Thursday, July 31, 2008

Frugality of Time

"Time is money."  

How often have you heard that phrase?  And how true it is.  I'm learning more and  more with the arrival of Baby Girl, just how precious time is.  Time is precious in the matter of keeping the house in order.  Time is precious in the matter of watching my kids grow up.  Time is precious.

So often times multi-tasking becomes my biggest frugal tip.  After a long hard day of being with the kids today, Big Boy splashed in the bath, Baby Girl played in the Exersaucer, and I enjoyed a little pampering with some Mary Kay Satin Lips.  A little time to myself, if only in my head, became my friend.

The kids played and Mommy had a moment to refresh herself.  Although I wasn't saving a lot of money, I was making the most of my time, even if it was for personal reasons.  

The Fine Art of Letter Writing

Do you remember the thrill you used to get when you're mother would let you play with the junk mail?  Those special treasures of pre-approved credit cards, grocery ads, and flyers advertising for "free with purchase" items were all new exciting.  There were catalogues to be poured over for hours as fantasies of items danced in your head.
I see that same look of excitement when I had Big Boy the ads from Safeway, Raley's, and the local meat store.  It's as if he's dreaming about what we'll have for dinner some evening.  A strange mix of corn dogs, pizza, and that chocolate cake on sale.  
There's something exciting about mail.  Especially the personal kind.  It doesn't matter how fancy the envelope or stationary, plain or pretty pastels, as long as it has a handwritten address, just to you.  So why is it that we so often put off writing that card or letter?
We say we don't have the time.  There's children to be bathed, laundry to be folded, and a life to be had.  But how much time did you spend sitting in front of the TV this week?  With the Olympics coming up, I can bet that ours will be on nearly non-stop for the next several weeks. Certainly we can squeeze in a few moments to let someone know that we're thinking about them.
We say that there's always email.  But how much more personal it is to receive a personally written letter in your mail box?  Remember that thrill of excitement that we described before?
So here are just a few ideas to get you started:
  1. Remember that a postcard is still just as nice to receive as a card or letter.  They're quick, easy, and you don't have to feel like you need to write a lot.  The recipient won't think about how much is said as much as the fact that you took the time to think of them.
  2. Pre-stamp and address envelopes ahead of time.  Half the battle is finding that elusive stamp that you know you bought way back when you actually paid bills through the mail.
  3. Dedicate just 5 -10 minutes to write.  Say what you can in what little time you have.  Wish them well, remind them that you miss them, and encourage further correspondence when they have time.
  4. Include a recent family photo or pictures of the kids.  Everyone likes to see your smile face and with the invention of photo printers, digital cameras, and photos services like snap fish, it's easy and convenient.
  5. Smile, knowing that you've just brightened someone's day.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Swimming with Non-swimmers

One of the perks of living in an apartment is having unlimited use of a swimming pool that I neither have to clean or pay for.  Chemicals, ph balance, and vacuuming are far from my mind as I enjoy a dip in the cool water whenever I feel like it, within the parameters of nap times and lunch.
So naturally I've passed on my love of water to my two little ones.  Big Boy, not quite 3 years old, is a natural in the water.  He's like a fish, with his innate ability to glide underwater, as exhibited by skipping a level in swim lessons this year.  And Baby Girl, 7 months old, is currently trying to crawl on the water in her enthusiasm.  She can certainly splash and kick with her brother.
Our favorite part of the day is finishing up dinner, leaving the dishes in the sink, and dashing out the door to the pool.  It provides a distraction amidst the bewitching part of the day, when every one's getting tired and yet it's still hours before baths and bed.  It's become just a great technique for keeping the kids happy that I've even ventured to take the two of them by myself on evening when my husband has to work.  And I've found that with a little preparation and a watchful eye, it can be done, even enjoyed.  Here are just a few things that I've picked up along the way:
  • Since both of my children are non-swimmers, we have one very important ground rule: No One Gets In The Pool Before Mama.  I'm always the first in and the last out.  Even if Big Boy wants to run ahead and jump in, knowing full well that he can at least tread water, he knows that such action will immediately get him pulled from the water and into time out.
  • Floatation devices are my friend.  Both of my children have, and use, some sort of personal floatation device.  They go with us to the pool every time, no exceptions.  For Baby Girl, I have a Baby Spring Float.  It's easy to store in the off season and really holds her up out of the water.  For Big Boy, I have a life jacket that we picked up at Costco in the beginning of the summer.
  • While Big Boy is learning to swim, he loves to dive, flip and swim underwater.  So often times he'll want to take his life jacket off.  I love seeing my son learn to swim and encourage it as much as I can.  So while Baby Girl is in her "floatie," Big Boy is more than welcome to swim without his life jacket.  When she gets fussy and wants to be out for awhile, the life jacket must immediately go on, or he gets out of the pool.  It's that simple. And with my son's love for the water, he always chooses to use his life jacket.
  • Leaving the pool can often be a difficult transition time.  Baths come next and inevitably, so does bed time.  Who would want to leave the pool when faced with that?  However, we've found a technique that works, most of the time.  Big Boy does better with transitions when he's told to say "Good-bye."  So each time, we say "good-bye" to our good friend, the pool.  Sometimes we even incorporate a "Good-bye Song" that he learned in his gymnastics class.  
  • There are always other ideas that come along: using the umbrella stroller, carrying a beach bag for towels and baby toys, filling a sippy for Baby Girl before we leave, and making sure to use the potty at home so I don't have to juggle two and a water hazard.  We're always refining our technique.  But for now, we've got a pretty good system down.
So what Works for You?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday

