What would your mother do? Make do!

What can one mom even do to make a difference?

We moms need to know this.

This is a short series about all the huge little things moms do. It’s not a contest, but let’s all tell about our memories of those little things that mean so much, that only moms know how to do best.

One thing my mom did was to make things last. She reused everything! Did you know you can iron wax paper lightly and make it all smooth and reusable again? She did. She saved bows and wrapping paper, for reuse, along with empty cardboard tubes, which she gave to us for hitting each other. We were never allowed to hit each other any other time, so when an empty cardboard tube became available, it was one of our prized possessions. We played they were swords. It was great fun.

sock darning

My mom saved holey socks, weaving a patch over the hole (darning) and even saved a burned-out light bulb for the darning form, slipping it into the sock for a work surface, to give it the form it would need to fit right, later.

When our ironing board cover wore a hole, she did not replace it. She carefully laid an old bath towel over the worn area and pinned it tightly in place underneath. It was a great cover. Other old bath towels became bedding for our ill puppy, extra door mats during sloppy weather, and tied to a mop stick, a pretty good wet mop.

I could think of so many more examples, because we were poor yet we always had something. My mom made it happen. I know she learned it from her mom, because I often saw my grandmother sort and store things inside empty cereal boxes. It was just their way, and although I have all I need and more, it is also my way. See if you can find an example in this story.

And share with us how your mom has made do! Thanks!



The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

A Week of Answers – Counting Blessings

Dear Katharine,

I have such a problem with my goals wandering, and with thinking that others have it easier than I do. When I look around me, I see all sorts of boosters–IN OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES! Mine, though, looks jumbled and behind schedule and difficult, to me. How can I be sure or even know if I need to make some changes?  –Alissa

Dear Alissa,

It is easy.

First, make a list of everything that is going well, going okay, going not too bad, not as bad as it used to be, or not as bad as it could be, for you, lately.

I mean, look at your house: are the floors easy to clean? List that. Then look at your car: are the brakes decent for a change? List that, too. How about clothing: do all your boys have jeans that are long enough? List it. Try curriculum: is yours making school easier? List it. Go on to list one good thing about your schedule, your meals, your field trips, your P.E., your quiet time, and your day.

Then imagine that these things were actually happening to others, around you.

Imagine that Sue has easy clean floors, Sally has a car in good repair, Sylvia has decent jeans for all her kids, Sarah has a great curriculum, Sandy has begun having quiet time, and so forth. Wouldn’t that make you feel like they had some sort of better home school?

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.What you will see is plenty of reasons to think that the grass in greener on YOUR side of the fence, too., and that others could easily fall down the same slippery slope that you have, if they were looking at you and doubting themselves.

Whatever is going right, look to the Lord, not others, and count your blessings! Do this exercise every time you feel inadequate and it should help.

Then remember this little true story: A mom used to feel guilty about seeming to get the ironing done just at the last moment for someone to wear it, barely squeaking it in at the nick of time. However, one day her son had to write, in one sentence, a definition of happiness and he answered: “Happiness is a warm shirt in the morning.”

You see, children naturally love their own home, whatever that means, so smile and RELAX!

The important thing is fulfilling the command to teach your children, right? God will bless that. And if something is truly missing from your life, the above exercise will probably bring it to light.


woman, sleeping, tired, lazy, depressed

A Week of Answers – Why Am I So Tired?

This week we are studying from the questions of others, what to do, how to do it, and why. Hope you enjoy this series and learn lots from it. This second letter is from a mother of three, ages five to ten, and asks a very good question. Enjoy!

Taking a break on Bond

Taking a break on Bond (Photo credit: pamhule)

Dear Katharine,

I’m so tired and cannot even say why. I can remember when I used to do so much more and now I hardly can get out of bed. It’s odd because I’m not so tired in the middle of the night. Anyway, I just wonder if there’s some trick to being all the things a home school mom needs to be, and keeping at it. I mean, am I forgetting something?  –Shelly

Dear Shelly,

Maybe you are overlooking something. It is easy for us to become caught up in the bustle and not realize we are adopting different habits. Let’s honestly look at your life a moment and ask a few questions, okay?

  1. Do you read your Bible, daily, and pray? I always slip away from good attitudes when I slip away from the Author of all goodness. We cannot expect to succeed if we break the rules about keeping in contact with the Lord. Are you forgetting to rejoice in the Lord? It is the joy of the Lord that is our strength.
  2. Do you ever get a break? Nearly everyone else gets breaks, you know. People take vacations from their jobs all the time and return very refreshed.
    Of course, you cannot just abandon your children and husband for a week, but you can abandon the thoughts and cares for a few minutes and take little imaginary mini-vacations while you read or bathe.
    By the way, are you doing too many things? Do we really need to provide dance, music, art, sports, and oratory lessons for each child, for each semester and attend each meeting and field trip? Is that why we do this? Are you ever at home, as in home school? Maybe you are running yourself ragged.
  3. Do you take care of your body? When moms forget to take vitamins, take a walk, take a nap, or take time off from caffeine, they usually are tired, whether they homeschool or not. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should be good stewards of it.

