what to stock up on this winter

All of the craziness of 2020, including the pandemic and social unrest, certainly plays into the fact that it’s always wise to have some extra food/supplies on hand. I’m not talking about being a hoarder, stockpiling, or going into panic mode. Far from it. Rather, I’m talking about being prepared in case there are a few months in which you are unable to get to the store or the store shelves are bare. Or there are more forced lockdowns and quarantines and travel to the store isn’t an option.

Most of us remember not too long ago when we experienced the bitter taste of socialism as we visited our local grocery store only to discover certain items being rationed, or that some items were indefinitely out of stock. I remember that first time my heart lurched as I gazed at shelf after shelf at our largest grocery store, only to find a few stray dried pinto beans, rice kernels, a few miscellaneous dented cans, and nothing more in several of the aisles.

Of course we will always remember the craziness of the toilet paper caper (and truly, some of that panic was ridiculous) and the fact that cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer were obsolete. But in my neck of the woods, other things were difficult to find as well. Milk and butter were rationed and tortillas and any type of Mexican food (salsa, hot sauce, etc.) had disappeared. Cheese (admittedly one of my favorite foods) couldn’t be found. I honestly thought the cows had gone on strike. Potatoes were a luxury item.

My mom told me just the other day that toilet paper in her town (20 miles from a major metro area) had been rationed to one pack per person. Hopefully, we aren’t going to go down this route again.

The Lord tells us in His Word not to worry about what we will eat. He reminds us that the birds of the air don’t worry about what they will eat or drink and we are worth much more to Him that the sparrows. (Matthew 6:25-34).

However, I believe God desires us to use the common sense that He gave us. We should have food in the refrigerator and pantry for times when it might not be readily available to us. Or times when we might need to help someone less fortunate. And emergency preparedness is always a good idea.

One of my favorite things to do is to purchase extra when one of our smaller local grocery stores has their “case lot sale”. These extras can be used for food drives, which are especially prevalent around Christmas. These extras can also be donated to friends or family who may have fallen on hard times and need extra food to carry them to the next paycheck.

According to some experts, it’s always a wise idea to have at least a month’s worth of items in your pantry. Here are some suggestions:

Perishables:

Frozen fruits (strawberries, raspberries, bananas, blueberries, mixed fruit)

Frozen vegetables (peas, corn, green beans, spinach)

Meat (chicken, beef, deer, fish, turkey)

Potatoes

Butter

Canned goods:

Corn, peas, green beans, and other vegetables

Peaches, pears, pumpkin, applesauce pineapple, and other canned fruits

Canned meat (tuna, chicken, ham)

Canned beans in several varieties (pinto, black, refried, baked, lima)

Canned juices

Soup

Broth

Chili

Non-perishables:

Oats, healthy breakfast cereals (including some that do not need to necessarily have milk to be eaten)

Popcorn

Jelly and jam

Granola bars, crackers, and other snacks

Sunflower and pumpkin seeds, almonds, peanuts, and mixed nuts

Raisins

Peanut butter or sunbutter if allergies to peanuts

Canned or boxed milk

Honey

Flour, sugar, and other baking items

Egg replacer

Canned spaghetti, Raviolis, and tamales

Beef jerky

Noodles

Rice

Dry beans in several varieties

Baby food

Tortillas

Bread (which can also be frozen)

Jars of salsa

Boxed meals

Ramen noodles

Bottled water

Ketchup, mustard, salad dressing, and other condiments

Bottled juices

Medical items:

Three months’ worth of prescription medicines

Three months’ worth of vitamins and supplements (especially important are a multi, C, B complex, D, zinc, and a probiotic, but check with your doctor before supplementing).

Acetaminophen, ibuprofen (including these items for children if necessary)

aspirin (if needed)

allergy medicine (i.e., Benadryl)

Other items:

Dental floss, toothpaste, lotion, hand sanitizer and/or hand wipes, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, shampoo, and women’s hygiene products.

Hand soap, dish soap, dishwashing soap or modules, and detergent.

Cleaning wipes, bleach, and other cleaning supplies.

Lip balm

Deodorant

Tissues

Bandaids and gauze

Diapers

Garbage bags

Batteries

Pet food

Candles and a lighter

Personal water filter (such as Lifestraw)

One-time medical item purchases (always good to have on hand in case of illness):

Thermometer

Oximeter

Battery-operated blood pressure cuff

Heating pad

Ice pack

Be Koool forehead sheets for fever (these literally made a huge difference when I was sick with the worst flu this past January).

First aid kit (be sure to check periodically for expiring items).

***

It’s no stretch of the imagination that 2020 will go down as one of the most bizarre, unsettled, and perhaps even scary years in recent history. It’s never a bad idea to be prepared. The key is to not go overboard.

Other blog articles that may be of interest:

how to instill in your children the importance of voting

who are you behind the screen?

