the best county fair entry ever

Want a zany idea for your next county fair entry? Read on…

This world has become increasingly unrecognizable with its constant drama, stressors, and problems. As such, I started a new series a few weeks ago with some humor posts to take us away, even for a brief moment, from the seriousness of recent days.

A few weeks ago, I shared a silly blog post from the past about my experience driving “the big truck” while my SUV was in the shop. I followed it up with a goofy post about how a mom can be a successful tooth fairy.

This week, I’m digging once again into the momlife archives. Several years ago when my girls were younger, life seemed easier, more laid-back, and the world in which we lived was a kinder one.

Next week, join me for our regularly-scheduled blog posts, where I’ll be discussing how we can overcome joy zappers. Future momlife posts will be sprinkled in amongst my regular faith-based and writing posts.

And now, without further ado, I present to you the best county fair entry ever.


Our family loves to enter things in the county fair. Each year, my daughters gather homemade goodies, artwork, sewing projects, and drawings and see what ribbons they can earn for their time, effort, and creativity.

I decided to do something a bit unusual this year…

Unbeknownst to him, last year as a surprise, I entered my husband’s amazing steel cutout of an elk. I had been so impressed with what he had created out of a piece of steel, that I just knew the judges would be impressed too. Imagine his shock when we were walking through the exhibit hall and he saw his project on the table with a blue ribbon –the elk was an incredible work of art. Large and polished to a sheen, it’s metal glowed against the woodworking projects that surrounded it. Lon took one look at it and exclaimed, “That looks like that elk cutout I made. Hey, wait, that is the elk cutout I made!”

Not to be outdone by entering the elk project, this year I decided to take a little different route. Yes, this year’s county fair entry would definitely be one-of-a-kind.

One day, Lon decided to take a picture of his foot wearing his size 13, beatup tennis shoe, as though it was some shoe model for decrepit, needing-to-be-retired footwear. Wondering what I would enter in the fair that year, I found my answer when I discovered this picture on our digital camera.

Wasting no time, I rushed to the store and had the photo enlarged to a 5x7and printed it off. Then, finding a reasonably-priced plastic frame, I displayed this lovely piece of “art”. Buffing the glass of the frame to a sheen, the shoe picture was ready to enter in our county fair.

Wouldn’t Lon be so surprised when he saw his picture, one likely taken out of boredom, proudly displayed on the exhibit center wall amongst numerous other quality pieces of photography?

In today’s world, just look around and you’ll see so many varieties of “art”. I just knew this would be a hit at the fair with the judges and the attendees of the fair alike. So, with the framed shoe picture awaiting its artistic debut, my daughters and I entered the door of the exhibit hall with our box full of entries.

I choked back a snicker. It was very difficult not to laugh while unloading the entries. After all, I had to play this cool so my quest would be successful.

I gingerly unloaded the mound of fair entries. Framed photos of mountain scenes and animals, pictures the girls had drawn, and homemade baked goods soon graced the table.

I saved the best for last and did my best to keep a stoic expression. No easy task for someone who is noticing the very real effect of having permanent laugh lines. But I digress…

The entry coordinator reached for another entry card, likely assuming my next entry would be more of the same of the other dozen or so entries.

But when I placed the framed photo on the table, time seemed to stand still. I pasted on my best “isn’t this an amazing entry?” face.

I watched the entry coordinator’s face as she filled out the entry card for the shoe picture. I began to snort, chalking it up to something in my throat. I struggled to maintain my composure and keep my laughter under control. After all, who really enters a photo of a beat up tennis shoe in the local fair?

And moreover, who acts like they are super proud of such an entry?

The woman looked up at me, then back down at the shoe picture, then back up at me, and finally one last time at the shoe picture. She picked up the frame and with a look of concern mixed with disgust, added it to the pile of entered fair projects.

I somehow hoped she’d be a little more appreciative of this fine piece of art.

The following day when our family went to see what ribbons we had been awarded, the girls, sworn to secrecy, and me still attempting to be nonchalant about the whole ordeal, led Lon around the exhibit hall. The girls pointed out their pictures, and when we finally came to one in particular, Lon stopped and stared. “Pen, is that? No, it can’t be…Pen!”

I thought I would die of laughter. Then Lon began to laugh and together we gazed at the unlikely winner of a high-placing ribbon.

The moral of the story? In a world so full of busyness, it’s good to take some time out to truly laugh at the sillier side of life. God gave us the ability to laugh and the ability to take joy in even the most mundane things – even a framed picture of a tennis shoe.



