Children, Family, Holidays, Uncategorized

Top Ten Fall Activities for Families with Young Children

Fall is in the air! And you know what that means, right? It’s time to spend time together as a family. Making memories. Enjoying each other’s company…as a family. Together. All together. So, without further ado, here are our Top Ten Fall Activities for Families with Young Children!!

1. Go Apple-Picking

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young childrenThis is such a fun activity, especially if you have children in the 3-5 year old bracket. Because you know apple trees are taller than your kids at this age. And you also know that they must do everything (EVERYTHING) themselves, right? So, be prepared to bust your back lifting your little kid into the air to get an apple from the tree. And also know they are not strong enough to pull the apple off themselves. So be prepared to then hold the child up in the air with one hand while being sneaky enough to pull the apple into the child’s hand without them knowing you actually picked the apple. Bonus points for getting mud or questionable poop-like material smeared on your shirt and pants from your kid’s shoes.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children2. Play in a Pile of Leaves

Yes! A chore someone actually managed to turn into a “makin’ memories” thing. I think dads like this one the best. Because now dads have to get the rake out and start working up a sweat to bring enough leaves into a pile worthy of his kids jumping into it and literally undoing everything he’s just done. What’s even more special is when that awesome 3-5 year old age bracket wants in on the action and says, let’s all say it together, “I wanna do it myself!”. Hand over the oversized raked to the child and just pray you aren’t close enough to the window for the butt end of it to smash through as the child halfway maintains control while flinging the rake around and “raking leaves”. Bonus points for those of you who have two kids who want to do it themselves and only one rake.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children3. Go to a Pumpkin Patch

These pumpkin patches are popping up everywhere these days. So to get this straight, I have to pay to walk around your garden to pick out my own pumpkin. Then I have to cut it from the vine and lug it all the way back to the “pumpkin hut” to pay top dollar for said pumpkin. (I know you’re over-charging me and I know it’s all part of the experience). Please know that kids only have to go to the bathroom after you are carrying a pumpkin under each arm. Bonus points for any bee stings that may occur in this activity (parents included) because bees just don’t care about your fall memories.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children4. Pick out Halloween Costumes

Never mind the thousands of conversations with your kids that starts out with them saying, “You know what I’m gonna be for Halloween?”. And never mind that you must retain all the answers over the course of the prior six months when these conversations started. At last we are close enough to Halloween that you can reasonably assume that the costume your child wants now is the one he will want come October 31st. When you realize at the store that there are no more of his desired costumes, you must make a decision. Tell him and risk a meltdown or trek across town to another store and pray that the costume is there! Bonus points for the parent who buys the costume and whose child still manages to meltdown before exiting the store.

5. Visit a Fall Festival

Ah fall festivals…the crisp air, the jaunt into the country, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin. The miles of traffic from similar-minded parents looking to etch memories into their kids’ heads if it kills them in the process. There’s nothing quite like underestimating the ability of your umbrella stroller on a gravel road that leads to a rocky path not built for strollers. Unless you’re trying to also hang an over-packed diaper bag from the handles completely not designed to hold a diaper bag. Bonus points for kids who have to go potty real bad but refuse to use a porta-potty.

6. Take a Walk on a Nature Trail

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young childrenWhat a lovely way to take in autumn in all it’s splendor. Who are we kidding? Take a walk anywhere with little kids and it will result in a pile of “found things” that better all be present during inventory counting at the car. So the idea is to enjoy the nature walk…maybe see a deer or pretty birds? No, you’re going to carry one of your kids back to the car because she skinned her knee and it’s bleeding down her leg and onto your fall-inspired flannel shirt. Bonus points for the parent who has to retrace steps because somewhere along the way your child’s shoe fell off.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children7. Make a Pie

Oh good grief…this is a mess. A hot mess. And someone will most likely get burned. Between “Let me do it!” and cracking an egg, be surprised if you end up with a pie at all. Little kid pies are like mystery prizes. There will be egg shells and a piece of sand or two, maybe some lint. Who knows. Upside is that the house will smell good because spices know their job and they always perform well. Bonus point to the parents who eat the pie.