Wow!  July was a whirlwind.  We had so much fun, but are definately happy to be back at home.  The kids are sleeping better in their beds and I'm feeling more settled with a routine.  All in all, during the 29 days of July so far, we've been away from home at least 14-15 of those days.  That's half.  Who knew our month would end up looking like that?  
Luckily the house is still in one piece, the tomato plant is thriving (guess it needed a little neglect), and the cat is still alive and more appreciative of a little attention than ever.  And we've made some wonderful memories with family and friends.  So while I'm tackling housework today, I'm happy to be at home to tackle housework.  It won't be easy with two little ones running around, but it will be fun and I'm happy to have it.
Surprisingly there are only a few things that are pressing.  The kitchen needs to be picked up and the living room vacuumed.  Hubby and I just came back from the staff retreat and returned with some leftovers.  So all the snacks, fruit, and items need to be put away.  Dishwasher needs to be unloaded and reloaded.  And a few food items to be made: fruited jello, shredded cheese, etc. 
And there's a huge stack of photos from that need to be sorted through and filed for the scrapbooks.  Baby Girl's professional photos need to be trimmed and written on as well. I can't believe how long it's been since I've scrapbooked.  I keep telling myself "It's just a phase in life."  At least I'm keeping them sorted for now.
I'm so happy to be home that working around the house actually puts a smile on my face.  
What are you tackling today?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Teaching Tuesday

So I've been wondering how to making counting more applicable.  Big Boy can count to 13, sometimes to 16.  He's had that 13 done for over a year and I'm so proud of him.  So how do you go from "just counting" to "counting items?"  These are just a few ideas:

  • Print a "tree" coloring page.  Color it and add "apples" with red circular stickers.  Number and count them.
  • Print a "night time" skyline coloring page.  Color it and add foil star stickers (found in office supply stores).  Number and count them.
  • Print a "sky" coloring page.  Color and add cotton ball "clouds."  Number and count them.
  • Print a "turtle" coloring page.  Color and add triangle construction paper shapes in a design.  Number and count them.
  • Print a "caterpillar" coloring page.  Use a paint dauber to make the design on the caterpillar.  Number and count.
Hope this helps you get started.  I know it's given me a few ideas to run with.  Now I'm off to look up some coloring pages.

What are your ideas for teaching numbers to your children?

Making your Home a Haven

It's time to remember to Make your Home a Haven.  The beginning of the week and remembering to provide a haven for your family and a place for ministering.  So here's what our family is looking at this morning.

1) Refresh your Spirit
I'm starting to read Joshua again.  It's always a great reminder to "Be strong and of good courage."  I've read this book often and find that it's a continual place of growth in my life.  I'm also hoping to dive into a chapter or two of Simple Faith.

2) Morning Routine
These are the five constants in my morning:
  1. get up and spend time with God
  2. make breakfast
  3. nurse
  4. make bed
  5. get kids and I dressed

3) Take Time to Plan
What 5 things will I focus on in my to-do list today:
  1. clean off kitchen counters
  2. call for Head Start
  3. call for dr appt
  4. return other calls
  5. type and email nursery schedule

4) What's for Dinner?
Lentil Tacos.  These don't require any more prep than picking up some toppings at the grocery store.

5) Project of the Day
My personal project of the day is to put things back in order after being at the retreat.  So unpacking suitcases, cleaning out the car, and paying bills are the order of the day. 

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Menu Monday

Told you I'd be back eventually. As much as I needed a break from reading and writing, there certainly were times that I missed it. You may have noticed from last week's menu my husband and I were at a church staff retreat. It was so nice to get away and sharing the cooking responsibilities with someone else. We feasted on baked chicken, homemade spaghetti, a full taco bar, tons of junk food and lots of fellowship. It was a great time. Baby Girl decided to give us a wake up call every night at 2 am with her new teeth popping through, but that was really the only hitch in our plans. I ate entirely too many lemon ice cups and too many nachos. So after a month of traveling and pampering, we are trying to get back into a routine and back on track with health eating. Although those nachos do sound pretty wonderful right now.

