Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Are You Friends With The Tiger Mama?

The answer: no. But, she has everyone talking though. Time had a huge piece on her in this last issue, and in our local paper there has been much editorial/commentary.

There are a few, and only a few, concepts of hers that I actually believe in.

1. I like to praise my sons for effort and hard work. My oldest is very motivated with his scripture memory. Every night we lay in bed and work on his verses. He's driven and tries to learn at least three a night. His dad asked him if he thought he'd be able to say them all (roughly 10) at Awana's. "Yeah, because I am so good at it." Well, I am glad he has such a healthy self-image, but I really have been telling him that he's doing so well with his verses because he's working hard at it and putting in the time to learn them. AND, he's the one driving this passion. I'm supporting it.

It does bother me that we, our society, tend to praise and give awards for being mediocre. I want awards, grades, praise to mean something and be the result of excellence. So, I get this approach to parenting, but the Tiger Mom is going far. I love all my son's efforts too, and I never belittle their attempts at trying a new skill or hobby. I think there is a reason why Asian girls ages 14 and 15 have such high suicide rates. That is not something I want to foster as a parent.

2. That our job as parents isn't to shield our children from all hardship or situations that are tough. Our job is to give them problem-solving skills and creative thinking so they know how to help themselves in less-than-ideal situations.

But, I'm not willing to say that the Chinese way is the more superior way. I just don't buy the test scores. I'm actually quite tired of all the test scores and how politicized it has made education.

I think we all know that tests do not give the full picture, right?

I had a brief teaching stint at a university and loved all my students from China. They worked hard. Were conscientious. Always wanted to do assignments right, and would try and try again until they got it.

However, they struggled to give their opinions. Form opinions. Think creatively. They were eager to learn, and often commented on how different this style of teaching/learning was. They loved it though. They liked the freedom they experienced in my classroom. As long as you could support your literary critique, it was valid.

They struggled with class discussion, jumping in and asserting their opinions. These Chinese students marveled at their American counterparts who were so comfortable in this setting.

I think we, China and the US, are two distinct cultures who value very different things, and I for one am glad to be raising my children in this one.

Monday, January 24, 2011


1. Have you noticed I took your feedback and haven't done a chidren's book review? I also have been writing a bit on my Friday Photos.

2. Awana's is great! Any doubts or things that made me uncomfortable and faded in comparison to my sons' enthusiasm. My oldest has it marked on his calendar and counts down the weeks until Awana's night. He told me his favorite part is memorizing the verses, what! :0 I thought it'd be the games. I like watching him interact with his friends. They all exude such joy being with each other; it makes me want to be a child again with them. I think it is so good that through Awana's there is integration between school friends and learning about Jesus. I am so grateful to this church and the volunteers who make it happen.

3. A Sign for Jesus? I saw a sign off the freeway. It was simple and just said "Trust Jesus." It wasn't being worn by a child. It was on a post. I didn't find this offensive at all. It wasn't making a political statement. It just stood alone.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Face of Christmas Cheer

So I realize most of you have totally moved on from Christmas, but I am still holding on a bit because it was so good this year. All my boys were in peak form for the event, and these pictures seem to radiate the joy and excitement well. Enjoy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

But Mom.....Recycle.....

“But Mom, why do you throw away my stuff?” My oldest asked one night when I was tucking him in bed----referring to all those papers and art projects he brings home from school and sees me routinely put into the recycling.

I pondered my response, “Well, I don’t throw them all away. I keep the really pretty ones you make.” He seemed OK with my reasoning, but then I was afraid I was sending the message that all his handwriting, math, and reading worksheets were somehow not as grand or spectacular as his sunflower painting that I plan on mating and framing. But the thing is, they aren’t--at least not for the long term.

I know some mothers, my sister, who are quite sentimental and keep almost everything their children bring home---struggling to throw away even the slightest hint of artistic genius.

But I also know I am not alone in my resolve to purge and clean. A good friend of mine told me of a time that she and her kids went to the library and took part in a craft activity. After creating their near Picasso’s, all her children handed her their creations and darted for the van. She took this opportunity to toss them gingerly into the trash can right by the exit door. One of the librarians took offense, “Wow, I was never that calloused as a mother!”

I’m sure I have offended many Sunday school teachers when they hand me, with pride, the creations they’ve facilitated for my kids. These Bible creations often get smashed on the drive home by muddy tennis shoes. These works of art lay lifeless on the van floor.

Then there are those projects that look way too good to be anything my children did with their own hands. These are actually worse. I really don’t want to hang on display something that a 20-year-old volunteer created out of old Christmas cards and construction paper.

Still, my son’s remark made me feel a bit guilty. Maybe I should start a file for him, a special place he can put all those worksheets---feeling that all his work is prized and of equal value. Then when he ages and gets a little life perspective we can remove the work together to the burn pile. Or, if he really wants to keep them, they’ll be out of my way, resting quietly in our file box...waiting for the day when he turns 18, moves out of the house (This is what happens, right?), and takes his folder of academic documentation with him.

But I know myself, and I know I will most likely keep doing what I do....keeping my son’s work for a while, but then quickly and quietly moving these papers out of my house and to another, better place---the recycling drawer.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Kate Middleton....I Like Her Too

The media is doing its job well, for newstands have me smiling every time I see Kate Middleton on the cover of a magazine. I am curious enough that I flip quickly through to get to the photo spread dedicated to her and Prince William (before it is my turn to start loading my groceries to be scanned). Of course, I felt a bit twitter patted toward the Prince as a much younger woman, so now there is double the curiosity as I wait in the grocery checkout line.

