Sunday, October 15, 2017

Perfectly Imperfect, Absolutely Wonderful, and Mine

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, October 1, 2017

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

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

Essie: Um…no, thank you.

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

Essie: Um…no, thank-you.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, August 28, 2017

I'm NOT Sorry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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? 

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. 

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

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Don't Worry, Your Kids Aren't Nearly As Breakable As You Think They Are

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I would share with you some of the most important lessons I have learned in the 34 years I’ve been a mom.
#1: No matter how many children you have, you love each one with your entire being.

#2: No two children are alike and that’s just fine. You wouldn't want them to be.
#3: Your older children will torment the baby of the family when left in charge of her, but then turn around and protect her fiercely if anyone else tries to do the same.
#4: Pretending wadded-up pieces of tissue are popcorn is not a life-threatening occurrence.
#5: Receiving hand-picked wildflowers from your teenage son is worth more than a million roses from a florist.
#6: Fingers really do get stuck in VCR players.
#7: It’s better for your almost-two year-old to suck on a pacifier than a Happy Meal toy.
#8: Ponies can climb stairs with your children on their back without breaking them (your children, that is).
#9: Your daughter can be a ballerina AND a farm girl at the same time.
#10: Seeing your son cross the finish line in a Cross Country meet makes you very proud and very humble.
#11: Pet turtles have feelings, too.
#12: Watching The Sound of Music with your pre-teens can have embarrassing after-effects.
#13: It’s a big sister’s responsibility to start her baby sister’s milk shake up the straw—no really, it is.
#14: The best memories made with your kids are made doing the most ordinary things.
#15: It is important to say you are sorry to your kids--especially when it's your fault they get covered in chiggers.
#16: It's okay to tell your daughter she doesn't have much of a future in making candy houses. In fact, it's okay to tell her she has no future in the 'business'.
#17: Don't be afraid to tell your kids no or to make them do something over again...and again if necessary.
#18: It's okay if your kids don't have the latest and greatest.
#19: You can't say "I love you" too often.
#21: One of the greatest joys of being a parent is looking at your kids and thinking/saying, "I made that.", "You are amazing.", "I'm so proud of you.", and "Wow...just wow!"
#20: You should never, ever, ever give up on your kids and always be their biggest fan.
#22: Being a parent is the most important job on earth and one you'll never not have because your kids never stop needing and wanting you and you never stop needing and wanting them, either.

Happy Mother’s Day!
Momma D
                           Copyright 2017 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sometimes You're Just Gonna Have To Get Wet

Several years ago—before we were a family of six—John, Zach, Elizabeth, Olivia, and I went to feed the fish in the pond and let Zach throw a line in while the girls looked for tadpoles. John and I were on the four-wheeler and the kids rode in small wooden trailer hitched to back of it.

Afterwards, while we were riding back up to the house we saw the rain coming toward us. We literally saw a huge wall of heavy rain moving across the field in our direction. It was actually really cool seeing nature at work like that, but it also left us feeling completely powerless. There was nothing we could do to escape the fact that we were going to get wet. Very wet.

I can still hear the kids giggling and squealing as we rode through the pouring down rain and as we ran into the house sloshing and dripping. And I also remember that in the short amount of time it took to get out of our wet clothes and into dry ones, the rain stopped. It was over almost as quickly as it had begun.

There was no getting around that wall of rain, and staying where we were wouldn’t have kept us from getting wet, either. It was coming and there was nothing we could do to stop it or avoid it. Just like life.

As a parent there are going to be times in our lives and in the lives of our children when we see the storms coming—the consequences of poor choices, rebellion, broken hearts, disappointments, failures, accidents, and even circumstances beyond our (or their) control. We see them coming so we look for any possible way out—ignoring the problem, denial, pride, or running away. 

