Help for that Cold or Flu {Home remedies and common sense}

Good grief you all are a bunch of sickies! I mean really! The flu season is early and it is brutal.

For the past 3 years we have managed to avoid the really nasty flu that levels a person for a three or more days. We’ve had a few minor colds and sinus infections and there have been coughs and some minor fevers but for the most part, we have been pretty healthy in spite of working and going to school with people who are clearly not well.

After 20 years of mothering four kids through school, church activities, sports, brutally cold winters and running my own dayhome, I have figured out a few tricks to combat illness.  You’ve probably heard of many of them but some may surprise you. I’m not a doctor or a health professional; I’m a mom. And this is common sense and few of “Grandma’s” remedies thrown in.

1. Don’t sanitize everything!  I do not clean my house like a crazy lady with OCD. Sorry, but germs are everywhere and I’m not going to kill myself trying to purge the house of every form of bacteria. In fact, I am almost exclusively opposed to the use of disinfecting wipes and anti-bacterial hand cleaners and soaps. They are actually making the transmission of germs worse(in my opinion).  Have you noticed how kids and families are getting sicker and for a longer period of time? I blame the over-sanitization of everything around us. Our immune systems simply cannot fight every little germ that comes along if we have been kept from building immunity to them. Now, I’m not suggesting you don’t clean up after a sick person or do preventative measures if you have a revolving door of little ones in your house…but temper that with common sense. Remember, some of us grew up eating dirt, dog food and the occasional helping of yellow snow. There was a time when “getting dirty” was considered healthy.

2. I use onions. A lot. Even if you don’t like onions, buy some. They’re cheap like borscht! There is much information on the internet which you can research but this is what I do: cut an onion, leave half on the kitchen counter at all times. Leave half or quarter onions on a glass plate or in a glass tumbler by the bedside of anyone who may be getting sick. Do this early~don’t wait till someone is so congested and feverish that they’re in it for the long haul. Change your onions out every 2-3 days during flu season. Yes, there is a bit of an odour at first but the onions do absorb bacteria and germs preventing them from being absorbed into your respiratory system. Also, boil some onions and inhale the steam for sinus infections. Drink onion broth when you have a cold and you can even try putting vicks on the bottom of your feet, add some slices of onion and put socks on to relieve sinus congestion.

3.Lemons/Honey:  My GO-TO remedy for coughs, colds and congestion is hot water with lemon juice and honey. I will swear by this till my dying day. Don’t just drink one cup, drink multiple~all day every day when you feel a cold coming on or even to prevent it. Lemons kill the bacteria in your respiratory system and honey is a natural healer and anti-inflammatory. Use raw honey if you can get it. Make it stronger if you are very congested or if you have a sore throat.

4. Cayenne pepper~ I don’t like really spicy foods and I certainly don’t like “hot” drinks but cayenne pepper is one of THE best remedies for congestion. Sprinkle a little into your lemon/honey drink. You will be amazed how quickly you feel better.

5. For sore throats and persistent hacking coughs, try this: (as seen on Pinterest) :¼ teaspoon Cayenne, ¼ teaspoon Ginger, 1 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar (organic, like Bragg’s is preferred), 2 Tablespoon Water, 1 Tablespoon Honey (locally produced raw honey if possible.) Dissolve cayenne and ginger in cider vinegar and water. Add honey and shake well. Take 1 Tablespoon as needed for cough.  Note: this doesn’t dissolve perfectly. Always shake well before using.

6. Fever. You know, a fever is not a bad thing. And sometimes making a person comfortable with rest and fluids and a cool cloth is a much better method than masking the fever with Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen .  Fever is the body’s way of killing off infection.  It’s a burning process and if you medicate the fever away, you’ve taken away the process of cleansing the body of those nasty infections critters~which may just tick them off and make them come back with a vengeance  Check out this article on fevers in children~enlightening! Fever Benefits 

7.Cinnamon/Honey

8. Vicks vapour rub or some other comparable product.  Do not ignore what generations before us have learned: the use of menthol and eucalyptus rubbed on chests, throats, backs and feet for congestion, coughing and upper respiratory infections like bronchitis and strep throat.  Wrap the area with cotton or wool to keep the heat in and help it penetrate. Rubbing vicks on your feet and wearing socks to bed helps to relieve congestion as you sleep and is also a really great way to help little kids out without fear of them getting their hands into in and then rubbing eyes. OUCH!  And moms,here’s a trick: Vicks is pretty strong for babies and toddlers. If you want to *dilute* it a bit, mix it 50/50 (or less) with petroleum jelly OR a lanolin based scent-free lotion. Way cheaper and more effective than buying “baby safe” products.

