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.


Love,
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?

Love,
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?

Love,
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 store...at the mall...in a restaurant...at 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 stop...now. 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.


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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Have I Ever Told You About Calvin?

Several years ago we discovered a nest of baby mice in the feed shed. As we proceeded in ridding the building of the little critters, eight year-old Olivia insisted on making one of them a pet. After all, it was only fair since Elizabeth had a hamster. We had plenty of suitable cages to put it in, so in her mind it was a win-win situation. She even picked out a name for her new pet in the few minutes she spent trying to win me over. His name would be Calvin.

How could I argue with such a solid plan? And Calvin was actually a pretty cute name for a pet…even a pet mouse. So being the great mom sucker that I was, Olivia joyfully picked up one of the babies and hurried to the house to get him settled in his new home.
A week or so later, however, Calvin decided to venture out of his home. He was on the loose in the house! We set traps (not the life-ending kind) and watched for signs of where he was or had been. Nothing. Calvin was nowhere to be found. I kept up my vigil for two or three weeks, but when there were no signs of him, I gave up; assuming he had made his way back to the feed shed or barn. Wrong!
After the last day of school prior to Christmas break, I was cleaning out Olivia’s backpack and guess what I found? No, not Calvin ‘in the flesh’, but evidence Calvin had been there—shredded tissues, hard candy from the art teacher Calvin had obviously found to be rather tasty, and a few other ‘things’. In other words, Calvin had gone to school with Olivia and for all I knew, was still there! Maybe ignoring his disappearance hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
A day or two after Christmas Calvin found his way into one of the traps we’d set for him in the girls’ closet. Apparently he wasn’t too crazy about school. But that didn’t matter. Calvin didn’t get a second chance at being a pet.
The adventures of Calvin taught Olivia a valuable lesson in why not to take a mouse in as a pet. But the adventures of Calvin taught me something even more important. Calvin’s adventures taught me that problems aren’t solved by ignoring them or pretending they aren’t there. Ignoring or denying a problem exists only makes it worse and increases its radius of potential harm.
So if your child is having trouble in school, address the issue and get them the help they need. If your child is consistently misbehaving, showing disrespect, or acting out, don’t brush it off as ‘just a stage’. Let your child know their behavior is unacceptable, teach them the appropriate optional behavior, and let them experience the consequences of not making the switch. If your child shows signs of being bullied, having anxiety, eating disorders, using drugs or alcohol, or any other harmful behavior, don’t deny it could be happening to your child, because it can. Don’t settle for anything less than getting them the help they need. It might possibly save their life.
I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but thanks, Calvin.

Love,
Momma D

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

                                                                          

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Sometimes They Did...Sometimes They Didn't...But They ALWAYS Survived

Can you smell it? You know…the smell of new crayons, glue sticks, new tennis shoes, and unsharpened pencils. Oh, the days of shopping for school supplies.

With four kids it was quite an undertaking and let’s just say Wal-Mart was glad to see me coming. But I didn’t mind. In fact, I had as much fun watching and helping them pick out what they needed and wanted (within reason) as they did. There’s just something about starting something new that gives you energy and hope.

The kids hoped they got certain teachers. Sometimes they did…and sometimes they didn’t.

The kids hoped they were in the same homeroom as their best friends. Sometimes they were…and sometimes they weren’t.

They kids hoped they got the same lunch period as most of their friends. Sometimes they did…and sometimes they didn’t.

The kids hoped their school ID pictures would look halfway decent instead of like a mug shot. Sometimes they did…and sometimes, well, you know the drill.

With each new school year came both excitement and disappointments. But then life is like that, isn’t it?

After all, it’s really not the end of the world if they don't always get the teacher they wanted. They’re still going to learn what they are supposed to learn. And the world really won't stop turning if your child isn’t in the same homeroom or lunch period as their best friend—I promise. The ID pictures? Sorry, no guarantee on that one, either. I mean is there anyone who can take a good picture when you have all of ten seconds to step into place and say ‘cheese’ before the weird guy behind the camera takes one shot and hollers “Next!”?

