Thursday, June 30, 2011

What we have been up to

Lots of fun going on here with Joni and Daddy here. Adventures include:

Climbing adventures:


Drawing our names and pictures in the sand:



Finding fantastic sticks:





Tackling bridges:



Going down slides (Joni is the only adult participating in this activity):



Using the restroom outdoors (Can you find Elijah?)



Trying to enjoy our two 90 degree days (not so easy when you don't have a/c in your apartment). Good thing for us, the temperature has quickly returned to the 60's and 70's!



Sharing cute faces with the camera:






Chasing rabbits in the woods:

Reading books:




Taking long rides to the park in our stroller with our sticks (made even longer when everyone realizes Mommy forgot to bring a key to the hotel and Daddy has to walk a mile to get the reserrvation desk and get a new key for us):



Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Sadness

The following notice was on our Base's Facebook page:

"In response to the swimming accident that occurred Sunday, a U.S. Air Forces in Europe Traumatic Stress Response Team consisting of chaplains, mental health representatives and Airman and Family Readiness Center professionals will be available at the Health and Wellness Center 24 hours a day. Walk-ins are encouraged. All counseling received will be undocumented."

This notice gave me, "permission" if you will, to share some of the sadness I referred to my previous post. I have refrained from writing about it since JB is a doctor. He gets information that the general public may not get, and we both want to make sure that we are sharing is public knowledge and not knowledge we have but should keep to ourselves.

We got word late Sunday night that Cheryl, a woman we know very well at Incirlik, was involved in an drowning accident at a local Turkish beach. I will skip the details because details can get blurry in translation. But what is known is that she is in very critical condition as she was without oxygen for an extended period of time. She was actually transfered here to Germany late last night, and as I write this, JB is up at Landstuhl, where she is now a patient. (This is the same hospital where I will deliver Abigail.)

Not only does this woman live two doors down from us, but she was the NP (nurse practitioner) that was seeing me throughout my pregnancy. In fact, she handled all the details for my transfer to Germany and was in my backyard the night before I left giving me a present for our little girl while she petted Scrubby. She is JB's immediate supervisor at the Clinic, and the two of them worked wonderfully together. John said that they talked numerous times a day, and he only ever had positive things to say about her. She has two young children who were with her at the time of the accident.

If you have been following my blog for a long time, you may remember the scuba diving accident JB and I were involved with back in November of 2009. A woman in our dive group drowned. I was the last person to talk to her alive. This was a very traumatic thing for me, and I think that her accident, coupled with Cheryl's accident this past weekend, has left me with a real dislike for the ocean. I hate to admit this as the beach has always been a major part of my life. But I have actually felt anger toward the water. That sounds so dumb, but it is how I have been feeling.

I also hate the feeling of unexpected loss. Just two days ago I got word that one of my very good friends lost her father-in-law in a freak accident at his home. They are obviously reeling from this tragedy and trying to make their way through something turning their world, so quickly, on its axis. I remember my best friend Kristi's loss in 2007 when her brother was killed in a small plane crash. When I was a new teacher, my athletic director was killed when his truck slid on some ice into the path of an uncoming train. He jumped out and saved his daughter but was unable to save himself.

Death is so sudden. So final. And often, so very unexpected. Is it easier if we expect it? I don't know. But with death comes the knowledge that we will never see that person again, ever, on Earth. I know this can happen. But when it does happen, I never seem prepared for the emotions that begin circling around me, inside me. They keep me awake. They dominate my thinking.

I know, that as a Christian, life on this Earth is but a vapor. I know that my real life, my forever life, will begin, when I leave this Earthly body. I know that. But I also know that my Earthly body and heart feels sadness. I grieve for people whose lives will be forever impacted by something that came "out of nowhere." I hate pain. Sadness. It stinks.

I hope we all remember as we hug our friends and family and loved ones today, how temporary life is. We can only deal with today. Today I love the Lord. I worship Him. I celebrate my 34 years on this Earth. And tomorrow, I thank the Lord for another day. It may be my last day. I pray we always remember that.

Locked Garage

As a foreigner, making my way through countries not my own, I know, and people tell me, that I will make mistakes.

I will meander my way through with right and wrong guesses and correct and incorrect assumptions. I will incorrectly assume that it is acceptable to use the handicapped restroom if it is vacant. I will spend an hour talking with my housekeeper about something that, had we both spoken the same language, would take minutes. And I will most likely struggle with how a line forms and where my place in that line should be.

Last night, we made one of our wrong guesses. We assumed something, based on what we knew from ouer lives in America, and were presented with a rude awakening.

We went out for Indian food with our friend Deana, a fellow resident of JB's from Eglin who is now stationed here in Germany. Delicious food. Great company. And a leisurely stroll back to the city parking garage where we had left our vehicles less that two hours earlier.

When we returned, this is what we found:







The city garage had closed! Have you ever heard of such a thing? Shut tight! Deana and JB tried to break in. Deana ran around the entire building. Lights off. Doors locked. Our cars stuck inside. (The depth of what had occurred was made worse by the fact that Deana had left her ID card inside her car -- an ID card that allows her to function at work. Without it, she'd be completely lost the following day.)

When we first rounded the corner, we were all so shocked, no words were exchanged. Deana then went to calling friends to get us a ride. But then she found a phone number on one of our ticket stubs which lead her to another number where we were told that, for 15 euros, someone would come in and let us retrieve our car. Of course, Deana spoke only English and the nice German on the phone said he didn't speak English. (I've learned, however, though that Germans notoriously downplay how much English they know. If I knew as much German as they knew English, I'd consider myself fluent!) And the language barrier made us nervous as we waited for the man to arrive. Would he really come?

