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Use External Filters And Teach Internal Filters

One summer day I was sitting on the back porch with my then toddler son. He was standing next to a large empty hammock and was pushing it back and forth. The momentum was increasing and I was worried that it would eventually come back too fast and knock him over. I said to him, “be careful sweetie.” He continued to push the hammock. I said to him again with more concern, “be careful!” He looked at me with a puzzled face and asked, “What is careful?”
I realized that I had not made it clear what I really wanted. I had not talked to him about what was worrying me. My saying, “be careful” meant nothing to him. I think about this a lot when I find myself speaking in generalities and admonishing my kids to “be careful” online, or “be good.” Being specific is an essential part of teaching children how to analyze a situation and make a decision on what they should do about it. We need to teach them what it means to be careful, good, or bad. 
The ultimate goal is to teach our children how to…
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The Fool's Gold

Beginning in 1848 when gold was first discovered in California, thousands moved west hoping to find chunks of precious gold metal in the hills and become wealthy. 
I went on a field trip with my daughter’s school class to learn about the Gold Rush and was shown a big chunk of shiny gold rock called iron pyrite. We all were impressed by it, and were told how many gold miners came across these large golden chunks and thought that they had struck it rich. After they had gathered up all of this rock they could find, they tried to cash it in at the bank. They were told it was completely worthless. They had been fooled by its appearance. Iron pyrite does not contain the unique properties that give true gold its value. In fact it is not even a metal. It is made up of iron and sulfur. Hence the nick-name for it became “fool’s gold.”  
All the time those prospectors had spent gathering this sparkling rock had been a completely wasted. They had nothing that they could turn in for the money to …

Dealing With Devices

They are a blessing and a curse. Screens everywhere: phones, tablets, games, televisions, and computers. Many things we find on them are good, clean, and fun. However, kids are able to find trouble or stumble across things that are not good for them too. As interactions with electronic devices increase, so does the risk of exposure to the trash that is floating around out there as well.
There are numerous ways kids can see inappropriate things. Unfortunately, much of it is inappropriate for adults as well. It can seem so overwhelming- like there is no way to have control over what they find. Here are some ways that we deal with it in our family.
We have only one computer in the house which is out in our main living area. We also only have one television in our house. I know, it’s shocking. It has always been very important to us that our kids be out where we can see them and not holed up in their rooms watching who-knows-what. But it’s getting harder to keep that up.
Smart phones …

The Personification of Beauty

When I was a little girl I was uncomfortable with the word “woman.” I didn’t want to say it. I would substitute, “lady” or “girl” whenever I could. I felt the same way about the word “purse,” and tried to avoid that word as well.
Maybe it was because I didn’t want to grow up. Maybe I wanted to be little and without the responsibilities that all women with purses have. I didn’t have an explanation. I just did not want to be called a woman or carry a purse. I am over that feeling now. I am in the final year of my thirties and have a son that will be an adult in less than two years, so it’s time. However, when several months ago I started to feel a strong pull toward writing about womanhood, I felt an opposing pull telling me not to.
Being the mother of a teenage girl and boy I find myself constantly running into issues related to this topic of womanhood. There has been a lot of discussion about modesty, controlling thoughts, body image, and feminism among kids in our home, at school, …

Look Them In The Eye

It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul. If you look someone in the eye you will connect with them in some way. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone where you just could not look away from their eyes? Chances are that it was an experience you remember because of it's emotional or spiritual impact on you. There is an energy and emotion that is seen and felt by the way we look at someone or by the way they look at you.

When I walk my kids to school, or through the store, or past a homeless person, it is easy to keep our eyes on the ground instead of looking at those around us. I have to make a conscious choice to look at the faces of people I do not know. It makes me wonder why. Is it because there is a real power and connection that can be sent? Are we afraid that someone will discover something about us hidden in our eyes, or is it that we will discover something about them that we will then need to process? It is my theory that we avoid these connections…

Silent Night: A Carol And A Film

I came across a beautiful Christmas movie called "Silent Night." It is the story of how the German priest, Joseph Mohr, and the church organist, Franz Gruber, came to compose the famous carol in 1818. Mohr was known for his compassion for all, including the poor, and the hymn was born because of his desire to share a hymn with his congregation in spite of the church organ having broken. The film has a wonderful message of hope and is a hidden gem; much like another Christmas film produced by Brigham Young University in about 1980 called "Mr Krueger's Christmas" which stars Jimmy Stewart (whom we love so much in his most famous Chrismas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life").

So, if you are looking for a great family Christmas movie I suggest this one!

Parents Don't Mean To Be Scary

Whether you were standing at the proverbial water-cooler with your fellow employees, or at a park play-date watching kids run and scream on the play equipment, you've done it. You have told the story of something awful or terribly hard that happened to you and then sighed, with relief and a smile, when someone else understood how you felt.

It's natural for us to want to commiserate about things that are tough. Maybe that is why mommy blogs, and Facebook, and Pinterest all suck us in. We want to have shared experiences. We share on all sorts of subjects. The one I want to address now is parenting. I have noticed an awful lot of articles with lists of things that stink about parenting (for some reason we all love lists). Most talk about the everyday things that are frustrating, and sometimes they throw in that little abstract statement, "...but it's all worth it" at the end. But they don't really convey why it's worth it.

Everyone understands that those art…