Friday, May 30, 2008

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 6

Every Monday and Friday join us for reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart."  I'll post a brief synopsis of the chapter with a few highlights, as well as a few of my personal thoughts.  At the end of the comments, there will be 2-3 questions for discussion as well.  So join us in our journey toward becoming the mommies that God has called us to be.

Chapter 6: Reworking your Goals

In this chapter, Tripp revisits the unbliblical goals discussed in the last chapter "in light of the chief end of man- to glorify God..." pg 51.  Here they are again:
  • Developing Special Skills- Tripp says this, "A biblical world view dictates that you should teach your children to exercise and care for their bodies as an expression of stewardship for God's gifts.  Abilities should be developed because God has given the stewardships of tents and special capacities" pg 52.  My thought is ... can this be done in sports, etc?  Tripp goes on to state that children should focus on skills that will open doors in ministry.  Again, could this not be accomplished through working with others in organized sports, classes, or activities?
  • Psychological Adjustment- Tripp states that, "In a biblical vision, you should instruct your children to entrust themselves to God in the face of unfair treatment" pg 53.  How can this be accomplished practically in middle school in the face of bullying?  How do we entrust our children in a fallen world?
  • Saved Children- Tripp finds that this goal "misses the spiritual process of nurturing your children" and "what your children need is spiritual nurture" pg 54.  I have to agree that following God is more about discipleship than saying the sinner's prayer.  If it was all about a one-time prayer, then why would we need repentance?
  • Family Worship- Tripp says, "The end is knowing God.  A means to employ in reaching that end is family worship" pg 55.  He believes that the focus should be a closer relationship with our Lord, not gathering for worship every day.  While that is a great tool, it is not the goal.
  • Well-behaved Children- Tripp again finds that "manners are an expression and application of the duty of loving my neighbor as myself" pg 56.  So yes, manners are important, but not the ultimate goal in itself. 
  • Good Education- Tripp states that, "What is important is that your child learn to do his work diligently for God" pg 57.  
All this to say, I'm torn by this chapter.  While I know that Tripp is searching for the ultimate goal, I find that he throws out perfectly innocent "goals" for our children in an attempt to make his point.  Specifically in the area of special skills, I believe there is nothing wrong with encouraging our children to develop skills and talents, as long as those skills and talents don't become gods to our children.  I don't want to present the idea to my children that this is the ultimate goal, but not that it's bad either.  Or am I just too caught up in my own unbiblical goals?  What do you think?

Whatever my disagreement with Tripp at this time, I was delighted to read the following statement at the end of the chapter, "life is found in knowing and serving the true and living God."  Is that how we are shepherding our children?

Questions for discussion: 
"These questions are the same ones that we thought about at the end of chapter 5. How has your understanding of these issues been changed by the Word of God?" pg 59

1. How do you define success?  How would your child finish this sentence... "What Mom and Dad want for me is..."

2. You are pushed and pulled by the things listed under unbiblical goals.  Which of these unbiblical goals influences your parenting the most adversely?

3. Remember, you are a shaping influence for your children.  What makes you tick?  What would you say drives you day by day?  What do you fear, love, feel anxious about?  What are the values taught in your home?

9. Are the spoken and unspoken rules of your family life consistent with true spirituality--living for the glory of God?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Easy Ways to Invest in Your Marriage

We all know that we need to invest in our marriages. However, between changing diapers and getting dinner on the table, we often forget to put TIME into our relationship with our spouse. I'm not suggesting that we try to be SUPERMOM. But with a little change in perspective, maybe we can find that time to have a little bit more romance in our lives. Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking:

  • Take a walk around the neighborhood- Load the kids in the strollers and get out for some fresh air. Be sure to pack some toys and snacks to keep the kids busy. Put aside the frustrations of the day and just concentrate on each other.
  • Walk to the mail together- Sure it's just a few minutes, but it's your time. Let the kids play together for a few minutes and groan over the crazy ads vying for your money.
  • Walk to the laundry together- Whether you live in an apartment or the laundry room is in the basement, it's a few moments for just the two of you to be together. Take a minute to hold hands or ask about each other's day.
  • Rent a movie from the library- Pick up something romantic. Sure your husband may complain, but he won't mind and it will give you come great cuddle time.
  • Share a Mocha or dessert- Swap babysitting with a neighbor and go out for a quick treat. Going out doesn't have to mean a meal. It can be something as simple as a single dessert with two forks.
  • Take a bike ride- Riding a bike will make you feel like a kid again. Take some time to enjoy those carefree moments and laugh together.
  • Play at the park- Run, slide, swing... with or without the kids... Getting outside and doing something together is a great way to build a new memory that will get you through those rough days of being "Mommy" and "Daddy."
  • Do a couples Bible study- One of the best ways to grow together is by seeking God together. Find a group with a variety of married couples in different stages of life to learn more strategies for growing a healthy marriage.
  • Find a park with a free tennis court, rollerblading rink, soccer field, etc- Again, build a memory together. So what if you can't stay upright on a pair of skates? Learn together. And don't forget to laugh.
  • Go to a free music performance at a local college- Our local college allows anyone to come "sit-in" on orchestra practice. With kids, the added bonus is exposing them to new music. Without kids, the bonus is some time to sit hand in hand.
  • Have a family game night- Break out the board games and break into teams. You and your partner just might learn something new about each other. Like who is more conservative at Monopoly or who is more competitive at Rummy.
  • Garden together- Grow something that will make you smile every time you look at it. Passing that rose bush in your driveway will remind you every time of your spouse.
  • Wash the car- Sure it has to be done, but it doesn't have to be a chore. Spend an evening washing the car while the kids play in the sprinkler. But keep a careful eye on who has the hose. You just might get wet as well.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Playing with Baby--Birth to 6 months

Here are just a few things you or your spouse can do to bond with baby in the first 6 months:

