Did you do anything fun this weekend? It's a simple question, but it made all the difference for my daughter Monday morning.
Last week I wrote about her rough first day of school. The second day was better (no tears, thankfully), but she was still concerned about making new friends. So my husband and I went Old School. We talked about looking outside ourselves and engaging others in conversation, along with some blah-blah that we parents are so good at.
We encouraged her to ask a single question to someone sitting near her: How was your weekend? Everybody likes talking about themselves. It will work, we said.
Guess what? It did. She came home bubbling with excitement to tell us that she had asked seven people about their weekends. Every time she asked the question, she had had a brief conversation with someone new, and one girl seemed very promising as a new friend. The conversation starter question was a huge success.
It's hard to see our kids struggle, but when they do, it's up to us to give them the tools they need to get past the obstacle and face their fears head on. It's our mission, after all. These tools are even more important for this generation who often communicates in text messages or via social media. They need to be reminded that we all need eye-contact. We all need a smile or a nod that lets us know someone is listening to us. No matter how technology changes, conversation isn’t going away anytime soon.
So if your child is struggling to make friends in a new school or a new activity, offer these suggestions as conversation starters:
My son could not wait until the first day of school. He didn't care what clothes he wore or how he would get there. For him, the first day of this school year was just like the last day of last year--another day to hang out with his friends.
I never had that kind of enthusiasm for first days. The transition from elementary to high school was painful. I arrived at a new school with no old friends. For an extremely shy and anxious kid, that school year loomed long and lonely. Starting college six years later, I went through the dreaded first days again. Most freshman gain weight when they get to college. I, on the other hand, lost 15 pounds because not even McDonald's finest fries could slip through the lump in my throat that first semester.
Even now, I can't think of those days without deep, deep sadness.
So when my sweet girl burst into tears as soon as the car door closed yesterday, lots of emotions starting churning inside this momma who knows all too well how hard it can be to begin again alone.
The timing of the summer movie "Inside Out" couldn't have been better for the two of us. While we didn't move, my daughter's best friend did. So yesterday, as teacher after teacher called out her friend's name, my girl was reminded over and over that someone special was missing whose very presence could have made this day just a little brighter. Sadness certainly sat at the controls yesterday.
I'm glad to see all the reports of great first days yesterday--really, I am. I don't wish any child the pain of spending a day on the verge of tears because they feel so alone they want to disappear for real (you know, because they're already invisible).
But her day was anything but great, and today may not be any better.
It's not all bad news though. She is strong and courageous, and she headed out the door today with an attitude that quietly insisted "let's get this done." Will be it be a "great" day? Probably not. Will she get through it? Absolutely. Today. Next week. First semester. The whole year. She will survive and thrive because she knows who she is and Whose she is, regardless of the circumstances.
Change is inevitable. Transitions are part of life. They stretch us. They show us what we're made of. We feel their pain, and ultimately, we realize their gain.
This morning, as I always do, I encouraged both my kids to notice those around them. Though my daughter didn't really believe it, someone in her class is probably hurting more than she is. In the hall, in band, in the lunchroom, or on the bus, there is someone who needs a smile and a kind word. I regularly tell my kids that I would much rather they be remembered for their kindness to others than for any academic or extracurricular accolades. Coming from someone who long thought her only value was in what she could achieve, I hope that message sticks with them.
If you're reading this and have influence over a child, I hope you will share that message with them as well. When Joy is at the wheel, share that with someone who is overwhelmed with Sadness. They may not be able to tell you thanks, but it will make all the difference.
My daughter is entering her first full year of competitive gymnastics, and she wanted a way to display her ribbons. She described what she envisioned, and we explored some options online. Our idea was inspired by the designs at Corpus Christi Family, and we were quite pleased with the results.
I bought a ¾”x24”x48” stain grade cabinet panel from Lowe’s that I cut into 8 equal squares. There are several alternatives though. Hobby Lobby carries a variety of wooden plaques for crafting, which is an easy but more expensive option. I also considered using a 1x12x5 pine board, but I wanted to get as close to 12” square as possible (a 1x12 is actually only 11.25” wide). The size of your board should be in proportion to the letters you choose and thick enough for your hangers to screw in without going through the back of the board.
I used 9.5” letters from Hobby Lobby. There are several options available, however, and if you have a Cricut, you could make your own letters (though I chose the wooden letters for the dimensional quality).
