I detest goodie bags for children's parties.
I have the courage to say this because my friend Pam said it first in a comment on another post about parenting, so since she bore the burden of going first, I feel OK about going second. That's what friends are for, right.
Go to pinterest and search for goodie bags. Oh the fancy nancy stuff that will pop up. On second thought, take my word for it and spare yourself the guilt.
I'm not immune to the crafty love of creating a special treat...look at this adorableness right here...I've assembled a few goodie bags in my time...I'm kindof ashamed to say...but no more. I have learned.
First of all, it's generally not appreciated, unless there is gum involved. And you know that no good can come from young children chewing gum.
Second, it's an attempt to level the playing field--you brought me a gift, so I feel obligated to give you a gift in return so I do not feel indebted to you. Mind you, kids don't feel this way, parents do.
Third, it's impractical and contributes to the useless clutter. Do we really need a stretchy jet plane? How about some mod podged yo-yos? Or better yet, sew your own goodie bags with this pattern.
When one parent in your group goes to pinterest and finds an adorable idea for a goodie bag, creates it and distributes it amongst us, she spoils it for all the rest of us. Now we have to compete.
Just the other day my very own sister said "I was thinking about making goodie bags for Easter...I saw this idea on pinterest..." Mind you this woman is a single parent of a three year old, she's in college and she works. Pray tell how much sleep is she going to have to sacrifice in the name of crafting these goodie bags for her own and other three year olds? Really? Just say No.
Is the craftiness of the goodie bags the measure of a good party for three year olds?
I just don't think so.
Yes, I'm doing the goodie bag grumble.
The concept and importance of a goodie bag for a children's party has apparently been blown way out of proportion and it's time to rethink. Just say no. Mind you, it's going to take some time for this current crop of littles to be re-trained. We are going to have to be willing to say "today is Anna Claire's birthday and we are taking her a present. Today is not your birthday. You will not be getting a present. You will be having ice cream and cake with all your friends. That will be enough."
And that's going to have to be *enough*.
I ask you--be that parent who curbs the trend. Give yourself a pass on one more thing that you have to do out of some misguided sense of obligation because everyone else does it.
Be OK with it.
If you do this, I might send you a goodie bag. :)
I detest goodie bags for children's parties.
Peer-pressured Parents. We all know that our school-aged children face the much-maligned, dreaded peer pressure often--probably more often than we want to admit. We go to great lengths to encourage them to be strong and confident in themselves and to do what they know to be right, even in the face of the big bad monster we call "peer pressure". But let's cut to the chase. Is that enough? Is what we are teaching with our spoken words being undermined by our own behavior?
It occurred to me yesterday that parents also face a great deal of peer pressure--from our fellow parents and, to a lesser degree, from other children, because we want our own children to be accepted. How do we respond, as parents, to what other parents put forth to us as normal and acceptable, even if we disagree?
How do you parent children in this world, while keeping your focus on the big eternal picture?
If, at 40, I sometimes feel the pressure of my peers in an uncomfortable way, how can I expect my sons to resist the pressure of their own peers? (Don't answer that.)
Lately, I've been learning some important lessons about parenting (I think. I hope). Grey is in the fourth grade this year and right out of the gate, declared that he hated Social Studies. This child enjoys school and for the most part, excels at his academic work so this immediate and complete disgust for all things Social Studies was a new experience for us.
"It's boring." he whined. When you are in the fourth grade, being subjected to something you've already deemed "boring" is akin to spending time in the great abyss, covered in tar and being stalked by predatory birds day and night.
(I have no idea where he gets such a flare for the dramatic.)
Bringing up the topic of Social Studies sent him into the doldrums.
He slumped when reading the book.
He fumbled around with his papers when studying notes.
The notes were written sloppily and as you might suspect, the first few grades were failures.
A few weeks into the semester, it was abundantly clear that desperate times were upon us and something drastic needed to be done.
We spoke at length about his attitude and I spoke privately with his teacher. "It's just not interesting." he lamented. "We just read out of the book and write stuff down." We had a very pointed conversation about having to do things that don't always "light your fire". I laid down the law.
I enlisted the help of a friend who also happens to be a teacher--she showed him some ways to associate what he needed to remember for the test with some visual reminder cues and I think it helped to hear from someone other than me that this was a doable task. His next test grade was 95!
Crisis averted. I thought we were done.
But no. The next two test grades were barely passing muster. It was clear, he wasn't putting any effort into studying and the mid-point of the semester was fast approaching.
He worked hard but it was clear he needed some additional inspiration. The deal was soon struck. If his grade for the semester ended up being an A, his reward would be a shopping trip to Toys R Us. (You should know that I detest Toys R Us and we never go there.) I was very clear on the terms of the deal. The grade *must* be an A.
