Raising Girls

by Valerie Plowman

There is a lot of debate out there about differences between males and females. Are there differences? If so, are they caused by nature or nurture? There is a large camp that believe that any differences displayed by the two genders is simply a result of the way parents and society treat the children from birth. There are also, however, studies that show that girls and boys learn differently–their brains are used differently.

I happen to be one who believes boys and girls are inherently different. Are there effects of nurture on each gender? Sure. I definitely believe nurture can impact a personality, as I think most parents who follow the Babywise philosophy believe. We wouldn’t put the time and effort we do into parenting if we thought nurture was of little consequence. I also believe that nature has a big impact on who we are. I believe the Lord created male and female; I believe we are different and different for a reason.

Growing up, I always related to males more than females. Why? I am not sure. I have no brothers. I just, by nature, and more “chill.” My oldest is a boy. I then lost a baby boy, solidifying by belief that I would be a mom to all boys. Maybe one girl would come my way. And yet here I sit, as my oldest is about to turn 8, with one boy and three girls :). My next door neighbor has six boys and one girl, so we often talk about and observe the differences between boys and girls. I think you notice the differences a lot more when you observe them in your children. It is interesting to see their difference in their nature when the nurturing aspect is essentially the same.

There is something so sweet about girls. With this post, I don’t intend to speak negatively of one gender or pit them against each other. There are great virtues to be found in each unique quality. My intention is simply to point out the what has struck me as the starkest contrasts between the two genders. So what are the differences? Here are the top five things that have surprised me about a girl–the things to be prepared for if you are about to have a girl. Now, not every girl will be all of these ways, and some will display these characteristics to higher degrees than others. They are generally true, however.

1. Girls Are Talkative

This is a huge stereotype, right? Girls talk a lot. This is one of my favorite things about girls, personally, because I love to talk and as a mom, I love to know what is going on when I am not around my child.

One day, my then two year old Kaitlyn came inside and told me about the time she had just spent playing outside with the neighbor boy. She went on and on and ended with, “Max at a bug!” I sat, really, in shock. I think she had just filled my ears with more information about her one afternoon than my then four year old son had given me in all of his afternoons combined!

I called my neighbor up and told her all of the news I just received. “Can you believe all that she told me?” My neighbor, remember the one with 6 boys, was also surprised. We were used to boys and their general lack of sharing. I must add, though, that one of Brayden’s best friend is the son of one of my best friends and he actually freely shares quite a bit of information, so there are boys who will be talkative, and there are girls who are not talkative. Remember, this is in general and there are always exceptions.

Girls talk, and girls talk freely. So long as you don’t do anything to stop her from talking, she will freely share detail after detail about her day.

Compare this to my son who manages to create a one word answer even to my college-trained open ended questions. Why is he this way? Why is my daughter so talkative? My answer is nature. It is innate. It is a stereotype for a reason. I have read psychology books on boys and why they don’t talk, and the popular road to take is that boys are suppressed from expressing themselves, so they learn to not talk…I promise you I have done no such thing. Can we get boys to talk? Yes! We can do tricky little things we have read about, studied, and practiced over the years. Girls, however, are just bursting to share their information with you. No tricks required.

A tip for the talkative girl: remember girls tend to like full attention when you talk to them. While boys (and men) can feel uncomfortable with you sitting and looking at them straight on while they talk to you, girls prefer this when they are talking (unless it is an intimidating topic–then doing something like washing dishes while talking can be a good idea).

2. Girls Sit Still

I have two extreme girls in the movement department. One has always been, even from the womb, a very still child. She was so still I worried if she was okay in there. Another has always been, even from the womb, a mover and a shaker. They both are this way to this day.

But they both can and do sit still. It is not a challenge for them to sit and color, sit and listen, or just sit in my lap. For this reason, girls are often, really, just easier in a lot of situations. Church with a toddler girl is so much easier than with a toddler boy! Anyone who was or is an elementary teacher can tell you how much boys need to move around and expend that energy.

McKenna, my four year old, is in a playgroup with eight children. Seven of them are girls. These girls, ages 3-4, can easily sit for the 1.5 hours of playgroup and do crafts, coloring pages, listen to stories, etc. The boy actually does quite well for a boy, but is always anxious to move on to the next thing–especially playtime!