  1. Cuddle, coo, kiss and hold- Every time you cuddle or hold your baby, you are helping your child build brain cells and become more secure with the world around them.
  2. Mirrors- babies love to look at themselves.  This activity will provide entertainment and education about faces and body structure, as well as an increased understanding of depth perception.
  3. Play a musical instrument for your child- Expose him/her to the beautiful sounds of live music as well as a variety of CD's.  Again you're building brain cells with minimal effort.
  4. Borrow or buy a swing, walker, exersaucer, play gym etc.- The variety of colors, shapes and textures will help baby learn about their world and practice eye/hand coordination while reaching for things.
  5. Play Patty cake, Peekaboo, This Little Piggy and other hand movement games- These activities increase eye/hand coordination and build better bonding with eye contact.
  6. Talk to your child while changing and dressing them- Explain what you are doing to build your relationship and expand their vocabulary.
  7. Play in  the bath- Encourage splashing and talk about the feeling of the water.
  8. Show them how to "push up"- Get on the floor with your child and show him/her how to push up on their hands.  They will enjoy watching you in a new environment.
  9. Massage your child- Using baby oil or Johnson's lavender baby lotion, massage your child to relax them before bedtime.  For a how to visit this link.
  10. Rock your baby- There are few things more relaxing for mommy and child.  However, do not rock your child fully to sleep.  Lay him/her down before fully asleep so to soothe themselves.
  11. Go for a walk- Explore your neighborhood, talking to your child about the sights and sounds around you.
  12. Use a baby carrier to take your child with you throughout the day- Place child in carrier for trips around the playground or while doing household chores.  Talk to baby about what you are doing and use the time to bond with your child.
  13. Read to them alone or with a sibling- Babies can learn alot by hearing you read.  Their vocabulary will increase and they will enjoy the bright colors and characters of the books.  Be sure to include a variety from simple board books to some books "over their heads:" Dr. Suess, etc.
  14. Play with sibling- Engage both of your children on the floor, playing puzzles, etc.  Your baby will learn a lot from how you and your other children interact.
  15. Lay baby under a play gym- Hang a variety of colorful toys and items to stimulate baby.  Talk about texture, color, numbers, and if you have animals, talk about the sounds that animals make.
  16. Sit ups and push ups with baby- Lay on the floor with baby on your lap.  Do sit ups, greeting your baby every time you come up from the floor.  Or lay baby on floor and give him/her a kiss every time you come down for a push up.
  17. Talk with your baby about everything- Make everything a learning experience from the kitty walking into the room to shopping for groceries.  Talk about saying "Thank you" to the clerk and the rising cost of groceries.  
  18. Play worship music- Babies love music and playing worship music throughout the day is a great way to bond with your baby while teaching them about God.
  19. Create opportunities for your child to play with other babies of a similar age- seek out baby that are similar in age for them to communicate on their baby level.
  20. Join a mom's group- Some mom's groups will incorporate Mommy and Baby activities that create opportunities for bonding.
  21. Help your child play with a variety of textured items- Find things in your home that are rough, soft, hard, squishy, rubbery, smooth, etc.  This will give your baby a chance to learn about his/her environment and expand their vocabulary.
  22. Incorporate tummy time in your day- Lay baby on tummy beginning for 5 minutes at a time.  This will strengthen back and neck muscle as well as develop brain cells and depth perception.
  23. Blow on your baby's belly- This is a fun activity that using listening, touch, and eye contact and really allows you and your child to bond.
  24. Allow your baby to explore your face- Encourage your child to touch your eyes, ears, glasses, nose, hair, etc.  Talk about color and texture and don't forget to talk about being gentle.
  25. Move your child from room to room with you- While you're doing housework, move your child with you.  If you're doing dishes, move the baby in the kitchen with you.  If you're cleaning a bedroom, lay the baby on the bed and continue talking with him/her.
  26. Utilize a bouncer- These are great for tip #25.  They are funny for the baby to bounce in and provide great face to face contact as they can sit baby up to "talk" to you.
  27. Break out the pots, pans, and wooden spoons- Encourage baby to make music with you, exploring eye/ hand coordination.
  28. Sing to your child- Singing to your baby is a great way for them to develop trust, hear language, learn, and expand their vocabulary.
  29. Swim with your baby- Movement in the water is a great experience for your child.  Find a local pool and spend some time playing with your child in a weight-less environment.  It will allow them to move their bodies in a way that's not possible at home.
  30. Take a Mommy and Me class together- Many classes will teach you a variety of techniques for working with your child.  From finger play songs to massage techniques, you will learn more from other moms and the instructor than you can ever learn from a blog or a book.  It will also allow you and your child to have an experience on which to expand your growing relationship.
These are a few ideas that Work for Me.

Teaching Tuesday

Here are a few ideas to entertain you and your child today:

Letter Rubbings

3 in letters (or numbers) cut from sand paper (or other textured elements)
Paper to rub on

  1. Cut letters, shapes, numbers out of textured paper.
  2. Put the shapes under the printer paper.
  3. Let child rub over the letter and see what appears.
  4. Talk about letters, numbers, shapes, colors (of crayons), etc.
  5. Encourage variety.  What happens when you make two triangles?  A diamond?  A star of David?  What if we only rub part of a rectangle?  There's a square?  Where is the first letter of your child's name?  Can he/she print the whole name?
Alphabet Scrapbook

Old scrapbook or photo album
Letters A-Z cut from textured or colored paper
Magazines for cutting
Digital Camera (optional)
Crayons, markers, glitter, etc. (optional)

  1. Cut out each letter of the alphabet, from A-Z.
  2. Adhere one letter to each page. 
  3. With your child, search through magazines for items that start with each letter.  This can vary depending on your child's age.  My child is 2 years old and seeing a cat calling it "Kitty."  So we label it "Kitty" and put it under K.  
  4. Cut out pictures and adhere to the various pages.  You may want to take your time and go through letter by letter.  This can be done with an alphabet coloring sheet or lesson.  Focus on each letter for several days.
  5. Finished result is a beautiful book that you can use to explore the alphabet with your child.  And they have by-in to practicing their letters since they were able to help make the book. 

Monday, May 26, 2008

Stocking the Pantry--Baby Food Part 3

So we've made mangoes, carrots, avocados, and squash. Ready for the next step??? Painless, I promise.

Bananas-- Pick up a few up at the store and mash them with formula or breast milk to the consistency you desire. These are a great first food beyond baby cereal. They can be frozen in cubes as the other foods we've made. They will turn brown, but the nutrition and flavor will not be compromised.

Applesauce-- Just buy a large container of natural applesauce. No sugar added. Skip the flavors and sugar as the baby won't miss them and we don't need them.
If you want to make your own, you can search the web for a variety of homemade recipes. We made some last year and we are quickly running low as the entire family eats it.

