Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Inspire Us Tuesdays - Womanly Influence

Welcome to Tuesday! Since it is Tuesday, we will be talking about our next "Inspire Us Tuesdays" topic: The Womanly Influence: What woman has been your biggest influence of your Christian walk and how? OR, what woman do you turn to when you need guidance or Christian encouragement?

I would say that the answer to this question, for me, is that there is no one in particular I turn to for Christian guidance, I feel like I turn to alot of different women whom God places in my path. I have been fortunate enough in my life to be loved on by so many women of faith, who've loved my family and looked out for us in so many ways. I feel like God surrounds me with Godly women at work, at church, and in places we've lived in the last few years, almost as protection. You know, sometimes when you open your eyes and let God take care of you, you would find Godly women in the strangest of places.

I really try and seek out women, and open my eyes and heart to women, that God has put in my life. I am a believer that we can't get through this life alone (I guess we can, but who would want to?) so I try to surround myself with as many encouraging and inspirational women I can find. I especially appreciate the thoughts and sentiment of women with grown children, like my mom, who have lived through children and can offer me snippits of wisdom when dealing with my own kids. I also find that women who have "been there, done that" seem to really make sure I know not to sweat the small stuff, that everything really will be ok, and to appreciate all of these little annoying times in life because it all passes by so quickly.

I think in order to have women influence you, you have to willing to be influenced. Sometimes, that's not always easy. In church on Sunday, a woman who just went to Africa was talking about being a moldable lump of clay and allowing God to mold you how He sees fit. I believe that He does this by people in our lives and situations he puts us in. It's really up to us to have our eyes and hearts open to these people and situations and allow God to work through them with us.

What about you - Has there been a woman in particular who has influenced you in your walk with God? I would love to hear about her!
 
 

Monday, April 29, 2013

One of My Most Selfish Acts...

During my 20s, I was addicted to partying. I was addicted to fun, and social events, and being around people, and not always people who were good for me. We would literally work a shift a work (I was a waitress), then spend almost all the money we made going out after work, that same day. I still don't know how I paid bills. Oh wait, I didn't always pay bills. I just wanted to be free, to do what I wanted to do, go where I wanted to go, buy what I wanted to buy, and live where I wanted to live. I didn't care about consequences, I didn't heed the warnings of my parents or consider their feelings. I certainly didn't care what God had to say. There were many times I just took off on my own, then after I had made enough horrible choices and I needed someone to bail me out, I would call my mom and dad for help.

When I was 19, I just decided I was going to move out of my parents' house and in with some friends from work. I literally moved my stuff out and didn't even tell my parents where I was going or what I was doing. They came home one day, and I was gone. It was a really horrible time in my life. And a horrible time in my family's life. As a result of my bad choice, it really put turmoil into my family. And while I was off, "living it up," I started to realize that this living-on-my-own business wasn't all that it was cracked up to be. I missed my parents, who were barely speaking to me at the time (justifiably so) and my sisters, who were in their senior year of high school and I wasn't getting to see. That was one of the worst few months of my life, one of those painful memories that's really hard for me to admit now. In my family now, we joke about "the time that Jenna moved out and didn't tell anyone," but it's hard for me to think about just how truly selfish I was. As time went on, I just really started making a mess of things. I hid my rent money in my room once and couldn't find it, and I was struggling to pay the rest of my bills. I was at the end of my pitiful rope, both emotionally and financially. Without any other options, I called my parents and apologized, said I missed them, then we talked about the situation I was in. Did they tell me I couldn't come home? No. Did they accept me back with open arms? Yes. Not only that, but my mom told me that she would have a garage sale (of her stuff, by the way) and if I got up and organized it and worked it, I could keep the money to put towards things I needed to pay for. I was astonished. I didn't expect that, at all. I was ready to grovel, to plead, to be told I wasn't welcome back in their house. But, that's not what happened.

This wasn't the only time I would do something like this during the next decade of my life. Yet, every time, my parents just came to my rescue and helped me, even though they didn't have to. We started a Bible study and one of the passages we were asked to read was Luke 11:15-20. I started reading and just couldn't believe how similiar this story was to so many times of my life. Jesus tells the story of two sons who begged their rich father to give them their inheritance before he died. One son took the money and went to the city. He partied it up and went through every penny he had and couldn't even afford to feed himself. Desperate, he was going to go back to his father's house and offer to work as a servent, so he could eat. When he returned home, his father was so excited to see him and welcome him back. He didn't have to work as a servent, his father was just glad for him to be home.

Of course, this story illustrates our relationship with God. We all go away from him and do things on our own. When we decide we can't do it anymore and fail, He always welcomes us back. But in this particular case, this story, word for word, illustrates the love my parents have for me. I was so humbled reading this story, it brought tears to my eyes. I wouldn't be here if it weren't for the mercy they showed to me when I needed it most and deserved it least. I know they know how grateful I am, but I really felt God tugging my heart to tell that story.

This just shows: our Bible is not just some old, irrelevant "story book." It's almost amazing how, if you really start to read it the stories and words in that book are just as relevant and necessary today as they were 2,000 years ago. If you aren't reading it daily, try. You will be amazed at what you would learn!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Temper Tantrums, Boy Oh Boy! (Or, Girl Oh Girl...)

Isn't she adorable when she's sleeping?
 

This child. This tornado of a child.
 
These were her mood swings, and this only describes about 10 minutes: She didn't want an apple. She did want an apple. She didn't want to ask nicely for a piece of apple. She wanted applesauce. She wanted apple juice. She didn't want apple juice. She wanted to feed herself applesauce. She spilled applesauce. She couldn't get applesauce off her hand. Bella licked applesauce off her hand. She had to go potty. She didn't want to go potty. She wanted to jump. She didn't want to jump. She was mad she couldn't jump higher than she could jump. She hurt her foot jumping. She wanted to watch Tangled. She didn't want to watch Tangled. She wanted to watch Tangled and Shrek at the same time. She only wanted to watch a minute of both, then came to jump on me. She was mad I wouldn't let her jump on me. Any of these small things could result in a massive, oversized, kicking and screaming tantrum. We had three today, a new Avery record.
 
Jason just sat and watched her and looked at me and said, "I have never had a child throw a fit like this. Not once." I said, "You've never had one of your children be the daughter of Jenna Pecor." He laughed and so did I. It was all we could do, as Avery sat and stomped her feet and her face turned red and she threw herself on the ground. And then, it was done. The epicenter of the tornado, then the calm after the storm.
 
 
Yeah, this pretty much sums it up. Avery just as happy as can be, and Jason just, well, just sitting in disbelief.
 