For an extra 15 euros (on top of the 5 euros it cost to park there) we were able to go home with our vehicles. And, indeed, there was a sign, written in German, that informed us this garage closed at 8:30pm.

I'm not sure I'll ever park in a garage, anywhere, even in the USA, without some serious consideration from this point forward.

Live and learn!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Red Tape

All six kids hanging out in our hotel room (more on WHY as you read this post).




I don't think I have ever had a formal nervous breakdown.

But if I ever do, I am pretty positive that it will be the military system that causes me to lose my marbles.

If anyone thinks government-run-healthcare is a good idea, I encourage you to spend just one year in the shoes of a military member or spouse. I will guarantee you that your mind will be changed by the end of your trial run.

I don't want to sway people away from the military, thus my reason for hesitating to mention this on my blog. We are glad JB went into the military. We believe in our country. We know that quality individuals are needed to protect our country, and we are honored to serve in that capacity. But the red tape is likely to be my undoing, and honestly, it will be one of the main reasons that we get out of the military long before JB does a full twenty years. Things always seem like they are soooo much more complicated than they need to be.

A quick example. In Germany, you need a special card to get gas at American prices. Otherwise you have to pay full, German prices (roughly double). My card had expired, and I needed to get more gas because I had to return my rental car because there is a policy that you can't keep the same rental car for more than two weeks. So I had to get my car refilled so I could return my current car and get a new one. The steps involved in this process?

1. Go to the Custom's office to get the card. (Take every piece of military paperwork you think might be required.)
2. Return home because I didn't have the most current receipt from my rental car company.
3. Return to the Custom's office where I was told that I couldn't get the card because my active duty husband wasn't with me.
4. Inform the Custom's officer that I had POA (Power of Attorney) for my husband. But that didn't matter apparently.
5. Sped many minutes explaining our situation. Explaining me having to come to Germany. Explaining the rental place requiring a car return, etc.
6. (At this point I evoked some pity from the officer, and I heard him use the words "fudge it" which means I lucked out big time in getting a card.) Honestly, I was shocked. I have never known anyone in the military to fudge anything -- especially a custom's officer. He obviously told the computer my husband was present. Bless him. I nearly cried.
7. Get a piece of paper which should give me a card.
8. Take that piece of paper to the gas station.
9. Get a card from the gas station attendant.
10. Take that card to a gas station in a town off-Base to get the car filled up since the Base doesn't have diesel at their station.
11. Fill up.
12. Return car. (This actually took over an hour as I had to get a new car, switch the carseats and stroller and get new car etc.)
13. Get new car.

So you can imagine our surprise when JB and I went to fill up the new car just three days later only to discover that our brand new card had expired. Apparently, the new card only had three days worth of use on it because we have to get a new card for every different type of car we have. This means that JB (since he is in town and we don't want to rely on "fudging" again) is going to have to go back to Step 1 and start the process over to get a new card for our new car that we will only have for another two weeks.

Oh, and because we didn't know our card expired three days after we got it, we had to spend $100 instead of $50 filling up the rental car.

Sigh ....

I try to avoid complaining, but it just seems that so many things are done in so much more of a difficult fashion then they need to be done within this government institution. It seems that everything within the military is the DMV over and over and over again. (Surely I am not the only person who has ever had a bad experience at a DMV?)

Oh and the picture at the top? Well that connects the difficult system of the military to our next-door-neighbors from Turkey. We had a friend in town, Emily, from Turkey, trying to get a rotator back to the States. Each morning she had to check-out of her hotel room, pack up her four children, and go the hangar on Base to put her name on a list and wait to find out (sometimes all day) if they had gotten a seat. Then, when they would find out that they didn't, they'd have to find a hotel room and repeat the process the next day.

I went to check on her once there. INSANE! People and luggage and kids EVERYWHERE!

Is this the best way to get this done? It just seems like, with all our technology, we could figure out a way to do this electronically instead of in-person. So many steps to do such minimal things. Just drives me crazy. And unfortunately, Emily and her four kiddos did not make it back to the USA and are instead on a rotator back to Turkey today. Ugh!

There. My vent. I'm done. Thanks.

Monday, June 27, 2011

More time outdoors

A few announcements before I get on to the pictures:



  • To see all of our pictures from Germany to date, click here.

  • To read updates on status of Baby Girl Abigail, click here. C-section has been scheduled officially!

  • Also, I have received two pieces of pretty cruddy news this week in regards to the fragility of life. I'll write more about these events when I feel the information is more free to share, but I just want to end today by asking us all to remember people that are grieving today and to remember to worship the Lord fully TODAY.

Here are some photos from this past weekend when we took a little field trip to a local Wildpark.















Isaac getting a bit tired (and anxious to return to the trampoline he had been jumping on earlier.)



John has promised me he will one day own some of these highland cattle. They are his favorite!







I love this picture of Isaac. And how appropriate that Elijah is chowing away in the background.









A family photo - complete with peacock feather being fought over.




























Pics from V

Joni arrives (as illustrated in photos by Veronica)


Joni brought safari trucks (also a gift from Bri) for the boys. Trailers and doors that open (two of the boys' favorites). Could it get any better?

Joni is as excited as they are.


Pez machines! This is the life!


Mickey gets excited about Joni coming to visit!


"Look Joni! I can blance on my knees!"


"Look Joni! I can sit on my school bus."




Elijah showing off how happy he is to have his Joni here.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

L & D & Friends

Today was a long day. I didn't feel good for most of the day and after another slew of contractions and some fluid concerns, I ended up back in L & D. I did NOT want to go. But my husband decided that I NEEDED to go. Sure enough, I was having 30-40 second contractions 2-3 minutes apart. But I still am not in labor so back home I go. I was dialated a bit more than last time but not enough to keep me there. Oh well! Home to wait some more.

