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Monday, August 6, 2012

Made In America?

We recently hosted two Chinese college students through our church's youth program. This is our third time hosting students, though our first from China.

As always it was a great time and we learned so much and made great, new friendships that hopefully will last a very long time. I highly encourage families to try hosting at least once. It truly is an experience you'll never forget, and rarely regret.

One thing that came up this time, that hadn't in the past was that these students and most others in their group of 13 really wanted to take home products "Made in the USA." You would think that wouldn't be too hard, right? WRONG! Three weeks here, several trips to various malls and shopping places, including small towns and big, you wanna know what they found to take home with them? A box of Crayola brand crayons and a mini-flash light. That's it, period.

I can't tell you how angry and embarrassed I am over this! With our students we looked at labels on several products ranging from shoes and clothing to touristy type stuff including AMERICAN FLAGS, and all we could find, fully made and manufactured in America were crayons and a flashlight. This is something to be concerned about people, it really is.

Curious where most products were made? While we found some made in South American Countries and of course India, Malaysia and a few others, the majority were made in: CHINA! I would estimate about 80-85% made in China.

With unemployment so high right now, my first thoughts wandered to, what if we brought back some of this manufacturing to America? Of course we'd have to fix the reasons manufacturing left to begin with.

I am highly discouraged over this. I know we'd have to pay more, probably a lot more to purchase products made in America, but I for one would gladly do so! Let's bring back quality too, while we're at it. I remember when you might pay much more for a blouse or other piece of clothing, but it would last for many years. Now you can buy a shirt at Wal-Mart or else where for five bucks. But how long does it last? In my experience, a couple of washings.

I am all for bringing jobs to America, making products we can take pride in, and yes, paying more for those products.

Like I said, I was terribly embarrassed that we couldn't find any made in America products for my students and their peers, and equally embarrassed that most of what we found was made in their country. But, this wont change anytime soon, if others don't care, and don't speak out against it, or refuse to buy and use cheaply made and foreign manufactured items. Let your pocket book speak for you.

Not all hope is lost. I did an Internet search and came up with these sites I will link below that specialize in locating and selling American made products. While I am extremely grateful to them and what they do, I can't help but think how sad that we need such businesses to help locate and find American made items, right here, in America. It should be as simple as walking into your local market place, but it's not. And something just isn't right with that. I am SO not okay with that. Are you?

American Made Products Directory




Friday, May 18, 2012

Walking a Mile...

I've always liked the expression "Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in his shoes." It is such good advice.

I have to admit, I can be terrible about judging. 99% of the time I keep my judgements to myself, but the truth is I STILL judge none the less. I try and stop and pray forgiveness right away and ask for help to stop these feelings. I think it's just human nature to judge. It doesn't make it right, but it's a fault many of us have.

I couldn't imagine judging a person and sharing that judgment with them, either to their face, or worse yet on a public forum. It's so easy to assume what you'd do in a similar situation as the person you're judging and maybe you would do something different than they are, but perhaps the rest of the circumstances in your life are different than that person that would allow you the freedom to do something different.

I remember being very harshly judged by several people about some of the hard decisions we were forced to make in regards to my eldest child. Everyone had not only unhelpful advice to offer, but felt at liberty to tell me what THEY would do and what I am doing wrong. This is NOT helpful, especially when dealing with a crisis situation.

While I would never wish something bad to happen to a friend or neighbor, I have found over  the years as some of my worse critics had children come of age and experience their own difficulties these people all of a sudden finally UNDERSTOOD what we went through and in some cases even apologized for their earlier criticisms of my family and our choices.

It's funny that those with young, cute babies and little ones try and dish out advice to those in the trenches with teenagers. They're all full of advice on what the parents of the teenagers are doing wrong, and what perfect parents themselves are. Easy to do when your oldest child's biggest issue is teething or potty training.

The same goes with financial issues. It's easy to pass judgement on how someone should handle their finances or what they should or shouldn't be able to afford when your own financial lifestyle is so different and you've never lived below a certain income level. I know if I had an emergency crisis today, I would be hard pressed to come up with $1000.00 but alone any more than that to deal with it. Sure, I could come up with $1000.00 but it would mean taking payday advances, credit advances and such. I have no family to lend that kind of money. For someone else, 1000.00 may be an unimaginable amount to come up with. For others obtaining $5000.00 may be what getting the 1000.00 for me would be. It's doable, but will take some juggling. I know people who can't come up with $20.00 to put gas in their car this week.

I remember once someone shared with us that they were broke. I had a hard time believing that, as they were still ordering take out pizza. For them, "broke" meant they had to order Little Caesars rather than Pizza Hut. For us, "broke" was were we going to eat that night at all? Today, I am thankful that we are in a place that I could order pizza any time I choose, luckily I don't care for take out anymore.

My point though, is even finances are relative to your own situation. If a certain amount of money would offer you at least temporary help for your situation, especially in regards for help for our hurting children, I don't think there is a loving parent alive who wouldn't "move heaven and earth" to come up with the funds. But realistically, in today's world, for many families a relatively small amount to you might as well be millions to the person needing it. While a certain amount to you would be like the comparison of Little Caesars Pizza vs. Pizza Hut to the other person that amount  may be inconceivable.

I see the same sort of judgments in the homeschool community or maybe it's just parenting in general. One style of homeschooling is superior to another. One method is just evil and the devil is in the work. And of course, public school is the spawn of Satan himself. Any loving parent would never choose the method you've chosen not to, because yours is the only right one.

