Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Words of Life for Kids

     Have you ever had the sinking feeling that you just said or did something, as a parent, that has hurt the heart or spirit of one of your children?  I had that happen the other day.  It wasn't that I meant to hurt her, or that it was intentional... it just happened.  The product of carelessness.  I didn't say anything directly, but I asked an off-hand question jokingly that communicated a message to her.  We can brush these off, but I really don't believe that brings any kind of true peace -- for the parent or child.  I have found the only way to navigate those not-so-shining parenting moments is through humility.  I told my daughter before bed that I had been careless with my words -- it was a bad joke, and I asked her if she would forgive me.  She said she would.  I'm always amazed at how quickly my kids forgive.  They respond to a humble spirit, and it allows me to point to Christ as the One who gives grace, who authors forgiveness, and who reconciles.  My children see that I am not perfect, that I need forgiveness, and that I am continually on a journey.  I want them to know the "real," not the "fake,"the authentic, even if it means we have to sit in the mud for a while.
     It hurts my heart when I make a mistake with one of my children.  I work hard to build them up, to encourage who they are, to make sure they know that God directs their path and has a plan for their life.  Then I somehow tear that down in a moment through a spoken word.  OUCH.  It is no wonder the Bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that the tongue can bring "life or death," or that is says in Proverbs 21:23, "Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble."
We have a choice as parents, we can bring life to our children through our words, or death.  Do we take the time to even think about what we are saying?  Do we weigh our words carefully, often choosing to remain silent instead of saying how we feel in the moment?  Do we fully comprehend the impact our words have on these little hearts in our care?  I know for a fact that I could be doing so much more to breathe life.  Sometimes it takes a concrete reminder.  I know people who put 5 rocks in their pocket.  By the end of the day, the goal is to give 5 encouragements and have all of the rocks in the other pocket.  Whatever it takes, let us do what we need to be moms and dads who are speak life-giving words.  Here are some specific ideas below taken from an article by Karen Stephens.

• Your skills are really improving; you’ve outdone your- self today!
• How kind of you to share toys with your friend. That’s very generous.
• You are taking such good care of your pet. He’s so lucky to have you!
• Now THAT’S what I call a thorough job! Thanks for picking up your toys.
• That’s a great effort; don’t worry about that small mistake.
• Keep at it; I know you’ll figure it out. How can I help?
 • I love the sound of your voice. 
• You are such a good learner! I’m impressed by your
• I remember when you were first learning that. You’ve
come a long way. 
• You’re so fun around the house; life would be boring
without you!
 • What would I have done without you today? Thanks
for cleaning the house with me. 
• Our car looks spic and span, you’re a real professional! 
• Great job!
 • I’m so proud to tell people I’m your mom (dad). 
• You’ve really improved! That’s great! 
• It’s wonderful to see you so happy with your
• I appreciate your attention to detail. You are one
sharp cookie. 
• Your patience is commendable. Keep at it; I know
you’ll get it yet. 
• I’ve never thought of it that way. How creative!
 • You’re doing a great job of controlling your anger.
 • You’re on the right track! That’s using your brain. 
• You’ve put a lot of careful thought into that. 
• Way to go! Excellent! Superb! Amazing! Fantastic!
• Hey, you’re getting the hang of it! Your practice is really paying off.
• Now THAT’S an interesting point.Thanks for sharing it.
• Your attitude is a very respectful attitude. I appreciate that.
• You solved your problem; how clever! 
• That is wonderful! Your confidence is really showing! 
• How sensitive you are to your brother’s feelings. 
• Your dependability makes life so much easier for me.
 • I love your sense of humor. How do you think up
those jokes? 
• You hang in there when the going gets tough. You’re a
strong person.
 • Look how much progress you’ve made.You should be
• Hey, relax for a while; you deserve a break.
 • What a good memory you have. That effort deserves a
high five! 
• I really enjoyed your performance. No one could have
done it better.
 • Keep trying; I know you can work this frustrating
problem out. 
• How calm you were when you got that bad news.
You are really maturing. 
• It’s a real gift to me when you do your chores without
being reminded. 
• I have to hand it to you; you did exactly what you set
out to do. 
• Congratulations, you can be proud of your achieve-
• I LOVE watching you grow up. You never cease to
amaze me.
 • You are such an interesting person. I can’t imagine life
without you.

Here are a few more of my own:

I see how thoughtful you were...
That looked a lot like Jesus...
You’re becoming much wiser...
You were very careful...
I love being around you...
You handled that beautifully...
Way to live out God’s word...
Your creativity inspires me...
You make me smile so big when...
You make life fun...
Great choice...
I’ll bet you feel great...
I can count on you...
You are dependable...
You shine...