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

Sunbutter and Chocolate Fudge Bars

Movie Monday: Hailey Dean 3-Film Collection

how to instill in your children the importance of voting

Voting has always been an important part of our family’s heritage. My grandma, Nanie, was the trusted investigator for our entire extended family, which included five families, all with the same political leanings.

Months before the election, Nanie would thoroughly investigate to determine which candidates in all of the races, from local, to state, to federal, espoused our same belief system in the things that were important to our families. My mom and dad showed my siblings and me the importance of voting, as neither ever missed an election and a chance to exercise their freedom and privilege of voting.

So how do we model the importance of voting to our children or grandchildren?

  • It’s never too early. From an early age, let your children go with you when you vote, if possible. My girls, from the time they were in our double baby-jogger stroller, accompanied me to the voting venue.
  • Express your beliefs and values with your children. Discuss the criticality of voting for those who share your morals and beliefs. What’s most important to you? Where do you stand on life vs. abortion? The Second Amendment? Religious liberties? Taxes? The role of government? What type of candidate do you want to see in the role of leadership? Why?
  • Encourage your children to ask questions. When they are adults, they will have their own opinions, but you can set the foundation for the values you hope they will emulate.
  • Don’t shy away from the hard questions. Your kids are growing up in an increasingly difficult and hostile world. Things we’ve never seen before have suddenly become commonplace. Don’t be afraid to open up the lines of communication, especially with tweens and teens.
  • Go over the sample ballot with them. Our local newspaper prints a sample ballot each election year. Our family sits at the dining room table and discusses the objectives of the candidates, based on public forums, debates, and their websites. Our daughters weigh in on who they would vote for if given the chance.
  • Engage in a mock election. When I taught Constitutional Literacy at our local homeschool co-op three years ago, we had a mock election on everything from the president to the city council. We conducted it like a real election – discussing the candidates’ views on the hot-button issues. Each of my students voted in private. We then tallied the scores and watched in coming weeks to see how closely they resembled the real outcome.
importance of voting 2.png

Modeling truth and aligning your beliefs with the Word of God is critical. When your children are grown, they will make their own decisions. What they choose is not up to you, but how you give them the tools to make the right choices is.

Nanie still thoroughly investigates all the candidates and gives us updates, although now her five children, 11 adult grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren (eight of whom are adults) all live spread throughout the United States. I’m thankful for the time she took then and now to ensure we knew the importance of voting.

Other posts on this blog you may enjoy:

the importance of voting

14 things for girls to consider before dating

why I’m proud to be an American

6 suggestions for getting through the rough times of life

what’s in a name?

6 ways to stick with homeschooling (when you want to give up)

Whether you are new to homeschooling or have been at it for a while, it can, at times, seem overwhelming. So overwhelming that it might seem like time to “throw in the towel.” Let me assure you, you are not alone. If they are honest, most, if not all, homeschooling parents have considered the very same thing, even if for the briefest of minutes (or while in an exhausted state of mind).

Let me encourage you to stick with this important task. I assure you it is worth it.

Here are six ways to stick with homeschooling when you are ready to give up.

Surrender your homeschool to the Lord daily. He will give you the grace, the tenacity, and the motivation to do this extremely important task.

Look for a change of pace. We have switched directions many times with both our curriculum and our schedule. Fortunately, there are many choices for curriculum since no two children are exactly the same in personalities or learning styles. There is nothing wrong with switching up the curriculum to one that works for your child. In the same vein, there is nothing wrong with changing up a schedule that isn’t working. The key is to be flexible. After all, that is one of the blessings of homeschooling – we are not all placed in one box, with one style of learning, one schedule, and one set of educational materials.

Share your thoughts. One of the best things about homeschooling is the mentors. Those who have been there, done that, and received the honorary t-shirt. Yes, I’m talking about the moms (and dads!) – the homeschool pioneers – who came before us. While they will tell you that they didn’t do it perfectly, they are a wealth of positive and encouraging advice. Lean on them as well as those who are currently “in the trenches” with you. One word of caution… choose those whom you vent to carefully. You will want to seek out someone who won’t judge, won’t offer solutions without really listening, or who elevates themselves at your struggling expense. On the same note, avoid those who offer unsolicited advice. I once had an older woman “offer” unwelcome advice. Not only was it poor advice, but she had never homeschooled.

Avoid the comparison trap. This is a super easy thing to succumb to and a temptation we need to avoid.

Take a vacation. Maui would be nice, but realistically, I am talking about a vacation from homeschooling. Just a brief one or two days a couple times during the school year to allow both you and your child(ren) a break from the rigors of schooling and a chance to recharge. Do something fun on those days – something that further connects you to your kiddos.