While I may not be feeling so wonderful, I do have some wonderful friends. Angelica "hired" Linda as the director of this video from some of my friends back on Base. By the end, when the song You've Got a Friend in Me comes in and Scrubby is dancing across the screen, I was in tears. Linda managed to load it to youtube so I could share it with you all.

***Please note that there are mentions of pregnancies (mine and others) in this video.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Day of Friendship

Yesterday, Joan came into the Frankfurt Airport in the morning. You should have seen the boys when we made it back to the hotel. They were soooo excited to see their Joni. Isaac kept saying (and then Elijah would repeat), "Joni, you are here!" Then he'd give her a big hug. They were just both so excited to have Joni here with them in the flesh.

Then, around 7pm, I received a call. JB and the rotator had arrived from Turkey! As I hugged JB outside the hotel, he told me that I had some other friends inside the lobby. Sure enough my friend Emily and her three kiddos as well as Tina and her husband and five kiddos were fresh off the rotator as well. How wonderful to connect with some familiar faces from our home in Turkey.

Germany is a popular vacation spot for those of us living in Turkey as we can take the rotator over for free. Tina and her family will be spending a week here. Emily and her family are hoping to catch another rotator back to the U.S. I, am hoping to go home by August 1. That's my current goal. :)

When we got back to our hotel, JB put a DVD in for me. Apparently some of my friends back at Incirlik decided to make me a little video. Suddenly there were familiar faces jumping up on the screen saying "hello" and "I miss you" to me and the boys and Veronica. How wonderful! By the time the song, You've Got a Friend in Me started playing and Scrubbs began prancing across the screen, I was full-out crying.

I've really been feeling like I am missing something lately. I couldn't put my finger on what it was. I have my boys here. And JB is back and forth enough. Why did I feel so, sad? So lonely? I realized that what was missing was my friends in Turkey. They are my family right now. And I miss them. The last few weeks in Germany, I realized that I was feeling a little ... lost. Where do I belong? I don't belong in the U.S., and I don't belong in Germany.

Where do I belong?

I belong in Turkey. That's home right now. And I was reminded when watching that video, that I have a support system to go back to there. What a wonderful feeling.

Thank you to my friends for reminding me that I am wanted and loved and appreciated back home in Turkey. I can't wait to get back to them with my three little kiddos in tow.

And I can't wait to hug Scrubby!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Under God

NBC edits "under God" out of Pledge - twice! Demand an explanation! (June 21, 2011)

NBC introduced its Sunday coverage of the US Open golf championship with a patriotically-themed piece, which included two recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance by American schoolchildren.

Astonishingly, NBC edited the words "under God" out of the Pledge not once but twice. Then an NBC commentator apologized on air later in the broadcast, admitting that NBC had edited the Pledge, but saying nothing, absolutely nothing, about which part of the Pledge NBC deliberately left on the cutting room floor.

NBC clumsily tried to conceal its insult to America's religious heritage by inserting voice-overs after the words that preceded "under God," in the vain hope that the American people would not notice. It didn't work.

Watch the video montage here, in which you can see for yourself the hatchet job NBC did on the Pledge, and the network's evasive apology.

NBC has offered no justification for its intentional decision to leave God out of the Pledge. Call or email NBC today and demand an explanation.

National Broadcasting Company, Inc.
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
212-664-4444
nbcsportshelp@nbcuni.com

Chris McCloskey - V.P., Communications
NBC Sports
(212) 664-5598
christopher.mccloskey@nbcuni.com

Talking points for the phone call:

1. I am furious with NBC for leaving "under God" out of the Pledge not once but twice in Sunday's coverage of the US Open golf championship.

2. NBC's on-air apology is completely unsatisfactory, because NBC did not admit which part of the Pledge had been removed.

3. I am calling to insist on an explanation from NBC for this grossly unpatriotic act.

Good News x 2

Good news all around here in Germany! Joni flew in this morning and JB flew in this evening!

SO HAPPY!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elijah's Journal

What are the chances that in all of the world, in all of Europe, in all of Germany, Clifford the Big Red Dog would choose to come to Ramstein Air Force Base while WE were here to visit us?! But it's true! He did.

My big brudder Isaac and I love Clifford. We love his books. We check them out from the library here on Base, and we have Mommy read them over and over and over again. We also checked out the movie he is the star of at the library. AND ... at 6:30 in the morning, he comes on the TV! If we get up early enough (which we always do), we climb into bed with Mommy and get to watch Clifford on the TV.

So as you can see, Isaac and me? We are really big fans!

Yesterday Clifford came to the bookstore in the BX, and we went to see him. Isaac was a little scared, but he went up and gave Clifford a hug and a high-five many times. Mommy didn't bring her camera. She doesn't like to try and take pictures when we are outnumbering her. I, on the other hand, decided I would just observe Clifford ... from the comfort of mom's arms! I don't need to get up close to appreciate the big red dog. A few feet (at least twelve, please) is quite adequate.

We were so excited to get to see Clifford in person. How lucky are we?

Infertility in the media: I want your help!

Last night while I was falling asleep, Julie & Julia was playing. I loved this movie because it combined blogging (something I love) with cooking (something my husband loves) while also so perfectly including infertility and living life as a tall woman. Only her being an athlete would have made this movie more fitting for me.

I had written previously about this movie on my blog here. And while I could not find a copy of the exact two infertility clips that really moved me in Julie & Julia, I was able to find a video on youtube that did have the clip, albeit no dialouge can be hard.