Well, while my menu is always a work in progress throughout the week, here's what it looks like I'll be cooking up in the days to come:

Oatmeal, nuts, cinnamon, and sugar
Special Egg Salad Sandwiches, pasta salad
Lentil Tacos, green salad

Yogurt and fruit
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit jello
Potluck: Taco Ring

Eggs and Toast
Special Egg Salad Sandwiches, carrots and dip
Taco Salad

Yogurt and fruit
Sandwiches, pears
Dinner at Nana Sally's

Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat, fruit
Grilled Cheese sandwiches, pasta salad

Sandwiches, chips and dip


Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

And after attempting to get it done several weeks in a row:

Repeat after me,
I will accomplish it this week.
I will accomplish it this week.
I will accomplish it this week.

To see what others are cooking up, check out this week's list at Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Taking a Blogging Break!

We will be taking a brief, but much needed, blogging break until the beginning of next week.  This month of traveling and business is finally coming to an end.  However, we have one more weekend out of town and I just don't have the time to pre-post anything before we leave.  So just a brief, quick break and we'll be back on track.  Big Boy is going to Grandma's for a break and hubby, Baby Girl, and I are going to a church staff retreat.  So some relaxing this weekend and some time off.  Refreshed and ready to go Monday morning.  Hope ya'll have a great week.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Frugal and Healthy--Asian Noodle Salad

Not sure where I found this recipe, but we love it.  It's delicious, quick, and healthy.  Plus with the peanut butter, it's a real hit with kiddos.  It's making my mouth water just thinking about it.

Asian Noodle Salad

  • 1/3 c. peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • 1/4 c. oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (we added 3 and will probably make it 4 next time)
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb. long thin spaghetti noodles
  • 3-4 c. shredded veggies (I used carrots and zucchini, you could use cabbage as well)
  • lightly steamed veggies (sugar snaps, asparagus, etc)
  1. Cook noodles according to directions
  2. Prep veggies and sauce
  3. Drain noodles and mix in veggies and sauce
  4. Serve at room temperature or chill.  I personally love it chilled.

Tackle it Tuesday

Wow!  The weeks are flying by around here.  I can't believe it's nearing the end of July already.  Where has the time gone?  We're going away for one more weekend.  Our crazy month of traveling is nearly over.  Just one more obstacle to get through.  We volunteer at the YMCA on Wednesday morning, Big Boy goes to Grandma's that afternoon, and then my husband, Baby Girl, and I are off to a church staff retreat.  My tackle today is just trying to get some of the basics done around the house before leaving for the second half of the week.  So what's on my list?
  • Wash and dry 2-3 loads laundry
  • Type and email nursery schedule
  • Return library books
  • Call Melissa and set up a playdate
So that's what I'm working on.  What are you tackling today?

Encouraging Socialization

On A Place of Our Own today, the topic was Kindergarten readiness. The issues discussed included a range of social, academic and physical skills. As parents we often focus on the issue of academic, but what about the social issues? What do those include and how can we facilitate that readiness?

Some ways in which I encourage socialization in my child include:
  1. Play dates--If you draw a blank when arranging play days, try to look outside the next door neighbor.  Do you attend a church?  Is there a local YMCA?  Do you see the same moms at the park?  
  2. Sunday School--Children often make friends even when we're not around.  Pick up your child a few minutes early to see who he's playing with and meet other parents as they pick up their kids.
  3. Sport events--Big Boy just finished swim lessons and an unexpected thing happened to me while I was sitting watching.  I met another mommy with a children both his age and the same age as Baby Girl.  Who knew that so much bonding could happen over watching our children try to coordinate their hands and feet?
  4. Siblings of older friends--Big boy has a few older friends who have younger siblings.  Don't discount these younger sibling on account of having to share friends with another child.  In fact, this is the easiest way to arrange socialization time for your child.  What could be easier than have everyone together for some peanut butter and jelly and mommy time?
So what Works for You in arranging socialization opportunities for your children?

Making your Home a Haven

Crystal, over at Biblical Womanhood, is challenging us one again to make our homes a "haven." Our special challenge today is to beautify our homes. Today I'm choosing to beautify my home by spending more time with my children. We've been on the road a lot this month and although we've been together, the kids have been pretty unsettled. We have one more big push to get through the month and Big Boy will be spending several days with Grandma while my husband and I are at a church staff retreat. So today I'm soaking in the "beauty" of being at home with my kids. Washing dishes, maybe throwing in a load of laundry,... but just spending time enjoying my kids. Popping in a worship CD, lighting some candles, breaking out the puzzles and enjoying being home... that's my "haven." As far as the usual,

1)Refresh your spirit
Still reading My Utmost for His Highest. Today's devotion is about recognizing our own poverty, and inability to live up to God's standard. Knowing that the only way we can reach God's ideal is with his help.

2)Morning Routine
What 5 things do I accomplish first in my day?

1. get up and spend time with God
2. make breakfast
3. nurse
4. make bed
5. dress kids and get them ready

3)Take time to plan
What 5 things are on my to do list today? As I've said, I always have 101 things on that list, but what am I doing today?