Have a chat with your pupils. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is our ability to think outside the box. We don’t have to teach the same things in the same way to each of our children. Nor do we have to teach the same things in the same way that the public schools do (isn’t that one of the reasons we are homeschooling?!). Have a casual talk with your child. What is their favorite subject? Least favorite? What is something they would like to learn more about? Less about? This works especially well for junior high and high school students. By gauging their interests (which can change over time), you can better choose electives that suit their personalities. I always reiterated to my tweens and teens that some classes are mandated (math, English, science, history), but that there are other classes we have some leeway on and can explore as different elective possibilities.

All this to say, let me encourage you to stick with homeschooling. You can do it! It’s one of the most important jobs you will have and for which you are fully equipped. You have been teaching and training your children since their earliest days, and who loves them more and cares about their future more than you? So hang in there and forge ahead!

Looking for other homeschool posts on this blog? Check these out:

You might be a homeschool mom if…15 clues

outside the box homeschool ideas

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

Kids write the funniest things!

the importance of respect

My daughters and I went on a 15-mile bike ride today. During our ride, I noticed someone had spray-painted graffiti on the underside of a bridge.

We don’t have a lot graffiti in our small rural town, and when it does appear, it is usually covered up quickly (an excellent way, according to experts, to help prevent more graffiti).

The graffiti by the spray-paint “artists” brought to mind the destruction of property we are seeing on a daily basis in our country. Homes and businesses destroyed. Looters, people burning the property of others, and the list goes on.

When did we get to the point that it was all right to destroy the property, livelihoods, and lives of others?

When did it become all right to, just because we disagree with someone, their beliefs, or their actions, to outright deface, damage, destroy, or demolish their personal property? When did it become acceptable to ruin government property?

Property isn’t the only thing at risk. More disturbing is the general lack of disrespect for parents, other authority, older people, the handicapped, police officers, and people in general. If someone disagrees with someone, it no longer is enough to state your opinion calmly or courteously; there are now more damaging ways to make sure an opinion is heard. Injuring, harming, and even killing people no longer shocks us as much as it once did. We’ve become jaded to the horrific antics of those seeking revenge or acting in pettiness because something is not the way they want it.

Disrespect can stem from bad parenting, learned behavior, hatefulness, anger issues, etc. However, it is ultimately the perpetrator’s fault for their actions. No blame should be placed on others for evil behavior.

How can we teach our children to respect others?

Set a good example. If you are disrespectful to others, from the grocery store clerk to your employer, your children are bound to follow that example, no matter how many times you “tell” them to do the opposite.

From an early age, teach your children the importance of manners. “Please” and “thank you” are far too sparse in conversations these days.

Teach them to be generous and avoid selfishness. Putting others first is a critical component of avoiding self-centeredness.

Set an example for them on how to interact with those with whom you disagree. Role play ideas and encourage them to humbly and kindly state their position when it differs from yours.

Impress upon them the importance of honesty. Honesty and respect go hand in hand. Not too long ago, a friend of ours had her mailbox run over by the neighbor’s visitor to the neighborhood. Rather than admit to backing over the mailbox, the visitor denied it and lied to the police, even though there were witnesses. An easy solution would have been for honesty from the one who ran over the mailbox, a plan to have it repaired, and forgiveness. Instead, dishonesty got the crook off the hook.

Reiterate the importance of treating others how we would like to be treated. A good habit for all of us to remember is to ask ourselves before each action, “Would I like that done to me?” If the answer is “no”, then we shouldn’t be taking that action against others.

Remind them that not everyone is worthy of their respect. However, even so, we must remember that lashing out with destruction on someone’s person or personal property is never the answer.

Above all else, teach them to love and honor God. Respecting and revering our Lord is paramount to loving and honoring others.

Even if your children are no longer young, it is never to late to teach them the importance of respect. And as adults, it’s never too late for us to remember – and exemplify – that importance as well.

Other posts on this blog you may be interested in reading:

the importance of life

the importance of honesty

the importance of priorities

14 things for girls to consider before dating

Movie Monday: Signed, Sealed & Delivered Home Again (movie review)

Movie Monday: Invincible (movie review)

Looking to homeschool? Here are 7 things to consider.

looking to homeschoolSummer is going fast. Before we blink, it will be time to again think about the upcoming school year. With the current COVID issues, some schools aren’t slated to open this fall. Others will open with strict cautionary measures.

Time and again, I’ve heard from several parents who are considering (or have made the decision) to homeschool, which raises the question: what things should you consider if you are contemplating homeschooling this year?

#1: Motive. People homeschool for many reasons. Some of these include:

COVID – this wasn’t a reason until this year, but it’s becoming a common reason for deciding to homeschool.

Religious reasons – parents want to be able to raise their children in a school that allows God to be at the forefront.

The freedom to be able to instill their morals.

Their child has experienced a negative situation at their public school, for example, bullying.

To be able to teach their child at a rate above what the public school teaches.

To be able to teach their child at a pace needed for a child with special needs.

The child has other health issues that would be better served by a home education.

More freedom during the school day in all arenas of daily life.

