                   Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                  

                    

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

I Just Want The Luckys



When my kids were younger they went through what I call food phases—especially when it came to what they ate for breakfast. A food phase was a period of time where they wanted nothing but a certain food for breakfast. Over the years my kids’ breakfast food phases included peaches and cream oatmeal, Cheerios®, rice with salt and butter, peanut butter toast, vanilla pudding and chocolate covered raisins (do NOT judge me), Cookie Crisp®, cheesy scrambled eggs, and Lucky Charms® (to name a few). Hey, with four kids and sixteen or seventeen years of eating breakfast at home, the phases were a-plenty.

Sometimes food phases lasted a few weeks. Others lasted months…even a year or more. I didn’t mind. I tend to be like that myself. So when one phase was over and a new one was begun, I just rolled with it…except when it came to Emma and her Lucky Charms.
When she first started eating them she couldn’t even pronounce it correctly. Instead of Lucky Charms, she said Yucky Charms. Again, not big deal. What was a big deal, though, was the fact that she started picking out “the luckys’, aka colorful crunchy marshmallows, eating them, and leaving the cereal in the bowl.
After a few days of this, it got to be a battle of wills. Sometimes I won. Sometimes she did. This went on for the duration of two or three boxes of cereal. Each time she finished a box, she insisted that’s what she wanted for breakfast, so I’d buy more. A new box of cereal didn’t mean a new (and better) attitude, though. Emma still tried to get by with just eating the luckys.

When I finally decided (or figured out) the battle of the luckys wasn’t worth fighting, I informed Emma she had to choose a new breakfast food. I was tired of fighting over cereal. If memory serves me correctly, the end of the luckys was the beginning of cheesy eggs. That’s not really important, though. What is important, however, is the lesson I want you to learn from my family’s little breakfast club.

The lesson I want to leave with you is this: As a parent, you need to take a firm stand when it comes to making sure your kids take the good with the bad…the bitter with the sweet…the work with the fun…the—well, you get the point.
Let your kids—no, insist that your kids—have the privilege of seeing things through to the end. And that includes when the end isn’t fun or doesn’t meet their expectations. For example:

*Don’t let your kids quit the team mid-season because they don’t want to practice or because it’s no fun. Life isn’t all about fun. It’s about fulfilling commitments and seeing something through to the end.
*Don’t let your kids pick at their food or refuse to eat what you serve for dinner, then give them snacks because they are ‘starving’ thirty minutes later.

*Don’t finish a school project for them because they ‘can’t’, because they think it’s a senseless assignment, or whatever other excuse they give you. Insist they do it.
*Don’t take over the care of a pet they promised to take care of (cross their heart)…then get tired of. Insist they live up to their end of the bargain or give the pet to someone who will.

To a lot of you, Emma’s finicky cereal-eating might not be a big deal. You might say, it was just cereal and it would pass. But it wasn’t just cereal.
It was about respecting the rules and learning to be responsible instead of wasteful.

It was about keeping her word. She promised (yes, she used that word) she would eat both the luckys and the cereal, so she needed to know a promise is more than a bunch of words.
It was about learning that life doesn’t always give you what you want and realizing life is about a lot more than just enjoying the luckys (the good things and positive experiences).

As parents we definitely want to make sure our children’s lives are full of luckys, but remember this: when life is all about luckys, it doesn’t take long for a child to forget to be thankful for the luckys in their life.


Love,
Momma D
                          Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                       

                                                                                                      