8. Go for a Drive to See the Changing Leaves

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young childrenNow this is a great excursion. The kids are contained and you can put some relaxing music on and just enjoy the scenery. Don’t worry, once you’re out on the windy roads and far away from civilization. It’ll hit you. The beauty of the changing leaves will overwhelm you. If not, the smell of the diaper from the back seat will do it. There’s nothing like the feeling of hopelessness when you realize the poop has leaked onto the carseat itself so that smell? It ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Bonus points to the kid who arrives back in town wearing a diaper and nothing else because Mom and Dad forgot to put new “emergency clothes” in the diaper bag after the last explosion.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children9. Visit a Petting Zoo

A lot of petting zoos have fall activities that are perfect for little kids. Things like coloring contests, face painting and cotton candy. Plus all the adorable, fluffy animals that your kid is deathly afraid of and wants nothing to do with. I smell a photo-op!! One day we’ll all look back and laugh at the picture of junior sitting on dad’s lap literally scared to death at the helpless rabbit sitting on junior’s lap. Bonus point for dad laughing his tail off instead of consoling junior. Because that’s also in the picture!

10. Take the Kids to Grandma’s House and then Go To A Movie

Now here’s a fall activity I can really get my arms around. Parents, this is realistic. This is the activity that’s going to make everyone happy. Grandma can do a fall craft with the kids and they can make those memories while Mom and Dad go relax in the cool, dark movie theatre. Go ahead and get that large popcorn and enjoy yourself. When the kids are a little older and more self sufficient, you can make those memories with them. For now, build up your energy. Because you’re gonna need it when you get the kids from Grandma’s house. You know she’s going to stuff them with “yummy sweet fall treats”, right?

 

Children, Family

Make It or Buy It? The Baby Food Dilemma

Baby girlI honestly didn’t realize this was a big issue but it is. Make it or buy it? It’s the baby food dilemma. And in this world where literally everyone has a qualifying opinion on how you should tend to your own baby, you’ve got some big decisions to make in the area of baby food. And please know that whatever decision you make, you will be wrong. I kid, of course. Know that whatever decision you make, it is the right one. (Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product using one of these links, the cost of the products will not increase for you but you will be supporting this blog and we thank you!)

It’s funny how people think they can answer a question you never asked when it comes to childcare. But, thanks to social media, we all have mega phones and lots to say about lots of things. So…baby food. Make it or buy it? Let me share with you what we did…because we did both. For different reasons.

For our first two children, we bought baby food. I honestly didn’t give a single thought to making it. Both my husband and I worked full-time, which meant the kids were in daycare all day. I know, we’re horrible parents. So, having jars of baby food was extremely convenient, both for packing their bags for daycare and for managing dinner when we all piled into the house, hungry after a long day.

No one died from eating jar baby food. And to my recollection, the kids loved eating it. There was no issue. We did dabble some in the “organic” baby foods once we stumbled upon it by accident. Those marketing geniuses preyed on the insecurities of new parents by slapping the word “organic” on the front of a beautifully natural-looking baby food jar and suddenly we have to spend more money on those jars just so we aren’t bad parents feeding our babies pesticide-ridden baby food. Well played, marketing department.

Now, for our third child, I made the baby food. Let me set the stage a bit here. Baby girl was born prematurely so we had a heightened awareness of her health and making sure she was protected from germs. Legitimately so, as she was at extreme risk of things like RSV and the unknown possible effects of prematurity like a weakened immune system, etc. Also in play, my husband became a stay-at-home dad since baby girl couldn’t go to daycare for at least two years- doctors orders.

So I pumped at work (I had built up a monstrous stash of breastmilk while baby girl was still in the NICU, eating only .5oz while I pumped out a good 6oz every two hours) and she was exclusively breastfed for six months. Then we introduced rice cereal slowly. She stayed on that for a bit because she was still developmentally two months behind. We generally went slower with her, but then she got good at eating the cereal so we decided to add a vegetable.

Baby foodIt was at this point I decided, uneventfully, to make her veggies instead of buy them. I don’t even recall being twisted up about it. I just said, “You know, I’ll just steam veggies, drain them and then store them in ice cube trays so we’ll have ready-to-thaw serving sizes”. It really didn’t take much time at all and it ended up being really convenient. We used these Baby Food Cube Trays to keep the food protected from any possible funky smells in the freezer as well as to help make it super easy to remove the food from the trays.

Once she was ready for combo foods, I just pureed whatever we were eating and put them into ice trays. So she was eating what we were eating. And bonus…she transitioned to table food way easier. She was familiar with the taste and texture we were already serving so it worked out great in that respect.

So, I say all of that to say this…don’t lose any sleep over whether to feed your baby from a jar or to feed your baby homemade baby food. Your baby will be fine either way (unless she has some rare issue that the doctor has specified going one way or the other. In that case, listen to the doc!). Don’t worry about what your friends or your family says.

Do what’s best for you. This is probably the hardest lesson for new parents to learn but you will not break your kids. You have what’s in you to do the best for your family. Trust yourself. Feed your kids. Change their diapers. Love them. Let them sleep. Enjoy them.