Ability to choose and tailor school curriculum to specific learning styles. (A one-size-doesn’t-fit-all education).

A more efficient school day.

And many, many other reasons.

What is your motive for homeschooling your child? It’s critical to examine those motivations to better equip you for this decision.

#2: Children’s learning styles. It’s helpful to learn your children’s learning styles. There is a thorough explanation of seven different (some primary, some secondary) learning styles on the Homeschooling Mom blog. The styles include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic (which most of us are somewhat familiar with), as well as, reading/writing learner, mathematical/logic learner, social learner, and solitary learner.

Most children are mix of one or more styles. If you are in tune to what style(s) your child is, you will be better able to teach them. Neither of my children share my learning styles, but if I was to teach in one of those styles, I likely wouldn’t be effective. As a homeschool parent, you have the ability of being able to teach in whatever learning style(s) your child falls into.

#3: Curriculum. One of the concerns I have heard from people considering homeschooling is that they won’t (i.e., aren’t educated enough/don’t have qualifications) be able to teach their child in certain subjects. Let me reassure you that there are so many curriculum choices, some that are even self-grading, that this challenge will not be as big of an issue as it could at first seem. Co-ops are also helpful for this.

A little reminder: you have been teaching your child since their first days. Who better qualified to continue teaching them?

Seek out those who have already homeschooled or who are currently homeschooling and ask what curriculum they use. Be prepared to change your curriculum if it doesn’t work. I’ve done that many times with my girls. We have the freedom to choose what will work best for our children, and if something doesn’t work, there are many other choices.

Be willing to think outside the box. For instance, maybe your child who doesn’t much care to write can give some oral reports for history class, rather than writing a report of what she has learned. Or if you have a child who loves to write, perhaps doing a novel in a year would be just the thing to add to her English curriculum.

Some of my choices for high school curriculum can be found here.

One final note: curriculum can get pricey. Keep in mind that you can purchase used curriculum at a fraction of the cost.

#4: Your support system. If you are going to homeschool, you will need a support system.

A support system begins with your spouse. If your spouse is not on board, it will be an uphill battle. I’m thankful my husband (our principal, math, woodworking, and science teacher) has been on full board since we began homeschooling many years ago.

You’ll also need the support of other family and friends. Homeschooling can be difficult and lonely at times, and their support will be invaluable.

The support of online Facebook groups is also helpful. We have a local group for which I am an admin, and it has been a great place to bounce ideas off each other, find upcoming events and field trips, and even buy used curriculum. I am also the member of numerous national Facebook homeschool groups, which provide a different and even broader range of opportunities.

Find a mentor mom, someone who has been there, done that, and survived to tell the tale. We have several of these in our local Facebook group. Their experience and advice have been priceless.

Local co-ops are also a great place to find support.  I taught a homeschool P.E. class for seven years to upwards of 40 teens and tweens during our busiest years. I also taught Constitutional Literacy and Biology Lab. During those times of teaching, and the times when my daughters attended other classes, I was able to reinforce those bonds with other homeschooling moms and dads.

#5: Be mindful of electives. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is that our children have a wide variety of electives. My oldest daughter took a woodworking class with her dad as the teacher. She built me a birdhouse, built herself a dresser, and assisted my husband in redoing the counters and moldings in our kitchen and bathroom.

My youngest daughter takes a quilting and sewing class from a friend. This has enabled her to sew a skirt, two quilts, and a host of other smaller projects.

#6: Don’t worry about socialization. This is a huge concern for people who don’t homeschool. Between church youth groups, volunteer projects, sports, co-ops, and fair/4-H projects, homeschooled kids are more than socialized. The difference between being socialized as a public school student and being socialized as a homeschool student is that the parent chooses how they want their child to be socialized and who they want their child to be socialized with. This eliminates negative influencers and incorporates positive role models and interaction with every age group.

#7. Use this time to build relationships with your children. My absolute favorite thing about being a homeschool mom is the relationships I have built with my daughters. For example, each day, I bring a topic to the table during breakfast, where we discuss it (no topic/question is off limits). We’ve had some great discussions about the things that concern them most.

In addition, being together more often than the few hours they would be home were they public schooled has allowed us to grow closer. I wouldn’t trade that closeness for anything.
Time with KidsNo matter if you decide to homeschool, or what homeschooling method you choose , offer your decision to the Lord. Ask that He guide you, direct you, and help you to glorify Him in your choice to homeschool your child.

 

Other posts on this blog that might interest you:

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

5 fun summer activities for kids

outside-the-box homeschool ideas

10 good things that could come from the corona virus pandemic

10 suggestions for dealing with the corona virus situation

Movie Monday: Unplanned

 

 

 

 

motherly morsels of wisdom

motherly morsels of wisdom

Moms. A rich source of wisdom passed on for generations.