Sunday, May 20, 2018

Dynamite and Big Hearts Both Come in Small Packages-Handle With Care


A few years ago one of the posts I made on this blog was titled, WARNING: Bad Mom Moment Ahead. In it I wrote about having to leave our dog, Maggie behind when we moved and how I told Zach it would be fine—that we’d get another dog. I made it sound like any dog we got would be as sweet, loyal, and as smart as Maggie. I made it sound like people and pets are meant to be disposable and temporary. Ouch! What was I thinking? Answer: I wasn’t. Shame on me! 
My original purpose in sharing this incident was to remind you that we aren’t perfect people, so we cannot be perfect parents. We’re going to make mistakes, but that we shouldn’t let those mistakes defeat us or define us as moms and dads. 
Today, however, I want to look at the ‘Maggie story’ from a different angle because lately I’ve had reason to think about just how tender and vulnerable our kids’ hearts are no matter what we may think or even how we believe they are processing what’s going on around them. So keeping that in mind, let’s continue the ‘Maggie story’…
Because we’d moved in the fall of the year, John and I decided to wait until spring to get Zach and the girls another dog. So for Easter we got them an adorable beagle puppy they named Bonnie. Bonnie was indeed a cute puppy. She was also absolutely, positively, undeniably the most disobedient, dog on the planet! No matter how hard we tried (and did we ever try) to get her to settle down and be a real pet, she fought us at every turn. The kids couldn’t enjoy her because all she wanted to do was run as fast and as far as she could possibly run. In short, she was no fun. 
After several months of that, the only attention Bonnie got was to get fed, watered, and to have her pen cleaned out. And all of that was done rather begrudgingly. But can you honestly blame them? We finally gave Bonnie to a man who had other beagles. He was confident he could “…bring her around”. 
I’d like to know how that worked out. Oh, well…
Throughout the years we had other dogs. A few good ones, one or two other not-so-good ones, and a few really great ones. But none of them ever really won Zach’s heart the way Maggie had all those years ago. 
I say that because fast-forward almost twenty years to one day while he was working along the side of the highway. A dog came up out of the woods and claimed Zach for her own. She didn’t leave his side the entire day and when he opened the door of his truck to get inside…so did she. 
He called to tell me about it; telling me how she looked a lot like Maggie AND that he’d brought her home and named her...yep, you guessed it. He named her Maggie. 
This Maggie was also smart, loving, and completely loyal to Zach and his young family from the day he brought her home until the day she died. She loved each of them, but it was obvious that she loved Zach most of all. 
You can say what you want, but it wasn’t just dumb luck that those two found each other that day and it wasn’t a coincidence she looked like the ‘original’ Maggie. She was the closure…the remedy for Zach’s six year-old broken heart (even though it was a long time coming). 
I know leaving the first Maggie behind was something we had to do. I also know that my handling of the incident wasn’t the worst ‘bad mom moment’ I ever had (although I wish it was). I even know that my mishandling of the situation didn’t ruin Zach for life. But it did leave a little scar—one I put there. So do yourself and your kids a favor by taking a couple of valuable lessons from me.
One: Don’t assume that just because your children are small that their feelings are, too. 
Their hearts are huge and vulnerable. Their feelings and emotions run deep. But because they are still children, they don’t usually know how to process and express themselves accurately, adequately, or appropriately. 
Two: Listen with your eyes, ears, mind, and your heart WIDE open. 
It’s up to you as their parent to ask questions and then listen to their answers; making sure they know they can answer honestly without fear of upsetting you, angering you, or being made to feel dumb or insignificant. 
You’ve heard that saying, ‘dynamite comes in small packages’, haven’t you? Well so do big hearts. 

Love,
Momma D
                    Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                        
                                                                                          ZACH and some of Maggie's puppies 1986
                                                                                            







Monday, April 30, 2018

A Girl + Her Hamster = Sweetest Story Ever

WARNING: The story you are about to read is most likely the sweetest story ever. If it’s not, email me at darlajnoble@yahoo.com or find me on Facebook @ dnoblewrites and let me know what is (sweeter).

Okay, now for the story…

My daughter Elizabeth walked into the kitchen the other day to find five year-old Laney on the floor, with a pencil in her hand, a piece of paper on the floor in front of her, and her hamster, Paddington, standing in the middle of the paper…just standing there while Laney traced around his tiny little feet with her pencil.

“What are you doing, Laney?” Elizabeth asked.
“I’m tracing Paddington’s footprints so that someday when he gets old and dies I’ll have a memory of him,” Laney answered, as if a hamster standing perfectly still on a piece of paper getting his paws traced was the most natural thing in the world.

Elizabeth didn’t really know what to say, other than something like. So after she wiped the oh-my-gosh-that-s-the-sweetest-thing-I’ve-ever-heard tears from her eyes, she said something like, “Oh, that’s sweet,” or “You’re right, that will make a special memory.”
I mean seriously, what do you say to something like that?