9. Mustard Plaster~oh, I have bad memories of these. Nasty,foul smelling and burning hot. HOWEVER, they work! There are precautions though. If you are using one on a child, be aware of how hot it gets. Check it often and and protect skin with a layer or two of cotton. (something that you will throw out like an old sheet or pillow case works best).  Don’t know what a mustard plaster is? You obviously didn’t have my mother as your bedside nurse~we endured them with every illness. Works best for chest congestions like pneumonia or bronchitis.  Simply, a mustard plaster is a paste made with flour and no…NOT hot dog mustard! Dry powdered mustard. “Since mustard seed is a stimulant it will warm the circulatory system. This can result in dilated blood vessels, plus a warmed system can help burn and metabolize fat in the body. As a warming herb, mustard seed will encourage perspiration that can lower fevers and cleanse the body of toxins. This will help the body fight colds and flu.”

Click on this link for more info but here’s the basics:

A mustard plaster is made by using 4 tablespoons of flour, 2 tablespoons dry mustard, and lukewarm water. A paste is made that is easily spread but not too watery.

The most effective way to apply any poultice is to use 100 percent flannel and spread the mixture over on half of the flannel and fold the other half to make a package. Apply the poultice to the chest, cover with a heavy blanket to encourage sweating. Do not apply the mustard plaster directly to the skin as it will burn.

The mustard plaster should be left on for up to 20 minutes. If the skin turns red remove the plaster immediately.

10. Fluids. You’ve heard it, but do you do it? Clear fluids when you’re sick. No milk, no chocolate milk, (actually, dairy products are just bad when you have a cold or respiratory infection as they promote bacteria and mucous).  Hot herbal teas, clear juice(but really, keep it to a minimum on the sugary drinks), chicken soup broth(more coming on that), hot water with lemon and honey.  And water. WATER. Room temperature water is sometimes easier to ingest for kids and even when you’re feeling really poorly. The shock of cold water can chill a feverish body.

11. Cook a chicken. You know those cheaper utility chickens in the frozen food section that you often ignore? Well, when they’re cheap, buy a few. It’s very easy to make homemade chicken soup and it’s so healing and therapeutic(this is also great for new moms who are healing and nursing).   Boil your chicken in a large pot for a couple hours. You’ll need to keep adding water as it boils down. Add an entire chopped onion.  In the last 45 minutes you can add some grated carrots and  diced celery. Then add about a dozen whole peppercorns(you won’t be eating these but they’re great for flavour), sea salt(to taste), 1 whole Star of Anise(found in your whole foods/bulk/spice section), 1 bay leaf.

Boil and then simmer for 1/2 hour. Serve over cooked egg noodles or simply drink the broth. So good and it really does contribute to a faster recovery. Grandma was right!

12. Vapourizer. Every home should have at least one. When you feel that scratchy feeling in your throat, it’s time to humidify. If you don’t have one, put a pot of water on your stove to simmer. You’ll know your house is getting steamy when you can’t see out your windows! This is very important during the dry winter months. A dry throat is a hot-bed for new germs and bacteria to collect.

13.Rest. I know this shouldn’t even be a necessary point but most people don’t take enough time to rest and recover. If your kids are sick, they need to sleep, lay down, and NOT go to school or sports. That perpetuates the cycle of infection and is the number 1 reason why so many young families get hammered with illness.

ooops….almost forgot!! Ventilation! This is a biggie. If you live in a house with sealed doors and windows in the winter , you are essentially living in a microbe-infested petri dish. Ick. Open windows. Go out for a walk. Get fresh air. This is essential every day no matter how sick you are. Stale air will be the reason you get sick(likely) and the reason you stay sick. That’s why so many people get sick when it’s super cold and over the holidays~hanging around in houses with poor ventilation and then not getting enough fresh air once they’re sick to clear the lungs and cobwebs out of their system.

