Friday, August 31, 2012

It's a...

...person!!  That's right!  In January, I will become grandmother (amazingly hip grandmother) to a PERSON!  Seriously!  I know!  Crazy, right? 

Okay, we did find out last night that the person will be in the form of a boy - which is awesome for our family as boy is something we know well - but, still...a person.

"Um, Cavewoman?  Where are you going with this?" Hang on.

You see, in this age of incredible tech and medical advances, we don't only have the ability to learn whether a boy or a girl is coming into a family, we know - well before birth - how many fingers, toes and whether or not it has particular health issues.  And while discovering the well-being of the child is paramount, there is much hub-bub swirling around the question of "pink, or blue?"

Oh, trust me, I was chomping at the bit to find out.  Have you tried shopping for a baby lately?  Not much out there that is NOT gender specific.  Caveman is probably going to bemoan my new-found knowledge when he sees how much I can spend on tiny overalls and miniscule basketball shoes.

But, as much as I love babies - and believe me, I didn't get the nickname "baby-stalker" from my own kids for nothing - they are so much more.

They're people.

Caveman and I did not take the miracle of having children lightly.  Though we were as giddy and excited as the next couple, we knew.  We knew we were having people.  We were bringing more lives into a fallen world and we would - for several years - be completely responsible for their well-being.  Whoa.

This sobering thought is probably the only thing that stood between me and a contract with The Discovery Channel for my own reality show: "30 Kids & Multiplying."

I'm all for kids.  I think family is just about my favorite thing on this entire planet. I don't get political much in public, but I do have some very strong convictions.  One of those convictions leads me to being as pro-life as a person can possibly get.  I've pleaded with friends contemplating abortions to the point where, on a couple of occasions, Caveman and I offered caring for the children until the indecisive parents could get things together. Neither of those friends took us up on our offer, though one decided to keep and care for her child and one did not. Though the latter decision is heartbreaking, I still love both women. And so does God.

That heavy moment was brought to you only to make something very clear...babies - all babies, from conception on - are people.  People.

And while we get caught up in the excitement of cribs, car seats, baby showers, naming and sweet, little clothes, we must always remember that God has entrusted us with people. And this is a very, very big deal.

You may have given birth to people, or maybe you have adopted people.  Maybe you don't have people you're responsible for in your cave, but you have people at work or within your extended family.  People that would benefit from you doing your part in helping them be all that they can be.

When we look at others as God-created, purpose-filled, amazing bundles of potential...we see things in a very different light.

Makes you want to exclaim, "It's a girl!" " It's a boy!" "It's a person!" "It's a responsibility!"

And, maybe...hopefully, "It's an opportunity!"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Peer Pressure...It's for Everyone!

As you can see in this picture from Valentine's Day of 1982, I have struggled with peer pressure.  Well, to be honest, I don't know if I was the one pressuring Carolyn (cute, flippy-haired girl on the left) to wear the red overalls to school, or if she was pressuring me (gum-smacking goof on the right).

I also don't remember which one of us thought it would be a good idea to stay up all night (in seventh grade) and then ride our bikes to the convenience store (newly opened wonder-emporium in our teeny town) for ice cream sandwiches at six in the morning.  And the time we decided to climb up into the middle school locker room ceiling?  Don't remember who was pressuring on that one, either.

But, not all peer pressure is bad.  She peer pressured me to work harder as an athlete, and I peer pressured her to play a saxophone solo at the music festival. She peer pressured me to do my Algebra homework, and I peer pressured her to be my friend forever.  Okay, that last one was weak, but she's been a way better influence on me than I have been on her.  I just ran out of stuff to balance it with...

ANYWAY, school is back in session for most, or soon will be, and so is peer pressure. That's what we all think anyway.  "Oh, Lord, how will I keep little Pumkin' from being influenced by those around her?  What if others around her are making bad choices and she starts to do the same?  What if she starts talking like them, and it's not appropriate?  What if she picks up some other kid's bad attitude?"

Listen, if I had a way to make sure Pumkin' never went with the crowd or made poor choices, in addition to reading my'd be watching my show.  During prime-time.  And Dr. Phil would be calling in and asking me for advice. Nobody's kids - including and especially mine - are perfect. We just have to keep doing what we can...and pray.  A lot.

Even if we put up every guard rail imaginable, kids are still going to be tempted to crack under the influence...of peer pressure, that is.  And you know what?  So are we.

Who do you hang out with? Who is pressuring who?  Who is influencing who?

"Cavewoman, I hang out with church people only, so you know I'm good to go on this one."  Um, I have a couple of problems with that defense.  First, just because we label ourselves "church people" doesn't mean we act anything like Christ. And even if we are truly trying, it certainly doesn't mean we act like Christ all of the time. (I had at least two bad thoughts in the past hour, one involving trying not to hate naturally skinny people.) Second, I think Jesus hung out with church people and non-church people.  So, we should, too.