I may not know what the exact right thing to say is, but I know what you should do with moments like that.
You go with it. You appreciate what they consider worthy of tucking away in their heart to remember now and forever. And you never, ever laugh, make light of the situation, or tell them what they are doing is silly or dumb. Just because something isn’t important to you doesn’t mean it isn’t. Remember: dismissing your child’s feelings and giving them the impression that they aren’t important will stomp your child’s self-confidence in the dirt; making them afraid to share with you, to express their thoughts, or acknowledge their feelings (even to themselves).

Instead, make sure your words and actions send a message loud and clear that what matters to them matters to you…that what makes their heart happy (or sad), makes yours the same…and that your most precious memories come from watching them make theirs.

Love,
Momma D
                                     Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author. 

                                         



Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Day The Goldfish Was Stuck To The Floor


Once upon a time my daughter Emma had a fish. His name was George Jefferson. One morning as soon as my daughter in-law had dropped two year-old Mackenzie off at the house for the day, she walked into the living room to see “Mr. Jeff” (as she called him) swimming around in his bowl. Instead of her usual comments, however, I heard, “Nanna, why is Mr. Jeff on the floor?” 
Without bothering to go into the living room I answered, “He’s not. He’s in his bowl.” 
“He’s on the floor, Nanna,” Mack insisted. 
Just about that time she heard Emma coming downstairs from her room. “Emma, Mr. Jeff is on the floor,” Mack said, running toward her. 
I decided I’d better go see what Mack was talking about, so I walked into the living room and yep, sure enough, there was Mr. Jeff. He was literally stuck to the wood floor. Dead…graveyard dead. Apparently in the night he had jumped out of his bowl thinking there was more to life than swimming around and around and around. There wasn’t…not for him anyway. 
Emma came into the room about the same time I did. She didn’t have but a couple of minutes before she had to walk out the door to wait for the school bus, so she picked up Mr. Jeff, said something to the effect of ‘stupid fish’, walked into the bathroom, and flushed him down the toilet while Mack looked on wide-eyed and open-mouthed. 
I answered all of her two year-old questions, but from that day on (until we moved out of that house a year later) Mack wouldn’t use that bathroom. At all—not even to wash her hands. And a few years later when “Finding Nemo” came out, she talked about Mr. Jeff during the ‘escape scene’ in the dentist’s office. I think it’s safe to say Mr. Jeff left quite the impression. 
Mack is nine now, but she still remembers finding Mr. Jeff on the floor. She even sees the humor in it now. She’s a farm girl, so it’s not like she hasn’t experienced life and death, but that her first up-close-and-personal experience, so yah, she’s going to remember it. 
The point I want to make is that as parents you need to make sure you aren’t giving your kids credit for being more resilient than they really are. Yes, in this instance it was just a goldfish—and not a very smart one, at that. But with everything going on in the world today; school shootings, racial tensions, terrorism, political and religious discriminations, bullying, and oh, so many other things, parents should not…cannot assume answering a few questions is all it takes to set their hearts and minds at ease. To make them feel safe. To make them feel confident. To help them understand their thoughts and feelings. 
Be pro-active. Talk. Listen. And most importantly, be discerning in what you expose your kids to. Keep it age-appropriate, please.

Love,
Momma D
                                         Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                  


Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Case of the Unfound Easter Egg


A friend of mine posted something on her Facebook page earlier today that made me smile, laugh, and nod my head in agreement, because I could totally relate. Here’s what it said:

If you're not miscounting the eggs you hide and finding some the year after, are you really even doing it right?