Finally, this is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure you all have other ideas. The most important thing to remember is that a cold and flu are NOT reasons to go the ER or your doctors’ offices unless a temperature over 103*F lasts longer than 24 hours in children or longer than 48 hours for adults. That can indicate a bacterial infection which must be treated.

Common sense dictates that when your body is run down, you are more susceptible to infections so slow down, take it easy, get enough sleep at night and don’t be the hero who has to be involved in every committee and every activity. It’s okay to say no.

I hope everyone stays healthy! This is a bad year for flus so stay strong and fight smart!

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Turning Points{Growing Deep Roots}

32 years ago today my life changed abruptly. I didn’t totally understand what was going on and for a moment I was caught up in the hype.  The only home I had known was a flurry of activity and most of our worldly possessions were either packed into boxes or being auctioned off.  It was a bit of a blustery day, much like today.  I only have two vivid memories from that day.

1.  Helping our neighbour ladies serve homemade pie slices to concession customers through our dining room window.

2. Watching a little girl walk away with MY tin doll house(I sure wish I had that now. It was the coolest thing and so vintage).

We were moving.  We slept on homemade mattresses that night under the new tied-quilts my mom had made.  The horse trailer was loaded with all that we owned and cherished.  I looked for my cat, Chocolatebar(she was a brown calico) the next day but she was no where to be found. She must have known the jig was up and purposely made sure she was not a part of it.  We all cried that day as we drove away from the family ranch.  My grandma was in tears; she could barely talk.

Looking back, I know there was way more going on than my sisters and I could comprehend. It took another 20 years for me to figure most of it out.  With the farming and ranching business being so volatile in those years and interest rates through the roof, no one was doing very well financially.  The winds of change were blowing and my dad had an itch to move on.  But that day, May 3, was the last day that our family was the family I knew from birth. Everything changed after that.

If you knew me then, you would know I was a quiet, shy and extremely introverted child.  The upheaval of leaving our secluded country life in Northern Sask/AB(we lived on the border) and moving to a city where I was thrown into a culture I neither asked for or liked was devastating.  It was so devastating I threatened my parents that they could NEVER, EVER do this to me again. I refused to be a part of whatever plans or schemes they had. Of course, I was nine; what did I know?  I probably shed quiet tears in my room at night.  I tried my best to make friends, and I did.  But I hated the city.  I missed the farm. I missed my family and friends and our old life.  I don’t think that I really accepted our new life for several years.

With this traumatic event came the separation of my parents and a new life of my mom and my 2 sisters living a difficult life where we often had little to eat and certainly there was no money for shopping or frivolous expenditures.  This is the time I grew up.  I got my first babysitting job at 11 years of age(barely 11).  That became my bread and butter and my escape for the next 8 years.  I loved kids. I loved the money I made.( $1 an hour!)  I loved the responsibility and the ability to be in charge when much of my life seemed so not within my control.

Looking back now, I am thankful for those years but there was much pain.  I stopped showing emotion and crying.  I saw too much pain within my family and I couldn’t add to it or join in.  So I shut down.  I didn’t release any of that emotion until I met my husband.  Poor guy. He had no idea what he was in for.  But for the first time in more than 10 years I felt free and safe enough with someone to let him know all of the pain of growing up in a single-parent home and all of the fears I had carried.  We had only been dating for a short time when I let it all out and I COULD. NOT. STOP.  I shocked myself.  Bless his heart, he stuck it out with me!  And I haven’t really stopped showing emotion since!  (Like I say~the guy is a saint!).

So here we are, on the 32nd anniversary of the day that changed my life.  I am so thankful for that move in spite of the hard years and pain.  If we had never moved, I would not be the person I am today.  I would never have met my husband or so many of the friends and mentors who have helped shape and guide me into being the person I am today.

