Hurrah! It’s Q&A week again, my favorite because I can pick and choose the easiest questions and pretend I didn’t hear the hard ones!
I jest, really. I’m kidding! I do try to choose questions where I actually have a clue, but I appreciate the hard ones as well because they make me think and examine myself and how I do things.
This week we’re busy packing and preparing for a move, so forgive me if I sound rushed or don’t answer quite as many questions as usual. We still don’t have a closing date, although the lender indicated that this Friday sounded awfully ambitious. It sounds like October 12 is more realistic. He obviously forgot that we have a baby due on October 17. Somebody should remind him. Maybe he should read our blog.
1. Donna asked, Why have u and your girls chosen to wear skirts only. What biblically backs this decision?
We don’t wear only skirts. We wear mostly skirts, most of the time. I’ve posted about that decision here.
2. Elizabeth asked, How do you guys handle celebrating Halloween (or how do you not handle not celebrating it with family and friends that do)?
We simply skip it. We sometimes attend Reformation parties, and sometimes just entirely ignore the fact that a large part of our culture is busy with a holiday. It’s never been a big deal for us or our children, although we do enjoy the clearance prices on candy right after Halloween. In the country, we never have trick-or-treaters anyway.
Since we’re expecting to move into the city before Halloween this year, the question has been raised by the children so I would love to hear how others handle the issue. Do you just leave the porch light off? Do you indulge the neighbors by passing out candy but don’t send your own children out? Make plans to be gone?
3. Stephanie asked, What’s in your coffee cup?
I usually drink my coffee black, but I also love fancy froo-froo drinks, especially later in the morning or afternoon. On a warm day, I love to whip up a pitcher of homemade Starbucks-style fraps to share with the older girls. On cooler days, I sometimes make my own version of a latte: a mug of hot milk with a teaspoon of instant coffee plus some sugar and maybe a little additional flavoring. If Perry makes the morning coffee too strong for my taste (or if I’m spending the day at Vision Forum, where the coffee is ALWAYS too strong), I use a 1/4 cup of coffee in my latte instead of the instant coffee.
What’s in your coffee cup?
Even better than what’s in my cup is what’s on my cup. See? This just makes my day every time I hold it!
4. Sophie asked, Jumping off the modesty questions you’ve been talking about lately, I was thrown by the wedding photos–I thought I recalled from an earlier post that you don’t wear sleeveless shirts outside the house, but then some of you were wearing sleeveless shirts in church. Am I remembering wrong, or have your standards changed, or…?
We don’t normally wear tank tops outside the house or other shirts with very narrow straps that are prone to show one’s bra straps. Our general rule is that a top must reliably cover a normal bra and not threaten to reveal anything inappropriate if we carelessly bend over. Oh, and if it’s so sheer or snug that the bra shows through, that’s not covered.
5. Alicia asked, do you ever yell at your kiddos? if so do you go back & apologize? what’s an appropriate way to handle losing your temper w/your kiddos?
I do raise my voice occasionally, but I’m not much of a yeller. Even so, they know when I’m angry, and I know whether I am feeling and handling my anger in a way that honors God. As a parent, it is often my job to speak strongly to my children. It is never my job to speak unkindly, though. Even correction and discipline should be done in love and with the goal of leading our children toward obedience to God. It’s OK to be angry at sin and foolishness (Psalm 4:4, Ephesians 4:26) but if I let my own irritation cause me to lose sight of that goal, I owe my kids an apology.
I am often slow to recognize my own failures, but when I realize that I’ve been unkind, unjust, or harsh with my kids, I go back to them as soon as possible and ask them to forgive me. I make it clear that the correction itself was justified (if it was), but I handled it sinfully and set a bad example for them as well. Speaking of which, I need to go talk to Rachael about my reaction when she rolled that watermelon off the counter this morning…
6. Lois asked, How are you all adjusting to having the biggest sister gone? How on earth are you managing to school your kids with a baby and a move on the way? Are you taking a break now from schooling, and you will catch up later? Are you getting enough rest? How can I best pray for your family during this time of many changes?
Wow. Where do I start? Having Deanna gone is not as different as you might think, for two reasons: the older girls very often go to work with their dad so it’s not uncommon for them to be gone a lot anyway, plus I still see Deanna about twice/week. She and Tyler attend church with us. Our church has a weekly fellowship meal, so we very nearly spend the entire day together and now that she’s a married woman she sits with the grownups during the meal.
Since she lives just a few miles from Vision Forum (and our new house!) I also see her if I go into town. Last week, she made me Pumpkin Spice Lattes on two different occasions. I expect to see her even more once we live so near her!
School, moving and baby prep are all reasonably low key right now so we just squeeze everything in wherever it fits and don’t worry about what we missed on any particular day. As long as we make some progress on everything over the course of the week, I’m happy.
I’m trying to remember to take care of myself as my duedate approaches, and Perry and the girls are watching me like hawks. My midwife strongly admonished me to stay right on top of my diet and hydration and never let myself get so tired that I fall into bed with these words on my lips: “Please, God, just let me get at least 5 hours of rest before I go into labor…”
Thank you for your prayers. I think our biggest prayer right now is just that everything in front of us would go smoothly: the homebuying process, the move, labor & delivery with a strong healthy baby and mother at the end of it all. We really don’t know how it will all play out and are taking it one day at a time.
