Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Teachable Moments

If you're like me, you tend to look for the part of any situation which may be valuable in helping further your efforts to raise responsible, charactered children. When something happens that isn't "fair", we can easily seize the opportunity to explain how life works. When a bad test grade is earned, the time for a little lesson on sowing and reaping might be necessary. If a new toy is wanted, of course we can sit down and talk about how to earn money, and then how to manage it. As parents, we find ourselves doing this least we should.
But what about those times when we aren't aware that we are "teaching"? Those are the moments that make me squirm a little.
Greg and I had an argument several weeks ago. That's a rare thing for us, believe it or not. We are both "first-born" at heart (Greg is actually a middle child, but since his older brother is 8 years older, he has his fair share of "first" traits!), and for several years into our marriage we made a hobby out of arguing. I'm not exceptionally proud of that, but it made for cheap entertainment, I guess!
Since our children rarely hear us argue, they became very frustrated by our recent spat. We explained our "issue" to them, and they promptly told us that it was a stupid thing to fight about, and that Max Lucado had a Hermie movie about silly fights. Apparently ours won the "silly" award, and they were not impressed by our behavior. After some discussion and apologies, the case was closed, but in my mind the effects of our outburst lingered. Although I want my children to know that a certain amount of friction in a marriage is healthy, I also want them to understand that loving husbands and wives do not treat each other in unloving ways. We will have to keep working on that one!
But think about all of the things we do (or don't do) each day that are teachable. When Greg gets up at 5:30 in the morning (after usually getting to bed quite late), he shows our children a couple of things: first of all, as a man he is providing for his family. If he doesn't work, we don't eat. Part of his obedience to God and love for us is exhibited through his work ethic, and I'm thankful that God has given me a man who is willing to work, and willing to teach our children the value of work.
When we shower, brush our teeth, and put on clean clothes, we are teaching our children that we are to take care of our bodies because they are God's temples. We are His "poster children", and it's important to be a good representatives of Christ.
As we work in the yard and attempt to take care of our home, we are instilling a healthy level of pride and stewardship. We tell the kids that God has given us this place for this time, and we will do our best by it and be very thankful for the shelter He has provided.
When the kids see us diligently attempt to keep our bills paid, make wise financial decisions, and give to those in need, they learn to be generous. They may be hesitant at first, but once they feel the joy and fulfillment of giving, they are hooked. And once they understand that money does not grow on trees (the big guys in Washington haven't gotten the memo on that one yet), they temper the begging and greed.
When we gather in our living room with our Bibles, or meet with other believers in our church on Sunday, we teach the importance of worshiping our Almighty God...and our children know of our love for this act by our attitude toward the act itself (drudgery, excuses, excitement, commitment), as well as our attitude toward those with whom we worship (ouch!). How easy it is to carry out the mandates of God or the church and be empty of the love and grace they really require! Our kids aren't fooled by our attempts.
The moments are teaching...and the list really never ends. Each twist and turn in our day teaches our children something. Realistically, we can't ever brush off an incident without realizing that there will be a residual effect, for better or worse.

"Dear God...please make my motives pure and my attitudes right. Help me to control the words that leave my mouth and the thoughts that cross my mind. May I portray to little eyes the importance of being real and being Yours. Amen."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ahhhh....Christmas vacation! There is simply no better time! This year found me in the spirit of the season much earlier than normal. I've tried to determine what has made the difference so that I can make sure it happens again next year, but so far haven't been able to come up with much. So, I'm thinking back over the last decade of Christmases:
December 1999 - teaching full time...began Christmas shopping in earnest exactly 2 weeks after having 1st baby via c-section, then fulfilled all of the holiday festivities, gatherings, etc. approximately 2 weeks later.
December 2000 - the year of Y2K...also was 9 mos. pregnant and had 13 month old baby boy who had not yet learned to walk...still teaching every day.
December 2001 - had 25 month old, 11 month old, and was 4 weeks pregnant and didn't know it...miscarried one month later...teaching 5 days.
December 2002 - need to look at pics to remember what was going on then...teaching three days, taking care of 3 and 1 year-old, doing a complete house remodel on a fixer-upper.
December 2003 - teaching at least 3 days, taking care of 4 and 2 year-old, 7 mos. pregnant.
December 2004 - enjoying my baby girl (7 mos.) and two toddler boys (5 and 3), teaching kindergarten 3 days.
December 2005 - back to teaching 5 days, taking care of 19 month Kaitlynn and 4 year old Evan, while Ryan was in 1st grade full time.
December 2006 - working on grad degree, teaching kindergarten 3 days...Kaitlynn 2 yrs., Evan in kindergarten, and Ryan in 2nd grade. Relative peace and quiet...not for long!
December 2007 - teaching full time again, trying to balance my grad classes, Allison 4 weeks old, Kait 3 years, Evan in 1st grade, and Ryan in 3rd. Once again, stretching that incision with every light that was hung! Ugh!
December 2008 - Oh, the busyness of the season! Little Alli was quite mobile, but very good at keeping her tiny fingers off of the decor...teaching 5 days...feeling overwhelmed...