1. unload and reload dishwasher
2. handwash and put away some pots and pans
3. blog some items for the week
4. rest
5. rest

4)What's for dinner?
Well, the plan has been to make a pizza roll. But I just got a phone call about having dinner with friends this evening. So I'm trying to reach my husband to see if those plans for him. In the meantime, I'm thawing the pizza dough.

5)Project of the Day
Beautify your home. Do something small or something big, but do something. Beautify your home today.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Menu Monday

This is a short week for food, but a crazy week for life. So what we lack in links, we make up for in activity. Hope you find something you like.

Yogurt and fruit
Egg Salad sandwiches, carrots and dip, juice
Pizza roll, salad

Egg Salad or Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit
Potluck: Taco Ring

Yogurt or cottage cheese, fruit
Sandwiches, salads, juice
Staff Retreat

Staff Retreat

Staff Retreat

Staff Retreat

Out with Friends
Homemade Veggie Pizza

To see what others are making this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sharing what you have

Last weekend we traveled to my mom's house to spend some time with her and my grandma. Big Boy loves going there. There's hunting for frogs, visiting Papa Larry's and watching Dumbo. Besides having all kinds of new adventures with Grandma. While we were there, my uncle mentioned that his cherry trees were still loaded with cherries. I never would have thought that there would still be so many cherries this late in the season. So we hustled over there and started picking right away. Within forty-five minutes, between four of us and two kids, we picked about 12-15 lbs. So we packed them up and brought them home.

Now while we're very frugal, we don't have the space or money to invest in a deep freeze. Two bedroom apartments don't afford that much space. So what's our little family of four to do with 15 lbs of cherries?

We have a lot of people who have taken the time to invest in our kids' lives so what better way to bless them than to bless them with what we have. A little bit went here and a little bit went there. Some to our home group hostess, some to the gal who lets us do laundry, some to the sitter, and so on. Plus we were still able to stow away a full gallon sized bag in our freezer.

So what's my point? So many things... we are blessed by the people around us... we in turn can and should be a blessing to others. Why be frugal if you can't pass it on?

Our other frugal family fun... sprinklers. Just had to share this cute photo with you. So precious.

For more frugal ideas, check out Biblical Womanhood.

New Book Club--Postponed

My deepest apologies! I've gotten behind in my own high ambitions and haven't had a chance to read the new book. We've been gone every weekend this month and am of again this afternoon to go camping. So I'm hoping to have the first two chapters read and posted for discussion next Friday. Sorry. And if you've read, you get some time off. Hope you're enjoying it and I can't wait to dive in.

Missing an Old Favorite

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a Few of my Favorite Things

Inspired by the Sound of Music song, these are just a few of my favorite things:

  • Reach Access Flosser--I love this thing.  It makes my life so much simpler.
  • Playdoh-- I swear it's theraputic.
  • Reading--I love to squeeze in some reading when I can.
  • Lentil Tacos--This is my go-to meal.  They are fantastic.
  • My Kitty Annie--She's whiny, loud, and always looking for attention.  But I love her so much and can't imagine our lives without her.
  • Playing with my kids--They are so much fun and come up with much better ideas than I do.
  • My body pillow-- My husband bought it for me when I was pregnant with Big Boy and I haven't let go of it since.
  • My Mary Kay Tinted Moisturizer--Quit, easy, and polished.  Perfect for a tom-girl like me.
  • LOST-- Is there anyone that doesn't love this show?  It's amazing.  I'm stunned by how it's sucked me in.
  • Asparagus--So good.  I love my veggies.  These are a special favorite.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Reach Access Flosser

Our family places a large emphasis on dental hygiene.  Through the years of dental insurance vs. no dental insurance, we've tried to take good care of our teeth no matter what.  Still I don't like to floss.  It's often been a point of joking between my husband and I, how I place so much importance on teeth and yet I'm the one who doesn't floss.  Until now.  I have found the greatest invention.

I never believed that flossing my teeth could be so easy and so quick.  There's no hands to get in the way and because of its shape, it's easy for my to see if the flosser is getting around each tooth.  I can see it working away the debris.  And instead of replacing the flosser head each day, I simply soak it in a little mouth wash and replace it as needed.  It's that simple.

Take it from a reformed Non-Flosser.  This little gadget really Works for Me.

Introducing Math to Preschoolers

Wow!  Math for a preschooler?  Where do you begin?  Big boy loves books and learning about new things.  So letters and words are much easier to point out in our every day lives.  But where do you draw in math?

Check out this great article about how to introduce math in very practical ways to your preschooler.

Looking for further ideas to introduce numbers and math?

  • Spend some time playing with number puzzles.  These are easily picked up at Walmart, Target, or Toys R Us.
  • Spend time in the kitchen.  Look for numbers in the measurements and directions.
  • Take note of numbers in the grocery store.  Use the scale and check out the prices on the shelf.
  • Or Big Boy's favorite: I took two bites so now I get a cookie?
Let us know how you're making math applicable to your preschooler's life.  What Works for You?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tackle it Tuesday--Reading

I am a bookaholic. That's right. I have an addiction and I have no desire to cure it. You can read more about my addiction here or here. I have read a great amount of fantastic books this summer, including Left to Tell, A Long Way Gone, Shepherding a Child's Heart, and numerous baby and nutrition books, just to name a few.

