Thursday, December 31, 2015

10:52...The Minute That Changed My Life Forever

I remember every little detail about the days and hours leading up to 10:52; the minute that changed my life forever. How could I not, because that was the minute I became a mom for the first time. At 10:52 AM on 12-31-82, John Zachery Noble was born!

From that moment on everything John and I did for the next eighteen years we did because of, or for Zach (and beyond that for his sisters). Even now that he and his sisters are married and have families of their own, many of the decisions we make and things we do are made and done only after taking them into consideration. Why? Because at 10:52 my life…our lives were forever changed.
I wasn’t ‘just’ Darla anymore. John wasn’t ‘just’ John anymore. We weren’t even ‘just’ John and Darla anymore. We were John and Darla—Zach’s mom and dad. His very life and well-being was in our hands.

Being a parent isn’t something you do—or at least it shouldn’t be. From the minute your first child comes into this world, you ARE a parent. Your number one priority and goal as a parent should be to love unconditionally with that “just because” kind of love. In doing so you will nurture and encourage your child to be their very best self; a ‘self’ of faith, honor, integrity, compassion, and a ‘self’ that possesses a strong sense of self-worth, humility, and a desire to work hard for what they have.

When you are this parent, you can’t lose. Your kids can’t lose. Society can’t lose.

I started out by telling you I remember every little detail about the day 10:52 changed my life forever—and it’s true. I remember the tears of joy running down John’s face while he repeatedly said “Thank you for giving me a son”.  I remember holding Zach and thanking God for making him so perfectly wonderful. I remember hoping he would always know how much I love him. I remember hoping we would raise him to know and love the LORD. I remember how excited I was to show him off to the world. I remember hoping I would be the mom he deserved. I even remember wondering if I would ever sit down like a normal person again. J  Why did I have those thoughts? Because that was who I had become in that moment and who I will forever be. Mom.

But I also remember what didn’t happen. There were no thoughts or worries about whether or not our house was big enough, if he would have enough toys, or if he would be popular or be the star of the school football or soccer team. I didn’t have one thought as to whether he would be good enough, cute enough, or smart enough for me to want to always be his mom. Why? Because that’s not what parents who ARE parents do. So ask yourself this: Are you doing parenting or ARE you a parent?

Happy birthday, Zach, and happy New Year, everyone!

Love,
Momma D

                               Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                            



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Life Lesson to be Learned from a Pan of Hot Rolls

A couple of weeks before Christmas I was having a casual conversation with another woman; one in which we were discussing our ‘readiness’ for the upcoming holiday. In the course of our conversation Mrs. Hart said she had spent the afternoon making several dozen chocolate-covered peanut butter balls and Santa’s thumbprint cookies because those were the favorites of two of her grandchildren. She went on to say she’d be making the favorite treat of her other four grandchildren the following day.

As I listened to her I couldn’t help but think about the Thanksgiving dinner we’d had just a few weeks prior to that. I had tried a new roll recipe. Some thought they were just fine, but others—especially Zach—were not impressed. It wasn’t because they didn’t taste good. It was because they weren’t the ones I usually made…the ones he likes and was looking forward to.

Hey, what can I say? They weren’t bad but you can bet I won’t do it again. I’m just glad the gravy was spot-on. J And just so you know, when we sit down to Christmas dinner there will be rolls—the kind Zach and the rest of my family have come to expect.

I also thought of Granny and the love, energy, and time she put into making my birthday cakes so special. She didn’t do it because I expected it. She did it because she wanted to use her talents to let me to know how special I was to her.

So why will there be ‘real’ rolls? Why did Mrs. Hart go to all the trouble to make so many different kinds of treats and goodies? Why did I have such fancy birthday cakes? Because of our desire for our kids and grandkids to know we want(ed) to go the extra mile to make them happy. Because we enjoy(ed) doing the little things that bring a smile to their faces.

At the risk of sounding like my two year-old granddaughter and every other two year-old in the universe, I’m going to ask why again. Why is putting a smile on their faces and letting them know we want to go the extra mile so important?

There are actually two answers to that question. 1: Because it is an expression of love. 2: Because in doing so we are setting an example to our kids and grandkids that says going the extra mile and valuing the needs and desires of others is important.

To the naked eye, the rolls, cookies, and cakes are nothing more than something to eat. But the truth of the matter is that these things are evidence that you value others as much or more than you do yourself. They are life-lessons in selflessness, humility, integrity, and love.—all of which we should want to teach our kids.

These things should also serve as tangible reminders to you; reminders that as a parent, it is your responsibility to put their needs and desires of your kids on the top of your priority list. Don’t forget, though, being a parent is a responsibility you should embrace—one you should feel privileged and honored to have.


Merry Christmas,

Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission of the author. 

                                                                                                        

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Dad Can Do A Cartwheel...Can Yours?

If you’re a mom, there’s a dad to go with you and vice versa. You may be raising your children as a single parent or like me, you may be blessed with a ‘parenting partner’ who has been active and present in all phases of your parenting journey, but either way you can’t be a mom or dad without each other. It’s simple biology.

Each week I share something I’ve experienced and learned as a mom and nanna. But this week I want to give credit to my parenting partner and love of my life, John.

