How to make an awesome peg board

peg board

I’ve been wanting to give my kids a peg board for a long time.  But I thought the pegs would need to be bolts, which seemed like terrible toys, and I wasn’t looking forward to wandering around a hardware store looking for alternatives.  Plus, the peg boards I’d seen used rubber bands, and I was pretty sure my kids would learn how to snap each other hard enough to leave welts by the end of the first day.  As it turns out, putting this together probably took less than 30 minutes, cost like $15, is totally safe, and I think I love it more than my kids.  Plus, it stores under the couch.  Awesome.

peg flowers

The peg board was hard to find with the directions from the guy at the door of the store, but the people who work in the lumber side of the store knew exactly what it was, where it was, and how to connect me with it.  Then, someone showed me these awesome wooden pegs.  They’re the 1/4″ size, and they are easy enough to slide in and out that both my little ones can put the pegs anywhere they want.  (Peg board was $6.48 and the pegs were $2-something I think)

Then I ran to JoAnn’s and got the fabric loops that we all used to make pot holders on a plastic loom.  Remember that?  We all did that weird craft, even though no one on earth has ever actually needed MORE potholders, and the weird fabric would probably have melted if used.  But they’re perfect for this because they don’t snap like rubber bands, and can’t possibly leave a welt on someone.  The box does identify them as a choking hazard though, so maybe feed your kid before hand and limit how many you let your kid shove down her throat.  Okay?  Good.  (These were about $6)
So when we get the board out, the girls spend the first 5 minutes methodically putting each peg in the perfect spot.  Then they look everywhere to be sure they haven’t missed any pegs, and eventually I show them the fabric bands.  Which are bracelets and grass and trees and flowers and playgrounds and homes and sharks and monsters.  (So far.)  Guys, my kids even like putting all this away.  This activity is THE BEST!  The tactile sensations and fine motor skills are enthralling and getting to stuff it all under the couch just makes their little days.

Getting time to sip my coffee on the couch while the kids play peacefully on the floor?  That makes MY day.  I hope this activity makes your day too.

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A Giveaway!

I’m doing a giveaway on my business page, and I thought you all might be interested since it’s a novel by a Christian author.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

A longer write up is on my (almost done) business blog: Press Pause Photography

 

Good luck!

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What do I say to them?

My Facebook newsfeed tells me that Mr. Rogers had this to say about tragedy:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.

 

I don’t know if that quote is really his, but I believe the sentiment is true.  So many of my non-Christian friends are crying out today – toward Your God, as they call him.  Wanting to know why My God didn’t stop this.  Wanting to know what kind of God allows this.  There are passages that talk about the answers to those questions, but I don’t think that’s what my friends are looking for.

Unfortunately, what I want to tell them might even hurt them more.  I want to tell them that God allows this out of love.  Which sounds callous and cruel and would get me flagged off of Facebook in no time.  But what good are acts of kindness if they are not acts of free will?  God’s love for us allows us to make decisions about our actions.  God’s love in us and through us brings us to a place of loving each other.

Free will is the means which God allows this to happen.  He allows us to make choices about our actions.  It’s a hot topic, and many Christians believe there is no free will, or that it is limited, and that good only comes from God, not from the individual.  “I can do nothing but from God.”  I don’t know about that.  I believe we do make choices, and the spectrum of choices ranges from a shooting in an elementary school to risking your life protecting your students from a madman.

ABC reported that a first grade teacher barricaded her students into the bathroom.  Would her actions have meant anything if she had no choice in them?  Whether you believe God did this through her or that she did this herself, God allowed that course of action too.

When you choose to spend more time with your kids tonight than on Facebook, that act of love matters.  It means something.  When you choose to stay a little longer at bedtime, that act of love matters.  When you choose to make a special breakfast tomorrow morning, that act of love matters.  Your choices, to treasure your children, even if prompted by tragedy, matter.  They matter and they mean something because God has loved you and given you the chance to make these choices.