 

Tell us your thoughts on baby food. Is this an issue for you at all? What’s your preference…make it or buy it?

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Evening Tea

evening tea 8A few nights ago, our little girls wanted to have evening tea. They wanted some “girl time”. So I took it upon myself to use this precious occasion to blackmail them into baths that didn’t take forever to get started, drag on incessantly and leave the bathroom floor a wet mess.

Yes I did.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Why in the world would you have the girls get cleaned up with baths and then give them spillable tea?!” I do not know. Really…I do not know what I was thinking other than I took an opportunity to forego a wet bathroom floor and a frustrating overall bath time by using good old fashioned blackmail.

Evening Tea2 Evening Tea3 evening tea 9

So after a splendid and efficient bath time, I held up my end of the bargain and prepared the girls’ tea time. The girls were so excited and started talking to each other about proper tea drinking technique. Like raising your pinky finger and sipping slowly. Putting the cup down gently and saying “that’s just lovely” and stuff like that. The water finished boiling and the girls picked out their tea flavor…they both chose peach tea. They started steeping their tea bags and I added some sugar to their cups. If I left it to them, there would be so much sugar that you’d be able to eat the tea instead of drink it!

Evening tea 10At that point, I left the girls to their “girl time” at the kitchen island. The girls started chatting about little girl things, pretty things, fancy things, etc. And they were giggling a bit, just enjoying each other’s company. And then…things started going south. Because what starts out as a cute, sweet moment with little giggles often turns into excessive silliness and little kid disgusting jokes. My sweet girls…making each other laugh by making farting noises and picking their noses.

It’s funny, you picture these Norman Rockwell moments with your kids. Then they go and act like regular kids and completely pop that bubble of perfection in a way that only little kids can do. Sometimes we want perfection and that’s just not how kids are made. They are made to be silly and funny. They certainly are made to remind us cranky adults to stop and enjoy little things for what they are…a bunch of farting, nose-picking silly girls just enjoying some evening tea. What’s not to love about that?!

 

Children, Family, Homeschool

Totality…almost.

Totality almost baby girlLast week was the week of the total eclipse across the entire continental United States. And we were in the path of totality…almost. We were in the path of 97% totality. What’s a measly 3%, anyway?! Well…when you’re dealing with the sun, apparently 3% of the sun is still super bright. More on that later.

So…the day of the eclipse arrived and the kids were super excited. This was a homeschool day focused completely on what happens with an eclipse, how the moon covers the sun, how the shadow screams across the ground lightning fast although it seems to us on the ground like it’s taking forever!! We had bought our glasses awhile back (shout out to dear husband for thinking of buying them back before the price jacked up with supply and demand!) and those glasses came with an eclipse book. So we poured over the book while we waited our turn for the big show. On the east coast, that was about 2:30pm so we had time to watch the eclipse on TV as it made its way across the country.

Pinhole Eclipse ViewerI had found cute pinhole eclipse viewers you can make out of cereal boxes so we spent some time making those as well. As much as my OCD self wanted to take command of this project, I made myself stand back and let the kids cut out the holes, tape the tin foil and…poke the hole in the foil! I need a minute for this one because every fiber of my being wanted to manage the ‘poke the hole’ step!!

But, I let them do the whole project and the kids ran outside to look in their viewers. They were not pleased. I’m not sure what they thought they were going to see, but a little bright circle at the bottom of a box of Special K was not it! So, the boxes were kind of flung to the side. But at least it was time spent having fun making a craft. Memories, right? 🙂

I had put on my viewing glasses just to see what the sun looks like through them and low and behold, the moon was already kissing the edge of the sun!! “The moon!!!”, I screamed like a little kid,  “I can see the moon!! It’s starting!!”. And my own little ones came scampering outside with their glasses loosely attached to their heads. It was in this moment that I realized that baby girl’s glasses would never stay on her face. So, the resourceful side of me poked holes in the back edge of the glasses and I tied twine pieces to the holes.

Then I tied the glasses to baby girl’s face. Yep…tied them to her face. Worked perfectly!

So…in all of this excitement we had told our dear children, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can’t make it happen again so don’t miss it! We aren’t going to stop looking at the eclipse because you are having a fit. You are on your own until after the totality.” Because, for real…this IS a big deal!!

So, we had thought the wildcard would be baby girl. She’s got a knack for pitching a fit at the worst times. But she did great! No… the dark horse of the day was boy child and I’m debating to tell you why he was pouting right at the moment of maximum coverage of the moon…

He wanted to eat hummus. Right then. At that moment. Yeah. you read that right. He wanted to eat hummus. It was all we could do to get those glasses on his head and make him look at the sun!

