The Christmas Cookie Disaster

ChristmasCookieDisaster

My sweet girls and I are baking cookies. Christmas songs are playing in the background, even though it’s only November. The holiday music is our little secret – we almost always turn it off before my husband gets home from work. The entire setting is picture perfect, something you’d see on a Christmas greeting card.

For about ten seconds.

Then someone licks her hands and shoves her slobbery fingers right back into the batter. And the other child shrieks in disgust while she snatches the bowl away. Tears, screams, and shoving ensue. Someone is nudged off a stool and someone else licks her spoon then tries to use the same spoon to gather up spilled batter from the counter.

“Disgusting! MOMMY!” the tidy one cries out.

“It’s yummy! Try some!” the spontaneous one retorts, shoving the drooled-on spoon in her sister’s face.

I’m squeezing my head with both hands, something I do when I’m trying to keep my brain – and my temper – intact.

Why did I do this to myself? I wonder. Why didn’t I just turn on a movie and let them sit on the couch while I made these cookies in peace?

Then I hear it from the speakers. Christmas Shoes. It gives me chills every time. I stand still, listening, for just a few seconds.

I’m reminded that not everybody is lucky enough to have a parent – or a child – to bake with. Not everyone receives homemade cookies, or can even afford to purchase store bought ones.

Some people have true sorrows. Something more than slobbered-on cookie dough and impatient attitudes.

I’ve had some of those hardships.

Like when my husband and I both lost our jobs on the same day. Eight months pregnant and nearly penniless, not knowing where our next meal was coming from. Then being well below poverty level for the next three years while we worked to get his business off the ground.

Real sorrow also happened when I lost four family members in nine months. And then again when I experienced scary health issues, which have thankfully been resolved.

Baking cookies? I can redeem this.

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“Here,” I say to my youngest, wiping her face with a warm cloth and hugging her gently. “I understand. I used to eat cookie dough too. Sometimes I still do!”

She giggles, the tears drying on her cheeks, and offers me a taste.

Then I turn to my oldest and whisper, “I understand how you feel. Being a big sister is tough sometimes. But you know what? I wish I’d been nicer to my brothers when we were growing up. I can never take back the mean things I said. And the germs will bake out. It’s okay.”

A few hours later, after the hurt feelings have mended and the cookies have cooled, we layer the treats on paper plates, wrap the goodies in plastic, and bundle ourselves up. Then we walk out into the twilight so we can deliver our lopsided packages to neighbors.

There’s joy on my little ones’ faces as they serve others and share something they made with their own hands. I smile too, knowing these are lessons they’ll never forget.

The hassle, the tears, the mess? It’s all worth it. They’re still learning. And I am too.

You may also like:

7 Simple Ways Kids Can Serve Others

How to Slow Down and Savor the Holidays

Link up your own posts!

I’m so excited to be cohosting this holiday link-up party with Keri from Living in this Season!

Keri was a HUGE help to me when my inbox was bursting with organizational questions last month and I quickly realized that I really enjoy Keri’s writing style! Keri truly has a servant attitude and her blog is full of great organization ideas, simple craft projects, and uplifting parenting encouragement.

I especially love Keri’s post today about a simple Thanksgiving tree – in fact, I think I’m going to break out the construction paper and make one this afternoon with my sweet daughters!

HolidayLink-upDavonne

Now it’s your turn! What have you been writing about? This link-up is open until Tuesday, November 11th, 2014. It can be any family-friendly post that you’d like to share with other readers!

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12 Ways to Help Your Daughter Have a Healthy Body-Image



Girls and Body Image: 12 ways to help your daughter develop a healthy body-image. Inspiring MUST READ for every mom of girls! In a culture where the sexualization of women not only abounds, but is also glorified, it can be difficult for girls not to compare themselves to other females. In doing so, many will feel that they just don’t measure up.

And while we may not be able to completely prevent every single body-image issue from occurring, there are several things we can do to significantly help our girls to grow up to become confident woman who are comfortable in their own skin.

1) Remember that you are your daughter’s most significant body-image role model.

If you weigh yourself daily, place your worth in what you eat, and compare yourself to other women, then chances are that your daughter will too.

On the other hand, if you model a gentle spirit and a healthy view of body image, as well as carefully guide your daughter to do the same, then she’s much more likely to have a healthy view of herself as well.

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV)

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2) Don’t speak negatively about physical appearance.

If you talk about other people’s looks negatively, then your daughter will probably learn to think of outward appearances, including her own, in a negative manner.

When you hear someone speaking badly about someone else’s looks, don’t join in the bashing. Just say something like, “I think she looks great,” and change the subject. Chances are that your daughter is hearing your response to more of these conversations than you realize.

