Books Around the House

I remember the positive furor Dr. Ben Carson caused when he told the world about his mother. Seeing that rich people had books in the houses she cleaned for money, she came home and told her boys the TV was going off and books were coming in. Dr. Carson has since advocated and promoted literacy and reading in his political platforms.

Which is just great, when applied appropriately.

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After Tad R. Callister quoted Dr. Carson’s story in an LDS talk, I heard mother after teacher after grandmother talking about how they were going to purchase more books for their shelves. Surely the presence of reading materials would encourage children and grandchildren to pick them up. Surely their offspring would grow to be neurosurgeons and members of the presidential cabinet.

Right?

I happen to be “a reader.” My children are as well. Their teachers and administrators have commented on that quality. One administrator even said, “Your boys read. You can’t teach that.”

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Which is my main point, today. Having books on the shelves does nothing if you don’t pull them down. With every. single. one of my children, I have demonstrated what books do; what they contain. I’ve read to them. Sure, I’m not consistent. Each boy has had even less time with me than the one before.

But I try. Reading Ramona the Pest once a week(ish) is still better than my five-year-old thinking that staring at a phone at night is the only form of entertainment around.

Showing them that I read on my own has demonstrated that adults read, too. It’s the cool thing to do! I share things with them and discuss ideas or characters from the stories. I attend book group and have brought the older ones along.

Dr. Carson said his mother insisted they do two book reports a week. I’ve had mine do a report occasionally, but not often. Books need to be fun and not a chore.

So, moms and instructors and grandmas: pay attention. If you actually want a neurosurgeon, you’d better start practicing your own literacy. At least start practicing funny voices for the characters.

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Photo Credit:
Robyn Budlender
Ben White
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Everyone Needs to Get Messy, Especially Kids

My kids love to make messes. They’re not as enthusiastic about cleanup. At my most stressful, I tend to stand in the midst of their disaster area and say, “Well, don’t want to clean it up either! What if I decided to stop shopping for food and making dinner and cleaning your clothes??”

But those are not the sort of messes I wish to talk about today. Instead, I want to talk real messes, messes like: mud, water, dirt, homemade slime, and toasted marshmallows.

My 8-year-old came home from his Cub Scout Day Camp this week, his first time going. Covered head to toe in dirt and holding what he’d purchased at their little store, he glowed. They’d spent all day doing fun activities. They watched skits, shot a B.B. gun, and crafted. He had so. much. fun!

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Nothing warms my heart more than seeing deep, satisfied happiness on my kids’ faces. I see it when they are proud of something they worked on. There’s a flash of it when I laugh at a joke they told. There’s an almost tangible feeling of it when they’re arm-deep in sand at the beach, making castles or forts or whatnot.

We parents tend to think that fun has to be expensive. We buy gaming systems or children’s museum passes. We plan expensive vacations. We fork over cash for opening night at the movies and their overpriced concessions. We pay to attend the trampoline park, amusement park, waterslide park, or fun center park.

Why not just go to a park park?

Even if you’re not near a park or a backyard, you can still look up homemade crafts for home. I know slime’s extremely popular. Or Play-Doh. Or -even better- cookie dough.

Hands-on, tactile activities are more important for brain development than ‘strategy’ in a computer game. Interactions with physical materials help ground children (and adults) in reality. And, as I mentioned earlier, creating something with your own hands brings a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Besides, who doesn’t like to get messy?

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Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, July 14: Advised everyone to go jump in a sprinkler in “When the Summer Gets Hot, Get Sprinklers.

Monday, July 15: “Bedtime Routine Haiku.” If only they’d stay in bed.

Tuesday, July 16: Shared a quote by Ewan McGregor.

Wednesday, July 17: Recommended hitting after-holiday sales with “Shopping Tip 1.”

Thursday, July 18: “Guess I’ll Keep Him” -a snippet about my second son.

Friday, July 19: When life gets overrun with weeds, “Stop and Smell the Bindweed.”

Saturday, July 20: Shared Batman’s Mom‘s tweet about her snarky son.