“Look at the sun right now, son!!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…

The moment was upon us. All the kids were quietly watching. We took off our glasses to look at the darkness around us that wasn’t there…begin commentary now:

Totality almost eclipse maximumHey, it isn’t dark!..Hey, the moon isn’t completely covering the sun..I thought the street lights would come on!..It isn’t even cold!…Where’s the stars??

This picture is the moment of maximum moon cover. This is 97% totality:

So, feeling a bit disappointed ourselves, we start talking about how bright the sun is. How when only 3% of the sun is showing, it’s still bright enough to cast shadows, still bright enough that we can see to read, still bright enough to feel hot outside, still bright enough to burn your eyes …It’s bright!! Although for a few minutes, we were able to see a single planet in the sky.

So, it was totality…almost. But for us, it was an entire day of lifetime memory making. And though I didn’t see the Bailey’s beads, the wispy corona or the diamond ring effect I had an entire day of time with the kids that we will undoubtedly be talking and laughing about years in the future around our Thanksgiving table…

“Remember that summer where we had a total (almost) eclipse?! Who was complaining about the hummus??

 

 

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Spiritual Conversation Prompts with Your Kids

Heaven's GatesIt’s an interesting thing to have a conversation with kids about spirituality. Sometimes we put our over-thinking onto our kids when they don’t have that issue. Younger kids take things at face value. They aren’t puzzled by unexplainable things to the extent that older kids and grown ups are. I have conversations with my kids as they show interest in a topic and only take it as far as their curiosity does. That is, give them information until they are satisfied and then leave the topic until another questions arises. So, I’ve put together some of our spiritual conversation prompts that really get the kids’ thinking juices bubbling:

1. What do you think Heaven looks like?

This is a great conversation and we’ve had many creative ideas of what Heaven looks like. I usually pause to allow my kids to envision the best, prettiest, most perfect place they can imagine. We talk about how there’s no tears in Heaven, how it’ll always be happy and beautiful. That we’ll see God and that we’ll get to talk to Jesus. The possibilities are endless. Outside of keeping the ideas aligned with perfection, I just let them imagine and describe what they imagine. I can’t say for sure if they’re right or wrong and I tell them I don’t know. And that’s OK to not know. The kids don’t seem to mind at all.

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2.

2. How are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit Three and also One?

This is such an interesting question as an adult, let alone as a child. All through this conversation with the kids, at the end of the day, we don’t know for absolutely sure how this is possible. What I like to put out there for the kids to think about is that somethings of God are so outside of our ability to think through. And that’s ok. We’ll find out for sure when we get to Heaven. In the meantime, how I explain the trinity to my young kids is that the three operate as one- God. God the Father…always been, always is and always will be. God the Son- Jesus, who died for us and is our defender. He’s our filter. God looks at us through Jesus. And God the Holy Spirit- the Holy Spirit is the “mover”. He’s the action of God. So- distinctly three and yet one. And it’s ok if you can’t get your mind around it.

Yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1 Corinthians 8:6

3. How does God hear all of our prayers?

This is a good question that really causes us to realize how powerful God really is. When you start to dissect the impossibility of it (in the realm of humans), that’s when the awe sets in. God never sleeps, He hears every prayer. How is this possible?! How many people are there on Earth? And how many prayers are being prayed at any given time? The Bible tells us that God hears every prayer:

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers of the people offered in this place. (II Chronicles 7:14-15)

Hearing a prayer is not the same as answering a prayer. And sometimes the answer is not the one that we want.  Now, this is a good segue into the next question.

4. Why does God sometimes not answer our prayer the way we want?

This is kind of tough question and it’s a great opportunity to teach the kids that God is not a genie waiting to grant them their every wish. God won’t give you a million dollars because you ask for it. The Bible says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.- James 4:3”.

So the motive to just have money is the wrong motive. Asking God to help you find resources to further His Kingdom would be a more appropriate prayer. And even then, the answer God gives is one that is perfect in His plan, though it might not be the answer we want or expect. And that’s OK!!