3) Refrain from “rating” people.

Never tell your daughter something like, “You’re chubbier than most of the girls in your class.” On the flip-side, don’t say things like, “You’re the prettiest girl in the room,” either. Both types of comments will teach her to compare herself to others.

4) Notice differences positively.

I have one daughter who really notices cultural differences in appearance. I never want to ignore her observations or pretend that everyone is the same – instead, I want to teach my children to appreciate everyone’s uniqueness.

So I believe that it’s okay talk about our differences in a positive way. Here are a few examples of my responses to her:

  • “Yes, I do love that girl’s curly black hair! And I love your straight blonde hair, too. God made everyone so beautiful!”
  • “Yes, that little boy’s skin does look different from his parents. They are a really cute family, aren’t they?!”
  • “I’m so glad you like dark skin, because it’s beautiful. But your light skin is really beautiful too, so please don’t use the sharpie to try to match your doll – wear your matching outfits instead!”

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5) Don’t tease about how much she eats.

“Wow, you must be hungry today! Would you like some more vegetables?” is fine. Someone at the table teasingly calling her a piggy is not fine.

6) Keep the TV off and beauty magazines out of the house.

Not only do inappropriate images tempt the males in the house, but those same images are also having a large influence over what our daughters consider beautiful. It’s a lose-lose situation and one that isn’t worth the cost.

7) Remember that actions speak louder than words.

Even if you’re not speaking negatively about yourself, if you spend hours working on your physical appearance every day then you’re showing your daughter that you don’t think your natural beauty is good enough. This will filter down into how she feels about herself.

If you do get carried away about your looks, recognize your mistake and use that as a teaching opportunity (like I did when I got my disastrous spray-tan)! SprayTan

8 ) Model emotionally-healthy behavior.

If you turn to food when you’re stressed, your daughter might too. If you weigh yourself twice daily, your daughter will probably become overly concerned about her own weight.

On the other hand, if you find joy in exercising for 30 minutes a few days a week, drinking plenty of water, and grabbing an apple or banana to munch on when you need a snack, then your daughter will probably want to practice those behaviors as well.

9) Choose to enjoy preparing and eating healthy foods.

Bake some fish or grill a chicken for dinner. Drizzle a little chocolate on sliced fruit for a healthy dessert. Experiment with fruit smoothie recipes. Cook breakfast on occasion. Talk about food choices – not because of a “size” issue but because, “God made our bodies and it feels so good to be healthy.”

And when you do have the occasional dessert together? Enjoy it with zero guilt!

10) Exercise with your daughter.

Get active outside by playing a backyard sport, riding bikes, going for a jog, swimming, or even doing yard work. Complete an exercise video or play a work-out game on the Wii when you can’t go outside.

Don’t talk about how much you’re hoping to lose an extra 20 pounds. Do talk about how great it feels to be able to stay active and healthy, and how blessed you are to have legs that can carry you places. WP_20140613_007

11) Talk to your daughter about growing up.

I know this can be uncomfortable, but do it early and do it often. Use a book for help if you need to. I personally love “The Body Book (The Lily Series)” by Nancy Rue for pre-teens. For a teen, find a purity book about dating and marriage.

Don’t just tell your daughter to let you know if she has questions and then give her a book to read on her own – chances are that she won’t ask. Take the time to actually read a growing-up book out loud together so that you can be there to discuss topics as they arise.

By doing this, you’re showing your daughter that you’re a safe person to talk to about growing-up issues, which will help her to talk openly to you about other things as well.

12) When your daughter does develop a body-image issue, don’t dismiss her concerns.

Listen to her. And gently help. Is she upset because all of her pants have gotten too tight? Let her know that’s a completely normal part of growing up then take her shopping for a new pair of jeans. Is she self-conscious about the zits dotting her face? Tell her she’s beautiful, then look up natural acne remedies online and help her try a few out.

Maybe she’s overweight and is concerned about that, not only because of appearance, but for health reasons as well. Don’t lie to her. Do tell her she’s beautiful and invite her to exercise with you if you haven’t already done so. Buy her a pretty water bottle and experiment with putting slices of different types of citrus fruit in her water. Find joy in trying new healthy recipes together. Show her that being healthy can be fun! Water Bottles

In Conclusion

Show your daughter, through example and by your words, that health and beauty aren’t about shape, size, crash diets, shiny hair, or expensive make-up. Quite the opposite – being healthy is about loving ourselves enough to take care of our bodies, and even more importantly, it’s about learning and growing as a person.

Because true beauty comes from within, and radiates out.

