A Safer Internet

I knew the day would come when we wanted some kind of filter for the internet and with an 8 year old doing reports and searches online that day is here. I have been asking friends what they use and it’s been on my mind a lot lately.Except we aren’t at a place where we can afford a subscription or service like that right now so I have just been trying to keep a close eye on things.

Recently Z created a biography on Google Docs. It was really neat and creative, but I asked him where he got the images and it was basically a search engine. I took some deep breaths and explained that he wasn’t allowed to do that anymore.

Quick side note there is a book out there called “Good Pictures Bad Pictures” and from what I have read about it it’s a great way to open up discussion for if (or better yet when) your child is exposed to pornographic images. I haven’t ordered the book yet, but I’ll let you know more about that when I do.

There is bad stuff in the world and we can’t bubble wrap our kids, I get that, but it’s just depressing when you are looking up sing-a-longs on youtube and one of them is laced with vulgarity to be funny or you are trying to do a report on swing dancing but images of swingers show up and scar you for life. I am speaking from experience here.

So when I first heard about Kiddle the FREE safe search engine for kids, I immediately went to check it out.

Kiddle

Then I typed in words like guns, bikini, Oscar dresses, farts, butts, Kim Kardashian, transformers, spice, swingers, beheading- any word I could think of that could trigger something inappropriate and it passed all of my tests! Most of my even slightly controversial words it said “Oops, looks like your query contained some bad word. Please try again” Although when I checked it today I noticed it said “Oops. Try again” I am not too surprised they modified this because I am sure people were not wanting their kids to think everything was a bad word for example menstruation.

kiddle-blocking-menstruation

I am really relieved that Kiddle is here and paving the way for the internet to be a great resource for kids without damaging them. I mean it’s one thing when an adolescent goes looking for trouble, but  it breaks my heart when a child is trying to do something totally innocent and gets blindsided. You can’t unsee things.

Granted, some parents are still upset because they were able to find questionable content on Kiddle. My response to this is that it is not a replacement for monitoring your children. Disney Land is generally a family friendly environment, but there is a possibility that the guy in front of you in line will have a tattoo of a naked lady on his bicep. So yes, when it comes to censoring the entire world wide web by hand there is a chance that things are going to slip through or that a search for the word lesbian is offensive to one person, but not the other. At least from what I’ve experienced Kiddle is going to filter let’s just say 99% of the scary stuff.

One other minor thing that I haven’t seen anyone else talk about in their reviews is that Kiddle will not show copyrighted content. At least that’s what I am guessing is the case I’m not sure. This heavily limits the amount content available when you use the images tab. So let’s say Z is looking for a picture of The Rescue Bots or Sonic the Hedgehog (words that we actually “Kiddled”). A bunch of other random stuff comes up that isn’t relevant. There are tons of other options when it comes to looking for images, but I thought I would mention this little hiccup in case you were looking for a picture of Elsa and found this

Elsa kiddle

Instead of this.

Elsa Google

So needless to say I am really excited about this search engine. I am thrilled that it is accessible to everyone even those of us on the tightest of budgets.

I know I will still want some other filter eventually that will work on all websites and devices, but this buys me some time. My 8 year olds internet usage is very limited and heavily monitored right now anyway so I think this will cover us for a while.

Do you use any kind of filter or program in your home? If so I’d love to hear about it.