Peas- You would think this one is hard, but I have a trick for you. Make them with split peas and you won't have to worry about the skins. Here's how you do it:
  1. Soak a bowl full of split peas overnight. Some will claim that they don't need to be soaked, but I've never had a good experience without first soaking my peas.
  2. Rinse the next morning and pour peas into crockpot. Cover with fresh water.
  3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. DO NOT SEASON. Your baby will not miss the seasoning.
  4. Check throughout the day and make sure the peas are covered in water.
  5. When done the peas should not taste "green." If they do, they need to cook longer.
  6. Allow peas to cool and blend, adding formula or breast milk until reaching the texture and consistency you desire.
  7. Freeze in cubes for servings.

After you have tried both carrots and peas with your child, and he/she has not had an allergic reaction, you can cook them together in the crockpot, cutting down on your prep time and providing a combo meal.

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 5

Every Monday and Friday join us for reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart."  I'll post a brief synopsis of the chapter with a few highlights, as well as some of my own thoughts.  At the end of the comments, there will be 2-3 questions for discussion as well.  So join us in our journey toward becoming the mommies that God has called us to be.

Chapter 5: Examining Your Goals

In this chapter, Tripp discusses the fact that, whether consciously or unconsciously, we have goals for our children.  And, whether consciously or unconsciously, we do communicate those goals to them.  Wow!  Wouldn't you rather risk the fear of self-examination than communicate inaccurate goals to your kids?

The unbiblical goals that Tripp mentions are:
  • developing special skills--ok in themselves, but should never be the primary goal in raising our children.  Special note that Tripp makes on page 43: "have you no concern as a Christian parent for the values implied and taught by the coaches and instructors of these activities?"
  • psychological development--look at the self help section in your local bookstore to see how the world preys on our insecurities as parents.  Pg 43: "How can you teach your child to function in God's kingdom, where it is the servant who leads, if you teach them how to make the people in their world serve them?"
  • saved kids--saying the sinner's prayer does not keep one from being a sinner.
  • family worship--is no substitute for spirituality
  • well-behaved children--pg 45: "... having well-behaved children is not a worthy goal.  It is a great secondary benefit of biblical childrearing, but an unworthy goal in itself."
  • good education
  • control
So "what is a worthy biblical goal?"
Tripp's answer to that question is found on page 47: "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever."
As a concluding thought, Tripp states "From their earliest day, (kids) must be taught that they are creatures made in the image of God- made for God.  They must learn that they will only 'find themselves' as they find Him.  Your child must grow to see that real living is experienced when he stands before God and says 'Whom have I in heaven but you?  And being with you I desire nothing on earth' (Ps. 73:25)."

How often do we find ourselves in that position?  How often do we say to God "Whom have I in heaven but you?"  How can we model this for our kids if we ourselves are not that in love with God ourselves?  Makes ya think, huh?

So what are you goals for your children?  And how are you communicating them?  Are you unconsciously communicating things to your children that, upon further examination, you would be repulsed by?  If you were asked what you want for your kids, what would your answer be?  And how are your actions lining up with your words?

Questions for discussion:
1. How do you define success?  How would your child complete this sentence... "What Mom and Dad want for me is...?"

2. You are pushed and pulled by the things listed under unbiblical goals.  Which of these unbiblical goals influences your parenting the most adversely?

3. Remember, you are a shaping influence for your children.  What makes you tick?  What would you say drives you day by day?  What do you fear, love, feel anxious about?  What are the values taught in your home?

9. Are the spoken and unspoken rules of your family life consistent with true spirituality- living for the glory of God? 

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Menu Monday

Bagels and cream cheese
out to lunch with mom
Green salad with leftover chicken, fruit salad

Yogurt and granola, milk
Deli sandwiches, apple, juice
Potluck: Mexican Potato Salad

Croissants and jelly, milk
Deli sandwiches, fruit, juice

Hash browns, eggs, milk
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots, juice

Cottage cheese, toast, milk
Deli sandwiches, tricuits, juice

Gingerbread waffles, milk
Chicken Veggie Quesadillas, Spanish Rice

Leftover waffles, milk
Taco Salad

For more meal ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

What's in your car???


Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer is hosting a carnival of What's in your Car?  So in the spirit of self-disclosure, here's what I found:

  • Various pens, pencils, and scrapbooking markers
  • Empty Yaks coffee cups
  • Large box of Costco wipes
  • Paper bunny ears from Easter
  • Random baby toys, clothes, and shoes
  • Lots of snack crumbs... we won't even look under the car seats
  • Various books: Simply Christian, The Shack, Shepherding a Child's Heart to name a few
  • Headphones for the gym
  • Receipts
  • Stroller
  • Re-usable cloth bags
  • Plastic Easter eggs
  • Old Sunday School pictures
  • Yucky sippy cup
  • Extra deposit envelopes for the bank
  • Insurance, registration, AAA card
  • CD's
  • Half case of bottled water
  • Half case of Mtn Dew
  • Hair ties
  • Baby Bjorn
  • Diaper bag that has taken up permanent residence
  • Porta crib
  • Bouncer
  • Various binders and notepads from retreat this past weekend

Friday, May 23, 2008

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 4

Chapter 4: You're in Charge

Tripp's point for this chapter can be summed up by a quote on page 29: "As a parent, you have authority because God calls you to be an authority in your child's life.  You have the authority to act on behalf of God." 

This thought is further expanded on page 31: "... therefore the endorsement of your child is not necessary."

Tripp calls upon parent to engage their children, explain further that shepherding and teaching happen all the time.  When we are with our children, they are learning from us, whether we are conscious of it or not.  Therefore, we are to engage our kids, and ourselves, in learning what it is to be followers of Jesus.

Tripp also takes the time to clear up a few misconceptions about what discipline is.  He calls for objectives and humility, and refutes the fact that anger must be involved in the process.  

I thought the section about clear objectives was interesting.  I've never thought to take the time to discuss with my husband what our objectives are in disciplining our children.  What do we want for them: spiritually, relationally, in their futures?  This concept is so foreign to our culture.  We are taught to think of our children as individuals who are ready for responsibility, rather than children who need to be guided by wise parents.  It's such a foreign concept in fact that I'm not sure where to begin.  This is something that I would like to bring up with my husband in the near future.  Choosing to be proactive rather than reactive.

