Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Pass the Potatoes...and the Memories, Please

You can’t turn on the television, surf the web, pick up a newspaper, or even have a conversation these days without hearing or reading someone’s thoughts on why the world, aka, society, is in the shape it is in. And with this being an election year, we’re also hearing whose fault it is.

I’m going to go out on a limb, however, and say that politics, per se, has little or nothing to do with most of the issues we’re dealing with. Instead, I’m going to suggest that most of society’s problems can be traced back to the breakdown of the family.

Now you know Momma D is all about family, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that I want to talk about what it takes to keep your family from suffering from a breakdown. But instead of just telling you what I think, I asked four people whose opinions I value to share their thoughts on the subject of family meal times—something that is a valuable tool for a healthy family. I value their opinions because they basically tell me how well I did (or didn’t) do my job. That’s right…today you’re going to hear directly from Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, and Emma.

In answer to the question, “What are your most vivid mealtime memories as a family?” this is what they had to say…

Zach: “I always liked my birthday meal—popcorn shrimp. I also liked it when you fixed roast on Sunday because if Dad wasn’t working we’d listen to the Marty Robbins cassette while you cooked. I remember the huge family dinners with everyone at Granny’s house, too. But my favorite mealtime memories are the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches you’d fix me and dad to eat when we would go out to cut wood. We’d sit in the woods—eating those sandwiches and talking about whatever.

Elizabeth: I loved how we were all just there together and you guys had each of us tell you what happened at school that day. And I loved the fact that 95% or more of our meals were home cooked (and cooked from what we’d raised).

Olivia: I loved that we all sat down together to eat. I also like that we ate what you fixed or we didn’t eat. I use that same rule for my family. We eat as a family and the TV is off. I also loved the way we all took turns praying for our meal instead of the same person doing it every night.

Emma: I loved the fact that we were all there together—eating and talking. When Dad wasn’t at work and it was all six of us was the best. I also remember the cloth napkins with all the little vegetables on them. I felt special when we used them.

Did you notice there was no mention of fancy foods or dishes, restaurants, being left alone to text, play video games, or watch TV, or about which burger combo they liked best. No, their memories were all about talking…listening…sharing…praying…just being together.

What did you learn from my kids? I hope you learned that your children crave and need the sense of belonging, nurturing, and security that only comes from being a family that talks, listens, shares, prays, and enjoys ‘just’ being together. So please, for your family’s sake and for the sake of society, make dinner time family time.


            Momma D
                                Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Ellen Tebbits Philosphy of Friendship

One of my favorite books as a child was Beverly Cleary’s “Ellen Tebbits”. If you haven’t read the book, you should…soon. If your children haven’t read the book, they should…soon. You can even read it together!

Anyway…Ellen, the book’s main character, is missing her best friend who recently moved away and is terrified one of the girls in her dance class is going to discover her horrible, terrible secret—that she has to wear long underwear. Or even worse, her secret might be discovered by Otis Spofford—the ornery boy in her class who just happens to be her dance teacher’s son. But then she meets the new girl—Austine. And as luck would have it, Austine shares Ellen’s secret—her mother makes her wear long underwear, too!

Throughout the book Ellen and Austine share secrets, go on a few adventures, learn how to compromise, share, embrace each other’s differences, and they learn that friendship is about honesty, communication, and forgiveness. In short, they learn how to be and have a best friend.

The best part about this story, however—or the one I want draw your attention to—is this: Ellen and Austine were allowed to navigate their friendship and solve their problems without their parents interfering and intervening in their struggles. There were no threats of law suits, no demands for mediation and no taking it to someone like Judge Judy (which actually happens from time to time).

Ellen and Austine didn’t ask for or ‘need’ that kind of help intervention. They worked things out on their own…well, sort of. I know I’m reading between the lines on this one, but I’m going to go out a pretty sturdy limb and say that Ellen and Austine were able to work out their own problems because of the integrity and principled character they were exposed to at home, at school, and even in Mrs. Spofford’s School of Dance.

Because this book was written in the early 50s these things (integrity and principles) were assumed to be part of a child’s home life. It was assumed that the girls would be able to work things out given the time and opportunity to do so. Unfortunately that’s often not the case these days. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

As parents you have both the right and responsibility to blanket your children with an atmosphere of integrity, compassion, kindness, humility, and a heart that isn’t too proud to forgive. Another way to put it is like this: As parents one of your goals should be to parent in such a way that your children’s ability to handle the ups and downs of friendship honorably will be ‘automatic’ because that’s just the kind of person they are. AND the reason they’re that kind of person is because that’s the kind of person YOU are.