John worked diligently and sacrificially as a law enforcement officer for thirty years; putting in long, stressful hours so that I could be a stay-at-home mom and wife. It’s true he wasn’t always able to attend every school program, 4-H event, or church outing. And there were many nights he wasn’t there to eat dinner with us or say ‘good night’ before they went to bed. But as our youngest daughter Emma said a couple of years ago, “I get it now. Any time Dad wasn’t able to be there was simply so you could be, Mom.”

John may not have been there for everything, but he was there for the really important things. He was there to help me bring each of our four children into the world. He was there to make memories on family camping trips. He was there to cheer Zach on at soccer games, cross-country meets, and track meets. He was there to help the kids show their livestock at the fair. He was there to worship with them in church (unless he had to work). He was there when each of them accepted Christ as their Savior. He was to take them sledding, teach them how to work hard, discipline them, rescue them from run-away ponies and angry roosters, teach them why and how to choose between the microwave and the hoodie (that’s another story for another day) and to turn cartwheels in the living room and dance with his daughters to “Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas Album”. But most of all, he was (and still is) there to show them what it is to be a man of integrity, honor, loyalty, grace, and to love the LORD.

The lesson I want to leave you with this week is this: parenting is a team-effort. Children need both a mom and a dad. Your roles are different, yet the same. You both have a responsibility to make memories, discipline, invest yourselves into your children’s lives, and to love unconditionally.

Thank you, John, for parenting with me. Happy Birthday!

Love,

Momma D
                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                       

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What's Blue and Yellow, Made of Paper, and Comes Out Only Once a Year???

In early December of 1984 Zach, who was almost two, came walking out of his Sunday school class carrying a paper angel covered in blue and yellow crayon scribbles. The angel had a strip of paper on each side of the bottom of the skirt that had been taped together to form a circle. The purpose of this angel: to sit on the top of a Christmas tree.

When Zach proudly handed me the paper angel I promised we would put it on top of the tree as soon as we got home and that it would sit on top of my Christmas tree ‘forever’ (as long as I was living).
So would you like to guess what is sitting on top of my Christmas tree this year—just like every year beginning in 1984? That’s right. It’s the paper angel Zach made. Hey, I promised and promises are meant to be kept.

When you make a promise to your children (or anyone, for that matter) you are putting your integrity on the line and are providing your children with the answer to the question of whether or not they can trust you…really trust you. When you keep your promises your children see you as safe and trustworthy. Breaking your promises however, is unsettling to your children. They feel exposed and vulnerable. They don’t know when to trust you and when not to. If this happens very often, they will quit trusting you altogether. And when this happens, you lose their respect, as well.

I made the promise to Zach that day because a) I wanted him to know how much I valued his efforts b) I wanted to make him feel special c) I wanted to establish a tradition for our little family. I’ve kept the promise I made to Zach all those years ago because a) I want him to always know my word is good and that he can trust me no matter what and b) because I LOVE that little paper angel.

Over the next few years our little family doubled in size from three to six. Promises were made to each of the girls (and kept). More traditions were added along the way, as well, but none replaced the tradition of our paper tree angel because I promised, and promises are meant to be kept.

How well do you keep the promises you make to your children? Do you keep them or do you promise things in an effort to gain compliance or a little peace and quiet? I hope you keep them because (in case you haven't picked up on it yet) promises are meant to be kept.

Love,
Momma D
                           Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                           




Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DON'T SPILL THOSE BEANS!!


This time last week, I was playing game after game after game of “Don’t Spill the Beans” with Mackenzie and Macy. If you aren’t familiar with the game, allow me to give you a brief explanation…

Each person takes their turn in placing a plastic bean on the bean pot that is balanced on two ‘arms’. The object of the game is to NOT spill the beans by upsetting the balance of the bean pot each time you place your bean in the pile. It’s actually pretty fun. So fun, in fact, that Mackenzie was barely able to wait her turn.

I can’t even begin to count the number of times I said, “Not yet, Mack. It’s Macy’s turn.” Or, “Not yet, Mack, it’s my turn.” Mackenzie wasn’t trying to ‘steal’ a turn. She was simply excited to be playing the game. She was enjoying herself so much that she was having a hard time waiting for her turn to come around again.

As I thought about this the next morning (when they asked to play again), I thought about how similar life is to Mackenzie’s exuberance in playing “Don’t Spill the Beans”.

Kids are in such a hurry to grow up they don’t want to wait their turn. It starts when they are toddlers wanting to stay up later. From there it progresses to:

  • Wanting to wear clothes that make them look older
  • Wearing makeup
  • Playing on competitive sports teams that expect you to practice for hours each week
  • Thinking they need a cell phone before they know how to carry on a conversation that goes beyond “Do you want to come over to my house and play?”
  • Dating even though they can’t drive

And let’s not forget this one: wanting to be treated as an adult before they even have a job.

As parents it is your responsibility to not let your kids grow up too quickly. Kids only have eighteen years to be kids, and you need to make sure they make the most of those eighteen years.

I’m not saying children shouldn’t be given chores to do or expected to be responsible. And I’m not saying they should be babied and sheltered from anything and everything that causes them to ask questions and make choices. These things are all part of being a kid. What I am saying, though, is this: don’t allow (or expect) your kids to be older than they are. Don’t let them ‘add a bean to the pot’ before it’s time and throw their life off balance.

Take it from me—the years really do pass far too quickly. Your kids will be grown up and gone before you know it, so enjoy each moment and provide your kids with an environment that will allow them to do the same.



Love,
Momma D
                                             Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

                                                                            

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Momma, Why Does Santa Like Some Kids More Than Me???