Also on page 30, Tripp notes that if we allow "unholy anger" to cloud our judgement in discipline, we should repent to our children.  How many people do this?  Instead, we move on and don't allow ourselves to be convicted.  What a testimony it would be to our children if we were to repent to them when we sin against them!  And conversely, what humility that requires of us.  

I would challenge you to practice this in your home.  Don't be afraid to be in charge.  Know that you've been given authority by God to direct and disciple your children.  However, acknowledge when you've been wrong.  Allow that to be part of your testimony as well.

Questions for discussion:
3. What are some things you can do to keep your discipline focused on turning your child to the paths of life?

5. How would you describe your job as God's agent for discipline?  How will seeing yourself as God's agent change the way you discipline?

6. Would you be willing to sit down and analyze the following for your children: training objectives, lists of strengths and weaknesses, short-term and long-term goals, and strategies for parenting?

10 Inexpensive Things To Do With Your Kids Today

1. Break out the sidewalk chalk.  Practice letters or write a welcome home message for Daddy.  Trace shapes and identify colors.

2. Blow bubbles with the baby.  Babies love bubbles.  Talk about colors, texture, and vocab such as drifting, floating, and clear.

3. Explore a new neighborhood park.  Take advantage of the swings, slides, and monkey bars.  Not only will your child work on new skills, but you may also find a new group of mommies that you connect with.

4. Plant something.  Check out your $ store and plant some flowers.  Talk about taking care of plants and the science of how things grow.  Encourage observation skills, observing how things grow.

5. Take that stale loaf of bread and feed the birds.  Your toddler will have hours of stories to tell after that.

6. Start a kitchen band.  Break out the pots and pans, wooden spoons and spatulas.  Afterwards, take some Tylenol and settle down for a nap.

7. Create a masterpiece.  Sure you can spend a lot of money on art supplies and eventually you choose to do so.  But for now, just invest in a $.97 set of watercolors and use the back of your printer paper.  Discuss colors and motion.

8. Drop in to the library.  Pick up movies, books, and utilize some computer time.

9. Go for a bike ride.  What a great way to get outdoors and spend some time bonding with your child.

10. Wash the car.  Roll up your sleeves, break out the dishsoap and hose, and enjoy this spring weather.

Frugal ways to spend time with my kids work for me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stocking the Pantry-- More Baby Food

How did your carrots turn out?  Mine are in the freezer, patiently awaiting Baby Girls appetite. While we're on the subject, I've actually gotten motivated to do a little more.  So here's part two of our tutorial.

Avocados--Super easy.  We are so blessed to live in California.  Even with the rising costs of food, I am very thankful for the wonderful produce I can introduce my children to.  Avocados are no exception.  With a good source of fat, vitamins K, B6, C, and lots more, they are a super food in my book.  Simply peel and pit them, mash with a fork, and thin with breast milk or formula. They are fantastic.  Try them; your kids will love them.

Squash--Two ways to go about this.  
1. If you really want to do these from scratch, pick out a nice squash from the produce section. 2. Wash the outside of the squash, cut it in two and clean out the seeds.  
3. Place in an oven safe pan, drizzling with olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper as you desire.  I tend to just drizzle with olive oil and keep the seasoning to a minimum.  This way your child can learn to appreciate the natural flavor of foods.
4. Pour some water in the bottom of the pan to keep your squash from drying out
5. Bake for 45 minutes to a hour at 400 degrees, until tender.
6. Scrape out the flesh and discard the shell.
7. Blend and thin with breast milk or formula until desired texture.  
8. If freezing, freeze blended squash and add milk or formula before serving. 

This technique allows for more adjustment and control of flavor.

The second option is much quicker and easier.  Are you ready for this?

1. Purchase a block of cooked squash from the freezer section.
2. Thaw and refreeze in ice cube trays.
3. Thin with breast milk or formula before serving.

This is still very nutritious and natural.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wednesday Activity

This is a great activity for helping your little one learn to express their feelings.  It teaches them to put language with their emotions, expands vocabulary, and creates a bonding experience for you as well.

Emotion Masks

Poster board or white printer paper
Popsicle sticks
Glue or tape
Markers or crayons

1. Cut out faces from poster board and cut holes for eyes.
2. Tape stick to the back.
3. Talk about emotions and how you feel with your child.  Explore what it feels like to be happy, sad, frustrated, disappointed, angry, tired, etc.
4. Encourage your child to make masks for the different emotions you talk about.
5. Play with the masks, role playing what those emotions might mean.  Also talk about constructive ways to deal with difficult emotions and appropriate responses to those emotions.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Works for Me Wednesday

This is a just a fun little tip that I picked up in college.  Now that our space is limited in our little apartment it still comes in handy.

Don't use a white board for every day messages.

If you need an extensive family schedule, go ahead and get one.

But if it's just for small notes or messages, use this tip:

Write on your bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker.

It writes smoothly and cleans off easily.  We use it for phone numbers, reminders before bedtime, notes to each other, shopping lists, etc.  It's the last thing I see at night and usually is my reminder spot for the morning.  And it's the first thing I see in the morning, reminding me to reschedule the pediatrician appointment, restock the toilet paper, or return a phone call.  It works.  Try it.

For more Wednesday tips, check out Works for Me.

Teaching Tuesday--Alphabet and more

Couple of ideas for you today.  I've tried the first one, but not the second one ... yet!  I just found it tonight while doing a search on the internet and I'm excited to try it out.  And I'd love to hear how it works for any of you as well.  Sounds fun.

Water table:
Large dish pain
Measuring cups
Plastic animals or toys

I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't afford a large water table.  They look like a lot of fun.  And I know my 2 year old would love one.  So what's a mama to do?
Water table in miniature.  Take a large dish pain and fill with water.  You can do this in your kitchen if you're brave enough, but we stick to the backyard.  Take out lots of measuring cups, teaspoons, plastic dinosaurs, small animals.  Whatever you can get your hands on.  This is a great sensory activity and loads of fun.  I don't know why I didn't think of it before, but this miniature version is a lot of fun and opens up a lot of conversation about temperature, texture, activity, etc.  Your child will love it.