On the video below, check out the fourth and sixth scenes that come up in the montage. The fourth scene shows Julia and her husband, married many years, receiving news that Julia's sister, who had just married, was expecting a baby. Julia Childs (played by Meryl Streep) so perfectly demonstartes how it feels to be not have children and watch those around you receive that gift. I don't know who wrote this scene or how Meryl did it, but I felt someone had been spying in my own living room when I received pregnancy news over and over again while our own womb stayed empty. Julia is happy for her sister but finds herself crying out of sadness. An incredible mixture of emotions done unbelievably well.

In the sixth scene, Julia and her husband are walking down the sidewalk. They pass a baby carriage, and she glances back and then tries to compose herself. Her husband pats her hand without a word shared between them. Again, the movie portrayed the feeling of infertility perfectly.



After watching these scenes again last night, I realized how beneficial they were to the cause of childlessness. These scenes educate the public on how infertility feels. I decided that I wanted to try and compile a list of positive media sources for infertility and adoption. This can be "famous" people who struggled with infertility or shared their journey. This can be books or movies that portrayed this part of life positively. I really don't want to put up limits as to what I am hoping to compile. Adoption can be included as well -- although I would really like to focus more on the infertility aspect as it is a lot easier to find positive adoption language and concepts than it is infertility.

Can you help? Please leave a comment, or, if you feel more comfortable, you can email me at flakymn@hotmail.com. Thanks everyone! I look forward to developing this list with help from you and research of my own.

LIST IN PROGRESS

Movies
  • UP: Recommended by many readers for the opening montage about life without children.
  • Baby Mama: Has many references to infertility although there is a surprise pregnancy at the end that can be difficult for those in the midst of infertility
  • Meet the Robinsons: Older child adoption
  • Immediate Family: Some harsh language but an infertility movie
  • Maybe Baby:
  • Funny about Love:
  • Serious Moonlight: Dark comedy with frustrating ending but good infertility plotline.
  • Did You Hear About the Morgans:
  • Facing the Giants: Infertility storyline, although ending was a little bothersome.
TV Shows
  • Giuliana and Bill: features E host Guliana and Apprentice winner Bill's journey through IVF including their subsequent miscarriage.
  • The Little Couple: Chronicles fertility journey including IVF and surrogacy. Click here or here or here for video clips of their struggle.
  • Grey's Anatomy: About 4.5 minutes into this scene, you see Meredith have a conversation with her husband in the elevator showing, quite accurately, the feelings of jealousy that often accompany infertility.
  • Friends: Chandler and Monica's infertility and adoption
  • King of Queens: Infertility
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • Brothers and Sisters: Contains an IF storyline
Celebrities
  • Celion Dion
  • Nicole Kidman: "I had tried and failed and failed," she said. "Every woman who has been through all those ups and downs knows the depression that comes with it. So the way it just happened with Sunday was like, 'What?' The percentages were so low. It is the miracle in my life."
  • Nia Vardalos
  • Renee Elise Goldsberry: She wins a TONY and discusses infertility in her acceptance speech. You can view the video here. 

The Eglin-Turkey Connection

When we first came to Eglin, we became friends with a third year resident. Tristan and his wife Shannon were there with us for a year before he was sent to Turkey. They did not choose Turkey. Turkey chose them.

One year behind him was Nick. He and his wife Kristy heard about Turkey from Tristan and decided to join them. Nick picked Turkey based on Tristan's recommendation. Like us, Nick and Kristy were excited about the opportunities to travel and the fact that we were "deployed in place" meaning unless something strange happened, there would be no deployment for those two years. It is virtually impossible to get a Base in Europe right out of residency. And while Turkey is definitely not Europe, it's close enough and cheap enough to offer some great travel possibilities. It also puts you higher up on the "picking pole" for your next Base since it is considered a hardship location.

Since Turkey is only a two year assignment, Tristan and Shannon moved on just a few weeks before we arrived. But one year behind Nick, John (my husband) heard about Turkey and decided to follow Tristan and Nick there. I so wish we could have overlapped with Tristan and Shannon as they are great people, but at least Nick and Kristy were here to help us settle in.

Nick is preparing to move on to the Azores (a location definitely on our radar for next summer when we are scheduled to leave Turkey). However, Eglin is still going to be making a presence in Turkey. Enter a resident one year behind JB, Yamil. He and his wife Patty are continuing the Eglin AFB --Incirlik AFB connection and heading here next. They are due to arrive sometime in July! We are their sponsors. This means that we are their connection in Turkey and help them get everything set for their arrival. I only wish I was going to be there to gree them personally, but either way, we are so excited they have chosen to make Turkey their home for the next two years.

I don't know Yamil or Patty that well. I was at mutual functions with them a few times during our time at Eglin, but we have really gotten to know them (well, I've gotten to know Patty) via email during the last few months as they debated, ranked, and then found out they were indeed coming to Turkey. Patty and Yamil are from Peurto Rico and speak Spanish. I can't wait to introduce her to Angelica! :)

Okay, so just wanted to fill everyone in on that fun bit of news. As for where we will head next, we will most likely be leaving Turkey sometime around this time next summer. Amazing that we are halfway through, huh? We have quite a few locations we are considering. We are trying to go somewhere (a) adventurous, with (b) good hours for JB, and (c) be "deployed in place" again meaning we can stay together as a family even though we are a world apart from our own family. Some possibilities include Guam (near Australia), the Azores (an island off the coast of Spain), and even Korea. We could also stay in Turkey for two more years. We have a feeling it will be one of those four places but you know, they have a saying in the Air Force: "The needs of the Air Force come first." So while we rank our location based on what we want, we must prepare ourselves to go where the Air Force wants. Hopefully those two can overlap! At some point in the future I will update readers as to how this decision-making process "goes down."

P.S. In completely unrelated news, I have updated my Germany book/movie list. Check it out: Books and Movies Updated. It's mostly a book update, not movies as Wimbeldon is on and I have been watching that nearly everyday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why don't Americans ...

