Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sibling Rivalry

There was no such thing as sibling rivalry in our house until child number two came along. I'll never forget one of their first battles - it was for my attention, of course. They were both sitting on my lap and trying to shove each other off! Even at such a young age (they were about 1 and 2) they were rivals.

Then child number three appeared in the picture. Child number two was four years old at the time, and had been the baby for that long. Now this new baby was taking her place. At one point as I was nursing the newborn, she came into my room to declare, "You know, Mommy, sometimes I like the new baby and sometimes I don't!" I was caught off guard and wasn't sure what to say as she turned and stormed out, slamming the door behind her.

As the kids grew older there were arguments over toys, space, cleaning up, and what was or wasn't fair. Oh how I wished there was a secret formula to avoid such arguments but certainly working through them built character (including mine).

Getting along with family members is a crucial stage of development. All of us let our hair down when we're with family - we say things and do things we wouldn't dream of if we were with friends. Yet dealing with anger, selfishness, our words, etc. prepares us for getting along with classmates, teachers, coworkers, relatives, friends, neighbors, the cashier at the grocery store, and of course, our future families. How sad it would be if our kids could get along with friends and outsiders but never learn to get along with the people they live with.

So here is a list of Dos and Don'ts in managing sibling rivalry:
Do make the rules clear ahead of time as much as possible.
Don't encourage tattle tales.
Do get to the root of the problem... which is likely their selfishness.
Don't try to avoid arguments by separating the kids. Force them to work it out.
Do ask, "Can you think of a way to work this out so you both are happy?
Do spend time with each individual child - taking just one out on a special date with just dad or mom.

I can testify that my kids get along great now. They enjoy being together and when they're far from each other they call or text or snapchat. It's such a blessing to witness!

And now for a refashion....

I found a boring ordinary sweatshirt and a textured sweater at Goodwill for about $8.

I cut up the sides and around the corner through the sleeves of the sweatshirt. Then I cut out triangles from the sides.

Next, I used the pattern to cut out triangles from the sweater. I sewed the textured triangles pieces into the sweatshirt.

I cut rectangles to make new cuffs for my sweatshirt. Then I cut off the ribbed neckline, as well as the triangle near the neckline. I added a triangle from the sweater to the triangle-hole I made.

I added a trim piece for the bottom of the sweatshirt.

                                                                Warm and fun!


Sunday, January 24, 2016

On Anger and Bow Ties

Anger is a natural response when one feels offended or hurt. Most people might even agree that your anger over an offense is justified. But something that is natural, or even justified by others isn't necessarily righteous.

I'm going to say something drastic. There is NOTHING in this world that justifies our human response of anger.

Human anger is a result of the Fall - when Adam chose to sin against God in the Garden of Eden, the feeling of anger crept into our hearts. Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the serpent.The serpent wanted to blame God, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree... or you will die?'" It was as though God's rule wasn't good to begin with.

Anger is a very real emotion. Even Jesus expressed anger when he saw the moneychangers and merchants selling in the temple. But the difference between Jesus' anger and our anger is that Jesus was pure. A holy God can be justified in his holy anger. We may feel anger but really... have we also not committed like sin against others? Do we really have the right to be angry with someone else when we ourselves have been equally heinous? If we are totally pure and righteous ourselves then we can be angry about sins committed against us.  But who among us is without sin?

And so, anger is an emotion that we should strive to keep under control and especially when we're dealing with our children. Children will do things that will test your limits. Will you be angry when milk is spilled, when they don't listen to your repeated commands, when they talk back? And what will you do when anger wells up? Will you strike? Will you kick a toy? Will you yell? I'm certain your knee-jerk response is connected to how anger was expressed in your family of origin.

So how do you respond righteously when the feeling inside is far from righteous? The first thing to do is to turn to the Lord and ask for help in self-control. Then give yourself some space - perhaps walk out and take a deep breath before you respond. Remind yourself that you were once a child who probably did the exact thing to your own parents. Ask God for wisdom for a creative response. The more you practice self-control the easier it is the next time. You will be breaking the generational cycle of anger. Your children will learn respect, self-control, and forgiveness.

And now for a refashion...
For about $1 my daughter found this huge oddly colored tie probably from the eighties. She thought her brother would like it. But it was threadbare, and like I said, huge and oddly colored. Usually she is so in tune to current fashion so I wondered what she saw in this tie that she thought her brother would like.

Then I realized what it was. When I looked closely I saw the heiroglyphics. Her brother is an archaeologist. Yes he would love the heiroglyphics. But the tie???

So then I took the tie apart and saw the inside. The design was the same but the color was less obnoxious.  I could make a bow tie with the inside! My daughter loved that idea.

So I used a bow tie pattern and eked out four pieces from the tie, plus four from interfacing. I ironed the interfacing onto each piece. There are 2 pieces of a bow tie, so they each needed a front and a back. You sew them right sides together, leaving an opening to turn them right side out, iron flat, and then sew up the opening.

And here is the finished product. I sewed velcro on the ends so when my son puts it around his neck to tie, he'll connect the pieces with the velcro. That way he only has to tie it once and he can disconnect it by pulling apart the velcro, instead of totally untying it. Happy Birthday Ben! When he sends me a picture of it on himself, I'll be sure to post it.


Thursday, January 7, 2016


All of us have heard of extreme birthdays... the child who turns one and a wedding-like reception is given in his/her honor.  Thousands of dollars are spent. Of course it's more for the parents than the one-year-old, because I guarantee you .. the one-year-old does not care nor will remember the celebration.

Then there's the other extreme - celebrating a birthday a month later, or not at all. So what is a reasonable way to celebrate a milestone?
I've always loved birthdays. Perhaps because my own family always celebrated my birthday, it helped me feel special, I've wanted to do the same for my kids. Somehow that specialness seemed diminished if celebrated on a day other than the child's actual birthday - so we always did something on the actual date.

In our house, a birthday began with "birthday breakfast". We would have a special breakfast and the person of honor sat in the designated birthday seat, which has been all dolled up with balloons and ribbons. Presents are piled nearby.

Then in the afternoon/ evening we would invite their friends for a party. Now a word about parties.

Speaking from the experience of doing it wrong on a few occasions, don't go overboard. You'll be totally stressed out and snap at the birthday girl and she'll be in tears. That kinda defeats the purpose of the "happy" in the "happy birthday".

Use the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Only invite a couple or just a few friends. I've heard that a good rule of thumb is one guest per year old of the birthday child. That still seemed too many to me. Anyway, too many kids will push you overboard into the land of craziness.

A good party only lasts about 1-1/2 hours - maybe 2 hours when the birthday boy is turning 10 or older. In that time period you can have a few games, open presents, and eat cake. My parties generally were themed. So a Barbie party meant inviting little girls and their Barbies too for "tea". There would be a Barbie cake and Barbie games like pin the Shoe on the Barbie. Or a Big Cats party where the invitees dressed as tigers and lions and hit a tiger pinata. Sometimes we'd have destination parties when they were older such as at the bowling alley or the miniature golf course but that would be more expensive so we didn't too that very often.

The goal is to help the child feel special. The goal is not to make yourself poor and stressed. You can do a lot with a little. Blessings!

And now for a refashion:

I  had this shirt that was way too big for me and made me look dumpy so I dyed it a nicer shade of blue, shortened the sleeves, cut off the bottom and put on a little lace.

I've mentioned in previous posts that I have a penchant for buttons so I replaced all the buttons with mismatched colors. Much more fun!