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The 3 Card Parenting Solution

There was a time a couple of years ago when emotions were running high in our home with our daughter.  I needed a way to communicate consequences to her, without getting drawn in to the heat of the moment. I developed this little 1, 2, 3 card system that worked like a dream.  When I started to get some "attitude" about something, I would hand her the card, "Turn that frown upside down."  Because we had gone over the cards ahead of time, she knew this was step one.  If it continued, she was handed card #2 , and so on.  The beauty of this little system is that it takes the emotion completely out of dynamic. It is almost as if the cards are doing the disciplining.  Plus, there isn't an opportunity for the all-popular "power struggle" to occur.  The frustration is against the cards.  :)
This can be created for any child, and the cards can relate directly to an issue, or can be general consequences.  The ideas are endless.    Have fun with this and try it!  I did find that both my daughter and I would smile when I handed her a card.  We hardly ever had to get to #2.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Freeze Fruit, then Can it or Jam it....Later

  We love buying or picking in-season fruit, then jamming (our term for making jam) or canning.  The problem is, sometimes we pick or buy, but don't have the time to process it.  Here is our solution:  the freezer.  Freeze the fruit in a box or on a tray.  After it is solid, transfer to a ziplock bag, label, and pull out when there is time! 
 I also love this because most of the canning season is in the summer, when it is hot and when I don't want to be in the kitchen all day.  Come fall, I am ready and excited.  I grab my bags and off I go.  Obviously this doesn't work with all fruit, but it can work with most, especially if it is jam or fruit butters that you are making.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Teacher Gift: 1st week of school

This is what I did for my kids' teachers this year for the first week of school.  I included this note.  The flowers are from our garden, and we used a canning jar for the vase.  We are very excited about the kids' teachers, and we wanted to let them know!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Parfaits

This deliciousness is the easiest way to use that extra rubarb in your garden.  It takes no time at all, and it is Y-U-M-M-Y!

4 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
2 lbs. strawberries
1/4 cup water

Boil together the rhubarb, sugar, water, and strawberries until the rhubarb breaks down (about 10 min.)  Let cool until thickened (at least 1 1/2 hours)

To make the parfaits:
Layer the sauce, whipped cream, and vanilla ice cream.  Be sure to leave enough room on top to add sauce as the last layer.  
I also like this rhubarb sauce for pancakes & waffles.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Reading OUTLOUD to kids -- a don't miss!

     Moment upon moment upon moment.  These make up what we call "time."  Every day, I try to do something to connect with each of my children, either individually or as a group.  These sometimes small, and sometimes big, moments make a difference.  Reading together aloud has proven to be one the most consistent and best ways to do this in my parenting.  From pre-schoolers to teenagers, everyone loves a good story.  
Last summer, I wanted a fun way to connect with my older nephews and my daughter at our family lake cabin.  I went to the bookstore and found Ted Dekker's The Lost Series.  I got the first book and we began reading.  The rule was that we all had to read together, and out-loud.  They would beg me to sit down and read more.  
     My boys and I have been in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia all summer.  We've worked our way from The Magician's Nephew to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where we are currently.  Now that school has started, I read a chapter or two as they go to bed.  We all love winding the day down with this ritual.  Honestly, it is as fun for me to read them as it is for them to hear them.  I am completely captivated by these stories!  We watch the movies together after reading the story also, and the boys love filling in the gaps.
     Reading aloud to our children accomplishes several things.  Here is a list taken from Sonlight Curriculum's webite:  

  • Introduce your children to great literature that is beyond their personal reading capacity.  
  • Develop within your children a life-long love of reading.  
  • Expand your children's vocabulary
  • Build listening skills - including the ability to visualize the meaning of spoken words.
  • Develop an "ear" for good oral reading
  • Develop oral reading skills.
  • Give you and your children a context for sharing mutually significant times together.

     I like to use Sonlight's website to order books for read-alouds.  Having a stack of quality material ready makes the legwork easy.  The books they carry are often award winners, and they promote something worthwhile -- historical education, character building lessons, or just a fun story that is well crafted.  There is so much out there, and it is hard to know what is quality and what isn't.  I don't always have time to find out, so this resource is invaluable to me.  You could also write the titles down and order them through the library. 
     I'll never forget the time when my boys and I sat on the couch and cried together as Little Ann and Old Dan faced their deaths in Where the Red Fern Grows.  It was so moving that our hearts welled together with sadness and emotion.  It bonded us and created a "moment."  A moment I wouldn't trade for the world.....