But the voice of experience tells me (loud and clear without stuttering or stammering) that the only way to deal with the storms of parenting is to face them head-on. See them for what they are, acknowledge them, go through them, learn from them, and then ‘dry yourself off’ and enjoy the renewal and refreshing that comes afterwards—maturity, humility, wisdom, stronger relationships, confidence, compassion, and just plain ole common sense.

Being a parent is rewarding, fulfilling, and the absolute most important job on earth. It is also the most difficult and most heart and gut-wrenching job on earth—one with its share of pop-up storms. But just like a rain storm brings growth and refreshment, the storms you weather as a parent can do the same.


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

Thursday, April 13, 2017

There's A Little Bit Of Merida In Us All

No matter how many children you have, what ages they are, where you live, what they like to play with, or even whether they are boys or girls, you are undoubtedly familiar with some girls who are sweet, kind, cute as can be, and who like to sing their hearts out…and do it quite well.

You know who I’m talking about—girls collectively referred to as “Disney princesses”. There are several and each has their own distinct quality that makes them so endearing. But when it comes to being realistic and true to life in her personality and her relationship with her mom, no one fits the bill quite like Merida from the movie, “Brave”.

Merida is confident, intelligent, loving, kind, and has a mind of her own that doesn’t always agree with her parents—particularly her mother. Sound familiar?

Merida isn’t about to give up who she is and what she loves to conform to the mold her mom expects her to fit into. No way! And to make sure that doesn’t happen, Merida tries to cast a spell on her mom but in the process ends up turning her into a bear. A bossy, grouchy, demanding bear that refuses to back down from anything…until her ‘bear-ness’ almost costs Merida her life.

From that point on, mother and daughter work together with respect and appreciation for each other’s abilities and personalities. In doing so they break the spell so that Queen Elinor (Merida’s mom) is no longer a bear. She is herself again, but less demanding and more approachable. And yes, they all live happily ever after.

As a mom I know there have been times when my kids have looked at me and seen a bear—a grouchy, bossy, demanding bear. My intentions may have been good, but I was still a bear. Or maybe my ‘bear-ness’ was the result of my being in a bad mood, not feeling well, or because of something my kids had done to make me irritable or angry. But I was still a bear. And when I was a bear, I wasn’t doing anyone any good. I was only making things worse.

It was only when I took a deep breath and put things into their proper perspective, OR realized my ‘bear-ness’ wasn’t something they should have to deal with, OR swallowed my pride and admitted I was wrong and they were right, that my kids saw the real me again. And when that happened, life was better and everyone was much happier.

As a parent there are going to be times when you turn into a bear. We’re not perfect and it happens. But those times need to be few and far between. And those times certainly shouldn’t be because we are trying to make our children fit into molds they don’t belong in. Instead, we need to be parents who work with your children’s strengths and passions rather than against them; allowing and encouraging them to become the unique individual they are meant to be. For when that happens, so does happiness.


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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Grass Is Great for Horses--Not Preschoolers

My granddaughter Mackenzie loves horses. It would be safe to say she is passionate on the subject. At eight years old she knows the different breeds, more horse terminology than I ever will (or want to), the different kinds of saddles, bridles, and all the other things horse-related. Mackenzie’s love for horses has been part of who she is for as long as she has been able to say the word. As a toddler and preschooler she spent an endless amount of time on her hands and knees galloping, bucking, trotting, cantering, and grazing like any horse worth their weight in hay would do.

It was the grazing, however, that brings me to today’s parenting reminder…

We were outside enjoying a warm spring day and as usual, three year-old Mackenzie was bucking and galloping through the grass. At one point she stopped and started pretending to munch on the grass. She was getting pretty close to the ground so I warned her against actually taking a bite.

Mackenzie ‘argued’ that she was a real horse so she needed to take a real bite—and with that, she did. She bit off a mouthful of grass and for a split-second she started chewing. But her chewing was immediately followed by a considerable amount of time spent spitting and sputtering, coughing and wiping her mouth and tongue as fast as her little hands could move.