Before you go, check out these other posts…

the importance of avoiding false teaching

training for the mom olympics

you might be a writer if…(10 ways to know)

leaving a godly legacy

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

28 verses for uncertain times

Movie Monday: Duma

the video camera is always on part 4

Last week in my continuing series, I talked about two key issues where our children are always recording: our priorities and what we allow into our minds. Today, I’ll be discussing how our kids are always watching the example we set in our marriages and how we treat our spouse. I’ll also be discussing how we react when others wrong us.

Marriage can be tough. It is purely by the grace of God that two completely different people with different pasts can come together, warts and all, and share a love that spans a lifetime.

While no marriage is perfect, we can do our best to be a half of a marriage that honors God and sets a good example for our children. It has been said that our daughters will emulate us as wives when they themselves marry and that they will choose husbands with similar character traits as their dads. The same is true for our sons, who look to their dads for an example of what a man should be in his role as a husband; and at moms for what type of wife they will seek.

So how can we show our children an example of a marriage worth mirroring?

Spend time together. Set aside the first 15 minutes when your spouse arrives home from work (or you, if you arrive after your spouse) to greet each other, talk about your day, and connect. Yes, there are a million other things that will be vying for your attention, but making your spouse a priority is critical.

Spend time in the Word as a couple. To do so in our busy world, we have to be intentional. Set aside time to pray together and seek to know the Lord better through reading the Bible.

Put your spouse before yourself. A fun article depicting a couple who celebrated their 85th wedding anniversary in 2020 and is likely the longest married couple in America, discusses the importance of spending time together participating in the favorite interests of the other spouse. Husband Ralph states in the article that “Dorothy loves ballroom dancing and I loved to shoot clay targets…I joined her with ballroom dancing and she joined me with trap shooting.”

Deal with conflict appropriately. Conflict, grudges, irritation, differing ideas, disagreements…and the list goes on. While we may have a lot in common with our spouse, we aren’t them and they aren’t us. When conflict arises – and it will – we need to deal with it appropriately. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:26-27, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold”.

Be kind. Matthew 7:12 applies heartily to marriages. Treat your spouse as you would like to be treated.

Serve your spouse. There are a million little ways we can serve our spouse that make a huge impact.

Make building a strong marriage a priority.

Another area where our kids will imitate us is in how we react when someone wrongs us.

This is a tough one. No one can sail through life without painful relationships, broken friendships, and just plain crossing the paths of mean people. Hurts happen, and how we respond when someone has wronged us is another area where our children are watching us to see how we respond.

Do we respond in kind? Do we hide our pain? Do we get defensive and seek revenge? Do we ignore the offending party?

The Bible tells us in Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone”. There will be those times when we aren’t able to live at peace with someone and the best we can do is to distance ourselves from that person and continue to pray for them.

However, for those other times (which should be in the majority), our children are watching to see if we react with forgiveness, seeking reconciliation if possible, and remembering that we are called to imitate Christ in our actions (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Do we respond in humility? Ask for forgiveness when we are in the wrong?

None of these proper responses is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. In our fallen natures, it’s much easier to take a different route of bitterness, unrighteous anger, and gossip.

Our children will imitate how we respond with someone who hurt us the next time someone hurts them.

Please join me next time for our final segment in this series where I’ll be discussing how our children mimic our healthy habits (or lack thereof) and how we respond during trials.


Before you go, check out these other posts:

the video camera is always on part 1

the video camera is always on part 2

the video camera is always on part 3

the importance of new beginnings

Movie Monday: Where Love Found Me

4 ways to reconnect with your spouse

7 ways to inspire others

7 tips to help safeguard against an entitlement attitude in your kids

how to build close bonds with your kids

A mom recently posted a question in a Facebook group. She needed encouragement in her parenting journey after hearing from several parents that she needed to enjoy her time with her children now (all under six-years-old) because when her children were teens, they would hate her and wouldn’t want anything to do with her. She asked how she could maintain a strong relationship with her children into adulthood.

Should we expect the close relationship we have with our little ones to change as they get older? Should that just be one more thing to worry about on the lengthy list of parenting concerns?

While it’s true that our relationships with our children change several times over the course of their growing to adulthood, it doesn’t mean that it has to be something negative. It’s important to note that the blanket statement of children hating us once they become tweens and teens or not wanting to spend any time with us is simply not true for everyone.

So how can we build close bonds with our children that last far into adulthood? And while the ideal would be to start these suggestions when our children are very young, we can never go wrong strengthening those bonds no matter what age our children are.