... embrace these black-out shutters?



I am sure some people in America use these, but for the most part, they seem constrained to Europe. They are fabulous. I am not talking about weather shutters. These are used for everyday use. They completely black out light (which comes in very handy here when it doesn't get dark until almost 10:30 at night!) Love these things.

The USA needs to get in the game, man!



That's My Son

I just finished the book That's My Son: How Moms Can Influence Boys to Become Men of Character by Rick Johnson.

I figured, what are the chances of me being able to re-read this in the future? Or even flip through the pages in the future? And, what are the chances that if I recommend this book, people out there will have the time to read it? So I decided to do an in-depth highlight of the book. I highlighted and underlined while I read in the hopes that I could squeeze 184 pages into one blog that I can look back at and remember what I wanted to remember.

This is a long post, but even if no one else finds this helpful, I know I will look back and reflect. If other people get something out of it too, great.

So here are the highlights:

CHAPTER 3: PITFALLS – WHAT TO AVOID

Mothers and sons have a special relationship, to be sure. But boys need to break away from their mothers at various stages (typically around five years of age and again during adolescence) in order to develop a healthy masculinity (47).

But he might get hurt!

John Eldredge, in Wild at Heart, says, “The recipe for fun is pretty simple for raising boys: Add to any activity an element of danger, stir in a little exploration, add a dash of destruction, and you’ve got yourself a winner.” Sounds reasonable to me (49). “I’ve noticed that so often our word to boys is don’t. Don’t climb on that, don’t break anything … But God’s design – which he placed in boys as the picture of himself – is a resounding yes. Be fierce, be wild, be passionate.” Even the way a man plays with a young child helps to develop specific portions of the child’s brain (49).

“Fathers have a special excitement about them that babies find intriguing … an infant counts on his mother's rootedness and anchoring. He can count on his father to be just different enough from a mother. Fathers embody a delicious mixture of familiarity and novelty. They are novel without being strange or frightening. “ – Louise J. Kaplan (50).

Mom, let the boys play, even if someone gets hurt occasionally (50). Realize that when boys get hurt, they just consider it plain old bad luck. A wise mother lets her son be a boy (53).

Smothering with love

Boy-friendly things to say in public: (1) Say “Great catch last night” instead of “I love you.” (2) Say “Try not to end up in the hospital again” instead of “Be careful – don’t hurt yourself.” (3) Say “You must be as tough as nails!” instead of “Does that hurt?” (4) Say “I remember once when I …” instead of “How do you feel about that?” (5) Say “Can you help me fix this?” instead of “Why are you feeling bad?” (55).

Your tough little boy still needs his mother’s love and affection, just not so much in public (56).

No quitting!

“Never, never, never, never give up!” – Winston Churchill

A man’s role in life often requires him to persist in the face of adversity. This valuable skill is lost when boys are allowed to quit. Mothers needs to understand that a boy who learns to quit during hard times will be more likely to give up on his own wife and children when the going gets tough. Eldredge says, “Life needs a man to be fierce – and fiercely devoted. The wounds he will take throughout his life will cause him to lose heart if all he has been trained to be is soft. This is especially true in the murky waters of relationships, where a man feels least prepared to advance” (62).

CHAPTER 4: BOYS AND SEX

How males think about sex

At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype about men, there’s a distinct possibility that if a woman knew how and what men really think about, they would refuse to be in the same with room with them (66). Sexuality permeates all of a man’s relationships to one degree or another (67).

Men don’t tend to do many things that aren’t in their own self-interest (68).

Sex education & pornography

Many parents leave the sexual education of their kids to the schools … but if you start early and can become comfortable discussing sexual issues before puberty sets in, you might just be the best person to introduce him to sexuality (69).

In his book What a Difference a Daddy Makes, Dr. Kevin Leman suggests that fathers should be the primary sex educators for their daughters, and mothers for their sons. As he says: “Who better knows what a man needs than another man? In the same way, who better can explain a woman’s perspective on sexuality than a boy’s mom? Look, little Joey already understand what it feels like to have a penis! What he doesn’t know, but really wants to know, is how it feels to have two breasts, how girls react to boys, and how he can relate to the opposite sex without making a total fool of himself (70).

Girls really are mysterious to boys. The more information a boy has on how females think, feel, and act, the more comfortable and confident he will be in his relationships (70).

Don’t be afraid to relate some of your experiences as a young woman. Tell your son how you felt during various situations and what you wished you had done differently. If you really want to make a difference in your son’s life, you must spend time talking with about these subjects. Leman says, “If you want your son to pick up how to relate to women from you rather than sixteen-year-old Sally down the street, you have to ask yourself: Am I willing to spend as much time with him as Sally is?” (70).

Teach your son table manners. Talk to him about some of the character qualities young women admire in young men … keep the lines of communication open with your son in the area of sex (71).

The many times I’ve cautioned my son and other boys about the dangers of pornography, I’ve tried to put it in its proper perspective … Would he like men lusting and fantasizing about his sister or mother like fantasizes about the women in the porn? … If he can’t use self-control in one area of his life, he’ll lack it in other areas as well (73). Don’t think, My son would never look at that filth. Sorry, Mom, but yes, he would, even at a young age. He won’t be able to help himself” (74).

The dating game

There’s some pretty clear evidence from a variety of studies that show that the longer a teenager (boy or girl) holds off before beginning dating, the greater the chance he or she will remain sexually pure until marriage (78) … Discuss with your son the need to make decisions about his personal behavioral boundaries before he’s faced with a tough choice … if he has made life choice decisions beforehand, he’s not as likely to find himself in a position that requires him to make difficult choices (79).