As parents we know these things aren’t worth stressing over, but our kids don’t—not yet anyway. That’s where you come in. It’s your job to teach them to take things as they come and make the best of them—to instill in your children a sense of resiliency.

Children who are resilient have better social skills, have a stronger sense of self-confidence, are less likely to be bullied or to be a bully, and have must stronger coping skills when it comes to things that really should be considered as a struggle or disappointment. What’s more, studies show that resilient children turn into resilient adults.

So…as the new school year approaches, don’t feel bad about telling your child they have to choose a $15 dollar back pack instead of a $50 one. And don’t let them whine and moan because they have first lunch period instead of third like ‘everyone’ else does. They’ll get over it…and be better people for it.

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

                                                                                                                                       

Monday, July 24, 2017

"I Just Need To Hear Her Voice"

I’ve been ‘silent’ on here for a few weeks because I've been doing my annual ‘gig’ at church camp as the camp mom and teaching middle schoolers and junior high students. And yes, I love it—every single second of it. Investing in their lives is a huge blessing.

For some of the kids the time they spend at camp is time away from a not-so-great home life. These kids don’t want to see it end. Others, however, get a bit homesick. They want to be at camp and they have a great time, but late in the evening (the closer we get to bedtime) there are always a few that come to me saying they want to go home.

This was what I thought eleven year-old “Carly” was going to do one Tuesday night. She came to me and asked if she could call her mom. Thinking she was going to want her mom to come and get her at that late hour I told her I thought we should wait until morning—that we didn’t want to wake her up and cause her to think something was wrong. “Carly” quickly replied that her mom got off work (from a hospital) at eleven, so she would be on her way home.

I didn’t really have any logical comeback for that, but she could see I was still hesitating. That’s when she said, “Miss Darla, I don’t want to go home. I’m having a great time. But I really love my mom and I just want to hear her voice.”
Talk about melting my heart! I couldn’t get the phone in her hand fast enough. J She spent less than five minutes talking to her mom; telling her what she’d done so far and asking how her dad and little brother were doing. Then she told her mom she loved her, that she would see her on Friday, and then she handed me the phone, gave me a hug, and ran off to get ready for bed with the other girls.
Besides just being a really sweet story, I decided to share this with you this because I want you as parents to make it your goal in life—every single day of your life—to make yours a voice your children ‘just need to hear’.
Make yours a voice that calms, encourages, reassures, affirms, disciplines in love, teaches, protects, and directs.

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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Don't Be Afraid To Be Afraid

Happy 4th of July!!!!!!!! I hope everyone is having a great time celebrating the birth of our nation and that you remember the principles and reasons this country was founded on and the price that has been paid for each of us to enjoy this very special time of year.

That being said, I want to share with you something else of importance—something I learned from my eight year-old granddaughter, Mackenzie, earlier today…
She was waiting her turn to go ‘tubing’ behind the boat, but was a bit apprehensive about doing so. She’d already gone earlier in the day with her daddy, but since Daddy wasn’t in the boat, she wasn’t so sure. When my daughter in-law (Mack’s mom) and I asked her if she was going, she said, “No, I’m too scared. I’m scared to death to go.”
We told her it was okay to be scared AND that it was okay if she didn’t want to do it again. She thought about it a little while, decided to give it another try, and enjoyed it.
At this point you probably think I’m going to tie this in to overcoming your fears or helping your children overcome theirs, don’t you? Well I’m not. Instead I’m going to say, “Thank you” to Mack for reminding me that sometimes it is okay to be afraid and that we should never feel like we have to make up excuses for why we don’t want to do something. That’s right! It’s okay to just say, “I don’t want to because I am afraid.”
When I was her age I wouldn’t have been brave enough to just admit I was afraid. And yes, it takes a lot of guts to do that. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m still brave enough to do that. So thanks, Mackenzie, for teaching Nanna an important lesson today.
I also want it to be a lesson to you, as well—a lesson that reminds you to make it comfortable and acceptable for your kids to admit their fears without having even an inkling of doubt about the fact that they won’t be made fun of or belittled for being…afraid.
Everyone’s afraid of something…or several something’s. So who are we to judge whether a person’s fears are justifiable or not? And when it comes to your children, most of the time, time is all that is necessary for these things to take care of themselves. But even if they don’t, is it really that big of a deal? Do you love them any less? I didn’t think so.