About this time last year 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 ordinary gifts rather than expensive, extravagant items like phones, computers, gaming devices, designer clothes, and the latest and greatest toys. She asked that if parents chose to give their children these items that they come from them instead of Santa.

Why? Because she never wanted to be put in the position of having to answer her six year-old daughter’s question again—“Why does Santa Claus like other kids more than he does me?”

This loving mother explained 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.”

She went on to say that she didn’t want people feeling sorry for them and that 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 Black Friday 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 can’t possibly afford all those things, so….

Happy Thanksgiving!
Momma D

                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                         



Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Swallow That Apple!!!

Last week I was reminded of an incident (if you want to call it that) that took place over twenty-seven years ago.  It wasn’t anything big or dramatic, but like all those little things usually do, it holds a lesson for us all.

Picture it…five little ones sitting around a table eating their lunch. They were ages, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 18 or nineteen months. The 4 and 1 ½ year old were mine—the other three were my friends’ boys whom I took care of frequently.

Anyway…everyone was pretty much done, so I was wiping hands and faces so they could get down to play. Elizabeth, the 1 ½ year old, however, still obviously had a mouthful of something. Upon further investigation, I discovered she was ‘hoarding’ her diced up apple in her cheek like a chipmunk. Why? Who knows? But nothing I said or did could convince her to swallow that apple—not even threatening to take away her beloved Stacy (her doll).

Elizabeth held that cheek full of apple in her mouth for HOURS. I’m talking like four or 5 hours! Why? Again, who knows. But here is what I do know…

Kids hold on to a lot more than a mouthful of mushed up apple. They hold on to memories of games played, stories read, and harsh words spoken and being ignored. They hold on to memories of favorite foods, favorite shirts, and being criticized for being chubby and looking sloppy or ‘weird’ or whatever term you used. Kids hold on to memories of  camping trips, picnics, the first fish they caught, and seeing the back of your head more than any other part of you because you were too busy working or taking time for yourself.

Are you holding on to what I’m putting out there for you to take hold of?  I hope so, but I’m not done yet. There’s a flip-side to this coin. Sometimes kids hold on to things they need to let go of. We parents are people, too. We’re not perfect. So if have a child who is holding on to the fact that you missed a school program—even though you didn’t miss fifty-two others, don’t let them make you feel guilty or use this as a weapon against you. Or if your child won’t let go of the fact that your trust in them has been broken because of something they’ve done, don’t let them use this to make you feel guilty or second-guess yourself. They are the ones that need to let ‘it’ go and work towards rebuilding that trust.

Holding on to the right things can be great. It can even save your life. Holding on to the wrong things, however, can get you and your children hurt. So do your best to be the kind of parent who gives your child enough good things for them to fill their hand and arms with. In doing so, hopefully they won’t have any room left for the not-so-good things. Either way, if you do the best you can, you can go to bed each night knowing that you did just that—your best.

We’ll never know why Elizabeth held on to that mouthful of apple all those years ago. Maybe it was to give me something to write about today. J

Love,

Momma D
                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be printed or used without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                         

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I Am From Leftover Cookie Dough and Walnut Stained Hands

Lately I’ve found myself thinking about the house/farm we called home for all the years we were raising our kids. It was the same place my grandpa was born. It was the same place my mom was born. The roots ran true and deep and there’s no other place I would have wanted to raise them.

The house you raise your family in and the effort you put into making it a home is vital to your child’s sense of self-worth and confidence. But you might be surprised to learn that it’s not the size of the house, the amenities of the house, or the address of the house that make it a home. To your children, it is the culmination of your family’s ‘fingerprints’—the tangible and intangible personality traits that make the home that builds your children into adults.

I could spend a few minutes expounding on what I mean by family fingerprints or personality traits, but instead, I’ll let a small portion of Emma’s poem—one she wrote in high school—do the job for me.
Where I Come From—by Emma Noble

I am the floor that creaks…
The red tile kitchen floor…
I am from 105.3 in my brother’s first truck…
From the walnuts that stain my hands…
From the chair I stood on to dry dishes…
From my mom’s flowerbeds, sidewalk chalk, gravel on my bare feet…
From a musty barn full of sheep…
I am leftover cookie dough...
I am from pigtails and cowboy boots to t-shirts and peace signs...
I am from the scar on my finger from sticking rocks in the VCR when I was three...
I am from "Golden Girls" reruns...
Never having to lock our doors...
From my sisters' clothes...
From red church pews--when churches still had pews...
The metal bowl in the kitchen and knowing what's in every cabinet...
From my dad’s hankie in his back pocket; he always has one…
I am from 12750 County Road 7160

Take it from Emma, parents; raising kids is about the little things…a whole lot of little things that make life something to smile about.

Love,
Momma D

                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

                                                                                                         




Thursday, November 5, 2015

QUIT TRYING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For most of my life I’ve been okay with the fact that I have naturally curly hair. In fact, I’m actually thankful for my hair…but it hasn’t always been that way. You see, I was in junior high and high school when Farrah was in her prime; meaning you couldn’t turn in any direction without seeing long, layered hair with feathered bangs that required a LOT of hairspray to hold them in place. And if you didn’t have that kind of hair, you had the short and very straight Dorothy Hamill look with that perfect little upsweep in the back that came to a point.

And then there was me...and Penny, Donna, and Lisa. Layers only made it curlier, feathered bangs were not an option (feathers aren’t curly, you know), and the whole Dorothy thing, well that was definitely out of the question.