Can boys be taught to sit still? Yes! As parents who follow Babywise, we have many tools at our disposal for teaching about self-control and sitting still. But if you take my incredibly obedient first-born son and compare how easy it is for him to sit still to my rambunctious four year old girl who loves to “test the waters,” she still has an easier time of it, even with her disposition to be a mover and a shaker.

A tip for the still girl: A downside to the sitting girl can be getting her to get up and do things. Most young children are so active this is rarely a problem, but some girls will need to be required to go play outside or they will spend each day just sitting and drawing. While sitting still is great, exercise is also important.

3. Girls Stay Close By

Girls tend to want to stay close to you. My girls love to be in the same room as I do when I am doing something–even if we aren’t necessarily interacting, they just want proximity to me. My son is more apt to run off and do his own thing. I have noticed when I get together with moms at the park or at the church that the girls will often spend some time just sitting next to mom or on mom’s lap, while the boys will usually run off and play the entire time.

A tip for the close girl: allow for time each day when you do things together in the same room–even if you are doing different things. Being close will help her feel close to you emotionally.

4. Girls Play Quietly

Girls play very differently from boys. Boys tend to be very physically active while girls will sit still (go back to number two). Boys get more silly when playing. Girls can get silly. My girls get very silly…if their brother is home. They jump on his “train” and follow his silly lead. If he is not home, they play rather quietly and rather calmly. I would argue this is more personality than gender related except that the same is true for my four year old who loves to laugh and loves to move. Her natural disposition is far more in this way than my son’s, yet he is still the sillier one who moves more.

Boys quickly escalate and really just get crazy without physical movement (this is why I think recess is so important for boys in school). Even Brayden’s second grade teacher commented to me the other day how much the boys just need recess. She said, “It isn’t great weather, but I need to get them out there. If they don’t have recess, they just get…” she paused. I finished for her, “Crazy?” “YES!”

Girls will sit and play ponies, dolls, barbies, puzzles…boys like to pretend play some elaborate battle scene or run around with balls. Yes, girls can enjoy those things. Yes, boys can sit still and play (especially with a toy like Legos). In general, you will notice girls are more content to sit and play and boys are more inclined to be moving when playing.

You will also notice they way they play is different. Girls play in a much more nurturing way than boys. When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, I got out some of my old dolls to put in her nursery. I gave one to my then 18 month old son. He looked at it, then threw it to the ground. Picked it up and threw it again. I was a bit surprised and worried about bringing a baby home! He was fine with a real baby :). But his play with the baby doll was rough. I compare that to my 8 current month old girl, who is gentle and nurturing with dolls even at this young age.

A tip for the quiet girl: Enjoy it! Seriously.

5. Girls Are Emotional

This is really the biggest difference for me because it is the hardest thing for me to work with. Girls are emotional. Books I have read on the psychology of boys argue that this is because we have trained boys to not show their emotions. While I do think it is true that boys are often raised to keep emotions hidden, I do think girls are by nature just more emotional. I think if you were to train the emotions out of someone, they would have to first display them. Brayden just has never had an emotional break down like my girls have.

To be fair, he is extremely logical. My second child (oldest girl) is not logical and her emotions can really get away from her. My third child is very logical and can often easily recover from emotional moments, but she still has times when she just cries for no reason. And we women know all about that! Sometimes we just cry and we don’t really know why. Girls can just be emotional and it can be hard to know what to do when she suddenly breaks down for no apparent reason.

A tip for the emotional girl: Listen to her concerns. Hold her. Let her “get it out.” Repeat what she tells you about why she is upset; this will help her know she is understood and will allow her to clarify if you are not understanding what she means.


The differences between boys and girls can be quite striking. Some differences make one easier than the other at different moments. What one parent finds easier, another will find harder. Some introvert parents might feel suffocated by the constant presence of the girl, while the extrovert parent might typically love that. Some parents might love the endless energy of boys, while others will find it draining.

