Pinata attempt

Okay, here goes another attempt at making pinatas.

My kids know me as the master of making tough pinatas.  My first attempt was a colossal fail.  I had paper mached so many layers that the pig (aka rock) was literally unbreakable.  I was able to stand on that thing and when I tried to hit it with the stick, the ricochet almost made me drop the stick.

For church during VBS, I’ve finally settled on 1 paper bag for the little guys, 2 paper bags for early elementary kids, and 3 paper bags for the late elementary kids (BTW, no paper mache paste between the layers of bags, tried it once and it was too hard for the kids).  Of course decorated on the outside with crep paper.  (A search for paper bag pinata should give you lots of ideas).

But this time we are talking about kids (including teens) from Tae Kwon Do.  Last time the store bought one was ripped open on the first kick by an 8 year old.

In the past, I’ve used Costco cardboard milk carton and just filled it with candy and it lasted through quite some beating.  This time, I decided to be more creative and opened the top and bottom of 2 milk boxes, rounded them into cylindrical tubes, glued two together (top and bottom), and glued a piece of cardboard circle to the bottom of the whole thing.  And to make sure that everything stays strong, I actually used some wood glue that I have sitting around (okay it’s the same paranoia that led me to make that fateful unbreakable pig on my first pinata attempt).  I spray glued black wrapping paper to the outside of the tube and sectioned off the inside with poster board circles so there are layers of candies.  So we’ll have a serious heavy duty “heavy bag” pinata for the party.  Hopefully it’ll be one that everyone can enjoy for a period of time.  But no, it’s not crazy hard like my first pinata which would probably break someone’s foot.

Nature or Nurture?

Just read an interesting article about abduction at birth and miss identified person.   https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-44242626

But what I thought was interesting was towards the end of the story when Paul Fronczak found his blood relatives that he realized that he was more similar in temperament to them than his “parents.” Perhaps the similarity is also a way that God had intended to help each family gel better.

But of course it brings up the old question of what is stronger, nature or nurture?  Unfortunately, I think we mistakenly smear the effects of the two and want to associate the sum of the individual to just one or the other.  It’s interesting that Paul does acknowledge the Fronczak’s as being loving parents who probably saved him though he also recognizes the ties to his blood relatives.

As a parent, I find this very interesting and it’s a good reminder that even though I could say that our kids do have a lot of our traits, but they are each individuals and have their own bents.  So as parents it’s not our job to change their nature, but to nurture our children to use their nature for good.  Too often we are so myopic that we want to twist our kids to what we think they should be or what we imagine to be the successful careers for them.  I’m still trying really hard to try to weed out what are my wishes versus actual Biblical principals that my children need to operate under.  Yes, let their nature flourish, but develop them with proper nurture so they can live their lives to the fullest to the glory of God.

Loving our children

Boy was it depressing to have read an email today.


As I look around our society, I see parents who love their kids in theory, but not in actions. Everything they ARE DOING, actually says they DON’T love their kids.

They buy them everything they want…

They don’t put strong boundaries…

They have terrible marriages…

They repeat their parent’s mistakes with their own kids…

They don’t properly guide them and train them for life…

They don’t take time to teach them manners and character…

and they live in the middle of an emotional and sometimes physical chaos.

Unfortunately, their emotions fail them and their evidence for love is what they imagine in their head and not the plain results in front of them. Most children don’t feel loved. Period.

Parents are falling short of the 5 Love Languages and neither quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, gifts or physical touch are being met. The suicide rate for children proves me right…

Unfortunately, 89% of parents can’t define what unconditional love is and an additional 10% don’t know how to make sure their children feel loved. Even with their best intentions, they fall short.

We have entered an era where the survival of your children and their avoidance of drugs, sex and alcohol is dependent on how loved and accepted they feel and if this is not an easy area for you and your spouse, it better become a priority real fast.


Granted this email was from someone offering counseling for parents.  But looking around me, I think the statistics is not too far off.  I was just commenting today on many parents’ attitudes towards summer and other breaks and then looking forward to the kids being back in school so they don’t need to be bothered with the kids.  I don’t blame kids for not feeling loved if their parents’ attitudes are wanting to throw them out the door.

Few years back, I was talking to a friend contemplating about having kids.  The problem is that everyone at work all regretted having kids.  Wow, I’d hate to be their kids.

If you have kids, I hope that you would really love them not just in your mind.  And if you grew up with parents who didn’t know how to love you, I pray that you will forgive them and find healing in Christ.

Postpone the work

Am I a proponent of procrastination?  Nope!  But there comes a time when it’s better to postpone something.  There has been plenty of examples now with people’s quick unthinking Tweets to help us learn this point.  There comes a time when delaying what we need to do is better.