 

I believe there is more good in the world.  I believe more people are good, do good, and try to do good.  I believe more people think about the good, and look for the good, and assume the good.

 

In the end, Love Wins.  In the end, the greatest of all things is always Love.

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Obedience

There’s something to be said about obedience.  I’m not sure what, exactly, I’m supposed to say, but the ghost of a post has been following me around lately, poking me slightly and asking to be written.

Obedience, Biblical Obedience, Christian Discipline

There is some relationship between obedience and love and faith that I can’t quite put my finger on.  Romans 1:5, 2 Corinthians 9:13, and 2 John 1:6 all reference the way that we become obedience when we follow Christ.  A potentially causal relationship, but not exclusive.  What I’m seeing is this: As Christians, we obey the commands of God (to the best that we understand them and have courage for anyway) because we trust Him.  We have faith in Him to be asking the right things of us, so we do the things He asks.

I don’t expect my three year old to obey me blindly.  At this point I like to believe I’ve given her ample evidence to trust me, but I’m not teaching her to suspend her critical thinking skills in the presence of authority.  I want her to learn the nature of obedience – that she assesses previous behavior from someone and decides whether or not they are trustworthy and deserving of her obedience.  I want her to learn to decide what is right, whether that be compliance or defiance in any given situation, and to have the courage to do what needs to be done. Her obedience will not always be popular and her defiance will not always be without consequence.  Both require her strength.  Breaking her will for my own ease and laziness does not build her strength.  And it certainly does not build up strength in the body of Christ.

Obedience is the application of one’s will to the wishes of another.  Obedience is choosing to comply. You cannot be obedient if you have no will.  You cannot be obedient if you have no choice.  If I go to church because my livelihood depends on it, I’m not obeying God.  I’m not choosing to worship God because of my faith or my relationship with God.  I’d be choosing to go out of self-preservation, not obedience.  Which makes going to church the wrong thing.

This is one of my major qualms with spanking.  “Do it or I’ll spank you” and “Don’t do it or I’ll spank you” only teach selfishness and self preservation. They only teach our kids to look out for themselves.  They don’t teach our children the WHY behind our requests, and they don’t teach our children how to choose obedience out of faith or trust or love.

I hear people complaining that we’re a post-Christian nation, but it seems like many of us were raised to be that way.  We were raised to do what we were told lest we be hit – we never learned to do what was right because it was right.  Or to do what was right because it was asked of us by someone we trusted and loved.  Is it any wonder that teaching us to think only about ourselves taught us to be selfish?  Is it any wonder that teaching us to look at the consequences instead of the motives produced lazy people?  I’ve heard “If you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about the government” but I want to add this: “If you teach selfishness and laziness to your children, you don’t get to complain when they act that way as adults.”

Where has this gotten me?  If I make a request of my three year old, she will either obey or not.  If she doesn’t do what I ask, she will nearly always engage me in a discussion about the request. She’s three, so we’re working on tact and word choice, but mostly she’s kind and thoughtful and insightful.  Sometimes she needs to know why I’m asking and she needs to know why the other choices don’t work.  She thinks about what I’m asking and she thinks about the situation.  She has on occasion come up with a better solution than the one my husband or I initially suggested.  She has offered compromises that we might or might not take her up on.  She’s learning how to make decisions, and she’s learning how to see her role in the world.  (She also sometimes flat out refuses because she’s tired or hungry or attempting to establish her independence.  She’s three.  Three year olds do that sometimes.)

I have no doubt that this path is less convenient.  I have no doubt that requiring first time obedience is easier on the parent.  But it hasn’t done much for society, it hasn’t done much for women, it hasn’t done much for the individual, and it hasn’t done much for the church.  It’s not worth the cost for me.  I’ll take the hard road, because it’s the right road.

Because luckily, I was able to restore my will and reclaim it after my childhood.