In celebration of Mother’s Day and as a tribute to moms everywhere, I asked friends across the nation and beyond what was the most important thing they learned from their mom. Here’s what they had to say:

Perseverance, faith, and compassion. ~ Madi A.

My mom taught me that happiness is not how much you have but how much you enjoy what you have. She always says that. ~ Marianne F.

To be kind. ~ Maria F.

Respect, compassion, dedication. ~ Ross W.

To keep Jesus first, cherish family, serve others and never give up hope when things get tough. ~ Margaret S.

The Salvation Message/ to love the Lord. ~ Holly C.

To love like Jesus. To speak kind words. To live by faith. ~ Tammy S.

My mom left me with my grandparents when I was 6 months old & my grandma and aunt wouldn’t let her take me back. Everything I have learned about unconditional love and faith, from a maternal source, I learned from my spiritual mom. She’s been there for me since i was 13, praying for me, taking me to church, reminding me to keep my focus on God, and proving that some people can be trusted not to abandon you. I wouldn’t be who I am without her. ~ Jodi H.

To look to God in hardships… ~ Holly Anne H.

We do not hate, hate is a very strong word. We may not like how someone is or what they did, but we do not hate…….my momma was an amazing woman…..we didn’t have much growing up but we had lots of love and laughter. ~Julie B.

To cherish your family…Just lost my mom 3 weeks ago and she always cherished Family! She was a gracious lady. ~ Tammy J.

My mom told me, “Ninety percent of your unhappiness in life will come from comparing yourself to other people. Just don’t do it.” So far she’s been right. ~ Sam H.

Unconditional love and charity. She would give you the shirt off her back if you truly needed it. ~ Natalie J.

To always remain positive no matter what. ~ John C.

Courage and humor in the face of loss of loved ones, her own severe arthritis, three kinds of cancer, heart problems, dementia. ~ Kathy B.

Kindness, diligence, work ethic, love for my kiddos—because of her love for me and my bro’s, my mom is AMAZING!!! ~ Heather K.

Rudyard Kipling

I’m thankful for my own mom, who taught me the value of hard work. She worked harder than anyone I’ve ever known in difficult labor-type jobs: cleaning businesses and wallpapering homes, so she could stay home with us and help provide income at the same time.

But my mom taught me so much more than work ethic. She taught me to serve others from the time my siblings and I were little, we “adopted” grandparents and visited them, provided for their needs, and learned to treasure them.

But my mom taught me even more than serving others. She taught me compassion and to put others above myself. She taught me how to nurture and care for those who are ailing. She also taught me to be creative and follow my dreams.

But my mom taught me more than that. Now confined to a wheelchair with serious chronic illnesses, my mom has taught me the value of faith and how to rely on God in all circumstances. To keep my eyes on Jesus, even when it’s the hardest (and last) thing you feel you can do. To still serve others in the midst of struggling with her own hardships. To persevere and to never give up. To love others even if that love is never returned.

Moms – you do make an impact on, not just your child(ren), but also future generations. You do this by the way you live, the words you say, and the actions you show day after day.

To all you moms, Happy Mother’s Day. May the Lord bless you for being shining examples.

Mom's motherly morsels

 

 

 

Check out these other posts about and/or for moms:

 

 

 

58 fun activities for kids of all ages

ways to keep kids engagedNeed some fun ideas to keep your children and teens entertained? Read on!

  1. Plan an indoor camping trip. Set up the tent in the living room, round up some tasty treats, and provide some flashlights, string some Christmas lights, and include a game for some late-night fun.photo-of-toddler-sitting-on-floor-3932965 (2)
  2. Make homemade slime. Little bins for little hands has numerous recipes for easy-to-make slime.
  3. Catch up on some reading. Madi’s Musings writing and book review blog has some awesome reading suggestions for a variety of ages.
  4. Get a healthy dose of exercise. Walk. Scooter. If the weather is nice, head outdoors with the family and enjoy some fresh air. Bring out the strollers and push little ones for a win/win situation.
  5. Play a game of tag.
  6. Put together a puzzle.
  7. Join with your kids in serving others, beginning in your own neighborhood. Do elderly neighbors need grocery pickup or delivery? Could you rake leaves, mow the lawn, shovel snow, or till a garden? Walk their dog?
  8. Set some decluttering goals. What a perfect time to organize! Join with the kids in setting a goal to organize their toys, a closet, or the living room. Play some music, then celebrate with a fun treat afterwards.
  9. Bake cookies or muffins. Check out these easy recipes for chocolate crinklesno-bakes cookies, or chocolate chip muffins (all with gluten-free options). choc muffinsOr suggest kids decorate graham crackers with frosting for their own creations.cute cookies 1
  10. Take on a building/fixing project. Parents, kids love to learn and work side by side. What about building a wood project? Fixing a broken item? Changing oil in the car?
  11. Enjoy a movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn! Need some movie ideas? Check out this list of some Mom-Approved Movies for Families.
  12. Connect through a Bible study. Take turns reading, then discussing the chapter.
  13. Partake in a Bible challenge. When my girls were younger, they loved it when I hosted Bible challenges and asked them questions. They would “ring in” when they knew the answer. Not only was it fun, but it also helped us learn God’s Word.The questions can be as simple as the following:Who created the earth?Who were the first two people God created?

