What Do You Do With 100 Pounds of Yarn!!

I recently inherited about 100 lbs of yarn—eleven black garbage bags and seven boxes. I adore yarn, but this was simply an absurd amount of yarn for this novice crocheter.

As the yarn was being packed into every available space of my minivan I envisioned the many beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, and booties that would warm the hearts and souls of so many—100 pounds of love!

However, as I began to actually survey the contents of the bags and boxes I could see that this would be a complicated undertaking, as some of the yarn was in a complex mess of tangles and knots.

Thus came the challenge—the yarn held such beautiful potential in joy, blessings, and pleasure, but that wonderfulness was hidden in the complication of getting through the knots and tangles.

Right at the beginning I had to answer this question – Was it worth doing the obvious work required to reach the wonderfulness? I decided yes. As I sat unwinding, untangling, and un-knotting I was reminded that this yarn mess wasn’t very different than my own 44 year old marriage. It isn’t that much different than any significantly worthy relationship.

IMG_0353Recently, on one of my Facebook groups, a discussion ensued about how a wife should handle a husband who she considered unreasonable in a situation with their child. As you can imagine there were a lot of comments. Many of them had to do with just taking the bull by the horns and forging ahead, doing what was “right” for the child, no matter what the husband’s position.

It brought to mind my whole tangled yarn experience. This couple has a tangled mess. They are trying to sort it out. Each one thinks that their position is “correct” and “reasonable”. They are emotionally pulling, tugging and yanking on their individual “threads” of belief. It is causing a big mess for them.

If we want to untangle messy issues with our spouse it is good to remember that it all begins with relationship, not the current question at hand. The problem for this couple isn’t whether they should do this or that for their child. It ultimately comes down to the health of their relationship.

They are in a place of intractability. It’s me against you. They are at war, so to speak.

Four Ways To Untangle Your Differences

So what can be done when we find ourselves in this intractable place, when we are stuck in a 100 pound tangled mess? Here is what was really obvious as I worked through the yarn tangles:

1. Know in advance of beginning that it is worth the effort to untangle. This was true with my 100 pounds of yarn and it is true of most marital relationships. It took me a lot of hours, over a few days, to get the job done. There were moments of extreme frustration when I wished I hadn’t begun the project, when I wanted to quit. However, I just kept visualizing the reward of hanging in – the many beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, and booties that would warm the hearts and souls of so many.

2. You have to use a gentle touch. No jerking, pulling, grasping, or tugging on the threads. That just tightens the knots! The softer the touch, the more easily it comes untangled. We can translate this into the difficulty of untangling human issues by realizing that you have to have a genuine interest in the other person’s position. You don’t have to agree, but you do need to want to hear and understand. There is a gentleness of heart involved in being able to listen for understanding when you disagree with another person. Sometimes we call it charity.

3. If you can find the beginning of the thread you have a far better chance of getting the knots out. There are two IMG_0362 (1)ends in every skein of yarn. One pulls out from the inside of the skein. The other wraps around from the outside. Sometimes they just get tangled up with each other. You can pull and tug and battle all you want but until you find the ends you will struggle. Finding two ends allows you to unravel the mess eventually. It is akin to having a belief that the other persons position is as valid as yours. From that position of mutual respect you can begin to untangle the mess. You can look at each end, so to speak, and begin the work of bringing order out of chaos. Again, you don’t have to agree but you have to know that despite your different positions, their position is valid.

One of the reasons we have a difficult time taking a genuine interest and in believing that the other person’s position is valid is because we really aren’t willing to see differently. We want our current view.

However, when you are willing to hear and understand another’s position, then you are able to come to a new view. You may still not agree, but you will see their position differently.

4. Allow time. It took many hours, over a number of days, to bring order to that yarn mess. If I had expected to get it done in a few hours I would have experienced a lot more stress and faced the idea of quitting more often. Relationships take time. Each bit of tangled emotion or difference in opinion takes time to unravel. There are not may things that must have a decision right now, in this hour or this day and often even in this week or month. Take the time to let each other think, pray, ponder and talk.

IMG_0361Knowing the relationship is worth the work, having a genuine interest in the other persons position, believing in the validity of the other persons opinion, and by allowing time, you can untangle almost any mess, just as I was able to do with the yarn.

When the work of untangling the yarn was finished, I knew from experience, that the work of creating beautiful scarves, hats, blankets, and booties would be much easier and frankly, a joy. As we untangle each misunderstanding or difference of opinion in our marriage then it will be easier to create a family built on trust, respect, hard work and love. We will have more joy in our families.

Like the yarn, wrapped in neat balls ready to use, our families will look better, feel better and be easier to live and work with. We can create something beautiful and lasting.

