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Well, fine ladies and gents, I’ve decided a few things about blogging.  And in doing so, I have some new and exciting things to share.  🙂

*I’ve decided to largely leave the world of Facebook.  It feels over-crowded and I never know if I’m posting too frequently and annoying my Facebook friends.  This’ll free up some much-desired time and focus on my blog, where I can post as frequently as I want!  My plan is to blog at least once a week about revelations during times with my Father, a gardening journal, thoughts, feelings, struggles, and questions on being a keeper of the home, and anything else I darn well want to put in it!  I am SO EXCITED about this decision, even if I’m the only one who ever reads it!

*I’m taking my blogging business to blogger, where I can actually earn a few pennies if anyone decides to click on the ads framing my blog, whereas no money is earned here on WordPress.  Every little bit helps, right?

SO…. my new blog address iswww.riddlelove.blogger.com!

I hope to see you there. 🙂  I don’t plan on deleting this blog.  I’ll leave it the way it is and begin a new chapter of blogging on the new and improved one.

So, with this, I say, “Farewell, WordPress!  Thank you for allowing me to get my feet wet in this thing that’s called blogging.  It’s been real.”

My, my.  Haven’t I been quite the delinquent blogger?  I learned this year that if I don’t want most forms a normal life to stop during the Christmas season, I need to start making gifts a lot earlier.  Starting the beginning of November was a mistake, but I was able to get the last stitch in on Christmas Eve.  Whew.

Thanks so much to all of you who shared your great ideas at Homemade Christmas Goodness.  It is the most visited post on my blog, and not only did it greatly help me, it helped hundreds of others who stopped in to glean from your ideas and inspiration.  They were personally much appreciated and many were applied to my gift-giving this year.  I ended up making gift baskets (beautiful Christmassy ones that I found for a steal at Grocery Outlet), as suggested by Camille, and they were filled with a bit of an eclectic array of goods, some homemade and some store-bought.  In the end though, I was very pleased with the final results and felt a greater sense of excitement and joy giving loved ones pieces of things I worked on just for them.  My favorite homemade gifts came from ideas by a book my friend, Rissa shared about called “Doodle Stitching.”  This book is so fun and it inspired great ideas.  Rissa made adorable flour sack kitchen towels and I latched on to that idea and embroidered some of my own.  I ended up making 14 of them altogether.                                                                                              This is my favorite of the birds.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Here's another bird, made by back stitching.

Butterflies and Bumblebee

Butterflies and Bumblebee

The butterflies and bumblebees was the quickest one to make.  I like it’s simplicity, but I think I might add more to it next time.img_0556 I love these funky trees.  In the book, this idea was for a scrap book cover and it had a squirrel in between the trees, but it intimidated me, so here you have just the trees.  🙂img_0557

This was the very first one I embroidered.  I started off very ambitious but soon realized there was not enough time to get 14 of these done in the time left before Christmas.

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Little Woodland Felt Creatures

Those little guys were my all-time favorite to make.  So fun and rewarding!

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Homemade vanilla extract was a quick and impressive-seeming touch to the baskets.  It’s just a vanilla bean and a few tablespoons of vodka or bourbon let alone to mingle for a month.  They make a very happy combination.  The vodka kind is much lighter in color, and I decided to give the darker bourbon version in the gift baskets.  The picture shown is the very beginning of the bourbon extract (week one), and this is also what the finished product of the vodka extract looks like.

I included some yummy Swedish Cream Cookies in glass jars and Nanaimo Bars in little ceramic Christmas mini-loaves (that I forgot to take pictures of) in the gift baskets.  The recipes were from another friend who wins all kinds of blue ribbons at state fairs.

All-in-all, it was a fun season of gift-giving.  What a treat it was to combine the ideas and suggestions of so many lovely friends to make thought-out gifts for my dear family.  Next year, I start the idea/gift making process in the Spring!

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This fourth chapter in Hints on Child Training hit a tender nerve in me.  In this chapter, Trumbull exhorts parents to critically look at, but especially get outside input on their children’s most prominent shortcomings so as to know what to focus on while training them.  To be uncomfortably honest, I have yet to get up the nerve to ask even my parents (who would be the gentlest of responders that I know of) to help  me out with this (but I plan to this week, I promise).  I don’t know what it is.  Maybe it’s the “mamma bear” instinct in me that rises up anytime anyone says anything remotely negative about my kids.  I know my children have their faults just like anyone else but I don’t want to hear about them from someone besides my husband (and sometimes not even from him, if I’m honest).  I’ve had a pretty tactless remark said to me about one my children, and I had to control myself before I flew off the handle and I wanted to disregard what was spouted out because it was said in such a heartless way, but Trumbull states:

The unfriendly criticisms of neighbors, and the kind suggestions of friends, are not to be despised by a parent in making up an estimate of his child’s failings and faults.  Rarely is a parent so discerning, so impartial, and so wise, that he can know his children through and through, and be able to weigh the several traits, and perceive the every imperfection and exaggeration of their characters, with unerring accuracy and absolute fairness.

