Sunday, January 7, 2018

I'm Just Sayin'...If You Really Mean It, Then Do Something About It

If you spend any time at all on Facebook you’ve seen, ‘liked’, and/or shared a post or two along the lines of…

When I was a kid we played hide-n-seek instead of computer games; eating out meant sitting at the picnic table in the back yard; people were upset if we didn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance; parents taught their children to respect teachers and policemen; we knew a bar of soap was for more than taking a bath.
We (because I fall into that 35 and up age group of people sharing these posts) seem to be pretty darn proud and thankful for the simple, happy, and relaxed childhood we enjoyed. We even appear to be proud and thankful for the fact that we were made to mind, taught to be respectful, that we had chores to do, and for the fact that our parents allowed us to pay the consequences for our actions. But are we really?
If we really believe the good ole’ days were better, then why are we raising a generation of kids to do just the opposite?

Why are we raising a generation of kids can’t even stand in a check-out line or take a little road trip without shoving some type of screen in their face to keep them occupied instead of teaching and expecting them to wait patiently and (gasp!) do things that require thinking and imagination to pass the time? 
Why are we raising a generation of kids to believe they should be awarded for their participation instead of teaching them that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose…and that BOTH are just fine?
Why are we raising a generation of kids who see absolutely nothing wrong with ignoring, antagonizing, and disrespecting people in authority because they (the kids) don’t want to obey and feel like they have a right to do whatever they want to? 
Why do we feel we have to change games like Candyland so that a child only has to miss just one turn if they land on an X instead of (another gasp!) having to miss several if they land on a dot and have to stay there until they get the right color? 
I said ‘we’ because I’m trying to be polite. But hey, since I’ve raised my kids, I’m just gonna put it out there and say to parents who are still in the process…you need to stop and think about the fact that no one is wishing they could trade the childhood they had for the kind of childhood today’s kids are experiencing.
Why is that?  I know, do you?

Even more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

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


Saturday, December 23, 2017

There's Plenty of Time to Get Life Figured Out

My five year-old grandson recently announced to his mother, “I don’t have life all figured out, but I’m just five, so that’s okay.” 
I couldn’t agree more. No five year-old should have to feel they need to have life all figured out. For that matter, no child, regardless of their age, should be made to feel like they should have all the answers. In fact, just the opposite is true. As parents you need to do all you can to ensure your child is given their full childhood. Don’t force or allow them to grow up too quickly. 
*Don’t allow them to be exposed to grown-up problems, situations, and conversations. 
*Don’t allow them to watch or listen to television, movies, or music about people or situations older than they are—unless it is family-friendly.
*Don’t allow them to have a social network account until they are at least thirteen. *Don’t let them dress like mini-teens or adults. That includes makeup and jewelry, too.
*Don’t allow them to watch ‘reality’ television shows that promote growing up too quickly (pageants, teen parenthood, etc.).

*Don’t give your children too much privacy or too much freedom. We all need alone time and time to think and act independently, but the more time your children spend alone the more time they have to seek out role models and mentorship from someone besides you. 
Please don’t take this as an endorsement or ‘permission’ to be over-protective or to baby your children. This isn’t my intention in the least! Children need to be given age-appropriate responsibilities. They need to be taught and encouraged to be independent thinkers. But these things should be taught—not expected. 
Parents should never expect their child to pinch-hit as an adult. It’s not fair. It’s not healthy. And it’s not good parenting. So remember to keep the words to this Billy Dean song in your heart and in your mind; making them part of your parenting ‘plan’….

So let them be little,
'Cause they're only that way for a while.
Give 'em hope, give them praise,
Give them love every day.
Let 'em cry, let 'em giggle,
Let 'em sleep in the middle,
Oh, but let them be little.