There you have it–questions that cover all three aspects of the whole of a person: spirit, soul, and body. You should now realize a few changes you need to make. 🙂

If all the above does not apply, I would like to ask you if you might be either ill or depressed.

Sometimes illness can masquerade as tiredness and sometimes depression can hit us from the side very unexplainably. If your tiredness does not fall into any of the three categories above, you may need help from a professional.

I am a professional mom, but I may not be the professional that you need. You may need a doctor or a good, Christian, pastoral counselor. If you think that may be the case, I pray you not delay–you owe it to your children.

Love, Katharine

Pink Toilet Paper Is for Boys.

Pink Toilet PaperI managed a house full of boys most of my life. With one girlie sandwiched in between them all.

I know boys and toilets.

There’s a lot about boys and toilets ya’ can’t help. Due to their being boys and mom’s being a girl, they tend to object about being checked on very much. Although I would barge in on them if I thought it necessary, and they knew I would.

And sometimes it was plumb necessary. No pun.

When you find incriminating puddles and sprays all over the bathroom they use—well, let’s just say it wasn’t their sister’s doings. Nope.

They might even all deny it, but they all knew I knew one of them did it. Or two.

If I tried drawing their dad into the debates about who would clean up all that mess, he’d chuckle and tell them to mind their mom. Not too convincing, he.

Usually, I made them clean it up, and then maybe made them go back over it because it wasn’t clean enough, and then when they were not looking, I’d get in there and get it clean. I mean, what’s a mom for, if she cannot tell the difference between boy-clean, and clean?

Most of the time, these guys were pretty good. Really. They hung up their towels and draped their wet bath mat over the tub to air out, and flushed when necessary. Not bad for a small herd of ‘em.

There was one thing, though, that they seemed unable to do: They never let me know when their bathroom was almost out of toilet paper, so I could buy more, so the whole house could have enough.

Mind you, they understood the concept of helping keep the grocery list up to date. They never failed to let me know when the cold cereal was low, for instance, and eventually they learned to let me know when their deodorant was low. They actually wrote these entries on the list, themselves.

But toilet paper? Nah. Not so much. Not at all, in fact. How many times does a kid have to humble himself by hobbling over to the door half-clothed, like a ghetto wardrobe gone berserk, and hollering downstairs for someone to please raid the master bath for a roll just for him?

Seemingly an endless number of times.

It is twelve steps up to that level, and down again on the return trip. I know. But I fixed those guys. Yes I did, because I was growing tired of it, if they were not.

I bought a package of pink toilet paper. When they were not looking, I put one roll on the bottom of the stack in their bathroom closet. And I waited.

At first, they did not notice, since the bottom roll in that stack was obscured by a stack of wash cloths. Eventually, though, the rosy truth came to light and the questions began. Why is there pink toilet paper in our bathroom closet? (Of course, their sister did not mind at all, although she also used that room.) How come we have to have pink? And on it went.

I offered the meager answer: They did not have to use it, if they did not want to. I let them puzzle on that one awhile.

And sure enough, when the pink roll was all there was left, they caught on: Tell Mom we’re out of paper. Of course! Do it!

Didn’t take very many applications of that lesson.

In fact, as soon as more white paper appeared in the house, the pink was returned to its guard post behind the wash cloths, never, to my knowledge, to reappear.

The Blessings of Habit—Requiring

This is the hardest part.

Teeth of a model.If a child continuously needs reminders, “forgets” on purpose, he needs more than another reminder.

He needs requirements.

Children do not automatically walk in goodness, contrary to popular opinion.

Some want to stay in bed in the morning.

Some want to skip brushing their teeth.

Some want to play during chore time.

Dogs eat a lot of homework. We know it is better for them if they have good sleep, cleanliness, and work habits. Our good plans for them cross their wills. That is why God put them in homes with parents.

Parents can place requirements on children for their own good. This is common knowledge in all cultures, except the permissive. People who follow the original ways of requiring children to act sensibly, have produced sensible offspring.

Stating the obvious is necessary, these days. I believe my children will always practice brushing their teeth daily, because they are accustomed to having white, clean-feeling teeth, so brown, fuzzy teeth bother them. The same is true for bathing, eating healthful foods, and Bible reading. Oh, they may experiment with departure from the absolute best, but they also will sense a difference, a loss, and choose the right way.

They are not born this way. We require it of them.

The child who habitually eats cake and cola will not sense the ill feeling from it in adulthood. The child who habitually reads anything but the Word will not miss the Word as an adult. The difference between those generalities is most usually the differing requirements they faced as children.

Who wants to raise a loud, interrupting, unhealthy, illiterate adult with crumbling teeth and no knowledge of the sacred? Draw your lines and require your children to heed them. Help them have the excellent gift of good habits.