    Who is God’s Son?

    To harder questions:

    Name eight of the 12 disciples.

    Name the nine attributes of the Fruit of the Spirit?

    Name the books of the New Testament in order.

  14. Plan meals together and make them. One good thing to come out of our recent Covid-19 isolation is that we, as families, are eating out less and making more meals together. Put kids in charge of planning meals and making (or assisting in the making of) the meals. I recommend Quick and Easy Crock-Pot Chili (gluten free).chili
  15. Make funny videos. Using your phone or other device, have your kids record funny commercials selling something they own or making a silly news program. When I was a kid, my sister and I filmed (with a gigantic video camera!) used car commercials, a news series on happenings, and music videos where we danced to our favorite songs.
  16. Play mimic mirror. With two players (two kids or a kid and a parent) have one person make certain faces and the other person mimic those expressions.
  17. Have a blinking contest. First person to blink loses!
  18. Make it a spa day. Have daughters? Create a spa day complete with manicures, pedicures, and new hairdos.
  19. Have a hot chocolate day. Who doesn’t love a huge cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows?
  20. Host a tea party.
  21. Snuggle before getting out of bed in the morning. One of my favorite memories is snuggling with my daughters when they were little and reading them stories before we started on our day.
  22. Decorate boxes. Have some boxes from recent online deliveries? Be sure to let them sit for at least 24 hours (to be sure there is no germ spread from Covid-19), then bring out the crayons and markers and decorate the boxes.
  23. Enlist your teens to make up exercise routines they host for the entire family.two-woman-doing-exercise-1671217 (2)
  24. Do a science experiment. This website offers some innovative ideas.
  25. Play hide and seek. This is one of our family’s favorite past times. Years ago, we couldn’t find my husband during one particular game. It’s still a mystery how he perched himself way above the water heater in the water closet, reminiscent of Spiderman.
  26. Have a treasure/scavenger hunt. Provide clues and a surprise at the end.
  27. Write a book together. One person starts the “book” and passes it around with everyone handwriting a paragraph or several. Littles can draw pictures to illustrate.
  28. Have a blind taste testing competition. Secretly collect different items and place a bit of each one in separate containers. Guests of the competition will be blindfolded and try to guess what they are tasting.
  29. Build a fort. Kitchen chairs and blankets, anyone?
  30. Listen to audiobooks. Adventures in Odyssey has some wonderful timeless stories.
  31. Host the Olympic games in your living room or your backyard. Everything from skipping races to the three-legged race, to crab walking can bring a gold medal.
  32. Design a fitness center with different stations. Jump roping, hula-hooping, hopping on one foot, somersaults, situps, and pushups. Set the timer for each station.
  33. Create Playdough or homemade clay. The iheart naptime blog has a great recipe for your homemade playdough endeavors.
  34. Create and color for family members. Grandmas love to hang those on their refrigerators!
  35. Create and color pictures/write encouraging notes for those in nursing homes and VA hospitals. Call ahead of time to see if they are accepting artwork for their residents.
  36. Make a craft. Make Cheerio necklaces or another fun craft, such as egg carton caterpillars, pasta pictures, and homemade frames. Check out this idea for mini-lid banjos from the Craft Train blog.
  37. Plant seeds.
  38. Host a touch testers competition. Put several items in a box and each competitor must guess what the item is. Keep track to see who wins!
  39. Create and act out a play.
  40. Play dress up with mom’s and dad’s clothes.
  41. Play balloon volleyball. (Do not use balloons around small children, as they are a choking hazard).
  42. Read the same book as your tweens and teens, then have a book discussion, complete with treats.
  43. Stargaze.
  44. Have a picnic in your yard, on your deck, or in the living room.
  45. Go on a photography hunt. Using your camera, snap interesting photos of the world around you.
  46. Shoot baskets. This works at the outside basketball hoop, or a makeshift “hoop” designed from a trash can and using a soft ball.man-dunking-the-ball-163452 (3)
  47. Have a paper airplane competition. Check out this link on how to make a paper airplane. https://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/learn-it/5-basic-paper-airplanes
  48. Create a blog. WordPress offers free blogs. Perfect idea for tweens and teens to hone their writing skills and write about what’s important to them!
  49. Make smoothies or root beer floats.
  50. Crank the music and dance.
  51. Have a fashion show.
  52. Cloud gaze/watch. What animals or shapes can you find in the clouds?
  53. Watch science videos. Answers in Genesis has been hosting interesting science videos on Ken Ham’s Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/aigkenham/
  54. Create a “grocery store” with empty boxes and plastic containers of items. Children can “shop” for items and pay with coins or homemade coins/dollar bills made from cardboard.
  55. Make sock puppets. Using old socks, markers, and buttons, create sock puppets, then have them star in their own sock puppet show.
  56. Play a game. Uno, Tenzi, Checkers, Old Maid, Yahtzee, Apples to Apples Big Picture, Monopoly, Clue, Canine Capers, and Pictionary are some fun options.
  57. Be a gameshow host. The options are endless for this suggestion. When my girls were younger, we played a game called “Gameshow Contestant.” I would call out a letter and they would run to retrieve the letter magnet from the front of the refrigerator. I would excitedly call out, “can she do it in less than 10 seconds? Stick around, folks, let’s see!” At the end of the game, the girls would win fabulous “new cars” aka, Matchbox cars. J Other suggestions are to find items around the house and place them on the table in record time.
  58. Encourage creative play. Our children need time to be creative with no structure. This is so important to proper development and fostering an active imagination. girl-in-red-dress-playing-a-wooden-blocks-3662667 (2)