And me?  I have to admit I laughed. Yes, I helped her get the grass out of her mouth and I got her a drink of water to wash the taste away so she could go right back to being a horse—a horse that now knew how not to let her imagination go too far…and why.  But I laughed. What can I say? It was funny. Thinking back on that little event now, however, reminds me of two things:

1: There are some things your kids are going to have to learn for themselves. Some mistakes are going to have to be made in spite of your direst warnings and advisements. And as parents we need to be ready to love our kids in spite of their stubbornness and let them know that only when they learn from their mistakes will they be able to move beyond their mistakes.

2: There are going to be times when your kids are going to do exactly what you tell them not to do. Once the deed is done, however, your children need to know you will be there to give them that drink of water to get the taste out of their mouth. No, not bail them out or protect them from the consequences of their actions, but to let them know that you love them no matter what and won’t hold their actions against them.

We’ve all eaten our fair share of grass, so to speak, so why should you think your kids will be any different? They won’t be. I promise. But how you handle the situation can make all the difference in the world to both you and them.


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

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Don't Be Afraid to Look Under the Rock...Just be Careful

Several years ago my daughter Olivia and I spent a great deal of time gathering and hauling large rocks for a landscaping project at our (then) house. These weren't just any rocks, though. They were rocks from the foundation and fireplace of my great-great grandparents home. They were part of our story.

As we climbed around on what remained of the 'old home place' deciding which rocks to take (that's code for which ones we wouldn't kill ourselves lifting into the back of the truck), we laughed about how crazy we were to be 'risking our lives' for a bunch of old rocks, but we wouldn't have stopped for all the money in the world.

Each time we started to pick up a rock, though, I also did something else. I warned Olivia to be careful...very, very careful because of the possible dangers hiding under the rocks (that's code for snake).

FYI: I'm very thankful to say that in all the rocks we picked up (more than I can count), we never saw one snake. Nada. Zilch. Zero. None.

If we had, however, I can say with complete certainty that after we had quit screaming and doing that little "I just saw a snake" dance, we would have been right back at it. Why? Because our my desire to get the rocks and Olivia's desire to be able to say she had survived the day was greater than our fear of what might be underneath them.

As parents we need raise our children to be careful, but not afraid to look under a few rocks in their lifetime.

We need to raise our children to be confident enough in who they are to look under the rocks called trying something newspeaking up for what is right, and being confident enough in their abilities and personality to follow their dreams.

But at the same time we need to tech them to be ready to recognize the snake (poor choices, dangerous situations, and peer pressure) when they see it and to get as far away from it as possible.

Looking under a few rocks is something we all have to do, so do your job and teach your children how to do it right.

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

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

That Mr. Magorium...He Sure Knows What He's Talking About

In the movie, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, Dustin Hoffman plays Mr. Magorium; the owner of a somewhat magical toy store. Mr. Magorium, who is 243 year old, is preparing to die. As part of his preparation, he makes arrangements to leave the toy store to Molly Mahoney, the young woman who has been his friend and assistant since she was a child.

But Molly doesn't want to accept that Mr. Magorium is going to die. Nor does she think she is capable of taking over the toy store. In fact, she doesn't think she is capable of doing much of anything. Feeling insecure about who she is and what the future holds for her, Mr. Magorium has these final words of encouragement and wisdom for Molly...Your life is an occasion. Rise to it.

As a parent, there are few things we could say to our children that have as much potential to encourage and embolden them to aspire to be who they were created to be as those two sentences: Your life is an occasion. Rise to it. As parents we have been given the privilege and responsibility to help our children discover who they are, what they are passionate about, what they excel at and most of all, how to grow to be the best 'them' they can be. It is also our privilege and responsibility as parents to provide our children the opportunities and resources to do these things.

The occasion of your children's lives may not look like you think it should, or be a life you would choose for them...or even yourself. But if your children are happy, self-sufficient, and people of integrity, then I think it is safe to say they are rising to the occasion of their life. And that means as a parent, you have risen to the occasion of your life, too.