If it were ever appropriate to ask, "WWJD?" - it's now.

When Jesus hung out with negative, slanderous, gossipy or hypocritical church people, He loved, lived and died trying to influence them.

When Jesus hung out with devil-may-care, full-on heathens, He loved, lived and died trying to influence them.

We've talked about kids watching us "pack" and watching to see what kind of time-stewards we are, so...believe me when I say that they are definitely watching to see if we're the influenced...or those doing the influencing.

We model a lot of things for our kids. We model life attitudes, we model life management skills, but one of the greatest things we'll ever model for our kids is life relationships.  Let's all purpose and pray to make our lives - and our life relationships - the kinds our kids will want to immitate.

No pressure.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tardy Parents

Today is one of the few days in which I am thankful my mother does not really know how to operate a computer.  She would be laughing her head off.

You see, as everyone (and I do mean everyone...look two blog posts back) returns to school, schedules and routines become quite important.  I didn't say we all do a good job with them, I just said they're important.  Sigh.

One of my mantras is "20 minutes per kid."'d better stick an extra 20 minutes per kid into your morning routine.  So, for me, I needed an hour for the kids to get up and around for school on top of however long it took me to get ready.  This is where my mom starts laughing.  And my youngest son's second grade teacher...she's laughing, too.  And the nice police officer who once gave me a warning as I was driving my kids - in a mad, late rush - to school.

"...however long it took me to get ready..." doesn't mean much once you've seen the Cavewoman wearing her pajamas to drop her kids off.

There are times when I try to bring you encouragement and it comes from a place I perhaps did well in.  As a mom.  This is not one of those times. To cut myself a little hindsight slack, I got things way more under control when my three boys hit third, fifth and eighth grades, respectively.  More on that later.

In another life, I think I would have made a great jazz club singer.  Sing at the 8pm set, followed by the midnight set, bed by one and sleep the next day until noon.  But, in this life, I'm not a club singer.

Many of you feel my non-morning person pain.  It was so rough in the boys' early years.  Fortunately, none of them were super early risers either.  The middle one is quite the happy morning kid, but we're talking 7am, not 4:30am.  So, we were good there.

But, when school started, we struggled.  My oldest has my club-singer DNA, and getting him up in the morning was a nightmare.  We missed the bus often and so I had to drag his two, small brothers into the minivan so we could haul ourselves across town to his kindergarten.  It was ridiculous.

The only thing that saved my maternal bacon with the teacher is the fact that I volunteered for her often and blessed her with kind words, notes and gifts, when possible. And though it sounds really braggy, I also presented her with one of the brightest, easiest kindergarteners ever.  But, wherever Mrs. Thompson is, I just would really like her to know how sorry I am.  Oh, she would probably laugh and say, "Mrs. Weaver, you were great!  You put up bulletin boards and were such a conscientious young mom. No worries!"  But, no matter.  I have something to be sorry about.

You see, a few years later, I had a realization...thanks to my laughing mom. She loves me and tries to see the good in me.  She knows I love my boys like crazy and I really, genuinely care about others.  So, that's why she thought she'd better speak up, "KyAnne, you know when your kids are late to school, they miss valuable instructional time.  In addition, it says something very hurtful to the teacher.  It says that you don't care about her...about her time."

I was devastated.  My mom is good.  Real good.  She knows that if she brings the possibility of hurting someone's feelings in - not to mention something I may be doing to hinder my kids - she can get my attention.  So, did I instantly become the gal that gets everywhere 20 minutes before everyone else?  Um, no.

I did, however, start compensating for my weaknesses.  Weaknesses.  I said it and it's okay.  We all have them and we all have to let the Lord help us compensate for them.  I started using a filing system for the boys' things...I set clothes out the night before...I packed lunches the night before...I made the boys bathe the night before (until middle school)...I signed and returned papers ASAP.  Second nature to some of you naturally-organized people...extra, extra purposeful planning for folk like me.

Am I ever late now?  Um, occasionally.  But, I'm a better?  Ask my husband.  A man who hates being late in a very big way.  I learned to compensate because I did care about my kids' teachers. And my kids. (Being late hurt them, too.)  Now, as a teacher, I feel compassion towards my "late kids," but more towards their parents who struggle. The kind of compassion that allows me to speak into their lives from a place I know well in hopes to help them they way I've been helped.

If you've been a tardy parent, please know that I pray you find the encouragement, tools and strength this year to make the change.  Because, as always, your kids need you to be your best.  And honestly, there aren't a lot of openings in life for club singers.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's in Your Backpack?

Lots of talk about backpacks this time of year.  Maybe for some, it's because the weather has finally cooled off enough to go for a hike. For the majority, it's because school is starting up again.

Cue:  collective sigh.