So today I'm picking up my reserved copy of the new book club book, Simple Faith, from the library. I can't wait to jump into it. It's been on my mind a lot lately and I'm so excited.

Other than that, we're working on the basics around here: making some baby food, going to a dr's appointment, putting some stuff together for camping this weekend. I need to make a list of things for camping. With two little ones, I'm sure to forget something. And we want to do a bunch of baking this week: chocolate chip cookies, granola bars. Maybe some peanut butter balls. Yum! I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Making your Home a Haven

I'm always lurking and searching for new and fun ideas to write about.  New and fun ways to be a better Christian, and a better mom.  So I found this great posting over at Biblical Womanhood.  Every Monday, Crystal posts a challenge to all of us about creating a haven in our home.  She has great wisdom and I love reading her posts.  Check it out.

1) Refresh your spirit.  
I'm a planner and right now I don't have a plan.  When I have a goal in my quiet time, I'm much more apt to spend time in the word.  Right now, no goal.  No goal=little motivation.  However, I have been spending time reading My Utmost for His Highest.  Great wisdom.

2) Morning Routine
I'm always wanting to add things to my 5 item morning routine.  Symptom of the Super Mommy complex.  Always wanting to do more than I have time for.   But here's what I'm trying to stick to in my morning routine:
  1. get up without being a grouch and spend time with God
  2. make breakfast
  3. nurse
  4. make bed
  5. get kids dressed
  6. try to hit the gym
ok, so I added a 6th item, but I don't always make it to the gym.  So shoot me.

3) Take Time to Plan
Do I have a 5 item to do list today.  Well, ideally, I probably have a 27 item to do list today.  Again Super Mommy!  But what 5 items do I have to get done?
  1. put away 6 loads laundry
  2. unpack suitcases
  3. unload dishwasher
  4. vacuum
  5. start repacking suitcases for next weekend
4) What's on the Menu for Dinner?
Taco Salad, quick simple and no prep.  I love it in these hot summer months.  Best way to beat the 95 degree heat.  They say it's gonna be 105 degrees this weekend.

5) Project of the Day
Well, Crystal's challenge is to work from the doorway through the living room and that be our project.  However, I'm just trying to get reorganized from the weekend at Grandma's and geared up for the weekend camping on the coast.  Basically we just need to be at home and enjoy being at home.

So check out Crystal's blog.  It's absolutely worth your time.  And keep checking back to see how we make our home a haven.  There's lots more to come.

Menu Monday

How is it Monday again already? With this crazy month of July, nothing seems to be going as planned. Oh, well. We're having fun anyways. Still trying to eat semi-healthy and trying to keep cool in 110 degree weather. So there always lots of different salads and I'd love to have a few new ones to add to the mix. Plus, I want to make a few "extras" for camping this weekend. Gotta love the summer.

Yogurt and fruit
Breakfast burritos

Spaghetti, pears
Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Tricuits
Potluck: Cherries and cookies?
Egg Salad sandwiches, carrots and dip
Egg Salad sandwiches, fruited jello

Monday: Taco Salad, fruited jello
Tuesday: Potluck: Raspberry Chicken Salad
Wednesday: Potato Bar
Thursday: Lentil Tacos
Friday-Saturday: Camping
Sunday: Vegetarian Quesadillas

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Guacamole Salad
Crockpot Playdoh
Baby Food-Mangoes

To see what others are creating this week, check out Organizing Junkie.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 19

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

Chapter 19: Teenagers: Training Procedures

In Tripp's final chapter, he lays forth the more practical issues of raising and releasing teenagers.  As they are approaching adulthood, there are so many issues flying not only at them, but also at us as their parents.  While our job is not yet complete, we must also be learning how to let them make their own decisions and internalize their relationship with God.  So how do we move into less of a parent role and into an even greater shepherding role?
  • "Internalization is your children coming to maturity as persons who know and worship God" (pg 199).
  • "Your role as an influence is one of helping him to know his needs and be honest with himself" (pg 202).
  • "As a parent seeking to shepherd, you want to influence your child to respond to things that are reasonable, drawn from insight into human character based on Scripture" (pg 203).
  • "You should maintain a positive relationship with teens.  Your interaction should have the objective of ministry.  Be a constructive force in the life of your child."  You want to be a source of encouragement and inspiration" (pg 205-06).