Oh, can I ever relate! When we moved off the farm—the home where we raised our kids and had twenty-three egg hunts—I am not ashamed or embarrassed to admit that while digging up starts of plants to take with me and taking some special rocks for my new flower beds (don’t judge me), and when I was walking around in the pasture that butted up against the back yard, I found a few plastic eggs with the candy still inside. Some of it was ‘only’ a few weeks old, but some of it was obviously older…a LOT older. 
Come on, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve had your share of leftover eggs. And if we’re really being honest, I bet you also have to admit that (like me) you’ve also come across a Christmas gift or two you never gave because you either forgot you bought it or couldn’t remember where you hid it. 
Hey, we’re only human. Besides, what’s a few missing eggs and a sweater nobody really wanted anyway? Better those things than your kids, right 
I say this because there are a lot of kids ‘out there’ who feel like a forgotten egg or misplaced present. They feel overlooked, misunderstood, unheard, and unloved. These kids aren’t necessarily dirty, underfed, and undisciplined. The kids who feel forgotten are just as apt to be dressed in the latest and greatest, have a full schedule of extra-curricular activities, and have more social media friends than whole student body in their school. One of them may even be living in your house. 
What I’m saying is that when it comes to your kids, you can’t misplace their tender hearts and minds. You can’t forget how much they need you—even when they try to hide themselves from you during their teenage years. You need to know where your kids are (physically and emotionally), who they’re with, and what they’re doing. Talk to them. Listen to them. Be a consistent and positive presence in their lives. Teach them. Discipline them. Love them.

Love,
Momma D
                                              Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                            




Sunday, March 11, 2018

Do You Have An "Amelia Bedelia" At Your House


At our house we played a lot of hide-n-seek, caught a lot of lightening bugs, rode miles and miles on bicycles, while I walked up and down the road watching for cars, played card games, built towers and forts with Tinker Toys and Lincoln Logs, and read books…lots and lots and lots of books. Each of the kids had their favorites, but they all agreed that the “Berenstain Bears” and “Amelia Bedelia” belonged in the category of classic literature. 
The other day I came across an Amelia Bedelia book and it still made me laugh. Hey, putting clothes on a chicken (dress the chicken) and covering the furniture in dusting powder (dust the furniture)…. I don’t care who you are, that’s just funny. 
But besides being good for a laugh and a little lesson in ‘word play’, Amelia’s misinterpretations reminded me of the times my kids misunderstood our comments or instructions to them—like the time we were playing outside and I asked six year-old Zach to go check to see if ten month-old Olivia was still sleeping in her crib. 
Zach willingly went in the house and returned a few minutes later carrying Olivia. “She was awake so I changed her diaper, too,” Zach said proudly. FYI: I used cloth diapers…the kind with diaper pins. Neither he nor Olivia was crying and he’d actually done a pretty good job. J
I didn’t ask or expect Zach to do those things, but he knew that for me, checking on Oliva meant a diaper change. 
And then there was the time John had to work; missing the Vacation Bible School program. When he told the kids goodbye before leaving the house, he told two year-old Elizabeth to sing loud so he could hear her. When it came time for her little class to sing the two songs they’d practiced all week, she marched up on stage, planted herself smack dab in front of the microphone, and sang loud enough that I’m pretty sure John did hear her. J
I could go on, but I won’t. Instead I want to encourage you to spend a few minutes thinking about what you say to your kids and how you say it. Are they getting the right message or is there too much room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation?

If your kids seem to be ignoring you or seeing how far they can push against their boundaries, stop and think about the fact that they just might be confused and unsure of your expectations. Ask them to repeat back to you what you’ve just said in their own words. In doing so, you will save both you and your kids a lot of frustration.


Love,
Momma D
                                           Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                         


Sunday, February 18, 2018

We All Have Our Own Place To Belong

The book, "A House Is A House For Me" by Mary Ann Hoberman was a favorite in our house when the kids were growing up--especially for Olivia. It's a great book filled with colorful and imaginative illustrations and equally-imaginative text. There is no story line, per se, but rather one long thought process about (and I quote) "...the things that are houses for things." 

Here are a few of my favorite lines from the book: 

A web is a house for a spider. A bird builds its nest in a tree. There's nothing so snug as a bug in a rug, but a house is a house for me. 

A box is a house for a teabag. A teapot is a house for some tea. If you pour me a cup and I drink it all up, then the teahouse will turn into me!

Perhaps I have started far-fetching. Perhaps I am stretching things some. A mirror's a house for a reflection and a throat is a house for a hum....

A book is a house for a story. A rose is a house for a smell. My head is a house for a secret--a secret I never will tell....

Each creature that's known has a house of its own...and the earth is a house for us all. 

It really is a very sweet book-one that makes us think about the fact that everyone has a special place where they belong. 