Alphabet Dominoes:
Poster board

1. Cut the poster board into 1" x 2" pieces.
2. On each piece, write 2 letters (like dominoes).    
3. For younger kids, use only upper or lower letters.  For older kids, you can mix up upper and lower case letters.
4. Connect them as you would regular dominoes, matching up letters.  Challenge your child to make new designs.  
5. Talk with your child about letters, words that start with them, the sounds that they make, etc.
6. This activity can also be used for shapes, colors, animals, etc.  Let your creativity go crazy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--The Kids' Room

I've been putting this one off. Our kids, ages 2 years and 5 months, share a room in our two bedroom apartment. Well, sort of. The little one still sleeps in our room, but will be invading our little buys space soon enough. Living in such limited space with youngin's means we have to be pretty creative. In that room is a set of bunkbeds, a crib, two dressers, a bookcase, a toy area, and lots and lots of baby things. We do have a closet. It, in itself, is full of baby clothes, Christmas ornaments, camping necessities, and so much more. But that will have to wait for another day.
Today I'm just trying to get the room straightened up while should be quite a task with two little ones under foot. I plan to complete the following:
  • Sort through my daughter's dresser and pull out things she's outgrown. Being 5 months old, she's constantly outgrowing things and constantly needing things put away or taken out. I'll be going through my son's old clothes to see if there's anything she will be growing into as well. I want to make sure we get the most use of the things we have. He certainly left them in excellent condition as he outgrew them.
  • Sort through what I take out. Some for the consignment shop, some for handing down, some for storage.
  • Clean off my son's dresser to pull the box fan out of storage. We've having a heat wave and it's time we get ready for summer anyways.
  • Clean up the toys, straighten up stuffed animals.
  • Clean up top bunk. Straighten up walker, backpack, portacrib, and stored items. Seal up spacebags for under the bed.
  • Straighten up bookcase. Keep teaching my little guy about putting away his books. Organize some different size diapers, swim diapers, and pull-ups on the upper shelves. Organize a couple on lower shelves for little man to help out.
I'm sure this will be a couple of days project with stopping to nurse, potty train, settle down for naps, and fix meals. But I have some big work to do in there and I might as well get to it. While I'm in there, I'll probably start packing for little man to go to Grandma's for the weekend. He's so excited. I just can't let him help me pack. I put in and he takes out. Wish me luck!

For more "Tackle it" ideas, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 3

Wow!  I'm loving this book.  My husband and I were talking about the last two chapters tonight and things were coming together more in my mind.  Solidifying, I guess.  So here's our synopsis for today:

Chapter 3: Your Child's Development: Godward Orientation

I love this quote from page 19: "Whatever the shaping influences of life, it is the child's Godward orientation that determines his response to those shaping influences."  

This, in a nutshell, is the premise of this chapter.  Tripp talks about the vital importance of shaping the orientation of our child's hearts as this will determine how they react to life around them.  He talks about how we are never neutral.  We are either worshipping God or worshipping the world.  There is no middle ground.  Made in the image of God, we are spiritual beings.  And as such, we will find something to worship.  If it isn't God, it is the world.

Tripp goes on to explore the fact that man is born with a sin nature.  We always love the sinner and hate the sin.  I've heard it said that if you doubt man's sin nature, look at a two year old. We can testify to that in our household.  Although we love him, he definately has an an uncanny ability to get into trouble.  

I was particularly convicted by the section highlighting biblical examples of this premise.  Tripp talks through a couple of examples of biblical characters, who based solely on outside shaping influences, should have turned out different.  Joseph, for example, should have turned on his family when he was reunited with them in Egypt.  Based on the circumstances of his life, we wouldn't have faulted him for rejecting them.  However, the orientation of his heart was toward God and the story turned out so differently from what one would have expected.

As my husband and I were talking tonight, the importance of this chapter became so clear to me.  I can structure my children's lives for so long.  Monitor who they spend time with, what they watch on TV, choose the books they read or the places they visit.  Still the choices they make, even in or outside of my home, will be determined by who they are worshipping.  

So it begs the question: When I discipline my children, am I more concerned with their behavior or their heart?

Still on this question!!!

Questions from this chapter:

1. Do you tend to be a determinist in the way you look at childrearing?  Are you able to see that your children are active responders to the shaping influences in their lives?  How do you see them responding?

2. What do you think is the Godward orientation of your children?  Are their lives and responses organized around God as a Father, Shepherd, Lord, Sovereign, King?  Or do you see them living for some sort of pleasure, approval, acceptance, or some other false god?   

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Menu Monday

Hot cereal and milk
Egg Salad Sandwiches, tomato, juice
Individual Chicken Pot Pies

Scrambled eggs, toast, milk
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, juice
Potluck: Mexican Potato Salad

Yogurt, fruit, milk
Egg Salad Sandwiches, salad, juice
Que Pasta

Hot cereal and milk
Quesadillas, juice
Pizza roll

Yogurt and granola, milk
Baked potatoes, juice
Small Group Leaders' Retreat

Small Group Leaders' Retreat

Yogurt and granola, milk
Leftovers or Egg Salad Sandwiches, salad, juice
Crockpot Chimichangas

For more menu and meal ideas, check out Organizing Junkie.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 2

Thanks for joining us while we're reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart" By Tedd Tripp.  Each Monday and Friday, I will present a short synopsis of the chapter we're reading, followed by 2-3 of the questions from the chapter for discussion.  Feel free to read along with us and discuss the reading.  I'm excited to talk with all of you as we grow closer to God in our journey toward becoming better mommies.

The past few days we've been reading Chapter 2: "Your Child's Development: Shaping Influences." This chapter is part of a two-part explanation about how your child is shaped.  While chapter 2 discusses the effect of experiences on your child, chapter 3 will discuss the way in which your child reacts to them.  Tripp's belief is that these two factors are what shape a child.

The book explores six categories of influence on a child:
  • Structure of Family Life--how many parents or generations live in one home?  What is the birth order of the children? How do the children's personalities mix with each other and their parents?
  • Family Values--What is important to the parents?  What is unimportant and passes without notice?  What takes precedence: people or things?  How are boundaries set up with "outsiders?"  How are values centered: around a worldly view or Christian view?
  • Family Roles--Who does what in the home?  How involved are the parents in their children's lives?  Who does the housework?  The yard work?  Who pays the bills?
  • Family Conflict Resolution--How is conflict resolved?  Do family members simply storm out of the room or is there resolution on both sides?  Does the family talk about their problems?  
  • Family Response to Failure--How are failures treated?  Is each experience treated as a learning opportunity?  Are children treated foolishly?  Or encouraged to try again?  Is there shame involved?
  • Family History--Has there been a death in the family?  The birth of a new sibling?  How long has the family put down roots?  Does the family need to move frequently?