What have you experienced in your life that is akin to untangling 100 pounds of yarn?

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Recently on a mature dating site commercial, a giddy woman said, “It’s just like being back in high school.” YIKES!

You know what, I liked high school.  It turned out okay. I went to prom, dated some cute guys and had fun. In my year book I am listed as “The most typical girl”. But, I wouldn’t want to go back!

When I got married I was happy. Our children were born; we loved them and learned a lot of things. Some times were great and some were hard, but all in all, it evened out and we had fun. I was happy. But, I wouldn’t go back!

SAMSUNGThere isn’t a single point in my past life that I would willingly return to.You know why?

Because, today I am a better person. I know more. I have learned to value now what I couldn’t value when I was younger. This is just the natural course of life, with experience comes wisdom.

My relationships are valued more than just about anything else.

When I am making a big decision I ask myself, “How will this affect my ability to nurture my current relationships?” I recently asked that question as I considered some important life choices, and I ultimately made different decisions than I might otherwise have made.

I think one of the pivotal moments in my life was when I was sixteen. I was in the play OUR TOWN by Thorton Wilder. I played Emily Gibbs, a young woman on the threshold of a wonderful life. And then life was gone for her. We meet her in the spirit world and my how desperately she wants to go back. Those who are older and wiser advise her not to. But back she goes, to the happiest day of her life, her twelfth birthday.

It is painful because she realizes that those she loves best can’t “see” one another because they are so busy living life; IMAG1026doing all the things that they think matter so much…laundry, cooking, education, church duties, work, making money, changing the world.

That is the great perk of aging. I think we get some perspective on what really matters. That’s why grandparents can be so great. That’s why they have so much fun with grandchildren. It isn’t really because we don’t have to discipline or manage them, it’s because we truly want a relationship with them. We like them. We “see” them.

Make Room For Relationships

Maybe it’s because the sand is running out of our hour glass faster and faster. We become aware that we don’t have all the time in the world. We just have now, today. That is all. That is all we have ever had, just today. We can fill it with “busy” or we can simplify and make room for relationship. It’s a choice and you can make that choice.

SAMSUNGSimplify your calendar. Simplify your activities. Stay home more. Read as a family more. Turn off all the electronics and play a game. Fold laundry together. Eat together. Talk and listen. Laugh more. Let stress go.

What could you let go of a little more today in order to give more room to the things that matter most?

One day you will be older. You kids will be older. You won’t care how clean your house was, how spectacular the yard, if you home schooled or public schooled. You won’t value the amount of money you made, how often you went to Disneyland, if your kids got a new bike every year or what college they got in to. You won’t care if they were carpenters or lawyers. You won’t care if you impacted thousands of people. What you will think about more than anything else is the condition of your relationships. That, my friends, is what you are going to treasure most. Take time now to make them sweet.

Really, I would like to hear your answer to the question posed above: What could you let go of a little more today in order to give more room to the things that matter most? You can use the comment box. : )

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Experiments for Improving Family Relationships

by Mary Ann on April 17, 2015


I have been mentoring a mom who has four children. I have known this woman for a few years and she is a great mom and a wonderful person. Recently we were talking about her relationship with her 17 year old daughter.

My friend has answered some thoughtful questions about “how” she is, when she is with her daughter. She realizes that she is often too critical and that their conversations are usually about chores and school work even though her daughter has things she wants to share. The seventeen year old wants to talk with her mom but she doesn’t seem to know when the time is right. She chooses to share when her mom is working, getting ready to go somewhere or is helping another child. They would like to spend more time together but they are both often tired and on edge. To avoid blow ups they sometimes avoid each other.

Experimenting With Making A Change

When I am mentoring someone I often ask them to pick one or two things that they would most like to see changed in the relationship with someone that matters to them. Then I ask them to come up with an experiment to see what might happen in making a change to the relationship.

I love experiments because they are just that, experiments. They are designed for the purpose of seeing if you can get a certain result by doing something new or different. Sometimes the experiment is successful and sometimes it isn’t. When you don’t get the desired result you just design a new experiment. No failure here.

asian_mother_and_daughter_talking-happySo this mom came up with an experiment to increase the time she and her daughter spend talking and to decrease the time they feel tired and at odds with one another.

Now I want you to remember that this girl is 17, almost 18 years old. I work mostly with children from infancy to 12 or 13. Nevertheless, the mom tried using a connection technique that I teach all the time. For one week she was going to give her daughter as many random touches as she could remember. A random touch looks like this:

• As you walk past the child you reach out and touch them in a friendly way, while smiling. No conversation necessary.
• If you see a child sitting on the couch, a bed or any place like that, you plop down by them, lean back and rest for 10 to 30 seconds. Then you squeeze a knee, or pat a shoulder and then, go on your way. No conversation necessary.

