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Jun 12 2012

Teaching your Tween to Wait

 

I bought some expensive jeans this month. Really expensive. I still feel slightly guilty about it, but I waited a long time until I was able to get them on sale. I had a little extra spending money, and I was in desperate need of a new pair – especially a pair with sparkly roses – so I caved in to my inner diva and bought them.

One of my children, who shall remain nameless, saw my jeans and declared them “unfair.” This daughter insisted that she needed the same brand of expensive jeans with sparkly roses on the pockets, too – since every single pair of hers were suddenly too small and outdated.

My answer: No. I waited until I was almost 38 years old to get these jeans. You can wait awhile longer, too.

Both our older girls have been begging us for an iPhone. I tell them repeatedly that I was the last person in the Western hemisphere to get a cell phone. I was 33 years old before I even got one, and 37 before I got an iPhone. The combined ages of all three of my girls don’t even total up to my current age, so again, my answer to their pleas? Wait. A long time.

With all that said, guess what? Our 8-year-old has an iPhone. Not one that works to make phone calls, but it functions as an iPod Touch. I’ll take a step back while you throw rocks and garbage and mock my hypocrisy. Allow me to explain.

Our girls have always enjoyed learning games on various handheld electronic devices. We’ve had all the Leap Frog toys, Nintendo DS’s, DSI’s, V-tech toys, you name it. With each game, we have spent close to $100 per device (or more). These toys always serve an educational purpose, and even more important to my sanity, a distraction device from hitting, biting and punching each other on long car rides to Grandma’s or vacation.

Quickly we found that these toys add up to some serious cash spent. Along with the cash spent, we found the girls outgrowing and outsmarting the games in a few short months. (Being the smart parents that we are, it took us about 10 years to figure that out).

So, this past Christmas, we found an old 3G iPhone on Craigslist for cheaper than an iTouch, and way cheaper than a smart educational toy that we had first considered for Belle. On her new device, she has endless educational games, the ability to take photos like her big sisters, and she can use it to listen to stories before bed. (You can keep throwing rocks and garbage at me; I don’t mind).

When she opened her gift on Christmas morning, she was completely shocked. She kept repeating over and over, “I never thought I would have an iTouch!” Her joy made us all giggle and really made us proud as parents. It was a worthwhile investment for us and has served its purpose well.

Occasionally when we have the money and the situation is right, we might do something crazy and buy an iTouch for an 8-year-old. We say yes because we love our kids.

Wanting nice things is not bad. Wanting to give your kids nice things stems out of our love for them and desire to make them happy. Of course that’s not bad!

Unfortunately, with our best intentions being what they are, the constant act of giving a child what he or she does not have the capacity to appreciate leads to an aloof attitude from the child and almost an attitude of “I deserve this.”

If there is a special item our girls long for, and we know either we cannot afford it or the timing just isn’t right, these are suggestions we offer them:

 

Work for it

Our front door is a revolving door of children, both our own and random extras, always wanting food and messing up my house. One way I tell my girls they can make some extra money toward their goal is by cleaning up after these blessed friends.

The most despised job across the board at our house is folding socks. With three young girls, myself and my husband, the volume of socks that need to be matched and folded every week is truly astonishing. This is a high-paying job that I’d quickly pay anyone else to do since I despise it so much. There are always extra jobs like these that will pay cold hard cash at our house.

 

Save for it

From the time our girls could understand the concept of money, we have taught them to save. Each child has a piggy bank with a section for Savings, Spending, and Church. They save 10%, give 10% to church and have 80% of their allowance left to spend as they wish. We emphasize the “Savings” category is to be used for big ticket items such as a designer pair of jeans Mom is never going to buy them.

 

Wait For It

Your kids should know how awesome you are by now. Haven’t you always surprised them with amazing gifts in the past? I know we have. We’ve purposely hung on to a gift we could give them until the time and the place were right. By making them wait, hopefully our kids have learned to trust us a little with their wishes and dreams.

Waiting also has the positive benefit of finding something at just the right price. We have taught our girls to shop the sales after Christmas or holidays to show them how sometimes by waiting they can make their money go twice as far.