So what did I do? I gave up, that’s what! I gave up trying to transform myself into someone I wasn’t. And you know what? I turned out just fine. I married my childhood sweetie (he loves my curls). I raised four nearly-perfect kids who have given me five absolutely perfect grandchildren and I am honoring God by using my gift for writing to educate and encourage people around the world (hopefully you’re one of them).

The moral of this story is QUIT TRYING! Quit trying to make your eight-year old into a musician when he/she would rather be drawing pictures or building robots. Quit trying to turn your thirteen year old into a future scholarship awardee for playing soccer when he/she would rather be blowing into a clarinet or making jewelry to sell to all her friends. In other words, QUIT TRYING to turn their ‘curls’ into ‘feathers’.

When you encourage or even force your kids to work on their weaknesses instead of their strengths you set them up for failure and a sense of poor self-worth. You are also wasting time they could be spending doing things that make them feel great about themselves and that are actually inspiring them toward a bright future. Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t encourage your six year old to keep trying when it comes to reading or that your two year old shouldn’t be encouraged to use the big girl/boy potty. What I’m saying is this: God made us all uniquely special and as parents, it’s our job to help our kids learn to let that uniqueness shine brighter than the north star—not try to ‘fix’ what we think God could have done better.

Love,

Momma D

                           Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this may be used or copied without permission from the author.

                                                                                                            

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life-Lessons from a Funnel Cake

I was talking to my daughter Olivia on the phone the other day and in the course of our conversation she said that Reuben had tasted his first funnel cake over the weekend. She laughed as she told me about handing him a bite of what we all know is a rather plain-looking treat. This was especially true since it wasn’t completely smothered in powdered sugar.

Reuben looked at it and when Olivia prompted him to do so, he took a bite. She could tell by the look on his face that his expectations were low, but it took only a second or two for his expression to change and for him to begin saying, “Yum, Mommy, yuuuummmm.”

Reuben’s initiation into the world of funnel cakes came with a very important lesson—one every child needs to learn: everything is not as it seems. Reuben’s initial expression told Olivia he was expecting the funnel cake to taste like bread or a pretzel because that’s what it looked like. It didn’t look like anything sweet he’d ever had before.

As parents we need to be teaching our children the same lesson—that everything is not as it seems.

Being told ‘no’ may seem like a bad thing at the time even though it really is for their own good.

Peers who aren’t dressed in the latest and greatest may not seem like the people they want to be friends with, but they are usually kinder, nicer, and more loyal than kids who are dressed in the latest and greatest.

Just because it seems okay to go to a party when no parents are going to be home doesn’t mean it is.

It may not seem to your child like you love them when you discipline them and don’t give them everything they want, but later on they’ll realize just what an expression of love these things are.

Kids are kids—which means they have a kid’s perception of things. They can’t help it and they shouldn’t have to. That’s what you’re there for—to help them see things for what they really are by being a wise and loving parent who provides safe boundaries in which they can discover the world through hands-on experience; coming out of it with powdered sugar on their face.

Love,

Momma D

                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission of the author. 

                                                                                                          

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Is Your Family Too Nice To Be On TV

One afternoon almost ten years ago I answered the phone to hear, “Hello, this is Debbie _______ from Lifetime TV. May I please speak to Darla Noble?”

“This is Darla Noble,” I said.

Debbie then asked me if I was familiar with the television show, “Wife Swap”.  We didn’t even have cable TV so I had to tell her, I’d never seen it, but had heard others mention it before. After she gave me a brief premise of the show she proceeded to tell me that their staff had come across our farm’s website and thought we would be perfect for the show. She asked if she could send an application that consisted of several questions about our family’s routine, opinions, values, etc..

“Sure,” I said, “but I’m not committing to anything until my husband and I discuss this.”
She assured me that was fine—that she would call back next week to set a time to visit with us on our farm, go over the application, and then take her recommendation back to the producers.

John and I weren’t quite sure how we felt, but decided it wouldn’t hurt to talk to her. Olivia and Emma were the only two still living at home and thought it would be pretty fun to be on TV, so on the appointed day, Debbie arrived at Generation 5 Farm.
She was very pleasant and easy to talk to but it was obvious she was trying to find something that would push our buttons. She wanted to find the exact polar opposite to us in order to create drama for the viewers. So when Debbie asked controversial questions, we answered honestly, but made it clear that we wouldn’t be adding any fuel to that kind of fire. That isn’t who we are and it wasn’t what we wanted our girls to be a part of. Girls have enough temptation and access to drama as it is—we weren’t about to add to it.

In the end Debbie said she’d enjoyed her day with us, but that we were, in her words, “too nice to be on the show.”
I didn’t share this with you to give my family a pat on the back or to brag. I shared this story in hopes that it will remind you that as parents you have the responsibility to raise your children to have values, integrity, a faith, and a moral compass.  I also want this story to encourage you to be those things to everyone at all times so that your children won’t be confused by mixed signals and that they’ll be able to look at your family and think, “We’re too nice to be on TV, too.”

Love,
Momma D
                               Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied or used without permission from the author.       
                                                     Noble's Generation 5 Farm 2004
                                                                             

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Saint Snickers

Over the last few days I’ve been reminded of two valuable lessons—persistence and tolerance or ‘keeping your cool’. The lesson of persistence came from seventeen month-old Essie. The lesson of composure came from my ten year old mini doxie, Snickers—which equals seventy in dog years.