5. Why do bad things happen to good people?

This question is a really difficult one and it’s one that grown-ups have trouble understanding. When I talk to my kids about this, I want them to understand that God isn’t behind the bad things happening to good people, Satan is. We live in a fractured creation (I love this description!) and because of the sin of the world, perfection isn’t here. Thinking of how big God is and how small we actually are, I remind my children that in the end God wins. God wins! Time in God’s realm is so much bigger than our time here on Earth. A day to Him is a thousand years to us. So, His plan isn’t finished yet. The bad things that happen aren’t the end. God’s plan isn’t finished yet. Until the day that God rights things, we have to live with sin and choose every single day to look toward God and to choose Him! His plan for us is secure far beyond the things of Earth.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

6. How did God make everything in six days?

Easy!! He’s God! This is a fun topic that doesn’t require too much technicality because kids’ imaginations allow them to see the “impossibility” as almost magical. And that’s ok. God made man out of the dust of the Earth. So he can literally do anything. And yes, in six days. Six mornings and six evenings. As we talk about the fantastical aspects of this, we move easily into how detailed God was in every single thing he created. How each thing is necessary to the other thing. Everything on Earth is connected and God created it that way.

You alone are the LORD You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You.- Nehemiah 9:6

7. What will it look like when Jesus comes back?

Sometimes I’ll ask my kids this question when we see a remarkably beautiful sunset. You know what I’m talking about. The sunset with the humongous fluffy white clouds and the sun majestically outlining the clouds with fiery yellow. Sun rays beaming across the sky. This must be what it’ll look like when Jesus comes back! It’s a good starter for talking about what the kids imagine Jesus return will look like. And it usually leads to other conversation about how no one knows when he’ll return, about how we should always be ready for Him, and about how beautiful he will look when he comes to get us. My kids always think of this return as joyous and exciting. It’ll be unmistakable…it’ll be loud and everyone will see it!

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him. Revelation 1:7

8. How come I can’t hear God?

God wants us to get to know Him and we can do that through the Bible. His spoken word is in the Bible and though we can’t hear Him audibly right now, we can hear Him through His word. The scripture- parables, instructions, lessons and testimonies- all have the voice of God. We can “hear” God, but we have to listen differently than with our ears. As we study God’s Word, we will get to know Him. Keep studying and keep learning.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son . . . Hebrews 1:1-2

Children, Creative Ideas, Family

Do You Remember Paper Dolls?

Paper dolls 1This past weekend, girl child and I did something so fun! Do you remember paper dolls? Did you ever play with them? I sure did and I had hours of fun making up stories, changing outfits and having fashion shows! Oh, the memories! And the idea just hit me to see if I could show girl child the fun of paper dolls.

Paper dolls 2Now since this was a very last minute idea and paper dolls aren’t readily available on shelves, we had to improvise! So I found a picture of a front-facing Barbie doll online and then hunted for dresses that would fit on the doll. Once we got those all printed, I started girl child on cutting out the dresses. I cut the doll out and then traced her onto a thick piece of cardboard. I cut the outline out and then glued the doll onto the cardboard so she was stable enough to stand upright without bending over!

Girl child was enamored with the dresses we found online. Most were from the seventies, eighties and we even found a few from the roaring twenties! Time just flew by as girl child concentrated on the outlines of each dress. She even made her own tabs on the few dresses we found that didn’t have them.

Paper dolls 4We found a beautiful wedding gown, which instantly got girl child’s attention. It was kind of a complicated dress to cut out because of the bouquet but it was worth the effort. She was pleased as punch that she was able to have a wedding gown doll! And I was pleased that she wanted to keep all of her paper doll stuff safe when she asked for a ziploc bag. In fact, girl child was so happy with these paper dolls. She went back the next day to continue cutting out her dresses and trying them on her Barbie doll figure.

Even though we are in a high-tech, fast-paced world, paper dolls are such a fun and slower way to enjoy time with your little girl.

I will say that cutting out the doll, the cardboard behind the doll and all the clothes might be a bit much. So let me suggest a little purchase instead. Now, if you decide to buy these, I’ll get a little payment but I still think these would be great for some paper doll fun! It’s called Fancy Nancy’s Perfectly Posh Paper Doll Book and it’s only $4.00!

Whichever way you go, be sure to introduce your daughter to paper dolls. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon in an imaginary world!

Children, Family, Uncategorized

8 prayers I pray for my children

8 prayers I pray for my childrenSo often I find myself wondering what kind of world we are leaving our children. It is in these moments that I find myself silently praying for my kids and most often it’s one of these 8 prayers I pray for my children. Mind you, these prayers aren’t lofty nor are they spoken aloud. These are the silent, constant prayers that mothers find themselves praying.

Whether it’s in specific thought, or during those times when sleep evades us…when tragedy strikes another family and we are counting our blessings while grieving with them. A mother’s prayer is constant. It’s a bath of protection and blessing and desires and hopes and faith…a jumbled mess we hand over to the Father. These are 8 prayers I pray for my children.