Sunday, July 21: That’s today!

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

The Women’s World Cup Ain’t Such a Bad Thing

I’m not a regular sports fan but even caught the soccer fever these last few weeks. Team USA! -right?

I’m also not one to parade women heroes around because, frankly, I feel that some people take issues a bit too far. Not that I don’t feel pride when women succeed; I do. Not that I don’t think the USA Women’s Soccer team isn’t AWESOME; I do. I just felt a tad uncomfortable at the man-hating type women’s pride.

However, I forgot the downright positive effect that team could have.

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We’ve been hosting extended family at our house. My usually very male household has been overrun by females: a family of eight children, seven of which are girls. Accordingly, my perceptions and feelings have been more female-centric.

What brought the World Cup into this? One morning I awoke to breakfast preparations and learned that the oldest (a teenager) had gone jogging outside early that morning. Surprised, I asked her mother about it.

“Oh, she’s been following The World Cup, and I think she felt inspired to work harder.”

Sure enough, about an hour later the back door opened and in walked the young woman in question. She had a soccer ball under one arm and looked as if she’d been doing drills.

And that’s when it hit me: those women are making a positive difference. Those women are literally encouraging young girls to strive for their dreams. They are role models. They are amazing.

So if you, like me, tend to get a bit squirmy over these issues because of crazy politics, remember the good. Remember that a little girl, somewhere, has been given an attainable hope because of a few older girls and their ability to take on the world.

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Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, June 30: Discussed how fun a large family can be in “A House Full of Kids is a House Full of Love.

Monday, July 1: “A Very Short Parenting Poem.” That’s what it is.

Tuesday, July 2: Shared a quote by Billy Graham.

Wednesday, July 3: Talked crust preservation with another Baking Tip.

Thursday, July 4: “Realistic Parenting” -a snippet about how responsible my kids really are..

Friday, July 5: My advice: “How to Love a Prickly Child.”

Saturday, July 6: Shared Divergent Mama‘s tweet about her snarky son.

Sunday, July 7: That’s today!

Photo Credit:
Jeffrey F Lin
Jeffrey F Lin

©2019 Chelsea Owens

A House Full of Kids is a House Full of Love

We’ve had a few house guests lately. As in, 10. It’s been busy. And, as usual, I’ve not had much time for writing.

Coming on the tail end of pregnancy-induced bed rest, the influx of company was a bit overwhelming. Granted, they came fully prepared to make me rest and cater to me hand and foot and help in whatever way possible.

In fact, I think they were a bit disappointed to find me finally up and around.

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But, eight extra kids is still eight extra kids. Just my kids all day every day requires a bit of maintenance. So, I’ve been up making meals and helping with dishes and mitigating disputes over who had what sword and which son of mine cheated in which board game.

Still, I’ve been having fun. We all have.

Three of my children are sleeping on my bedroom floor and the laundry is more everywhere than it usually is. I often feel I am sloshing through socks in order to use the restroom (which, being pregnant, is quite often). The dishes need to be done every time there’s a meal. There is a constant buzz of activity and noise.

When I married my husband, I remember him telling me the house was too quiet. He is the youngest of seven children. Being a solitary introvert from a small family, I found our newlywed situation perfect.

But after two weeks of a house full, I agree. A full house is just about right.

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Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, June 23: Thought about hotel limitations with “Where Do We Sleep on a Road Trip with Kids?

Monday, June 24: Wrote “The Most Loving Sight.”

Tuesday, June 25: Shared a quote by Jim Gaffigan.

Wednesday, June 26: Let you in on my secret of few supplies and many mouths.

Thursday, June 27: “Where’d You Get That Face?” -a snippet about a joke my twin cousins had.

Friday, June 28: A follow-up to the dentist post of last week: “A Return to the Dentist.”

Saturday, June 29: Shared Snarky Mommy‘s tweet about her snarky son.

Sunday, June 30: That’s today!

 

Photo Credit:
Ben Wicks
Austin Pacheco
Rachel

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Happily Ever After Is Possible, but It Requires an Epic Journey

It’s happened again. Another couple we’ve known and loved announced the big D-Word: Divorce.