Humph.  I know my children “through and through.”  They’re practically perfect in every way.  So there.  But… maybe there are some imperfections somewhere in there.  Maybe their shortcomings are a little clouded by my adoration of them.  Maybe… maybe I could consider some outsider input.  Maybe I should try and sieve through that tactless remark about my child and see if didn’t actually come from nowhere.  Maybe this “insight” can allow me to see what I couldn’t see on my own and help me to lovingly train my child in becoming a more Christlike person.

He closes this hard-for-me-to-swallow chapter, stating:

Parents need help from others, from personal friends whom they can trust to speak with impartiality and kindness, or from the teachers of their children, in the beginning of a proper estimate and understanding of their children’s characteristics and needs.  The parent who does not realize this truth, and act on it, will never do as well as might be done for his or her child.  God has given the responsibility of the training of that child to the parent; but He has also laid on that parent the duty of learning, by the aid of all proper means, what are the child’s requirements, and how to meet them.

I love how he flat out states it is our responsibility as parents to train our children.  Not the school’s, not the Sunday school’s, not the youth group’s or marshal arts class’s, but our responsibility.  I also appreciate how he rounds it out by reminding us parents it is our job to educate ourselves to be the most quality parents we can be.  Many have gone before us.  There’s much to learn.  So much is out there at our disposal, we just have to make the choice to pursue further educating and informing ourselves for the sake of our children as our God-given responsibility.

This is my challenge for the week, and I challenge you to do it, too.  Ask a kind and trusted friend to help you see your children’s weakness so you may better parent them.  Also, look for a good parenting book that is like-minded in your convictions to help sharpen your parenting skills.  Might I suggest a certain book?

All Aboard! Hints on Child Training

Hints on Child Training: The Duty of Training Children

Scope and Limitations of Child Training

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In chapter three of “Hints on Child Training,” Trumbull really starts to reveal the weight of responsibilities we, as parents, are privileged to carry as we raise our children.

First, he clarifies that we can train a child in the way s/he can go to his/her fullest extent, but we can’t train a child according to another’s capabilities.  We must keep in mind that some children are hindered with specific limitations that others might not have to struggle through, like blindness, learning disabilities, or physical limitations. However, Trumbull states, “the range is wide within the limitations of possible results from the training process.”

He continues:

A nervous temperament, cannot, it is true, be trained into a phlegmatic one or a phlegmatic temperament be trained into a nervous one; but a child who is quick and impulsive can be trained into moderation and carefulness of speech and of action, while a child who is sluggish and inactive can be trained rapidity of movement and to energy of endeavor….

The sure limitations of a child’s possibilities of training are obvious to a parent.  If one of the physical senses be lacking to the child, no training will restore that sense, although wise training will enable the child to overcome many of the difficulties that meet him as a consequence of his native lack…

In other words, if the child be grievously deformed or defective at birth, or by some early casualty, there is an inevitable limitation accordingly to the possibilities of his training.  But if a child be in possession of an ordinary measure of faculties and capacity, his training will decide the manner and method and extent and the use of his God-given powers.

It is, therefore, largely a child’s training that settles the question whether a child is graceful or awkward in his personal movements… whether he is faithful in his studies, or is neglectful of them…  In all these things his course indicates what his training has been; or it suggests the training that he needed, but has missed.

These are incredibly sobering points.  I think he’s placing the responsibility we, as parents have always held but sometimes never knew it.  Our society makes it easy for us to relinquish our role as trainer to our children in the name of “self expression,” and “phases.”  We don’t stop our children from throwing fits because we don’t want them to “stuff their emotions,” so we leave them alone to their own out-of-control demise and ignore them until they’re “over it” (or until the next time they hit another wave of intense emotion they don’t know how to handle), just as the parenting books say to do.  Instead, the temper tantrum was an ideal time to lovingly intervene and guide the child through their emotions while informing and enforcing what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.  If we leave them to their own devices and let them sort it out for themselves never having guided them through a similar situation, their growth will be tragically stunted.