The foods we eat, the foods we feed our kids, vegetarian vs. paleo vs.???? Someones weight problem, anothers religion. There are so many things we can judge others for or be critical about.

I'm sure we'd all like to think we have the answers for every issue someone else is suffering from, and our wise words of judgement is like waving a magic wand that will make everything better. The truth is our words can and do hurt. The fact is when someone is really hurting and in a crisis, while the right words might help, what a person needs is tangible help. That help could be offering child care, offering to help raise money, offering prayers, starting a prayer chain, or perhaps just an open ear and closed mouth. Maybe just a shoulder to lean on.

More often than not, when a person seems to be asking for advice, what they really want and perhaps more badly need is love and support, a safe place to vent and some understanding.

Understand also, that while you may in your heart feel you are not judging, but sincerely trying to help, when a person is in a crisis situation they may not hear your love and concern, they only hear the negative criticisms no matter how delicately you try and phrase them. That's why sometime and open ear and closed mouth policy is best.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy in Their Unhappiness?

My twelve year old repeated something to me that his martial arts instructor told him the other night; "Some people find their happiness in being unhappy."

Odd as it sounds, I think he just may be right. The more I am on social networking sites and even just talking to friends, family or acquaintances, I am more convinced than ever he's on to something!

Some people seem to focus on only the negatives in their lives, never even able to recognize the positives.  Some people make it a habit or practice to complain, complain, complain. Bizarre as it may seem, I think they ENJOY it! Just what it is they are getting out of it or enjoying, I am not sure. Could it be the attention or sympathy it draws?

Don't get me wrong, we ALL have plenty of negatives in our lives. I know I do in mine. I am even known to voice those or complain about them from time to time. We are all human, I think it's only natural. But, I am talking about people, that that's ALL they do.

Sometimes the same person will complain about everything from their family troubles, to what they see as major health issues, to being tired, to money woes, to....well, you get the point. It NEVER ends!

Friends, Facebook, forums and especially our families are all safe places to voice our concerns or woes. That's what friends are for. But, they are also to share our joys with as well. Surely, no matter how bad things may seem, there are SOME joys. I mean, you woke up this morning, right? Did the sun shine? Did someone smile at you? No matter how small they may seem, surely we all have SOME joy in our lives, do we not? Why not make it a habit to share those as well? When a friend or family member calls to share a great joy in their lives with you, are you able to share in that joy with them? Is that friend even able to share that joy with you, or do they have to listen to YOUR woes for hours on end, and end up so depressed themselves, they forget why they called?

I am surprised that my friends who ARE going through things most of us could never even imagine and pray we never have to, are NOT the ones complaining! I have some who are battling serious, life threatening diseases. I have some who are struggling with the loss of a child. I have yet others who have lost wealth, home and more all in one clean sweep. Yet, those are not the ones who busy themselves with whining and complaining, though, those are the ones who are certainly entitled, in my opinion. I am sure they must feel like complaining, yet they don't.

What is the difference in these people? Those who complain for sport, and those who it would certainly be understandable if they did, yet they don't? I am not sure to be honest. But I know which person I want to be more like! I know I don't want to be the person who people avoid answering the phone for, or who is hidden on the Facebook feed. I don't want to be a joy zapper, I want to be a joy enabler!  I may not always feel joyful, but that doesn't mean I can't try to bring a little to others. Who knows, maybe in the process I will even find a little for myself.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


While far from being Pollyanna, I must say, the gratitude journal idea has been a great success in dealing with my complaining sons attitude!

Sorry, no pictures yet. This last week has been a little busier than expected. Hope to be back with photos soon of our completed projects.

If your children, or even yourself find you are in a chronic state of feeling negative or complaining a lot, I HIGHLY recommend trying to keep a gratitude journal, even if only for a short while. Something about finding and writing down at least five things a day you can be grateful for does wonders for your outlook!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


For some reason, my normally easy going, always happy and cheerful twelve year old has turned into a grumbling, whining, complaining, ungrateful child. Why, I don't know. The whole family is stumped trying to find any reasonable explanation for this dramatic change in personality. Not that such an explanation would excuse said behavior, but perhaps, it might explain it.

For our morning devotions we've been using Mother Teresa's Lenten Devotions( Which I HIGHLY recommend for the whole family!) What is so great about this little devotion book is that each day it has a quote by the Blessed Mother Teresa, as well as prayers, a devotion for mom, a story from her life, then practical applications for the children in the forms of "fasting" and "alms giving." These are the true gems of this little book. Examples are fasting from negative attitudes, or complaining. Smiling to those you may not want to smile to, writing down things you have to be grateful for and more!

I kind of expanded on the day we were to write down things we are grateful for, by making the children start their very own "Gratitude Journel." Each day now, I have them write down a minimum of five things they have to be grateful for.

I did this practice long ago for myself when I too, was suffering from a negative attitude and it really did change my perspective as well as my attitude. I am hoping to see similar results in my currently negative child!

For each child I bought a simple composition book for them to use, but I plan on over this weekend to give them time to decorate them and make them their very own special little journals, using the ideas from THIS website.

Here are some examples of what can be done with just a plain composition book, some scraps and a little bit of creativity:

I will post pictures of our special little books once we are finished creating them! I later will also share the results of this experiment/exercise on the currently, chronically negative child!