No matter the natural tendencies and the qualities, we can nurture certain things in our children. We can teach our children how to appropriately express emotions. We can teach a boy to sit still and encourage a girl to play on her own. We can also accept and embrace these natural differences. I believe they are innate in our nature and help us to be who we were intended to be. So let us as parents nurture these natural qualities and draw out the virtue of each while we attempt to quiet the vice side of each.

Valerie is a wife and a mother to four (ages 7, 5, 4, and 8 months). She blogs at www.babywisemom.com.

Baby Ozz v0.5G

Pink BootiesDo you know what the “G” stands for in the title? Maybe the pink booties will give a clue. YES!!! Osborne Baby #5 is a GIRL!!!

I am not sure what came over us last week, but we decided to open the mystery envelope. It had been exactly one week since Sherry’s ultrasound. All the kids were in bed except for Riley. We got to talking about whether we would like to know if our new little one was a girl or a boy. While I was wavering on the side of waiting to be surprised at birth, I was not hard to be convinced to open the envelope. Sherry and Riley both wanted to know. We simply did not have good self control and I tore open the envelope. We were genuinely surprised, and as you can see from the picture, Sherry is really enjoying shopping for pink at the Summerville Flowertown Festival. Sherry went out to the festival on Saturday and was able to share the news with her best friend Adrienne while sitting under the tree planted in honor of Sherry’s mom Darla Pack in Azalea Park in Summerville. The thoughts of this little girl missing the opportunity to get spoiled by grandma was an emotional time for Sherry in particular.

The reason we were so surprised was that Sherry and I had grilled the ultrasound tech about whether she was certain about the gender of our baby during the ultrasound. If you have been through the 20 week ultrasound then you know they can usually let you know with a high degree of certainty the gender of your child. In this case the ultrasound tech said she was 100% sure. However, she had only a few minutes earlier told us a story about being wrong by telling a couple they were having a girl and then realizing in a later ultrasound that she had, uhm, missed something in the earlier ultrasound. That said, we thought that by saying she was 100% sure meant that we were having a fifth boy. So the surprise in the envelope caught us by surprise.

We are super excited. Now I just have to figure out a new budget line item for girl clothes.

101 Minutes – FreeTime

Daddy Life Podcast Episode 34Kindle FreeTime is FREE!

Let me just say right up front that this is a correction/clarification from my detailed review of the Kindle Fire (and FreeTime) parental controls in Episode 32. This correction should come as a pleasant surprise to you Amazon Kindle Fire owners.

Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is not free…and it comes at a price in more ways than one for Christian families.

Why not buy Kindle FreeTime Unlimited:

– Amazon makes content decisions for your child, not you.

  • SpongeBob SquarePants (Numerous)

  • Scooby-Doo (Numerous)

  • In Search of the Fog Zombie

  • The Avatar’s Return (The Last Airbender Movie)

  • Where does Love come from?
    Book description from Amazon, “Where does love come from? Does it grow on a tree? Or swim in the sea? This collection of silly questions explains a complicated emotion in a fun, entertaining way that children can easily understand. Where Does Love Come From? concludes with a declaration that readers likely already know . . . that “love comes from your heart.”


Another example of how technology is breaking down your expectation of privacy.

StormFly Nowcomputing.com

The creators of  StormFly have cleverly packaged the same basic technology that many kids use to get around filters installed on home computers. The product was successfully funded through Kickstarter. The intent is to allow kids to take their computer wherever they go…on their wrists. Proceed with caution.

101 Minute Challenge

Use GOOGLE or Bing to search for “minutes in a week” and the answer you get is 10,080. Divide that by 100 and you get 100.8. So 101 minutes (100.8 rounded up) equals 1% of your week.

We revisit the Fathers Mandate part 1 of 8 which was highlighted in Daddy Life Episode #12. I challenge you to dedicate 101 minutes of your week to one of the following:

  1. Your family together for 101 minutes outside of normal meal times (Good)
  2. A total of 101 minute with each child throughout the week (Better)
  3. 101 minutes dedicated, uninterrupted, with each child doing what the child wants to do (Best)

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Character Training with a TV Remote

Daddy Life Podcast Episode 33 - Training Character with TV RemoteAnne Marie Ezzo shared a blog post on her Facebook page recently that was authored by Mark Gregston.