Have you noticed that the information in these glossy spreads is never enough. I always finish the articles thinking, "That was it? That is what I almost spent money on? That didn't tell me anything new, not really."

I guess that is good. Too many people these days are ready to tell way too much about themselves. (Me included when it comes to blogging.) And maybe that is the real appeal for me, that I really don't know that much about Kate, but that Kate seems nice enough, and that if I got lucky enough to run into Kate we'd have a lovely little conversation. Kate, Kate, Kate.

Anyone else finding themselves a bit smitten with the next English royal?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Sign for Jesus?

I made a somewhat nasty Facebook comment the other day. Well, at least my mother thought it a bit nasty saying, "Shame on you."

I was driving home from my son's preschool and was greeted by a smiling boy, waving at us as we passed....but my eyes were quickly drawn toward the sandwich board on his chest which read, "Evolution is a lie. Trust in Jesus."

I described this on my status updated and then asked if the mother of this son thought that constituted his science homeschool lessons for the day. True, I should have left homsechool comment out and just asked, "What's the point?"

You see, there are these signs cropping up everywhere around here, and they really bug me! There is a large sign near the post office that lists a bunch of "horrible" sins and then lets us all know we are perishing, but if we'd like some help we can call the listed number below. Would you call that number?

There is also a blue truck, an infamous blue truck, who's sides read in blazing, holy white, "Hell is eternal."

There are several other signs that basically breathe fire and brimstone. All of these signs originate from the same little local church. They seems to supply their parishioners were the same, neat lettering for their sign making aspirations.

I just find the whole thing obnoxious, and I hope I'm only upset because I am a Christian, praying that everyone else who does not claim to be a Christ follower are shielded from reading these....that God has placed a blinding angel in front of these modes of persuasion, so that we Christians aren't creating more and more blocks for others seeking a gracious God.

The homeschool line was definitely a jab. But the thing is I know this family homeschools as I've seen them day after day playing in their yard together. They really do seem happy and free, and I love seeing children play together, but the teacher in me knows that there is no way quality educating is going on. Quality questioning. Quality thinking.

I'm always nervous to express my passion for public education. I have a handful of friends and readers who have chosen to homeschool, and so I'm afraid I'll offend by letting my beliefs seep out. And I know that many of them would never claim that having your kid wear a sandwhich board is science class. Note That.

My prayer each day is that I would remember that I'm a miracle, that God's love for me is miraculous grace and no amount of rule keeping makes me more deserving of his love. I continually ask God to fill me with his Spirit so that my life actions are my sandwhich board.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Costco Consumption

Two years ago I wrote an article about my disdain of Costco, and now it makes my monthly list of fun things to visit. Much has changed in my life since I had that initial opinion: bigger family, living further away from stores, now live in a house with an actual pantry etc.

But I'm still trying to figure out what is really a good deal there. Seems like I'll be wowed into a purchase and then the very next week Safeway will run an excellent add for that same item at a way cheaper price.

On this last trip to the wholesale giant I bought:
*chicken the boxes vs. cans for multiple use
*toliet paper....think not such a great deal, but love getting all I need at once
*ziplock bags....I really should try and use less of these
*bread...not a good deal
*milk....Safeway had a special for 1.49 a gallon and Costco was 2 dollars a gallon
*chicken breasts.....don't even remember the price
*chips....the problem here is that the more we have the more we eat
*Silk Milk...I think this is an excellent deal. My youngest can't drink cow's milk and this comes in a three pack that is a steal of a deal compared to grocery prices.

I guess the question for you is what do you buy that you feel is a good Costco deal, and should I be adding it to my list?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Winter Wonderland

The longer I am married to my husband, the more happy I am with my choice. One thing I am am grateful for is that each visit to the in-laws turn into an adventure, a vacation. In the summer we get to swim in pristine lakes, and in the winter we get to play in mounds of powdery snow.

These pictures might give you an idea as to why I haven't been blogging, when you get home from a trip there is always a huge list of to-do's...right? Or am I the only one?

This was my 3rd time ever driving a snowmobile and already my niece had more guts than I did when it came to daring snow sports, however, my excuse is that last time I took a small child snowmobiling I buried the snowmobile in the snow, got lost in the woods, it got dark, I ended up carrying my child for a long way...until a random man appeared in the woods on his snowmobile and drove us to safety. This is my oldest son's earliest childhood memory and he remembers clearly that we stopped and prayed and "that man appeared."

The Cousins. They deserved to received a capital letter in reference.

My middle son insisted on making a snowcat vs. snowman.

We call this The Box. It is at least two decades old, and we advise that you enter at your own risk. (Note, we trusted it enough to put our children in it, but I did tell my father-in-law that if they crashed through the ice I did expect him to sacrifice himself for the life of the children.)

This looks like a good idea, but then I got on the front and it didn't really work too well....too many long legs dangling off the sides.

The boys are finally at good ages for playing in the snow, meaning that the time playing outside finally lasts longer than the time getting children dressed and undressed in all that snow gear.

My husband didn't understand why we all thought he looked like a crazy, snow psycho.....

Our youngest loves anything outside. He lasted a long time in the snow, and having his older cousin to pull him up and down hills didn't hurt.