It's going to be a fight because you had those very gutter-ball grades in the first few weeks. You'll have to work very, very diligently.
I was confident that an A was possible, but that it was certainly not going to be easy to come by. A little adversity is a good thing, especially for boys. It's a good teacher.
He did it. He invested himself. He did the work with a little more spark. He tried harder. He wrote neater. He asked for help and made plans for what to look for when he earned the shopping trip. When semester grades came out, he didn't rip into the envelope immediately. Instead he saved it until he got into the car in the afternoon. He handed it to me and I pulled it out of the envelope.
SOCIAL STUDIES: 90
In our school, an A is a 93 and above.
There shall be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I'm pretty sure we were both more than a little heart-broken that day. Even though I detest Toys R Us, I love this boy and I knew (in depth) how much he had invested into his own success. He was deflated and broken. Real tears of disappointment dripped down his cheeks.
"But I worked so hard..." he said.
I know. Believe me. I know. I'm so proud of the diligent work you did. I'm proud that you didn't give up. You set yourself a goal and while you didn't make it precisely, you were only three points away. You pulled it from an F to a B. That's a pretty big accomplishment.
I tried to make him see but there was no consolation to be had.
I gave him some time.
He hid in his closet.
He kicked things.
He did all the things that frustrated 9 year old boys do.
I gave him some space.
The following day he seemed in better spirits and he asked if the deal could be extended to cover next semester. I agreed.
And then I made the mistake of consulting a few friends about the situation. Some of them agreed with me, that the terms of the deal were clearly stated and there was no backup plan. The requirements for reward were not met, so no trip. Unfortunately, a few of them indicated that they would have given him the trip anyway because "what's three points?".
He had done his best.
He had worked hard.
He deserved the trip.
This gave me pause.
I hemed and hawed, as my father would say. I mulled. I felt pressured by some of my peers. I kinda wanted to be the cool mom who rewards hard work and diligence and poo poo'd the "tow the line mom". You see, it pains me deeply to see this boy hurt. It breaks my heart to see him disappointed. I love him like nobody's business. I really really like it when his life is happy and easy and fun and filled with great music, Skittles and rainbows.
But that's not how life is.
And it soon became clear that this was going to be one of those life lessons that stuck around for a while--for both of us.
In private, I wanted to be the easy parent.
I wanted to relieve his disappointment.
I wanted to bend the rules and give him a waiver.
I wanted to ignore all those underlying messages.
I wanted to cast aside the precedent I would be setting.
I wanted to say "you worked so hard--let's go shopping!"
But just in the moments of my wavering, real life--big and tall--stood up and announced it's presence with authority, and connected *all* the little dots for me.
I am not the parent who takes the easy road.
And there's a reason for that.
About a day after the report card came home, my husband got an email regarding his impending quarterly bonus paycheck. It seems that, despite his very diligent work and careful planning, he had missed getting the top tier bonus by a measly 13 points.
No one at his company called to say "we're sorry." No one considered how hard he had worked, how far he had driven, how neat his handwriting was on his reports...No one offered to spot him 13 points to bump him up to the top tier of a bonus structure because he's a good guy and the fourth most productive salesperson in his company and the youngest guy in the top 20.
Nor did he expect them to.
He lamented the loss of those extra dollars for about 3.57 seconds and then said "I'll get up and go to work tomorrow, just like always."
I couldn't help but laugh. I like it when life makes things real obvious and the lesson here could not have been stated more openly or more eloquently.
The following weekend, Grey and I took a few minutes over Sonic drinks to discuss what had gone down. He seemed to get it--to understand that there will be disappointments in life--some big, some small (that's the easy part) and that how we choose to deal with those disappointments is the very definition of who we are as people and children of God (that would be the more difficult part).
Yes, there is grace.
Grace extended the deal into the next semester.
Grace said "Joal gets a second level bonus".
Grace says "I love you no matter what and if I can help you to learn some of the difficult precepts of life when the price of not hitting the mark is relatively minor, I will choose that for you, even if it's unpopular and mildly uncomfortable for both of us."
The man you are becoming is worth that to me.
A very special hello if you are visiting from Tracie Claiborne's blog...Welcome. (Thanks Tracie, for sharing some of my cards on your blog. You are a gem!)
I have been especially insipred to create Valentine's Day cards this year that are built on a white base. There's something so crisp and enjoyable about white cards.
