Tuesday, June 30, 2009

J.C. Ryle, Section 1

Awhile back my sister-in-law, who lives in England, gave me this little booklet titled, The Duties of Parents written by J.C. Ryle. She has five children and is a GREAT mom so when she told me that it was one of the best little books she's read on parenting in awhile, I was definitely listening and intrigued. As I began reading, I quickly realized the old adage from King Solomon that there really is nothing new under the sun due to the fact that within the first few pages, I felt like J.C. Ryle was speaking to this generation of parents (in particular me) and yet this little book was first published in 1888. The simplicity of his words and his fervor are very inspiring and forthcoming. I thought I'd do a little series on this booklet and go through each section providing some quotes and at times some thoughts. Really, I don't know much about parenting at all. I've only been a mom for nearly four short years. I'm just going to post some quotes that were particularly meaningful, thought provoking and challenging to me. Maybe they'll be of interest to you.

"Section 1 First, then, if you would train your children rightly, train them in the way they should go, and not in the way they would.

If, then, you would deal wisely with your child, you must not leave him to the guidance of his own will. Think for him, judge for him, act for him...He knows not yet what is good for his mind and soul, any more than what is good for his body. You do not let him decide what he shall eat, and what he shall drink, and how he shall be clothed. Be consistent, and deal with his mind in the like manner...Self-will is almost the first thing that appears in a child's mind; and it must be your first step to resist it." The Duties of Parents, J.C. Ryle pg.3-4 (emphasis mine)

All I can say to this is a hearty "Amen!" My nine-month-old shows me every day that he has a will (so do my other two) and it blows me away sometimes. Even at such a young age, he demonstrates that he wants his way a lot and when he doesn't get it, he screams. Now I'm not saying I'd handle him the same way I handle my oldest when he pitches of fit, but I'm telling you my little baby does get it. He knows the way he wants to go and it's not always good. Should I let him touch the oven just because it looks nice? Should I let him play in the garbage because it's fun? Children get it much earlier than we give them credit for. We just don't want to believe that they do. Nevertheless, we need God's grace and wisdom to know how to deal with it. Believe me, I'm still trying to figure it out and will be all the way until they're grown (and even after that I think). Ryle is right though, I think self-will is the first thing that appears and it is very hard for a parent to resist it. Any thoughts?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Movie Night

So it's been about a year since we started our little neighborhood gathering on Friday nights. It all started when our good friends were having a rough time last summer with a trial of some kind and we just wanted to give them some rest. So we invited them over, fed their family pizza, put on a movie for the children, ministered to their souls as best as we could, and then sent them on their way. At that time I made a pizza for the kids and one for us adults and there were plenty of leftovers.

After that, we started having them over every Friday. In the meantime, our other good friends came home from being gone most of the summer and we immediately invited them to come over on Fridays as well. And then we got new next-door neighbors (whom we adore) and they have three children and so we thought, "Why not?" and they started coming too. A few months later, Steve's brother and his family moved down the street and so, of course they had to come! (In case you all are wondering what kind of strange neighborhood we live in, we live at my husband's work and so most of our neighbors are also coworkers of my husband so we all know each other.)

Anyway though, back to the story. Very quickly our house was getting run-over by children every Friday night and we loved it. The parents got to mingle and wind down from the week. The kids loved seeing each other and eating pizza together. Food got to be a bit of a problem because I just couldn't logistically make a enough pizzas for everyone anymore so I settled on making four and now everyone just brings something potlucky to share. Someone always brings dessert as well. Seriously, it's one big party. Everywhere you look there's a child--our house isn't all that large. If it were bigger, I'd invite more people.

Most of the time us women end up in the kitchen talking (surprise, surprise) and the men are either outside playing with the kids or watching the movie with them. It's one of the only times I've found that I can be with other adults and not be worrying about my kids the whole time. I can actually sit and have a conversation. The kids are so distracted by one another and they all play fairly well together. Now that it's summer, the kids have been playing outside a lot and really ditching the movie. Fine with us! I think the men like the playing as well. There have been many nerf gun wars and sword fights turned to wrestling matches.