We, as parents, must reclaim our role in our children’s lives.  Despite what we are fed through the airwaves and this culture, we hold a lot of control over our children.  We also love them more than anyone but the Lord.  We must marry our love for them and desire for them to thrive with necessary discipline and training that will accomplish a rich, strong, influential life for them.  “TRAIN a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 (Emphasis added.)

All Aboard! Hints on Child Training

Hints on Child Training: The Duty of Training Children
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I feel the need to throw a disclaimer out.  Upon first reading this book, I wrestled with lots of feelings.  After waves of indigence, bits of anger, and hints of offense, I mostly felt ashamed and disqualified as a parent.  But after all the fighting, I realized what he wrote was a very hard-to-swallow truth.  Trumbull does dish it out quite forthrightly, but it was my own insecurities getting in the way of a potentially life-changing experience.  I don’t claim to have it all together in the least, but I do pray that through this book and some “discussion” with y’all that I might grow and mature in my “child training.”

Continuing into chapter two of “Hints on Child Training,” (if you want to read the first post, click here), Trumbull dives right into it:

It is the mistake of many parents to suppose that their chief duty is in loving and counseling their children, rather than in loving and training them; that they are faithfully to show their children what they ought to do, rather than to make them do it.  The training power of the parent is, as a rule, sadly undervalued.

Too many parents seem to take it for granted that because their children are by nature very timid and retiring, or very bold or forward; very extravagant in speech and manner, or quite disinclined to express even a dutiful sense of gratitude and trust; reckless in their generosity, or pitiably selfish; disposed to overstudy, or given wholly to play; one-sided in this, or in that, or in the other, trait or quality or characteristic — therefore those children must remain so; unless, indeed, they outgrow their faults or are induced by wise counsel and loving entreaty to overcome them…

…Every child is in a sense a partially developed, an imperfectly formed child.  There are no absolutely perfect children in this world.  All of them need restraining in some things and stimulating in others.  And every imperfect child can be helped toward a symmetrical character by wise Christian training.  Every home should be an institution for the treatment of imperfectly developed children.  Every father and every mother should be a skilled physician in charge of such an institution.  There are glorious possibilities in this direction; and there are weighty responsibilities, also.

 

Keep in mind this book was written in 1890.  The words “institution” and “treatment” were not how they’re viewed today.  It sounds like such a sterile, rigid environment he’s suggesting to raise children in, but he really isn’t.  Lots of warmth flood into the next chapters, but do continue to keep in mind that this book was penned over 100 years ago, and certain words have taken on new meanings and vibes sense then.

This chapter helped me realize I fall prey to this “hands tied” attitude of parenting all the time.  My daughter would be bossing a group of kids around at a play date or something, and I would just sit back and chuckle, “What can I say?  She’s a leader.  Hopefully she’ll grow out of this bossy phase someday.”  But really, it was my job to get involved in that situation right then and there and lovingly train her how to behave appropriately with her friends.  Perhaps she is a leader, but no one will want to follow her if her parents never hone her skills.  Besides, I’d rather the correction be coming from me than a child or someone else who doesn’t love her as much and know her as well as I do.
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I find it amusing that most of my spiritually-based posts have “bread” in their titles.  I love bread.  If only ontological bread was as nourishing as the metaphorical one.  I miss the nineties.  Carbs were good for you in the nineties.  Atkins, really.  Why did you go and start this low-carb revolution?  That, my friends, was me following a little bunny down a trail…

Back on the path…  I’m going through a book my parents gave me a few years ago called, “Sleeping with Bread, Holding What Gives You Life.”  The title was inspired by the story of thousands of children who were orphaned in WWII and left to starve.  Some of the children in the refugee camps couldn’t sleep because they were afraid they’d wake up and have nothing to eat.  One of their caretakers decided to give them all a loaf of bread to sleep with so they would have assurance of food to eat the next day.  The children then slept peacefully.  The bread reminded them “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”

The book is based off of The Spiritual Exercises founded by St. Ignatius, where we listen for God to speak through times of consolation (what brings life and connects us to God) and desolation (what drains and disconnects us from God).  For instance, when I look at my now sparkling house after a long, hard, frequently interrupted day of deep cleaning, it is a moment of consolation for me.  What is God speaking to me in this?  When I am tired and melancholy and I lose my patience with the kids, that is an instance of desolation.  What is God speaking to me through this situation?

I realized that when I am in a season of consolation, when I feel close to the Lord, I am also spending lots of time outside working the soil and tending to plants.  I hear Him speak to me and so many parables and passages start to make more sense.  I want to give Him my adoration and worship by doing what God originally put us in Eden to do, to “work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15, ESV).  