By | March 3rd, 2016|Family, Schooling|1 Comment

Freedom From Parenting Guilt

freedomfromparentingguilt
Like most parents I fear that I fall short with my children. I worry that I don’t have what it takes as a mom and that I could possibly ruin my one shot at this child rearing thing. It’s not a constant thought, but it’s this lingering insecurity. I used to love to listen to a pastor named Miles Welch, who had a podcast for college students. I was way too married and grown up for the topics be applicable to me, but I tuned in anyway and I am glad I did. One day I was sweeping the kitchen while casually listening to the Q&A session on the podcast* when there was a question from a young man asking how he could forgive his dad who was responsible for breaking up the family with a divorce. What Miles had to say in response pretty much jumped out of iTunes and punched me in the gut (in a good way).
He said
“You know, that is a hard question. At some point I was really disgruntled by my parents. I had to learn to accept them for who they were – limited and faulted. You can’t put too much
hope in humanity, we are flawed, fallen people. Now there’s hope in Christ, but we shouldn’t have an idealistic view of humanity. We place too much hope in what a person can be. I used to be really angry that my parents left a mark on my soul. Now that I am a parent I know that every parent leaves a mark on a soul. I am going to for my daughter and I don’t know how to stop it. I feel like I can protect my child from Hollywood. I can protect my child from crazy teachers, and soccer coaches. I can protect my child from anybody but me, because I will leave a mark, and I am a broken person, and as hard as I try I will fail her and she will have to learn to forgive me. She was wired to have a perfect father, and she has me instead.”
I almost dropped my broom in the kitchen when I heard that and it’s stuck with me for all these years. My children are wired for a perfect father and I can’t meet that need and I am not supposed to be expected to. It was in that moment that the weight of the world fell off of my shoulders and Christ set me free from that guilt and insecurity. I was
wanting to be God to my children. Now don’t get me wrong I want to show Christ to them every moment that I breathe 24/7, but the fact of the matter is I mess up time and time again. The further along I go on this parenting journey I can see how it is actually helpful for my kids to see my weakness, to see me grappling with reality.  That way some day they can see that even though I often struggled as a mother and wife, God’s grace was/is sufficient for me. Maybe they will learn that God is who they need to ultimately fulfill them not a parent, friend, or spouse. I pray that it teaches them about forgiveness and that they will truly embrace the grace of God that is there for them as well.
This is post was originally published October 6th, 2014 as part of a 31 Day Series. 
The quote was taken from * Miles Welch, 12 Stone podcast- Marriage and Divorce episode #76 June 28, 2011
By | September 14th, 2015|Family, Motherhood, Parenting Tips|10 Comments

How Do I Know I am Done Having Babies?

howdoiknowwheniamdone

J and I always wanted a big family. We were in agreement, but we never set a number. It seems for a lot of people they have always known exactly how many kids they wanted, but I never did.

Yet, here we are at baby number 4 and suddenly I know that I’m done.

baby

This is actually SJ. I don’t have a sono of baby #4 yet.

It’s not that frazzled hair, bug-eyed mom staring blankly into space whimpering, “No more. Pleeease make it stop!”. I mean, I might look like that mom at times, but that’s not how I feel about it.

I’m going to be extremely candid and uncensored with my personal thoughts and feelings here, so please keep in mind that they are just that- personal. Every couple needs to follow their own path when it comes to bearing children; when, if, and how many. And sometimes that path is determined for you for various reasons. I don’t want my words to be hurtful, I am just expressing how it’s worked out for me at this point. That’s all.

There are a lot of reasons I feel like I am done, but the biggest is that I don’t want to birth children when I am over 35. There I said it. I said it to someone the other day who gracefully mentioned that ALL of her children were born when she was over 35. I hope I did a decent enough job of pulling my foot out of my mouth when she told me that, because I really do think she and other women like her are awesome. I know lots of people that have gone that route and I am all for it.

For me though, I will be turning 33 this month and so as far as I’m concerned this is it. Given my fertility history, if we continued having children I would be at least 35 when the next one would be born. I know that pregnancies after 35 are considered “high risk”, but that’s not even why I decided this. I just had a peace about having closure at this time. My body has been either pregnant or nursing for 8 years. After this baby I will have committed a decade of my life to using my body as a beautiful and miraculous source of nourishment. I feel a little sad about moving on from that season, but I know I’m ready. It’s not just about pregnancy either, these children grow up and I am considering my age when they graduate, and potentially have my grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Only God knows the future. Children, health, and lives in general are all very unpredictable. So I realize my planning is somewhat futile, but I still like to dream about what lies ahead.

I look forward to soaking up every last bit of this pregnancy and turning the pages slowly as I close the chapter on this era.