Momma D
                                            Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Please Pass the Memories...Part Three

A couple of months ago I started this ‘series’ of blog posts on passing down your family’s memories by reminding you of the importance of telling your children stories about their grandparents and about your childhood. Part two was about giving back your children mementos of their childhood by creating ‘keep forever’ boxes. Today in part three I want to talk about the importance of family traditions.
I can almost hear some of you groaning thinking about some of the things your parents insisted upon during your growing up years. In fact, you still aren’t sure you’ve fully recovered from the disappointment of missing your friend’s Memorial Day party when you were in the eighth grade because it was your family’s tradition to visit the graves of people you never knew and then end the day at your grandparents’ house making homemade ice cream. You vowed that day (in between bites of ice cream) that you would never make your kids suffer like you had to. Family traditions? They wouldn’t even know the meaning of the phrase! 
If that pretty much describes your thoughts on the matter, I want to encourage you to reconsider and even go so far as to change your mind on the matter. And here’s why…
Family traditions create strong family bonds. Family traditions give us (both children and adults) a greater sense of security and stability. Children from families with a few traditions are also found to be more confident, resilient, and more socially adept than children from families where traditions are nonexistent. 
I didn’t need reports to tell me these things, though, and I can vouch for the validity of their claims because …
·         Seven-up® floats with potato chips and dip during Gun Smoke

·         Going to Grandma and Grandpa Widener’s on Sunday afternoon

·         Family reunion…third Saturday of July (now September)…no matter what

·         Grandma Noble’s Christmas stocking hunt with goofy poems for clues

·         Zach’s angel at the top of the Christmas tree…forever

·         The birthday boy or girl gets to choose just about everything for that day

·         Linda’s trick-or-treat bags and Christmas decorations

·         Cornbread with beans because you can’t have one without the other

·         Deer camp 
So go ahead—hold your head up high and start (or carry on) a few family traditions. But remember: bling and ‘wow effect’ aren’t what make a tradition special or meaningful. Permanence and a sense of connection are what make a tradition special. Some of the best traditions are simple, quiet things—like Seven-up floats, sitting around the fire at deer camp, or a dilapidated paper angel perched on top of a Christmas tree. 
Don’t worry if your kids don’t seem to appreciate or even notice your family’s traditions. They might not seem to be important to them now, but trust me; the day will come when they will be glad and thankful for them.

Momma D
                                         Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Question No Child Should Think About Asking: Momma, Why Does Santa Love Some Kids More Than He Loves Me????

A couple  of years ago I read something that broke my heart. It was an open letter from a mom to all the other moms out there. The woman was asking moms across the country to please have Santa give their children simple, ordinary gifts rather than expensive, extravagant items like phones, computers, gaming devices, designer clothes, and the latest and greatest toys. She wasn't asking parents to not give these gifts if they could and wanted to--she was simply asking that they let their kids know the more extravagant gifts were from them...not Santa.    

You might be wondering why--what should it matter to her?

Well, she actually had a very good reason--one that should matter to her and every other parent on the planet. The reason for her request was because she never wanted to be put in the position of having to answer the question her six year-old daughter asked her ever again: “Why does Santa Claus love other kids more than he does me?”

This loving mother went on to write that she and her husband worked hard to provide for their two children, but their paychecks barely paid for the necessities in life like rent, childcare, food, utilities, clothes, and vehicle expenses. In other words, there wasn’t much left for Christmas.

“We couldn’t afford the things other kids in their classes at school got,” she said. “But when my daughter heard other kids talking about what they got, she was hurt and confused. Not because she didn’t get those things, but because she viewed the obvious differences as a sign that she wasn’t good enough in Santa’s eyes to merit such gifts—that she had done something bad or wrong to cause him not to bring her the same type of gifts some of her friends received.”

The mom who wrote this letter adamantly stressed that the purpose of her letter was NOT to try illicit pity and she wasn’t asking for a hand-out. She just wanted to remind people that since we tell our kids that Santa loves all boys and girls and that he brings gifts to them because of this love, we need to make Santa an ‘equal opportunity gift-giver’.

So as you get ready to head out to grab up all those holiday shopping deals and try to fulfil the wishes of everyone on your gift list, remember that it really isn’t the cost or extravagance of the gift, but the fact that you thought of giving anything at all. Besides, if you think about it, Santa couldn't possibly afford all those things, so….

Momma D

                                           Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 


Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Beautiful Reason for a Pretty Little Box, aka Please Pass the Memories...Part Two

Several years ago I was strolling through Hobby Lobby (my happy place) when I found myself standing in front of some shelves filled with vintage-looking wooden boxes. Some looked like old suitcases while others looked like old steamer trunks or crates. They came in a variety of sizes and shapes and best of all THEY WERE HALF OFF!

