Just Keep Trying

Just keep trying…I’m not saying this to only you. It is on repeat in my mind almost constantly. Just keep trying…just keep trying…

For several years we have made the choice to have our children, of all ages, be with us during the worship service. I am often asked how I teach my children to behave so well during this time. When I am asked it always gives me a moment of pause and I hesitate to share my wisdom. I’m not sure it is what other parents want to hear.

Let us not get ahead of ourselves here. Join me for a moment. Sunday morning we arrive at church and find our seats. We take up a whole row with a few on the row in front of us. During the service I will glance down the row to gaze upon my well-behaved children. Oh, wait. The five year old is making a paper telescope out of a sermon notes sheet and using it to keep a close eye on the pastor. The seven year old has no paper and is trying to barter a piece from a sibling. The nine year old decided to bring her box of coloring pencils and share with the two year old. Yes. Coloring pencils that will likely at some point hit the floor. And naturally the child who was absolutely positive that they did not need to use the restroom had to go right now in the middle of the sermon. Just for kicks…let’s toss in a baby who has discovered his voice and the high pitch he can reach with it.

Perfectly well-behaved children? Nope. But they are children. And the paper telescope? The five year old knew to keep it low and not to wave in the air and disturb those around her. The bartering seven-year old? He settled in and listened to the sermon even without paper. The coloring pencils? My daughter realized that it wasn’t the best idea to have that many options out during the worship service. No one around us was disrupted. They were all quiet and relatively still. (And as an adult that can’t sit still, I don’t require perfection in my children here. They just have to learn how to focus that energy.)

This post is not about whether you should have your children in worship or not. That is a personal decision. You can clearly see what our decision has been. The point of this post is about how I get my children to behave during a worship service. Or at a restaurant. Or to use the bathroom. Or to learn to read.Or to conquer long division. Insert a wide range of possibilities here. Now for the key to success: Just Keep Trying.

Life changing? Nope. But really that is what we have done. We just keep trying. One of my children screamed the first year of life. Not a pained scream. Not a fearful scream. Just screamed because she liked screaming apparently. Guess what? At nine, when she goes outside to play guess what she does? Screams. She no longer screams in the middle of the worship service or when I’m reading aloud. She knows the appropriate time and place. Why? Because we kept trying.

Sometimes you don’t have to try, teach, guide, direct for long. Other times you wonder if your child will ever “get it”. They will. It may feel like an uphill battle. Just keep trying. It may seem like no progress is being made. Just keep trying. You may take your child out of the service every. single. Sunday. for a year but just keep trying. Show your child what is important for your family. Find ways to help them. Correct when needed. Praise when they make progress. Remind yourself of the end goal. I am blessed each Sunday to see my older children singing, participating, enjoying the worship service. I am so thankful that we just kept trying.

Above – Roland Smith

As a mom I have been quite successful at sharing a love of reading with  my children. This success has also given me one of my greatest challenges: finding books for my teenage son to read. This young man loves to read, reads often, and unfortunately for me, he reads fast. When I found Beneath by Roland Smith, well it kept my son in reading material for an afternoon. However, there was to be a sequel to Beneath and, as only I can do, I completely and absolutely forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully my library had a copy!

Above immediately jumps back into the action with the lives of two brothers: Coop and Pat. The brothers escaped from an underground cult and turned the information over to  the FBI. Now, Coop and Pat are on the run from the cult leaders. They are joined by Katie, granddaughter of the cult leader, who has spent her entire life beneath. Can these three stay together and stay safe? Will LOD succeed in his plan for a new life with his underground cult?

I will confess that I read Above before it made the rounds with my older kiddos. While the relationship between sons and parents is disappointing, it is one of the reasons why Coop and Pat are such great brothers. No matter what life throws in their path, they have each others back. I love their relationship. Some of their conversations and interactions make me smile and chuckle.

Above provides an enjoyable action and adventure read. While there is conflict and violence, it isn’t overdone.  Even with a male and female interest/relationship, there was no inappropriate content or language. Our library had this shelved in the Young Adult section, but I am unsure why. My eleven year  old daughter even read this with no issues.