 

Go For It

There are times that necessitate gifts for no good reason at all. Giving is part of the joy of life, and surprising your kids with extraordinary love wrapped in a gift can be an amazing thing. Go for it. Surprise them from time to time – as long as they don’t learn to expect it. In giving to them, they are learning both the gift of giving and receiving, two very important life lessons.

And finally…

 

Table It

You are the one in charge. You can do it. Say no when you have to. Your kids might be angry, hurt or upset for a while, but you are older than them and obviously have more life experience. You’ve known them longer than anyone, and you know what’s best for them. Sometimes the best thing is just to say no and leave it at that. You are the adult, and you don’t even need to explain yourself!

My biggest piece of advice after everything I’ve said is this: If you buy yourself an expensive pair of jeans, hide the receipts and do not by any means disclose the price you paid to your children.

This article appears in the June 2012 issue of The Family Magazine of Michiana

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May 30 2012

Wegner Summer Plans

There are only FOUR more school wake up days until summer is here!  Our family cannot wait, since four out of five of us treasure our pillows and sleep.  Apart from sleeping, we have a lot of plans ahead! Here are just a few:

  • Rob and I will be going on a prayer/reflection retreat in Colorado
  • Maddie and Whit are at Springhill middle school camp.
  • Belle gets to go hang out with Grandma’s, Grandpa’s and cousins in Chicago
  • Ellie the dog gets to hang out with all her dog buddies at her favorite dog hotel in town
  • Belle is so excited to go to Springhill Day camp at GCC with her best buddies. (she keeps telling them WE GET TO YELL IN THE HALLWAYS AT CHURCH!)
  • We get a “staycation” at the end of June together as a family
  • We are pulling the plug on cable on our at home televisions. When I walked in on my girls watching “Kid Killers” the other day, it sealed the deal.  Plus, we will save about a hundred dollars a month.
  • Limiting “Screen Time” for the kiddies overall.  One hour of reading gets them an hour on the computer or their iPods.
  • Maddie is going on a Mission trip to Chicago with GSM and Whit is going on a local mission trip. So proud of them both.
  • Cash for books–if the girls read “selected” books that Rob and I think would help develop their little minds a bit more than “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, we pay them per book
  • We are spending the last week of July at Hilton Head, SC. None of us have ever been there, so we are excited!
Mostly, we are looking forward to the low key days with not much agenda.  I love having my kids home in the summer.  I am sad by all the parents on Facebook or Twitter that are already complaining about “having kids around” all summer.  There is nothing I enjoy more than a houseful of kids.  We are jumping in to summer and we can’t wait!
Do you have any plans for this summer? I’d love to hear what they are and where your adventures will take you!

 


May 7 2012

Joy

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Joy comes in all shapes and sizes. I am constantly reminded of this as each girl in our family contributes joy and happiness in their own unique way.  I am so very grateful for their specialness and the way they shine the love and light of God by just being who they are.  I’m so blessed.  So very thankful.

 


May 2 2012

Missional Family

 

“Missional” is a fairly new term that has been thrown around in Christian circles for the past few years.  If you understand what Missional is, you’ll know what I’m talking about, but if you have no clue what Missional means, here goes: Missional living” is a Christian term that describes a missionary lifestyle; adopting the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with thegospel message. That definition is from Wikipedia.  Here’s how we’re living it out around our house:

We love Jesus.  We know He has enormous love for us and the people He sends our way every day.  We are intentional about being God’s representitives of His love wherever we are.  At this phase of my life, I’m not travelling a lot to places like Africa, India, Mexico, etc. to spread God’s love.  But I am travelling to my kitchen, and my living room, and my back yard.  Here’s why:

We’ve made our home a Missional Outpost.  We pray that every person that comes through our doors will know and understand the love of Jesus because of the love we have for one another and the love we share with them.  The other day we had a new little friend over who was not following the rules and called one child a bad name.  I gently pulled her aside, looked into her precious round blue eyes and said, “Sweetheart, this is a house of love. We don’t call eachother bad names here.”  Another little guy that is always over here piped in and said, “She’s right! We love people here!” It made me so happy to hear him say that.

