Category Archives: Mom Messages

My MOGuate Girl

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Aww, a moment to reflect. Now that the kids are settled into school and the summer craziness has calmed, I have a bit of time to recall the days of this waning season and the multitude of activities that filled those days.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Bloom, Bond & Build. It was an eventful summer – expensive, but eventful. I traveled with family to Newport, RI, book club members to a Southern beach, and church lady-friends to Hollywood. Let me rephrase. I went with Christian sisters to LA; they’re nothing like Dana Carvey’s church-lady caricature on SNL.

My son got his first real job, and began working full-time. He landed something far better than the typical burger-flipping position of most teens. Or, at least he thinks so. He’s cleaning farm equipment for a machinery retailer.

My daughter cheered, camped, and socialized.

Amidst all of that, though, the best thing we did all summer was something only a couple of hours from home at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach. We attended our first ever MOGuate, and it was a great way to end our summer.

http://www.tan-tar-a.com/

So, what is MOGuate? MOGuate is a group of adoptive families who include children born in Guatemala. Most families are from Missouri, but a few from other states have found this friendly, welcoming group and attend as well. I was told about MOGuate by another more astute adoptive parent.

http://www.moguate.com/

Rosaline came to us when she was 4½ months old, becoming a precious younger sister to our now 18-year-old biological son. We have always been open about her adoption. And, when your child is adopted internationally and a child of color (unlike that of her parents), it is a topic that comes up more often. People have asked about her nationality and our story since she was a baby, and I have never been offended. We’ve talked about traveling to our daughter’s birth country, but have yet to make that trip.

We took a big step toward learning about Rosaline’s culture. We made connections with other adoptive families, learned about the opportunities to visit and serve in Guatemala, and demonstrated to our daughter how very much we love her and appreciate her heritage. MOGuate was a lovely weekend to share as she approached her 14th birthday.

Moguate Girls

(My girl is the gleeful one right in the middle!)

Within moments at the Pizza Meet-And-Greet, other teens approached my daughter and warmly welcomed her to their group. At the same time, parents (new ones and returning) shared stories and experiences with my husband and me.

The next two days were specifically designed for social time. Kids of all ages played in the resort’s pool, and activities were planned for various age groups. Younger girls had a slumber party and did fingernails. Teens boated and had movie nights. Some families played mini-golf, and others dined together. All were interacting and sharing and making friends. Rosaline loved every moment, and I felt so happy to make the connections we did.

We learned about groups that regularly travel to Guatemala for the purpose of helping families in need there, as well as exploring the culture and country where our children were born. It turns out that travel to Guatemala for these families is very common, and their testimonies made a trip for our family seem much more realistic and possible.

Parents shared their experiences with locating birth parents and foster parents. They described DNA testing that has given them a more complete picture of their children’s ancestry. Some Guatemalan children are more European (Spanish) and others are more Mayan. But, like the heritage of most here in the melting pot, there are those children who have other nationalities represented in their DNA, too. And, most exciting, some MOGuate kids have even found cousins and other relatives among their MOGuate family. My assignment: check out 23andMe to pursue DNA testing for my family.

https://www.23andme.com/

The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday evening banquet, silent auction, and Quinceanera ceremony. Dinner was casual, so no one had to dress up after being in the sun all day. The food was kid-friendly and yummy.

The MOGuate founder spoke to the audience about the history of MOGuate, and we learned about the wonderful work being done to fight childhood malnutrition in Guatemala by ALDEA. BTW, “aldea” means “hamlet” in Spanish. Money raised from the silent auction, which included a colorful display of handicrafts, photography, and art from Guatemala, goes directly to this organization. I brought home a beautiful framed photograph.

http://aldeaguatemala.org/site-map/

Next, one of the parents officiated a Quinceanera ceremony for three young ladies who have reached the age of 15. In Latin American countries, this is an important celebration for young women. I recalled being in high school and traveling to Mexico for a two-week study program, and one of the girls from our host family had just celebrated this herself. Quinceanera marks the end of childhood and the beginning of womanhood. Yikes! I’m not sure about the womanhood part, but the dresses are to die for. It is a lovely tradition. Here are a couple of sites that explain the Quinceanera more completely.

http://gomexico.about.com/od/historyculture/g/quinceanera.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quincea%C3%B1era

The moral of the story… sometimes we don’t have to go far to find the best experiences. Good people, a commonality, time to relax and unwind. These are key ingredients for a good time, but when we are also doing for and loving our children, that’s as good as it gets.