Talk to your son about his impending sexuality. Begin at an early age and keep the door open as he gets older. Often, the best way to get boys to talk is not to lecture them but to use your life experiences as examples (81).

CHAPTER 5: COMMUNICATING WITH BOYS

Boys only have about a thirty-second attention span. They literally cannot hear things that don’t interest them (83). Besides strong problem-solving skills, what are two of the main requirements to be a successful hunter? The ability to be silent and the ability to focus intently on one thing … males value power, competency, efficiency, and achievement … when teaching your son things like communication skills, resist the urge to do too much for him (84).

John Gray, in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, states, “To offer a man unsolicited advice is to presume that he doesn’t know what to do or that he can’t do it on his own.” … Understanding this male characteristic makes it easier to comprehend why your son shows frustration when you offer him advice or continually tell him what to do and how to do things (85).

Males can’t read minds

Have you ever seen a dog cock his head and whine in confusion when you talk to him? He’s trying to understand what you’re saying, but he just can’t quite grasp the meaning. That’s how we [men] feel. We want to make you happy; we just don’t understand (86).

Moms, speak plainly to your boys. You’ll save all of us a lot of headaches. Say what you mean, and mean what you say (88).

Touch, eye, contact, and sound bites & reinforce with activity

A boy’s mind is easily distracted. He does, however, react well to visual stimulation, noise, and physical contact – the old hunting traits. So try the touch-sight-sound approach to get his attention: (a) First, remove distractions from his line of vision; (b) Second, touch your boy to get his attention; (c) Third, speak succinctly in small, sound-bite-size sentences. Keep your comments short and to the point … (89).

As boys get older, life experience stories seem to work better than lectures. Also, asking a boy what he thinks about a subject is a good way to get him talking about an issue (90).

Communicate that you are always there for your son. Then respect his communications as privileged (90).

When it comes to talking to your son: (1) Try speaking softly sometimes … whisper; it sparks their curiosity (90); (b) Have him repeat what you said and ask if he understands (90); (c) If you want to talk to your son (or any male in your life, for that matter), try talking to him while doing something he enjoys (91); (d) Take your son somewhere fun and talk to him during the activity (93). I suspect doing something the boy enjoys takes the pressure off having to have think and talk at the same time (93); (e) Males need to move, especially when they are upset or when they are problem solving. They also need to think about their feelings before they can express them (94); (f) Males instinctively try to solve problems. Say something like, “We have a problem, and I was wondering if I could get your help in solving it” (94); (g) Often, the mother, with her superior verbal skills, is capable of dominating the conversation. Frequently, the frustrated boy ends up resorting to anger to make himself understood. The Bible exhorts fathers not to exasperate or discourage their children. The same applies to mothers (92); (h) Don’t be afraid to allow silences in the conversation. Sometimes boys need time to think or process (95); (i) As much as possible, end conversations with an invitation for the boy to have the last word. Let him end the conversation (95).

Admiration and respect

Men and boys typically require admiration and respect even more than they do love (96). When your son does something you want to encourage, try saying something like, “I really admire the fact that you did that,” or “I respect you for that. That’s how a man acts.” … Watch your son’s chest swell when you build him up with the qualities of admiration and respect” (97) … Also, I’m sure you’ve noticed the reaction you get from your son when he feels like he’s needed (98).

CHAPTER 6: DISCIPLINING BOYS

Consequences and Accountability

A punishment technique commonly used with preschool-age children is time-out. In order to use time-out effectively, adults must realize that it creates an unpleasant situation for children because it provides time away from anything reinforcing, such as toys, other children, or adults. If adults are talking to a child while he is in time-out, the adults’ attention is actually rewarding the child! … So adults must not interact with the child during the time-out period (107) … Remember, rewards are more effective than punishments , and adult attention is very rewarding to children (107).

… men hold younger men accountable for their actions (109) … males must be accountable to someone other than themselves, be it to their wives, other men, their mothers, their farther, or God – their heavenly Father (110).

Challenging authority

A child that is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone (110).

Remember: (a) You’ve got to have a firm hold on boys. They are rambunctious, high-spirited, and active. Know what they are doing at all times. Always question who, what, and where whenever they are going somewhere; (b) Don’t back down … [remember] I’m raising men, not boys; (c) Don’t just threaten – follow through. So be very careful what you say; (d) Get to know each child’s personality (111).

Punish your children when it’s needed, hug them when they need assurance, and make them think you know what you’re doing even when you don’t have a clue (112).

Make your six-foot-two-inch teenage son take a knee or sit when you talk to him so that you are at least eye level instead of looking up at him from a subservient position (112).

Instead of yelling or pounding the table, just say in a calm voice, “You’ll wish you hadn’t.” Then let it go … for the time being. In the next few days or weeks, your son will come to you with requests for money, a ride, the car keys, etc. That’s the “day of reckoning,” when you gently and briefly remind him, “Remember the other day when I told you, ‘You’ll wish you hadn’t’? Well, that time has come.” It’ll be a tough moment for him – and you – but it’s a great opportunity for your son to learn how life really works (113).

Anger control

Anger is a God-given emotion. Only love is mentioned more frequently in the Bible. … Boys learn early on that anger can help them deflect attention from these more painful emotions. … In short, boys learn quickly that it’s easier to feel anger than it is to feel pain (114). It’s important that you teach him that anger is a secondary emotion that covers another emotion (117).

Teach them to work

Some tips: (a) Give boys chores at an early age; (b) Teach your son to budget money by giving him a small allowance starting at a young age; (c) Males – big or small – love to have their favorite food prepared for them as a reward; (d) When you go do something special for your son … let him know it’s because you appreciate all the work he’s done. Many times males don’t recognize the cause-benefit relationship if it is not brought to their attention (118); (e) Give your son a vision for “conquering” his own house, especially the “manly” things such as completing yard projects, helping the fix-it man, or maybe even painting something. You’ll find that he’ll be much happier and more satisfied and content with the man he’s becoming (119).