There were a lot of options in the hooks and fasteners aisle, but I chose 1 ¼” brass shoulder hooks (item 58422) from Lowe’s. They were a good length to attach securely to the boards and the ribbons hang nicely from them.
There are unending options here, of course. I wanted to use coordinating 12”x12” scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby as background, but I still had to trim the paper sheets a little to fit the boards. You will need paint or paper to create the look you want.
Spray Adhesive, Modge Podge, and/or Glue
Step 1: If necessary, cut your boards to the desired size. Sand the boards as necessary with fine grain sandpaper.
Step 2: Paint letters.
Step 3: Paint the boards or cover them with paper using spray adhesive or Modge Podge (instructions at https://www.plaidonline.com/applying-paper-to-wood-using-mod-podge/157/video.htm).
Step 4: Glue each letter to the board(s). For the 12”x12” boards and 9.5” letters, I centered the letters left to right and about ¾” from the top, which left room to place the hooks at the bottom. Optional: I used Matte finish Modge Podge as a sealer on my boards to give it a canvas-like look. That created some bubbles in the paper, which I didn’t like at first. However, I was satisfied with the final look. Watch the instructions for tips and suggestions.
Step 5: Attach the hooks. I made a template for my screw holes, placing two hooks per board, ¾” from the bottom and 4” apart. I used a small drill bit (3/32”) to start my hole but that might not be necessary. Screw in the hooks.
Step 6: Attach picture hangers to the back of the board and hang on the wall.
The general design could be adapted for any name, initials, or any activity. I’m thinking about making a single plaque with my children’s school’s initials for their end-of-the-year academic medals. I also think this could be cool with a photograph as the background. If you love this idea, Pin It or share it with others on Facebook. If you try a variation of this project, I’d love to see it. Send me a picture via the Contact form or Facebook.
I love butterflies. I love how they flutter from flower to flower outside my window. I love how there are so many different sizes, colors, and shapes in the butterfly world. I love their life cycle, and I especially love how the butterfly's life cycle provides a vivid symbol for the way Jesus changes our hearts.
But this post isn't about butterflies. It's about what I want to share through my blog and through my writing. Like the many colors and patterns in the butterfly world, my daily life is filled with a variety of experiences. I love to try new things, and I love to share ideas with others.
So while I will continue to share stories that I find inspiring and helpful, I also plan to share some fun stuff -- projects, recipes, travel ideas and photos that you might find interesting. I might even throw in a quiz every now and then since I've just learned how to do those.
So thanks for checking in, and keep coming back. Who knows what you might find on your next visit!
I recently had the opportunity to interview Blanca, the Christian artist formerly of Group 1 Crew who just released her first solo album.
It was a great interview, and even over the phone, her excitement was evident.
It was the first interview my whole family listened in on, which was kind of cool for me as well.
My son is a huge Christian rap fan, so while most of my article topics are of zero interest to him, this one--well, let's just say I scored some points with this one. I even asked him what he would like me to ask, and he had a couple of great questions. He also gave me some background info and played me some songs that Blanca is featured on. All in all, it was a fun experience for us all.
The article will be out in The Alabama Baptist soon, and I'll post the link when it's ready.
For now, check out Blanca's website and her Real True You challenge.
Blanca said that as she worked on the new album, she just kept thinking, Be Real. Be True. Be You. And in conjunction with the release of her first solo project, she also challenged girls and women to embrace their authentic selves. The Real True You Challenge asks them to post a picture of themselves, free of makeup, and to include in the post something about their appearance they've hated in the past but grown to love because it makes them unique. Blanca wants all girls to know that God has given them something special to share with the world, and the Real True You Challenge is a way to avoid the negative stuff on social media and focus on something positive.
What about you? If you want to participate, read more details at Blanca's website. Be sure to use the hashtag #RealTrueYou to join in the discussion.
I am a regular contributor to The Alabama Baptist newspaper, and I also write and edit for several religious, business and educational outlets through my business, McWhorter Media and Marketing.
One of the greatest privileges of being a writer is the opportunity to share the stories of others with a larger audience. I love to do that!
Sharing my own stories is much more challenging, though no less important to making sense of the challenges of Faith and Family in everyday life.
Thanks for joining me on this journey! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or suggestions.
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