Sigh. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Inspire Us Tuesdays - Witnessing to a Friend

Today we start our "Inspire Us Tuesdays" series! (We postponed it today for those who wanted to participate in Kelly's Korner's link up yesterday). I am so happy to be getting this going and I certainly hope you all participate! (To see a complete explanation of this link up and the upcoming topics, click here). If you do not have a blog, please leave your story in the comments section! Our first question is "Witnessing to a Friend:"Has God ever called you to witness to a friend? Were you were afraid?"
 
It seems that the topic of God seems to come up alot in casual conversations I have had in my life. During my 20s, when I wasn't walking close to God, and I was questioning alot of what I believed, God still seemed to come up alot in conversations. I wonder, sometimes, how those conversations must have come off to the people I was talking to. I was being "open-minded" and probably didn't lead people to believe I was actually a Christian. Within the last four years, since my walk with God has been closer and I have been doing my best to follow His plan for my life, conversations have come up much more frequently, especially within my circle of friends. Jason is a really good resource and knows much more about the Bible than I do, so alot of our friends will text him with questions about a story in the Bible or questions about Christianity, and he is such a great person to listen to on the topic. When we've had people over and the conversations start gravitating towards talk of sprirituality, he tells it like it is when people ask him questions. Sometimes, we like to sugar coat Christianity to people who don't believe or who are questioning things, don't we? I like to sugar coat the "hard parts" to myself sometimes. Jason doesn't do that, he isn't mean about it, but he isn't afraid to be honest, even if people might not like the answer.
 
One evening in particular, a friend of mine, whom I've known for over a decade, was over and we were talking about this, and I just looked at her and said, "In all the years I've known you, we've talked about your belief in God and your upbringing with church, but I have never once asked you if you were a Christian, like, have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?" It was astonishing to me that this was never something that occured to me to ask. I am glad I did! Sometimes, our closest friends are the hardest to "witness" to, especially if we didn't meet them in places like church and we haven't always had God in our relationships. I have stopped calling it "witnessing" and just started having conversations and been open about answering questions people might have. I will bring up God in alot of things, not purposely, with the intent of witnessing, I have just found like lately, the more I am walking in His word, His name just tends to come up alot more. It's funny how that happens, isn't it?
 
I was listening to a comedian one day. He began to talk about religion and he said he didn't believe in God, that he was an atheist. But, he said, his best friend and roommate was a Christian and it never seemed to come between their friendship, and that his roommate never really brought it up to him, which he said, "was cool, I guess." Then he said something that surprised me, and I know he was being funny and using it as a punchline, but he said, "But, if he was going to heaven, and he knew I was going to hell, he was kind of a jerk for not wanting me to go with him." Ever since then, it made me see things a different way. If God gives me an opportunity to lead someone to Him, me not taking that opportunity was like me picking and choosing who I want to be in heaven with me, and how dare I take on that kind of responsibility! So now, I just let God lead conversations where they are going to go, and I pray that everyone I love will be in heaven with me, one day!
 
Your turn - have you ever witnessed to a friend?

Friendships: Making Them and Keeping Them

Good morning!
 
Today was supposed to start our blog challenge "Inspire Us Tuesdays," but Kelly's Korner is doing a series entitled "Build Em' Up" and I thought today's topic on her blog was a good segway to our series, so we will postpone our Inspire Us series till tomorrow.
 
Kelly's Korner asked us to talk about "Friendships: Making them and Keeping Them." I thought this was such a great topic and I have alot to say about it!
 
Making New Friends
 
Even for the most extroverted people, making friends is often difficult, especially as adults. I am an incredibly outgoing person and I have no problem speaking with new people, but speaking with new people and making new friends are two entirely different things. Not only is it difficult to find friends as an adult because we don't always put ourselves in positions to meet new people, but I would say making friends in a church environment can be equally as difficult.
 
You all know I am an incredibly transparent person on here and I speak honesty on my blog. I also know there are many church members who read my blog, so I hope what I am about to say comes across in the right way. I would call myself very non-conservative Christian. I believe in the truth of Jesus Christ, I believe the Bible. But there are many areas of the Bible where God allows for some gray. For example, does God ever say, "You are not allowed to watch rated R movies?" No. THAT type of gray. So, it's hard in a church because there are some very conserative Christians that would never watch a rated R movie. I try not to offend others and I try to refrain from saying things that some might disagree with or find controversial within those gray areas.
 
When you are meeting new people in the church, you just never know how open and honest you can be, not only about your own beliefs on things, but also about your past. And it's not that anyone has imposed that thinking on me, but you just never know when you might come across that person who thinks something that you do or have done is inappropriate. And it's difficult because I want to be myself and I want to be open about my life, but when you are new in a church home, just how open you can be without alienating people is always a concern. Or, at least, it was for me.
 
It's taken us a good year and a half to really gain some good friendships within our church. I am so glad we've been able to find people who accept us for who we are and who love us and our kids. It's a real blessing as a parent to have people whom you can raise your kids with, whom you can talk to about the trials of life, and whom you can depend on for help.
 
Keeping The Friends You Have
 
I have always believed that keeping friendships for a lifetime can be so wonderful but can also be very hard at times. During your 20's and 30's, when families are created and forming, it can be incredibly difficult to continue friendships, especially when everyone is in a different season of life. Some people are married, some are single, some people have kids, some don't, some have older kids, some have babies. Then, if you all have babies, it's hard to get out of the house because they are so dependent on you and find time to spend doing anything other than taking care of them. And even if you all take babies with you places, you really don't get a chance to visit because you are feeding, or burping, or changing diapers, or rocking, or soothing. So, I spent a good year being halfway there, mentally, with my friendships because it was hard to focus on anything else.
 
Once Avery got old enough to be mobile and a bit more independent, I really made sure to spend more time with friends. I have always loved having people over but I at least try and get out with friends, once in a while. We starting doing monthly all-adult, all-women slumber parties and someone different hosts them every month. What a blessing that's been!
 
What are your experiences with friendships?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

IBC Reunion

In the last 15 years, our class of people from church have gotten together to reminisce. It was really just any of the girls in our group of friends that could come. Over the years, it grew to guys also (just because we married a couple of them, ha ha). Well, we started having kids and those get togethers slowed to nothing. Four years ago was the last time we've all gotten together. I called up my friend Tanna and said, "We really need to get together again." She said, " I was just thinking the same thing the other day! I can get a bounce house and we can have it at my house.." then we decided on a date, and put an invitation out of Facebook. Then, we decided to spread the word to any other youth that might like to come. Then, we decided to spread the word to any of our leaders, Sunday school teachers, parents, or D-Now host homes that wanted to come. Within minutes, the invite spread to over 90 people! We've decided to make this either a yearly or semi-yearly get together. Next time, though, we will spread the word a little better. I think there are alot of people who don't check their invites and didn't even realize we had this today...as I saw 57 people who still hadn't RSVPd. I say this because those of you who are reading this and don't know why you didn't know about this, it's probably because I didn't make sure to call you up and talk to you after I hadn't heard from you. Let me know if you'd like to be on the next invite list and we will make sure to give you the details!
 