The Result of the Experiment

Here is what came out of the experiment. The relationship feels a lot better. They spend more time together even when tired. Mom is more aware. The daughter has been talking and mom has been listening more. She said that just looking at the relationship and asking questions about it has helped her to be more conscientious about the fact that the relationship is more important than the management part of parenting that she is used to. She also said she feels more purposeful in the relationship. She is more keenly aware of what she wants it to look and feel like.

She and her daughter have four weeks left of life as they have known it. Then her daughter will graduate and move into a new phase in her life. She is going away to work for the summer. She and her mom have decided to go to lunch once a week for the final four weeks. They are really looking forward to it.

In a family, relationship trumps just about everything else. How we see people matters. Our stories about them and their behavior impacts how we, as adults, treat them. It doesn’t take much to “shift” a relationship into calmer and more peaceful waters. I like to remember that it isn’t the big things that make relationships firm and comfortable. It is the small and simple things we do on a consistent basis.

Questions To Ask About Your Relationship With Your Child

Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself about the relationship you have with each of your children:

• What is the primary conversation you have with the child? What are you talking about?
• What is the energy/mood between the two of you most of the time?
• What assets does the child bring to the relationship?
• Are there behaviors that block the relationship?
• What are you tolerating in the relationship? A toleration is anything that is draining your energy.

Now design an experiment to try something new. Just remember that it is an experiment. You don’t know how it will come out and that is OK. If you don’t get the result you want design a new experiment. Like any good scientist you will eventually find what works!

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Best Apps For Homeschool – Guest Post

by Mary Ann on April 9, 2015

technology in the famil


Rachel Hodges is  currently finishing her Master’s degree in early childhood education and part of her final project involves raising awareness around the topic of technology in the classroom and tracking her impact. We are going to participate and help her out. I will let her explain.

“As an education major, I was always interested in the latest developments in teaching. Now, I’m finally putting my curiosity to good use.

I’m currently in the process of finishing my Master’s degree in early childhood education. Part of my final project involves raising awareness around the topic of technology in the classroom and tracking my impact. Admittedly, before I started my research, I only considered the aspects of technology that were beneficial for children in a classroom setting—how it can be used to subsidize one-on-one education from teachers. With things like educational games and online lessons, technology helps children in overcrowded schools to receive a more personalized experience, tailored to their learning style.

But since I’ve started my research, I’ve learned that technology isn’t just an important aspect of education for children in overpopulated classrooms. It’s also important for homeschooled children.

Here are just a few apps I’ve come across during my research that have made a significant impact for homeschool families.

Homeschool Helper App

child's learning appThe Homeschool Helper App is consistently rated as one of the best apps for homeschooling moms, earning it a spot on Homeschool Academy list of “The Top 10 Best Apps to Keep Your Homeschool Routine Organized.” Compatible with all mobile and tablet devices, Homeschool Helper serves as a hub for all of your homeschooling needs. Its features include a grade calculator, book lists, and lesson management. You can track progress for an unlimited number of students while creating report cards and student summaries. It allows parents to focus more on teaching, because the app takes care of the rest.


With Evernote, your lesson plans go with you wherever you are. You can make weekly itineraries, create next year’slogotentips-7 curriculum, and track grades. Merge notes and reports for organized bookkeeping, and retrieve them at any time for reference, from anywhere. Ed Snap Shots contributor, Mystie Winckler, also said they’re perfect for saving ideas and articles you come across online.

“Using the web clipper, the email-to-Evernote function, or the ability to save pdfs to Evernote, I have saved articles, product reviews, and other online ideas into a notebook for homeschool resources and inspiration.” Winckler wrote. With this app, you can forget the paper, and never forget your work.

Monkey MathSchool Sunshine

site.portfolio.sunshine-930x375Monkey MathSchool Sunshine was created by THUP Games, the same developers that create educational and fun games for big-name clients like Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon.

With Monkey MathSchool Sunshine, children ages 3 to 6 can enhance their mathematics skills using nine different interactive games, each of which can be adjusted to the skill level of the current player. Because of its ability to seamlessly combine education and entertainment, the app was named by Verizon Wireless as one of the “5 Best Educational and Learning Apps for Toddlers” on this list.

I still have a lot to learn when it comes to the incorporation of technology and homeschooling, but I’m sure of one thing—no matter where a student is learning, the educational benefits of technology are universal. Check out a few of these apps for yourself and see how they can help your homeschooling plan.

This guest post was written by Rachel Hodges. In addition to finishing up her Master’s program in early childhood education, Rachel enjoys writing about technology in the classroom. In her free time, she writes short stories and binges on Netflix. She would love to hear what you think about the apps. : ) Leave her a comment.

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