Most of the stamps and supplies I used weren't especially "Valentine's"--sometimes you can create a holiday feel just by using a certain color scheme or repurposing certain images together. All the stamps used in the above card are from long-retired Stampin' Up! sets and a heart of gems that has been hanging out in my stash for way too long (it's by Me and My Big Ideas). Foam tape behind the heart adds a tiny bit of dimension and allows the gem heart to be tucked in behind the larger element.
Valentine's Day...is just around the corner!! Cardmakers everywhere love Valentine's Day! This is one of my first Valentines creations of the year...
It just might be the fastest card I have ever made! Five impressions total...the row of hearts is all one stamp (retired, Stampin' Up!) and the sentiment is from Hero Arts.
Red on white...classic, clean and very Valentine-y.
Keep on stampin'.
I have more friends with birthdays in January than any other month...so here's my January birthday card creation.
If you know your Stampin' Up! punches, you might notice that this snowflake stamp fits perfectly in the flower punch. (Eeeek.) Yes, that makes me so very happy!!
It was a different kind of Christmas at the Devendorf's this year.
Joal played at church several times throughout the Christmas season--which takes him away for practices and services. We are all good with that--it's what he's good at--but we miss him a little more this time of the year, I think. His major task was the leading of the "midnight mass" (our 11PM Christmas Eve service). Fortunately, this year, we didn't have any major assembling to do when he got home at 1AM. Last year, we had a drum kit to assemble. (Lesson learned.)
We celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary on the 21st, in the most casual way ever--I was recouperating from a day of major dental improvements so we just went out for a simple lunch at my favorite Mexican place. Twenty one years. At lunch, Julian said "Moma, have you loved Daddy forever?" Most definately.
Christmas Eve was spent preparing dishes for Christmas Day Lunch. I bought a ham and rolls, prepared a crock pot apple crisp, a corn and sausage chowder, black bean salsa, and a broccoli salad all to be shared at The Little Pantry. It was a full day of shopping and preparing and I was pretty tired at the end of it. From time to time, I still get knocked out by alot of movement, and Christmas Eve was a day filled with "alot of movement".
Christmas Morning came extremely early...two boys conspired to get up at the unspeakable hour of 4:35AM. Did I mention that their parents didn't even lay down until 2AM? It was not pretty. I hushed them, turned on the tree lights for entertainment and said "you will be quiet until 7AM." To their credit, they cooperated pretty well.
We opened presents and ate breakfast. Joal let me take a nap, knowing that the day was going to get really busy very shortly. By 11AM we were loaded up and headed over to The Little Pantry for Christmas Lunch. The meal preparations were already in full swing when we got there--there was roast beef, Augratin potatoes, cheesy broccoli, green beans, rolls, roasted vegetable medley and for dessert, pumpkin pie, in addition to the items we brought. Who knew Mike was such a master in the kitchen? It was a beautiful spread and I enjoyed being there. One of the volunteers brought her violin along and played some traditional Christmas tunes so beautifully during lunch. It was the perfect touch.
About 40 patrons of the pantry were served for lunch--a meal shared and gifts given. It was the way Christmas should be, for the most part. It was warm and familial.
After lunch, and clean-up, and spending a few minutes just hanging out, we came home. Julian and Grey immediately dove head-long into the assembling of the new Lego sets. That's alway a priority as soon as the Christmas festivities are complete.
It seemed to go by quickly--Christmas 2012. I didn't take many pictures. I just wanted to live it--something I don't do very often. I rarely scrapbook Christmas pictures anyway. They are all chaotic and difficult. I've never really liked the traditional color scheme of red and green--I read somewhere that most people can't make their eyes focus on red and green at the same time. How odd is that? Nevertheless, I find Christmas pictures hard to scrapbook, so for the most part, I don't.
I wanted a calm Christmas experience this year. I think for the most part, we accomplished that. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas too.
there are times when evil seems to prevail
when darkness threatens to overtake, snuffing out the light
when life gets complicated, convoluted and hard
when the hurt comes in like a storm and wreaks havoc and conjures chaos
when faith is threatens to falter
when breathing feels like too much work
when cold surrounds like a wet blanket
when life is ending before it got started, at the hand of disease and desperation
when there's just not enough of what is desperately needed
when death steals away that which is precious and innocent
when, for a moment, our understanding of life is disrupted--shaken
what do we do in these times?
how do we respond?
do we shout at the darkness and wonder who is listening?
do we throw up our hands and declare that there is no God?
do we deny, deny, deny?
do we give in and give up?
do we mope and cry in self-pity?
do we cower in fear?
do we medicate the pain with whatever seems to dull it for a moment?
do we fall to our knees and pray?
do we pontificate on the impending world doom?
do we try to decide who deserves this cosmic punishment?
do we lash out in anger?
do we retreat and hide?
do we angle for answers that can't be found?
do we hold tighter to that which we long to protect but ultimately can't?
