Category Archives: motherhood

Top Ten: Advice on Parenting


I spoke today at the reunion of our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group.  How wonderful to see so many friends and to realize how many different ways our lives have intersected as the years have passed.  I thought for several weeks about what to talk about.  I was very tempted to just go crazy and sing these funny mother parodies I’ve been writing lately.  But I was too chicken.  Also, I had a feeling that maybe I was supposed to share something more helpful.  So I came up with the top ten pieces of advice I’ve had on parenting:  the advice which actually worked.   When I get up to speak and work only from an outline (like I did this time), I never actually know what is going to come out of my mouth and (worse) never exactly remember later what I said.  Because I have reading glass issues, I’m not even sure I actually read what was on those few notes.  However, a couple of people have asked for my outline, so I’m posting it here for anyone who wants to see it.  I’m adding in the books too.

Virginia’s Top Ten

Advice I’ve gotten on parenting (and where I got that advice)

         1.Enjoy the season you are in—each season has its own challenges and joys—don’t worry about the ones to come or you might miss where you are.  Don’t try to do so much that you miss where you are. (Personal experience and my mom)

        2.Ordinary suffering molds us to be the people God wants us to be.  Don’t seek to help your child avoid all suffering.  Do seek to talk them through their experiences so they can learn from them and learn to emphasize with other people. (BSF lesson—my mom)

     3. Envision for your children who they can be—what God made them to be—seek to know their gifts, strengths, talents and positive personality traits and help them to see how they can be that person (Katie Peebles–mentor and friend before my marriage)

    4.  Envision the good qualities hidden in the negative ones—bad behavioral traits are good ones misused.  Seek to bring out the good ones. (God’s Pattern for Enriched Living,   by Verna  Burke –available on Amazon along with other books by this author)

        5. Spend time doing things which are important to your husband (and each child)—what matters to that person is important.You will feel you accomplished something if you know you did something that they wanted. (Love Life for Every Married Couple:  How to Fall in Love and Stay in Love by Ed Wheat)

     6. Don’t Panic (should be written in large friendly letters on the front of each newborn).  You have more than one try at most parenting situations. (Adaptation from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

7. Don’t discipline the behavior, mold the heart—beware of hidden anger.  Make the good of the child the point of your discipline, not what other people think about you book (Minrith Myer book)

  8.  Family Vacations are important—you can never have a vacation when your kids are the age they are now (lessons learned, time together)

  9.   Let your child learn to entertain themselves and put themselves to sleep (Krista–mom friend of 4 when I just had a newborn)

    10.  Schedule your day so that your child gets enough sleep (Ann Colina–mom friend of 2 when I just had one)

Science Fair Information


As the co-ordinator of Woodway Elementary Science Fair and as a parent who has helped my kids do science fair projects over the past ten years, I’ve learned a lot about how to make a kid’s science fair project an enjoyable process for everyone.  Originally, I just posted the information I’d made for parents at our school here on my blog, but I’ve gotten thousands of hits, so I know that many people found it useful.  I’ve expanded and moved this information to my Hubpages account.  I include links to good resources as well as lots of pictures of how to do projects and how to make them into a poster.  Here is the link:

On a Wing


Our yard in Texas is at the top of the hill and my husband is always trying to attact butterflies.  It worked!  Now each year we have thousands of migrating Monarchs going through our yard.  See more of my photos at VirginiaLynne on hubpages.

Chinese Mothers, orphans and aprons


When I traveled to adopt Steffi.  I went with eight other families who adopted girls all about the same age, from the same small orphanage in the middle of China.  That group gets together several times each year, but I live too far to go very often.  I am going to miss them this next weekend when they get together to celebrate our girl’s birthdays.  On our yahoo group, we’ve been talking about our daughter’s Chinese birth mothers and the sorrow we feel for them.  My friend Carrie, who works with orphans in China, has been blogging about this same issue:

http://jacobandcarr ie.blogspot. com/2009/ 11/taking- her-place. html

Carrie is an amazing writer and I love following her blog.  Her depth of feeling and insight into the lives of the people around her is a good reminder of the heart of God.  I almost wrote, “Carrie is an amazing person,” but I erased that because the truth is Carrie is a regular person with an irregular God and she chooses to let him live in her and through her in both her weaknesses and strengths.  That is why I love her.

The orphanage they work in takes care of special needs children, especially ones with heart problems.  I often see the pictures of the kids and wish we could adopt again.  Yet even though I can’t add another blessing to my life (five in the home is the current Chinese limit and we are also approaching the age limitations for adoption), I can pray.  I can stand in the gap and pray for a child until they have a parent to pray for them.