If you are an adoptive parent, check out the resources that match your situation. Find those opportunities to help your child feel special and to look deeper into the place from where he or she comes. And, if it happens to be Guatemala, check out MOGuate!

Do you have a resource or tip for adoptive parents? I’d love to learn more. Or, did you do something special with your family over the summer that we all might enjoy. Please share your experiences with us.

Happy Monday!

Hally

Junk In, Junk Out

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We regularly hear (almost, constantly hear) that we need to put good things into our bodies – vegetables and fruits, good fats, the right combination of fiber, protein and carbohydrates, etc. We all know the drill.

How often, though, do we focus on the importance of putting good stuff into our minds, hearts, and souls? Rarely does that take center stage; rarely is feeding our psyches properly a priority.

Today, after not posting in a couple of months, I want to share several soul- and heart-healthy items with you.

First, let me tell you about the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. My daughter attends a Christian school, and each spring the 7th– and 8th-grade students take a trip. Shout out to First Baptist Christian Academy in Troy, MO: http://www.troyfirst.com/academy

Love it!

On odd years, they visit the Creation Museum. I went with the group this year, and it was my first visit to this truly educational and inspiring museum, which is much more that a museum. During the day, there were topical movies being shown in a lovely cinema, talks and lectures blog june15 1[1]  (Ken Hamm was there the day we visited), multi-media presentations, exhibits, grounds and gardens to tour, zip-lines and ropes courses, and more. They are currently working on building a replica of the ark on a property within an hour from the museum. The Creation Museum is at the Ohio/Kentucky border (a good drive from the St. Louis area), but I highly recommend it for a long family weekend.

The websiteblog june15 2[1] looks a bit juvenile in my opinion, but the destination is well worth a drive: http://creationmuseum.org/

Next, I have another movie to tell you about. I had the opportunity to preview “War Room” in May, and I urge you to see this movie when it releases on August 28th. The Kendrick brothers bring “War Room” to us; they are known for prior works including “Courageous” and “Fireproof.” I loved the characters, the acting, and the point. I have been working on a little project within my own home as a result of seeing “War Room,” but I don’t want to give too much away. You won’t find it cheesy or corny; I don’t liken it to any other unhealthy food. Check it out:  http://warroomthemovie.com/

There is a great online magazine for teen girls named “Girlz 4 Christ.” You can subscribe for free, and they will be doing a feature on “War Room” in their next edition. Here’s the link for them if you or your daughter would like to check it out: http://www.girlz4christmagazine.org/

Lastly, and here’s where it gets really exciting, I am giving away a book. I am a fan of Cynthia Ruchti’s fiction, and I want to share her uplifting work with you. Her latest, “As Waters Gone By” is a story of hope. I just received my copy, and I would love for you to read along with me.

Cynthia Ruchti's photo.Now, I totally get that many busy moms or those working full-time don’t have time to read, but sometimes summer affords us that opportunity/luxury. If it does, don’t waste time with junk, but put your mind to something that’s good for you (and tastes good). Here’s a link to learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her fiction and non-fiction books:  http://www.cynthiaruchti.com/

 

Now, for a chance to win a copy of “As Waters Gone By,” comment here with the name of a  book, movie, or place that fed your soul and uplifted you and your family. The winner will be announced on Friday, June 19th! I look forward to getting lots of good ideas!

Happy Monday!

Hally

Muscles Like Popeye?

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Hi, all! I am so happy to see nice weather here in the middle. If you have kids on spring break, I hope you are enjoying your time together. Spring is wonderful, truly. However, with the season comes lots of busyness – weddings, showers, graduations, school programs, and more. Everyone is ready to emerge from inside and do things. Aren’t we blessed to have things to do, people to do them with, and the means to do them!

Last week, I guest posted at a site of writer friend, Sheri Zeck. Sheri writes sweet stories of people she knows and admires, and her life in Iowa. She is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Read my article and get to know Sheri at:

http://www.sherizeck.com/my-blog/guest-post-magic-or-muscle

And, I hope in the midst of the busyness, I will be back again soon.