And now, as we are on the cusp of moving our kids for the 3rd time in 6 years, I can only hope and pray that they are old enough to remember and acknowledge that painful, traumatic events can be character building turning points.  They make you or they break you.   And even if they break you, you come out stronger in the end.  We don’t grow when life is good.  We don’t find out our strengths and abilities when we’re not challenged and pushed.  My dad was telling me last week that drought is what makes a good wheat crop.  In times of flooding and rainy springs, seeds that are planted do not form deep roots.  The seed doesn’t need to burrow down deep because the water is plentiful.  So when the storms and winds come, the plant is wiped out. It has no strength and can’t hang on. Seeds that are planted in dry soil have to form deep roots to find enough moisture to germinate and grow.  Often it may seem like there is nothing happening;  no growth is seen because it’s so dry.  But under the soil, in the dark places, the roots are bearing down before the plant is ready to burst through the tough, dry ground. The difference for the seeds planted during drought is that they are so strong and able to withstand any storm, heavy rains, winds and pressure.

This is my life right now. I feel like we’ve been in a drought much like my life was in the 80s.  The advantage is now, as an adult, I can see that I am burrowing down deep and forming roots.  It feels like I will never see a breakthrough but it’s beginning to rain.  And the breakthrough is imminent.  I can’t   We WON’T be staying this way much longer.  The roots that God has been forming in our lives are the exact things we’re going to need to sustain us in the coming years.  And I pray that my kids will benefit as well.

What Marriage is For

We, {He and I}, are in the 20th year of practicing marriage.  We practice daily and sometimes we fail miserably. But mostly, we’re getting better. Practice makes perfect and a perfect marriage is only a Heaven’s breath away.

I know that for many of you reading this, marriage isn’t fun or good or even desirable.  I also know that some of you have practiced, failed and given up.  And there are more of you who are trying it again with someone new.  I don’t claim to have the answers but I do know this: when marriage is practiced and learned and done God’s way, it works.  It works because it’s God’s plan.

Anyone can have a relationship.  Anyone can choose to love someone and be intimate with them. Relationships are easy to get and easy to leave. We friend people on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. We e-mail and text and call and write and all of it is great and none of it is special.  Relationships are a dime a dozen, sadly.  There’s nothing wrong with having 100 friends and there’s nothing wrong with only 1.

But marriage; marriage is sacred and holy and reserved seating only.  Marriage is for ONE.

When marriage is right and used to its fullest potential, there is only one and there will only ever be ONE.  That’s what marriage is for.

Regularly I read and hear news of some other state or country or province or group attempting to redefine marriage.  How do we, people, redefine what God himself created? How do we presume to take His most holy earthly relationship and cut it up, serve it out like pie and have everyone partake?  Marriage is not up for grabs. It is not on the market.  It is not entertaining takeover bids.  Marriage is non-negotiable.

And this is not the part where I get on a soapbox and talk about how homosexuals don’t deserve to be married or how polygamists should get their day in court.  Honestly, that is between them and God.  If a man chooses to have 4 wives and another man chooses to have one husband and yet another chooses to never marry but sleep with as many women as he can~none of that is about marriage. All of it is about morality and your relationship with God and your dishonor of His word and His holy matrimony.  To me it is a non-issue that states and governments spend so much time and effort on who should get to be married and who should not. Marriage is God’s.  And people make choices.  And choices are judged…by God, not man.

Marriage is more than rings and gowns.  It is more than bouquets and cake, bowties and bridesmaids.  Marriage is not a paper signed by witnesses or a  one day event we dress up to attend.  Marriage is bigger, deeper, stronger , fuller and richer than I can describe or live.

It is supernatural in its beginnings; that TWO individual people can be joined into ONE FLESH with the heartbeat of God at the very core of its existence. That is miraculous, inexplicable and mind-bending.

It simply cannot be discussed, renewed or lived out without God because He created the capacity for us to be able to live with the same person, only grow in love, for days,months, years and decades.

When the thank-you cards have all been sent and the dishes are dirty in the sink.  When bills pile up and someone needs to work and someone needs to sacrifice ….that’s what marriage is for.

When doctor visits make you cry and babies are born in the snowstorm late at night.  And sitting in that rocking chair all night makes you lose your mind and lose sleep….that’s what marriage is for.

When the dog pees on the carpet and the vacuum is plugged but the kids need food…that’s what marriage is for.