Age-appropriate chores

(a) Ages 2-3: hang up clothes on hook, help pick up toys, help feed pets; (b) Ages 4-5: make own bed, set and clear able, dust, help put groceries away; (c) Ages 6-12: take care of pets, cook simple foods, help wash car, vacuum, sweep, mop, clean bathroom, do laundry, take out trash (119)

CHAPTER 7: WHAT DO BOYS NEED TO LEARN TO BECOME GOOD MEN

There’s a school of thought that encourages us to “speak it into existence.” For instance, when you tell a man he’s brave, you help him become brave. With that in mind, tell your son all the things you want him to be: courageous, loyal, honest, strong, tender, and compassionate. Remind him of these qualities, and you help instill them within him. Point them out in others so he can see them in action (123).

Perseverance

Greatness is born by perseverance in the face of adversity. … Perseverance is probably one of the toughest things for moms to teach their boys. It requires them to resist the urge to rescue their sons when they are struggling (125). In our era of instant gratification, the concept of paying one’s dues has been lost in the rush to acquire as many material possessions as possible as quickly as possible. … Perseverance is the art of not quitting. … Let your boy suffer if it means finishing a worthy task (126).

Loyalty

You teach loyalty be being loyal (127). Does he know that you would die for him? Make sure he knows. That’s an important fact to know – that someone would be willing to die for us (127).

Manners

“This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible value to him.” – William Lyon Phelps (128)

Even when treated rudely, he [should] continue to be polite to others (129).

Courage

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – Edmund Burke (129).

Courage is simply doing what needs to be done even though you’re scared and tired. Teach your son to lead courageously, to stand by his convictions even when they may result in pain, sorrow or negative consequences (131).

That’s the kind of courage your son needs: the courage to continue to do what is right even when all those around him are calling for him to compromise (132).

Compassion

Is there anything worse than a bully? Is there anything less manly than a thug who picks on those weaker than himself? Point out everyday examples of bullies, and explain to your son the ramifications for everyone involved in each scenario. … A man should defend those who cannot defend themselves. Teach your boy early the nobility of protecting the weak and helpless (134).

Also, he should be allowed to suffer the consequences of his actions [even if he did the right thing like defending someone from a bully which resulted in suspension from school]. No, it’s probably not fair under the circumstances, but life’s not fair, and the suspension reinforces that there are consequences to his actions (136).

Self-discipline and self-control

Self-discipline is doing something we don’t want to do but should. Self-control is not doing something we want to do but shouldn’t (136).

How does a boy develop self-discipline and self-control? He develops them by being held accountable for his actions. … Stick to your guns, even if it’s been a while since the infraction and he’s been well behaved during the interim. If you give in, you’ve lost. Once he knows he’s not accountable for his actions, you’ve lost his respect and any control you had over him. He might throw a fit or make things uncomfortable for a while, but once he learns that you mean what you say, he’ll accept it (137).

Self-control and self-discipline may be the greatest gifts you can give your son as he grows into manhood (137).

Dependability & honesty

Your son needs to understand that no man is an island. His choices and the decisions he makes affect other people’s lives whether he is willing to admit it or not (138).

One of the hardest things for men to do is admit when they are wrong. While that’s probably not earth-shattering news to most of you, be aware that boys struggle with the same natural inclination (138). … [teach] boys how to admit when they are wrong (139).

Talk to your son about his God-given strengths and weaknesses (139). Help your son find activities that are positive in nature, that allow him to develop a healthy self-esteem (example playing in the band instead of playing sports) (140). Let your son know early on that you expect honesty from him at all times (140). If someone, especially a man, is called humble or exhibits humility, the connotation is that he is a wimp. Humility is somehow associated with being humiliated, while pride is looked upon as a virtue. Young men are supposed to be confident, cocky, overachieving go-getters – to never admit they’re wrong. However, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines humble as (1) “not proud or haughty,” (2) “not pretentious; unassuming,” (3) “modest” (141). Humility is the opposite of pride (141).

Trustworthiness and honor

One of the ways I determine a man’s character is whether I would trust him to cover my back in battle. … We need people around us we can trust to cover our backs, people who put our well-being ahead of their own (142). I want my son to have honor. To stand tall as the fierce winds of adversity blow around him. To cherish and protect women and children. To fight for justice and equality. To stand for something (143).

CHAPTER 8: RESPECT

Respect
for Women

“Every gentleman is a man, but not every man is a gentleman.” – Unknown (146)

Boys need to be taught to respect women of all ages – girls to grandmothers. They should open doors and carry heavy items for them, not because women are weaker or incapable, but because they deserve to be honored and cherished. This may be politically incorrect, but it’s true (146).

Teach your boy at a young age to open the door for you and his sisters. As courtesy and respect manifest themselves in other areas of his life, they will become a lifelong habit and will help create an attitude that some future young lady will greatly appreciate and praise you for (146). Boys need to be taught how to love a woman. … Teach your sons the value of a woman. … Talk to him about what things are important to women and what things cause them pain (147).

Stephanie Martson, a family therapist, says in her book The Magic of Encouragement, “When children are treated with respect, they conclude that they deserve respect and hence develop self-respect. When children are treated with acceptance, they develop self-acceptance; when they are cherished, they conclude that they deserve to be loved, and they develop self-esteem" (151).

Change is difficult, and it takes a lot of hard work. Unfortunately, change doesn’t happen overnight; it often takes a long time to see significant differences in our lives. That’s why most people choose not to grow, even if they’re unhappy (151).