I learned this the hard way through the days when I used to write more computer codes.  There are times when I’m so tired or frazzled that even though the deadline was looming that it was not a good idea to continue without first taking a break.  Otherwise, I’d have to come back and take even more time to fix the mistakes that I would have for sure introduced.  The wisdom is to know how long of a break and not to let “tiredness” become an excuse for procrastination.  Now that I’m home and have no task master (like Bree in Horse and His Boy) I need even more discipline to not let “tiredness” become an excuse but at the same time not to push beyond certain stress level.

As a homeschool mom, sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of finishing the work that we end up stressing out our kids instead of teaching them to learn how to balance life.  And sometimes I can become so stressed that I believe I was doing more damage to my kids by being a bad role model even though I may have finished the task at hand.  Wisdom to balance everything, I think it’s one of the hardest thing to achieve in life.

 

Ethnocentricity

I’m of Chinese decent.  One thing that drives me crazy about that culture is its extreme ethoncentricty.  There’s a reason why in Chinese China is called the Middle Kingdom.

I was recently reminded of this tendency while interacting with several couples where the wife is Chinese (from China) and the husband is American.  I’m just amazed how the wives living here in the states insists on their own way.  I know this is a problem in many marriages where “my family never did it that way!”  But these were straight us Chinese vs them and our ways are so much better and Americans are so stupid that they don’t see things our way.  Wow!  I guess I just have a simple question, if the Chinese culture is so much better, why did these ladies marry American husbands.

But that being said, I think each of us need to be reminded while interacting with others especially those we are close to, to be more accepting and learn to re-evaluate the values we hold on to and not to always insist that others conforms to our ways.

Family retreat

A friend of mine just came back from a family retreat type thing.  He was telling me about the speakers for the adults and one of his sons enjoying the teen’s program.  It just dawned on me this morning the oddness of the idea of a “family retreat.”

I guess being a homeschool mom, I’m used to the idea of my kids being around me almost 24/7.  Our kids are not involved in too many activities where neither Mark nor I take also take an active role.  Even at church when our kids were still young, we rarely checked them in at the nursery and just trained our kids to sit still with us through worship.  For better or for worse, we have lots of memories together.

Now back to the family retreat.  I know that often the purpose is to encourage, equip, and strengthen the parents and it is better to discuss some of these issues without the kids.  But so often the way things are set up that by the time the retreat is over, the only shared memories that the family can take away with is the facility because the adults hung out with the adults and the kids with the kids even during the free times.  I’m sure the kids probably had a much better time being in the kids program but in the long run, has it really helped the family?

I’m not knocking kids programs.  I really appreciate those who put in so much time in prepping and teaching and making an impact on our kids’ lives, but this is just another reminder that our culture, including the church often is more or less encouraging family dispersion rather than building cohesiveness.  So take time every day to build memories together.  Play with them, invite them to work along side you, find ways to have conversations with your kids (not grilling them as a parent but talk as friends about movies, books, music, friends).  Change some of the activities so that they are shared rather than just drop off type or where you are just sitting on the sidelines talking to the other parents.  Also, don’t forget to build memories and relationship together with your spouse too, because when the kids are gone it’ll be just the two of you and what will you do then?

Who’s the adult?

Recently Mark and I had separate conversations with  parents regarding conflicts with their teenagers.  These issues were not new and has been brewing for years, just that their kids are now teenagers and wanting more independence.  What the issue boils down to is that there is personality clash between mom and kid and the moms to a tee want their kids to operate more like them and lament the fact that their kids are not more like them.

From  my observations, each of these moms have good kids by most standards.  Are they perfect?  No, but for the most part they are well behaved kids who have decent standards for personal conduct.

The moms want their kids to grow be responsible adults who will succeed in life.  Unfortunately they have failed to see or sometimes just fail to acknowledge to their kids their continuing character growth.  And instead of learning to adjust to working with another person they want their kids to learn to adjust to working with them.

I know that our teenagers still have much more to learn but they need to see models of how to work with people with different personalities.  Isn’t it our perfect opportunity to demonstrate to them how we can have common purpose, hold to certain standards, and achieve certain end goals without having monolithic personalities and working styles.  That’s life right?  That certainly is true at work places and in marriages.  There is no better time for our kids to learn that than while still under our roof.  Of course wisdom needs to be applied in separating the non-negotiable standards from our own preferences and have things in the right priority.

We as parents should be the adults.  We who are suppose to be the more mature ones need to be the first to alter our behaviors and attitudes and to be first to apologize when we are wrong .  Be immovable as a rock in the essentials but be flexible when it comes to our personal preferences, desires, and comforts.

Creativity

I don’t think anyone ever denies that creativity is a good thing (except us mom who sometimes has to deal with the end results of our children’s creative messes and other disasters).  But often times there’s the question of how to foster it.  Summer is great time for kids to have more chances to be creative.