Take Care!

Hally

 

Tree Time and Nesting Time

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Do you know that beautiful, even magical place right before the holiday when the work (or, at least the tasks you decided you had to accomplish) is behind you and you can begin to relax and enjoy? Are you there?

If not, finish up what must be done, and get about enjoying your family and the tree lights, the holiday movies and carols, the festive food and drink… and take time to savor and reflect upon the true and eternal gift of Christmas.

I discovered a site that has lots of fun and meaningful information about Christmas. You will find the story of Christmas and resources for kids. There is history and cultural information as well.

Mom, if you’re reading, this would have been a great place for information for our international Christmas celebrations. For readers, my mom had us “traveling” to a different country for our Christmas time together for about fifteen years. We visited Holland, Finland, Ireland, Brazil, Guatemala, Greece, Italy, and several other countries, Mom preparing activities, food, and entertainment connected with the customs of Christmas in whichever country we were recognizing that particular year. It was fun and educational!

So, here’s the site, which appears to be developed by a man who is a Christmas super-fan and a Christian:

http://www.whychristmas.com/story/birth.shtml

Now, speaking of Christmas traditions, here’s one that seems to be growing more popular with Missourians every year. We have Branson, and it is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays. Branson, and specifically the Silver Dollar City Christmas Season, is completely patriotic and American, but it is also wholly Christian.blogtree4

My family visits most years over the Thanksgiving weekend. It is sort of our official kick-off to the Christmas season. On our most recent, I took photos of some very cool trees. I love themed trees like Will Ferrell (as Buddy) likes sugar. Though, I really like sugar, too.

Here’s an article that I wrote for Vista (a take-home paper published by Wesleyan Publishing House) a couple of years ago. I thought I would share it, along with my pictures from the Christmas store in Branson. And, whether your tree is sparkly or sparce, blingy or boring, enjoy!

 

Oh Tannebaum, Oh Tannebomb

I love designer Christmas trees. I’d enjoy one with red wire ribbon and cardinals. If not red and bird covered, I’d like gold and silver with lots of shiny balls and bling. Perhaps a miniature tree in my kitchen, decked out with tiny copper cooking utensils?

Truthfully, each year as I visit Christmas stores, I admire the fabulous, themed trees. They are color-coordinated works of art. Some are so stunning they look good even hung upside down. Imagine that! So, each year I lament that one day I will have a themed tree in addition to our humble Franz Family tree.blog-tree3

What our tree lacks in design, it makes up for in variety. There are airplanes and apples, reflective of the careers my husband and I have had in aerospace and education. There are a few pickles, symbolic of an old German tradition. Others are souvenirs from summer vacations, a pair of kopeli from Arizona and twin pirate ships from the Outer Banks.

Though it is not fashionable, it could be considered functional. If an accident occurred near the tree, it would double as a first-aid kit, countless cotton balls and tongue depressors made available by simply cannibalizing a few of my children’s handmade crafts.

Our tree is not couture or coordinated, but maybe that makes some sense. There is symmetry in the fact that this secular symbol of Christmas is humble and simple. After all, our holy symbols reflect the humble and simple scene of Christmas. As we place our nativities around our home we are reminded of the birth of Jesus, which was anything but fancy. It was, however, beautiful and designed to perfection.

blog-tree2Does simple equal fabulous and lowly equal grand? Perhaps not when we’re talking Christmas trees, but, where God is involved, you bet it does!

 

Have a Blessed Christmas!

 Hally

NMF: An Acronym for Moms

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Like everything else in our culture, communication must move quickly. Language has to be efficient. In writing, long descriptive passages of prose like those found in classic pieces of literature have been replaced by rapid-fire dialogue and concise, but action-packed paragraphs. Less is more.

In our workplaces, there are acronyms designed to speed discussions between industry professionals. In education, there are IEP’s (Individualized Education Programs/Plans) and MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) tests, STEM courses (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and ACT (American College Test) preparation classes. In every field, there are communication short-cuts.

Our youth have created countless acronyms and codes for use in texting (TTYL, LOL, CUL, and so on and so on), and well…

It’s time for us moms to have our own short-and-sweet, direct and clear, three-letter message for use in parenting.