What a blessing to be able to spend time with our children and teens! Let’s use this opportunity to grow closer.

 

How do you keep your children busy during this time of social isolation?

tiny miracles

Tiny Miracles.png

On June 6, a tiny newborn was rescued…a baby girl who was destined for death when she was placed inside a plastic bag in Georgia.

Instead, upon hearing a noise, investigators found the baby, who had only recently been born. They filmed the dramatic event with a body cam.

As I watched this video, tears streamed down my face. This little baby, named Baby India, should not have survived. We all know the dangers of allowing children to play with plastic bags, let alone placing a helpless infant inside of a plastic bag. A death sentence for certain once suffocation set in.

But Baby India didn’t die. She didn’t suffocate, didn’t starve to death, wasn’t found by a wild animal in the woods where she was placed. Instead, in God’s goodness and grace, He led rescuers to find her alive and seemingly healthy.

Indeed, even before Baby India was formed in the womb, the Lord knew her. Knew she would be rescued. He never left her side, not even once.

Requests to adopt Baby India have been pouring in by the hundreds. This precious child, whom someone determined shouldn’t live, instead has a future of life ahead of her.

In a world that condones and even promotes the killing of babies through abortion, this miracle baby survived. No, she wasn’t aborted, but rather someone attempted to kill her soon after her birth.

As I re-watched the video, I was reminded of God’s love for His Creation.

Indeed, He has a tender spot for children. We learn that children are a heritage from the Lord… (Psalm 127:3). Consider the words of Psalm 139:13-16:

Psalm 139 13-16

Miracles continue to occur each and every day – with full credit given to our Lord and Savior. Such was the tiny miracle of Baby India and her survival against the odds.

 

 

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse (2)

Time goes by in a blink, and if we aren’t careful, marriages can be neglected in the name of busyness.

So how can we draw closer to our spouse?

1. Take time alone with your spouse. You hear this all the time, but do you realize how important it is? Even if it’s lunch once a week or a weekend getaway, time alone without the kids is crucial. Swap babysitting days with your closest friends. Be creative!

One thing to remember is that time alone with your spouse does not equal a hefty price tag. One of my favorite pastimes with my husband, Lon, is to meet him on the front porch for a chat about our day when he arrives home from work. It’s a time for both of us to decompress, talk about our day, and reconnect.

Other great ideas?

A walk or bike ride together after dinner,

Challenging your spouse to a card game after the kids are in bed,

Going out for ice cream.

herbie, lon, and me

2. Take time to forgive. Lon and I have been married 26 years and trust me, there have been a few times when we’ve gotten on each other’s last nerve. Yes, really! So, are there things that bother you about your spouse? Pray God will help you to forgive. Pray not that God will change your spouse, but that He would change the way you respond to the things your spouse does. Pray you would respond in a God-honoring way and draw upon His grace to do just that!

3. Take time to be thoughtful. One of Lon’s favorite foods is No-Bake Cookies (if you don’t believe me, please see my post gluten free delicious no-bake cookie recipe and how Lon overdosed on them! As such, I routinely make these cookies for him as a way to show him how much I love him.

As a writer of Christian romance, Lon shows his love for me by listening to the latest chapter, even though Christian romance novels are far from his list of favorite genres!

Leave each other notes in the morning, call each other, or send each other texts or emails in the middle of the day. Lon and I have had a “running” note at times where we try to cram all we can on a little piece of paper that carries through everyday throughout the week. It can be silly, lovey-dovey, or a combination of both!

One of my favorite notes had these words on it added by Lon: “This is a recycled note.” 🙂

The takeaway? Ask God to help you be a blessing to your spouse.

4. Take time to reminisce. Oftentimes, in the hurried rush of life, we aren’t as patient as we should be with our spouses. We tend to see flaws more readily when life is stressful and overwhelming or when we ourselves may be feeling neglected.