The thing that I’ve learned over time is that first and foremost, kids need the free time in order to be creative.  With few exceptions, most of us don’t operate with the idea of this is now “creative time” be creative.  Okay, we can do somethings, but most likely it’s not going to be our best work.  It most likely happens spontaneously.  Often if we don’t seize the moment (or at least take time to work with the ideas a bit) the ideas tend to fade into oblivion.

Second, kids needs some model or some initial ideas or basic skills.  This may sound a bit counter intuitive.  Why do they need some preset things in order to be creative.  Well, if they don’t have at least some working knowledge of somethings, they may be the most creative people who would have invented the wheels eons ago, but what’s the point.  They can take the preexisting things and upgrade them to something better.  Also, lets take art.  There are some basic skills that can open their door to greater creations if they are at least fluent in those skills.  Or maybe basic wood working skills which would enable them to design and put together more complex things.

Of course they would also need materials.  I have come to the conclusion that even if it’s just a phase, if my kids want materials to work on a project and the materials are not outrageously expensive, I’ll get it for them.  Of course I do not want to foster the idea of jumping from one thing to another and never finishing what they start, so this is a judgement call.

Finally, remove mindless distractions especially the super passive kind.  I’m not opposed to electronic entertainment such as movies and games.  But in order for creative juices to flow, they cannot be preoccupied by all these distractions.  So there is a time and place for these things, but they are best turned off for the most part.

My mom was right.  Kids need time to get bored so they can become creative.  So let them explore some new skills this summer, but also give them time to develop those skills and put them into new and creative uses.

Kids and Anger

It’s always fun at the Do Jang to watch the little guys (under 10 years olds) spar.  They have so much fun “coming after” the instructors.  Unfortunately, there are a few who I really worry about.  They have such angry fire burning in there eyes that they are ready to take someone’s head off.  My girls who help with the class has come home with bruises from these little guys pounding on them.  We’ve also seen older kids and some adults with such fire, but they at least told and understand the rule of “hit as hard as you want to be hit.”

I used to think that childhood was mostly a carefree and fun time for the kids.  My parents were far from being perfect, and I’m sure those around me weren’t growing up in perfect homes either, but for the most part, I remembered genuinely happy kids.  When our kids began to take part in activities. then I realized that, wow, kids were not very happy.  One repeated comment that I got while my kids were young was “You have very happy children.”  I thought that’s the way most children were suppose to be.

I certainly am not a perfect parent.  Just ask my kids.  On the second thought, please don’t, it will be too embarrassing.  But I’m thankful that we did get very sound advice from the beginning.  I like Lou Piolo’s books.   And his list of what causes anger in our children are as follows and I believe in the order of relevance (sorry don’t have the book in front of me, just pulled this off the internet but it looks right).

  1. Lack of marital harmony
  2. Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home
  3. Modeling sinful anger
  4. Habitually disciplining in anger
  5. Scolding
  6. Being inconsistent with discipline
  7. Having double standards
  8. Being legalistic
  9. Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness
  10. Constantly finding fault
  11. Parents reversing God-given roles
  12. Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her ‘side of the story’ seriously
  13. Comparing them to others
  14. Not making time ‘just to talk’
  15. Not praising or encouraging your child
  16. Failing to keep your promises
  17. Chastening in front of others
  18. Not allowing enough freedom
  19. Allowing too much freedom
  20. Mocking your child
  21. Abusing them physically
  22. Ridiculing or name calling
  23. Unrealistic expectations
  24. Practicing favoritism
  25. Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word

It’s a good list to go through from time to time to remind myself of what I still need to work on and to pray for those children I come across who have anger issues that the problems will be resolved as they grow and move forward in life.  It certainly is a weight too heavy for them to bear.

What is your foundation?

Lately my lower back has been bothering me so I decided to use the muscle roller today.  I was close to bed so for whatever the reason, I decided to start rolling out my back muscles in bed.  Of course it did not work since the bed is too soft to provide any substantive pressure to my back so to the floor I went then the muscle rolling routine became effective.

This is so much like life.  Often times we take bits and pieces of advice and try to apply them to our lives and they just don’t seem to work.  We chuck the advice as ineffective.  Where as all along, the problem was not with the specific piece of advice but with our underlying operating principles or our foundation.  Perhaps the area where I’ve seen most of this is in parenting.  I know true Biblical advice works (note: just because an author or speaker is “Christian” doesn’t mean that the advice is Biblical), but unless one applies each individual advice in light of the whole of scripture often times the results becomes nothing more than failed attempts at behavior modification rather than heart training.  So what is your underlying foundation by which you operate?  Unfortunately that is one of the hardest thing for us to figure out.  I’m still trying to get a better grasp on what really is my foundation.  But I know, when clear Biblical principles don’t seem to work in my life, the first thing that I do is not to run and look for different principle.  Instead, I try to take a look at my own personal operational assumptions and see where it doesn’t line up with God’s ways.  Usually that will do the trick and show that God is right and I goofed again.  But I’m glad that no matter how messed up I am, I am still a beloved child of God.