I pray for my children’s safety

Our world is so dangerous. Some may say it’s always been dangerous, but I see it creeping precariously close to the safety of the home. People are becoming more evil in how they would harm children or how they would harm random people, no matter the age. I pray for my children’s safety. I pray for God to protect them with warrior angels. Warriors. To fight the evil that exists around us at all times. So I pray for my children’s safety. As Girl Child has prayed for, “the strongest bubble that no one can break through!”.

I pray for my children to stay close to each other

This one sits in the back of my mind and I pray on it when it bubbles to the front. I pray my children remain close friends. Hopefully we will be around for a long time but when we are gone, my children will have each other. And I pray that they rely on each other and confide in each other. I pray that they look out for each other and keep up with each other. They can still irritate the mess out of each other because that is sibling right, but at the end of the day I pray that they always love each other. It’s simple but it’s important.

I pray for my children’s future spouses

Yep. And I know many other parents who do the same thing. I pray for my son’s wife and my daughters’ husbands. And I pray for their safety and I pray for God to guard their hearts and minds. That they are immersed in God’s Holy Word and I pray for their health. I pray that God helps them to make good decisions along the way as they are growing. It’s all important…from childhood to adulthood and these future spouses need to be bathed in prayer just as much as my own children are.

I pray for my children’s hearts

I pray that the seeds we plant in their hearts about their Heavenly Father are deep-rooted, healthy and strong. That they will judge everything they encounter with the knowledge they gain each day from studying the Bible and that the world is no match for God’s promises. I pray that they have joy in their hearts that cannot be taken away.

I pray for my children’s sweet dreams

Sweet dreams. Sleep is the place for rest and recuperation from a busy day. I pray for sweet dreams for my children so that their sleep is truly restful. So that their bodies can rejuvenate and be ready for the next day of learning and excitement. Sweet dreams ensure peace whereas nightmares causes anxiousness. So I pray they are able to rest and that their imaginations will deliver wonderful stories to them throughout the night.

I pray for what my children will become when they are grown

I can only imagine now what each child will become or where their interests will take them. So I pray for what they will become because all of that starts now while they are young. What they’re exposed to, what captures their interest, what comes naturally to them…it starts now. I pray that they find something they are truly good at and something that grabs their interest. And I pray they love what they become.

I pray for my children’s happiness

Happiness is a luxury and I pray my children have an abundance of happiness in their young lives. I pray they see the happiness in their world. That they see the joy in the little things all around them. I pray that their happiness is infectious and that they share it with as many people as possible. And I pray that their happiness only grows and that they enjoy being happy.

I pray for my children’s childhood

Their childhood is so very important. So many children no longer get to have a real childhood because they are forced to grow up so quickly. Perhaps it is how fast our world is with technology. I pray my children are able to hold fast to their childhood and that they enjoy their time for as long as possible. I also pray that we are able to protect their childhood and we are able to shield them from whatever seeks to steal our children’s childhood away from them.

So I pray for them all the time. Sometimes with words, sometimes my prayer is simply the thoughts in my mind and on my heart. But I pray for my children. Every day.

Children, Children's Bible Study, Family

Being a Good Friend- Children’s Bible Study

Being a Good FriendWe are so excited to announce our newest children’s Bible study, hot off the press! This Bible study is called ‘Being a Good Friend’ and it’s geared toward younger children so it’s a simple but effective walk through scripture passages each week night over the course of a month. Each day highlights a Bible verse that talks specifically about friendship. Of course the greatest display of friendship was when Jesus laid His own life down for His friends so moving through these scriptures with your children will give them a clear understanding of what a good friend looks like, both being a friend to others and also what a friend should look like to your child.

This is a great time to talk about being a good friend with school starting back up. It’s so easy for children to gravitate toward unhealthy relationships in school and in the neighborhood. But when you plant seeds of scripture in their hearts when they’re young, they will better be able to discern between good and not so good choices. And when they find friends that bring out their very best, your children will grow in healthy and strong relationships that they will come to depend on when things get tough.

As far as Bible study goes, you can never start too early with your children. This simple, quick study gives you the time with your child to study the scriptures together. For you to model what Bible study looks like, and for your child to begin her journey with Christ.

Encourage your child to journal during the process- for him to write down his thoughts. And for her to put into her own words what the scriptures mean to her. Not only will you have a precious keepsake, but your child will be developing Bible study skills along the way.

We sure do hope you like this simplistic children’s Bible study. And we pray that this precious time with your child is a blessing to you. Here’s the link for you to sign up to receive the free Bible study: Bible study

Children, Creative Ideas, Family, Uncategorized

You’re invited to a tea party!

tea party invitationEarlier this year, Girl Child had a birthday party. And it nearly got away from me. She had asked for a tea party…a fancy one. With pretty things. And real tea. And tea cups.