The Honest Truth about Dishonesty by Mark Gregston

”A recent Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, shows that 61% of teens admit to lying to a teacher about something important, and a whopping 76% admitted to lying to their parents last year.  Another study, this one conducted in Britain, indicates that an overwhelming 84% of teens said they’ve regularly copied information from the Internet and pasted it right into their homework.

But it wasn’t necessarily those numbers that shocked me.  What really rocked me back on my heels was that this recent study of American teenagers reported that while over 50% of teenagers admitted lying, cheating, or stealing within that last year, 93% of those same kids said they are “satisfied with their personal ethics and character.” In addition, 81% of those teenagers said that “when it comes to doing what’s right, they are better than most people they know.”

The point Mrs. Ezzo made was that (I quote),  “While this blog post is addressed to parents of teens, parents with younger children would be wise to heed the thoughts expressed and thereby wisely help to prevent this issues from developing in your own home. Remember “begin as you mean to go” if you desire to have an honest child, then even those ‘creative stories’ need to have boundaries, we want to set our younger children [let alone teens] for success and direct help keep them on the right path.”

Mark went on to offer advice to parents on how to shift the trends so that teens embrace the virtue of truth over the norm of lying. Mark’s very first recommendation to “Monitor Media” steps into my area of expertise so I want to expand on his advice.

We all know that we can’t monitor every single thing that our kids do. Even if we try we have to be realistic and admit that if we are faced with a kid that is already characterized by dishonesty, deception, and lying then they probably will take steps to avoid our efforts to monitor. How many of us can actually keep up with our kids in terms of technology anyway?

I have shared this example before, but I believe it is worth repeating again and again.  Technology security is more about behavior than the technology!

You can try to monitor and control your kid’s Internet or TV access, but you are only treating the symptom. You must get to the heart if the issue and then end result will be that your child will self regulate their Internet, TV, movie, and gaming activity. They are going to get there soon enough so you might as well teach them early.

Teach Your Kids to Use the TV Remote

Sounds crazy doesn’t it? One of the things we joke about as parents is how much more kids understand about the DVD/DVR and how to operate it. But do they really understand the most important features? As a parent, the two most important buttons on a remote are the “Last Channel” button (sometimes called a Recall or last) and the “MUTE” button. That’s right.

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Bigger is Better

4 Boys Plus OneThe Osborne family is growing. We expect the newest of the @OzzKids to join the fun in late July of 2013. The picture on the right was taken on Christmas Eve right after we announced to our family that we were expecting #5. We wrapped a small box with the onesie inside and then wrapped that box inside another and so on until we had it six or seven boxes deep. We passed the box in a circle while playing Jingle Bells (Levi’s fav) and the person holding the box when the music stopped had to open a layer. The news seemed most surprising for Caden and Josiah. You can see in the picture that Josiah was still in shock a few minutes later when we staged this picture. Caden is shown below with his initial reaction.

I think our extended family has finally come to a point where they are no longer surprised. Most thought we were crazy for having another child after Caden given the medical challenges we still battle with him. Caden was born with a deletion of his 22nd chromosome called 22q11.2 (DiGeorge Syndrome or VCFS). This has come with a host of open heart surgeries, back surgeries, exclusive tube feeding, and much, much more. While Sherry certainly does carry a heavier load with cooking, cleaning, laundry, and home schooling, the logistics of dealing with Caden’s frequent hospitalizations has really not changes much with the addition of Josiah and Levi. From the time Caden was born we had one child in the ICU and one at home that required our love and attention. Most Caden Reacts to hearing he will be a big brother againrecently we have just had multiple children at home when Caden has been hospitalized. I don’t expect the future to be much different with the new addition to our family when Caden has surgeries because we will still have children in two different places that need their parents. That has become a normal for our family that we have learned to live with and deal with fairly well.

So the long and the short is that we are very excited to be growing our family. We think that Bigger is Better and thank the Lord for blessing us with another child. We love all of the children God has blessed us with and can’t wait to meet the newest addition to the Osborne gang. As I said earlier, the emotions have been mixed within the family. As shown here, Caden was a little surprised, but pleasantly surprised. I have decided to start telling people that we are trying for 14 kids and that is what the number on my hat represents. It is actually the number of my favorite NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, but I thought that referring to the number as the target for number of children was a great way to stifle the comments about our big family. The idea was not my own, my neighbor came up with the idea during a New Year’s Eve Bingo party that Riley and I attended.