NMF is one I propose. NMF means “NOT MY FAULT” and is to be used in those situation when children, and this most often applies to those falling in the 13-18 age range, attempt to blame their unfortunate situations or circumstances on Mom. Dads may use NMF as well, but we mothers tend to have much greater need for it. That’s just how it seems to work.

Let me provide a few examples:

 

Problem: Child does not have clarinet when dropped off at school in the morning.

Child’s Response: “I don’t have it because you (Mom) unloaded it from the car last night.”

Mom: “I thought you might consider practicing it.”

Problem: Seventeen-year-old driver says he is late to school.

Child’s Response: “You (Mom) did not wake me up on time.”

Mom: “When I noticed your alarm failed to rouse you, I called you and was acknowledged.” 

Problem: Teen did not get his homework done for Thursday.

Child’s Response: “You (Mom) made me go to Wednesday night church.”

Mom: “That is the general practice in our home; perhaps you need to plan better.”

 Problem: Daughter feels sick during cheer because she fails to eat before going.

Child’s Response: “You (Mom) did not feed me.”

Mom: “I stopped feeding you when you learned to use a spoon.”

 

Just for the record, NMF finds many applications when it comes to food issues, because rarely do we moms have what’s desired in the household.

My children are not exceptional; they are normal kids, and this behavior is typical of normal kids. Good, smart, talented, kind, sensitive kids will try to place blame on mom if they can get away with it; they will try to push it our way if we allow it. So, we have to push responsibility right back on to their accountability-resisting bottoms.

There is a thing called “locus of control.” It has to do with the degree to which individuals believe they have control over their own lives and the events that impact them.

If a person has an internal locus of control, he feels empowered to make his own success. He will believe he is fully capable of making a successful (or dismal) future by the choices he makes and the actions he takes in life.

Conversely, if a person possesses an external locus of control, she is likely to feel her successes and failures are due to other people and outside events, rather than of her own making. She may feel she is a victim of things that happen to her as opposed to an agent of change in her own life.

Though we want our children to think about others and not merely themselves, we also want them to have an internal locus of control. We want them to consider the feelings of those around them, and we want them to recognize that they have the power to make things better for themselves and others in the world. That is the combination of caring and accountability, consideration and responsibility.

Moms find enough things to feel guilty about, so we simply can’t take on any extra silly stuff. Next time your youngin’s try to put the blame on you for something that is all theirs, keep in mind some Lonestar-like lyrics:

             Tweet a message, text a note, sew a label in his coat,

            Write a letter, spell it out, say it clear so there’s no doubt.

            Draw a picture, make a sign, use the language for the blind,

            Send a Snapchat, make a call, get your point out most of all.

 I’ll accept no bad excuse, N-M-F.

In light-hearted country music songs, excuses may be preferred, but not in parenting. We can’t allow our kids to make excuses on the little things, because they will learn to do that on the big things in life as well.

Next Monday, I’ll talk about the line between accountability and advocacy – the fine art of knowing that though kids need to be held accountable, there may be times when they also need an advocate.

Here is the link to Lonestar’s hit song, which is way better than my “Weird Hally” version:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/no-news-lyrics-lonestar.html     (lyrics)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcxA4w3KKLE           (video)

Happy Monday!

Hally

Camp – It’s Not Just for Kids!

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What’s your pleasure? Church or cheer camp, 4-H or scout camp, art or drama camp—does it really matter? It’s time away for the kids and a time of respite during the summer for us parents.

I kid. I kid, because I love. Partially. Kid, partially; love, completely.Blog - Girls

These little lovelies are currently at Camp Ne-O-Tez, which is a church camp that many young people from our home church attend. It is a full six days of playing in the creek, singing, Bible study, crafts, games and more. And, it’s six tween-free days in both my house and my sister’s.

Recently, I saw an episode of “Modern Family,” during which parents Phil and Claire Dunphy are desperate to find destinations for each of their children, so they can carve out a kid-free week over summer vacation. I don’t think that happens only in TV land.

The opportunities for American kids are awesome. As a child, I often found summers long and boring. When we were young, we spent days with teen babysitters. Some took time to entertain my sister and me, and others just tanned all day. When we were old enough to stay alone, but too young to drive, we watched TV and did a few chores; we lived out of town so there weren’t friends around to play with. Aside from the county fair, there wasn’t much going on.