Lastly Tripp reminds us that "you want to see them taking their place as autonomous individuals under the Lord"  (pg 209).  He includes the following points:
  • Developing a Christian mind: being able to "dissect" situations from a WWJD perspective
  • Developing friendships with adults: across ages
  • Discovering and developing their peculiar ministry niche.
  • Determining a career in which they can fulfill the cultural mandate and God's command that they support themselves and share with other in need.
  • Establishment of their own home and family identity as a member of the society and a part of the church of Christ.
  • Development of a mature relationship with parents.
I'll leave you with just two more quotes that made me go "hum":
  • In reference to our children: "It should be clear by now that I am not talking about 'getting them saved' in terms of an evangelistic event.  I rather envision leading them along the path of a deepening understanding of and commitment to God  Repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will be a part of that life of deepening understanding of and commitment to God" (pg 199).
  • "In the final analysis, you must entrust your children to God" (pg 211).
And isn't that the hardest part of being a parent?  You can control what your kids eat, when they go to bed, who you allow into your home, where they go to school, so many aspects of their lives.  But in the end, it all comes down to trust God with your kids.  Trusting that even when His ways seems to make no sense at all, it's still His way.  I struggle with this as an adult, let alone knowing how to entrust my children to God's perfect plan.

Questions for discussion:
2. Are you using gentle reproofs and pleasant speech to influence your teens with insights drawn from the Scripture?

3. Have you learned to shepherd your teenager through periods of doubt and confusion about faith?  Are you willing to help them explore their questions and confusion?

New Book Club Starting Next Friday

Don't forget we'll be starting Charles Swindoll's book next Friday entitled "Simple Faith."  I'll be posting  each Friday on the reading and would love to have you join me.  Check out this link for more information.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Asking for help

Sorry ladies.  Nuttin' is workin' for me lately.  It seems like I try to pull together my schedule and "routinize" our house, but in the summer, it just ain't workin'.  So I'm making this my own personal "Backwards Wednesday."  I'm hoping some of you creative gals from Shannon's WFMW will have some ideas for me.  So here's a few things that have been stumping me lately:
  • Potty training: If you're a regular reader you know that Big Boy is almost 3 years old and started out very interested in potty training.  Now he just doesn't care.  Got any motivation tips for me?
  • Slowing down: Seems like no matter how much we try to slow down, there's always more to do than time to do it in.  Whether I want to do it or hubby wants to do it or the kids want to do it, how do you keep your eyes on simplfying?
  • Meal planning: I'm looking for EASY meals to prepare in the summer.  Something that won't heat up my kitchen or takes a lot of prep work.  Again, back to that simplifying.
  • Me time: How do you sneak in a little bit of time for yourself with little ones in the house?  And how do you keep from feeling guilty about it?
Tell me ladies!  What works for you???

Teaching Tuesday

I'm gonna cheat a little today and post a link.  Big Boy is dying for some Mommy attention so check out this link about teaching your kids about the phone.  What a great way to work on numbers, phone etiquette, and more.

Tackle it Tuesday--It's the little things

Do you ever find it's the little things that always add up on you? All those little tasks that if you'd just take 5 minutes they'd be done, but instead they get put off for weeks. That out house. All those little things...

Like getting Baby Girls birth announcement put in the newspaper? She's almost 7 months for dang sakes and I still haven't done. I've gotta do that as well as put it in the alumni newsletter.

Or making those stinking appointments? I need to find a new doctor and make an appointment. Not that hard, but I haven't done it for 2 months.

Or what about reserving that book from the library I want? Just a few minutes online and it's on the hold shelf for me.

Other than that, it's the usual. Unpacking from Nana and Papa's this weekend and packing to go camping with Grandma this coming weekend. Running Big Boy to swim lessons. Getting ready for small group. And who has potty trained a boy? I need some wisdom and encouragement. Right now, I think he's going to be wearing diapers to college. No, I'm not kidding.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 18

Every Monday and Friday, join us for reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Tedd Tripp.  I'll post a brief synopsis of the chapter with a few highlights, as well as a few personal thoughts.  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 18: Teenagers: Training Objectives

Tripp uses this chapter to address the final stages of parenting: the teenage years.  Here are a few highlights:
  • Teenagers are riddled with anxiety: appearance, ideas, the future, etc
  • Prov 1:7-19 lays out the three parenting goals for this stage: fear of the Lord (v 7), adherence to parental instruction (v 8-9) and disassociation from the wicked (v 10-19) (pg 188)
  • "Living in fear of God means living in the realization of accountability to Him.  It is living in light of the fact that He is God and we are creatures" (pg 188).
  • "Like any area of theological truth, the key to growth is not the cognitive identification of truth.  It is understanding the pertinence of that truth in daily life.  You and your children must understand the fear of the Lord in a manner that reorganizes your lives" (pg 189).
  • "Your relationship with your children must be honest" (pg 192).
  • "Your children see the power of a life of faith as they see you living it" and "you show the power and viability of Christian faith" (pg 193).
I am particularly convicted by those final two quotes.  This is something that I struggle with as my child is only a toddler, but something that I believe is so important through all stages of parenting.  Not only "telling" our children about the power and relevance of Christ in our lives, but also "showing" them how we live it out.  If we are continually  preaching to them, how often are we inviting them into our own relationships with God?  How often are we praying with them, discussing appropriate prayer requests, or sharing praise for what God has done in our lives?  And how do we make the relevant throughout all stages of maturity?