We hope you had a Merry Christmas and a trust that your New Year has begun with great joy and thanksgiving.



Gingerbread Train and Gluten Free Train

JJ Rice Crispy Train Engine

The Christmas season brings out the creativity in the Osborne family. This year we baked gingerbread and created our 7th annual Gingerbread Train. Since we have five year little Josiah who is allergic to wheat and egg we had to get creative to come up with a train that he could decorate that would have no wheat or egg. Our Gingerbread train dough is made from wheat flour and the glue that holds everything together is made of Royal Icing which is predominately egg whites and powdered sugar. More on that train in a minute.

Here are some other pictures of Josiah’s Gluten-free train made from Rice Krispies® treats.

Josiah decorating the Rice Krispies Train

Josiah had a blast with this train project and was so tempted to eat it while decorating. As a matter of fact, as of today the train actually does not exist anymore. JJ has consumed the entire train after dinner each night while we read our Advent story Bartholomew’s Passage.

JJ and his train

JJ’s little train

As the title suggests the fun also included a 2012 Gingerbread Train. The first picture I have to share is of the entire family. Then below that I will show you some individual cars so that you can see some of the detailed decorating Riley, Caden, and their friend Noah did.

2012 Osborne Family Gingerbread Train

Osborne Family with the 2012 Gingerbread Train

Gingerbread Train Engine

Gingerbread Train Engine

Treasury Car

Treasury Car – some years we make this a coal or rock car

Gingerbread Lumber Car

Lumber Car – carries candy cane logs held together with fruit strips

Gingerbread Train passenger car

Passenger Car – Custom Made Osborne Family Addtion

Gingerbreat Train Caboose

Gingerbread Coboose – Riley’s Favorite to Decorate

Gingerbread Train Decorating

Riley and a friend decorating the train

This gingerbread train takes us three afternoons to make. Sherry normally mixes and chills the dough a few days before baking. Then I spend an afternoon with the boys cutting out pieces and baking. This process takes several hours. This year we made a little extra so Riley’s friend could decorate his own train engine and take it home. They are homeschool buddies and spend a good amount of time together during the school year. the picture above shows how messy the third and final day of the gingerbread train process takes. This is the assembly and decorating day. This year I packages each trains pieces in a separate container so it would be easier to figure out which pieces went with which car. It was also the first year that I did not participate in the decoration and assembly of the gingerbread train.

We hope you enjoyed this look at our 2012 Gingerbread and Gluten-free trains. You can get more details on how we make the Gingerbread Train at Grill’n Time. Also be sure to check out our previous six years of gingerbread trains.


Gingerbread Train – Christmas Tradition

2010 Gingerbread Train Engine

The Gingerbread Train will be pulling into the station in the Osborne household for the seventh year in a row very soon. This has become somewhat of a badge of our family identity during the Christmas season with close friends and family. We normally begin the process of making the dough and cutting out the pattern sometime in early December. We try to have the train assembled by the middle of December so we can use it as part of our Christmas decoration process. We have begun to take inventory of supplies and are talking about how we might change things up this year.

One change this year is that we are going to try a small gluten free gingerbread companion house. We are also going to try to make some type of royal icing without egg whites to use to assemble the gingerbread house. Our 5 year old Josiah is allergic to wheat, egg, and nuts so he cannot participate with hands on decoration or assembly of the gingerbread train. Any ideas you have on gluten free dough or egg-free royal icing would be greatly appreciated.

If you are a homeschool family this is a great project to work on for art and cooking. There is also plenty of room for creativity in the area of math and geometry. We designed our own gingerbread train cars for 2008 and 2009. You will notice the tanker card in the 2008 photo below and the passenger car in 2009. These were not designs offered by the original magazine article that we used to start this tradition.

Below is a picture of each Gingerbread Train from years past. You can also learn how to make your own Gingerbread Train by following the process we have used since 2006. The entire process is described with lots of picture over at Grill’n Time.