Anyway, it was an absolutely gorgeous day today. We had SOOO many kiddos there, it was so wonderful to see how families have grown and see us all as parents. Such a wonderful time of togetherness!
 
Tanna, I am borrowing pictures from your Facebook page!
 
This was me after looking in Brittany's scrapbook album about pictures of us in middle or high school in our bikinis. Yeah, I am so glad we didn't have social networking sites back in those days and that they are safely tucked in the confines of her house.
 
 
Everyone who came

 


 
We tried to get the to put their arms around each other, like we did. But, to no avail.

 
I only posted pictures that had Jason or I in them. I am going to try and set up a Facebook account that has them all in there where they are easily accessible.

 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Upcoming Blog Challenge - Inspire Us Tuesdays

Hey All!
 
I would like to try something on my blog that I haven't really done before. Having been inspired by my recent church retreat to insire other women, I have really wondered how I can go about doing that. I think the answer is: inspire women to inspire other women. And so on, and so forth! Well, I know many of you reading my blog have your own blogs and I know most all of you are women. So, I am looking for those of you who will participate with some upcoming link ups! These have not worked well in the past, but I am hoping God will move through us this time! The goal here is to spur questions and discussion that will help you find where your mentorship would fit in your church and in your life.
 
Every Tuesday, beginning next week, April 23rd, for the next 8 weeks, I will ask you to write a blog post answering a specific question. Then, I will ask you to link up to my blog, in an effort to inspire other women in their walk with God! I am calling it "Inspire Us Tuesdays!"
 
Here are the upcoming list of topics!
 
April 23 Witnessing to a Friend:Has God ever called you to witness to a friend? Were you were afraid?
 
April 30 The Womanly Influence: What woman has been your biggest influence of your Christian walk and how? OR, what woman do you turn to when you need guidance or Christian encouragement?
 
May 7 Women's Ministry: Tell us about your women's ministry team at your church. Do you have one?
 
May 14 Your Calling: What do you believe is your true calling in your church? Is there a ministry you would like to become a part of but haven't? Why or why not?
 
May 21 New Member: Tell us about joining your church and the beginning days of your time there. Was it easy or hard to get to know other women?
 
May 28 Church Conference: Tell us about a Christian conference you've attended that has moved you. If you haven't attended one, find one that you might like to attend and why.
 
May 28th Scripture Inspiration: What is your favorite verse when you need encouragement? Feel free to tell about a time when you used it. 
 
June 4th Strengths and Weaknesses: What are your strengths as a friend? What are you weaknesses? What about to people you've just met?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Do You Trust Your Husband....With Your Kids and Your Sanity???

Any moms out there will know that kids, under the age of 1, have coordinating outfits. Usually, you get a top and a bottom that are designed to go together, and they are connected at the store by hangers. After we got these outfits home, I usually would have these outfits folded together in Avery's drawer, so as not to cause any confusion. I would say, "Jason, can you go get Avery dressed?" Of course, he would, but Avery would come back in not just uncoordinating sets, but clothes that didn't even match. I am like, "how did you even decide to put those two things together?" He could dress himself all day long, but can't put together a kid's outfit to save his life. Me being the mom I was, I had so many cute outfits for Avery to wear when she was a baby, that it was really important to me that she look cute every day, with a matching bow in her hair, even matching socks. When Jason would bring her out, dressed in clashing colors, it just urked me. I started always picking out her outfits, so as not to send my kid out looking like a little urchin.
 
OK - this obviously isn't an issue that is that serious. These days, I really don't care what he puts her in, as long as the things she wears are weather appropriate. But at the time, it was one in a long line of things I didn't trust Jason to do with my child. I think my situation was a bit different because Jason had raised his kids alone after a divorce for three years before I came along, so obviously, I knew he could keep a kid alive. But sometimes, let's face it. Men just don't pay attention to small details we women find important. And it's very hard for us to give control over to them, for fear of, I don't know, sending them out unmatched. Or perhaps, fear of our husbands giving the kids an unbalanced meal for dinner. Or not administering their medicine at the right time or the appropriate dosage. Or not recognizing even the smallest cough as a sickness. Ladies, I am not saying anything we don't already know. Women do child rearing better, right? We know the right ways for everything, right?
 
Obviously, I am being a bit sarcastic here. But even thought we can "joke" about these kinds of things, we really do think in the back of our head that if we don't do it, it doesn't get done right, or at all, in our house. And leaving the kids alone with their dad, even for an evening, causes us anxiety. During our ladies retreat, all of us moms had our cell phones out on our tables, ready to bypass a call from our husbands for some small "emergency" that may pop up.
 
What are we so afraid of? Why is it that we have a such a hard time trusting husbands to take care of kids, especially when we aren't around? We know how the kids like their lunch, so we know Kid A loves his crust cut off and Kid B doesn't like peanut butter. But dad just says, "Eat it how I make it!" and doesn't do those little details. Is that really so bad? How will dad ever know which kids like what if he doesn't get a chance to be alone with them? Obviously, we know that when kids are around (most) dads, there are times when they get a little rambuctious. I know I've told Jason, on several occasions, not to play with the kids so close to the corner of the coffee table or not to toss them up so high. Of course, this picture comes to mind...
 
 
But, is them playing semi-dangerously with kids (you know, like the above) a terrible thing? I don't think so. I think kids need both parents to be different, so it is great that we as moms do things different than dads. It's the way it's supposed to be. Of course, blatently dangerous behavior is something totally different, but roughhousing is good. In my opinion, at least.
 
So, what would happen if you were to leave home, with your husband in charge, without spending an hour or more preparing for your departure? No one prepares the house for you that way, why do men need us to do it for them? Honestly, I don't think they do. I think we need us to, to make ourselves feel more comfortable, and less guilty, with leaving. If I am wrong, let me know. But I think I am right, or at least, on the right track.
 
I have learned in my marriage that Jason is pretty good at taking care of the kids. They play all day, they might not eat super great, he might not watch them like a hawk like I do, and when I get home, they might be in who knows what outfits, but I know they are getting well taken care of. I have learned that if I want my free time, and my sanity, I have to learn to lean on my husband for help. And that means, giving up some control in my house and letting him take the reigns. In our house, Jason knew before he married me that my social time with friends and time for relaxing is important to me. And I am a much happier mom and wife because of it, so when I need a night out, I just communicate to him, and he is very good about letting me out to do what I need to do. But, it took a little trust in the beginning on my part.
 
