Monday, July 23, 2012

How The Perry Summer Camp Brought Us Together

Today was Day One of our Perry Summer Camp.

Following the Loosli's example, my older children contacted a bunch of our friends through flyers, Facebook, email, and personal invitations and invited their children to our home for a three-day summer camp (9 to noon each day).

I must admit that I was a little nervous.  We had quite a large group of children, and I wasn't sure exactly what Alia, Grace, and Ethan planned to do for the whole time in our relatively-small home.  But they kept saying, "Mom, we have everything under control."

And they did (for the most part).

For the past few weeks, they've been making spreadsheets and schedules, brainstorming ideas for crafts and snacks, and talking about all the children they hoped would come.

The girls made a little shopping list for me, and Alia and I picked out the supplies Saturday night during a 10 p.m. excursion to the store.

Alia and Grace made homemade play dough (Alia's favorite recipe!), Ethan and I swept the backyard, and we all joined together to remove everything breakable (or distracting) from our downstairs area.

Then Alia wrote the schedule on a white board, Grace counted out Dixie cups for the water station, and Ethan got the bouncy balls set up on the trampoline.

We put step stools in the bathrooms, made sure we had plenty of clean hand towels and toilet paper, got our laundry done early (since today is typically laundry day), and set up little stations where the children could play with wooden trains or plastic balls and rain gutters if they got bored.

When I tucked the children in last night, they were so nervous.  But I could see the excitement in their eyes.  It was like Christmas, except this time they were Santa Claus.

At 9 this morning, our little friends arrived, and Alia gave each of them a name tag and a group assignment (lions, pandas, or snakes).

We did science experiments, play dough (with only a little getting on the carpet), outdoor games, sidewalk chalk, snack time, water play . . ..  Our home has never been this busy.

Of course there were a few unexpected situations that arose (tomorrow we're having one person solely assigned as the bathroom helper), and keeping track of everyone's shoes was a little tricky, but our guests were so well-behaved--and seriously darling.

We're all excited to see each other again tomorrow.

After the last friend left, we all collapsed on the couch.  (Even four-year-old Spencer.)  And then we spent the rest of the day talking about how much fun we had.

Everyone pitched in to vacuum, take out the trash, replace the towels in the bathroom, and prepare the snacks for tomorrow.

Grace put together an art lesson and made sure that everyone will have a crayon for each color of the rainbow.

And now I have four exhausted children sleeping in their beds.

I wanted to take the time to type out the details because I don't want to forget this feeling.  There's something amazing that happens when a family works together on a project.

We were a real team today.  We needed each other.

Alia got a couple of emails tonight from moms who wanted to express their thanks.  She was so excited to read them to me.

This is one of the best parts of motherhood--to see how good my children feel about themselves when they accomplish something hard.

And I want to keep these good feelings coming.

What kinds of things have you done with your family (either now, or growing up) that bring a sense of unity and purpose?  We'd love some additional ideas.

And now I'm off to bed.  We've got a busy day tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Do We Need a Dog?

My family wants a dog.

I like dogs, but I am perfectly happy appreciating the cute pooches that belong to other people.

The other day, I jokingly said, "Maybe I'll think about getting a dog when Spencer can go 100 days without having a tantrum."

Within five minutes, Alia had whipped up a little chart to hang on the fridge.

(He has actually gone several days without a tantrum, but I stole the chart from the fridge, hoping the children would forget about it.)

From what I hear, though, every child needs a dog.  Dogs are protectors.  They are loyal companions.  They are darling and fun.

All I can think about is the additional mess I will have to clean up.

But I do really want to create a wonderful family environment, and if a dog needs to be a part of that, then I'm willing to consider.

So please, will you let me know your thoughts on this?  Does every family need a dog?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our Power of Moms Book is SO Close.

This is what my computer screen looks like right now:

We have been working on this book for The Power of Moms for more than 18 months, and it is 99.99% done. 

It's just that this last .01% takes way longer than I anticipated.  But it's coming, and it's so worth it.

I keep getting choked up as I'm doing the editing.  The stories shared by our 60 authors are simply beautiful.  They remind me that motherhood is incredible, they encourage me to keep going, and they help me to see into the lives of other deliberate (but normal!) mothers who are making their families strong and wonderful.

I have hope for the world when I read a book like this.

Can't wait to share it with you!  Then we can talk all about it and share our favorite parts and let it change the world through how we live what we learn.

Just wanted to share the excitement! If you want to read a few excerpts, you can click this link: Deliberate Motherhood, the book.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Two Must-dos When Raising Teenagers

My oldest child is 12 1/2 (as of this past weekend), so I have six months until I'm officially the parent of a teenager.

But I don't want to wait until then to start thinking about how to navigate these new waters.  (I've been hearing how hard it's going to be ever since I was a teenager myself.)

I'm working on an article right now where I'm compiling all the best advice I've ever heard about raising teenagers (and asking readers to share their best ideas), so I asked my almost-teenager/recent-elementary-school graduate for her thoughts on the matter. 

Here's what she said:

(1) You need to know your teenager better than ever before.

Know what frustrates her.  Know what she's excited about.  Know her favorite music, how she likes to do her hair, and what's happening with her friends.

(2) Give your teenager extra responsibilities.

There comes a point when children don't want to be treated like children anymore.  They want to prove they're useful and get the chance to do hard things.  Even small things, like asking Alia to get some ice and extra towels at the motel, meant a lot to her.

I thought those two points were very insightful.  And I'm working on them. I really want to do this well.

Do you have any tips or ideas about raising teenagers that you'd like to share?
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