2006 Gingerbread Train

2006 Gingerbread Train


2007 Gingerbread Train

2007 Gingerbread Train


2008 Gingerbread Train

2008 Gingerbread Train


2009 Gingerbread Train

2009 Gingerbread Train


Gingerbread Train Daddy Life

2010 Gingerbread Train


2011 Gingerbread Train

2011 Gingerbread Train

What fun family traditions do you have centered around the Christmas season?

Halloween and Mediocrity

Halloween and Mediocrity EpisodeWhat do we do on Halloween instead of trick-or-treat, festivals, or costume parties? Our family enjoys each others’ company like we do many other nights throughout the year because in our family we believe that Halloween is Optional.

Ericka over at Large Families on Purpose asks if you are going to have a “Happy” Halloween? Her birthday falls on October 31 and that seems to make people think that she is an expert on the traditions of Halloween. And given her blog post and the number of positive responses, I would say that she is more than an expert than most on this subject.

Family Travel Adventures

Check out our Daddy Life Facebook Fan Page to see us kissing the yard of bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We were traveling with our son Caden who has servere medical special needs related to 22q11.2 (DiGeorge Syndrome).

Mysterious backyard sound – What or who is that Owl talking to?


Amazon Kindle store does not filter adult explicit and erotic book results from searches.


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Traveling with a Medically Special Needs Child


We have been home from our vacation for over a week now. This year’s road trip included six of us in a minivan for about 1600 miles of driving over a period of seven days. From a medical supply perspective, during the seven day trip Caden went through more than a dozen oxygen tanks,  received nearly two dozen tube feedings, and he spent a total of almost 5 hours on The Vest®.

Now before I go into more details, I want to give a disclaimer. I am not complaining about excitement created by missing oxygen tanks or all the gear required for Caden when traveling. I am trying to educate folks on the complexities associated with moving a medically special needs child around even though he does not “look special” to many people as seen above with the first fish he caught. One of our very dearest friends mentioned that we should not have that much to pack for this trip since Levi does not need a pack-n-play any longer. That last part is true, but most folks forget or don’t realize just how much gear goes along with being exclusively tube fed and having to be treated daily to prevent pneumonia and micro-aspiration due to the lack fo swallowing ability. Caden’s care is not as simple as grabbing a box of tissues and a suction machine like most folks see us do when we are out and about around town.

Medically Special Needs Child Travel Supplies

The medical equipment required for any over-night trip with Caden requires:

  • Tube Feeding Supplies* (Formula, feeding pump bags, a feeding pump with charger)
  • A spare G-Tube button
  • Extra feeding tube extensions
  • Syringes
  • A suction machine and charger
  • Oxygen Supply (1.5 liters during sleep hours)
  • Tissues
  • Bed pads
  • Spare linens
  • The Vest®
  • A jogging stroller (Caden does not have the stamina to walk for long, especially in the heat.)

The picture above may help put things into context. This picture includes most of the items listed above (minus three days worth of oxygen). This stuff took up the entire back storage area of our Kia Sedona van plus the floor space under Caden and Levi’s feet and the stroller when on the roof. The picture does not include any clothes or toys for Caden or anyone else in the family.  The basketball was added to the picture for scale.

Now that the trip is over I realize that we might have been able to carry enough oxygen to last the full week on the road. However, it would have been a tight fit. The fear of the unknown and the thought of a possible pneumonia while on the road made me very nervous about how we might get additional oxygen for Caden while 750 miles away from our home supply (over three dozen tanks in our garage) if needed. That is where the real story of the week came in.

