Home and Family, Homeschooling, Parenting

Patroit Day

Today is 9/11.  That date has come to mean something to just about every American, and to many others across the world.  Many important dates have rituals or events that are saved specifically for them.  May I make a few suggestions for today?

Thank any and all emergency responders or military personnel (or their families) you meet today.

Take cookies to the local firehouse.

Bake bread and write thank you cards to drop off at the police station nearest your house.

Take time to talk with your children about the brave men and women who spend their lives defending our rights and property,  so that we can pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  Help them understand that, as well as those who came before and died for our country, there are also many who are alive and still fighting that we need to remember.

Make today a day of gratitude.

So fly your flag, wear red, white and blue; attend a commemoration, live your dreams, and do a good turn for someone around you…because that is what America is all about!

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Home and Family

Get ready!

Every now and then, something happens which focuses my efforts as “keeper of the hearth” on something which I may not have been focused on.  This weekend it happened again.  Unexpectedly heavy rains caused flooding and mud slides in a number of communities around us.  One such community is removing mud with back hoes; another is boiling water before it can be used.  All from a few hours of rain.

As I watch the news and pray for those affected by the crazy weather, I am reminded that such things are happening all over and to varying degrees of seriousness.  What is my job in all this?  Well, prayer is necessary.  A helping hand when possible is also good.  Making sure that my family has what we would need in a similar situation is vital.  Praying for help if I haven’t done my part will be so much less effective!  We live where storms, floods, earthquakes, and other natural calamities are well with-in the range of possibilities.

How to prepare?  There are so many unknowns, that it is impossible to be truly “ready for anything,”  but there are a number of things I can do so that we are better prepared for many of them.

  • Have a few months supply of food in my home.  (Even if I only need it for a week or two, I am surrounded by people in my neighborhood that may need my help.)
  • Have water stored.  Empty 2-liter or juice bottles make easy and inexpensive storage containers.  Be sure to treat the water so that it will be usable when it is needed.  (Check with your local university extension or government office for recommended treatment instructions.)
  • Have a portable 72-hour emergency kit in case of evacuation.
  • Get to know your neighbors.  Having a good relationship with those around you can help during hard days, even if all you need is a chat over the fence.  During times of real challenge, knowing you can count on each other is worth the world!
  • Have a plan for waste disposal.  If you don’t have running water, you may not have a toilet that works, or garbage pick-up for a while.  Ick.
  • Have a source for cooking or heating.  I have a wood-burning stove and camp stoves that can double as heating and/or food preparation stations if necessary.  (DO NOT use camp stoves in an area that is not well-ventilated!)
  • Keep candles, matches, working flashlights (with extra batteries), and lanterns where you can get to them.  When the power goes out, the adventure begins!
  • Keep a supply of working tools so that if you are helping clear debris or mud, you have what you need to assist.
  • Learn to smile when things are less-than-ideal.  If things around you are tough, bring a sunny disposition and maybe even a song to the party!  Help calm the children with fingerplays and stories.  Help provide faith, and a positive attitude so that the challenge can be less-miserable.

There are a myriad of books, websites, and classes dedicated to emergency preparedness.  This list is not to be comprehensive, or to take the place of those lists which have been compiled by experts.  (If you truly want a complete list refer to them.)  It simply contains the items which came to mind this weekend as I watched the news.  While I can’t control what happens around me, I am responsible for my preparedness level so that I can be helpful rather than a hindrance when the unexpected happens.

So…where are the flashlights….?

Home and Family

Turn it off and pay attention to your child! (Warning-rant ahead!)

Warning: this post is a rant that has been brewing for some months.

Last spring, my attention was called to an article written by Neal Halfon, M.D., M.P.H entitled “Parental Benign Neglect.”  You can read the article at  http://www.childup.com/blog/childup-bestof-parental-benign-neglect-could-texting-while-parenting-harm-babys-development.  It has provided me with months of food for thought, and a number of conclusions of my own.

The first conclusion is TURN IT OFF!  There is no reason to respond to every text, email, and notification you receive!  As I observe parents throughout my community, I am disturbed by the need they seem to have to pay attention to the little screen in their hands and miss the wonders of childhood right in front of them.  Story time at the library is to interact and engage your children as you SHARE the experience.  The librarian is NOT a free babysitter so that you can address more pressing matters.  Take time in the grocery store to talk with your children about food, meal planning, even prices (depending on their age).  Nothing on your phone is more important than teaching your children the importance of the people in your life, and how to treat them.  They learn that by example…good and bad.

Second conclusion- they are learning from us!  As a society, we bemoan the addiction our youth seem to have to video games and screen time.  Where did they learn it?  When you take them to the park or playground, do you run and play with them, or sit and become absorbed in a game which excludes them?  When you are home as a family, are you reading, laughing, working, and playing together?  Or are you all so busy with a little (or big) screen that conversation is an inconvenience?  How much are you missing?  What message are you sending them?  What is really more important to you?

My third conclusion is that our attention span and ability to retain is sorely lacking!  If there are no bells and whistles, no flashing lights to hold our interest, we don’t bother to remember.  As short as thirty years ago, we learned to read, do math, interact with others, and play without the aid of batteries or electricity.  It can be done, and we need to teach our children how to do it.  There is a need in everyone to have time to think, ponder, meditate, and be still.  Focus can never happen when there is always a blinking screen obscuring our vision.

Conclusion four- People become less and less important as we spend the bulk of our time with programming.  So many people around us need us to notice them, help them, love them.  We were put here to be the Lord’s Hands.  How can the Lord speak to our souls unless we make a quiet space for Him?  How can hear and remember the needs of those around us if we never purposely take the time to listen- really listen?  Do we think the two-dimensional people we see on the screen are more vital, or more real (or more convenient) than the three-dimensional ones around us?

So…are smart phones, tablets, or other technologies inherently bad.  Nope.  Just our habits sometimes as we use them.  They are wonderful gifts; just not as wonderful as the people around us!  So take a few hours, turn them off, and tune into real life.  Enjoy!