Two heads are better than one and two hearts can tackle a teenager better than one any day of the week. Two hands held tight in the storm make fear take the backseat to faith.

When words fall off the page and you can’t write or think or know what to do next….and he pulls up a chair and holds your hand and looks into your eyes and helps make that mess of words into something beautiful….that’s what marriage is for.

When you can’t stand him because he doesn’t get you and he walks away sad and lonely and defeated…….Marriage scoops  you both up and holds you until the words come out right and the heart is broken and humbly you crawl into each others’ waiting arms and start all over again.  THIS is what marriage is for.

Marriage is the safety net that catches you when you fall from the tightrope you’re on because you think you know what you want and then you fall because you had no  idea why you went out there to begin with.

Anyone can live together and make breakfast and babies.  Anyone can romance you when you’re fit and fertile.  But when pantyhose get replaced with sweatpants and a made up face gets replaced with dark circles and  the bra doesn’t fit like it used to……THAT’s what Marriage is for.

The beauty and the ugliness.  The sicknesses and screaming.  The laughing and the learning.   People give up to soon. Don’t give up.

When you get past the I wants and You shoulds and I wish.  When you learn to stay quiet and love through.  When you have patience and wait. When you give more than you take.  When you laugh more than you cry.  When your crying gets you a shoulder to cry on instead of a list of how to fix it.  When you can’t wait to see him at the end of the day and he wraps his arm around you even though your waist is wider than it was last year.  THIS.

THIS is what Marriage is for.

You know it’s been too long when….

We’re in our 8th month of being a separated family, where my husband is living out of a suitcase and coming “home” only once a month.  We’ve developed routines, habits and inside jokes that are all growing old.   We’re rolling our eyes a lot.  We’re not having fun.  We’re kind of over *THIS*.

On the weekend we were out with friends in Regina(a very RARE moment to go out and socialize) and we were explaining that we are much like a  blended family making preparations to move in together.  My husband has *his* two kids and I have mine.  *His kids*  talk to him about their schedules and plans and go to him mostly for issues and advice.  *My two kids* do the same with me.  Rarely do the 4 kids interact and when they do there’s some awkward moments of over-stepping each others’ turfs.    Our home is now MY home.  Their home is not my home at all.  It is ridiculous.

My husband is also very lonely. He doesn’t socialize much and rarely has a chance to share a laugh with anyone.  So, he has taken to creating characters.   Yes, make-believe.  Believe it.  He has an East-Indian character he created years ago who he is now considering introducing to his new Japanese friend.  He also has Reba, the lady voice on his GPS who he can talk back to every once in a while~~ for old times’ sake. 😉   Anyone feel sorry for him? You should. The guy is going to crack!!

We also make jokes about people we shouldn’t be making jokes about.  Don’t worry, it’s not you.  Well, at least I’m pretty sure it’s not you.  It’s innocent and it’s all we have.   He calls me after work on his way home or to pick up or drive our daughter around.  He uses his Bluetooth so it’s all  legal and hands-free, no worries.  But , it’s background noise.  He chats with her, I chat with my girls.  I make supper, he gets gas.  We laugh.  I listen.  They talk.  I eat.  We do this for a long time.  Just to be IN the moment and in each others’  lives.

We’re starting another long stretch between visits.  He gets to go to a hockey game this week with our son so there will be no weekend visit.  Next week we have skating carnival here and then a concert where we’ll meet for an evening but that will be it for a couple weeks again.  Basically, a 4 hour meeting in the midst of 4-5 weeks of not seeing each other.

I enjoy when we get together because the first glance is like dating all over again.  But after that, it’s a series of house-keeping questions, discussions and decisions.  There’s always something that needs attention.  We have so few hours but we’re still parents and we still have obligations.  It’s not all romance and kisses…wouldn’t that be nice?

I’ve had to re-prime the pressure tank on our water system…by myself.  Unclog drains.  Rescue a dog in the middle of the night.  Drive myself home after hitting a deer.  Finish all of our business paperwork by myself and a multitude of other menial tasks which sound so easy and mundane but are so lonely and depressing.