Essie , who heard “Esther Kathleen, leave that poor dog alone” more times than even I can count over the last few days, was fascinated with Snickers’ nose and whiskers. She’d rub them every chance she got. That, and kiss her over and over and over again. Esther’s persistence in her pursuit of making Snickers her friend was unwavering…and successful.

Snickers, whose fondness for children used to be described as ‘tolerant at best’ usually put herself out of reach of little hands, buried her face in a pillow, and adopted the attitude of if-I-ignore-them-they’ll-go-away. Not this time. Essie would pet Snickers’ nose and whiskers, Snickers would turn the opposite direction—putting her face out of reach. No problem for Essie—she’d just move to the other side.

I know some of you are thinking so what? My dog does that, too. But here’s the thing—there was a day not so long ago when Essie’s actions would have resulted in bared teeth, growling, and yes, even snapping at her. But thanks to Essie’s perseverance, as well as that of Mackenzie, Macy, Reuben, and Laney, Snickers has learned to be more tolerant and receptive of little hands and clumsy kisses on the top of her head. She even greets them with a wagging tail and a kiss of her own now days….well, most of the time.

As parents we can learn a lot from both the toddler and the dog.

Persistence: Don’t give in to your children’s whining, fits, and tantrums. Your persistent insistence (say that three times really fast) on good behavior will pay off. Giving in (even once in a while) leaves you with a whiny, spoiled, and disrespectful child and teenager with an over-inflated sense of entitlement. Be persistent in letting your child know they have your unconditional love. Be persistent in helping your child become the best possible ‘them’. Be their advocate, but not their rescuer. In other words, stand up for them when you should, but don’t shield them from the consequences of their actions.

Tolerance: Little hands, little minds, and little hearts are overflowing with the need and desire to help and learn by working side by side with you. So…slow down, don’t insist on perfection, and take every advantage of these moments while you have the chance to enjoy them. Don’t lose your cool when your kids ‘wash’ the car or ‘clean up’ the kitchen. Their eyes don’t see what you see and their hearts truly are in the right place. Be tolerant of less-than-perfect grade cards and spelling tests. No one is perfect. Not even you or your child. Besides, their best (not the best) is all you have the right to expect. Don’t lose your cool when your teenager acts out and talks back. Instead, be cool, calm, collected, and firm when letting them know this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

So there you have it—two valuable lessons from two pint-sized teachers.

Love,
Momma D

                           Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission of the author. 

                                                                                                  



Friday, October 9, 2015

That's My Dad

Last week I had the privilege of being present while my daughter pinned her husband’s new rank on his uniform in a ceremony on the military base where they are stationed. My job was to make sure 17 month old Essie didn’t steal the show.

The ceremony took place outside, so while we were waiting for it to begin we heard and saw several groups of soldiers and marines marching and shouting cadences as they did. Essie clapped and jabbered along—watching with interest and familiarity.

Familiarity? Yes. Dwight and Emma make a conscious effort to make Essie aware of who and what her Daddy is and to have a respect and pride for her special lifestyle. Respect and pride? Can a 17 month old little girl know these things? The ease with which she took everything in and the fact that this usually busy, talkative toddler knew to be quiet during the ceremony told me she most definitely can. She’s proud to be the daughter of a Marine and to be a ‘member’ of the US military.

The point I want to make is this: Your children need to know who you are (besides Mom or Dad). Your children need to know how you spend your days in order to make their life…their meals…their clothes…their comfort possible. Your children need to know how other people see you—the accomplishments you’ve achieved, and what you like to do (besides be a parent, of course).  Your children need to know that they aren’t the reason you come home a bit distracted or grumpy sometimes. But why? Good question. They need to know…

*So that your children will have a better understanding of why you say some of the things you say and do some of the things you do. They need to know you value home as much as they do.

*So that your children will have a greater appreciation and respect of your time, your work schedule, and the sacrifices you make for your family.

*So that your children can be proud of who you are (because they really want to be).

Don’t let your child’s only perception of who you are be the parent who comes home grumbling and complaining after a rough day or the parent who brags about getting freebies that ‘they’ll never miss’ and that ‘they owe you’. And most of all don’t be the parent whose children feel second place (at best) or in the way because you eat, sleep, and breathe your job. Be the parent whose children know what you do for a living, take pride in the whole person you are, and who respect you for ALL of who you are and what you do.

Love,
Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission of the author. 

                                                                                          



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Don't Tell Them You're My Mom

The first summer Olivia was old enough to go to church camp for more than an overnight stay was also one of the weeks I was to be the camp mom in the girl’s dorm. Olivia was used to me being her youth leader at church, but for some reason she wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of not being the only member of our family at camp that week. She said she didn’t even want the people to know I was her mom (although most of them already did). I told her that would be fine—that I wouldn’t talk to her unless I had to. And I really was fine with that. I understood her need for independence and I certainly didn’t want to embarrass her or make her feel like a baby. After all, she was eight years old!

By the end of the first full day of camp she was coming to me just like she normally would. She even called out “Mom!” from across the blacktop play area to get my attention. The secret was out! Apparently Olivia had decided I wouldn’t embarrass her so it was safe to let everyone who didn’t already know, know who I was.

I hadn’t thought about that week in years, but the other day I was reading through the book of Proverbs and found Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.