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Six Months Today

A few weeks ago I found myself chatting with someone I hadn’t spoken to or seen in years.  Someone who works in drug rehab.  Six months ago today my relapsing, alcoholic father killed himself.  The chat brought on more thoughts, and questions, and work on processing the death.  And thoughts don’t quietly wander or move on from my mind, they take up space until they are forcefully evicted from the premises.  This is the curbside view.

Does alcoholism follow the same patterns as drug abuse?  Could a simple pill of Methadone eased my father of his desire for alcohol?  I could probably Google that and have an answer, but the answer isn’t really important.  He died with no alcohol in his system.  The only thing on the toxicology report was the med that makes you violently ill if you drink alcohol.  There were no anti-depressants in his system.  None of the things prescribed to him to take the edge of that desire.

What of that was intentional?  Did he purposefully go off his meds to bring himself closer to suicide?  Three weeks before he died, he met with a pastor and told him “The only way out of alcoholism is to stop drinking or die.”  I get the impression that statement is bounced around a lot at AA meetings.  Did he believe it?  What was he planning?  Why not just . . .

The impending election intersects with processing his death.  My father was a staunch conservative, and he and much of the rest of my family taught me plently about the Republican platform.  I get it.  I understand the narrative.  One of my father’s favorite lines was one of ‘personal responsibility’.  The idea that you alone are responsible for both your current and future circumstances.  I wonder if that idea ever caught up with him.  It’s certainly caught up with me.

I remember one spanking in particular – where I had been unable to meet the requirements for me to avoid the punishment.  I remember my mother telling him I couldn’t have finished what he asked of me.  He said I needed to learn that I was responsible for the consequences regardless of what obstacles were in my way.  (Was he trying to teach me something he knew he’d never learn?)  At the time, and ever since, I believed that it was more about the idea that my choices brought me into the situation, and only my choices could bring me out.  But that’s never been true, has it?

No one is fully responsible for their lot in life.  Your family can have money and buy you a house.  Your family can have money and never tell you about it.  You can go to work every day and show up one of those days to find the place closed and shuttered.  You can work hard to move up the ranks and have your health take your job from you.  You can do anything you want and it may or may not give you the result you intend.

I wonder if that realization was too hard for my father to process.  Because the consequences for his actions were huge.  Huge.  The drinking, the years and years of abuse of his health, body, family, and finances.  He chose not to keep going.  Did he have control over all of the things in his life?  Of course not.  But, to maintain his beliefs about personal responsibility, he’d either have to admit all of those years of wrongs or lose his house, his family, his job – everything.  How could he do that?  Either of those things would seriously alter his paradigm for understanding the world.

I’ve had a few realizations that have changed the way I function.  One of them is that I do not have to accept that what I’ve been told is all there is.  It’s a process, to be sure, but I have been running (however erratically) down that path for many years.  I do not have to do the things my family did because they’re what is expected of me or what I expect of myself.  I do not have to accept that I can’t do the things my parents couldn’t.  I do not have to accept that the knowledge I have already acquired is all I need.  It never is.  There is always, always, always more.

As a result I tend to grab a topic, soak up everything I can find, and try to mush all the pieces together until I think I can see match the puzzle to the box.  Till I think I understand the answer.  I am a birth junkie.  Absolutely.  I have lists of breastfeeding resources.  I have shelves of parenting books and ideas on index cards and a family where I try to practice and perfect.

Even death.  I oscillate between trying to avoid and wanting all the information, but in the end I just can’t process without sliding the pieces around.  I thought the absence of this relationship would be a relief.  I honestly didn’t know if he would every be emotionally healthy enough for me to be in an emotionally healthy relationship with him, but I didn’t exclude the possibility.  And here we are.  Where the absence may be worked for good, but the work is no relief.

Maybe that is similar to the work of rehab.  It’s no relief.  Not even with a pill.  Not even with the right people and resources and structures.  Transferring the addiction, the problem, the pain from one place to another is not healing.  It’s only the hope of a more manageable situation while you struggle through the work.  I suppose in a sense, the addiction’s just been passed down to another generation.  His pain was put into his parenting.  His parenting passed his pain to me.  His death absolves him from the work of healing.  I bear extra work because of his choices, because of his actions, because of his words.  Luckily, for me and for my children, I’ve never been as lazy as they said I was.  I will do the work.  I will break the dysfunctional paradigms that transfer pain to my children.  I will make many mistakes and expect no easy road.  But I will not let my politics or my parents or my pain burden them with false beliefs about themselves.