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

                                                                              

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Kids, Paper, Sharpies, and You

My daughter Emma was doing her morning Bible reading the other day when three year-old Essie came over, thumbed through a few of the pages and asked, “How do you read that, Momma? There’s no pictures.”

A few days later Essie approached Emma with a baby wipe, gently swiped it against Emma’s arm and hand and said, “By the way, thank you for saving my life.” 
Now if you know much about Disney movies you probably realize that both the remark about the book having no pictures and the one about saving her life are near-direct quotes from the animated version of “Beauty and the Beast”. 
Essie loves that movie as well as Cinderella and a few others. So you probably think it only makes sense that she would be able to quote from them. But here’s the deal—she isn’t allowed to watch a lot of television or movies. Her ability to quote them doesn’t stem from watching them over and over and over again. No, it comes from the fact that she, like every other child, reacts to what they hear and see in the same way paper, fabric, or your walls react to sharpies. 
In other words, words, images, and situations make indelible imprints on our children. You know, indelible, as in they don’t come off or go away. So here’s my question to you: If these things were so permanently imprinted on her little mind with such a limited amount of exposure, how deep and indelible are the ‘marks’ made by the things she is exposed to every day? 
Essie is definitely exceptional and special in my book (as are all my perfectly wonderful grandchildren). But in reality she is no different than your children in the fact that they all have a heart and mind full of indelible marks that were made by what we said, what we did, how we responded, and what we exposed them to.  
So I’ll ask again, if your children are permanently marked by the things they have limited exposure to, how deep and indelible are the ‘marks’ made by the things they are exposed to every day? And are they the things you really want them to be exposed to? 


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





Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Show-n-Tell Parenting


Have you ever said something that was perceived the wrong way? You meant it one way, but the person you were speaking to took it another? I know I sure have—more times than I can count. I also remember an occasion or two when my kids did the same…
Olivia was always singing and dancing her way everywhere when she was little. And one day when she was three or four, as we were making our way through the parking lot of the grocery store, she was belting out the words, “She’s got the red on, and I’ve got the blue” (her version of  Alan Jackson’s “She’s Got The Rhythm And I’ve Got The Blues”). 
I also remember the time Elizabeth was explaining why she needed some extra school supplies for a class she was taking. Initially I didn’t get everything she needed because I didn’t understand the reasoning behind what she’d said. In my mind there was no reason for her to need…. 
Oh, and then there was the time I needed help with something ASAP, to which Emma responded, “I’ll be there in a minute.” In my mind ‘in a minute’ wasn’t good enough. But what I didn’t know (and couldn’t see) was that she was changing Mack’s dirty diaper when I called her. So yes, she really did need a minute or two to respond. 
The point I want to make is that as parents (and even grandparents and spouses) we are often guilty of assuming we know what our kids are thinking, feeling, or saying when in fact, we aren’t. Just because we think we know what they mean, doesn’t make it so. And just because we don’t get the response when we want it and the way we want it, doesn’t mean we’ve gotten the wrong response. 
It’s not our job or even our right to tell our kids what they are thinking. And it’s not our right to expect or demand that they respond the way we want them to every single time. Our job is to teach them how to think for themselves, how to discern right from wrong, and how to express themselves appropriately. As parents we need to give our kids the freedom and grace to share their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly with respect—and FYI, respect doesn’t mean always seeing things your way. Respect means acknowledging one another lovingly and graciously. 
So parents, let’s not reserve ‘show and tell’ just for school (do they even do that anymore?). Let’s show and tell our kids how much we love them by letting them show and tell us what they think, how they feel, and who they really are. 

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