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

May I Have Your Attention, Please....

A few years ago (almost three, to be exact) I was visiting Emma, Dwight, and Essie, who were living on Camp Pendleton. It was during the time of the wildfires—some of which were burning on base.
You could see the fires from the front yard of their house and each day we wondered if they would get close enough for us to have to be evacuated. At around 1 a.m. one morning we stopped wondering because over the loud speakers positioned throughout the base, a voice came on telling us we needed to evacuate immediately.
Waking up to the voice over the loudspeaker was coupled with the dense smoke that was starting to overtake the area, so as quickly as possible, we gathered a few things for ourselves, a few more things for week-old Essie, called some good great friends who lived out of range of the fires, and left.
We didn’t complain about being wakened from a sound sleep. We didn’t debate the wisdom of the choice being made for us. In fact, we were thankful—very thankful—for the diligence of those watching the fires 24/7 in an effort to keep us all safe. We were thankful they didn’t hesitate to ‘disturb’ us—that they did what they knew was in our best interest regardless of the time of day (or night) and without worrying about how we might react.
As parents there are times we need to be that voice coming over the loud speaker for our children. We need to step in and say or do whatever is necessary to keep our kids safe. Even if it makes us unpopular. Even if it makes them mad. Even if it isn’t easy or convenient. Even if it’s downright hard.
As a parent it is your job to keep your kids from ignoring the warnings to get away from the fires of bad choices that can ruin or even claim their lives. As a parent it is your job to expect certain behaviors from your children no matter what. As a parent it is your job to be vigilant in watching for dangers and warning signs of things that can adversely affect your child and keep them from growing into the amazing and wonderful people they are.
Parents don’t be afraid to be the voice that comes over the loud speaker. Trust me, even if it doesn’t make you the coolest mom or dad of the month, or your kids insist you’ve ruined their life, it’s worth it. And guess what else? Someday they will actually thank you for it.


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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I Just Lub You So Much

Have you ever been at a loss for words? You knew you should say something but you weren't sure what that something should be. Or maybe you've done just the opposite. You know-the old open-mouth-insert-foot routine? You might also remember your grandma or mom telling you that 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'.

While I definitely agree with teaching our children to not say things that are hurtful, rude, or unkind, I also think we need to take it a step farther. And I can't think of a better example of what that 'looks like' than what my granddaughter, Macy, used to do when she was just learning how to talk on the phone.

She loved talking to me on the phone, but let's face it-when she was two, she didn't have a whole lot to talk about. The dogs, the sheep and cows, what she and her sister had been doing, whether or not she'd been in time-out that day, where Grandpa was (and wanting to talk to him).... You know, the normal stuff. But that wasn't enough for Macy-she wanted all the 'air time' she could get. So when she couldn't think of anything else to say, she would say, "I just lub you so, so much, Nanna."

I instantly responded with the same and then she would say it again and again..."I just lub you so, so much, Nanna."

Doesn't that just melt your heart? It sure did mine!

Now here's the point I want to make...

Instead of teaching our children to be silent rather than not say things that are rude or unkind, teach them to fill that silence with words that encourage, mend relationships, melt hearts and share God's love. If we teach our children to go that extra mile and fill the silence with friendship and love there won't be nearly as much room for bullying, gossip and all those other hurtful things.

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


Monday, February 20, 2017

Fork, please, Nanna

A few weeks ago when I put two year-old Esther’s dinner in front of her, she refused to eat her chicken—complete with a little container of barbeque sauce on the side for dipping. But why? She usually loves dipping her chicken in barbeque sauce. Why not tonight?

Okay, I have to be honest by saying her initial refusal to eat the chicken that night could easily have been because Esther is Esther. She is independent, has a reason for everything she does, and makes her move in her own time and on her own terms. But that doesn’t fit with the point I want to make and on this particular occasion, Esther’s independent way of thinking wasn’t the reason for her protests.

The reason for her protests was simple: She didn’t have a fork.