How are you about leaving your kids with your husband? Do you have any funny husbands stories when they took care of the kiddos?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Just a Few Pictures...

Isn't my daughter beautiful in the mornings?
 
 
Our sick day...
 


Gigi and Pops, Avery, and the Croods. I know, it's hard to see Pops in there. (Ha ha, dad!)
 

 
Have a good Tuesday!

Monday, April 15, 2013

God Will Use Your Past To Help Someone's Future

There are quite a few take-aways from my retreat that I will be sharing with you this week. Shirley Moses, our speaker, talked to us about being influencers/mentors to other women. She shared her testimony of becoming a Chrstian later in life, in 1991, and was immediately called to begin leading her Sunday school class. She said she didn't even know where most of the books in the Bible were, and had to turn to the table of contents most of the time to find out. She said she didn't have knowledge, but she had a love of women.
 
She talked about how most of us feel very inequipped to help other women learn about Jesus' word. We are afraid to be in front of a class of women because they might, gulp, ask us a question that we don't know the answer to. She also told us that women have a way of making themselves feel like they shouldn't be a leader because of mistakes we've made in our past. But God uses our pasts to help someone's future, so the very fact that you made mistakes in your life is the exact reason God is calling you to do something at all.
 
Struggling with my past is not something that is new to me. Most people in my life know of the life choices I made for a good 12 years before I "found God" again. I really don't keep it a secret and I am not ashamed of it, either. Your past is what it is, it can't be changed. I've turned from my ways and am walking with the Lord, so as far as He and I are concerned, I've asked for forgiveness and received it, so I no longer feel badly for it anymore. It does have a way of creeping up on you, though. It is usually a joke in my family, a long running joke, of the shenangins I have pulled in my life. I won't go into them on this blog, if you ever wanted to know a ridiculous story, I will be happy to tell you, or talk to your kids about the dangers of making bad decisions. Because for a long time, if there was a contest for making poor decisions, I would be numero uno at the top of the list. Saturday night, my sisters and friend came over and the conversation drifted over to those shenangins. Some of them, I remember. Some of them, I have no recolection of. Some of the stories I hear are funny. Others, I just hide my face in embarassment and just say, "Lord, thank you for not allowing me to die, or for me not to kill someone else, or to get arrested." I just thank God when I hear those stories, that even when I turned my back on him, and even when I said, "I don't need you, Lord, you can be on your way, now." It might have seemed like He left, but I was still one of His children and He watched over me. I am here, now, and in my life, now, because He has a purpose and a plan for my life. Thank God, right?
 
You see, it might seem like the only people you see leading a group of Christians or non-Christians, for that matter, are a group of individuals who are perfect. Whose lives have not been filled with bad choices and defiance. Whose lives are perfect, even in the present. But I will be the first to say, my life wasn't (and isn't) like that. I still struggle with decisions and choices and following what God asks me to do. And God has called me to teach children and youth, and I've even said, "Well, I hope no one finds out about the stuff I used to pull back in the day, they would kick me out of this ministry so fast..." but I know that God has, and will, use my past to help someone's future. I really don't know if I will lead someone to Christ because of it, or be a comfort for someone who is also struggling with their past, or be a hope for someone who is currently "living in the muck," but God will use it. God works best in struggles, amen?
 
So, if you are reading this and have not been doing something God is calling you to do, and who knows what that might be, but if you aren't or you are afraid that your past disqualifies you from being a leader to someone else, think again. Our God is an awesome God, and can work miracles, using your past as an influence for someone's future.
 
 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Movie Review - The Croods

 
We went and saw this today and what a treat it was!
 
I do not think computer animated = good, funny, wholesome kid movie. There are a few that I've seen that have questionable content, where the jokes fall flat or are based on crude humor, or are just not good over all. But in this case, I was thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
 
First and foremost, this is a movie for kids, so let's go through the movie from a parents' perspective on content. I am the type that can not stand when writers put in words like "butt" just for a cheap joke, so words like that just make me cringe. I didn't hear one word in this movie, not one "fart" joke, not any situations that were inappropriate for kids. I believe the only word I heard that gave me any pause was "sucky," which I believe was referring to the situation they were in, but even that didn't bother me. The dresses were not inappropriate or show anything revealing. There was a love story with the two younger characters, although there was no kissing, just a couple of glances within close proximity of each other. There was a underlying joke between the older mother-in-law and son-in-law, in which he would count all the family members, after a perilous situation, and be "excited" if he didn't immediately see her, but even in the end, that relationship is mended.
 
From an entertainment perspective, this has much for adults and kids alike. If you are concerned with the historical factuality of cave people and evolution, there really isn't anything about this movie that is based in fact. While this movie discusses the beginnings of ideas like fire, shoes, and traps set for food, instead of living in caves and crudely hunting, unaware of the outside world, it is, in no way, intended to be teaching children of anything historical. This world might have well be somewhere else other than Earth. In fact, the scenery was so colorful and other-worldly, Jason and I looked at each other at one point and said, "This reminds us of Avatar!" There were fantastical animal hybrids, like turtle birds, whale-looking hippo creatures, alligator dog creatures, and mammal-like creatures that shared a tail. The forest scenes had beautifully colored flowers and vegetation. It certainly was a pretty movie to watch.
 
Since this whole movie is based on changing one's perspective on the world around you, and on situations in the world that are new, it's central story line is a father, voiced by Nicholas Cage, trying to keep his family alive in a dangerous world, while his daughter, voiced by Emma Stone, is tired of being cooped up in a cave for days on end, wondering, what is the meaning of all of this? Is our only purpose to simply not die and just exist? I loved this movie because it shows a very strong family unit, navigating the perilous unknown as a family. The kids in the unit are Eep, the oldest daughter, who is questioning her meaning and her existance, Thunk, the middle son, who is lovable yet naive, and Sandy, the youngest daughter, who is a cross between a toddler and animal of some kind. Her character was a little strange to me, as she growls and shows her teeth and acts tiger or wolf-like, even though she is a baby, but she offered some wonderful jokes and scenes.
 