I like that I know so many other moms that are at the same stage as me. I feel like there is a bond between us. If you know me, you know I never let conformity determine my choices AT ALL, but I have a lot of women I can turn to for support about this decision. And that’s a nice feeling.

IMG_0235

Me and one of my closest friends when we were pregnant with our oldest sons (8 years ago). She has had 6 pregnancies and I’ve had 4. We are both feeling  the same about the next step.

The thought of missing the tiny toddler voices makes my heart ache, but I get a burst of excitement thinking of being able to ride bikes as a family, or travel and minister together, and play board games on a level that is fun for everyone involved.

My mind continues to waltz through visions of each season; from enjoying regular date nights with my husband again when we are in our
40’s, to planning weddings and welcoming grandchildren in our 50’s, maybe seeing the world in our 60’s, and then perhaps great grandchildren?

Who knows what will happen. Plans change. Circumstances change. Feelings change. Proverbs 27:1 says “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth.” As far as what J and I have discussed though (and there was a lot of prayer and discussion), this will be my final pregnancy. The million dollar question is always How do you know when you are done? The answer is simple for me.

I know I am done because the thought of it is comforting.

lastpregnacy

By | June 2nd, 2015|Family, Motherhood, Pregnancy & Birth|15 Comments

My Peek at the Homeschool Life

I have always said that I would never EVER homeschool. Many of my closest friends do. They do it well and I respect them all the more for it. So, it’s not that I am against it, it’s just that I never felt like I was cut out for it. I have done a lot of homeschooling research lately since we had to pull the 5 year old out of Pre-K. It’s a slippery slope I tell ya. The more I get into it, the more I am intrigued and start to picture myself getting lost in the creativity of new ideas and rewarded by the delight that comes when you see a child’s eyes light up with discovery. Then I snap back to reality. I am not saying that it could never happen, but I would have to hand them over to a tutor or a DVD teacher by 3rd grade. I am so bad at math. No really, I am not talking about trigonometry, I am saying that I am intimidated by fractions.

Regardless of whether or not homeschool is even part of the equation (Equation. Yuck.) I will still always be involved in my children’s education in the most hands on way possible. I think that all parents should be. I have learned so much since embarking on this new academic territory. Some of the most enlightening advice I’ve received came from one of Z’s teachers. She was seeing signs that Z may be gifted and talented because of how quickly he picked up on things and eagerly wants to learn more. Counting to a hundred was never enough so she challenged him with counting in spanish. She told me with GT kids your goal is to broaden and expand the level they are on rather than just have them scurry off to the next one. The key is learning not just vertically, but horizontally. That’s when I reached up and pulled the chain that turned on the light bulb over my head.

I have been able to apply this method when teaching both of my kids together when they are not only different ages, but completely different learning styles (SJ’s pertaining to her special needs). I’ve been doing this all along, but it’s clicking and making more sense now. Let’s say you are working in the garden together. The baby may be experimenting with soil and learning that it does not taste good while the preschool age child is learning that seeds grow into plants and healthy foods. The parents and elementary age child may be working together to understand the science behind germination and life cycles.

Lately I’ve been trying to increase the amount of reading time I have with my kids. Z is learning to read along and SJ is learning to listen. One of the books we read on a daily basis is First Words.

I know it’s a book for babies, which I only have one of, but even though SJ is 3 her hearing age is 3 months. We have to be able to go back to the BASICS for her to be able to listen and speak. When we go through this book SJ is able to practice saying AHHHH for airplane and her imitation of watermelon is totally unintelligible but she gets that it has 4 syllables and makes 4 grunts. At the same time Z is able to read some of the words in the book and enjoys helping me work with his little sister. In the meantime Ezie is like whatever. He likes to watch them though and I just keep on learning more and more from all three of them. It’s like a mutualistic symbiotic relationship. Okay, I had to look that up, but I couldn’t resist adding a little science. There it is.

By | March 16th, 2013|Lifestyle, Schooling, Uncategorized|3 Comments