Questions for discussion:
1. What are the negotiable issues that would enable your teen to express his independence from you in constructive ways?

8. Are you providing a home in which your teenager feels loved and accepted?  Are his friends welcome in your home, whether they are believers or not?

9. What can you do to provide a special sense of belonging for your children?

Menu Monday

Yum, I ate some great stuff last week, but I still haven't gotten to that bacon and cheese chicken. Oh, well. I'm taking a week off from trying. Looking at a yummy menu...

Yogurt and granola or fruit
Cream of Wheat

Fruited Jello
Peanut butter and Jelly sandwiches

Monday: Out for Hubby's Birthday

Tuesday: Potluck: Cranberry Pear Tossed Salad

Thursday: Taco Salad

Friday: Family Reunion

Saturday: Family Reunion

Sunday: Family Reunion


By the way, these are great: Quick Spinach Roll-ups

To see what others are making this week, check out Organizing Junkie. I get some great ideas here.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Shepherding a Child's Heart: Chp 17

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

Chapter 17: Childhood: Training Procedures

Tripp uses this chapter to explore the more "practical" aspects of addressing character development in your child during their middle years.  He reminds us that our goal is to address the attitude of the heart, not merely the behavior.  Therefore, we should continually be assessing the "why" of our child's behavior and reminding them that sucessful living is only possible with the help of our Savior.  

Tripp lays out a couple of examples of how Christ appealed to the conscious of those around him: the lawyer, Peter, Simon, etc.  Tripp leads us in how to appeal to conscious in the same way, remind our children who Christ is and who they are in relationship to Him. 

 He says, "We have a couple of problems in thinking clearly about character.  One is failure to see the issues above.  This failure results in not even striving for long-term character development goals.  The other pitfall is an inability to work from behavior to the appropriate character issues.  This results in seeing only isolated bits of behavior.  The result again is failure to address long-term character goals" (pg 181).

I love how Tripp reminds us to remind our children of a need for a Savior.  This is something that I nee to be continually reminded of myself every day.  He finds that we have 2 alternatives: to lower the standard to what they can reach making them self-righteous OR we can set the standard that can only be achieved by the grace of God (pg 178).  Where will you set the bar?

Questions for discussion:
1. Can you think of situations in which there is a significant character issue at stake in your child's development, but you are not sure what to do with it?  Make a project of these situations.  Seek to determine what the long-term issues discussed in this chapter.  

7. If you were to name five character-training objectives for your son or daughter, what would they be?

Book Club Note--New Book Chosen

I hope you've found that you've been growing from reading "Shepherding a Child's Heart."  I certainly know that I have been.  The changes in our home have been encouraging and we've found new ways to communicate with our kids.  It's also encouraged us to continually be seeking the Lord about how he sees our children, beyond our day to day frustrations or proud parent moments.

Having the accountability to blog twice a week has really helped me to think through what I'm reading and keep going.  It's been exciting to see how God has used the combo of this blog and this book to grow our family.  

As you know, we only have one week's worth of reading left in "Shepherding."  So I've been doing a little research and plan to start reading "Simple Faith" by Charles Swindoll in the near future.  Starting the week of July 14, I will be posting for two chapters each Friday.  Rather than Monday and Friday, we will combine the two chapters for discussion on Fridays.  So pick up a copy and get ready to discover what it looks like to live a life of "Simple Faith."

4th of July Fun-- Part 5

Sit down with your child and explain the significance of being a "free" nation.  Show your gratitude to the men and women of our armed forces who continue to serve our country.  Whether you agree with our occupation in other country or not, they need our encouragement and recognition today and everyday.  So encourage your children, or yourself, to take a moment and write a letter to one of these soldiers that find themselves far from home.  Here are a few links to get that letter started.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Playing with Your Baby

I wrote a post on this awhile back. While that post focused on birth to 6 months, this one will focus some games to play with your child from birth to 12 months. Just a few ideas for when it seems like you can't possibly think of anything new to do with your little one.

Birth to 3 months:
  • Dance with your baby- the movement is soothing and the changing view will exercise their eyes and depth perception
  • Introductions- carry baby around the house and point out new and interesting items. Talk about how things work, what they look like, and how and why you use them.
  • Vocab builders- with baby's hand, touch objects around the room, explaining, the teddy is soft, the ice is cold, the blanket is smooth.
3 months to 6 months:
  • Mockingbird- sit face to face with your child, making new and interesting sounds. Take turns teach and learning from your child. Make sounds back to your child when they repeat as well.
  • Mirror- lay face to face with your child while he is on his tummy. Continue the interaction from mockingbird. Sing or talk to your child. Demonstrate how to push up the upper body from the floor. Advance to demonstrate pulling your knees under your body.
  • Finger play- sing various songs with your child such as: the wheels on the bus, itsy-bitsy spider, 3 little monkeys, patty cake, etc, moving his hands to the song.

