{creativity} a new blog

I have a surprise for you.  I’m very excited to share! I have gone so long without changing my blog name or address, but I feel it’s time.  This change is permanent.  I’m still working on things there so please be patient.  You can rest assured that the theme of the blog will be no different from this one.  I have a domain name and a permanent blog name.  Please change your bookmarks and your subscriptions and join me at theblackfern.com

See you there!

{family} visitors from arkansas

We had the pleasure of hosting my parents for the past few days.  Since we moved here a year ago, I have been excited to show my mom and stepfather our new home–Minneapolis.  Even though they learned of a family death on their drive to our home they still enjoyed their visit.  I hope we were some comfort to them both.



|parenting| birds & bees & such

A variety of philosophies and parenting techniques exist when it comes to educating our children about their bodies and about s-e-x. What and when we do and don’t tell our children most likely is related to our own experiences and the parenting we received.  Nathan and I both had parents that told us something.  I don’t know what Nathan’s parents told him about the male body and about intercourse, but I do know he felt he was a little young for the information that was conveyed.

I mostly learned about puberty with a video in 6th grade.  I think I spent more time enjoying the animation than really allowing it to sink in that my body was already going through changes.  I attempted to ask my mom for more details.  I don’t know what I expected, but I remember being disappointed with her response.  When I got my period, I informed her by playing hangman. Really. That’s how shy I was.  ;)

After living my life, remembering the messages and lessons I got from my peers (and Nathan tells the kids at least once a month that their peers are idiots)  and making some poor decisions I’ve chosen to be the largest source of information for my kids.  We want them to be able to make informed decisions and to avoid trouble.  We want our children to know their worth on so many levels, but as far as this topic is concerned we want them to know their worth as a male and a female. To respect their bodies and the bodies of others. To know how to handle hormones and puberty. ETC! As a parent, we need to be.  If I can at least foster a comfortable and open atmosphere for those conversations, I feel I will have done well.  I want them to be informed and I want them to know they can talk to us.

Some tidbits I have learned from other quality parents and in other areas I have consulted quality books geared toward children.  In the case of books, I have always read them first and used my own parental discretion coupled with knowing when my children are ready to hear the information. I thought I would share some of our intentional efforts.  So far it is working for us.  I can’t control the decisions my children make, but I can control how I train and prepare them to make those decisions.

  • Nathan and I go on dates with our children.  Time is anywhere from 10 minutes to a large chunk of the day.  Sometimes they choose what we do.  The point is they are getting undivided attention.  In my opinion at this point in time, the dates are more beneficial for Moriah.  She is learning how a male should treat her. Both children are building beliefs about their worth.
  • We read age appropriate books.  My favorite book is

Moriah loves this book.  When she takes a bath I sit and read a section to her while she soaks in the tub.  She loves the pictures and is able to keep up with everything I read to her.  Reading it to her before letting her use it as a reference book gives her an opportunity to ask questions and see that my response is receptive.  It also gives me an opportunity to explain things further if I need to.  There are some sections in the book that I’m not quite ready to read to her, but maybe next year.  I got this at a thrift store and the girl that checked me out said that her mom had gotten her the book when she was young and she loved it.  “It saved my life,” she said.

There are similar boy books.  I hope we can find one suitable for Noah and Nathan to read together.

The other two books I have read to the children are

I read these about two years ago. These books were a little more difficult for me to get through because I don’t remember being told about such biological detail when I was six, but I felt the content was appropriate for my kids (mostly Moriah). Even though they giggled through parts,  I know that Moriah still remembers some of the content.  I will probably read these to them again now that Noah is older.  I think there are eight books in this series for ages 5-18.  You definitely want to look through them before the first read, but they are worth it.

  • All teaching, correction, and answers are matter of fact.  Although there was a recent moment that I had to be stern in my correction and teaching, we normally use a conversational tone and take the time to teach about body parts, nudity, personal space, privacy and such.
  • We do not shame for errors, accidents or lack of knowledge.  they are children and they are learning. This is the case in all areas.
  • Surround them with good examples.  I love it when my children have “grown up friends” and friends that are “big kids”  who model a lifestyle that leads to positive influences on our children.

Those are just some of the things we are intentional about.  I’m interested in seeing how this goes as they get older and things become more complex.  This topic has become very important to me.  I am aware of its delicacy and I hope that I will grow in the grace and ability to teach parents about teaching their children (parenting in general).

this is a weird post, but maybe you can relate

I finally began Moriah’s quilt.  I’ve had the fabric for over a year now, but because I sew on borrowed machines, move every two years, have a tendency toward procrastination, etc.  I haven’t had the opportunity to sew on a regular basis.