Tripp goes on to talk about Christian determinism vs. denial.  If we're not careful, we can easily fall into one of these two traps.  

Christian determinism is a  mindset which concludes that if we simply structure every opportunity for our child, he will turn out ok.  If we pick the right friends, find the right activities, structure every detail of their lives... our children will readily adopt our faith and follow the Lord.  Determinism dictates that we can shape our children as they have no choice in the matter.

Denial is simply believing that these things have no effect on our children.  As parents, we can deny the effect of the world on our kids and believe that everything will be ok no matter what we do.  Rather, we must understand that the choices we make do influence our children and we should take a measurable amount of concern when structuring our children's environment.  

Tripp makes two points near the end of the chapter that I'd like to highlight:
"You must do all that God has called you to do but the outcome is more complex than whether you have done the right things in the right way."
"Your child's heart determines how he responds to your parenting."

This is the crux of the issue.  We must do all that we can do in shepherding our children's hearts (thus running from denial), but understand that we are only a part of the equation (thus distancing ourselves from determinism).  

Questions from the chapter:
1. What have been some of the prominent shaping influences of your child's life?
6. What are the patterns of conflict resolution?  How have these patterns effected each of your children? Is change warranted?  If so, what change?
9. Do you tend to be a determinist in the way you look at child rearing? Are you able to see that your children are active responders to the shaping influences in their lives? How do you see them responding?  

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Attn Bargain Shoppers

The kids and I stopped by the local $.99 store this morning and hit a huge bargain.  Summer items are in and I found floatie rings with tons of fun characters: Strawberry Shortcake, Spiderman, Care Bears, etc.  They also had water wings and beach balls.  
Furthermore, for those of us with little girls, there was infant bathing suits.  They were very cute. On the down side, there was no built-in swim diaper, but it's a great option if you're swimming a lot in the summer.  
So if you have  a$.99 store in your area, you have to check it out.  I was completely shocked by the swimsuits.

For more Frugal Friday tips, check out Biblical Womanhood.

Introducing Older Siblings to "The Baby"

Those of us who are mothers of two or more have all had those fantasies: our oldest child lovingly embracing the new baby, eager to help mommy with added chores, and excited to have a new playmate.  We lovingly introduce them in the hospital and wait with eager anticipation to see how they'll react to each other, all the while entertaining visions of joint sleepovers and double dates.  Some times that's what happens.  But more often than not, reality hits and every mommy, at one point or another, will have to deal with the older child's adjustment to "The Baby."  Here are just a few thoughts and tips to help you along the way:
  • Start talking about the new baby with your child as soon as you announce the news to everyone else.  Don't keep your oldest in the dark.  They will wonder why you're not feeling well if you have morning sickness and you don't want to frighten them.  Don't blame the sickness or your restrictions on the baby.  Simply tell your oldest that this is a special time in your life and there are some things that you can and cannot do.
  • Expect your child to be more interested in you when you're in the hospital.  While your oldest may be casually interested in the baby, he will probably be more concerned about your condition or what's going on around him.  Try to act normally with them, even in the hardest of circumstances.  Even after a C-section, I tried to keep things normal for my little guy by sharing items from my meals or cuddling in the hospital bed.  
  • Do a gift exchange.  Depending on your personal philosophy about gift giving, you can pack a gift from the baby to your oldest child.  Also have Daddy or Grandma take the child shopping to pick up something small for the baby.  Daddy took my little guy to pick out a stuff animal for the baby.  To this day, he reminds her that the kitty is from him.
  • Tape a picture of the big brother or sister in the bassinet and tell the sibling that the baby likes looking at them.  I can't take credit for this one.  I read this tip and it's great.  Not only does it make the older sibling comfortable, but also begins to introduce the baby to being a part of the family. 
  • Ask the older sibling for help, but don't push.  Encourage them to run small "errands" for you: getting diapers or wipes, talking to the baby while you are changing it, retrieve a favorite stuffed animal, sing to them while on a car trip, etc.  But don't push the older sibling to be involved if they're hesitant.  Remember you are the parent and he/she may need more time to adjust.
  • Keep some sense of routine and normalcy.  If you usually have a busy lifestyle, try to keep the most important activities as a part of your life.  We've slowed down with the second child, but still try to make it to gym class every week and are slowly trying to incorporate story time back into our lives.  If you spend leisurely mornings at home, don't suddenly cram in Mommy & Me classes.
  • It's never too early to encourage sharing between siblings, but know where to draw the line.  Your "only baby" has become "an older sibling" and with that comes learning the valuable skill of sharing with others.  Encourage him/her to begin sharing with the new baby, but know what's off bounds.  For example, my son has his four "babies."  They are continually attached to him.  They are "off bounds" as far as sharing.  I wouldn't ask him to share with others on a play date nor do I ask him to share the with his sister.  They are strictly his.
  • Take time to do things one on one with your oldest child.  Ask your husband, mom, neighbor, etc. to watch the baby for a few hours while you and your first born enjoy an activity together.  Go to a local park.  Visit Barnes and Noble for hot chocolate and children's books.  Go to the soccer field and kick the ball around.  Spend some tokens at Chuck E. Cheese.
Remember these are just a few tips to help smooth the transition of introducing a new baby into your family.  Take a deep breath and embrace the new adventure you're about to embark upon.  Only 4 months into the journey, we're loving it.  And who knows?  Maybe there will be double dates in the future of this family after all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Things That Are Working For Me Today

A peaceful house...
Everyone in bed...
A warm cup of peppermint tea...
Kitty curled up and sleeping next to me...
Babies fed...
Prayers said...
Feet covered...
Dishes left for another day...
Surfing my favorite blogs...
Winding down for the night...
Eight hours of glorious sleep...