In the Light.
For all it's worth.
We live Loudly.
With buckets of Grace.
With Joy and Honor.
With deep intensity.
We Love with Greatness.
We Give with open hands.
We demand that Life is Good.
Hard but Good.
We refuse to be embraced by anything less than Right and Good and Strength and Love.
We knock down the walls that segregate and separate.
We throw open the windows and drink in the sunshine of friendship and grace and life and Love.
We turn up the music.
We create new art.
We choose to find joy in Life.
Today, just for today, we do it better.
We live better.
We give better.
We hug better.
We kiss better.
We dance better.
We breathe better.
We listen better.
We experience better.
We acknowledge better.
We do not back down from life.
We do not let the darkness win.
It's the only way.
While traveling this week, I discovered a new-to-me blog that I am so loving. It's called CAS-ual Fridays and it features *Clean and Simple* stamping for cards. ((Love.))
There's a weekly challenge--if you go there be sure to take a peek at all the Crisp, clean works of card art.
This week's challenge is a *blue Christmas* card...(CFC79) so of course, I had to join in.
As usual, I'm incredibly late to the party. While everyone else is stuck on Pinterest, I'm still loving www.etsy.com.
I find some of the best ideas there so I thought I would share a few.
This is an awesome card by LuluandJayne. Find it here.
It was one of those that is constructed with such simplicity but without being plain. I'm particularly drawn to those kinds of designs.
This may be the fastest card I've ever made. (Love that.)
In other news, some of my far-away friends have asked about *Cards for Cans*--how it went and how to get some of those cards. It was, in a word, delightful. We had 9 attendees and collected a mountain of canned goods. It was really awesome! Many thanks to those who attended and contributed.
If you would like to participate, a full set (16 cards) of the *Cards for Cans* card designs (2 of each, all fully-assembled) can be purchased for $16, shipping included. You may pay by Paypal or by mailing me a Kroger/Publix Gift Card. (Email me for details. email@example.com
Mind you, we didn't just unleash him willy nilly upon the neighborhood. He was given a-l-o-t of guidance. We have instructed him to only ride on our street and one other circular connecting street. He is to never remove his helmet. He is to pull over when a car comes to pass, and of course, he’s not supposed to stop and engage with people he doesn’t know. That’s a difficult one because Julian has never met a stranger--he likes people and he’s wildly curious to talk to people.
(We live in a quiet, mostly peaceful neighborhood. Many people walk and bike the streets. There are alot of houses with kids and pets. The neighbors we know, we call friends. It's a really nice place to live.)
Then again that probably wouldn't have been helpful.
Beep Beep. Crazy opinionated person coming at 3 o'clock.
Then I could at least be prepared.
Dear rude lady from down the street.
Part of me just wishes I could understand what motivated her...because clearly, I don't. What's she so afraid of? What did she really expect me to say or do? What was the point? Did she get what she wanted out of the short weird conversation?
Now I'm the one who might be clueless. :)
It's not *all* about the food at The Little Pantry That Could, but in another way, it is. The food is what draws us all together. It's why people come to see us...because they are in need of (mainly) food, but sometimes other things too. Things such as a hug, a handshake, a smile, an honest conversation, a joke, a dance, a little understanding, a few moments of safe respite, a drink of water or coffee, a pastry or a cookie...
But back to the food.
Today if you shopped, you could have selected
Canned green beans
A can of beans (baked, black, pinto, navy, great northern, chili...)
A can of soup or chili
A can of chicken or tuna
A few packets of instant coffee or hot cocoa
A few bottles of water or tea
A box of spanish rice mix or a box of pasta
A can of pasta sauce or a can of fruit
A box of cereal or oatmeal
A couple of loaves of bread--bread was abundant today...lots of styles snd flavors
Snack crackers or snack chips
Half a dozen eggs
A case of greek yogurt (yes, we gave away cases today...how awesome is that!)
A bag of fresh lettuce
A bowl of fresh pico or salsa
And toilet paper...a very popular item!
It was a good day--the best day ever--with a record-breaking number of families being served--more than 100. The shelves are almost bare again...so we start over gleaning and collecting for next Saturday.
Every week, as shopping winds down, I find myself wondering how it stretched so far. Every week I want to do more. I don't really like it when we have to make our shoppers choose just one of some items. I want there to be enough for everyone...every single week.
Every Saturday I read the story of Jesus taking the lunch that was prepared to feed just one little boy and miraculously making it feed thousands (with leftovers) and I pray for that miracle to be repeated in the walls of The Little Pantry. I'm pretty sure it has many times over.