He’s had to leave work early to tend to the needs of the kids.  Be on call for work several weekends plus dealing with meals, kid schedules and his own needed rest.  He does his own laundry and grocery shopping. He drops  off and picks up  kids from sports and often doesn’t get to stop till after 10 at night.  He is tired and lonely and he just wants to sleep in his own bed for more than 2 nights in a row.

And all through this I just keep asking ‘why?’  and ‘when? ‘   I just want to know when it will be over.  I just want to stay home with ALL of us for an indefinite period of time and know that when I wake up he’ll be there.  I am being selfish, I know.   I want all of this ” family ” stuff that others speak of:  Sunday dinners, walks in the evening,  laundry folding while watching a movie and the busy-ness of a door opening and closing regularly because teenagers have friends and a life. This is all I want.  It’s been too long.

A Response to Laptop-Shooting-Angry-Dad {Grace}

As of this morning a YouTube video posted last week has now over 25million views. You may have seen it~or if you haven’t, you might want to check it out.

 

I watched this on Tuesday after seeing many friends and family post it to Facebook.  Many of the comments indicated to me that this might be something that would make me laugh, be excited about or want to do a bunch of cyber-highfives to.

Clearly, I’ve never hidden my expectation that my kids are respectful people who do their fair share of work and responsibilities and so I went into the watching of this video probably a bit on the side of the dad before ever having watched it.

I have to say, it was hard for me to get through it all.  I did not feel excited, happy or gleefully ”on side with Daddy'”.  Rather, I felt sick, sad and hurt for him and his daughter.   I cringed as I got through the entire 8 minute rant.  Don’t get me wrong; I totally understand where he’s coming from.  In fact, I’ve been exactly where he is.  Exactly.  I have 4 kids, 2 of whom are now over 16 and we have walked through these waters of disrespect, whining and complaining about duties, FB inappropriateness and public humiliation.  I have 2 more kids coming up in these ranks soon and I have learned something: your kids are fragile.

In fact, their fragility escalates during the formative teen years.  Some kids are more resilient and take their hormone changes in stride but others fight it and struggle for years with boundaries, emotions and feelings of being taken for granted.  I get this teenage daughter.  I feel for her. I’ve been there~both on the receiving end as a parent and on the end of the teen.  She is hurting and she is offended.  Maybe she didn’t handle it well.  How many teen girls do?  Maybe she could have taken a better approach in talking to her parents about her stresses(or perceived stresses) and any unfairness that she feels is being directed her way.  But hear me on this: Teenagers today are not us.  They have not grown up in the world that we grew up in and they have an exponential amount of social pressure that we never had.

Facebook, as much as I love it, is a toxic world for teenage girls.  There is a certain amount of anonymity on there which leads a lot of people to feel they can spout off at any time without fear of repercussion.  Unfortunately for young girls, there are a lot of repercussions, not the least of which is realizing that your hormonal rant given in the heat of the moment will haunt you for the rest of your life because you lacked the self control to wait for a clearer head and more guarded tone with your parents.

Let me just say this to all the parents out there who have not ever had to deal with a child that has acted out in this way or to the parents whose kids are still young and think it will ” never” happen on your watch:  Put yourself in her shoes.  No, I didn’t say pretend this happened in 1985 with YOUR parents, in YOUR house and the way YOU were raised…put YOURSELF in HER shoes.  Pretend you are her, right now with YOU as her parent and her current life as your own.  With her friends, her school, her workload and her consequences.  How would you feel if your dad went on YouTube, smoking his cigarette, full of swagger and attitude(I actually kind of felt like he was nervous and pretty upset too), reading what YOU thought was private and for your friends only.  How would you feel knowing your dad had been on your Facebook account reading everything you had in your inbox?   And now, consider how you would feel, going to school the next day, facing all of your friends, your peers, the kids who already hate you, condescending teachers and unsympathetic family.  Can you imagine?  I cannot fathom the depths of despair this young girl must be in.  And please don’t confuse my sympathy for her with what she wrote.  But seriously, this dad has damaged an already fragile relationship with his daughter.  He is possibly going to regret this more in the future than she will regret ever ranting in the first place.