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The Republican Requirement

Sat in a church today listening to a sermon on Mark 9:38-50 and my head nearly exploded.  Or maybe it was my stomach.  Or my heart.

The disciples were persecuting someone who had been driving out demons in the name of Christ.  The disciples were upset because this person hadn’t gone through them to get to Christ.  Christ was less than pleased.  “If he is not against us, he is for us.”

Just a few weeks ago, I was attending a congregation from the same denomination as the church this morning.  I found a publication by that denomination’s governing body which had an article detailing how to deal with “Christ-less Liberals.”  The pastor this morning was preaching that the disciples were wrong to persecute someone working in the name of Christ but not following the disciples.  This pastor was saying that the intermediary body (disciples) was not  as importantas the fact that the person was working miracles in the name of Christ.  But the denomination is publishing that anyone who doesn’t go through the Republican party (or at least conservative values) can’t have a relationship with God.  The two ideas don’t exactly go hand in hand.  And one idea is from Christ.

I mean, let’s just take a quick second to look at the term “Christ-less Liberal.”  The idea is that no one who votes liberally could know Christ.  That every vote cast against the Republican party is a vote by someone without God.  People really believe, however ignorantly, that God can only be reached through the Republican party.     Does this sound familiar?  Anyone?

Over and over Christ expressed his frustration at people putting themselves between Him and other souls.  You know what?  I don’t have to go through anyone to reach God.  I don’t have to go through this denomination or the Republican party or the pope or president.  My God is accessible to me where ever I am AND how ever I vote.  Mark 9:41 says “Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” But if I vote in favor of clean drinking water or environmental protection I’m a socialist hippie – and godless.  Christ said “the least will become the greatest” but if I vote to support a living wage,which is vote for the dignity of every person, I’m entitled – and godless.  Are you sensing a pattern here?  I am not ashamed to be considered liberal (especially since I don’t consider myself liberal.  I’m certainly not ashamed of the things other people assume about me or gossip about me).  I am not ashamed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am NOT godless.  Regardless of any arrogant, self-righteous church body (or person) that believes otherwise.

Over the last several years, the far right has deified Ronald Reagan.  The same Ronald Reagan who passed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act” just 3 months into his first term as Governor of California.  Even President Reagan would fail to live up to the standard borne by the idol he’s become in the hands of the Republican Party.  And the whole idea that Christian = Republican is relatively new, utterly wrong, and sadly naive.  There are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of Christians who believe that Christ was serious when He spoke of loving those who persecute you, caring for the sick, and selling all you own to give money to the poor.  [hah!  How un-Republican is that?!  Instead of your yearly vacation to the beach, take that money and hand it to the first person you see in line at the food bank.]  As we approach the election, I am encouraging all of my Christian friends to be praying for the conservatives in this country.  Praying that Christians and Republicans, particularly Christian Republicans, examine their hearts, their logic, and their choices for President.

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intrusive, lingering, painful thoughts

When you criticize the spacing of a person’s children, you wind up condemning the life of that person’s child.

 

Saying that my life would be easier if my youngest wasn’t born yet is really just a somewhat sugar coated way to say that my youngest shouldn’t be here.  And next month’s egg would be different – making my child different.  Things may or may not be easier if they were different.  But that is not helpful in any real, practical way.  1, it isn’t certain.  2, the hurt caused by saying my child shouldn’t exist will overshadow any intent to convince me to space my next child farther from my last.

 

And saying you think my child shouldn’t have been born, even if you only mean ‘yet’, is never helpful.  It’s hurtful.  And it will break down trust.

 

The lack of trust, and the hurt, it lingers.

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