As a child raised in a nuclear family around other nuclear families, divorce was a word we heard on TV. It was almost akin to the cuss words my parents muted whilst watching films like “Hook.” Sure, I knew a few kids at school whose parents had split, but that wasn’t close. That wasn’t real.

As an adult, however, my perspective is quite different. Why? Well, frankly, because that ol’ D-Word has come up in conversation with my own spouse. As in, applied to us. As in, “What; do you want a divorce?”

Mature, I know.

Now, divorce is not always a villain. It is often a very good idea. I have a close friend for whom The Split was necessary for the welfare of herself and her children, and that was mostly from an emotionally abusive aspect.

In other cases, however, I can see it for what it is: giving up early.

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My husband and I know this because we chose to fix our relationship. We chose counseling, to try and follow the counseling, and to try to work on us every day. And believe me, it’s not like the movies. If we don’t do our ‘homework,’ the counselor’s advice does not work.

Countless hours and advice and helpful correction has helped enlighten me. I’ve realized that love goes through stages. From my own perspective, they are:

  1. The Honeymoon Stage. When you’re dating, flirting, or first married you don’t have to really try to love. I thought the husband and I didn’t have this going into marriage because we dated a while and knew each other pretty well. Believe me; we still did.
  2. I’m making these up, but I’d call this The First Itch. The wife sees an old friend or a new boss. Husband sees a hot young thing at the office. You’ve still got your good looks and vitality and someone else seems interested. You still love your spouse but the attention is sure flattering. And tempting.
  3. Mid-marriage slump. Remember when I said I didn’t think we had that first stage? I know we did, because we’ve entered this third period with definite feelings of dislike at times. The love that came naturally, the one that simmered in the background all the time -even while we had newlywed fights- is absent. Why? Because we are not trying to feel it.
  4. I’d guess that one or two other stages come next, like Midlife Crisis and Reconnection. I’m not positive since we’re not there yet.
  5. Acceptance and Mature Perspective. I think this is the age we all hope to get to, the one older couples are at. They’ve seen all the warts, moved past all the warts, and decided the warts are not what matters after all. They’re mature and their love is mature.

As the number of divorces climbs to a point of shrugged acceptance, I see patterns of behaviors in those who choose it. Most often the pattern is that one or both parties wants the constant feeling of Stage 1. When love isn’t exciting or doesn’t just happen any more, surely that means they are “out of love.” Surely that means “we just drifted apart” or “we realized we didn’t have much in common after all.”

I know an older couple who raised seven children together and went through a #2 Stage after #3. What happened? She forgave him. He repented, reformed, and is a much different husband to her now. They literally have little in common regarding shared interests but they sit by each other holding hands, each with his own set of headphones, each watching his own show on his own television.

Now that there is love.

C’mon, people. Try harder. Stop looking at Happily Ever After stories as fantasy. They’re not. You just may need to slay a few dragons or journey to find the lost stone before you’ll (again) win that princess.

It’s not easy. It’s not. You both have to work. You both have to know what’s most important. You both have to think a little bit about the future. I mean, do you really want to end up with only a trail of broken relationships to look back on; or do you want to share retirement (and possibly grandchildren) with a sweet, old person who understands you?

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Here’s what I wrote this past week:

Sunday, May 19: My procrastinating son inspired me to write “Special Projects Take a Lot of Time and Mess.”

Monday, May 20: Wrote “A Poem, I Think.

Tuesday, May 21: Shared a quote by James Baldwin.

Wednesday, May 22: Suggested fancifying your food for littles.

Thursday, May 23: “Don’t Forget Your…,” a snippet about my forgetful boys.

Friday, May 24: “Mom, What Can I Do?,” a post about taking a quick hour for your kids.

Saturday, May 25: Shared TwinzerDad‘s tweet about being an example, technically on Sunday.

Sunday, May 26: That’s today!

 

Photo Credits:
Henry Hustava
Hannah Busing
Marisa Howenstine

 

© 2019 Chelsea Owens