Dads, Moms,  show your kids the grace that you would expect to be shown.  Yes, you need to discipline, ground and take away privileges.  Yes, there are consequences for what our kids do on FB and in public.  But they are kids and they have their whole lives ahead of them.  We have already established our reputations; our shoulders are broader and we tend to bounce back fairly quickly from embarrassing situations.  A 15 year old girl could be damaged and scarred for life over a “lesson” her dad thought he was teaching her.

I am praying for this family.  I am praying for reconciliation, redemption and grace.  I am not laughing or high-fiving.  I am sad.  And it makes me more upset with all of the people who think this is worthy of praise for this dad. 25million and growing.  It’s no wonder our kids feel alienated, unloved and screwed over.

  • And just as a quick note about Facebook and teens: all of my kids are on FB.  The conditions for us in our house BEFORE they got their accounts was this: They MUST be friends with us, their parents.  If they are going to post things that they would not want us to see or read, then clearly they are not ready to be on Facebook.
  • They must let their friends know that profanity and inappropriate photos will not be tolerated.
  • We regularly go through their friend lists: no person is approved as a friend unless they know them in a personal, face-to-face way.  Friends are only friends if they are people we would have over to our house and are pouring positive support into our lives.
  • FB can be taken away at any time , for any reason if attitudes or actions show they can’t be responsible online
  • At any time I, or their dad, should be able to look in their inbox(with them present) and read any or all messages. Meaning…don’t be bashing friends or family in public OR in private.

It works for us. Our kids have done well and don’t actually post a lot anyways.  And we’ve managed to at least prevent any embarrassing or life-long baggage from coming back to haunt anyone.

 

To the dad in the video: Give your daughter a hug, humble yourself and tell her you are sorry and that you over-reacted in a way that was inappropriate for you and for her.  Tell her that  YOU crossed a line in her privacy and your respect for her. And no matter what she does or says OR posts in the future, you will love her unconditionally and always be that soft place for her to land in a harsh and unforgiving world.

Preparing for February 14 {This might not be what you think}

February 14 does not mean the same thing to me as it does to most of you. For my entire life, it has been a special day but not because of red hearts, roses and chocolates. You will have to wait a couple of days to find out why.

However, the greater population of the developed world puts a whole lot of emphasis AND money on this day to profess love to their friends, family and even the odd un-requited love story.  Sappy-ness seems to take over the airwaves on radio and TV.  Walking into any store you are bombarded with red, pink; stuffed, sweet and pricey.

Meh.  I’m good without all that. In fact, if you’re one of these women who forces her husband or boyfriend to show up with some fancy piece of jewelry that he can’t afford, doesn’t really want to give you or feels obligated to give…you and I probably aren’t going to be friends.

If you’re the kind of lady who absolutely won’t accept grocery store roses, cardboard box chocolates and a dollar store card…well, we’re pretty likely not to be friends.  If the success of Valentine’s Day is measured in dollars spent and high expectations for fancy dinners and lots of hype we FOR SURE will never be friends.  I just can’t stomach all of that pressure.  I feel bad for guys who look so lost in department stores looking for “THAT THING” that’s going to make the woman swoon. I want to go up to them and tell them “if she’s really worth it, just give her your heart” .  Because, isn’t that what Valentine’s Day is?  Isn’t that why little 8 year old boys colour their best heart-shaped card and sneak it to the little freckled girl in the 2nd row?   Love.  Hmmmmm.

I can confidently say that I have never put that sort of pressure on my husband , nor would I ever want to. It is JUST AS MUCH my duty to go out of my way for him and show him love and honor and respect regardless of what I may or may not get in return.  Love should be given freely, without strings attached, without expectations, without the promise of any return on investment.  Love makes your heart swell and gives you energy.  It doesn’t knock you down and punch you again for getting the WRONG size, WRONG colour, WRONG style, WRONG price tag.  And it shouldn’t make you worry for rejection.

Our Valentine’s Day history is varied. I have to say, my husband does a better job at surprising and woo-ing me than I do to him.  He has ordered roses to be delivered while he was away in Africa(that was pretty extravagant I must say).  He has left me little notes and small gifts that have little to no value or meaning to anyone else but meant the world to me.  One year while away, he had pre-purchased a cheesey department store gimmicky toy: 2 monkeys on a motorcycle singing “I’m just a love machine and I won’t work for nobody but you”…that one made me laugh.    Some years, I get nothing and I give nothing and you know what? I still love him. He still loves me. No one has their nose out of joint.  We don’t worry about it, dwell on it~it doesn’t define our marriage or our love.