Today’s kids have a plethora of activities and entertainments to choose from. Little guys can enjoy multiple VBS programs in the community, and older ones can do school-sponsored sports camps at minimal expense. There are themed camps available at community colleges, library and arts programs, babysitting courses, swim lessons, and even summer school is fun.

While such activities can become expensive, it is wonderful when kids can participate in at least a couple of these during their time off from school. And, it’s not a bad thing for parents either.

In fact, a little “camp” may be just what a busy dad or mom needs from time-to-time. While dads have fishing trips, we moms enjoy girls’ shopping weekends. The guys may crave a “City Slickers” style trip, and we women some beach time with the book club.

Carving out some quality time with friends is good for the soul. Whether we are experiencing or learning something new, or just developing deeper connections during our down time, it is good to rejuvenate and recharge. That’s good for our kids, too.

The time away, and the opportunity to gain some independence and an identity separate from one another are good. I find myself mid-week wondering how my daughter and niece are doing at camp, and, by the end of the week, I will be excited to see them both. They will be glad to be home with stories of new friends and fun they had.

Blog - BoysMy sister was able to “farm out” her blond rascal with her in-laws for a few days this week so she could get some projects done at home. I asked if they would like to take my boy, but I ended up stuck with my 16-year-old.

I kid. I kid, because… well, you know.

His summers look a bit different now. They are more about making and saving money than fun, but he, too, got some camp in when he was a 4-H camp counselor earlier in the summer.

Have you had your camp lately?

 

 

 

 

Confessions of a Perpetual People Watcher

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Today, I am posting my very first guest post, and I am happy to introduce Sheri Zeck to you. Sheri and I met several years ago at a writing conference, and we both continue along in our writing journeys. We now participate in an online critique group together. For those that have or have had young drivers, you will appreciate this story!

Hi. My name is Sheri and I’m a people watcher. There, I’ve said it. Maybe it’s the writer in me, but I just can’t resist. It doesn’t matter if I’m at the mall, sitting in church or waiting my turn at the doctor’s office. I like to observe people. I notice their mannerisms. I wonder about their stories.blog - sheri's post #2 - May 26, 14Last week I had yet another opportunity when my oldest daughter and I stopped by our local driver services facility. Now that’s a people-watcher’s paradise. One step inside and you’re “trapped” in a giant room full of strangers.

We stepped up to the counter. “My daughter needs a permit.”

“Take a number.”

Emily and I glanced at the paper … number 50.

Across the room, a lady’s voice yelled above the noise. “Number 38?”

Oh well, I thought. May as well make ourselves comfortable. I took a seat and checked out my surroundings.

Sitting nearby, a petite grandma adjusted her glasses and squinted at some paperwork. I pictured her driving, perched on a pile of pillows and straining to see over the wheel.

Standing in line, a bald guy stroked his long, braided beard. Interestingly, the stretchy rubber band he’d chosen for his beard looked much like the ones I find all over my house.

Across the room, a teenage boy flipped through a Rules of the Road handbook. Every now and then, he’d run his fingers through a mop of greasy hair and tug at the back of his jeans, which relentlessly slid down his backside.

A few seats over, a young boy with bright red sneakers sat by his mom and kicked his legs back-and-forth. When he grew tired of that, he turned around, propped his chin on the back of his chair and stared at Mr. Braided Beard.

And then there was the young lady sitting next to me. I loved watching her. In fact, I’ve been watching her for years.

At one time I watched her stretch little arms out to me when she took her first steps. I watched her ride a bike for the first time. I watched her lug a Princess backpack up the wide steps of a big, yellow bus. I watched her get teeth, and then later, pull those teeth. I watched her get braces, and then later, get rid of those braces.

I’ve watched this girl go through fifteen years worth of milestones. And today was another.

“Number 50?”

We stood to our feet and stepped up to the counter. As Emily finished her eye test, I noticed a box of pens on the counter. I took three.

“Mom!” She looked at me like I’d committed a crime.

“What? They’re free – and I need a couple extra for my purse.

“This is a government building,” she said with a smile. “There are cameras everywhere. You’re probably being watched.”

Probably, I thought. Seems like wherever you go these days, somebody’s always watching.