When I told her for the third or fourth time that she needed to eat her chicken, she finally said, “Fork please, Nanna.” And when I gave her the fork, she happily speared each piece, one at a time, dipped it into the sauce, and ate it.

Here’s my question to you: How many times have you told or expected your kids to do something without making sure they have what they need to fulfill your expectations?

Have you told your preschooler to clean their room but not taught them what your expectations of ‘clean’ are or showed them how to do it?

Do you expect your school-age children to make good grades (and possibly discipline them for not doing so) without helping them establish good study habits and/or giving them the time at home to do so (instead of filling their every waking hour with extra-curricular activities)?

Do you tell your children to act one way but demonstrate otherwise?

Do you preach/teach one set of morals and values but allow the opposite into your home via television, music, movies, and dress code?

I didn’t intentionally deny Esther the equipment she needed to get the job done, and I’m sure you don’t either. But if you don’t take the time to make sure they are properly equipped, you’ll be scratching your head and asking yourself ‘why’, while your kids are wishing you had just taken the time to give them a fork.


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

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Are You Over A Barrel

It was a warm-ish sunny day in mid-March. We were just finishing cleaning up the reception area of the church after our daughter Elizabeth’s wedding. Emma and I were carrying things to the car and Becca (who was eight months pregnant at the time) was walking to her car with 2 year-old Mackenzie beside her. Mackenzie suddenly spies a small outdoor play area and decides that it looks a lot more interesting than her car seat. In a split-second she lets go of Becca’s hand and takes off on a dead run for the play area.

For anyone who has ever been eight months pregnant you know going after Mackenzie was not an option. Just thinking about going after her was exhausting. What’s more, calling Mackenzie back to her just spurred Mackenzie on to run faster—away from her momma. So what did Becca do? She looked at Emma and said, “Get her, Emma! And bring her back to me.” (all said in a no-nonsense, she’s-in-big-trouble-now tone of voice).

This is a clear ‘case’ of Mackenzie having Becca over the proverbial barrel.

Sure she was only 2, but she knew what she was doing. She knew she was getting away with something and that her momma was powerless to run after her. But Mackenzie’s victory was temporary. Emma was happy to oblige Becca, and if memory serves me correctly, she gave Mack a good scolding on the way back to where Becca was waiting to dole out a bit more discipline.

Do your kids have you over a barrel? I’m not just talking about running toward a playground even when you tell them not to. And I’m not just talking about getting one more bedtime story and another drink of water three more times before the lights go out at night. Those things are part of dealing with raising a toddler. But the key phrase in that sentence is ‘dealing with’. If you don’t deal with these ‘barrel issues’ when they are little, your kids will have you right where they want you later on.

So how do you make sure your kids don’t keep you over a barrel? I’m glad you asked.

*Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you say ‘one more time’, then one more time is all there should be. If you say ‘no’ then stick to it. If you tell them they can’t have something, don’t give it to them to keep peace.

*Set boundaries and enforce them. If a child breaks the rules (which we all know they will), make sure they suffer the consequences for doing so. Kids need rules, boundaries, consistency and they need you to be credible. They don’t just need it—they thrive on it.

*Don’t be afraid of your kids. Too many parents these days are afraid to hurt their kids’ feelings or making them angry or upset. Too many parents are bending over a barrel willingly because they are afraid their kids won’t love them or like them. Trust me they love you. They even like you (most of the time). But what’s more, they need and want you. They need and want you to be strong, firm, fair, and constant.

Don’t be afraid to stand up straight—to stand up to your kids and for your kids.


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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Was That Kid

Several months ago the media, doing what they seem to do best, incited the public against a mom’s insinuated lack of parenting skills when her toddler ended up in the clutches of a gorilla at the zoo. And then a few weeks ago the media once again took on the role of rebel-rouser when a parent shared her home-surveillance video which showed one of her toddler-aged twins pulling a dresser over on himself. Talk show hostesses and a plethora of others went into accuser-m ode. How could this mom not have been there the instant the dresser fell—if not sooner? Or for that matter, how could she have let it happen in the first place?