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Blessings of Habit—Constant Reminding

To make them think . . .

During the learning phase of acquiring new habits, reminding can be a good help for your children, or even yourself. Reminding goes beyond repetition. We reserve reminding for when we forget to think and should already know a fact or skill.

Jesus did this from the cross when He called out the first line of Psalm 22, which minutely foretells the Crucifixion. Every Pharisee at the foot of the cross knew He was reminding them to think of the entire Psalm and its implications.

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? . . .
But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. . . .
 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.
For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.
They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.From Psalm 22

It had to make them think.

English: green traffic light Español: señal de...The child, who stops interrupting when Mom slightly raises her hand, is using a reminder. The stopped driver, who hears a slight horn tap and then proceeds at a green light, is using a reminder. The newcomer, who consults a photo-directory to recall a new acquaintance’s name, is using a reminder.

The word, itself, “remind,” means “pay attention, again.” We can cause our children to pay attention more often by the simple service of reminding them. Paying more attention can make the difference between knowing and doing.

  • During difficult memorized recitations, I have reminded my children with signed alphabet initials of tricky words or phrases.
  • A childhood playmate received reminders from her mother in the form of having to return to the door, and open and shut it quietly, 20 times, to overcome door slamming.
  • “Go back and walk,” is a common reminder at our house: Walk, the first time.
  • Occasionally, even a policeman will give a warning instead of a ticket, if he judges that reminder is enough.

Bible verses posted on the walls of our homes remind our children of heart attitudes. Educational and health charts do the same for their earthly needs.

Reminders should be gentle because we realize anyone can forget something.

We can make reminders exciting to our children, rather than dreaded, if we are willing to take the trouble to make them exciting. Our children are worth that trouble.

  • Silly faces on a small poster, can give as much reminder as a cross voice, but with more effect. A bright yellow sticky note hangs on a sharp corner of our cabinets with a drawing of an orange duck on it, to remind passers-by to “duck,” and not hit their heads on that corner.
  • The tiny poem, “Thank God for Dirty Dishes”, framed and visible near the kitchen sink, caused comfort in a small, reluctant heart at our house for many years.
  • The doormat with the motto, “Wipe your paws” is a fun way to help them remember.

And I must remind you to remind your children of your love for them with plenty of hugs, kisses, and favors. ❤

Note: DUCK!

Note: DUCK!

More tomorrow!


(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Blessings of Habit— Constant Repeating

Practice makes perfect; you know it’s true.

We should train our children in every habit of good, such as obedience, quietness, tidiness, and so on. We want to produces good adults. However, how on earth do we instill habits into children?

The three-stage process begins with repetition.

I can type a list of all the countries in Southeast Asia, from memory:

  • Malaysia, Laos, Burma, Kampuchea, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Philippines.

I can type a list of all the English auxiliary verbs from memory:

  • is, am, are, was, were, be, being, been, shall, will, should, would, may, might, must, can, could, do, does, did, have, has, had.

Formulas for geometry, rules of the road, conjugations of foreign verbs, Bible verses, State capitals, all still reside in my attic, ready for me to climb up there and retrieve them. I learned them through repeating. They may fade as I age, but that will not mean that the repetition I used to learn them was wasted.

asdfjkl; Habit!

sad dad fad fads sass dad lass lass sass…

Repetition has saved me trips to the reference section of the library. It saves me mistakes, it helps me be a better teacher and helpful person, and it is fun. It is especially fun if after 40 years, I hop on a bike or sit at a keyboard, and every skill is still in place. It makes me very glad for asdf jkl; asdf jkl; asdf jkl;

Repetition is a great learning tool, one that we can teach our children to enjoy, if we do not mind making a little effort at helping with it. You know: songs, games, flashcards, etc. Our children’s future successes are worth more than a little effort, on our part, and on theirs.

Repeatedly asking the same question is one effort that works. Every time we went shopping, I would ask my children what was the rule. They knew. “If anyone but Mom touches merchandise, we all have to go back to the car.” I made it stick. They knew that, too. That repetition saved many a gift store.

This policy of repeating was a big part of our learning method throughout life.

  • What is seven times eight?
  • When do we feed the animals, and why?
  • How do we know a tornado may be coming?
  • What’s the first thing to remember in case of fire?
  • What are friends for?
  • Who loves you?
  • Why do you exist?
  • How do we spot a manipulator?
  • What should you do if someone tells you not to tell Mom or Dad?
  • What does it actually mean to acknowledge Jesus Christ?
  • What should you look for in a possible future spouse?
  • Who should you trust if Mom and Dad are not around and you don’t feel safe?

Your children can learn any important thing through repetition. Even in their adulthood, one of our children came straight to us when someone said, “Don’t let your parents know I told you this,” and in a dire situation, when no family was around, one of ours immediately knew whom to trust.

They knew what to do so they wouldn’t get burnt.

We must help our children know these things.

More tomorrow.