Guy is the strange human introduced to the family after Eep sees him out, in the dark, with fire. She doesn't understand what fire is, and later on, when the rest of the family is introduced to it, it is one of the most humorous scenes I've seen in a long time. Watching this family go from cave-dwelling people, afraid of their surroundings, to people who adapt as their world around them is changed, is just as funny as it gets. Then Guy begins talking about navigating your world with a brain and ideas, which the dad, named Grug, struggles with the entire movie. It is a very endearing, heartfelt movie, and I, for one, enjoyed it immensely. Avery is 2 and a half, and watched intently the entire time, and our 11 year old son said it was "pretty funny," which is two thumbs up, compared to, "it was ok" which is two thumbs down. At least in our house, those are the comparison ratings. Even my father was laughing during the movie. If he was laughing, that means any adult would find it funny.
 
I highly suggest this movie! It's probably going to movie we will have at our house, because it is not a movie that I would mind watching 45 times a month. (The others that are in that category in our movie vault are Tangled, The Incredibles, Wall-E, Bolt, Finding Nemo, and Brave.) We might even take the kids to see it in 3-D, as just from watching it in 2-D, I can tell that this movie was really made with the intention of a 3-D experience. Overall, what a wonderful movie treat!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

My Miss Kay

We had our Ladies' Retreat for church this weekend. It was a wonderful time and experience for me. I've really been needing to be "fed" lately with the Word and this was a great time for that. We had lots of good music and a wonderful speaker. The theme of the weekend was "Be Inspired." We talked about being a mentor to other women, and being mentored by other women. Shirley talked about the two qualities you should have when being a "mentor" - love and acceptance of others. And of course, the person who kept coming to my mind, who just embodied those qualities of love and acceptance, was My Miss Kay.
 

Of course, I call her "My Miss" Kay. She is married, so not technically a "miss" but every woman
 at Baptist churches is called "miss" and she isn't "mine," but she is so dear to my heart, that I like to claim her as mine.
 
Miss Kay is one of the most beloved people I've ever known. The reason she is so beloved is because she loves any and everyone, and Jesus' light shines through her face so bright. She worked in my youth group as a leader and just loved each and every one of us with all of her heart. She still does. Every time I see her, I get a kiss on the cheek and a big hug, and she says, "Hey my sweet baby, I love ya." That's what she has said to me, every time I have seen her, for 20 years.
 
Kay is the best cook and one of my fondest memories as a youngster was eating Miss Kay's famous strawberry cake. When I got married, one of my most cherished gifts was her strawberry cake recipe. And try as I might, mine is wonderful, but never quite as delicious as when she makes it.  
 
Miss Kay is the reason I wanted to work with youth. She loved us all so much as youth, that it inspired me to pass that some love along. Almost every memory at church as a youth involved her smiling, sweet, beautiful face and I just couldn't imagine her not being apart of those memories. As an adult, she said something to me that I will never forgot. It's funny how you can hear a phrase from many people, yet when it comes from someone that inspired you your whole life, it just really sinks in. She hugged me, and in my ear said, "I am so proud of you. You are just a wonderful mother, both to Avery, and Jordan and Sophia. You are doing a great job and I am so proud." Her compliment was one of the most meaningful ones of my entire life, and I will forever remember her telling me that.
 
See, when you start talking about people who have mentored and insprired you, you sometimes don't realize how much they meant to you until you become an adult, and you realize just how wonderful they are and how much they've influenced your life. This weekend really convicted me to show love. To show Jesus' love, to everyone. And all that means, very simply is just to love and accept everyone, just as Miss Kay does. Miss Kay, I love you more than you will ever know, and just like I told you this weekend, you've influenced me in more ways than you will ever know!

 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kermit Gosnell and Thoughts on Abortion

I take back everything I said about women carrying their placentas around in a bag. I told you I would put my foot in my mouth on that one. And the reason I take it back is because after reading the story I am about to talk about, women who love their babies so much that they would carry around their placentas in a bag if it was the best thing for them, suddenly seem incredibly sane and normal compared to Kermit Gosnell.
 
It's hard to write about a person, and a situation, that is this horrifying, but I am going to try. Kermit Gosnell (if you click on the link above you will get a much more grusome and detailed description), is a "doctor" who operated an abortion clinic in a low income area of Pennsylvania and performed illegal, late term abortions on 1,000s of babies, and who is alleged to have killed 7 babies born alive after the abortion "didn't take." He is also on trial for the murder on one of his patients during a botched abortion. The ONLY reason this case is getting any type of coverage, or national news at all right now, is because a Christian reporter from USA Today wrote an article on why this case isn't getting any national attention. That sounds so odd to me. If this were living babies of 40 weeks gestation, it would be the front page story on every website and news outlet. Yet, these were 24 week babies, so instead of calling him a baby killer, or something equally sadistic, he is on trial for "performing illegal late term abortions."
 
There are so many things wrong right now with this whole issue. I don't know much about abortion laws in each state, but what I did read about the laws in Pennsylvania were incredibly disturbing. (If a teenager becomes pregnant as a result of parental rape and incest, they must have their parent's permission to have an abortion. So, their attacker's permission. Is that not insane?) I didn't even realize that an abortion could be performed after the first trimester, but apparently, in Pennsylvania, you can. It is legal in that state to abort a baby that is up to 24 weeks gestation. Over half of the pregnancy has happened at this point. You can tell if it's a boy or girl by a sonogram. She or he can hear sounds. She or he is the size of a mango. I am so confused as how this is even considered "abortion."
 
Abortion is one of those things I struggle with. Not whether it's right or wrong, I am talking about how we deal with it. See, on one hand, Christians want to remove it altogether and make it illegal, which would remove any and all oversight on abortion clinics (because they were illegal), making it incredibly easy for unlicensed, untrained people such as Gosnell to set up shop in some God-forsaken abandoned building, and take advantage of those in this world with little to no other options, which is exactly what he did, because Pennsylvania (after doing more research) has little oversight on clinics as it is. There would be no safety training, no protocol, and people would work there if they got paid, even if they felt guilt, because it's a "job." I know Christians want to do what God would want them to do, but it's hard because a woman could perform an abortion on herself, without the aid of medical staff or equipment, and women have done this since the beginning of time. Making abortion illegal might lesson the amount of abortions performed overall, but would not limit a woman in a desperate situation. I am reminded of several movies with abortion as a story line and the first one that pops up is Dirty Dancing. She went to have an illegal abortion and ended up being chopped up by a doctor, and what the movie described as having a cot and a rusty knife. Another movie, that involves a woman purchasing a common item to induce her own abortion, Revolutionary Road, ends in her death as a result. I know that these are movies and not historical or factual examples, but this doesn't make the opportunity and outcome any less real.
 
