Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Running my family like a Chick-Fil-A

If you have ever been to a Chick-fil-A, you probably noticed some ways that it isn't like other fast food restaurants.  For one, it is cleaner and usually has fresh flowers on the table.  The food is fresh and the drive-thru is remarkably fast.  But that isn't what really sets Chick-fil-A apart for me.  What I love to hear every time I'm diving in to my #1 Deluxe, no cheese, with honey bbq sauce is those magical words every employee utters hundreds of times a day: "my pleasure."  Every time you ask for something at Chick-fil-A, the employees are to respond by saying, "my pleasure".  What that means to me is that they are excited to serve their customers and aren't put out by my request for an extra ranch packet.

So what does this have to do with my family?  Quite a bit actually.  I want my kids to respond the same way when I ask them to do something.  Not because it sounds nice and I'm hoping they will get a job in serving chicken but because our homes are to be micro chasms of the world we live in and a proving ground for their future.  It isn't about being Stepford children to their parents or saying some magical words but about ultimately turning their hearts towards serving their King with a joyful, willing heart.  Psalm 100:2 (NASV) reads, "Serve the Lord with gladness", and I want them to grow the habit of having a cheerful attitude while doing a task.

I have been reading the Duggars' book about management of their large family and this is one of the tenets of obedience in their home.  Their children are encouraged to say, "Yes ma'am, I would be happy to", when they are asked to do something.  I love seeing the beautiful hearts of their children displayed on television as they serve in their community and on mission trips and I want that for my kids.  The hard part is that whenever we as parents want to introduce a new principle in our home, we have to take the lead.  And by take the lead, I mean we have to follow through in front of them.  So when my husband asks me if I could grab him a glass of water, I need to model, "my pleasure", in front of them.

See it just happened...my oldest daughter just asked for a glass of milk.  I could have told her I would get it in a minute.  After all, I'm busy writing this super important blog and all.  But I hopped up, said it would be my pleasure, got her the milk and even gave it an added bonus.  I asked her if she wanted some Ovaltine in her milk.  That is a little Sermon on the Mount lesson thrown in about going the extra mile that I would love to see reflected in my children's attitude.

They say it takes 66 days to make a new habit.  Check up with me in a couple months!

Friday, March 25, 2011

If Heaven were a library

If Heaven were a library, I would check out my mom's Grandpa first.  I have never met him but always wanted to.  I would bring him to my house and find him a well seasoned iron skillet so I could finally taste his homemade cornbread.

Next I would check out my Grandma.  I would sit her in my kitchen and let my middle daughter, Caroline, climb in her lap for the first time.  She could finally see how somehow I created a little girl that looks and acts just like her.  I would make her a pie and serve it to her in the plates and silverware she left me.  Then I would tell her all the things I never got to.  I would tell her that I appreciated every single prayer she prayed for me and that they all were answered.  That my husband is as good as she could have dreamed for me and more.

Finally, I would borrow my brother.  But I would end up owing so many fines, I would never be able to repay them because I would never be able to return him.  I would dance with him one more time.  I would watch as many Mystery Science Theater movies as I could find and we would laugh until we cried.  And I would tell him how much I missed him and how I wished he could have held each one of my babies.

But it isn't a library.  Death is so bitterly final.   But we rejoice, because we have hope in that mansion just over the hilltop.  I hope I'm not going any time soon but I'm glad I have these little strings in my heart that pull me heavenward and remind me that this world is not my home.

Friday, March 11, 2011

10 Ways to Help a Teacher!

No matter where you fall politically, teachers and schools around the country are in crisis and need our help.  There are some easy ways to bless your child's teacher in the midst of these budget issues and help your child as well.

1. Read to your child.  It increases their attention span, broadens their vocabulary and grows their imagination.  It will make a direct difference in the classroom.

2. Get involved in PTA/PTO. Our PTA does a lot to better the school environment and help the teachers out.  My favorite "little thing" that our PTA does is bring the teachers their favorite drink from Sonic every now and then.  That really perks up their day.  Also, participating in PTA fundraisers can really help when schools lose tax dollars.

3. Volunteer in the classroom.  Whether it is for the Valentine's Day Party or making copies, volunteering in the classroom takes a lot of the load off the teachers and lets them focus on what they do best...teaching!

4. Buy supplies.  Teachers all of this country are using their own money to buy supplies for their classroom. You can help by responding if they put out a list of needs for their class and making sure that the supplies you bring at the beginning of the year are exactly what they need.

5. Pray.  Either pray alone or join a group like Moms in Touch.  Moms in Touch is a group of moms from each school that meets and prays usually once a week for one hour for the students, teachers and staff.

6. Help your child with homework.  Check everything before it goes back to school and make sure they are staying up on their assignments.  If something needs to be signed...sign it and return.

7. Help your child study.  Talk to your child about what they are learning and reinforce what they are seeing and doing in the classroom.

8. Healthy Breakfasts!  Children that have healthy breakfast do better at school. http://www.nutritionexplorations.org/educators/school-nutrition-breakfast.asp

9. Family dinner table.  Make sure you sit down and have as many meals around the table as possible. 
Kids who eat most often with their parents are 40% more likely to say they get mainly A's and B's in school than kids who have two or fewer family dinners a week.

10. Let your teachers know they are appreciated  If you have the money for a gift card to Staples or Starbucks, most teachers would love that.  If you don't, a note of thanks is really appreciated and can really bless your child's teacher.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My Favorite Kids' Books

Reading is a big deal in our house and I'm fortunate to have inherited the collection of Weekly Reader books my mother amassed when I was a child but when it comes to my favorite books, there are several stand-outs.

For Babies and Toddlers:
Silly Sally by Audrey Wood-Great easy rhyming book with fun pictures

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell-This is a fun book that gives great opportunities to introduce animals and even make their sounds as you lift the flaps to guess what animal the zoo sent.

For Preschoolers
The Clown Arounds by Joanna Cole-I had several of these as part of the Weekly Reader program and I loved the jokes inside and the way the Clown Arounds tackled problems as a family.  This is a whole series each one is great.  I don't think these are in production anymore but you can still pick them up used.

Llama Llama, Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney- I love this whole series as well.  It is a fun easy read that addresses issues and emotions that preschoolers really deal with.


For early readers
Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth by David A. Adler-I love the Young Cam Jansen books because they keep kids engaged throughout the book trying to solve the mystery.  Kids can't put them down!

And of course...
Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder-I have read this to my early reader and let her help read along.  The Little House books provide a great opportunity to talk about history and what life was like during Laura's time.  My kids were mesmerized by the stories of how food was produced before grocery stores and Chick-Fil-A.