My imagination started running wild with possibilities and ideas. Can you even imagine how adorable a little girl’s tea party would be?? Of course I started with the invitation- you can buy this template from Etsy here.

Tea Party decorations

With some brain-storming and lots of lists, here’s what I came up with. And mind you, saving money was the name of the game here.

So, how do you organize a little girl’s tea party without breaking the bank? Dollar Store, my friend. I was able to get a bunch of things that translated into fancy for very little money here. Things like “silver” plates, paper doilies, pink artificial flowers, pink crinkle paper, glass vases, toy pink bead jewelry, pink feathery boas, pink polka dot paper party plates, party favors…I picked up everything that looked delicate, fancy and formal. And I walked out spending $23. Thank you very much!

Once I had a lot of pink things for the tea party, I had a basic idea of what I wanted to spread to look like. The center-piece of the party, if you will. From there, I started rummaging throughout my house to find anything that looked like it belonged in a tea party. I found my grandmother’s old linens, small tea cups and tea pots, little teddy bears with lacy dresses and high tea hats, jewelry boxes, several unique tea pots, ceramic floral serving plates…all sorts of things.

Tea party spread

The idea here was to make a long table that would have all the food and tea spread out and have it nestled among all the pretty things so it would be a treat for the eyes to find the little treasures that gently say “yes this is a fancy tea party!”

Next up is the goodie bags. I didn’t want to use plastic bags because plastic bags do not say “fancy”! Instead, I used brown paper lunch bags and I folded a small doily evenly over the top. I then punched two holes in the top and tied the bag with brown twine. A simple and sweet way to deliver magical bubbles, a glow-in-the-dark wand, some bracelets and candies to attendees of the party.

tea party table decorationsEventually, I had to make a trip to Hobby Lobby to get some other items but I really tried to keep my purchase small because Hobby Lobby has the ability to make me see and buy things I didn’t know I needed!

So I bought a pink cupcake holder with sweet pink toile accents, tissue poofs for the wall decorations, floral paper napkins, and little bows to tie around the napkins with pink, plastic forks and spoons. My mother-in-law had small tea cups that were perfect for the girls and each one was beautiful and unique!

tea party spreadThe food: A friend graciously baked the cupcakes for us and they were amazing, of course! We went with ham and cheese tea sandwiches and used princess cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into little castles, high heel shoes and crowns. My mother-in-law and I made an assembly line to cut up 48 sandwiches! We had strawberries that I dipped in melted white chocolate and then dipped in sprinkles. I served carrots, cookies, apples and grapes along with our main event of hot tea.

I had different flavors of tea available for the attendees to choose from. And we had little sugar cubes, which the girls just loved!

tea party activitiesWe had some crafts, coloring and a game of balance the sugar cube on the spoon relay race, which the girls all loved. And thanks to my sweet mother-in-law, each girl got to take home her tea cup as a special keepsake!

All in all, the tea party was a success and I managed to keep the cost down to just under $125 for everything!

 

 

Children, Family, travel, Uncategorized

Fun things to do with little kids- Washington DC

Fun Things Washington MonumentTraveling to Washington DC is an experience. Try doing it with three little kids! Actually it is possible to have a great time in DC even with little feet. We’ve put together a list of fun things to do with little kids when you’re in Washington DC. We have tried to be budget conscious, which can be challenging in such an expensive city! With some stamina for walking and by looking for a deal, this can be a great experience for the whole family. So come along with us and see what DC has to offer for a family with small children.

Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum

Fun things Udvar Hazy DiscoveryAdmission is free (awesome!) but parking is $15.

First on the list of fun things for kids is the Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian; however, it’s not located near the National Mall like the other museums. This museum is located near Dulles International Airport, close enough that you can see planes on their initial take-off or final decent. IMAX movie (if you choose to see one, though there’s plenty to do without it) is $9.50 adults, $7.50 kids. Plus, if you save your ticket stub, you can see another IMAX at any of the Smithsonian locations for $6 each.

On display at the museum is a Concord jet, an SR-71 Blackbird and the space shuttle orbiter Discovery in all her majesty. The museum beautifully displays hundreds (maybe not “hundreds”, but certainly a lot!) of various planes, gliders, helicopters and flying gadgets throughout the oversized hangar facilities. In addition, there is the Mary Baker Engen Restoration hangar, which was working on Neil Armstrong’s space capsule while we were there! You can walk along a huge glassed-in balcony so you can see most of the hangar and all the projects currently underway.

Another cool feature is the Donald D. Engen Observation Tower. Guests take an elevator up seven stories to a 360 lookout tower similar to an air traffic control tower. From here you can see for miles in all directions as well as watch planes take-off and land at Dulles International Airport.