Friendships—especially between children and a double-dose of ‘especially’ when it comes to girls—are full of ups and downs. But if parents do their job like Ellen and Austine’s parents obviously did, we’ll soon discover we don’t have a need for certain types of reality shows (and I use the word ‘reality’ loosely). I think you know which ones I mean. J

Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Momma D

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New School Year Blues and Yahoos!

FYI: This week's post is more or less a repeat of one I did about this time last year. I'm not being lazy. I just think it's a message worth repeating...

My social media is plastered with pictures from friends who are young parents--pictures of their children's first day of school. And you know what? I LOVE it!

The pictures bring back years of wonderful memories of my children's first days of school. But they also brings back memories of school supplies (and lots of them) and of the 'blues and yahoos' that went with the start of each new year of learning.

With four kids the start of a new school year 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.

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 blues and yahoos. 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.

Momma D

                              Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Life is Kind of Like a Game of Red-Light...Green-Light

     Mack and Macy know that part of my daily routine includes taking a walk—usually around our neighborhood. They enjoy going along—talking, walking, and especially running ahead to the next street crossing. Both girls know to wait—not to cross the street until I get there so we can cross together.

     When I think about their running ahead…waiting…running ahead again...and waiting again, I think about how similar our walk is (or should be) to how we raise our children.

     As parents we need to equip our children with the ability, confidence, and strength (physical and emotional) to ‘run ahead’ and experience life independently, yet still within our reach for those moments when they need our help, our hugs, our guidance, and for us to set boundaries for them. And when they come to a crossroads in life, they need to know a) to wait for us to help prepare them for it and b) to know when it’s safe to ‘run ahead’ again.

     There are also times when Macy will run ahead but Mack won’t. She’ll stay behind; holding my hand and talking about whatever is on her mind. These times are equally important. These are the times we need to fully embrace and make the absolute most of. These are the times we need to be listening, talking, sharing, teaching, cheering, and reassuring. In other words, these are the times we need to be heavily investing in the most precious commodity on earth.

     So whether your children are running ahead of you and exploring life on their own or walking beside you; learning as they go, it’s up to you to be the parent that provides the kind of environment and unconditional love and acceptance that makes it all possible.


Momma D
                           Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Love is About More than Mashed Potatoes

Late last night my son Zach tagged me in a comment he made on Facebook. It was his answer to a picture with a caption asking people to name the food(s) they thought their grandma cooked better than anyone else. Here is his comment: Granny Great’s rolls and wilted lettuce. Best in the world. Am I right, Darla Noble?

Zach was referencing my Granny (his great-grandmother). Granny was known for many things—including the fact that she was an amazing cook. It wasn’t just the fact that she was a great cook, but it was why she was a great cook. You could literally taste the love and care that went into everything she cooked even though she did it all so effortlessly. It was just part of what made her…Granny. While I was replying to Zach’s comment I was giggling because for some reason just a day or two prior to this I had randomly recalled another memory about Zach, Granny, and her cooking…

As soon as we got to church every Sunday the kids ran straight to Granny. On this particular Sunday Granny said she’d cooked a pot of chicken and dumplings for lunch and asked if we wanted to come eat with her. Of course we said yes. Now in our family, if you have chicken and dumplings you have mashed potatoes to go with them. But when Granny went to peel the potatoes she discovered the potatoes were bad—all except two. What to do? She had a small box of instant potatoes she used for thickening soup, so she just added some of them to the two potatoes to make enough for everyone. No big deal, right? WRONG!

Zach, who was ten or eleven years old at the time, happened to pass through the kitchen just in time to see Granny mixing the instant potatoes into the real ones. He couldn’t believe his eyes! His Granny Great, the absolute best cook in the whole world…the Granny who loved us more than anything was feeding him “fake potatoes”! What was the world coming to? His reaction was a mixture of shock, disbelief, and yes, even disappointment. It actually took Granny a few minutes to explain what she was doing and why and to assure him that she was still the same Granny he knew and loved. Zach knew that Granny’s cooking skills was only one of the ways Granny expressed her love for us, but it was also one of her best ways. So when she ‘cheated’ he took it personally.

I’m happy to report that by the end of the day we were all laughing about it, and that night at Bible study she and Zach even shared the story with our friends at church. I’m also happy to report that Zach and Granny laughed and smiled about a lot of other things for several years to come—including him making her a great-great grandma twice before she passed away.

So what do instant mashed potatoes and cooking skills have to do with parenting?

We all have one or two things we do that stand out to our children and grandchildren—things we do (or say) that they view as expressions of our love for them. And we have a responsibility to make sure we don’t disappoint our loved ones by giving them cause to think our actions are anything less than genuine and sincere.

If you asked your children what they associate your love with, what would they say?


Momma D

                        Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.