We spend plenty of time teaching, hoping, and warning our children about how and why not to embarrass US in public, but this verse clearly states that we, as parents, are to be a source of pride to our children. In other words, we need to be just as careful to not embarrass our kids. This means no dressing like we’re sixteen, no telling embarrassing stories about our kids (especially in front of them), no wiping food off their faces with spit (or anything else, for that matter), no showing baby pictures to their prom date, and no disciplining them openly in front of their friends.

I’m not perfect so I know there’s a chance I embarrassed my kids a time or two, so Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Emma, I’m sorry if I did. It was never intentional.

As for Olivia and I being able to ‘do’ camp together… we spent fifteen more years going to camp together each summer—making many of our most memorable and precious mother/daughter memories there—memories we will never forget.

So you see it is possible to enjoy spending time with your kids without embarrassing them.

Love,

Momma D

                               Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                



Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Your Terms...Your Turf

Elizabeth was in third or fourth grade when she asked if she could invite a new friend to come over after school to play. “Sure,” I said. “No problem.” So on the day that was chosen I picked the girls up from school and headed home thinking things be like any other play date. 

It didn’t take long, however, for me to pick up some negative vibes about this little girl. She was rude to Olivia when Olivia walked into the bedroom Elizabeth and her friend were playing in—the bedroom Olivia shared with Elizabeth. When she didn’t stop, I poked my head in and reminded everyone to be nice.

My reminder went in one ear and out the other, though, and pretty soon Elizabeth’s new friend was at it again. I called to Olivia and told her to give the girls some space, but before she had time to leave the room, both Elizabeth and her new friend were being rude and unkind to Olivia. I issued another warning and reminded Elizabeth that this was not the way she was to treat her sister. Both my warning and comment was met with the infamous eye roll from the little girl who was a guest in our home, and an argument from Elizabeth.

That was it. I simply announced that the play date was over and that it was time for me to take our guest home. The girls knew how to tell time. They knew it really wasn’t time, but Elizabeth was also smart enough to not argue, so they gathered her friend’s things, we got into the car, took her home, and she was not invited back. And just in case you are wondering, Elizabeth was not allowed to go to her house to play, either. In fact, the friendship didn't last very long after that day.

Your child’s friendships are one of the most difficult aspects of parenting to do well or right. And just so you’ll know upfront, you are probably going to mess it up a time or two, but you still have to be proactive and vigilant. How? Glad you asked.

First, teach your children to be nice to everyone. Being nice means being polite, not speaking unkindly, or being a bully. Even the most disruptive and naughty children deserve to be treated with kindness.But being nice to everyone doesn't mean your child should be friends with everyone. 

Secondly, know your child’s friends. You can do this by following my ‘rule’ of your terms…your turf. In other words, get to know your child’s friends by having them in your home or supervising/chaperoning events in other places. This allows you to see who your children are playing with, how disciplined these children are, and how well their family’s core values line up with yours. The your terms…your turf rule also gives your child the opportunity to have friends from both similar and different backgrounds without worrying whether or not they will be negatively influenced; like in the case of Elizabeth’s playdate-gone-bad. 

Once you know a child, then you can be more comfortable with letting your children spend time in the care and supervision of other parents.Teaching children to follow this rule can also help when they get to be teens by providing them with a way to handle peer pressure in a positive manner.

Let’s face it, though. There are some kids you don’t want your children hanging out (and for justifiable reasons). Just remember that the way a child dresses, where he/she lives, what his/her folks do for a living, and the color of someone’s skin aren’t ‘justifiable reasons’.  Dishonesty, rudeness, defiance, and treating others unkindly…those are justifiable reasons for steering your children away from a relationship.


Love,
Momma D

                             Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                        



Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Grandpa Is In The Building...NOT!

The other day my son in-law, Matthew, bought an electric razor similar to the one my husband uses. Matthew was standing in the bathroom the next morning trying it out when 2 ½ year-old Reuben woke up.

When Reuben heard the buzzzzzz of the razor, he hopped out of bed and went running into the bathroom calling “Grandpa!” “Grandpa!”

Rueben adores his daddy, but I’m told he was very disappointed to find Daddy standing in front of the mirror instead of Grandpa. After all, to our sweet little grandson, the sound of the electric razor was a ‘Grandpa is in the building’ kind of sound, and to Reuben, having Grandpa around is like syrup on pancakes, butter on popcorn, snow on Christmas morning….

For me, the taste of roast beef and fresh bread reminds me of the love Granny poured into every meal she cooked.

The smell of lavender reminds me of the love between Zach and his great-grandma Ruth.

The sounds of farm animals take me back to the life I loved so much during the years we were raising our family.

Using a beat-up old aluminum dishpan that once belonged to Granny gives me comfort and reminds me to love my husband and children the same way she loved me—unconditionally.

So what parenting wisdom am I trying to impart by sharing these memories with you? I actually want you to take two things from what I've shared...

1. The atmosphere or surroundings you raise your children in matters…a lot.

2. Your children are making memories and forming associations between you and the sights, sounds, tastes, smells, they experience with you. 

This leaves me to ask only one question:

What sounds, smells, sights, and tastes are your children associating with you and are they the memories and associations you want to impress on their hearts and minds?

Love,
Momma D


                                Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 



                                                                                                                

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

What Have You Learned From Your Children?