Instead of the negative, focus on the positive.

 

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Take the time to reminisce with your spouse about some of the funny and/or unforgettable memories you have shared as a couple. Lon and I recently laughed about the time we were grounded in an emergency landing due to weather from a vacation we took 17 years ago. The airline hired a commercial bus to drive the passengers on the plane to the next airport, which was four hours away in good weather.

Interestingly, (and perhaps a little bizarre) the bus only had one movie for the onboard DVD player. Yep, you’re right if you guessed the movie Speed. The driver played the movie twice over, as we drove through icy slushy and dangerous roads at a too-fast-for-conditions speed.

Not to worry – we had an idea to take our minds off of the situation. I drew pictures of each person on the bus and Lon guessed who it was. Since I’m not an artist and am rather comical in my sketches, it wasn’t an easy feat to Lon to decode. Nevertheless, he guessed correctly on each drawing. And yes, I still have that little black wire-bound notebook with the “People on the Bus” contained within its pages.

You share a history with your spouse. Rekindle some of those fond memories!

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What a precious gift the Lord has given you in your spouse. Take the time to relish your time together – something that will only further cement the love that binds together what God created – marriage.

 

5 things moms need

 

5 things moms needs

Being a mom is the best, but sometimes hardest job.

We yearn to make a difference in the lives of our children. To be the best mom we can be. We love our children with all that we are and strive to bring honor and glory to God in the way we raise them.

But motherhood can be a challenge, too. The baby who doesn’t sleep through the night. The temper tantrums of a toddler. The drama of junior high. The teenage years with all of the frightening things kids have to deal with in today’s modern world.

No wonder we moms can become worn out and tired. I look back at the photos from when my daughters were little, and my eyes are almost consistently closed in those pictures. I obviously tried to catch a wink of sleep any time I could get it. 🙂

So what can a mom do? How can she refresh and rejuvenate? What things do moms seriously need in the best, but hardest years of our lives?

Moms need…

Time with God. Francesca Batestelli sings about meeting God for quiet time in the morning before the kids awaken and life gets hectic in her song “When the Crazy Kicks In.”

Time with God is critical. Crucial. Necessary. It starts our day off right. Prayer, then some time in His Word and being still before Him makes all the difference in the direction our day will go.

So what if you don’t have time in the morning to spend with the Lord? A later time with Him, while the children are down for a nap, for example, works too. The only problem is that we, as moms, tend to get so overloaded and busy with our day and all the demands pressing on us from every side that we give what’s left to Him, rather than what’s priority.

A supportive spouse. Every mom needs a spouse to come alongside her to be a co-partner in raising their children. To be a listening ear. To forge together to make dreams a reality. To be there just to hold her, even when she has spit-up on her t-shirt, hasn’t changed out of her jammies all day, or has been dealing with a rebellious teen and is uber-exhausted. Someone to listen as she decompresses about the day.

Speaking of supportive spouses, be sure to take some time for a date night. Enlist the assistance of a friend, relative, or teen babysitter to watch the children while you reconnect with your spouse.

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A mentor friend. Ideally, this would be a mom who has been in the trenches and has now graduated from a mom of littles to a mom of teens, or beyond. Empty-nesters work well for this role. A mentor friend not only is there for you when you need her, but she has sound advice (given when asked for, rather than unsolicited), is a devout prayer warrior, a shoulder to cry on, and has wisdom beyond our years as young moms.

Other moms make excellent mentor friends, as do godly women from church.

A best/close friend. We moms all need a fellow mom to text for an impromtu playdate, to call when things get crazy, and a bestie to share a good laugh with about all the adventures (and trials!) of being a mom.

Proverbs 27 9

To recharge. Moms, we need to recharge our batteries. Life can be hectic, stressful, and seem to move at the speed of light. It’s easy to become exhausted and burned out, no matter what our stage as a mom is – a new mom, a mother of elementary kids, a mom to teens, or a mom to all of the above.

How do we recharge? Take a few minutes each day to put our feet up and relax.

Tackle a chapter in that book we’ve been wanting to read (or have been reading) for the past two months.

Take time to exercise. Many gyms include “drop in centers” for children while moms take an exercise class. Or, if you are the mom of toddlers, put them in a double stroller, pack some healthy snacks, and go for a walk.

Take a bubble bath.

Spend time with the Lord (see #1).

Spend a few minutes on Pinterest pinning your dream kitchen onto a new board.

Partake in a hobby you’ve neglected or one you’ve always wanted to try.

Organize a girls’ night out with your mom friends.

mom friends.jpg

Finding time to spend in the Word, call a friend, or even scroll through Pinterest can be difficult, if not nearly impossible. To begin, ask the Lord to help you carve out time. It may be at odd moments during the day, or even evening, but doing so will not only help your health and stress levels, but help you be the best mom you can be.