When I’m in a season of desolation, when I feel furthest away from God, I realize it’s when I’m thinking about myself a lot.  For some reason or another, my devotional time has dwindled, and situations start knocking me around harder than normal.  Then worry, insecurity, doubt, and loneliness sets in.  My mind becomes consumed with finding fleshly, potentially destructive things to pacify my bad feelings with.  I eat an unbalanced amount of comfort foods (mainly bready sweets like cookies and cakes), waste time online shopping looking for something new to need, and avoid going outdoors because its a little too hot or cold or windy for my comfort.  I wonder why I feel so distant from God.  Why isn’t He speaking to me?  Then, I realize the lack of focused time I have spent with Him and where I veered off the road.

The examen is also a way to find out what our individual “sealed orders” are from the Lord.  Sealed orders are the unique purpose God has for each individual here on earth that He put in our very DNA.  The more we discover and carry out our sealed orders, the more our lives are filled with consolation.  This was a new idea to me.  Growing up in our church, I interpreted certain teachings that whatever you wanted to do least of all, that’s what God was telling you to do.  I don’t doubt there are times when God does have things for us to do as part of our sealed orders, like Jonah going to Nineveh, but I don’t think our actual sealed orders are the opposite of what we love.  This was a freeing revelation to me.  It’s actually OK to do what I enjoy.  In fact, God put that desire in me to fulfill His plans for me.

I particularly like the idea of doing the examen over dinnertime with the family and observing special ones on holidays (on the 4th of July, share what we’re most and least grateful for in our country, on New Year’s we share what’s brought the most and least consolation over the past year, etc.).  I’d like to start incorporating these in our family life and holidays as a way of enriching those times together.

This whole “examen” thing has really added salt to my time with the Lord.  I feel an exchange between Him and I when I observe it.  It has helped me to slow down and listen.  My Father truly is talking to me throughout the day.  I just need to take the time to listen.

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I am cringing a bit as I look at this title.  Yet I’m keeping it.  All you who are constantly around young children understand.  What’s cheesy to grown-ups translates into wit and fun for children, and when you’re in that zone, you’re in it; it’s hard to escape even when your conversation is with an older audience.  Thanks for understanding.  😉

My friend Nicole has been a huge resource to me when it comes to parenting and family.  She hits gold mine after gold mine.  She recommended a book that, true to her record, has become a much valued treasure in our family library.  It is called Hints on Child Training, by H. Clay Trumbull.  The forward for this most recent edition (the book was written over 100 years ago) was written by a man who my husband and I, and both sets of our parents, greatly respect, Gregg Harris.  

Although I believe reading this book would sizably enhance anyone’s interaction with children, even if you haven’t read this book, please join in this discussion.  Let’s go through this book, chapter by chapter, and share thoughts, opinions, and experiences that might be of encouragement in the adventure in parenting, grandparenting, uncling, aunting, and childcaring.

Chapter 1:  Child Training, What is it?

The term “training,” like the term “teaching,” is used in various senses; hence it is liable to be differently understood by different persons, when applied to a single department of a parent’s duties in the bringing up of his children.  Indeed, the terms “training” and “teaching” are often used interchangeably, as covering the entire process of a child’s education…

Child training includes the directing and controlling and shaping of a child’s feelings and thoughts and words and ways in every sphere of his life-course, from his birth to the close of his childhood.  And that this is no unimportant part of a child’s upbringing, no intelligent mind will venture to question.

As you can already see, this book is a bit counter-culture.  The last statement probably raised a few red flags in some people.  Controlling a child’s feelings?   Now don’t jump ship just yet.  Although this sounds like it might be endorsing a dictator-style parenting, if you know me, you know I would never align myself with such thoughts.  We’re starting at chapter one, and much will be explained in the following chapters.  But for now, what are your thoughts on “child training?”  Do you think we have even been given that type of control over our children’s feelings?  If so, how do we help them navigate those waters of emotions and how to express them?  Trust me, the topic of conversation will get more and more interesting, but this will be a good place to start so we can get a feel where each of us is coming from in our parenting/child training methods.
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Drought weights the trees, and from the farmhouse eaves
The locust, pulse-beat of the summer day,
Throbs; and the lane, that shambles under leaves
Limp with the heat–a league of rutty way –
Is lost in dust; and sultry scents of hay
Breathe from the panting meadows heaped with sheaves.

– from "The Rain-Crow" by Madison Cawein (1865 – 1914)

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