Elizabeth is both my first and my second. She is my first daughter, but my second child. She is also a child who has shown me that:

* Sleep is not nice, but not essential. Hey, I’m still here aren’t I?
* A mother’s heart only feels like it will burst with joy at the sound of your child’s tiny voice singing about Jesus at the top of her lungs.
* You can never have too much of your favorite color—in her case it was purple.
* There is no limit to the number of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a child should be allowed to eat.
* Tiny little girls can dream big dreams AND make them come true.
* What you say and how you say it are equally important.
* The t-shirt that says, “I’m a nurse…what’s your superpower?” was made with her in mind.

And finally, she, along with her sisters has shown me that raising your daughters to be Godly women, wives, and moms is the best kind of mother/daughter relationship there is.

The question to you, now, is this: what lessons are you learning from your children?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELIZABETH!

Love,

Momma D

                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                   

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Un-parenting is NOT Parenting

I’m not going to go into any details, but it’s safe to say that all four of my amazing and wonderful children went through stages of thinking they were wiser and more capable of making choices and decisions than they actually were. Once upon a time I did the same thing. But hey, that’s the nature of a teenager, isn’t it? Of course it is! That’s why the article I read yesterday was so troubling to me…and I hope to you, as well.

The article was about ‘unschooling’ your children—a supposedly up-and-coming method of education. So what is unschooling? Unschooling is letting your children discover the world on their own terms by following their instincts and doing what they feel passionate about. Oh, and if they happen to learn how to spell, construct a proper sentence, and know the significance of December  7, 1941 and October 29, 1929, well then, that’s just the icing on the cake!

Please, oh, please, tell me you see how ridiculous…how wrong this is! If I had taken that approach to my children’s education, two of them wouldn’t know how to read a price tag because for a few years they were convinced math was from the devil, another one of my kids would most likely have stopped reading once they got past the Dr. Seuss stage, two or possibly three of them would have spent most of their waking hours in the barn or playing outside, and I’m almost certain none of them would have bothered learning about the table of elements or how and why your heart beats and your food digests.

In case there’s any doubt about how I feel about unschooling, let me just say this: unschooling is poor parenting. You may as well call it “unparenting”. Unschooling cheats your child out of learning things they are incapable of accessing on their own. Unschooling puts your child in danger because they don’t always have the ability to make sound, rational decisions. Unschooling removes boundaries from children; boundaries they will test, but boundaries they want and need to feel secure and loved. But most of all, unschooling sends the message that you don’t feel your children are worth the effort it takes to invest yourself in them and to give them every opportunity to learn all they can about a variety of different things. 

Instead of turning your children out to fend for themselves, provide structured education, clearly defined boundaries and expectations, and give them the opportunity to discover and use what they are passionate about and explore the world on their terms by giving them play time. Did I just say playtime? Yes, I did. I said it because raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted children is all about that balance…all about that balance….

Love,

Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                              

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Do You Have A Salamander? Well, You Should!

Among the MANY pets our kids had over the years, one of my favorites was Sally the Salamander and the salamanders that came after her. Why? Oh, let me count the ways…

Sally and friends were low-maintenance and easy to care for. Sally and friends were friendly and non-aggressive. Sally and friends were hardy and didn’t go to ‘pet heaven’ at the drop of a hat.
Sally and friends were cute. Yes, cute. Something shiny black with bright yellow spots is cute no matter how you look at it.

But most of all, Sally and friends served as excellent reminders of what home and family are really all about. How? Glad you asked….

Salamanders live and thrive only where the eco-system is perfectly balanced. This served to remind me that my children needed a balance of fun, laughter, freedom, rules, discipline, and times to be serious.

No two salamanders have the exact same spot pattern; reminding me that all four of my kids are different and need to be respected, loved, and appreciated for those differences. This fact also served to help me instill in my children that they are beautiful and uniquely created by God…and God don’t make no junk.

Salamanders have the ability to grow new tails and even limbs. What a relief this has been to me at times when I’ve been a less-than-stellar parent when it comes to disciplining my kids or letting them know how precious they are to me. It reminds me that in spite of my imperfections, as long as my kids know my love for them is unconditional and unwavering, they are resilient and recover from my screw-ups.

Salamanders aren’t aggressive and they don’t bully other animals, but they do have the subtle ability to protect themselves from predators by emitting a slimy coating over their bodies that is obnoxious to animals that try to attack them. While I never wanted or encouraged my kids to pick a fight or be a bully or mean girl, we gave them the skills and permission to stand up for themselves and to protect themselves from the emotional and physical assaults that came their way.

Salamanders lead a simple, quiet life. They live in humble settings and eat only what they need. Oh, and they return to the same pond to breed and lay/hatch their eggs year after year after year. I hope and pray I gave my children hearts that desire to live simply and without a sense of entitlement or hunger for money and things, and to be committed to family like Sally and friends did.

Who would have thought the lowly, silent salamander had so much to say? 

I guess that leaves me with just one question for you:

Do you have a salamander? If not, you should.


Love,
Momma D

                            Copyright 2015 Darla Noble.  No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                           


Thursday, August 20, 2015

So Who Decides What Different Is, Anyway?

A few weeks ago I took Mackenzie and Macy to the children’s pool to spend some time splashing around, swimming, and forgetting the 100 degree days we were having. We arrived at the pool just as they were opening, along with another nanna and her four year-old granddaughter who had Downs.