Carrie and her husband have wanted to do more, so they have also launched a micro enterprise for some women in their village to make aprons and their site is here:
> http://www.scarlett shop.html

Thanks Carrie and Jacob!



Where Have I been?


Working.  On the job.  I’m a full-time mom in the summer with everyone home.  On top of my usual responsibilities, we’ve been doing a lot of home renovation.  I’ve figured out a unique way to deal with popcorn ceilings, for one thing. I’ll post some pictures and give the technique later.  My other major accomplishment was putting together 22 cabinets for my kitchen, as well as 13 cabinets for my living room, laundry and craft room.  Again, pictures and story will followo–it may not be until fall when everyone goes back to school.  

It has been hectic but fun.  We’ve been swimming almost every day and all three of the little ones are now very good swimmers.  We are aiming to have at least Sophie and Mollie join the swim team over the next year.  Steffi is not far behind them though.  She is fearless off the diving board.

I did actually print out all of my digital pages into an 8×8 inch shutterfly book.  The colors are wonderful and the whole thing printed out very well, but I will have to watch my text at the edge of pages.  It is a pleasure to watch the family pour over the book.  Making memories, recording them and sharing them.  Right now I’m in the memory making business!



Big Brother copy

Being the only boy in a family with four girls isn’t always easy.  When we went to China the second time, Brendan asked if we would bring home a brother.  Frankly, he was such a difficult toddler, I wasn’t exactly sure I’d be able to survive a second boy.  Instead, we brought home the next best thing: Steffi.  Steffi loves boy stuff and would be happy to throw a ball back and forth with me all day.  She wore her 12 inch bike completely out this week.  There was a hole in the tire and a broken chain guard.  How many kids need TWO 12 inch bikes? 

 When we are parking, she wants to park next to “that Suburban car.  I wish we had one of those!” or “park next to that big truck.  I’m getting one of those when I grow up.”  At five years old, she is just thirty pounds and 41 inches.  I’m not sure she’ll be out of a booster seat when she grows up. 

Memorial day weekend, she and Brendan played cars, Legos (always Legos), sword fights (with nerf swords), marbles, water balloons and water gun fights.  It is great having a “brother.”

(layout:  I originally made this layout on a quickpage and when it was all done, I didn’t like it!  So much for making a quick layout.  Instead, I started over with a Ditthersdoodle template, Retrodiva walk in the park paper, Carrie Stevens shabby stripe, dc designs springfresh paper 2, Green with swirls embrace life SandeKrieger Memory makers, springfresh alpha, AGE friendship rikrack)

video moments


How many of you have old home videos that are buried somewhere?  Preserving family history, I’m discovering, has two parts: taking the pictures and videos, and making those available to be seen.   Scrapbooking is a wonderful way to do that and I’ve found digital scrapbooking lets me do it even easier and faster.  However, I’ve often noticed how much more riviting video can be when we manage to dust off those old tapes.  In order to share family events, I’d transferred most of our tapes to VCR, but on my trip to China in 2004, I talked to one of my fellow travelers and learned that my older tapes may actually be deteriorating after 10 years.  So, I went about getting the right computer equipment to transfer my tapes to DVD.  That involved getting a new camcorder first which transferred from analog to digital.  Then I saved for two years to get a computer able to handle video editing.  Then I had to have firewire put in the computer when I realized I had no way to connect my camcorder to it.  Finally, I had to learn how to do all the transferring and burning to DVD.  It took me a while and the time involved in the process was daunting.  I kept on stopping and then forgetting how to do it.  My goal for the summer is to finally finish transferring all the tapes and making two copies: one for home and one for Chris to archive at work.   I still have probably 30 hours of tapes to go.  Will we ever watch all of those tapes?  Believe me, we could do with fewer “dancing in the living room” minutes on those tapes.  Yet some of the moments captured are so very precious, like Sophie and Mollie playing together as one year olds.  I watched that this week and marveled at how very, very busy they were.  Hint: there are a lot of scenes when they are somehow confined in a crib, a playpen or with a child door.  I told Christopher that I got a little exhausted looking at those videos.  It was only six years ago, but I’m not sure I’d have the energy to take care of one year old twins now.  Yet it was such a magical time.  We felt so very blessed to be the parents of these two.  We still do.  I hope that these videos will always be able to bring me back to those moments in time when God’s blessing was very strongly upon us, reminding us of his great goodness and love.