Be Careful, the Children Will Hear You

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Photo Credit: Creative Commons.org

Photo Credit: www.CreativeCommons.org

 

As parents we have such a huge responsibility to raise caring and  compassionate children and escort them into adulthood.  As adults our thoughts, actions and words are out there in the atmosphere for consumption and believe me, children will hear you.   So much of what they learn from us isn’t directly communicated to them.  Rather it’s through our exchanges with others, what types of movies and television we watch and even the books that we read. Our kids use all of this to interpret a lot of our attitudes and  feelings about their world.  That frightens me sometimes.  Often I think I’m not doing my job when it comes to what type of messages I’m sending to my kids, but I’m positive that I can not control everything they see and hear. We, all of us, have a responsibility to be thoughtful with our words and actions because their impact can be far-reaching.

My daughter, Thing 1 is currently tackling 3rd grade.  If you’re unfamiliar with 3rd grade girls, friendships are a very important part of school.  Sometimes more important than everything else (unfortunately).  At any rate, Thing 1 and a new friend were working on a research project together, via the internet, and as kids often do they became a bit distracted.  The girls decided that they wanted to do research on each of their specific religions.  We are Christians and her friend’s family is Muslim.  Keeping in mind that the school has internet security and filters in place, the first item that appeared from the search on the Nation of Islam is that “Islam is not a religion of peace.”  This young girl read on and began to cry.  Thing 1 decided that it was best to change the topic and comforted her friend the best way that she could – she turned off the iPad, gave a hug, told her that obviously the person who wrote that was stupid and offered a piece of candy at lunch.  I thought the candy was a good move.

The thing is, the person who made that statement didn’t think about the young, tender hearts who may read it.   This child knows her loving, peaceful biological family and the loving support of her religious family.  That’s it.  She does not identify with the extreme images and narratives in the media and neither do most Muslims.  That’s why they’re referred to as extremists Extremists exist in every religion.

I find it very frustrating to repeatedly see Christians portrayed in the media as religious fanatics.  There’s story after story about how we turn out to be child molesters, wife beaters, fear mongerers and irresponsible parents who let their children die instead of seeking medical assistance believing that it’s some test of faith. This is just the short list. Do these descriptions fit some of us? Yes, but not all. In fact the vast majority of us do not do any of this  – not even close.  We’re pretty normal people.  We do believe in modern medicine.  We have the same family issues as anyone else and if you care to invite us over, we just may sit down and have a beer with you while watching a football game.  I get that normal doesn’t make a very interesting news story and, of course who can resist pointing out blatant hypocrisy.  However, what we (Christians) don’t seem to understand is that the same distorted lenses that we are being viewed through is being used to view others.  It is my day-to-day interactions with those of the Muslim faith that let me know that they are not inherently violent people.

There’s nothing better than a child to put things into perspective for you.  My girl was very sad that her friend’s feelings were hurt by what they read on the internet.  They’re not old enough to be discerning, but they are old enough to know when something is plain wrong.   I said to her “You do know that is not true, right?”

“I know momma. She’s really a nice girl and not mean or violent at all.”

“As Christians, what did Jesus tell us we are supposed to do?”

“Love each other,” she said.

“Love only other Christians?”

“No. Love EVERYONE! Except sometimes that’s hard because people can do mean or annoying things. Like when….”

Right here, I’m skipping over a whole conversation about how hard it is to love even your sister when she chews with her mouth open and other stuff that’s irritating.  You get the picture?  Finally, I  interrupted by saying “…but does any of that matter to Jesus?”

“No.  We have to love them anyway.”

“I think that you handled it beautifully.  You keep loving on (your frined) baby girl.”

“I will momma because that’s how you show God’s love. Nobody wants to hear about God if you’re being mean.”

And there it is.  Once again, the 8-year-old gets it when so many adults do not.

 

 

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Saying Something When You Have Nothing to Say

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This is the hard part about blogging every day.  I have nothing of importance or urgency or even mild interest to say.  Not writers block because believe me I tried.  I went around this whole day looking for inspiration, but nothing happened.  Granted, I spent most of my day in my daughters’ bedroom changing out the summer clothes to the almost summer clothes (in south Texas it really is just a summer cool down).  It was crazy! Clothes and stuffed animals were everywhere. At one point I wanted to burn it all and start from scratch. Or, at the very least throw away some stuff…just because. But I’m sure that as soon as I do that, one of them is bound to say “What did you do with my yellow (or red, or green) shirt?  You know the one with the gold sparkles and the red stitching down the side that I wore one time last year at the park by that fat tree near the lake where we saw that kid I know from VBS?”   I’d be expected to remember that.  I didn’t throw anything away.   Instead, I put the hot weather clothes in boxes for the cooler months and put the less hot weather clothes out for them to try on.  I worked diligently for hours, well when I wasn’t checking Facebook and cursing the fact that my girls have inherited my love of shoes and accessories.  I looked for something to blog about and even played around with some lead in sentences.  Nothing.

The remainder of my day was more normal.  Typical fight over homework with my 3rd grader whom I’m sure now thinks I’m a troll.  Ask me if I care – stay off my bridge, honey.  Dinner  was nothing Pinterest worthy and my youngest daughter wouldn’t even eat it (#sheisnotmyfavorite).  I left the older one with dad to finish studying for a test (because he, too, needs to feel what it’s like being a troll) while I took the younger one to gymnastics. Actually, I was hopeful that this would be my breakthrough.  I was pretty sure that watching these young, ambitious athletes would give me plenty of inspiration for my blog post.  Something about perseverance or hard work.  In reality, all I could think about was how much money all of us parents are shelling out in hopes of a college scholarship one day and how many of us are going to me really disappointed.  Spoken like a mother who has paid way too much college tuition.  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking that I’m a downer, a spoil sport, a negative person and this is why I’m suffering from a lack of inspiration.  No, that’s not true at all.  You know what I am?  In the words of that wise philosopher, Iggy Azalea “First things first, I’m a realist.”   Just keeping it real, friends.