“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:14 (NKJV)

What about you? What tips do you have for helping our daughters develop healthy body images?


6 Things I Learned from a Disastrous Spray Tan

SprayTanDisaster
I love the look of a sun-kissed glow but I don’t want to damage my skin.
So even though I haven’t been to a tanning bed in several years,  this spring I decided to go in for a spray tan. I told the girl who was helping me that I wanted a light, very natural looking tan. I came out looking like this:

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I drove home and sneaked into my basement
so Lily and Grace wouldn’t see me. Then I texted a photo of my “new look” to my mom and told her I was supposed to wait 8 hours before rinsing off. She replied, “Go take a shower. NOW.”

SprayTan

In spite of washing the tan down the drain less than an hour after my appointment, I was still very dark and my daughters definitely noticed. I recognized that I had a great opportunity to teach my children from my experience.

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Here are the things we discussed:

1) All skin colors are beautiful, like a rainbow.
If everyone with dark skin tried to took lighter and if everyone with light skin tried to look darker, we’d all look the same and that would be boring!

2) Vanity takes way too much time.
I’d spent the previous evening away from my family just so I could get a spray-tan. Nathan and the girls had a great time together but those moments that I missed out on are ones I can’t get back.

3) Looking similar to family members is fun.
Lily, Grace and I have blonde hair. Both girls have the same eye color as Nathan. In other words, the four of us look like a family. Of course, if we had adopted children who look different than us, we’d find the fun in that. But since our children are biological, we can enjoy looking similar!

Lilys6thBday

4) Not liking how we look is basically saying that God didn’t do a good enough job when He created us.
God, the giver of life, the creator of beauty… He chose our looks. And when we try to change our outward appearance, we’re basically saying that He didn’t do a good enough job so we’re taking matters into our own hands.

“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14

5) There’s a balance to spending time on outward beauty.
We don’t want to look frumpy in junky clothes and un-brushed hair. And there’s nothing wrong with wearing a little make-up or painting nails a fun color. Staying active and eating healthy foods are definitely good things to do as well.

But when we spend hours each day working on our physical appearance, we’re focusing too much on what the outside looks like and too little on cultivating our unique inner beauty.

“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NKJV)

6) Who gets to define beauty, anyways?
Who gets to decide that pale skin isn’t beautiful? Or that gray hair isn’t lovely? Who decided what hair color is “in-style” or what body shape is the best? Why can’t all of that be beautiful?

The older women in my church who are aging gracefully and letting their wrinkles and gray hair show are beautiful! My grandmother, full of love and laughter and apple pie, was beautiful!

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And you? You’re God’s incredible handiwork. Treasure the uniqueness of how you look, but don’t focus too much on your outward appearance – choose instead to cultivate your inward beauty. At the end of the day, that’s what will shine through.

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.” 1 Peter 3:3-4

{Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net}


Book Review: Frumps to Pumps

In 28 Days to Timeliness, I confessed that I love to stay in pj’s all day when I’m not going anywhere.

It was so bad that when I decided to start getting dressed every morning, my three year old daughter Grace would ask, “Mom, are you going anywhere?” In fact, our new routine is new enough that she still asks that as I’m getting ready for the day.

My children adopted this pajama habit as well, so trying to make them get dressed in the morning when we had somewhere to go was a continual battle. So, when I heard about the eBook Frumps to Pumps by Sarah Mae, I decided to read it.

I also enlisted Lily and Grace to go through the challenge with me. We’ve been reading the book together, and have been making it a point to be dressed and ready for the day by 9:00 a.m., whether we’re going anywhere or not.

Lily and Grace love this book as much as I do. The first day I read it to them, Lily (age 7) exclaimed, “That sounds just like our family!”

I’m going to admit that when I first started the Frumps to Pumps challenge, I didn’t want to “waste” my nice clothes, so I’d put on older jeans and a t-shirt then barely put on any make-up. I’d spend the day (especially Mondays) day-dreaming about getting back into my pajamas.

Then I decided to try it Sarah’s way. I don’t go all out with the pumps (I’m more of a cute flats or boots girl), but I started getting dressed in my nicer clothes – even on Mondays – and the difference has been fantastic!

My goal is to be dressed for 12 hours each day (9am-9pm), and since starting this challenge, I feel better, I look better, I’m more productive, and I don’t panic when the doorbell rings.

Leaving the house in a timely manner has also become much easier because Lily and Grace are developing the habit of getting ready for the day shortly after they wake up each morning.

Frumps to Pumps is available on Kindle and PDF for just $4.99.

Click here to purchase the PDF version.

Click here to purchase the Kindle edition.