To me, abortion is a symptom of a much larger problem, and not necessarily a problem that is new to this century, when it became medically legal. And abortion, whether it's legal or not, will always be something we deal with. Always. If you make abortion illegal, then a woman who is completely convinced not to have a baby would most likely never come forward beforehand for counseling or alternative options. I think about how many women in this world have found Jesus through researching abortion and other alternatives, and who probably wouldn't have otherwise. I think about how many women who would, instead of going to a licensed clinic with medical treatment and counseling, just attempt something horrible in their bathroom with any number of things they could find around the house, or other means used in third world countries where access to clinics is limited or abortion is illegal (read that link with caution).
 
This whole story of Gosnell only proves to me that while abortion is wrong and against what so many of us find to be right, there will be always be someone there who will give a woman an abortion: either a medical clinic, licensed by the state, inspected by branches of the government, with laws on cleanliness, restrictions, counseling, and educated doctors, or people like Gosnell, in it only to make a buck, regardless of the safety of women and babies, who kills living babies. It's almost like, which is the lessor of two evils?
 
I think that Christians should do less petitioning of the government's laws on things like abortion and more outreach for their community for alternatives. Pregnancy centers should be receiving so much money from churches and individuals, as they are the ones who are trying to talk to women BEFORE having an abortion. Every woman in your city should know where to turn if they are pregnant and don't know what else to do, and it should be to a place like the Pregnancy Resource Center of Grand Prairie. How would Jesus deal with this issue? I guarantee He wouldn't be petitioning the government to change their laws. He would be talking to the women Himself, teaching and counseling them, to look in the face of this test, this situation, and figure out for themselves how to handle it, based on His will. Isn't that the point of all sin, all obstacles, all desparing situations? Doesn't He change your faith in these times, more than any? Making abortion illegal doesn't really change anything, but using these situations for these young women to His gain does.
 
This whole situation has really gotten me to thinking of what I can do in my community for women who are in need during this time in their life. I know the fear of pregnancy, the fear of "wrong timing," the inability to predict how things will turn out. I feel as though I could really help, and that's what I intend to do. We, as Christians, should not be picketing abortion clinics, but trying to reach out to those women in a meaningful way. If we don't do it, people like this monster will.
 
 

That "Thing" in That Basket Isn't a Baby, You Know That, Right?

I have had the most horrible case of writer's block lately! With that said, I saw this article on Babycenter and I just had to write something about it.
 
So, we've heard of the trend of eating the placenta after birth. We've heard of the trend of putting them in pill form to get the nutrients. But this? This to me, is just the craziest of them all.
 
As a group of beings on this planet, I've never seen any other mammal who evolves to get to a certain place, then de-evolves on purpose, to be more "natural." I am sure I am seriously about to put my foot in my mouth, I am sure there are (some) people out there that I might offend with my "closed-mindedness" on this topic. But this is just, well, ridiculous to me.
 
Basically, after the placenta comes out, instead of cutting the cord and detaching it from the baby, you leave the placenta on, they salt it to help with the decomp process, add rosemary (I am guessing for the smell?), then put it in a basket with a bow, so it's nice and crafty for you to carry around with your baby until it falls off naturally, 3 - 10 days later.
 
Yep. You JUST read that.
 
The thought is that in "nature" other mammals either eat the placenta after birth (scientist believe the moms do this in the wild so as to remove evidence of babies from predators, so why we feel the need to do it is insane to me) and other animals don't remove the placenta, it just falls off when it is supposed to. I am guessing the reason this happens in the wild is because animals don't have the opposable thumbs necessary to use a pair of scissors. I would venture a guess that if animals were intelligent and could evolve to the point of human beings, they wouldn't be carrying around those things around by choice, either.
 
Why do we, as humans, disregard technology and modern medicine and the advances we've made over thousands of years, thinking that it's against our nature, and go back to wanting to live in caves? I understand the thought process, somewhat, but I think we as humans take it a step too far. I am convinced that the very reason moms do these kinds of crazy shenanagans is so that they can either A) Look better than other moms, because they are doing the "best possible thing for their child" or B) Just to see what all they can do and how far people will go to be "open-minded" and "accepting" of their choices. Either way, we've been having babies for thousands of years and for some reason, every other human being on the face of the planet has decided it is not necessary for the placenta to remain attached until it falls off "naturally," so why do these moms think they need to change it now? I know, to be different, daring, and "to break with oppressive traditions that injure and harm our babies."
 
I've just about had enough with these nutcases. I am sorry, but how disgusted would you be going over to a friend's house to hold and cuddle their newborn, just to find that "thing" in a basket right next to them? And how disgusting is it that the cord is just dangling there, collecting dust, food particles, and God only knows what else? Just makes me sick.
 
What do you think of this?
 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Housekeeping Series - How To Load A Dishwasher

I have to be honest. I don't know how to properly load a dishwasher. How many of us do? Today, I was unloading the dishwasher (I had loaded it before) and my dishes were not super clean. We have a good dishwasher, good soap. When my husband does it, they all come out clean. So, I had to assume it was user error.
 
That got me to thinking of common household cleaning that I don't do well or might not know how to do. I went to the experts at Good Housekeeping and found this online article on tips for loading a dishwasher...
 
 
 
 
Do you have any tips for us for loading a dishwasher?
 
 

Monday, April 8, 2013

More Thoughts On Being a Stepmom...

We have had the kids alot in the last two months. It's just worked out with Spring Break, and weekends, that they've spent alot of time with us. I have always struggled with being a good step-mom. Always. I think when you are helping raise someone else's children on an ongoing basis, it's incredibly normal to question yourself and wonder if you are doing things right or wrong. In fact, I probably question my parenting to my stepkids more than my parenting to my daughter.
 
I have kind of changed my mindset about my stepkids. I think I have been harder on them then I should have been at times. I've expected things I shouldn't expect, or wanted them to be something that they weren't. As Jordan is getting older, it's becoming less and less important to me to feel like the need to correct everything he does and more important to create a relationship with him where he likes me and wants to be around our house, and most importantly, his dad. I know if I keep pushing him and keeping him at a distance, he eventually will not want to be over here as much (now that he is getting to the age of having more of a choice) and above all else, it would break my heart for Jason not to see him as often because of me. I know this is not something I should probably be worried about, but it does cross my mind.
 
Step-parenting is one of the most difficult, trying, and rewarding things I've ever experienced. Difficult and trying mostly because of me, not because of the kids. Sometimes, I've been so wrapped up in rules and expectations that I forget that they are just who they are, and while there are certin non-negotiables, I don't have to fight every battle presented to me. You could say that about biological children as well, for sure. But it's especially true for kids you don't see all the time.
 
I've also come to understand that the love I have for Avery and the love I have for my stepkids isn't the same, and it never will be. It's not supposed to be. They have a mother and a father who love them unconditionally, with the love that only a father and mother can give. I love them both, but in different ways. I used to really beat myself up over this, but have learned that it's OK and it's the way it should be, that I love them in different ways. I love them, period, which is more than I can say for alot of stepmothers out there, so I think I am doing pretty good.
 