I plan to sew a string X quilt for The Girl.  I’d show you what they look like, but I’m too lazy to add links and ask permission for posting pictures. If you’re really curious, type in “string X quilts” on Flickr and you’ll get a pretty good idea. I cut all of the strips (I hope it’s all of the strips) last night and today.  The odd thing is that I just can’t bring myself to sew.  I just can’t.  The machine did give me one little problem, and since I’m just not feeling enthusiastic about sewing I didn’t even bother to see what was wrong.

Do you ever get bored doing something you love? What makes enjoyable things feel like work? I hope I’m not depressed.  Would I know if I was depressed? I’m not depressed. I’ll spare you all the reasons why sewing is not fun for me at this point in my life, and it isn’t depression. Is anyone else moping about because they need a creative outlet? I would prefer not to do anything creative over having creative ideas that can’t be carried out.  That’s what I’ve been doing–nothing creative.  I was productive in all other areas of my life.  But then someone asked me to be creative for a special purpose and now I’m miserable because I can’t shut it off.  I thought doing something else creative would help, but it isn’t. I felt more grounded and less emotional when I wasn’t being creative,and I must say I enjoyed it. However, I am creative so I need to learn how to deal with this at some point, right? I’m pretty sure I’m over analysing this.

So, I’m not sewing. I’m returning the machine. I’m going to keep reading and cleaning and paying attention to my kids (except on Tuesdays because Tuesday is the day I only have to feed the kids. Otherwise, they are on their own).  I’m going to clean my basement and pack away all of my sewing so it doesn’t taunt me. I have plenty of other ways to use my creativity, because my creativity is not limited to visual output.  I hope I believe that. One of you creative types chime in so I don’t feel like a weirdo.

finishing projects smells so good

I finally made time for sewing.  I completed two of the same project.  These projects were supposed to be Christmas 2009 gifts, then they moved to being birthday gifts, then Valentine’s Day gifts and so on.

At this point in time they are what they were originally going to be when I first spotted them this time last year–“because I thought you would like it” gifts.  Since I haven’t given them yet I can’t show the complete photo. When I show the complete photo I’ll give the story behind the sewing.

Have a happy weekend.  I’ll be sewing more tomorrow and going on adventures with my Big Stud.  What do you have planned?

the unexpected power of coffee

I recently volunteered to be the coordinator of our church coffee bar.  I’m in the process of finding local suppliers of coffee and baked goods.  I’ve spent a little time researching options on line, but then I finally just went to the coffee shop down the street from my house and asked them where they get their coffee.

Yesterday I had the opportunity to go to the coffee supplier and tour their facility with my kids.  I am not a coffee drinker, but I love the smell and I’ll have a cup if I need to stay awake for a couple of days or if I want to have trouble sleeping. For some reason, learning more about drinking coffee  in its proper form made me want to drink coffee. Coffee no longer became just some nasty beverage people drink over stale cinnamon rolls.

Coffee is delicate.  Its flavor is best when consumed  24 hours after it is roasted.  Freezing it to keep it fresh is an old wives tale.  It was clear that Michael was an experienced coffee drinker–or to use his word:connoisseur, not only by his coffee stained teeth, but also by the ease in which his knowledge flowed like poetry heard while enjoying a hot cup of black coffee.  He spoke of coffee as a well-known friend and lover and by the end of it I was mesmerized and I wanted to savor a cup.

how is your faith?

25″Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

28″And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.–Matthew 6:25-34

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.27The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”–Matthew 8:23-27

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Last Sunday our pastor started a sermon series on faith.  I must admit that last Sunday I was a little too crabby to retain most of what he said, but I got the gist.

Drawing from Matthew 6 and Matthew 8 the overall message was don’t worry because Jesus says not to. It isn’t a suggestion. It’s a commandment.

I honestly don’t tend to worry until I realize that I’m not worrying, then I think I should be worried because any normal person would be. I choose not to worry because worry is uncomfortable. Our pastor presented worry, fear, and anxiety as an absence of faith.

I do have great faith for things that are in the distant future or for things that seem large and impossible. However, my faith for small daily provision can be low at times.  I appreciated the challenge of assessing my faith level and the challenge/reminder to cry out to Jesus when worry is evident.

It seems that worry and anxiety are natural human responses. True.  When is it too much?  Because these things are natural someone might argue that they are responses we cannot control.  I disagree. We might not be able to control the onset, but I believe we can control the continuation.  It isn’t always easy, but it is possible.  However, is the presence of worry, anxiety and fear truly the absence of faith?  Being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  Believing God is who he says he is.  Can we control and measure how much faith we have? Should we? Is it up to us to increase our faith or is it our responsibility to simply remove the hindrances (worry, fear and anxiety) to seeing faith in action?

What are your thoughts?

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