Here are some ways to build close bonds with your kids:

Give your relationship with your children to the Lord. This is by far the most important suggestion and not a one-time prayer. Surrender your parenting to Jesus, seek His guidance, and endeavor, with His help, to be the kind of parent our Heavenly Father is to us.

Pray with and for your children without ceasing.

Spend time with your kids. Suggestions include listening, learning, singing, dancing, reading, playing games, and going for bike rides. Ask your children for ideas.

Spend one-on-one time with each child. When you’re a mom, the days go by at an unprecedented pace. There is just so much to do and so little time! But it’s critical to spend time with your children one-on-one on a regular basis. Some suggestions? Take a walk, go out for ice cream, plan a “girls day” complete with hair appointments, or celebrate at home with manicures. Again, ask each child for suggestions.

Make church, Bible study, and worship a priority.

Celebrate their uniqueness. Each of our kids are different, and that’s a good thing!

Make family night a tradition. Once you make this important night a tradition (for us it’s Friday nights) be sure to hold to it. Other activities are sure to come up, but if you make family night a priority, it instills the importance of spending time as a family and shows that other “important” activities can be scheduled around time with family.

Keep communication lines open. The standard “fine” when asked how their day is going can be avoided if you get creative in asking questions. If your kids attend a private or public school, wait a few minutes after they get home to ask them about their day. Children need a chance to transition and recharge. Keep in touch with what’s going in in their “world” and with friends and activities.

Bring up topics of interest. I bring a “topic” to the table each day, usually at lunch because it seems we have more time at that meal. I seek their opinions about the topic before giving mine and always listen to their point of view whether I agree with it or not. It can be any age-appropriate topic and has varied from how to be kind to others when they were little, to abortion when they got older, to today’s topic, which was on a Christian heretic and how we need discernment. As a homeschooling mom, I have an advantage of spending time with my kids that we wouldn’t have if they were in a school setting all day with limited time to spend together after school, sports, jobs, etc. If your child is private or public schooled, plan this time around the dinner table.

Express your gratitude. Have a grateful heart and a humble spirit whenever they do something kind or helpful.

Discipline with fairness and with love.

Be a good listener. Care about what matters to them, and always, always, always let them know how much you love them and how thankful you are that God has chosen you to be their mom.

Teach compassion and empathy for others by modeling it yourself.

Be respectful of them.

Find times to chat. Ever since my daughters were little, we’ve had a rule that we’ve never watched videos in the car. This wasn’t because I’m against videos – I actually love a good movie) – but because car-time is talk time, and if they don’t open up at other times, they will open up in the car (as odd as that sounds). On longer trips, we’d put on Christian tunes and sing together, or on family jaunts, we’d listen to Adventures in Odyssey. Other ideas? Provide a stack of books and travel games. (The license plate game, anyone?)

Don’t encourage your kids to grow up too fast. It really is true that when you blink, your kids will be grown. I didn’t believe it back in those early days of my kids not sleeping through the night and the ensuing severe sleep deprivation. All the milestones that our kids will eventually cross don’t need to be rushed. Take the time to enjoy each stage as it comes.

Priorities, priorities! Those we love should be a priority over all other “things” that clamor for our attention on a daily basis. This includes cell phones (which should never be allowed at the dinner table or family night), social media (fine in small doses, but it should never replace time with our families), choosing to work 24/7 with no time for family, and many, many other time vacuums that are in our busy lives. This is not to say that we make our children selfish because they think they are the only thing that matters (we do have to work, do laundry, and make dinner!), but it is to say that things can never take the place of people and we should never make it seem like they are.

Don’t listen to naysayers. Everyone will have a different parenting experience. Life happens and sometimes things beyond our control get in the way of relationships.

Remember there is no guarantee. A dear friend who was always close to her children recently discovered that one of them, as an adult, has joined a cult and has disowned their family. No matter how hard we try, things can still go in a different direction than we ever would have planned. We do the best we can, then leave the rest to God.


Before you go, check out these other posts on this blog:

the importance of teaching our kids to think for themselves

leaving a godly legacy

7 ingredients for creating the perfect character

looking to homeschool? here are 7 things to consider

delectable gluten free chocolate crinkles recipe

how to start a sisters in Christ group

who are you behind the screen?

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 again 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.

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 homeschool

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 2020, 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).

The freedom to teach an alternative to liberal agendas being taught in many public schools.

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

you might be a homeschool mom if (15 clues)

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

10 good things that could come from the corona virus pandemic

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?