I hope that despite the mistakes I've made with them in the last four years, they can see the things I've done right and be able to look back on their childhood with me in it, in a positive way. While I may have made mistakes, I've also done alot to make sure they know I love them. I make it a point, in every house we've ever lived in, to take time and decorate their rooms. They have toys here, and nice clothes here, I try and make their favorite meals, and take them to do things they like to do. Kids don't always understand how adults show them they are loved, but I hope they know that I do.
 
Nothing really happened this weekend to make me feel this way. I've just been praying alot about being a stepmom lately, and I think God is guiding me to be more accepting of our situation and our relationship. Along the way, He is opening to my eyes to the wonderful and unique kids they are, and before, I would sometimes get so bogged down in what they aren't doing right or what I don't like that they are doing, that I forget to appreciate them and their personalities. That's true for any parents, though isn't it? I don't want to miss the neat things they might tell me in a conversation, a conversation that might not happen if I am too busy being upset that they didn't put their shoes away when I asked or something equally as frustrating, though trivial.
 
Do any of your struggle with being a stepparent? I would love to hear your stories.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Show Us Your Life - Kids Books

Kelly's Korner is asking us to talk about the kids our books read!
 
Since the kids love books and Avery has loved to read ever since she was little (click here for some pictures of her reading!) I figured this was a good topic!
 
I have several teachers as friends or family, and my sister-in-law sells Usbourne Books (click here for her online link!) so we have no shortage of kids' books around my house.
 
Avery has been through many different ones, but lately her favorites are...
 
 
 
And any book that has...
 
 
Sophia is into any book with animals, and this one was her favorite for a very long time...
 
 
and...
 
 
Jordan is into...
 
 
C.S. Lewis...
 
 
And these...
 
 
I am so glad the kids like reading!!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What Are Your TV Gulity Pleasures?

Happy Friday!
 
I got to thinking today of TV's guilty pleasures...what are yours?
 
Mine are...
 
Many sitcoms from the 1980's:
 
 
 
 
A sitcom from the 90's...
 
 
And one from the 50's...
 
 
And a few from now...
 
 
 
 
What are yours? Just curious!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Was the Perfect Parent...Until I Had Kids

 
 
I couldn't help but remember the good old days, about, oh, four years ago, in which single Jenna had the market cornered on being the perfect mom someday. I'd seen many episodes of Supernanny. I was surely a pro. I was the one who always heard screaming children in Target and said, "Why can't they do something about that screaming kid! If it were me, they'd be getting a swat right now!" or "My kids would NEVER act like that." Oh, Jenna. You and your naive ways.
 
Don't get me wrong. My kid doesn't scream in Target for half an hour with me ignoring them completely. And even though she's tried it once, she never hit me again, like I've seen some kids do repeatedly. But aside from that, the whole "parenting" image I had before of me being the perfect mom went out the window the second kids came into the mix.
 
The thing of it is, you never, ever know how a kid is going to turn out. Even as a baby, you think that sweet little baby girl with beautiful eyes and sweet smiles would never manipulate you, or hit you, or say something to hurt your feelings, or throw a tantrum, or throw a toy, or bite, or yell, or whine incessantly. In your mind, you have silent car rides of wonderful music, silent trips to the grocery store, you just have a kid who, you know, is just perfect.
 
The thing is, parenting isn't an art form that anyone ever masters, even the best of us. Kids are just too unpredictable, too emotional, too unique to ever know exactly how to parent them the right way. Of course you set limits. Of course you have rules. Of course you have consistancy. But even those with the best-laid parenting plans are plans that are doomed to fail at one time or another. You think, I have no problem spanking and that will be my consequence, until you have a kid who doesn't care if they are spanked or not. And trust me, there are kids like that, I have one.
 
Now, I have changed alot. When I hear a screaming kid in Target, my first thought is, "I've been there, I wish I could help her!" or "I wonder how many times she's had to punish him today, that she is just ignoring him now cause it's all she can do..." It's amazing how different perspective can be, especially when it comes to parenting.
 
Has there ever been a situation that you thought you'd be one way but then changed your tune when you came out of it?
 
 

Avery, The 2 and a Half Year Old Little Stinker

Avery will be 2 1/2 this month! I just can't believe how big she is sometimes.
 

Avery is very much in the stage of 2 year old, going on 3 year old. Her disposition is different from day to day. Some days, she wakes up the sweetest, kindest, loving child you can imagine. She is cooperative, obediant, and wonderful. Other days, she wakes up difficult, defiant, pouty, and ornery. It just depends!
 
No matter her disposition, she always pushes her limits and tests her boundaries. She loves to say no. She throws toys on the floor when we tell her to put them away. She refuses to eat dinner. She runs away (all the time) when we tell her to come here. She can sometimes say mean things (mean for a two year old) to us, like "stop it" or "get off of me" when you are hugging her or trying to change her clothes. Mostly, we just try to ignore it cause we know it's a phase and we don't let her get to us. Sometimes, it's really hard not to laugh because even though she is being defiant or throwing a tantrum, it's just so darn cute, that we have to cover our mouths and look away so she doesn't see us smile!
 
We use timeouts and spanking sometimes, but I really don't think those work well. Spankings especially. She is the one who when we say, "Do you want a spanking?" she replies, "yes." So, that doesn't work so well as a punishment. Mostly, we just look her straight in the eyes and tell her we don't act like that (and be specific, we don't throw toys, we don't run away). Eventually, she gets the hint. But, she is doing what she is supposed to do, learning her independence and figuring out what she can get away with.
 
Aside from behavior issues, she is just so much fun to talk to now. She says really funny things. We were driving home last night, and she says, "I need to potty at McDonalds!" cause she knows we will pull over if she has to "potty." Of course, she didn't have to go, she just wanted McDonalds. Yesterday, she told Jason, exasperated, "I potty all the day!" I guess she felt like she had pottied alot.
 
Sophia and Avery love to play together. Of course, they were jumping on the bed in Sophia's room and Avery fell off. I am the mother that realizes she isn't hurt, then says, "That's why we don't jump on the bed!" I don't empathize with her too much these days, mainly because she is getting to the age where we were tell her not to do something, she will do it, then she gets hurt, like jumping on the bed. I am a big believer in natural consequences. That's what happens when you jump on the bed!
 