When I first started visiting the Pantry, I would say "Stacy, we are out of canned fruit." And Stacy, in her cheerful, eternal optimism would say "We gave it all away!" It's all in how you choose to look at it.
In November, I will have been going to TLP for a year. Well, with a slight break in the middle when I had a broken knee.
In that time I've noticed that a few things have changed, so I made a list.
20 Ways to Know You've Been Spending Time at The Little Pantry
1. You measure the value of other items by Campbell's Chunky Soup Cans.
If I buy those shoes for $40, that's 20 cans of Campbell's Chunky I can not buy. Maybe I'll buy the $6 shoes...
2. You harangue your friends and neighbors for extra coupons for Campbell's Chunky Soup and stalk the Publix sale papers to see when Campbell's Chunky Soup is included in their weekly Buy One Get One Free promotions. You have spent way too much time doing the math, comparison shopping for the best deal on chunky soups with pull-tab tops.
3. You have bought more than a dozen pairs of tennis shoes in the past year, yet you only actually own one.
4. You don't avert your eyes and adjust the radio when you pull up to a corner where there's a person selling The Contributor. Now you look straight at them, thinking "Is that Moose, or Mark or Vonnie?" and "Do I have some cash?"
5. You plan family holidays around Fridays and Saturdays.
6. You shop the coat rack at Our Thrift Store, hoping to score super warm coats in sizes you don't wear.
7. You wish you drove a bigger SUV so you could more easily carry all the bread and produce and canned goods and stuff from the church to the Pantry. You pray for the day when you have to make more than one trip. You wonder if they make refrigeration units for Jeeps.
8. You are sometimes referred to as the *Peanut Butter Princess*.
9. You haven't had a haircut in 4 months...because well, that's 25 cans of soup.
10. You've heard at least 6 jokes about feeding a pet gorilla, making the world's biggest Banana Pudding and "what in the heck?" from shoppers and clerks at Kroger, when you buy 35 to 45 pounds of bananas at one time.
11. You have missed church on Sunday because you are so exhausted from Friday and Saturday...and you don't feel bad about it.
12. You have ordered peanut butter from Amazon (they auto-ship individual servings of PB and I had a gift card) and you've quaried Jiff to see if they would consider making PB in smaller containers so it's not so much for our homeless people to carry around. (They haven't yet responded.)
13. You know the definition of "food snobery" and you only succumb to the condition occasionally.
14. Random people at church hand you bags of food and pairs of shoes and say "for the pantry"...and you cry.
15. You stop taking your reusable grocery bags to the grocery because the pantry needs the plastic ones.
16. Your nine year old lectured the manager at McDonald's about the Pantry while eating his lunch...and she listened.
17. Your husband no longer says "are you going this week?". He asks "how long are you staying?"
18. You want a set of larger pots and pans for Christmas so cooking for more people is not such a messy challenge.
19. You have collected paper shopping bags from people in two states and used egg cartons from people in three states.
20. You feel things more deeply. You are depressed far less often. You work harder. You love more. You are more appreciative and more generous and more grateful...more open to compassion. Your life is better.
Labels: the little pantry
There's only one woman in this world who calls me her sister. She is the youngest of my three siblings and because she wasn't born until I was 16, in many ways we did not grow up together. I got married when she was 3...and at the same time, my family moved to Texas, so the bulk of her growing up years didn't include me.
I missed out.
As she became an adult, it became a little easier to make up for the time we lost and I have loved every moment. It's a little weird because we are very much alike, in so many ways. I like to think she's the younger, cuter, brassier, fun version of me.
A while back I made this list.
Because you are my sister.
I will hold your child and let you sleep.
I will bring the gun to the fight.
I will cry for you and with you. Both kinds of tears.
I will testify to your courage and your strength when you forget who you are.
I will sit with you in the quiet and just be.
I will respect you even though I know you ate dirt when you were three and gave yourself a horrid haircut the day before my wedding.
I will understand when you choose to go to a baseball game on the day that I arrive in town..no, really. I will. But I will also bring it up when I need some leverage.
I will believe in your dreams always.
I will see the woman you are becoming and be undenyably proud.
Because I am your sister.
So you don't have to hang around my little scrapbooking space for very long before you realize that despite the buckets, bins and drawers of ribbons that I have collected over the years, about 9 times out of 10, I will reach for one ribbon-- the Offray black and white microcheck ribbon, 5/8".
It just goes.
So here they are...cards number 6, 7 and 8 for *Cards for Cans*!
Card #8 uses glitter but you can't really see it here...I'll try to get a more glittery photo.