I definitely recommend Above if you are looking for books for boys. My girls (11 and up) would recommend it as well. Make sure you read Beneath first!!

Read Alouds – January 2017

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A couple of days  ago, I shared what I had been reading. Naturally, I have been sharing wonderful books with my kiddos, too! Although not as much as I would like.

We have three “groupings” of read alouds currently: Picture Books for my young ones, Chapter Read Aloud for the Younger Half, and Family Read Aloud. Trust me; my big kiddos still gather round for the picture books or snatch them later.

Picture Books

Bear Counts – Several months ago I read Bear Colors. My two year old loved it.  Loved it. So when I saw Bear Counts at the library I grabbed it for him. Yes, he loved this one, too.. I’m not sure if it is the colorful illustrations, the cuddly bear, or the rhyming text but he enjoys it. Fun, colorful, and cute.

The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep (Caroline Nastro) – Bear just can’t get to sleep! He decides to take a walk and enjoys the sights of the big city. Will bear ever be ready to snuggle up for the winter? Hibernation and New York City are clearly focal points here. It was not a favorite selection. We read it once and that seemed enough for the kiddos.

A Greyhound, A  Groundhog (Emily Jenkins) – This is a tongue twister book and I have a kiddo who loves them so I just had to request it. Well, I also like groundhogs so this had to be a win, right? Simple text partnered with simple illustrations made for a fun read. The animals are just cute! When I read it aloud my children were eager to see me get a bit tongue tied. While I didn’t get tongue tied we did enjoy this. As my nine year old pointed out “it would be a better tongue twister if you didn’t have pages to turn”. She is correct. Having to turn the pages after just a few words made this an easy one to read. However, you could easily use the book to memorize the tongue twister and then practice saying it quickly. Perfect!  Fun memory work!

Out of the Woods: A True Story of an Unforgettable Event (Rebecca Bond)-  This book made it home based purely on its cover. A hotel on the edge of a lake was a temporary home to a variety of personalities in the year 1914. The author’s grandfather was five and enjoyed the excitement such an assortment of people brought through the doors. Bond paints a vivid picture with her words of what life was like for Antonio at his hotel. That picture is enhanced with detailed pen and ink illustrations. A fire begins in the woods and those in the hotel head to the lake for safety. They soon are joined by the various animals of the woods that are seeking safety as well. This was an excellent book and my children found it very engaging. Highly recommend!

Younger Kid Read Aloud

We are currently reading the The Railway Children ( E Nesbit). We started it some time ago but with holidays and sickness we have made slow progress.  I don’t want my younger ones to miss out on the favorites I read to my older kiddos years ago. So I try to read books such as this during the morning or at lunch. Often my older ones will join us. Makes me heart smile.

Family Read Alouds

We finished up Ember Falls (S. D. Smith) a couple of weeks ago. My family thoroughly enjoyed The Green Ember and were eager for Book Two to be available. It was great to be back with Heather, Picket, Smalls, and my seven year old’s favorite, Helmer. The feel of Ember Falls was a bit heavier but that reflects well the trouble and hardship that is facing  our rabbit friends. As always, I recommend Smith’s books; they are exciting, adventurous stories with great characters. And I do hope that Smith is working on Book Three.

Our current family read aloud is The City of Ember (Jeanne DuPrau). This is the story of two children, Lina and Doon, who live in the city of Ember. Ember is an underground city built 200 years before by the Builders. Things are not going well in Ember as supplies are running out and no ones seems to care. Lina and Doon work together using  pieces of instructions left by the Builders to find a way to save the people of Ember. We are over halfway through this book and the children are eager to see how this all ends. When we began reading it, I was reminded a bit of The Giver (Lois Lowry). The purpose behind the two communities was different but  there are similarities in the people and their mindset. I am looking forward to a bit of discussion with my older people.

As we head into February, I want to do better are reading to my little ones. I have to purpose to take a moment, slow down from the busyness, and just enjoy a few good book with my young ones. And I need to start looking for the next family read aloud?

Thanks to Amy at Hope is the Word for  letting us join her in the Read Aloud Roundup!