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Monday, September 21, 2009

A drama-free slumber party...what's that?

We celebrated Emma's birthday with a slumber party.
I approached this idea with great caution. Why?
Because I went to slumber parties. If you did too, you know what I'm talking about.
This is what I know about girls...we're born mean.
Oh, you might think that's an exaggeration, but it's not.
We're born with the tendency toward gossip, forming factions that gang up on someone else, and with the innate ability from the age of three on to merely whisper and giggle with another girl and destroy her in an instant.
Am I right? Can I hear an Amen?
I noticed this when my own daughter started playing with a group of girls at a very young age, and it all came rushing back to me. Oh yeahhhhh, I remember this.
We are horrible, horrible creatures.
They could make a movie called "pre-school mean girls" and it wouldn't be too far off.
Why? Because we're sinners. Plain and simple. We're fallen and born with a sinful nature that is yucky through and through. There's no denying it.
And what is the root of this ugly behavior in girls? Looking back, why did I do what I did?
Putting others down in any form or fashion somehow lifts you up. Whether it's being funny at someone else's expense, or trying to exalt your friendship with one girl over another (also at her expense) so that you feel more popular. Exalting ourselves to make us feel better can look like several things, but it's always destructive.
Are we grown-up girls still capable of this today? Of course. We all have to be aware of this, even as we can disguise this more mature version of ugliness in us still.
We have to work at our friendships making sure we look after others' needs and feelings as best we can, and including others as much as possible.
I have also guarded against this junk with my daughter. I think because she's homeschooled she's slightly ignorant of the enormity of this business.
But I had this very talk with Emma before her party...making sure everyone feels included...no one feels left out...being sure to put others desires above her own...all that good stuff.
I think intentionally teaching our daughters how to be Christ-like friends from a young age will help them resist the temptation to be a "mean girl." And ultimately, their relationship with the Lord gives them the power to overcome sin!
I was so proud of the group of girls we had at our house for this slumber party!
There was no drama, no ugliness, no factions, and no "light as a feather, stiff as a board" (anyone remember that one?).
We had a sweet time of devotional on loving others like Jesus, and I had the privelege of hearing their sweet prayers. What a blessing! I can't wait to watch these sweet girls grow up into Godly, young women who honor the Lord with their lives.
So there WAS pizza, there WAS cake and ice cream, there WAS pin the tail on Emma's horse, there WAS a dance party in our pajamas, there WAS whispering in their beds, but there was NO drama and ugliness, and I was thankful for that!
Anyone, thoughts on how we train our girls to guard against our tendency toward this sin, and encourage them to love like Christ? Older Moms, wisdom to offer?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Happy Birthday Emma!

9 years ago today, after about 45 hours protest in labor, little Emma entered our world. She was obviously comfortable where she was, and didn't come willingly.
She was born at 2:55am at Northwest hospital in Amarillo.
She had the loudest cry of any baby I'd ever heard, and the biggest, most alert, blue eyes. They seemed huge to me. From the moment she was born, she seemed determined not to miss a thing (so sleeping was not an option, naturally) and it was as if she was sure she could tell us what to do and we would comply.
I remember bringing her home and having the revelation I think many young mothers do...about how much God loves us as a Father, how much my parents love me, and not believing how much I loved this new little person.
So of course, I cried, rocked and nursed her, and Rusty would tentatively say "Are you okay?" wondering where his even-keeled wife went, and who was this blubbering woman in the rocker?
I would sob "Yes. I just love her so much!" Sob. Sob.
Post-Partum. There's nothing like it.
So entered Emma into our lives, and what a precious life change!
We've watched her grow, from that super active, strong willed little one, into the little girl we know who submitted her life to the Lord and loves Him with all her heart.
Some of my favorite things about Emma:
1. How she loves God and His Word! (It's 6:30 and she's sitting on the couch right now doing her Bible Study book. What's better?)
2. The way she reads. She is a voracious reader, and that has been one of my great aspirations for my kids. She devours her library books, and then we must make an emeregency library trip when she's done.
3. She begs me for "homework" and lots of it. I don't seem to give her enough work, in her opinion. Clearly, she gets the "nerd" genes from her father. It pays to marry a brainiac.
4. She's so her own person. Maybe this is intensified because she's homeschooled, but she has always been an intense animal lover, seriously, since before she could talk. Her obsession with elephants came first,before she was two, then dinosaurs, then horses. That one stuck. And if you know my daughter, one of her great talents is being able to "run like a cheetah", and she'll gladly race you on all-fours. It's a little uncanny how quick she is. She's just Emma. Not a girl who likes princesses, purses, dresses, or pretty shoes, but can tell you anything you want to know about animals, habitats, and is what we call the "animal whisperer."
5. She's a little bit fearless. I think her desire and willingness to do what she does on horses, and then compete against a group of older, more experienced riders at horse shows demonstrates this. I love watching her in action! There is nothing sweeter to me than this girl and a horse.
So Celebrating you is our joy, Em! Happy birthday, love! I hope today is a memorable one.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help me!

I would like to find the ultimate photo sharing, storage site. I'm on winkflash right now, but I can't really access my photos like I'd like. I want to be able to store them on a site, but then access them to put on my blog, e-mail them to myself, or do whatever I want with them. I also want to make super easy photo books that don't cost a fortune, and have high quality prints. Winflash is cheap, and I love cheap! But I don't think the quality is the best, and it takes forever to load them on the site. Does anyone have a magic site you can tell me about? I'm wondering about sites like photobucket and seehere.com, but it's hard to find answers to these questions just by looking at their site.
Help me! Someone out there must have an answer for me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

A crazy Mom would...