The bargain hunter and lover-of-all-things-vintage in me wanted to snatch a few of them up. But the practical side of me couldn't come up with a use for them so I did what any reasonable person would do...I walked around the store until I thought of something. And that 'something', I have to say was a stroke of genius. So I hurried back over to the boxes and carefully selected four boxes (one for each of my kids) in which I was going to place the treasured memories of their childhood.

Inside each box I placed the outfit they had worn home from the hospital, their baby book, other mementos of their infancy, their favorite story book, first tooth, first drawings and special school papers and awards, their first Sunday school papers, a favorite childhood sleeping companion, and a few other choice items. I also attached notes to most of the items explaining their sentiment.

The last thing to go into the box was a letter from me recounting the memorable things they had said and done-things that only a mother remembers. I cannot begin to tell you the joy I had in putting these treasure boxes together! It was like living each of their lives all over again. I admit there were plenty of tears shed as I gently folded each baby garment, read each paper, and recorded their memorable moments-but they were happy tears.

A few months later, on Christmas morning, as we all gathered around the tree, everyone was curious about the 'treasure boxes' I had placed behind all the other gifts. I hadn’t bothered wrapping or labeling them-I knew who they belonged to. It wasn’t easy, but I patiently waited until after all the other gifts had been opened before I presented each of my children with their box.
 Emma was ten at the time. She enjoyed looking through it, but it wasn't until a few years later that she really understood and appreciated the significance of the gift. And since she was so young, I added to the box over the next several years.
Elizabeth and Olivia, who were nineteen and seventeen, had a great time looking through their boxes and remembering some of the events represented inside. They couldn’t believe I’d kept some of things that, to them, seemed so insignificant. They were pleased that I had, though, and I knew they appreciated the love that had gone into their boxes.
And then there was (then) twenty-two year old son, Zachery, was the one who really ‘got it’. After reading the letter I had placed on top of his things, he became totally lost in what was inside. For the next two to three hours, he gently took each item out of the box, one at a time and read each note carefully. With his new bride sitting next to him, he related the history behind each one. I saw him laugh, I saw tears in his eyes, and I saw a look of joy that comes from recalling those things that are most dear to our hearts. Then after carefully replacing each item, he wrapped his arms around me, and through tears he wasn’t ashamed of crying, he thanked me for being the kind of mother who loved so deeply and cared so much. He said the box was the most special gift he had received. And friends, let me tell you; that was one of the best gifts I have ever received!
Passing on the memories of your children’s lives-through your eyes-is one of the most valuable gifts you can give them. Doing so tells them that as their mother, you love them unconditionally; through all things, in spite of all things, and not because of anything they do, but just because they are a part of you. 
Momma D
                                           Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase a copy of "Love, Momma D", 20% of the price will be donated to families of terminally ill children to enable them to purchase necessary equipment not covered by health insurance. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Please Pass the Memories...Part One

If you read this blog with any regularity you know I’m big on storytelling. Storytelling is how I express my thoughts and feelings. It’s how I teach and how I make a point. Storytelling is just part of what makes me, me. But it is also a trait I inherited, so to speak, from my Granny.

Granny told stories all the time—stories about her childhood, stories about being a young wife and mom, stories about her and her friends, and even stories her parents told her. We all loved Granny’s stories. We never got tired of hearing them. If you were to ask my kids, they would tell you what their favorite story is, and then they would start telling it—just like Granny did. 
Our family’s fondness for storytelling doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, either. One of Mack and Macy’s favorite ways to pass the time in the car or as we wind down for the evening is to listen to me tell stories about the things their dad and aunts did growing up. Stories about pets, life on the farm, school…you name it— they want to hear about it. 
“That’s nice,” you say. “Great story,” you say (no pun intended). “But what’s the point?” 
I’m glad you asked, and I am equally happy to tell you. 
The point is that by telling stories you are providing your children, grandchildren, and even your great-grandchildren with an oral history of who their people were. You are giving them a piece of the past to weave into their present and their future. 
So now here’s what I want you to do. I want you to set aside some time to gather the generations of your family together and have a good old-fashioned story-telling session. Pass on the memories that make your family your family. But then you need to be ready, because it won’t be long before you hear, “Tell me about the time that….”