By this time I was tired and, okay, maybe a little bit grouchy.  I wanted to go straight home, but  I needed to stop at the grocery store for a few things.  A couple of weeks ago I heated up a hot dog, put it in a bun, wrapped it up in aluminum foil to keep it somewhat warm and put it in the girls’ lunches.  Ohmygoodenss!  They think I’m a culinary genius! Had I know that this was all it took to receive rock star status, believe me I would have done it a long time ago.  The down side, albeit a small one, is that I can never be without hot dogs and buns because they want what they want and they want it now.  So it was kind of ironic that I would be dragging my daughter who wouldn’t eat my diner through the grocery store to get the special hot dogs and buns for my extra special lunch that she thinks is so delicious.   You know what they both think is the best part?  I put their favorite condiment (mustard for one, ketchup for the other) in these cute little squirt bottles with a pink or purple cap so they can squirt it on the hot dog at school.  That’s it!  That’s all it took to cement my title as Best Mom in the World  – that is when I’m not busy being a troll.

Anyway, here’s what was funny.  By now you have probably heard that the polar vortex is making its way back down from Canada as we speak.  By the way, I have lived in the Midwest for most of my life and had never heard of the polar vortex before last year.  I’ve experienced waist deep snow, -50 wind chills, temperatures so cold that one time the gas lines actually froze while I was pumping gasoline into the car.  Yet, no mention of a polar vortex.  Isn’t this just called Winter?  As I was saying, temperatures are supposed to tumble into the lower 50’s for daytime highs with the lows hovering around the freezing mark around here in south Texas over the next several days.  While I was in the store this evening I needed to stop and get some of this lactose free, fat-free, organic milk that I buy for me and the girls.  I went to the case and it was EMPTY.  EMPTY! After that I noticed that a lot of the shelves were kinda sparse.  Was there a run on the grocery store because of the dropping temperatures?  This is the result of impending 50 degree temperatures?  And lactose free, fat-free, organic milk was high on the list of must haves?  I am amused.   I chuckled a bit and finished my shopping and went home.

Once here, I helped the girls get cleaned up and ready for bed. We talked a bit about our day and I answered a couple of their questions of eternal importance: Do panda bears fart?  What does the tooth fairy do with all of those teeth?  After lights out I pondered my blog post for a while.  Nope, it still wasn’t working for me.  So, I guess this is my Seinfeld moment.  A blog post about nothing.

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Baking for Relaxation – It’s a Thing

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My husband is such a creäture of habit.  When he comes in from work, he stops in the kitchen to see what – if anything – is on the stove for dinner. Of course, he has to sneak a taste.   Then, unless he has somewhere to go with the kids, he goes straight to the room to take off his suit and get comfortable.  Almost always he stops, picks up the remote, turns on the television  – CNN, MSNBC, FOX and back again.  Unless one of the girls comes and demands his attention, you will find him either sitting on the side of the bed or in the arm-chair channel surfing.  Every once in a while I will watch him and I can actually see his body and face start to relax.  His eyes are less intense and he lets himself slouch a little.  Finally he emerges from the bedroom relaxed and ready to be present with the rest of us for dinner and whatever comes next.

On the other hand, when I want to relax and unwind, I bake.  You think that’s strange?  You’re right, it probably is but I find nothing more soothing than methodically measuring and combining the ingredients while listening to the hum of the mixer.  I usually stew over whatever is on my mind all day then wait until the house is quiet and start baking after everyone is asleep.  My kids love the surprise of waking up to the smell of home-baked goodness. I know that I should find a something a bit less caloric than baking goodies to soothe my soul, but…no.  We’ll just have to deal with it.

A couple of weeks ago I went rummaging through my kitchen late one night to see what ingredients I had on hand to make something tasty. It was about 11:00 p.m., I couldn’t sleep and I certainly wasn’t going out to the grocery store.  I opened the refrigerator and I swear that there was a halo encircling the carton of buttermilk complete with angels singing “It’s there for you, Lisa.”  Okay, maybe not the angel part, but the buttermilk part got me to thinking.  What I came up with was my take on Buttermilk Pie.  A traditional Buttermilk Pie is a lot like a Lemon Chess Pie which I’m very fond of, but that was not really what I wanted.  However, in keeping with the season (and the fact that I didn’t have any lemons) I thought I’d like a different flavor profile – the tangyness (I know that’s not a word, but you know what I mean) of the buttermilk, but also some warm and sweet vanilla blended with spicy cinnamon, nutmeg and a bit of cloves.  It turned out pretty perfect.

Buttermilk Pie

Buttermilk Pie

 

Ingredients
  • 1 (9-inch) pie crust, unbaked (i used store-bought because it was 11:00 at night and because I’m too lazy to make my own)
  • 3 eggs (room temp.)
  • 1¼ cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla (use REALLY good REAL vanilla)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves (i know, you’re thinking “cloves lisa? really?  yes, it adds just a little more “something” to make it more complex.)
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Mix together eggs, granulated sugar, flour, butter, buttermilk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt until well-combined. Pour into the unbaked pie crust and bake for 45-50 minutes until set and golden brown.
  3. Remove from the oven and allow to cool prior to slicing.
  4. Store in the refrigerator.

 

NaBloPoMo November 2014