7. Becky asked, How do you teach your daughters to control their emotions? How do you help your children overcome fears?
Similarly, Michelle asked, I too would like to know how you manage girl “drama” and how you teach your girls to function in a world of MEAN girls
With so many teen and preteen girls in the house, emotions are an ever-present issue. We can’t begin to claim to have conquered this one, but I can tell you how we address it: just like anger or excessive crying in younger children, we admonish them to self-control. There is no excuse for sin in our lives, and hormones are just one of the difficulties we will face as we get older. We remind them that hormones may make it harder to be sweet and patient, but they do not excuse unkindness, a bad temper, or failure to control oneself. Our emotional state may vary from one day or hour to the next, but God’s standard does not. We must always treat one another with love, following the golden rule that sums up the last 6 of the 10 commandments.
I said this in a recent Q&A about dealing with an overly emotional little boy, but I think it applies to girls just as well:
While we as moms want to be gentle and understanding, we do not want our children to be ruled by their emotions. Proverbs 25:28 says, A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
My basic response with either gender has been to admonish them to self control. With a very little one, I would simply correct him in a firm voice: “No, that’s not a reason to cry. You hush.” With a 7yo, I would explain to them that falling into tears without a very good reason is very much like having a tantrum of sadness instead of anger. It’s sin, and they need to work hard to control themselves just like they would if they had a bad temper.
Helping children overcome fears is done in much the same way. I don’t deny their fear, but I do encourage them to trust God and not allow their fear to rule them. We talk about the definition of courage and bravery: not fearlessness, but boldly facing what you fear. It’s OK to be afraid of the dark, but we know that God is in the darkness just as He is in the light. Even while we feel afraid, we can acknowledge that our fear is silly and unfounded. I’m deathly afraid of ticks, but we live in deer country and we do see ticks. I work hard to conquer that fear and calmly dispose of the horrible little brutes, setting a good example for little eyes around me. I may be recoiling and shrieking on the inside, but I don’t want to let that fear rule me or pass my fear along to them.
8. Trisha asked a question near and dear to my heart: How do you control chaos and volume in your home? Seems like I have one toddler crying, one toddler hanging on my leg, two kids talking to me at the same time, one child singing loudly, etc. Are you able to control it, and if not, how do you stay sane?
I have a very low tolerance for chaos and volume, so being a mom of many has been a very sanctifying experience. It doesn’t help that my own family is naturally very quiet and I married into a high-volume family.
To a certain extent I have simply adjusted, but I haven’t entirely given up. I do try to regulate noise levels, though they don’t always stay exactly where I would like. It’s not unusual for me to say any or all of the following on a typical day:
“No, don’t talk to me while the baby is crying. You need to wait.”
“Don’t make noise for no reason. If you’re not talking to somebody, you need to hush.”
“Don’t talk louder than you need to. Your sister is only 18 inches away from you, and I can hear you all the way over here.”
“Too loud, people. Let’s have some quiet time now. Everyone take a break from making noise.”
9. Maryjo asked the inevitable, “what happened to your dogs?”
First, we found a new home for our Yorkie. She desperately wanted to be somebody’s baby and nobody in our house wanted to mother her properly. After 5 years, we decided she really deserved better and found her a new mommy who couldn’t wait to spoil her rotten.
Around the same time, our beloved Golden Retriever started showing signs of brain cancer, very common for the breed. Medication controlled her frequent and severe seizures, but she soon became mentally unstable and aggressive toward our other pets. Rather than wait for her to attack a child, we made the difficult decision to have her put down.
Finally, Lydia’s Australian Shepherd abruptly disappeared. In spite of the fact that she wore tags and was microchipped, she simply disappeared without a trace.
And that’s it. No dogs at the moment. We’re considering what our next dog will be. I’d like something that will work as a burglar alarm and a vacuum cleaner, preferably not too hairy or stinky. We have fond memories of our Jack Russell terrier from many years ago. We also really loved our Golden and are considering a Labrador Retriever as a less hairy version. The decision is far from made, but I don’t like being without a dog.
10. Betsy asked, How do you keep a new baby safe from her older brothers? I have 3 little boys 4 and under and I’m expecting a baby this month. I’m a bit nervous about them hurting her (not intentionally, but just being crazy little boys!). I do plan on wearing her, but do you have any other pointers or ideas for when I’m not?
I like to conquer this stage very quickly by allowing the other children to interact with the new baby as much as possible. I let them touch, kiss, and hold with supervision and they learn right away all the things they MUST NOT DO to baby, rather than stringing out these lessons over the course of 3 heartstopping months. This way, they know within the first 2 days that they must NEVER put anything in baby’s mouth, or try to pick up baby without help, or move the baby’s seat, or put anything on top of the baby, or try to change the baby’s diaper…
Seriously, I think protecting a new baby too much from well-meaning older siblings also slows the learning process and increases the chance that 6 weeks later you’ll realize nobody has impressed upon the 3yo that the baby can NOT eat cheerios or drink chocolate milk from a sippy cup. It’s easy to maintain constant direct supervision during those very early days while you are resting, but once you are “back on duty” there are simply going to be moments when your back is turned. In my opinion, it’s much safer and easier to teach those lessons early than to try to catch the teachable moments when life is busier.
The other moms are taking questions too:
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:
- October 11 – Introducing kids to technology
- October 18 – Food preservation
- October 25 – How do you keep the car clean?
- November 1 – Q&A
- September 27 – 4 Moms address biblical femininity and modesty in girls
- September 20 – Large Family Gift Guide by the 4 Moms
- September 13 – 4 Moms: Handling different standards between you and your husband