6 months to 9 months:
  • Packing and unpacking- seat your child on the floor with a suitcase in front of them. Together fill it with interesting objects: balls of different sizes, sensory blocks, stuffed animals, books, etc. Allow your child to figure out how to pick things up and place them, packing and unpacking as he discovers new things to explore. You can also use a bucket, basket, or Tupperware drawer for this activity.
  • Activity boards- sit with your child, exploring the different activities that a board can provide. For tips on how to make one for older ages, see A Place of Our Own.
9 months to 12 months:

  • Hide 'n' seek- play hide 'n' seek with your child, either by playfully hiding somewhere in the room and watching or by hiding a favorite toy in the room for your child to find.
  • Object permanence- place an object under a small blanket. Pull the blanket back to reveal the object, cheerfully saying "Peekaboo." Repeat as long as baby is interested, asking "Where did it go?" and exclaiming, "There it is!"
  • Feeding- Pour a handful of Cheerios onto the high chair tray and make shapes and designs with your child. Talk about shapes, texture, and even sound as you "munch" away.
  • My Body- cover your eyes while your child watches, saying "Mommy's eyes." Then reach over to cover your child's eyes, saying "Big Boy's eyes." Repeat with ears, mouth, nose, arm, toes, etc.
And just a few things to keep in mind:
  • It's never too early to start reading to your child. They will love spending the snuggle time with you and hearing the flow of language is great for their development.
  • Exersaucers, johnny jumpers, walkers, etc are great tools, just be use that your child is physically ready for them first and you've taken the necessary safety precautions, particularly with walkers.
  • Be sure to get outside and talk about your neighborhood with your child as well. Talk about colors, sounds, textures and sights as you take walks, get groceries, or head to the park.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

4th of July Fun--Part 3

Cute, Cute, Cute crafts for your kiddos!  This looks like so much fun!  Gotta try it!

Activity Wednesday

This is a great summer activity if you're in a part of the country that is warm in the evenings.

Camp Out Time

Pull out the tents and sleeping bags and camp out in your back yard.  Don't forget to throw a tarp down so the bottom of your tent doesn't get too wet in the night.  Refresh the batteries in the flashlights and let the kids play light tag or imaginary swords.  

Serve up burgers and beans cooked on the barbeque.  Pop some smores in the microwave and serve up toasty warm.  Don't forget the hot chocolate and cider.  

Lay under the stars and see how many you can count.  Or snuggle in the tent and tell ghost stories.  Or it your kids are still little, tell some of their favorite fairy tales or old family stories.  Check your local library for books about camping or their favorite characters going camping. 

And don't forget to take lots of pictures to document your "camping trip."  

All the fun of camping with the convenience of indoor plumbing and without the costly price of gas.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

4th of July Fun--Part 2

This is a fun craft to do with your little ones.


black or dark construction paper
various glitter colors

  1. Spread glue on construction paper into unique shapes resembling fireworks. You can also blow those a straw to spread the glue into new shapes if your glue is thin enough.
  2. Sprinkle with glitter. Allow to dry slightly and then shake excess glitter back into container.
  3. Repeat with new glitter color until you reach your desired effect.
Here is the link to the original post and illustrations.

Tackle it Tuesday--Craft projects

This is going to take me more than one day, but if I don't get started soon, I'm not sure it will ever get done. I have a few craft projects that I started early for Christmas, but I can't seem to get much done on them. Till I realized, I always have a few minutes here and there. I'm just not utilizing them like I should. So today I'm challenging myself to cut out at least half of the altered puzzle pieces that I've started so far. That just entails trimming and sanding about 12 puzzle pieces, not even further embellishing them. So I'd better get started. I figure a few minutes here and a few minutes there, I should be able to get them done.

Other than that, we're just up to the usual. Baby Girl has a Dr apt, Big Boy has swim lessons, and there's Discipleship Group tonight. Wow, I guess this is a fuller day than I thought it was going to be.

What are you tackling today?

Teaching Tuesday--Sensory Writing

I got this idea from a great newsletter provided by Preschool rock.  I've recreated it here with a few adaptations.  The original article can accessed by following the link on the title of the activity.  
Sensory Writing

Cookie sheet with edge

  1. Fill cookie sheet with enough salt to write in.
  2. Demonstrate for the child how to write in the salt.  Your child can start out making simple to complex drawings and graduate up to letters and numbers.
  3. Give your child letter strips or a sheet of paper with the alphabet clearly marked on it to practice shapes and figures.
  4. You can also use alphabet stencils for the child to trace letters with his fingers.
  5. Use this activity further to introduce vocabulary words related to the feeling of the salt and cookie sheet.  Which is rough and which is smooth?  
  6. Encourage your child to describe what it feels like and what he is doing.
  7. When your child is through with a drawing, help him to gently shake the sheet back and forth, clearing the picture and allowing him to start again.
  8. This activity can also be done with sand and you make add water to either once your child tires of writing.  Use the addition of water to talk about how it changes the properties of the salt or sand.  What is different?  What made it different?  What can he do with the elements now?
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