Coordinate with your friends. Make a weekly tradition (or biweekly or monthly). We all need to de-stress and live a little. It's amazing what a bit of fellowship with fellow believers can do for your soul! I'm so thankful for all of my neighbors and the continual encouragement they are to me. We get to just do life together. We need that! I'm also thankful for what God does when we all get around the table and remember the bounty that He has laid in our laps. Hopefully, when our kids see us sharing and laughing and loving, they will get a glimpse of what heaven will be like when we will all be seated around God's table, soaking in His radiance and basking in His glory and they'll want to be a part of it.

Kids Grow Up FAST These Days

So the other day Isaac and I had a funny little conversation.

Isaac: Mom, when I'm four I'll be really big.

Me: Yeah you will. You'll be in the big kids' class at school.

Isaac: Yeah. But Mom. When I get four, I can drive.

Me: Really? (acting very astonished)

Isaac: Yep. Four year olds are soooo big. They can drive like Daddy.

Wow! I didn't get the memo that the driving age had been lowered so much that even my four year old will be behind the wheel soon. Kids sure do grow up fast these days don't they!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Things You'll See

Saturday night Isaac was in a little talent show at our church. He and a few other boys sang the hymn Blessed the Man who Fears Jehovah (Psalm 128). It was so cute. We had a great time and all of the acts were so fun. I think every family was represented in some sort of act. Mind you, we go to a rather small church. Anyway though, while we were there, a lady at our church who is just a bit older than me (and has children a few steps ahead of mine) came up to me and handed me this little book called The Things You'll See by Lawrence Lucas. She said she just wanted to bless me with it. I haven't had time to delve too far into it yet, but what I have read, I've drunk in...it is so rich and encouraging. Just wanted to share a snippet with you.
"Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
Gal. 6:7
My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad; my soul will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. Proverbs 23:15-16
Pistachio trees need seven years before they'll bear a commercial crop. That's seven years of pruning, watering and feeding. It's seven years of fighting pests and disease. Seven years of paying attention and seven years of work, tending to matters when they call for it instead of when it's convenient.
Farmers go through this for one rason: to bring in crops.
Raising children takes longer and it takes more. More diligence, more feed, more care. It takes more of ourselves. It can't be hired out. But the fruit? No crop compares."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Ask Why?

So our little three-year-old, who will be four soon, has entered the world of why and has ushered his little brother into it sooner than expected too I might add. Everything is why. I knew it would come. I just hoped it wouldn't. I remember my little brother, who is six years my junior, going through this inquisitive phase and it drove me crazy. I'm sure my parents were even more annoyed by it. I mean, it's one thing to want to know how things work but sometimes the whys can be relentless ending in wanting to know why immutable things are immutable. Some things are the way they are just because and how do you explain that to a three-year-old?

There is good news though. I have to say that my husband has come up with a brilliant solution to the why question. It is simple, strategic and extremely effective. It may seem strange but it truly has worked. Here is the secret you're all dying to know--give a total and complete nonsense response.

Here's an example:

Steve: Isaac, your eyes are blue.

Isaac: Why Daddy?

Steve: Because that's how God made you.

Isaac: Why?

Steve: Because that's the eye color He wanted you to have.

Isaac: Why?

Steve: Trolls!

Trolls you may ask? Trolls! What is that? That is our random response to his relentless why questions. When the whys are being asked in succession we just immediately throw out the word "trolls" and it completely diverts him and he stops. It works every time. We only use this in extreme cases when Inspector Isaac goes into his extremely inquisitive role but I must say it really works. Now when we respond with "trolls" he just says, "No! Not trolls!" And that's it. He's onto something else.

I'm all for explaining things to my children. However, the long suffering whys can get tiring. Now I'm sure you're asking why trolls? I don't know. I think it was just a random word that came to Steve's mind the first time he employed this technique and it worked so well that we've used it since. But why, you're still wondering? Because it's funny, silly, weird. But why? Trolls!