Emma and I just got back from her horse show.
It was great Mother-Daughter fun, and this horse Mom was tired, but thankful for the time we had together.
Sometimes it's the funniest things that end up being the most fun on these kind of outings.
Ours was an hour long game of "A crazy Mom would..." in the car.
We came up with about 102 answers to that question, which kept me awake while driving, in conjunction with some not-so-bad gas station coffee, and made us laugh outloud.
But here's my best answer to that question.
A crazy Mom would put her little girl in pageants.
Have you seen this show "Toddlers and Tiaras" on TLC?
Our DVR was broken for a while, and without anything conveniently waiting for us, pre-recorded, I defaulted to TLC. I think that's what I watched before the DVR. That, and "Little House" recorded.
This is one of those, drop your jaw, are you kidding? shows.
Highlights: fake teeth for the little girls, fake hair, spray tanning, Halloween level of make-up, and the saddest part of all, swimsuit competitions. (They don't allow g-strings, they said on one of the shows, just because it's hard to pull off without the perfect body. I couldn't sleep that night.)
The whole thing is a not-so-distant cousin to pedophilia.
I don't think that would be most parents' intent, but what in the WORLD are they thinking, sexualizing their little girls like that?
And that led to an interesting discussion I had with my Mom.
She is teaching soon to her ladies about ways that we sexualize our children early on. I think this is something we need to be very aware of.
How are we doing this, in our culture, and in our own families?
The obvious would be to put make-up on your child, dress them up like a hoochie Mama and teach them to dance around suggesstively in front of a panel of judges to be scored based on their hoochie dancing abilities, their bodies, and their facial beauty.
(Is this not obvious to them!?)
But what are more subtle things that we might be doing with our daughters that have become so accepted in our culture that we aren't aware of it ourselves?
I'm trying to be especially aware of this in the area of clothing for my daughter.
Any thoughts, Moms? Dads? Everyone else?
(Oh, and anyone who is feeling the tiniest bit defensive for pageant Moms, please watch "Toddlers and Tiaras" and then get back to me. If you are willing to go to bat for these pageant parents, I would love to understand why! Let's talk!)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

What goes on the plate?

I call this the honeymoon phase of our semester.
We have completed the first two weeks of the Bacak Nation Academy, and while I've been dropping in bed each night, exhausted (literally exhausted...once last week I fell asleep at 9:15pm. I haven't done that since I had the flu. And obviously too tired to blog!) we haven't had TOO much on our plate.
That sounds weird. Getting into the groove of a new semester, and especially teaching three kids, is plenty on my plate. So let me clarify.
My days are very full and I am full-time schooling, parenting, horse-Momming, cooking, hosting, etc. HOWEVER, some of the other things that tend to make my calendar threaten to explode, and me feel like I'm too busy to breathe, haven't really started yet.
The first two weeks of a semester, our nightly activities are up to our discretion, not pre-scripted and mandated.
So here's a question:
What are we going to put on our plate this semester?
If you are like me, it tends to be too much.
And I know me when it's too much. I'm not the best me. We're not the best us. And I'm not protecting my family and this home from OVER doing like I should.
As the manager of this home, I deal with scheduling our "stuff" most of the time, running questions by Rusty when needed.
And I think activities tend to multiply, don't you think? I think it's just a little thing, and then our activities started making babies like bunnies and it's out of control before I know it.
So I think we have to look at the bare minimum, and decide where to go from there.
The last two years have flown by so quickly, so busy, so hectic, that I don't think I enjoyed life, or savored it as I should be.
I think I gobbled it down whole and didn't even chew.
I don't want to do that! My kids are growing right before my very eyes. There are opportunities to share Christ, practically touching me, and I've been too busy to see it.
I don't want to live that way.
One challenge we face (and experienced Moms, help me out!) we have a lot of kids. And as they are growing, so does their level of activity.
Also, because we are homeschoolers, I want them to have opportunities to engage their peers, and for us to develop intentional relationships with lost people. The avenues opened up to us naturally for this are soccer, horses, 4H, for example.
So those things are important for more than one reason.
I don't want to strip away all activities.
Therefore, I think a conversation that would be helpful for me, and maybe some of you too, is how to be in something without doing everything. Every fundraiser, every class, clinic, every little thing that we put our names on sign-up sheets to do.
This is what kills us. Is this okay?
Is it irresponsible to be in something, and not do it all?
Or should we learn to say NO to things for the sake of our sanity?
I appreciated our pastor challenging us this week by asking us to stop and consider: What are our motives in saying YES to all we do? Is it recognition, or a true heart of service? And he even challenged us to have self-control in saying NO to good things, when they may not be for us. (I hope the "Rev. A. Diddy", as we affectionately call him around here, real name- Allen Duty, would not feel misquoted in this, but just in case, go to our church website and listen to a GREAT sermon from 9/6/09 called "Own the Vision." You will be so glad you did!)
So if you too want to ponder this, let's talk about what we put on our plates, and even hold eachother accountable to not having "eyes bigger than our stomachs" as we fill it up.