Momma D
                        Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Perfectly Imperfect, Absolutely Wonderful, and Mine

A week ago today our house was full of people, noise, toys, food, and lots and lots of love. Why? Because a week ago today, all sixteen of us came together to give Emma, Dwight, Essie, and JoJo a proper ‘send-off ‘ as they head off to California, where they’ll be living for the next three years.

Aside from having my entire brood all gathered in one place, the thing I wanted most out of the day was a group picture. But if you know anything at all about large group pictures in which nearly half of the subjects are under the age of ten, then you know there’s a better chance for peace in the Middle-East than there is at getting everyone perfectly positioned, smiling and looking in the same direction at the same time. But guess what?

We did it…almost. 
The sun caused a few of us to squint a little bit. The baby had her fingers in her mouth. The wind blew a few hairs out of place. In several of them, at least one of the kids looked away to make sure the person standing next to them was looking at the camera. And in others, some of the adults missed their ‘que’ because they were making sure the kids were ‘set’.

In other words, the pictures aren’t perfect. But that’s okay because we aren’t perfect. And if the pictures were perfect, they wouldn’t be showing the real us. 
It’s true. Sometimes we get on each other’s nerves. Sometimes we even hurt each other’s feelings. But in spite of those ‘sometimes’, we are always loyal, always ready to defend and care for one another, and at the end of the day we love the fact that we are family and love always wins out over everything else.

So when I look at those perfectly imperfect pictures, I see my heart and my life’s work looking back at me. And you know what? I couldn’t be happier because I’ll take my perfectly wonderful imperfect family over perfect pictures any day. 
I hope you feel the same about your family.

Momma D
                                  Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used without permission from the author. 


Sunday, October 1, 2017

Um...No, Thank-you (said oh, so sweetly)

Three year-old Essie is quite a character; an adorable, sometimes precocious, independent, and utterly amazing character. And for the most part she has a pretty firm grasp on the whole manners ‘thing especially “No, thank-you”. For example...
Me: Essie, eat your chicken.

Essie: Um…no, thank you.

Emma (Essie’s mom): Essie, let’s put on play clothes so you don’t get your dress dirty.

Essie: Um…no, thank-you.

Dwight (Essie’s dad): Essie, it’s time to go inside to take your bath. 
Essie: Um…no, thank-you.

(All said in her sweet little voice)
I don’t want you to think Essie’s ‘go to’ response is always “Um…no, thank-you” because it’s not. She’s generally very cooperative (and obviously polite). But what I do want you learn from Essie’s use of “No, thank-you” is the importance of teaching your children to be tactful and diplomatic.

As parents we sometimes get so wrapped up in teaching our children to be strong and independent and to make sure no one takes advantage of them, that we forget to teach them to be…well, to just be nice.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the news and look around. You don’t see much nice happening, do you? And you certainly don’t hear many people saying, “Um… no, thank-you.”

And isn’t that sad? Because if more people were as diplomatic and tactful as Essie is, we would soon find that most days would either be ‘slow news days’ or the news would be something we would actually be glad to hear. 
So instead of making sure your children know what it means to ‘look out for number one’ and know how to demand fairness and respect, why not teach them how to deserve fairness and respect by just being nice?

Momma D
                         Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Chocolate Milk and Barbeque, Rocks in the Creek, "Hungry, Hungry Hippo", and Toys in the Closet

Mack and Macy are nine and six, respectively. They’ve been drinking from a regular cup or glass for several years now, but when they come to my house they still want to drink their chocolate milk from the sippy cups they had when they were toddlers. They also expect Grandpa to fix his yummy barbeque chicken, multiple games of “Uno”, craft projects, and a trip to the candy store for jellybeans.

When Laney comes over she heads straight for the bag of dress-up clothes. She has her sights set on a specific ‘dress’ and wastes no time in putting it on. She also expects the dollhouse to come out of the closet.