To see more Works for Me ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer

Teaching Tuesday--Numbers

The Grocery Store Game

Access to a Grocery Store
Grocery List
Some extra patience
Some extra time

Although I've been doing my grocery shopping lately after the kids go to be bed, I realized a few days ago that I was cutting them and myself short.  There's a wealth of learning opportunities in the grocery store and since my two year old loves shopping, I have to take advantage of it while I can.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • Point out and discuss numbers on signs and price tags.  My grocery store has huge signs in the produce section.  Since this is already an area of great interest with the variety of colors and textures, my toddler is sure to be interested in the signs as well and learning about the produce.
  • Discuss numbers when weighing items.  This can be used in both the produce and bulk item sections.  How much does each thing weigh?  Which bags are big, bigger, and biggest?  
  • Older kids can learn about prices and weight.  Discuss with your older child how many cups are in a pint, pints in a quart, etc.  
  • Compare the price per unit on tags.  My grocery store has a separate number below the price that breaks down the price per oz, per bagel, etc.  These are additional numbers for your toddler to practice and a great way for older children to learn the value of buying generic versus brand name.  
  • Look for numbers on labels, comparing fat content, calories, and percentages.  This is also a great way to help your older children understand how to eat nutritiously.
Again the point is to look for learning opportunities in every day experiences.  This will require some extra patience on your part.  For me, I plan to take my son at a time when we have nothing planned afterwards and Daddy can watch baby sister.  Although I'll still be trying to do some shopping after bedtime, I want to start taking my little boy on these trips when we can have some focused Mommy time.  

And the payoffs are numerous.  Not only will you be spending time with your little ones learning numbers, but your older children will begin to appreciate the value of money by comparison shopping and reading labels.  Older children can also learn about nutrition by observing how you interpret the food pyramid by the choices you make.

So take a deep breath, pack a well organized grocery list, and hit the produce aisle.  You might be amazed at what your child will learn.  And what you will learn about your child.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Stocking the Pantry--Baby Food Style

Baby Girl is growing quickly. I can hardly believe it. I turn around and ... poof!... she's becoming a big girl. We're not quite to the baby food stage, but it's coming up fast. And I want to get a few things done here and there as I have the time. With Big Boy, it's awefully tempting to take the convenient way out. So I have to stay disciplined if I want to make my own baby food for this little #2. Therefore, today's tackle is homemade baby food. A little bit at least. I'm working on putting away mangoes and carrots.

Mangoes- These are easy. I'm not even doing much to them at this point. I picked up several at Safeway last week where I got them for 4/$1. Most of the time I can find them for $.45 a piece, but at that price I couldn't help but pick up several. So I want to save them for baby girl when the prices go higher. For now I'm going to peel them and cut them from the pit. Then I'll pop them in the freezer till I'm ready for them. When Baby Girl is ready, they just need to defrost and be pureed with some breast milk or formula till they are the right consistency. Super easy and a great way to introduce your child to a nutritious food that most people don't experience.

Carrots- These are just as easy. I'm lazy. I don't have time to babysit food on the stove so mine go in the crockpot. First thing in the morning, pulled from the fridge, those carrots are getting the ends cut off. Just trim them up and cut into sections. Size doesn't really matter, just don't let them be too chunky. Dump them in the crockpot, pour in some water (just enough to cover them), and cook on low for several hours. You want these REALLY tender. Let them cool and puree them with just enough of the water and juice to make them the consistency that you want. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Each cube is one serving. Super easy and so much cheaper than store bought.

To see what more people are tackling today, check out 5 Minutes for Mom.

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 1

Thanks for joining us while we're reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.  Each Monday and Friday, I will present a short synopsis of the chapter we're reading, followed by 2-3 of the questions from the chapter for discussion. Feel free to read along with us and discuss the reading.  I'm excited to talk with all of you as we grow closer to God in our journey toward becoming better mommies.

The past few days we've been reading Chapter One: Getting to the Heart of Behavior.  This chapter set up the premise of the book: shepherding your child's heart is basis of discipline and changed behavior.  The author goes on to explain that behavior is a reflection of where our hearts are.  He quotes Luke 6:45 as saying:

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.

Therefore, simply changing behavior should not be our goal.  Behavior does not simply appear with no apparent cause.  It springs from the orientation of the heart.  Rather, redirecting our children toward examining the heart is the ultimate goal in parenting and discipline.  

Tripp puts it this way: 

"(this understanding) focuses correction on deeper things than changed behavior.  The point of confrontation is what is occurring in the heart.  Your concern is to unmask your child's sin, helping him to understand how it reflects a heart that has strayed.  That leads to the cross of Christ.  It underscores the need for a Savior." pg 6

Personally, this chapter showed me how the issue is deeper than correction.  It is shepherding our child and redirecting their hearts to Christ in ever encounter.  It's easy for me to point my child to God when we're reading Bible stories or talking to him about how God gave him to us. It's harder in the heat of the moment when he's thrown a shoe at me or thrown a tantrum in the middle of grocery shopping.  Still those are moments for him Christ as well as allowing God to work in me.

It seems to me that this can only work with a deep commitment, an unmeasurable amount of patience from God, and a true desire to raise our children, not simply correct them.  So it begs the question: Why did we become parents?  So that we could parent smaller versions of ourselves?  Or to develop free-thinking disciples who are passionate about following God?  One path is easier.  One path is more rewarding.   

Questions from the end of the chapter: 

3. Why is it so easy to get sidetracked with behavior when issues of the heart are clearly so much more important?

4. What is wrong with a change in behavior without a change of heart?

5. If the point of discipline is to direct the heart, how does that change the approach to discipline and correction?

I'm linking this post to Rocks in My Dryer for Works for Me Wednesday as well.  Because honestly, having the time to meet my book club buddies on my own time, works for me.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's MommyFest Time!

Who doesn't love a good party?  So for the first time, I'm participating in a MommyFest Blogger Party.  Including prizes and giveaways, plus meeting real moms like us, why not get involved?
My name is Lee.  I'm a 28 year old stay at home mom of a 2.5 year old boy and a 4 month old girl. To round out a crazy, disorganized organization is my husband and meowing baby, Annie.  Before kids, I earned a high school teaching credential in English and substitute taught a variety of ages and topics.  Hence my love and excitement for preschool subjects.  
These days, I spend my time volunteering at the YMCA and my church, scrapbooking, reading, cooking, and creating new and fun learning opportunities with my kids.  I love using this blog to explore most topics centered around being an even better mommy and wife.  A few of those things include: teaching the alphabet, parenting tips, "going green", and so much more. 
So take a few minutes to look around.  Hope you find something you like, something that helps you become more of the mommy you were meant to be.  God bless! 