Sheri Zeck head & shoulders 2013

 Sheri Zeck enjoys writing creative nonfiction stories that encourage, inspire and entertain others. Her freelance works include stories for Guideposts, Angels on Earth, Farm and Ranch Living, and Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Sheri lives in Illinois and writes about her faith, family and adventures of raising three girls on her blog, Writing from the Heart. Visit her website at: www.sherizeck.com.

 

Better Than Money

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In Bible times, a “talent” was a unit of measurement that was approximately equal to 75 lbs., according to Tyndale’s Life Application Study Bible (NIV). We see the word “talent” used in reference to weight in Exodus 25:39 (NIV) as God gives instructions to Moses regarding the building of the tabernacle.

In the New Testament, specifically Matthew 25:14-30 (NIV), Jesus uses the word “talent” to mean a unit of money. Here He tells the Parable of the Loaned Money, and, referencing again my Life Application Study Bible, the modern-day equivalent of a talent is approximately $1,000 dollars.

In the parable, Jesus tells of a man who entrusted each of three servants with various sums of money while he was gone on a journey. The servants who were left five and three talents, respectively, worked hard and doubled his money; however, the one who was left one talent, buried it and earned nothing additional.

Jesus makes the point that this was a wasteful, lazy, and even evil misuse of the funds.

Shifting gears to modern-day America, we rarely think of talents as pertaining to weight or money. We recognize the word “talent” as synonymous with: “ability,” “aptitude,” “flair,” “bent” or “capacity.”

So, how does this become a “Monday Mom Message?”

Well, if our Heavenly Father thinks it is important for us to use our talents, then I think it is important for us moms to help our kids figure out what theirs are.

Some kids burst into the world with a ball in their hands, figuratively speaking. Others demonstrate musical or artistic gifts early on. However, for many of us (adults and children), our endowments are not so readily obvious. In those cases, it’s important to expose our children to lots of experiences and opportunities so they can discover what their God-given gifts are.

When I step into my son’s small bedroom, now crowded with items and artifacts from his childhood as well as the accumulated property of a 16-year-old, I am reminded of his many ventures over the years. Ivan took ice skating, guitar, and riding lessons. He’s been involved in drama and scouts. He’s played both baseball and soccer. Soccer was brutal. You know the feeling when your child really kinda stinks at something, and you’d like to stay quiet and unnoticed during the game? Come on, you know you do! When your child is sitting on a ball in play, because he’s not finished with snack… When your child is the only Ivan on any of the five fields, there is really no denying him.

I digress. The point is that we let him try lots of things. He has now settled on what he likes and does well, and that’s one of the most important lessons kids can learn as they grow up. It shouldn’t be about what we like or what we do well, but what unique gifts our children have been blessed with. The Lord doesn’t always grant equal amounts of talent to everyone, but we are assured that we all have them. And, we are assured, too, that we ought to use them!Blog - AHE Gift - 5-12-14

Now, for today’s drawing! As a reminder, your name will be entered into the drawing if you comment on this post at bloombondbuild.com prior to 12:00 midnight tonight (CT), and you will also receive an entry if you choose to subscribe to my blog. If you subscribe today, you will be entered for what’s below, as well as for each of the four remaining drawings this week.

Connie Maher and Aim High Elite have been in Troy, MO for over 30 years. The well-known dance, cheer and gymnastics studio has served many families during that time, and my daughter is one of the lucky students who attends AHE now. The staff and coaches are wonderful, and I excited to say that today’s give-a-way is a voucher for one of AHE’s one-day summer camps. It is a $48 value. Learn more about Aim High Elite at:

http://www.aimhighelite.com/about.html

If the drawing winner resides outside a 45-mile radius to AHE, there will be an alternative gift. This will be a $25 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. What can’t we learn in a bookstore, right?!

Happy Monday!

Hally

  

A Box of Chocolates

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Nature versus Nurture … there is perhaps no place where this particular debate (or at minimum the nature side of it) can be more easily observed than in homes where there are both biological and ado100_0659pted children. Mine is one such home. My husband and I have a biological son (16) and an adopted daughter (12), and we continue to be surprised by the new, sometimes “foreign,” things we see in our daughter.

Our son is a blending of the two of us, and most of what we see in him is recognizable. He’s the first born of two first-borns, so his dominant and uber responsible nature makes sense. He has my dark brown eyes and his dad’s hard head. His old soul comes from Tim, his love of music from me, and he’s got a double dose of introversion. There are not a lot of surprises. He’s good with his hands, but not athletic. We understand his talents and decision-making process.