For Reuben it’s the “Mr. Grinch” book, throwing rocks in the creek with Grandpa, and following me around asking, “Whatcha doin’, Nanna?”. Peanut butter toast and chocolate milk for breakfast are also a must, along with riding his bike alongside us while we take a walk.
Essie’s trips to Nanna and Grandpa’s house wouldn’t be right in her eyes if I didn't push her in the stroller on a long walk, Fruit Loops and chocolate milk for breakfast, reading “Toad on the Road”, playing “Hungry, Hungry Hippo” and eating popcorn popped in the Snoopy doghouse popper.
Landrey and JoJo are too little to have their ‘things’…yet. All in good time, though, I’m sure they will. And if you’ve been paying attention, you know there’s a very good chance chocolate milk will be involved. J
What it is with my kiddos and chocolate milk??
But the bigger question I have to ask is, what are these ‘things’ the kids have?
In a word…these things are expectations. Each of our grandkids has certain expectations of the way things should be when they come to Nanna and Grandpas. These expectations are their safety-nets and comfort zones. They are part of what makes their visits complete and special in their hearts and minds.
But how would they feel if these things weren’t there….
As parents we need to be aware of our children’s (and grandchildren’s) need for their expectations to be met. They need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will be there for them…always.
They need to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your home will always be a safe place for them to ‘land’.
They need to know that they can always count on you to be consistent in your responses to their behavior, your disciplinary measures, your expectations and guidelines, and of course, your unconditional love.
Can they? Are you meeting their expectations?

Momma D
                            Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used without permission from the author.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I'm NOT Sorry

In the grocery the a the zoo-nearly everywhere I've been lately, I have witnessed a child doing one or more of the following:

*Throwing a tantrum because they aren't getting their way
*Running (as in actual running) through the store upsetting merchandise and even knocking a toddler down
*Ripping open a package to get a better look at the toy inside the box
*Throwing food at their parent and refusing to eat it
*Telling their parent 'no' and 'shut up'
*I've even heard a mom apologizing to her preschooler for disciplining her when she got mad at mom for having the audacity to do so!

Hey, I know parenting isn't easy. I have four kids. I know kids have their moments. I also know kids sometimes have a knack for picking the worst possible time to have those moments.

I know these things because my kids weren't perfect (and still aren't). Olivia got in trouble more than once when she was a toddler for taking things off the shelf and putting them in my cart. I also lost her in a store once because she crawled under a circular rack of clothing. When Emma was a baby she noisily refused to eat anything we put in front of her one day in a restaurant. She also went into major 'pout mode' if I dared to put her in a dress with a sash that tied in the back. I still swear she could breathe fire at me for that one. Elizabeth got 'the look' and a firm talking-to after church once or twice for talking to her friends during the service. There was also that time she got a little too rambunctious with her mini-grocery cart in Kroger's. That really was an accident, but I had warned her to be careful more than once. Zach almost pushed Elizabeth off the saddle chairs in McDonalds once because he wanted the one she was sitting in, and one time when we were eating lunch with an elderly woman, he told her he didn't like what she was serving.

See, I told you they weren't perfect. But I'll tell you something else, too. When the kids said or did something inappropriate, they were told to They were told why their behavior was unacceptable (if they didn't already know), and they were disciplined accordingly for their misbehavior.

Oh, and here's something else you need to know...I'M  NOT THE LEAST BIT SORRY FOR ANY OF IT.

I'm not sorry my kids were expected and required to be respectful to John and me as well as others.
I'm not sorry my kids were not allowed to mishandle or mistreat their toys, clothes, books, and such. I'm not sorry my kids weren't allowed to use foul language or talk back to us. I'm not sorry my kids didn't get everything they thought they needed or wanted. I'm not sorry things like going out to eat or going to get ice cream was a special treat--not something they felt they were entitled to. I'm not sorry my kids were required to obey, to do chores, and to follow the rules. And you can take it to the bank that I never have or never will apologize for disciplining my kids when they didn't do any of the above.

It's your job as a parent to teach your kids how to behave respectfully and responsibly. It's also your job as a parent to discipline your kids if they don't. And for the love of popcorn, don't apologize for disciplining them. If you do, you'll really have something to be sorry for later on.

Momma D
                         Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.