Here are some of the very easy and practical things we do to make our home “Missional”:

  •  We have an open door policy.  Any kid can come over to our house.  Good kids.  Bad kids.  We take them all.
  • Everyone follows the rules.  We are a house of love, so no name calling, fighting, stealing, or back talking.
  • Everyone helps each other.  If a kid eats over for dinner, they help out.  They are usually the ones more eager to help than my own children.
  • We talk. We swap stories at the dinner table about our day. Each kid shares at least one “high” and one “low” from their day.  Once everyone has shared one story, the talkers can have their turn to share more.
  • We pray. We pray before we eat dinner, or before the kids go to bed at a sleep over.  Not once has a guest been freaked out by this.  They love it. The past few nights one of our regular “guests” could not wait to ask if he could pray.

Our little buddy found his way to Jesus at our dinner table.  Missional living is not difficult. We love and serve Jesus as a family, and we just ask others to join in along the way.

I’d love to hear your Missional Living stories!  I bet you are already doing it and don’t even know it.  🙂

 


Mar 2 2012

Chicago Ice Skating

Two weekends ago we loaded up the family and headed to Chicago for our 2nd Instagram meet up. (Where you go and hang out with other crazy people who like to take pictures on their iPhones). We met at Millenium Park for some fabulous ice skating (I only fell once!).  It was great fun.  Rob, being the true gentleman that he is, dropped us off so we didn’t have to walk so far once he found a parking spot.  He came back in a bit to join us, saying that he found a great spot.  We skated awhile, had a great time, then went to get some dinner.  We were freezing cold, but were having a great time.  After dinner, Rob went to put a little more money in the meter since our time was almost up.

A few minutes later while the girls and I were admiring Luminous Field, he called and said our van had been towed. My cell phone battery was almost dead, and I told him to stop kidding me.  He apparently wasn’t, so he said he’d call once he found where they’d towed our van.  Then my cell phone died.  For real. I had no idea where to find him. The girls and I started walking toward where we had originally parked, by this time we were really, really cold. We snuck into a parking garage to get out of the cold for a minute. Impulsively, I prayed out loud that Jesus wold help us find Daddy and he’d know where we were.  The people around us looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn’t care.  🙂

After a few minutes of waiting, I took the cell phone in my hands and prayed that Jesus would do a miracle and let my phone turn on.  It did. The phone rang, and it was Rob saying he was just a block away after paying an enormous towing  bill to get our van out.

It’s times like those that I know God is smiling, knowing that it was a tough lesson, but the girls got to see His hand at work, making sure they were safe.  It’s little miracles like a cell phone battery coming back to life that we celebrate in our family as “God at Work,” and don’t pass them off as coincidences.

I’d love to hear your “God at Work” stories! Please share one in the comments…we’d all love to hear!


Oct 26 2011

State of the Student Report

 Parent teacher conferences were this week.  Maddie and Whit were so impressive with their Yale and Harvard sweatshirts. They have high aspirations…can’t blame them! Whitney is in advanced honors math, which is so far beyond me that I really can’t help her all that much.  They practice logic on levels that I am afraid would take me hours to unravel. . With her outgoing, bubbly personality, strong wit, sense of humor, etc, one would never guess that she is such a math and logic whiz. Grades are super important to her. She is doing phenomenally well her 1st semester of middle school.

Maddie is an extremely strong student across the board. She is getting all A’s at this point, and secretly loves learning. She is a very strong leader according to her teachers. One after the other talked about how she helps others and they depend on her to help interpret into tween language what the teacher just said.

The general consensus on both Maddie and Whit was: They are strong leaders, have strong opinions, are helpful and kind, and hard workers.  I am so proud of them.

We had Belle’s conference this week too.  Her teacher said that she is the most helpful student in class.  She always helps the kids who have special needs. She LOVES them, protects them, and loves to look out for them.  She is doing an amazing job at reading, and her strong suit is math.  She loves numbers. Belle is also quite an artist. I joke with her all the time that I will write books and she can illustrate them. I honestly can see that happening some day in the future.

One common theme between all three girls is their strong verbal skills.  Apparently they have the gift of gab, which they are learning to use in moderation.

I am so thankful for the school district we live in, the schools our girls attend, and the teachers that they have. We are so blessed, and it is so neat for us as parents to sit back and watch them thrive in these environments.  Rob and I are saving our pennies for those ivy league schools…and praying for scholarships.