I went ahead called the medical supply company that we use about three weeks before our trip. They are a national company and I arranged to have enough oxygen delivered to the Twin Lakes Camp and Conference Center in Hillsboro, IN to last us through the Labor Day weekend. We arrived on the Friday before Labor Day at approximately 3:30pm. I immediately checked in with the camp director to see if the oxygen had arrived. It had not. Caden uses about two standard E bottles (one shown in picture above) of oxygen per night when a concentrator/generator is not available.  I knew we did not have enough oxygen tanks to make it through until Tuesday when the medical supply offices opened back up for business. As I mentioned earlier, we could not comfortably transport enough for an entire week while traveling and so we only had a little in reserve after one night in a hotel already. I  realized that it was late in the day on a Friday of a holiday weekend and I tried to contact the office in Lafayette, IN where the oxygen was supposed to come from. I got nothing but a busy signal after about seven attempts within a 30 minute period. At this point it was a few minutes before 4 PM and I was about to start driving to Lafayette to pick up the oxygen tanks myself when I decided to make one last attempt to contact the medical supply company via their toll-free service. I was transferred to a lady at the Kokomo, IN office which was about 20 miles further away than Lafayette. The lady calmed my nerves and assured me that she would get oxygen delivered even if it had to be done the next day on Saturday…which was fine with me since we had enough to make it through one more night. She even gave me her cell number in the event we had trouble getting what we needed. Come to find out the lady had a delivery truck in Crawfordsville which was only about 15 miles away from our location at Twin Lakes and they had the tanks on their truck that we needed. She diverted them to Twin Lakes on Friday evening (arriving after 5pm) and they gave us the tanks we needed. The two guys on the truck were super nice and seemed genuine in their efforts to help in getting the supplies we needed.

JJ playing OctaballSo the weekend started off on a positive note even though we had a little scare. We ended up having an outstanding time visiting with friends from all over the country for the weekend. In addition to a variety of planned activities coordinated by our friends Joey and Carla Link the boys fished and played Octaball.

We continued our vacation with a tour of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) and then spent two nights in the Cincinnati area so that we could visit the Creation Museum. These two stops rate a blog post each so I will save that for another day. The boys loved kissing the Yard of Bricks at IMS and we we all enjoyed our fourth visit to the creation museum where we got to meet Dr. Georgia Purdom and Buddy Davis.




Public Education

This post is intended to help Daddy Life readers relate to the processes of school choice when the result is public school. Yes, Sherry and I homeschool, but a majority of the population does not. I think that regardless of the education method you use, you should follow a process that includes research and a leading of the Lord. My guest for this post shares her family’s descition process that I think will help you in evaluating education options for your children.

Enjoy! Hank O


by Valerie Plowman

Choosing where and how to educate your children is not easy. Do you have the time and patience for homeschool? Can you afford private school? Is a charter school up to standards educationally? Will public school ruin your child forever?

There are many stereotypes associated with the various education choices. Sometimes stereotypes exist because there is truth to them. Sometimes stereotypes really only apply to extreme cases and don’t fairly represent a group. I think often times when it comes to education, the stereotypes associated fall into the latter. You know the stereotypes–homeschooled kids are “weird.” Private school kids are “snobs.” Public school kids are “out of control.”

So how do you look past the stereotypes and find what is best for your family? The best way is to observe classes and talk to other families who follow what you are considering. An important thing to realize is that while my public school might be fantastic, yours might not be where you want to send your child. While one charter school might not be meeting educational standards, another might be far and above those standards. And even if each choice before you looks great on paper, what is right for your family will vary from what is right for my family.

So what made our family choose public education? The bottom line is prayer led us there, but of course we needed to educate ourselves before we went to the Lord with our decision. We spent time observing classrooms and in the end, our public school was what felt right for us.

There are a few highlights that on paper worked for me. I like how close our school is to us. Currently, through 7th grade, our schools are in walking distance from our home. You do, of course, need to worry only about where the school is that you will be attending now. Our high school is a 10-15 minute drive (not bad), but in all likelihood, by the time my children are in high school, there will be a new high school built and we might attend a different school.

Why was proximity important to me? One reason is so I can quickly pick up and drop off my children. One is that it makes running to the school to volunteer or even drop something off it just that much easier. I can walk or ride bikes with my kids to and from school, which adds physical benefit. Another benefit is that I can make these trips in less time, which means less of a disruption to my younger children. Our charter school is a 30 minute round trip distance from my home. Doing that twice a day (or three times when you have an older child plus a kindergartener) is very likely to cut into a younger sibling’s nap time somewhere. I wouldn’t base our educational choices solely on driving time, but if all things are equal and I can either spend 1 hour a day driving or 10 minutes a day driving, the 10 minutes easily wins out for me.