With all of the things I could zero-in on when it comes to getting our kids (and ourselves) prepared for a great school, I chose backpacks.  Yes, backpacks.

Remember, I'm not Dr. Phil or the Supernanny, so even though I may spend the bulk of my next blog sharing "tips" about beginning well this fall, you can just chew the meat and throw away the bones.  Well, you pretty much can always do that with me.

That stated, over the past few days I have been thinking about being spiritually prepared and backpacks.

Before the pencils are sharpened and the right folders are purchased ("...the kind with the fasteners or the kind with pockets or the kind with...?"), and way before they face the peer pressure and bullying issues, our kids need to be equipped.  That's where the spiritual backpack comes in.

Now, for all of you born-and-raised church folk, I know and love the thought of running kids through the "Armor of God" from Ephesians 6 in the Bible. It's vital, I know.  When my boys were young, we put on our "armor" while driving to school each morning.  Me:  "Helmet of?"  Boys:  "Salvation!" Me:  "Belt of?"  Boys:  "Truth!" And so on.  Maybe I'm playing off of that to a degree, but let me quickly give you another word picture to mull over...

As parents, we have a job to prepare our children in every way possible for life.  Life that includes schooling.  We need our armor on, they need their armor on.  We need our backpacks stuffed with the right things, they need their backpacks stuffed with the right things.

What's in your spiritual backpack?  Have your kids had a chance to see inside?  Regardless, I'll bet they've seen the results of what you have or don't have in it. 

Have they seen you packing it?  What do they see you put into it?  Do they see you setting aside time for God?  Do they see you going to the gym, the movies or even to volunteer at church more than they've seen you read your Bible or pray?

When you pack wisely, your kids are more apt to pack wisely, too.  Oh, you won't be a perfect packer and neither will they, but the better you both try to pack, the better you'll both be prepared for what life...or school...may throw towards you.

Purpose today to pack well.  If you're like me, before you pack, you have to dump.  I have to dump my pack often.  Dump all the junk.  The bitterness, the jealousy, the hurts, the anger.  If you're like me, you quite often have young eyes watching you and your, dump and pack wisely.

After all, a backpack full of useless stuff is just, well...excess baggage.

What's in your backpack?

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kids Aren't the Only Ones...

Sometimes I don't sound very teachery or parenty.

For instance, the other day in a local store, I saw a young mom I knew.  And like most young moms at a store, she had some kids in tow.

After I stupidly asked one of her youngsters if he was ready for school to start, he angrily replied, "No!  I don't want summer to be over yet!"

Before I could stop them, the words, "Hey, you're not the only one, mister!" tumbled out of my oft open mouth.

Fortunately, my boss wasn't around.

Today, I'm kicking off a short series of blogs centering around everyone's "favorite" time...the start of the school year!

I actually put this question out to students and parents alike the other day: WHAT ARE YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGES AS YOU GET READY FOR A NEW SCHOOL YEAR? Loved the feedback I've received.  So, based on said feedback, I decided to try to find some good stuff to encourage you with regarding the following:
  • Routine & Time Management (Some of you are laughing at the thought of me having tips on these, but maybe you can learn from my mistakes, okay? Man!)
  • Peer Pressure (Both the student and the parent...seriously, parenting peer pressure is huge!)
  • Finances (Even in public's like a money pit!)
  • Where To Go (Deciding where to actually go or where to put your child in school.)
  • Anxiety ('Nuff said.)
  • How to Prepare (More than just getting school supplies!)
  • How to Spiritually Equip Yourself &/or Your Kid (Last here in writing, but first in real life!)
As a former student, as a parent who has now seen children go from preschool through (please, God, spring of '13!) college, and as an educator...seeing this time of year become one that is not only survivable, but THRIVABLE, is near and dear to my heart.

I feel that ALL of us should be involved in supporting those going back to school like ALL of us should be supportive of those who are parenting.  Some of us are not, or may never be parents, but all of us have been children.  Some of us are not currently students, nor do we have children headed off to school this fall.  But, all of us have been students.

Whether or not we're first-hand parents or back-to-schoolers, we should relate enough on some level to support and pray.  So, pray for parents, pray for students, pray for teachers, pray for administrators, pray for school boards, pray for custodians, pray for lunch ladies...see, a lot of people are starting school!  And, they all need prayer.

So I guess I just have one, major take-away for you today.  And you really don't even have to take it...completely your choice.  But, if those of us in the Body of Christ know we are to be a universal family...well, then, I guess we should be making people going back into a school environment a major point of prayer.

And this is where we can have an epiphany of sorts. This is where we all can see it.

Kids aren't the only ones going back to school.

When we pray...we go, too.

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Why Can't We be Friends (and Siblings)?"

The siblings seem to be fine with one another...probably just wishing the mom wasn't so annoying! :)