Parents, give each other a break! Quit being so hard on each other—so mean to each other!

Stuff happens…fast. I know because I was that kid. When I was three I pulled a chest of drawers over on me because I was trying to get something from the top of –something that didn’t belong to me. My parents were just down the hallway in the living room…being good parents.

When I was three I threw a fit when Granny took me for my first haircut. I’m talking major fit—the kind that sent my little black patent leather shoes flying across the room. This was not my normal behavior and it in no way reflected on Granny’s lack of discipline. Trust me.

When I was four I gashed my chin open on the edge of our dining room table after slipping on some peanut butter while ‘tap dancing’ on said table-top while my mom was in the basement taking laundry from the wringer washer so she could hang it on the clothesline, which was also in the basement. Oh, and while she was doing that, she was also being a good mom.

When I was six I ended up covered in poison sumac growing along the fence in the barn lot. A couple of doctor’s appointments and two kinds of medicine later, I was as good as new and no one even thought about blaming Granny or Mom for being neglectful.

Until I was tall enough to not ‘have to’, I climbed on top of the counter tops to reach things in the kitchen cabinets. My favorite thing to get was the pancake syrup…as soon as my mom or Granny answered the phone (which was attached to the wall, back in those days).

When I was seven...when I was nine…. I could keep going, but I won’t, because hopefully I’ve reminded you that wherever a child is present there is the potential for stuff to happen.

Stuff happens in the blink of an eye. Stuff happens no matter how careful you are. Stuff happens no matter how consistent you are when it comes to discipline. Stuff happens because…well, just because.

So before pointing fingers and laying blame, remember this: your kids just might be that kid before the day is over.


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


Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Privilege Of Doing Things Over

In addition to sharing my Momma D advice and encouragement with you each week, I am a feature writer for a parenting magazine in Australia. I know, it’s crazy, isn’t it? A gal from Mid-Missouri writing for the “Land Down Under”—just one of the many wonders of the internet.

Anyway…they recently asked me to write an article on “Parenting MBA”—MBA being short for Minimal Behavior Accepted. The purpose of the article, I was told, was to motivate parents to decide what their ‘threshold of pain’ was in regards to just how much they were willing to let slide before saying ‘enough is enough’. As I thought about the angle they had suggested I take, something Granny always said (that had been said to her by my great-grandma) kept running through my head….

“If you don’t do it right the first time you will have the privilege of doing it over again.”

There’s nothing minimal or MBA about that, is there? It wasn’t enough for Grandma or Granny to be satisfied with doing just enough to get by. I don’t remember it being enough for my mom either, and I know it wasn’t enough for John and me when we were raising our kids. And I’m glad for it.

By taking a minimal standards approach to parenting you are squelching their self-confidence and self-respect. You are saying…

*I won’t expect too much because I don’t think you are capable of giving any more than that.

*I won’t expect too much because it doesn’t really matter.

On top of that, you are encouraging your child to be lazy, irresponsible, selfish, and disrespectful of authority. Ouch! I’m sure that hurts, but it’s the truth.

Social media is flooded with posts and tweets about ‘the good ‘ole days’ and ‘remember when’s’ that speak of a time when respect, hard work, self-sufficiency, and other solid character traits were the norm rather than the exception they seem to be today. So if we really do long for that type of society and lifestyle again, then it’s up to those of you who are raising children to do something about it—something like raising the bar and setting higher expectations for your children than just minimal standards of behavior.

I’m thankful I was expected to do things right or do them over. I’m also not apologizing for expecting the same from my kids. And you know what? I am confident in saying they wouldn’t want me to. Children want, no, they need to know you believe they are capable of more than just enough to get by. Their confidence and success as a productive child and adult depends on it. So instead of settling for the least they can give, help them see just how far they can go.


Momma D

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