Our public school consists of the children at our church and in our little town. The charter school has children from all over the valley. I like feeling more connected to the people in our town and having that sense of community. I get to know people from the other side of town I would otherwise maybe never meet.

Fun Environment
While there are good expectations for good behavior in class, there is still a lot of fun that happens at the public school. I want school to be more than just learning concepts–I want learning in other areas also, and I think the fun of what our school offers allows for that learning to take place.

Social Learning Ground
This is really huge for me. I think school is a great place to learn and practice social skills. The unique social challenges faced in a school setting help with everything from conflict resolution to teaching compassion. Can it happen alone? Absolutely not. I think parents are a huge key to this. You need to have taught and continually be teaching your children these social skills. It starts at home and is reinforced at home.

Like I said, there are stereotypes associated with any schooling choice you choose, including public schooling. So how do you deal with these?

Outside Influence
I think this is one big reason a lot of people homeschool. What about the influence of the teachers and students at school? This is really child-specific and school environment specific. Our school happens to be quite conservative in its values. As a family, we are conservative in our values. I know there are places in the country I would not feel comfortable sending my young children. At our school, however, I know my values are what are taught at school. Our school even has a character training program where they stress heavily trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship.

There also are children who are better at maintaining home standards when away from home than others. You definitely want to be sure your individual child is capable of handling the freedom away from home before you send him/her off to school.

Lack of Home Influence
This is closely tied with outside influence. People worry about their child not having so much influence from home. This is a valid concern. We mitigate this by make sure we are spending time as a family when school is not in session. For as many hours as are spent at school each week, many more are spent at home. Make the time count at home–and make the years leading up to school count. I talk more about this concept in Fine Balance in Protecting Children.

A big thing you can do as a parent is to volunteer at the school. Help in your child’s class. Be involved in organizations at the school so you can influence what kinds of activities go on at the school. When I help in class, I get to see how my child behaves and I get the low-down from my child’s teacher. I also get to observe my child’s peers.

Mean Kids
I find mean kids to be one of the most difficult facets of sending your child to a room full of children the same age. My oldest has only just started second grade, and to this point, children are all still nice. The teachers have a huge influence and really stress that everyone is a friend. We have some great teachers at our school who have a real talent at united a class room.

It seems that often the age when children really can get mean is fourth grade, which is 9-10 year olds. This is an age when your child is really tested–on both sides. Will she be a mean kid? Or how will she respond if  mean kid picks on her? Or if a mean kid picks on her neighbor? These are moments character is tested.

My neighbor’s son went through fourth grade last year. It was a difficult year for him. He is one who stands up for what is right, which is a quality “mean kids” don’t appreciate so much. So he ended up getting picked on. He had some hard moments. But he also learned a lot, and this year is quite content. He has learned how to deal with the mean kids and is happy with who he is.

I have a friend who was picked on as a child because she was heavier. She commented to me that because of the teasing she had as a child, she learned compassion. She is very aware of others around her and works to make sure everyone feels included and valued. And she really does. I can’t think of a person who is better at welcoming and including others than she is.

When your child encounters difficult situations, no matter where it is, try to calm down your “mama bear” or “papa bear” inside of you and help your child learn how to work through the situation. These are teaching moments that will help your child in the future.

Yes, there are difficult moments your child faces in school. But there are also rewarding moments. My son experienced a positive teaching moment at the end of school last year. He got sick and had to miss the last four days of school. He was sad to not get to say good-bye to his classmates before summer break. When his teacher told his class he wouldn’t be able to come back, they all decided to give him the end of the year prize–forfeiting any chance of getting it themselves. His teacher was in tears over how sweet it was, and so was I! So yes, you can encounter mean kids, but you can also encounter the sweetest side of humanity. We also had a student with a heart transplant last year, and it was amazing to watch his peers rally around him.

You can really build a great support network. If your school upholds your values, then the teachers act as a great partner for enforcing values you teach at home.

If you feel public education is right for your family, move forward with courage! You can most definitely make it work for you.

You can see more of my thoughts on public schooling here.

Valerie is a mother of four and blogs at www.babywisemom.com