 
She is very, very into dresses and dress up. She loves to pick out her own clothes and gets upset when you don't let her wear something she wants to wear. I gotta tell ya, I love a girl that is dressed matchy, but I do love me some Punky Brewster. So, it's fine with me if she picks stuff out that doesn't go together. I think it's adorable. Unless the outfit isn't weather appropriate. I don't see myself getting too strict about clothes. My only rules with clothes are 1) Wear clothes appropriate for your activity (no dresses outside, socks and shoes outside, warm clothes in winter, etc) and 2) Brush and do your hair! Mainly because with girls, I hate combing through a rats nest, and that's what happens when girls are outside playing with hair in their face. I think it's great to let their personalities and opinions shine through. We'll see how I feel when they get a little older. Ha ha.
 
Kids are an adventure, every day!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Guest Post From My Friend Kate - Helping Us With Teacher-Gift Giving!

Good Monday morning!
 
I asked my friend 1st grade-teacher-friend Kate over at MyMooPoints (can you tell she is a Friends fan?) to write a guest post for my blog.

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After she opened her cabinet in her house one day, and I literally saw over 40 mugs in it, I said, "You like mugs, do ya?" to which she replied, "These are all gifts I've received from kids in the last few years, and this isn't even all of them!" And we thought, what a great post! Since the end of the year is coming up, and there is always an occasion to give gifts to our kids' teachers, I thought Kate would be a great resource for us on what to give, and what not to give, teachers! Take it away, Kate!
 
Joey: Wow, Monica runs a pretty tight ship around here, doesn't she? What are you doing?
Chandler: Monica has a secret closet and she won't let me see what's in it.

I have a secret closet.... and it is filled with mugs and plaques with cutesy teacher sayings!

I want to preface this by saying that I am grateful for every little thing my students choose to give me. Every tiny piece of paper with a message written on it, every weed they pick from the school yard and present to me with pride (although that one did get out of hand so I had to explain my "allergies" to them), every drawing with me wearing some article of red clothing (red is my favorite color) standing under a rainbow next to a tree and a flower, holding a bird or some woodland creature, because I am in fact, the real life Snow White. I cherish the fact that my kiddos love me and think of me quite often, even after they have left my classroom.


With that said, I would like to put a piece of advice out there for all parents who around Christmas, Valentine's day, end of the year, suddenly think, "Crap! I need to get a gift for my child's teacher!" Try to remember that you do not by any means HAVE to buy your child's teacher anything - we are going to love your child anyway. We became teachers because we love children and want to teach them to be better in everything they do, not just academics.

Now, do we like gifts? Of course! We are human. But, be smart about your gift giving. Don't waste your money on items you know will end up in a thrift store. Seriously, the next time you want to buy your child's teacher a mug, go by your neighborhood thrift store and walk around. We keep their shelves stocked with our donations! Every time I have to get rid of a child's gift I feel bad about it - I remember their sweet face and how excited they were when I opened their gift. But, if I keep every mug and trinket I will soon have a secret closet or I will end up on an episode of hoarders (and no child should have to see their teacher on that show).

So, a couple of don'ts when shopping for your child's teacher:
  • No mugs! Even for a first year teacher. They are probably already sporting a nice collection from when they did their student teaching.
  • No 1980's, cutesy teacher trinket plaque thingies. Ask yourself, "Would I want this in my house?"
  • No stuffed animals. I'm a grown-up. Do you want me adding to your child's stuffed animal collection (I hear lots of parents complain each year about the amount of stuffed animals at their house). You give me stuffed animals and I might just put a whole supply in my treasure chest to get you back! ;)
  • Bath and Body Works always sounds like a good idea, but really it isn't. More than likely, that flowery scent is not one I enjoy. And then I end up with a Bath and Body Works hoarding closet that I try to get my friends to go through in hopes they like that flavor. The thought is appreciated, but I should probably pick out my own toiletries.
  • FOOD! I will say there are some teachers who do love getting food. But, I feel that this percentage of us is small. I do not want to be appreciated with food. It is hard enough to resist snacking when the kids do, resist the chocolate fountain during teacher appreciation week, get to the gym after working a 12 hour day, cook and prepare a healthy lunch so I don't eat the cafeteria food......no food.
Now, see! The don't list really isn't that long. We teachers are not super picky, I promise. I know it is hard to pick out a thoughtful gift for a person you really don't know all that well personally, but I want the guidelines above help a little. I hope the ideas below will help even more:
Things we love and enjoy:

  • A thoughtful note from your child. I know it sounds lame, but one of my favorite gifts one year was receiving notes from my current and past students. The entire school was given a piece of paper titled Touched by an Angel. The students were instructed to write a note to a teacher who greatly influenced or helped them. I kept every one and look at them each year as I get my classroom ready. This is a wonderful gift for teachers - to be reminded why we here and what we hope to accomplish.
  • Gift cards of course! I'm not talking a $50 gift card to Macy's or anything fancy. I would say $5 is a great amount! Starbucks, Target, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles (yeah, we like to read), a teacher store - we love gift cards. Even a gift card to Bath and Body Works is nice. It takes the worry off of you having to decide what we might like and gives us options. Just like our students we like to have the option to choose for ourselves. I would stay away from restaurant gift cards - again, you may not know your child's teacher well enough to know what they like. Chances are that gift card might be re-gifted which makes us teachers feel bad, but we wouldn't want it to go to waste!
  • Teacher school supplies! We love us some school supplies! Halfway through the year most teachers start running low on items like post its, sharpies, packing tape, dry erase markers, magic erasers, etc. I can't speak for all teachers, but I put a class donation list on my weekly newsletter. Teachers spend a lot of their own money on their classroom. A LOT. Most people don't know that teachers are only allowed to claim $250 on their federal taxes, when on average a teacher spends around $1,000 each year. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/survey-many-teachers-repo_n_1822777.html
With that all said, please know that most teachers out there are not expecting gifts from you. Trust me, the kids make us gifts every day. And we treasure every little note and drawing. We can't keep them all because, as I said before, no one like a hoarder teacher, but we appreciate that your child loves us that much.

On another note, if you do not particularly care for your child's teacher, please, PLEASE, do not say things about why you might not be giving that teacher a present. This probably only applies to the younger grade level children, but they will repeat what you say! I had a colleague a couple of years ago who had a child walk up to her on Valentine's Day and tell her, "My Mom said we are not getting you a gift because you are not a good teacher." Oh lawdy, she got a good laugh but it was a little disheartening to hear.

Always remember, we are here for your child. We love your child and care about their future. That's why we became a teacher. No present, or lack their of, will change that. The gift of having your child in class and watching them grow over the year is one that we treasure.
 
Thank you, Kate, for being a guest for me today! That certainly helps me for Avery's future teacher gifts!
 
What kinds of gifts do you like to give to your children's teacher?