Thanks to McDonald’s there’s a McCafe for lunch or snack and a gift shop to guilt you into buying toys for the kids before you leave. Special note: no pocket knives or weapons of any kind are allowed in the facility. Plan to stop for bag checks upon entering but the line moves quickly.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Fun things Natural History MuseumAdmission is free (awesome again!)

Our next item in our fun things for kids list is the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. This place is jam-packed with things to see and our kids had so much fun wandering around the exhibits. They enjoyed seeing animal bones, mummies, a live insect zoo, the ocean hall and a current display of the Hope Diamond along with other gems and crystals. There’s a live butterfly exhibit (tickets required, but they’re free) so you can walk among fluttering, colorful winged creatures.

At lunchtime we found a restaurant (it’s DC, so it was kind of pricey…) called Pavilion Cafe. Kids ate hotdogs and peanut butter & jelly and there are lots of good lunch options like beef brisket, lunchtime gourmet salads, tuna salad sandwiches and the like. Where the lunchtime price got away from us was dessert…but they did not disappoint and all left lunch full and happy!

Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Fun things national zooAdmission is free! (Awesome again, y’all!)

The National Zoo opens at 8:00am, though no one told the animals! The buildings inside open at 9:00am and the concessions opens at 10:00am during the summer. We took Uber since it was too far for little feet to walk (and since we’d be walking once inside the zoo). Parking is a mess…not very many spaces to park and for the few spaces available, the cost is $22 so be warned.

We went during the summer so it is hot! The layout of the zoo is not so much a circle, but a main wandering path with side shoots of things to see. So there’s a lot of walking and it’s best to think through your route so you don’t get stuck hot and tired at the opposite end of the zoo.

National Monuments

fun things Lincoln memorialFree, free, free and free!

Of course, a day of wandering around on foot to see the monuments and landmarks around the national mall is a fun, free option. You’ll see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the White House, the Capitol and many others. And with little feet may come big complaints of being tired after a bit of walking so plan accordingly. You may split up the sight-seeing into smaller segments. Take advantage of the Metro or Uber to get you to your next destination or back to your hotel for a little rest.

Other Items of Interest

Our visit to Washington DC was only four days long so we quickly ran out of time. But there is lots more to see and do in the city for young children. These are definitely on our list for our next visit:

Don’t forget to wander around the neighborhood a bit to see the local sights and sounds. The area is mostly walking friendly and the drivers are accustomed to walkers. So you don’t get the feeling you’re about to be run over when you choose to walk. The foot paths are nice and the bridges are old and full of character. The Potomac River runs through Washington DC. So there are parks and areas where you can rent paddle boats in the National Harbor.

In the summer time, you’ll find the Georgetown Waterfront Park featuring a splash area for kids to cool off. Also, don’t forget to visit the hotel pool for a break in sight-seeing. If you’re lucky, you might score a rooftop pool like we did and get a panoramic view of the city.

We found low cost, unique burger joints, pizza places and the best ice cream sandwich shop near George Washington University called Captain Cookie and the Milk Man. How cute is that?! And they did not disappoint! We found tons of great little spots like this and they’re all nestled among the hotel neighborhoods.

Transportation

Fun things MetroThe Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, also known as Metro, provides train and bus service throughout the area. To use the train, riders must purchase a SmarTrip card and put funds on the cards. Children 5 and under ride free. Fares fluctuate during the course of the day based on the ebb and flow of rider traffic. You can buy the cards and reload funds easily at any terminal. And there are Metro stations littered all over the DC area.

Don’t forget you can most likely walk to your destination. With little kids, that can be tough. Our kids are quite accustomed to walking about 3 miles in a day (4, 7 & 8 year olds…not bad, eh?) so they fared well, but keep an eye on weariness because that’ll suck the fun out of any sight-seeing and I know I’m not telling you brand new information! Just know you have options with transit and Uber if you get caught with kids who’ve just had enough.

You can use Uber for wherever the Metro rail doesn’t quite make it (like the National Zoo). Schedule a pick up online (and add a tip now, too!) and they’ll zip you right to your requested destination. You have a 15 minute pick-up window and a friendly driver will meet you where you are.

So go enjoy the nation’s capital and don’t be afraid to walk around the city. It’s very bustling and in our experience, a very family-friendly area. There’s a good police presence and generally, we found that the drivers in the area were patient with walkers. There’s lots of sidewalks and the crossing lights are very generous. If you ever get tired, there are Uber drivers wandering around just waiting to take you to your next destination.

Happy traveling!