Successfully diverted huh?

Try it people. Try it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

SLO Town-And the REST of the story...

I know, I know...you've all been wondering why I haven't been posting (all five of you that read this that is!). Well, I'll tell you. We just got back late last evening from a super fun weekend in one of our favorite places in the world--San Luis Obispo. Steve and I both went to Cal Poly, SLO and that is where we met and lived after we were married until our first child came into the world. It really is still like home for us although we love where we live now.

We went down this last weekend to see Rebekah Weeks, a dear family friend, graduate from SLO High. Since SLO High is only one of two high schools in the town and the other one is just a small private one, the whole town shows up and so we got to catch up with a bunch of friends and families from church. The boys survived graduation without too much trouble and even got to run around with their nerf guns a bit while the 300+ names were read. That evening we went to the Weeks' home (Rebekah's mom has mentored and loved me for almost ten years now) and had dinner. After that we left for Paso Robles to spent the night with our very special friends from Poly, the Whitacres.

Tim and Jill are expecting their first little one, a boy, in late September and they just bought a house a few weeks ago so it was so fun to go and see their new home and rub Jill's little belly. They very graciously opened their home to us--which is no small feat by the way since our family is quite large. Also, they'd only lived there for five days when we showed up on Friday evening too so, when I say it was gracious, it really was. The rest of the weekend was spent catching up with them, attending a graduation party, going to church and seeing old Poly friends for lunch on Sunday. The boys also played quite a bit at various parks, which is always fun for them.

Now all of this sounds rather tame and agreeable so I bet you're wondering what the rest of the story is. Well, I'll tell you. When I mentioned parks, I did mean that the boys got to play at the park a couple of times over the weekend but they spent the most time at Mitchell Park which is across the street from our old church and right in the heart of San Luis Obispo. We stopped there numerous times for me to nurse Josh and let the boys play. Saturday evening, when all of this hoopla happened, that is where we were. Steve had the older two boys playing and I had Josh on my lap as I was catching up with one of my old high schoolers, Kayla, who is getting married next month. The day before we had been there, right before the graduation that is, letting the boys stretch their legs and Isaac had to go potty. To Steve's dismay the men's bathroom was indisposed. I was nursing Josh so, Steve set off to find a bathroom at Grace Church, which he did just in time. All quiet on the western front. We made it with no major problems. However, the next day we were not so lucky.

It all started when Steve came running up to me with a hurried look on his face and said, "Isaac's got to go and the men's bathroom is totally disgusting. Can you take him?" No problem. I got up, Kayla took Josh and off to the bathroom we went. Isaac went off to play right after and Kayla and I were back in deep conversation. But then, I heard the whistle....the Dauphin whistle. I knew something was wrong but what? I had just taken the oldest to the bathroom and all was well. Oh no! Not Caleb...what's going on with Caleb? All of these thoughts are running through my mind at record speed while I'm trying to locate where the whistling is coming from. And then I found Steve, holding Caleb at arms length and giving me these eyes that said, "We've got a major problem here wife, we might need to call in reinforcements." I hurried over and lo and behold, Caleb had painted the slide brown and there was poop from his head to his shoes. The family who had been playing nearby quickly took their leave and Steve and I dumbfoundedly contemplated what to do next.

Don't panic, don't panic! I'm sure we can figure this out. Rang through my head as I ran off toward our car. I had promised my husband that I would be back in record speed with SOMETHING to help the situation. I wasn't sure what that something would be when I left, but I was sure I'd figure it out. I searched the car, found an extra pair of clothes, an entire package of Costco size wipes and a plastic bag. Things are looking up (as up as they can look in this type of situation) and ran back as fast as my little legs would carry me and quite pleased with myself I dare say. Meanwhile, Steve had somehow managed to spare the shoes and socks and had stripped our little two year-old down to nothing besides the poop all over his backside that is. Then I got to work on Caleb and he got to work on the slide. No shame people. No shame. I was literally wiping for what seemed like hours. Everyone's eyes in the park were on us as we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. And they were all SO thankful it was us and not them. Pretending not to notice, I silently berated myself for allowing him to eat so much fruit that weekend (tons of watermelon, strawberries, bran muffins and the like) as I wiped and wiped and wiped. He is pretty well potty trained but I think after all that fiber, it just hit the poor kid like a ton of bricks. Steve wondered out loud if we should call Parks and Rec. We decided against that (who do you call on a Saturday evening?) and just made sure to get the slide as squeeky clean as possible.