(I think I've found a pattern that we're done having kids, maybe we can relax and enjoy them!)

2009 - totally determined to take the time to savor the season! School program out of the way Dec. 1st. 1st family gathering Dec. 12th. 2nd one on Dec. 25th. 3rd one on Dec. 31st. Two full weeks of vacation!!! Toddler potty trained!!! So, what's not to enjoy?

(Although this post may seem a little wierd to you, it was quite therapeutic for me...Merry Christmas!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009


For whatever reason, my pictures are wanting to post side by side, rather than in a centered list. I am too busy to sit and figure out what has happened. If anyone knows exactly what I need to do to fix it, please leave a comment. I have posts that are ready to go up, but I'd rather have my old format back! Thanks!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Creative Christmas Gift Ideas

Since my last post didn't generate much interest, I thought I would share a couple of things that happened at the Nichols' family Christmas this past weekend.
Like many other moms, my mom sometimes struggles to find the "perfect" gifts for her grown kids. She told me that I am extremely difficult person for which to buy gifts...I told her that I get it from her. :) The easy route would be for her to either give us a gift card or hand us cash (useful but not very creative!), but she enjoys Christmas shopping, gift wrapping, and the element of surprise involved. She always does a great job, and this year was no exception.
After we were finished with the traditional time of gift-giving, mom gathered the kids and gave them instructions regarding the beginning of a new Christmas tradition...a "dollar hunt" for the grandkids. She "hid" 50 $1 bills in the living room (being careful not to hide anything too high), and the kids were to bring them to her, one at a time, as they found them. She would then divide them up evenly and distribute them at the end of the hunt. Talk about excitement! Aubrey was asleep, so she was just able to collect her little stack after her nap. Good memories!

Mom and Dad gathered all the adults in the family room and mom talked a little bit about marriage, noting the fact that we all have either reached or passed our 5th anniversary. She mentioned that, as a family, our marriages have survived longer than most, and that was something to be treasured and celebrated. She also noted that we were all at a point where the cares of life (work, sickness, small children) could threaten our relationships. She and Dad wanted to give us something that would help to keep us refreshed and strong as a couple. Then she presented us with an overnight package to Holmes County (babysitting included), that we can use within the first 3 months of 2010...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Got Creativity?

I'm interested to hear some of your most creative or non-traditional Christmas gifts for kids. By the way, Bratz dolls and Sony video games don't count as creative or non-traditional. :) Don't be afraid to share a secret that you're keeping for this kids don't read this blog, and I doubt any others do either!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Have you heard about the Dockers ad campaign controversy? Personally, I love the ad, and I'm hoping this philosophy makes a comeback in our society! By the way, I prefer classic khakis over the "off-the-waist and below-the-rear" styles anyway! LOL!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thoughts and Things...

It's 11:56 p.m. My eyes are so dry and tired that blinking has actually become a chore! :) I need to get to bed so that I can get up tomorrow and do it all over again, but some days are so good that you hate for them to end!
Today was an odd began when the one barrette that will actually hold all my hair up decided to disappear. It never occurs to me to buy an extra one for times such as these, and since I wear my hair up to work, a lost barrette means a late morning! Ugh! I finally found it (right where I left it, of course), and hurried the kiddos into the van for the short ride to school. As I was backing out of the driveway, I realized that my speedometer wasn't working. It just so happens that the area in which we live, as well as the area in which the school is located are target areas for cops with nothing else to do but pull over people who are minimally breaking the limits. Fortunately, I made it through the day without little blue and red lights flashing in my back window, but now I have to try it again tomorrow...
After arriving at school, my co-worker told me that a UPS shipment containing some of our program props and costumes, which was scheduled to arrive yesterday, was still on the UPS truck and would not arrive until this evening (program was tonight). No problem...after 12 years of school programs, our nerves are too fried to even work!
The day was spent in fervent practice. 26 happy, energetic kids, full of life and a little bit of mischief sang their hearts out, and many of them left school exhausted and with barely a speaking voice thanks to colds, sinus problems, and a full day of vocal exertion.
Of course there was more to do after the "day" ended, but some girls who have learned to be responsible helpers lightened my load considerably, and brought smiles and joy into the weariness! Even though our props didn't arrive until just before 7 p.m. (giving us about 30 minutes to get things together), and we weren't able to make everything happen just as we had planned, the moments that followed were priceless. I will cherish the memories of tonight, the faces of the children, forever. They are worth it...a thousand times over.