Sunday, December 30, 2012

I've told the kids that if they're ever in a situation where they feel uncomfortable (at their age, it's generally neighborhood kids talking about things kids shouldn't be talking about) that they can exit the situation and blame it on me. They can say "My mom needs me home", or "Mom said I had to be home in 10 minutes and I'm late" or just "My mom is mean and she'll kill me if she hears me talking about this, so let's talk about something else". Whatever. I'm happy for the neighborhood kids to think I'm a strict meanie and serve as a scapegoat.

So today Lauryn came in abruptly from bike-riding, explaining that some older kids were talking about which girls were pretty, who would be a good or bad boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. "Mom, I told my friends you said I had to come inside. They said 'Your mom didn't call you', so I said 'Yeah, but my mom hates when little kids talk about love.'"


Uncle Stephen
Saturday, December 22, 2012

Uncle Stephen has spent some of his Christmas Break with us here in Athens! We've loved showing off our new city.

Kids are getting in plenty of wrestling (boys) and cuddling (girl). Word on the street is that Papaw and Mo back in Oklahoma are jealous; no worries though - they'll be plenty of affection left for them when they come visit next month!

Having myself a Merry Little Christmas.
Thursday, December 20, 2012

"...faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us, once more..."

Loved having a Christmas party with our community group! Such a great time. Brought to mind song lyrics. Grateful for these friends!

Inspect What You Expect.
Monday, December 17, 2012

I lived by that virtue, "Inspect What You Expect", a bit more closely when the kids were little. If I asked them to take a bath for example, I would "inspect" that it was done "as expected". (Meaning there was some evidence of soap being utilized.)

As they've gotten older I've been letting this virtue slide a bit. When I ask my 5th grader if his homework is done and he says "Yeah", it's easiest to just take him at his word and trust that it's done. No inspection. I'm finding however that it might not necessarily be completed the way I (or his teacher) would expect. Some inspection is still required.

This is where parenting gets tricky for me. I want to do what's best for my kids in the long haul; encouraging responsibility and independence. I won't rescue them leaving from leaving their homework at home and getting a bad grade if it means they'll be more likely to remember it next time. (Different story with the kid who neither knows or cares that he left the homework folder at home; something beyond natural consequences are required there.) So lessening my level of "inspection" is tricky for me sometimes. My bent is to just trust the "yeah, homework is done"without inspection, because it saves me the trouble of the five minutes it takes me to look over it, and encourage any corrections or completions. I think often when I pass over the inspection step, it's mostly for my benefit and not his, but I justify my lack of inspection by telling myself I'm "encouraging independence." (Ouch. Sometimes self-reflection hurts.)

Anyway - I am reintroducing this "inspect what you expect" mantra back into my mothering psyche. I started tonight by coaching my 7 year old thru correctly putting shampoo and conditioner in her hair. I realized she hasn't been using enough conditioner, nor leaving the conditioner in long enough, to do any good. Hopefully now that we've corrected that, we'll both be spared some frustration at hair-brushing time.

Next I watched Dylan clean his bathroom. That inspection went great; he did a good job. Still a "win" because I got to praise him for a job well done...and he probably did a better job than usual because I was watching. Safe bet that he up'ed his bathroom cleaning game anyway with mom's eyes on him!

In simple areas like "Clean up your room", or "Put away your laundry" they do better when I say "I will come check it in 10 minutes." That is a simple lesson that I had previously learned...but have somehow gotten away from recently.

"Inspect What You Expect." I gotta do it.

Be Merry
Thursday, December 13, 2012

Excited that Christmas Cards have started arriving!

I made this burlap "Be Merry" banner to display our cards. It was quick and easy - I just used no-sew heat and bond to adhere the letters to the burlap, and sewed the pennants to some red quilt binding. (Because it's what I had; ribbon would work great.) Festive display to fill up the still-empty wall in our dining room!


Happy Birthday Mom
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Today is my mom's birthday!  I won't reveal her age, but I will tell you that she often gets authentic, surprised comments along the lines of "Wait?  Starr is your DAUGHTER?  She looks like your sister!"  I hope I age as well.

Happy Birthday mom!  I think you're amazing.

Grateful for those who see the good.
Monday, December 10, 2012

When you know someone well, you get to choose: You can choose to see the good, or you can choose to focus on the ugly.

People who know us well get many, many chances to decide which side of us they will remember.  Jonathan and I are just like anyone else; when we develop a close friendship with people, inevitably they get to see all our sides.  The good, the bad, the ugly.  We can put on our best face for a little while...but when you live real life with people for long, the real you has a way of showing up.

I am so grateful for our friendship with Matthew and Emily Hart.  Grateful that they knew us long enough and well enough to see us snap at each other...raise our voices at our kids in frustation...roll our eyes and complain immaturely about things in ministry that annoy us.  And yet...they choose to see the good.

We met Emily and Matthew when we first moved to Lubbock.  They were just young 20 somethings, dating and dreaming of a future together.  Jonathan had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony.  We celebrated with them as they started their family, having two of the prettiest little girls you've ever seen.  We worked with them in ministry, and watched them love children and pour their lives into kids; ours included.  They were there when our oldest was baptized, celebrating with us and praying powerful prayers over his life.

That's why it was so special to me when they gifted us with these beautiful, personally designed and created canvases when we moved to Georgia.  They chose to see the good.  I'm sure that over the years there were offenses rendered and times we weren't there for them as much as we could be.  But they celebrated the good they saw in us and the positive things we brought into their lives.  What a gift.  Thank you Lord.

They designed these signs for us and gave them to us along with beautiful letters, detailing why they chose these specific words, and explaining the ways we had played these roles in their lives.

Every day I see my canvas and think "I can be those things for someone today.  I get to choose."

This couple will always be super special to us.  Plans are in the works to get them out to Athens for a visit.  Can't wait!

Beautiful Harts!


With a title like that...
Saturday, December 8, 2012

The first gift under our tree was placed there by Ryan; a gift for his Dad. I have no idea what's in it, but we obviously have some very high expectations.

It'll do.
Friday, December 7, 2012

I am a minimalist when it comes to holiday decor. The tree. The stockings. That's pretty much it.

But I decided I needed at least a bit of front door festivity and set about to make a quicky, easy, and cheap wreath.

Between the cheap glitter bow and the cheap glitter ornaments I will sparkle until Christmas. Glitter is EVERYWHERE.

It's not the best looking wreath on the block (or anywhere else it might be pitted against other wreaths), but at least now our neighbors can be certain that we do indeed celebrate Christmas. Even if we are Scrooges when it comes to [not] putting up lights!

Cliff Familyt

I'm Starr Cliff. A domestically-challenged mom, climbing over mountains of laundry to bring you my stray observations and amusing stories about my kids. (more)



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