It took all of about two minutes for Mack and Macy to start playing with “Mandy”. They played with pool toys and splashed around in the water like they’d been friends their entire lives. And not once did my girls look at "Mandy" like she was different. Not once did they ask why she didn’t talk very much or why she wore a swim diaper—not while we were at the pool or even later. To be honest, I don’t think they even noticed these things, but if they did, none of it mattered to them. What mattered was that they’d made a new friend.

“Mandy’s” nanna complimented me on how accepting the girls were and thanked me for ‘letting’ them play with her.  And when “Mandy” and her nanna left before we did, “Mandy” ran over to the girls, telling her nanna she needed to “Say bye to friends”.

I was so proud of the girls for being so friendly and engaging and thankful for their innocence. I was equally proud of Zach and Becca for being parents who are raising their girls to see past someone’s outward appearance to who they really are and I encourage every parent to do the same.

Don’t encourage your children toward friendships with the kids who dress the nicest, wear the most expensive shoes, live in the biggest houses, or have the parents with the highest paying jobs in an attempt to make sure your child is one of the popular kids or to make them look good. 

Don’t encourage your children toward friendships with the most athletic kids hoping it will ‘rub off’ on your child and turn into future scholarships or with any other group of kids because it will make your child look good.

Don’t discourage your children from forming friendships with children who aren’t as clean or well-kept, economically privileged, or physically or mentally capable as your child is because you don't think 'those kids' are good enough for your child. 

Instead, teach your children to be kind to everyone and choose their friends based on who the person is on the inside—kind, compassionate, honest, trustworthy, and fun to be with. Teach your children to look past the different. Or better yet, teach them to not see those things at all, but instead, to look at the heart of a person. 

Besides, who decides what different is, anyway?

Love,
Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                               

                                                                               

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Day X Really Did Mark The Spot

When Emma was four, her favorite book was “Look Out For Pirates”. It’s a story about a group of sailors who outwit some pirates; keeping them away from their treasure. And like all good pirate/buried treasure stories, X marks the spot. And let me tell you, Emma spent a bit of time hunting around the fields on our farm for an X.

It just so happens that on the far end of the lake where we spend a good deal of time, there is a small island. The outer edges are sand and gravel—perfect for a picnic, sunbathing, and resting after swimming. The inner part of the island, however, is filled with trees and underbrush. So…John and I decided to take the kids up there one day to swim and have lunch…and to finally give Emma the opportunity to find buried treasure.

Once we’d tied the boat off and were on the shore, John sneaked off to bury a little bag containing candy, gum, some money, and a few other little things. It wasn’t buried very deep, and on top of it he placed a great big X made from sticks.

He was back in no time and suggested that we cut through the trees to go to the other side of the island. The kids were all game for that, so off we went with John leading the way; making sure Emma was closest to him. As we came to the place where X marked the buried treasure, John stopped; pretending he needed to blow his nose or something like that. It didn’t take but a second for Emma to spy the X and in no time, she had unearthed the buried treasure. She was overjoyed, to say the least, and thankfully her siblings, who quickly caught on, didn’t blow our cover. In fact, they went right along with us; making the ‘event’ even more special.

Now I know there may be some pragmatics out there thinking it was wrong to ‘lie’ to Emma.  But I don’t agree. What we did for Emma that day was to allow her to take an adventure she wanted to take. But we also did something else—something even more important. We showed Emma that even the seemingly impossible is possible—if you keep trying and don’t give up.

It was a few years before Emma realized how the treasure came to be there that day, but that didn’t matter to her. What mattered was that 1) it had been there, and 2) we valued her feelings enough to give her the experience.

The reminder I want to leave with you is this: don’t squelch your child’s imagination and dreams. If you can help make your young child’s dreams come true and allow them to live out some of their imagination (to an extent), you will find that as they grow older, your child won’t be afraid to be their own individual rather than merely going with the flow. They will be more creative and confident.

So ask yourself: how can you help your child find their buried treasure?

Love,
Momma D

                             Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author. 

                                                                                                      



                                               Emma and her sweet one year-old, Essie

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Great Expectations...No, Not The Book

My youngest granddaughter, Essie, will be fifteen months old tomorrow. But even at such a young age she already knows, no, she expects her daddy to be on the other end of the phone whenever she picks up a play phone or her momma’s cell phone. She picks it up, says, “Hi, Dada” and then proceeds to kiss the phone before saying ‘Bye”. Essie also expects to see Nanna (that’s meJ) whenever she passes by the computer and calls my name—thanks to SKYPE.

Essie’s expectations stem from what she’s seen and done in the past. It happened before so, in her mind, it should happen again and again.

Your children are no different. They have expectations for things to be the same…to be consistent. Consistency equals safety and security in their world. This is especially true when it comes to you. So ask yourself: how consistent are you? Do you:

  • Expect your children to comply with the same guidelines, rules, and expectations at home and in public?
  • Expect your child’s guests to comply with house rules rather than letting them get by with things you won’t let your own children get by with?
  • Parent consistently; giving your children the confidence that they can expect you to be the same no matter what day of the week it is?

On more than a few occasions I’ve seen a parent reach for their child to put on a hat, zip a coat, wipe a face, or something similar, only to have the child flinch and recoil. There’s only one reason for that: their expectation was that they were going to be hit.

Now while I am not at all opposed to a swat on the behind or on little hands reaching for things they shouldn’t have, being slapped or hit by their parent should never be the normal expectation of any child.

I hope and pray Essie and my other sweet grandchildren never have these kinds of expectations. I hope and pray your children don’t either.

Love,
Momma D

                              Copyright 2015 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.