So here's my question to you: Do your children know you cherish the house they are in? In other words, do your children know you love them for who they are? Do they have the freedom to be themselves without fear of being made fun of or chastised by you? Or are you guilty of trying to put them in a 'house' they aren't meant to live in? 

I'm pretty sure you don't keep your cereal in the butter dish or your socks in the dishwasher, so don't try to put your children in a 'house' that isn't meant for them. Love them for who THEY are so that the earth that is a house for us all will be better for having them in it. 

Love,
Momma D

                                              Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                 

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Adoption Has Its Own 'Brand' Of Morning Sickness

Last week I spent one evening babysitting my four and two year-old granddaughters. As I sat playing with two year-old Landrey, I was both thankful and impressed at how far her speech has come in the nearly five months since we welcomed her into our family and our hearts the night she and her daddy and momma (my daughter, Elizabeth) returned from South Korea. 

And then I thought of my five year-old grandson, Reuben. He has biological parents in Taiwan where he was born, but he's got his momma's personality (my daughter, Olivia) through and through. 

Both of my daughters who are moms through adoption went through a great deal of pain and sick-to-your-stomach feelings in the process of bringing their children home. 

As a mother it was painful for me to watch my girls go through so much to get their babies. It's not at all like pregnancy. Ironically it took nine months from Reuben's birth to get him here, but that nine months was time Olivia spent missing out on her son's life instead of physically making him. And in Landrey's case, it took a year for her to actually become ours-a year that included some stressful and difficult situations beyond our control. 

So what's my point? My point is to remind you that too many people consider adoption easy or a quick-fix for having a baby. My girls endured several comments about 'escaping morning sickness' or 'taking the easy way out' by skipping the pain of labor. Wrong! Adoptive parents go through months and months of their own 'brand' of morning sickness and labor-sometimes even years!

So be mindful of adoptive parents and their feelings. Be compassionate and most of all, be sure to give them all the love, attention and special treatment all expectant parents deserve. 

Love,
Momma D
                        When you purchase a copy of "Love, Momma D" 20% of the price will be donated to terminally 
                        ill children and their families to help with expenses beyond what insurance covers. For more 
                        information, you can visit my website: www.dnoblewrites.weebly.com 
                         
                                       Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 
                                                                                                                    



Saturday, January 20, 2018

Birthday Cake? No, Thank You


Last week our youngest granddaughter, JoJo, celebrated her first birthday. I know it sounds cliché, but I honestly can’t believe how quickly the year flew by. It was a busy year, to say the least, but still…
Anyway, John and I SKYPED with them (don’t you just love SYPE?) so we could be somewhat-active participants in the celebration.
After we sang “Happy Birthday”, Essie ‘helped’ her little sister blow the candle; something JoJo showed no interest in whatsoever.  
Oh, well, no big deal. We didn’t want her trying to get the candle, anyway. But the cupcake—that was a different story. Because of her go-get-‘em and curious personality, we were just sure JoJo would dive right in; relishing every crumb and speck of icing. Wrong. She wouldn’t even touch it. Emma even offered her some of the icing, but no—not interested. 
I have to admit I was a little disappointed. Not in JoJo, of course, but disappointed that it didn’t go the way we thought it would. We were looking forward to seeing her ‘get into’ her cake—literally and figuratively. 
I’m sharing JoJo’s cupcake story with you because I want to remind you of how IMPORTANT it is to not let your expectations for your child’s experiences be the driving force behind their actions. In other words, just because our children don’t react or respond to something the way we think they will (or should) doesn’t mean they are wrong or that they’ve done something ‘bad’. Or even worse—that they’ve disappointed us. 
JoJo is adorable, sweet, amazing, and absolutely perfect just the way she is. I wouldn’t change one thing about her for anything in the world, and I will do everything I can to make sure she knows it. 
Will you do the same for your kids? I sure hope so. 

Love,
Momma D

                                        Copyright 2018 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

        The book, "Love, Momma D" is available wherever books are sold.
 Amazon link:  https://www.amazon.com/Love-Momma-Helping-Parents-Parenting/dp/1632133288/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1516497284&sr=8-1&keywords=love+momma+d