Menu Monday

Wow! I took a huge break last week. My mom and grandma came to visit us for several days and we played hard. Including visiting Turtle Bay, scrapbooking for two days, celebrating Mother's Day and my mom's birthday, and giving hubby and I a little time off.
But now it's back to life. And back to some normalcy. So here you go ladies. Here's what we're munching on:

Blueberry muffins, milk
Out to lunch for Mom's birthday
Leftovers from Mother's day

Cottage cheese, banana, milk
Deli sandwiches, fruit, juice
Potluck: ???

Yogurt, fruit, milk
Special Egg Salad sandwiches, string cheese, juice
Chicken and rice a roni casserole, salad

Scrambled eggs, milk
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots and dip, juice

Cottage cheese, fruit, milk
Aztec chicken

Pancakes, milk
Sandwiches, crackers, juice

Leftover pancakes, milk
Leftovers, juice
Taco salad, fruit

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie. There's some really creative ladies out there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--Must I???

I just wanted to spend nap time today working on several small crafty projects.  Make a couple of cards, work on a wedding gift...
But instead as I look around our small apartment I realize there is major work to be done. Dishwasher to be unloaded and reloaded, pans to be washed, kitchen to be swept and mopped, laundry to be put away, more laundry to be sorted and washed..
and on and on it goes.
Wish I could shut my eyes,...
snap my fingers,...
and ... Whaalaa!
My 2 year old is marching through the house cleaning to save his mommy's sanity.

But instead...
I shut my eyes,...
snap my fingers,...
and... Whaalaa!
My 2 year old is tearing puzzles out of the cabinet with a trail of cracker crumbs behind him.

Oh, well.  Another day.
At least we haven't had any potty accidents today.  One less thing to clean.

Check out 5 Minutes for Mom for other ideas to tackle today.  And by the way, if you really don't know what to tackle in your own home, stop by mine.  I'll put you to work.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Menu Monday

I have family in town this week so I'm not sure what we'll be doing. But it's better to be prepared. Hope this gives you some thoughtful ideas.

Yogurt and granola, milk
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, carrots, juice
Potato soup, homemade bread

Toast and jelly, milk
Leftovers, juice
Potluck: Macaroni shrimp salad

Cereal, fruit, milk
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salad, juice

Cottage cheese, banana, milk
Leftovers, salad, juice
Aztec chicken

Yogurt, fruit, milk
Leftovers, juice
Papa Murphy's pizza

Blueberry muffins, milk
Deli sandwiches, salad, juice
Chicken and rice a roni casserole

Lunch out???
Graze at church???: Chocolate Peanut butter bars
Hubby cooking???

Hey, just a question. Can you make waffle mix the night before you plan to make them? I love these, but don't ever get up early enough to make them. By the time they are mixed and cooked, my husband and son have moved on to other things. They have cereal or banana and aren't interested by the time I'm done. Does anyone know if I can make the batter ahead of time?

For more menu and meal ideas, check out: Organizing Junkie

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Online Book Club for Moms

We will be reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.  I've heard wonderful things about this book and am excited to explore it with all of you.  Starting Monday May 12, I'll give a brief recap of the first chapter and open comments for discussion.  This way we can all post as we have time in the day.  The chapters aren't too long so I'll post two chapters each week, every Monday and Friday, as we progress through the book.  Pick up a copy and join us.  Let's keep each other accountable and encourage our sisters toward shepherding our children.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Frugal Friday

Last night we were wandering around town, basically just enjoying being out of the house.  I needed to pick up pictures from Sears and the kids were in a good mood.  So we stopped by the $.99  store on our way home.  Then I realized one of my greatest frugal friday tips: phone cards. Did you know the $.99 store sells phone cards?  And they're good for 99 minutes.  That's a penny a minute.  We don't even have long distance on our home phone anymore.  We simply recharge our phone card and no surprise long distance phone bill.I haven't found another company or phone card that can beat a penny a minute.  Plus, cards can be used for international calls. The charges go up, but are still very cheap.  
For more Frugal Friday ideas, check out:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Loving our Library #2

After my Works for Me Wednesday tip yesterday, I started thinking about all the other reasons why we love the library.  There are so many things that we get for free or low cost, simply by using our local library.
  • Free rental on movies and audio books: With the price of basic household necessities rising, I can't afford to spend $4 and up every time I want to see a new movie.  And when they finally leave the "New Release" shelf, I've forgotten what it was that I wanted to rent.  Not anymore.  I have found so many movies to rent from the library and rediscovered some new ones.  Where else can I rent a copy of "The Wedding Planner," "C is for Cookie" from Sesame Street, and "Pilates for Pregnancy" all in one trip for free?  And audio books... as I said, we love books, but often times only read them once or twice.  And audio books are horribly expensive.  By looking them in the library, I've added a luxury to my life that I would have never thought I could afford. 
  • Pre-reserve items: Our local library offers the convinience of search the catalogue online.  So from the comfort of my own couch, I can search the catalogue for potty training books, the newest novel I want to read, and all those movies I want to watch.  So when we arrive for story time and I find myself dragging my son out to the car early, I can simply pick up my books off the "hold" shelf, quickly run through self-checkout, and be out the door in a matter of minutes.  No more searching for the right title with a 2 year old hiding behind shelves and a 4 month old screaming to be fed.  In and out quickly.
  • Book sales: This is a great one.  Our library is holding a book sale this weekend.  Are you ready for the going rate?  $.50 for hardcover and $.25 for paperbacks.  That's amazing.  I'm currently making a list of titles, authors, and subjects that I'll be looking for.  I'm hoping to sneak out of the house for a hour or so while my husband and kids watch cartoons.  This is an incredible resource for homeschoolers as well.  Additionally, I recently read an article of a mom who called the day after the sale and was told that if she arrived before they were donated, she could have her pick of the leftovers for FREE.
  • Information about local events: Libraries are a gathering place for a wide variety of people and groups.  Look around you and you will find announcements and posters for everything from free movie tickets to mom's groups, homeschooler training to book signing.  When Horton hears a Who arrived in theaters, one of the local cinemas ran a promotion for younger readers who read the book and had a form signed by the librarian. And how did we learn about it?  The library.
I hope this gives you just a few ideas of the many resources that are available at your local library.  It has opened up a whole new world for our family.  It works for us.

For more Works for Me tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer.
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