This year, money is tighter than it’s been in years.  Distance has separated us to the point where there won’t be any surprises.  It’s not going to affect our relationship.  If anything, distance has pushed us to be more careful with the time we have together.  We also text a whole lot more~little love snipits throughout the days.   Keeping our love fresh and growing is all we need. Cards, flowers, jewelry and chocolates may mean something to other people but I much prefer the feeling of seeing my husband walk through the door at the end of a long day of work.

I would take lying beside him in bed every night for the rest of my life over  getting roses again.  I will cherish his voice, his touch, his embrace, his laugh over and above any sentimental poem, card or love token.  For us, love is real.  Love is not a package.  Love is not a toy.  Love cannot be measured by a dollar value or the number of stars behind a restaurant listing.

Valentine’s Day…..it’s February 14.  It’s not the end or the beginning of love .  It’s just a day and you can make it just as special as any other day if you tell the one you love how much they mean to you.

Day 30~ Love Unconditionally {What You Have To Lay Down For Love}

Over the past 30 days I’ve been participating with over 700 other bloggers to post about one topic over the entire month. I admit that when I began I wasn’t really set on my topic: Loving Your Family.  I should have been broader…or maybe more specific. I’m not sure. I’d do it differently though.  And, actually, it’s quite hard to  do. I did miss a few days which I intended to make up for…but, well, that’s not going to happen.   Through it all, I’ve been loving my family through a series of small crises.  In our house, there’s always drama. But this month has been fraught with more than I’d care to share.  For the most part, I’ve kept my family out of this conversation. Mostly because teenagers don’t much appreciate their dirty laundry being aired for all the world to read.(And can I blame them?)  But now that we are to the end of this topic, I’d like to talk to myself.  If you want to listen in, that’s fine.  But this is for me.

I’ve always thought that I understood love.  REAL love.  Maybe I’m naive or maybe I’m just not thinking hard enough about it, but love is tough.  It’s not romantic and calm.  It doesn’t fit the mold that I thought it would.  Love takes work.  Lots of work.  Love takes sacrifice~ more than I even know at this point in my life.  Love hurts.  And love rewards.

Yesterday, I watched a video.  I knew the story behind it years ago but I had avoided watching the video knowing it would reduce me to a puddle of mush.  It did.  I was sobbing.  Tears flowed.  I could not contain the swelling of my heart.  Love broke the mold.

Watch:

 

Are you crying yet?  I can’t stop.  It’s unconditional love.  The kind of love that gets up early in the morning when all you want to do is sleep. Love that gently rocks a baby back to sleep for the 10th time this night.   A love that holds the forehead of not one child, but 4 all through the night as they fight a stomach flu so that their dad can sleep and be okay for work in the morning.

Love hurts your muscles; carrying a too-tall child up the stairs to their bed because they have fallen asleep on the couch.

Love hurts your heart; watching your daughter’s heart be broken for the first time because she’s not ready to give her heart away.

Love hurts your time; you cannot watch that TV show or read that book tonight because someone needs help with their homework.

Love hurts your wallet~ yes. It does.

What are you willing to lay down for love?  If you say you love unconditionally and are willing to sacrifice then what will you lay down?

Are you patient with your kids and your spouse? Are you kind? Do you envy them or their position? Are you too proud to sit at their volleyball game for 3 hours and cheer even though your daughter isn’t likely to play more than 3 minutes?   Do you dishonor them by talking about the dumb thing they did last week to your friends?   Are you short-tempered and do you tend to bring up their past mistakes just to rub it in?

1 Corinthians 13(also known as the Love chapter) says this:

           4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 8 Love never fails.

LOVE NEVER FAILS. EVER.  You keep going even when you want to quit.  You hug when you want to walk away. You show grace and mercy when all you want to do is punish.   LOVE NEVER FAILS.

Failing to love your family is not an option. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect~ it just means you’ll get back up and try again.