With our Guatemala-born daughter, we find new gifts and personality traits that don’t exist in the other three of us. She is light-hearted, playful and loves a good time; she’s not crazy about work. When we brought her home at 4½ months, she was super serious. She didn’t smile much and seemed to be examining us even at that young age. Today, she loves cheerleading, and she is fast and flexible. She’s crafty and creative and great with puzzles, and she forces us into new areas. She is the perfect counter to her brother. Our little Latina adds spice and laughter to our home!

When Forrest Gump said “Life is like a box of chocolates,” he knew what fun it can be. But, he also knew that reaching in and g100_4175rabbing a piece of who-knows-what can be scary at times, too. It’s like that sometimes with our daughter. I still find myself learning that communicating with her is different from how I talk to our son. She thinks differently, she is impacted emotionally in a different way, and she receives information differently. And, those differences go beyond gender differences or those we would find between biological siblings. Though she’s been with us virtually her entire life, the influence of genetics is powerful.

There are a variety of challenges that come with adoption; this is another of them. However, “the box-of-chocolates effect” is also one of the greatest joys of adoption. Our girl will forever keep us on our toes, but I cannot imagine our lives without her. She is a beautiful blessing!

Are you an adoptive and biological parent? Tell us more about your experiences.

Happy Monday!

Hally

 

Kids and Social Media (Part 2)

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Last week, I wrote about the mistakes children and teens make when using social media. I discussed the types of poor choices they commonly make and why most will make one or more of these mistakes as they learn to navigate social media.

Today, I want to suggest ten strategies for parents. These ideas are designed to do one of two things: 1) teach your children how to safely and responsibly use social media, or 2) protect them from making mistakes that may have long-lasting consequences.

1) Know your child’s personality and skills, and recognize how they are reflected in their use of social media. Is he excited by FB and twitter? Does she prefer being outdoors? Some tweens can download 5 social media applications faster than they can do a long division problem. Where do your children rest on the social media comfort continuum?

2) Snoop—unapologetically. Be honest about your intention to review their posts and online activity whenever you are so inclined, and then follow through. You may not need (or be able) to see every piece of information they put into cyberspace, but watch closely.

3) Learn what you can about the tools they’re using, so you can communicate Imageeffectively (enough) about social media matters.

4) Don’t be afraid to scare them. Be completely honest about the risks in cyberspace, whether they are real physical dangers or practical considerations. Since kids don’t always take seriously the warnings of their parents, try to expose them to stories by law enforcement or business people whom they may consider more believable.  

5) Don’t be naïve. Good kids make mistakes and errors in judgment when using social media. Learning to maturely and appropriately use the tools out there is a challenge, one that until now young people didn’t have to deal with. Be alert and patient during the process.       

6) Recognize the addictive nature of social media. For parents 35 and older, we may not “get” the appeal of social media. In fact, we may struggle to get on board with any of it. For younger parents, that may be different. In any case, limit your child’s time on social media each day. Even those who behave perfectly on social media need to be doing other things—homework, chores, being outside, reading, extra-curricular and church activities, developing hobbies.

7) Be an example. Demonstrate the same smart practices and self-discipline with regard to posts and time spent that you expect your children to.  

8) It takes a village. Let your friends help police your kids when they begin using FB or other applications. I wouldn’t want to hear my child posted something stupid from just anybody, but I would (and have) appreciate it if it comes from a trusted friend. We’re all in this together, so let those who care about you know it’s okay to help with this; be willing to do the same for them.

9) Use language they understand. It would be wonderful if our children always knew what we mean when we use words like “ungodly” or “inappropriate.” But when they don’t, use words like “trashy” or “gross.” Talk to them about popularity, perverts, employability and college applications. Have a conversation that will hit home with them, if more abstract terms do not.

10) Offer acceptable alternatives. If your child is too young to be responsible with social media, introduce other online resources. Pinterest is an example of something fun, but boards can be kept secret. Share an account with your daughter, and she might find lots of satisfaction in that.

This is a tough one for parents. What challenges have you faced, and what suggestions do you have to share with the rest of us? 

Happy Monday!

Hally