“Children can’t make their own rules and no child is happy without them. The great need of the young is for authority that protects them against the consequences of their own primitive passions and their lack of experience, that provides them with guides for everyday behavior and that builds some solid ground they can stand on for the future.” – Leontine Young, Life among the Giants (151).

Boundaries

Kids … need boundaries more and more than ever before. Why? Because they tend to be on their own more often. … Set acceptable boundaries on your son’s behavior. The number one boundary is that being disrespectful to Mom is no acceptable! How you allow your son to treat you is how he will treat his wife. You’re also training your daughters (and other young girls within your sphere of influence) how to expect to be treated in their relationships (152).

“A stream without banks becomes a swamp. It is your job as parents to build the channel in which the stream will run.” – James Dobson, Bringing up Boys (152).

CHAPTER 9: THE IMPORTANCE OF MALE ROLE MODELS

Boys learn to become men from other men. Masculinity bestows masculinity … John Eldredge says, “A boy learns who he is what he’s got from a man, or the company of men. He cannot learn it from any other place. He cannot learn it from other boys, and he cannot learn it from the world of women” (156). Until a man knows he’s a man, he will forever be trying to prove he is one, while at the same time shrink from anything that might reveal he is not (156).

Look for good boys to be your son’s friends. I think it’s important for parents to take an active interest in directing their children into friendships that will be healthy and nurturing (164).

The book contains a list of good movies and to show (and read with or encourage them to read) your boys which have men as powerful leaders. Boys are typically not readers. However, our culture does not do much to encourage them to be readers. Encourage your son to read; it is a wonderful gift he will appreciate for a lifetime (167).

... as hard as it may be, try not to criticize your son’s father – especially you single mom’s out there. Your son will learn soon enough on his own what faults his father has (168).

Where do you go from here?





  • Recognize your role: “My son, hear the instruction of your father, and do not forsake the law of your mother.” – Proverbs 1:8. The mother’s instruction should be bound about a boy’s heart and neck, a constant companion and a trusted guide (172).


  • Pray: The most important action you can take on your son’s behalf is to pray for him on a daily basis (173).


  • Plan: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” –Unknown; think about which values and character traits you want your son to demonstrate. Then design a program to teach him those values. An informal poll indicated the greatest needs in a man’s life are: (a) significance in their life; (b) other men in their life; (c) a cause to fight for; (d) appreciation. Every man has four parts to his being that need to be nurtured and develop din order for him to be fulfilled – spiritual, educational, occupational, and relational (175).


  • Keep learning: Keep reading books and looking for positive male examples for your son (176).


  • Involve male role models: A boy who has never had healthy masculinity modeled for him faces an extremely difficult, if not impossible, task in becoming a good man. … God, who sent his Son, Jesus, to earth as a man, is the ultimate role model of masculinity. Part of your plan should include schooling your son in the teachings of Jesus Chris and the Bible so that he may develop his spiritual faith and acquire wisdom (177).


  • Develop a vision for your son: Develop a vision for your son. Always hold him to a higher standard. Yes, the narrow path is harder to walk down, and most people take the easy path through life. But easy is not always best. Your son needs to have a vision of what a man should be (hopefully, modeled by his father). He needs high standards to strive toward and goals and dreams to motivate him. Make sure you share that vision with him (177).


  • Have fun! Boys are fun to raise! If you understand the differences between males and females, you will enjoy raising your son beyond measure. Just remember – expect boys to be a little louder and more physically active than girls. Try not to be too overprotective of them, and keep your sense of humor. I promise, you will find no greater satisfaction in life than raising your son from a helpless baby and then seeing him exhibit strength of character beyond your wildest expectations as he enter manhood (179).

Monday, June 20, 2011

So long Flo & Blow buddy, blow!


The new phrase being uttered in our home is "Flo went down the chute."

By chute the boys mean the hole in the corner of the pool table at the sports-bar-type-restaurant in the BX that we had dinner at last night.

What happened to old fashioned pool tables that you fish the balls out yourself? What is a mom to do if her son releases Flo down one of these new fancy tables with chutes and Flo gets stuck somewhere in the pool table somewhere?

We were walking out of the restaurant when Elijah saw the chute, saw his Flo in his hand, and decided to drop Flo down that chute before Veronica or I could stop him.

Since this was the new car Daddy had just bought him when he came in to visit last week, my heart especially hurt for Elijah (even though Elijah didn't seem too bothered). I went and talked to one of the employees. She got a cue ball, and we tried to see if we could coax Flo out. But it was a no-go. We were forced to leave without Flo! So sad! She told us to check back when the manager is in and maybe he can open up the machine. I'm not holding out much hope.


The other funny story from yesterday took place after naps. Elijah was crying and saying something that I just couldn't understand. I kept asking him to stop crying and to repeat what he was saying so I could help him. But his hard crying coupled with his two-year-old-stuttering left me totally confused as to what he was asking for.

But Isaac wasn't confused. To my great surprise, Isaac stood by listening and watching and then finally said, "I'll do it Mommy!" He took off for his room, pulled a tissue out of the tissue box, and returned to where Elijah and I were standing. He then held up the tissue to Elijah's nose and said, "Blow Buddy, blow."

Elijah looked so relieved. He hates when his nose is running or when he has tears on his face. He just wanted a tissue!

Even cuter was that Elijah tried to blow. (He doesn't know how yet.) And Isaac stood there holding the tissue for Elijah to blow into and kept repeating, "Blow buddy, blow."

This is where I stepped in and helped wipe Elijah's nose. So glad I could help accomplish something. The poor kid had been asking for a tissue. I had no idea what he was saying. But big brother did.

While Flo may be gone, there is still a lot of excitement in our home as we anxiously await the arrival of Joni in just a few days. Daddy is returning on the same day! How exciting.