Meanwhile, my poor little friend Kayla was standing on the sidelines watching all of this and contemplating her marriage coming up. What a dose of reality. Nevertheless, Steve and I just worked like a well-oiled machine laughing, side by side, in tandem...it's not glamorous, but children really do teach you to work together. Later we told Kayla that she sure got more than she bargained for. I think she probably wanted to act like she didn't know us during that part; if I were her, I would've wanted to fade into the background. But at least, if we're trying to find some sort of redemption in this event, we were able to show her what real family life can be like.
Poop, poop and more poop. What is it with boys and poop? I'll never know. I feel like we've got so many poop stories already and it's early people. I'm sure to have many more in the years to come. But if I've got my hubby and a big ole package of wipes, we're sure to pull out all right.

Yes, Caleb went right back to playing after that and there weren't any more incidents that weekend, thank God. And that my friends, is the rest of the story.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let the children come to me

"I love the incongruity of children--how they pull up mother's blouse to nurse in public. How they sweetly say, 'You're so beautiful,' when your hair is awry and you have coffee breath. How they pull on your arm when you are hotly being kissed by their father. How they wear plaids with stripes, take too much food, burp in church, and beat you at checkers. They are still free from the fixed order of things, free to strip and shout and recklessly forgive all who have done them wrong."

Sketches of Home by, Suzanne Clark

"And do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kindgom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Luke 18:16-17

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's Official...

Summer fun has officially started here at the Dauphins. We just LOVE when Daddy is home and on vacation and so to celebrate this year, we kicked things off with a great trip to the beach. I have to say that the beach hasn't been my favorite place with the kids due to all the sand and clean-up afterwards. Nevertheless, I resolved to be cheerful this time and was pleasantly surprised. It was seriously a blast.

We went to a beach called Hidden Beach in Aptos, that has a great park right next to it. The kids got to play for awhile at the park, eat a picnic dinner and then head off down to the sand.

Yes, Steve really did go down the slide. He commented to me that it was like squeezing toothpaste out of the tube...it was more narrow than he anticipated. That's his "I'm very thankful I didn't get stuck in there" smile. Ha ha. Caleb had been sitting on his lap and was running to go again. Luckily the next time, he didn't need Steve to go with him.

Caleb has always been our child who loves the sand. When he was smaller, he'd eat it by the handfuls (sand from the beach and from the sandbox) and poop sand for weeks afterward. This year he just played in it. He didn't want to leave.

Isaac had a great time too but got a bit cold. It was fairly windy and I was freezing. So I didn't blame him. After awhile of playing in the sand, he was ready to go back to the park. And so we did...who cares?! We don't have to be anywhere or go anywhere! We're on vacation!

Josh, well he was just himself-- an angel. I'm telling you, that kid is amazing. He just goes anywhere and everywhere and he smiles (most of the time). If he's with the family, he's happy as a clam. We've done nothing to make his disposition this way (besides the normal feeding him and making sure he gets sleep). It's just who he is. He's wonderful and I'm loving it. Before long I'll have to worry about all sorts of other things with him but for now, I'm relishing in his babyhood as much as I can. I've already seen that it can go way too fast!

Next week Steve will start teaching summer school in the mornings but we'll still have those lazy afternoons of the pool, bike rides, the beach and the park! Here's to summer and all the wonderful things God's given us to enjoy and experience. May the next few months be truly joyful for all of you as well.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Do the Next Thing

With the school year finishing up and all of the activities going on lately, I feel like I've been running from one event to the next. The weekends are the worst! Don't get me wrong, they're a lot of fun but they're very, very busy. Once Monday hits, my house is littered with clothes, shoes, and toys, and the laundry is just begging to be done. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. One thing that has really encouraged me lately is not thinking about ALL of the major things that need to be done (because when I do, I want to hyperventilate) but simply thinking about the next thing on my list.

Elisabeth Elliot, whom I've been reading a lot of lately, talks about simply "doing the next thing." Okay, what comes next? Feeding the baby. Okay, I can do that. Done. Baby is laughing and playing. Do the next thing. Switch the laundry. Washing machine is humming. Done. Do the next thing. Send the older boys outside to play. Boys are outside "killing" gophers with their guns. Done. Do the next thing. Start dinner. It's simmering away. Done. Do the next thing. Smile, you're very blessed. Done. Do the next thing...

This has been my little ditty lately and has really helped me to be diligent and efficient without feeling totally overwhelmed and panicked. Some seasons are faster than others. One way I can attempt to get through them with a good attitude is by focusing on what's before me and not on everything else. Do the next thing. Even though it seems that there's always a "next thing", I can get through much more graciously this way. So when you feel like you're not going to make it through the morning, look around, smile, find the first thing that needs to be done and get moving...once it's over and you're feeling so accomplished, smile again and simply do the next thing.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Little Flour and Sugar

One of my favorite things to do is bake bread. I love it. It just is so warm, inviting, comforting and yummy. No wonder it's been a staple in our diet for so many centuries...I think God knit the need for this amazing food into our very souls--at least He did into mine. I have made so many different kinds of bread and it's been a great experience. They haven't all turned out. Numerous times I have forgotten to add salt (which turns out a very bland bread) mostly because I've been trying to do too many things at once, and other times I've let it rise too long and it ended up in a puddle of goodness all over my counter. But even with the blunders, it's all fun for me. When I'm in a bad mood I usually try to bake something. It usually puts a smile on my face. My neighbor says that "It's amazing what a little flour and sugar can do for the soul!"

A few years back I started making our sandwich bread because it was cheap and after making the first batch, I just couldn't buy bread again--it was just too good. This is seriously the best sandwich bread and it's so easy to make. You can really mess it up and it still comes out well. It can take a beating. I'm not saying all of you need to start making your own bread and grinding your own flour or anything. But really, it's a treat. You should try it. Your children will thank you. Mine can't eat it fast enough. And you may find that you like making it more than you thought you would.

Cheers to all the peanut butter and jelly's yet to be made!

Childhood Bread
Hot Providence Cookbook
By Rachel Jankovic

2/3 c. oil
2/3 c. honey
4 tsp. salt
5 c. warm water (110-115 degrees)
13-14 c. flour
2 tbsp. yeast

Just a note: I usually half this recipe and make it two loaves at a time. It works just fine. You can make the full recipe and you'll get four regular size loaves. My KitchenAid (I have the biggest size) can barely pull off the full recipe. If you have the standard size, I would suggest halving the recipe.

Mix together all the sloppy stuff, yeast and salt in mixer or large bowl. Add some flour and let sit a few minutes to proof the yeast. Feel free to add leftover cooked oatmeal (if you have any) at this stage. Add the rest of the flour and knead until a soft dough forms. You will probably have to add more flour. Put it into a large greased bowl. Flip the dough over to grease the top, cover and let sit somewhere warm for about an hour. Punch it down. Separate into four balls. Lightly flour your counter and roll each loaf out into a rectangle about 18 inches long and as wide as your pan is long. Roll up snugly, avoiding air bubbles. Pinch to seal the ends and the bottom seam of the loaf. Set the loaves in the greased pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubled. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and bottom thumps a hollow sound. Cool on racks, and either eat immediately or freeze, or both.

Note: This bread is very flexible- feel free to go all whole wheat or all white. You can also add a couple eggs, substitute brown sugar for the honey, or add powdered milk.

This recipe is in the Hot Providence cookbook which is one of my favorites but is out of print! I hope you enjoy your bread. If you have any questions about making it, leave a comment and I'll help you if I can.