Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Stop & Smell the Chocolate!



This is a great new site, Stop & Smell the Chocolate. It has some of the most wonderful recipes. The site is covered in chocolate. You cannot go wrong with that! Every Friday she posts new recipes, facts, videos or whatever she comes up with about chocolate. She is a woman after my own heart!

Go check it out!!

I Challenge you to a Kiss!

My friend Kristen @ We are THAT Family has a great challenge going that I thought was worth passing on. It is called S.W.A.K. She is challenging us to lay a big one on our husbands 30 days in a row, starting February 1st. We are not talking about the sweet little peck, the challenge is about the passionate, make his toes curl, kind of kiss that we forget to give them. With kids hanging off of my leg, dinner burning in the oven and the teenagers bringing in their friends I don't really feel much like kissing. And it is only once a day, so pick your time & knock his socks off!
If you want to join, you need to write a blog post about your husband & why you love being married to him & then link Kristen's blog to your site. She has a great button to add to your site.


Click on We are THAT Family to go to her site & read all about it for yourself.

My husband is Mr. Wonderful! He takes me on a date every Monday night so that we can have uninterrupted conversation and just enjoy being a couple. He holds my hand in public. He helps with the housework & laundry(especially if he has no clean underware). He is homeschooling our oldest son and takes the boys with him whenever he can so that he can talk with them & find out what is going on in their life. He loves to study the Word & then tell me all about it, so most of what I have learned about the scriptures has come from him and his wonderful insight into God's word. We have been married for 18 1/2 years & have known each other for 19 1/2 yrs. We are best friends and I thank my God everyday for giving me such a wonderful man that I truly do not deserve.


Let the kissing begin!!

1 Corinthians 7:5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.


Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Dinner Table


I'm sure you have seen the reports like I have of how important it is for the family to have dinner together rather than eating in the car or at different times.
Below are some statistics that I found.

- The average parent spends 38.5 minutes per week in
meaningful conversation with their children. (A.C. Nielsen Co.)
- Family
dinners are more important than play, story time and other family events in the
development of vocabulary of younger children. (Harvard Research, 1996)
-
Frequent family meals are associated with a lower risk of smoking, drinking and
using marijuana; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal
thoughts; and with better grades in 11 to 18 year olds. (Archives of Pediatrics
and Adolescent Medicine, 2004.)
- Adolescent girls who have frequent family
meals, and a positive atmosphere during those meals, are less likely to have
eating disorders. (University of Minnesota, 2004)


Several years ago we lived in the country & we ate all our meals together because we were always together. The kids were younger so their extra activities were very minimal. But a few years ago we moved back to town & into a neighborhood. Now my kids are with friends a lot, have many other activities outside of the house and this is all making it very hard for us to eat dinner together. I remember when we first moved & for the first week or two I stayed frustrated because it was usually just me and the little ones eating dinner together.



It has taken me almost 3 years to come up with a solution to this problem. I evaluated what meals we we ate & who showed up the most. I realized that lunch was the meal that everyone was at, even my husband now that he works from home.


We homeschool, so our kids are home during lunch. Lunch is our new dinner. I don't fix a different meal, but I just make sure that everyone is at the table. This is where the most family discussion happens. It has become the most enjoyable meal of the day. We have a good time together.


On special occasions we make the table really nice. We set it & decorate for Christmas & Valentines. This year I hope to add a special Easter table to our tradition.


The table is where we talk about God's blessings in our lives. We listen to others talk about exciting things that have happened to them. It is not about naming names of those who have hurt or offended us. But we do comfort those when they share their hurts.


The table is where I try to teach manners. But that often feels like an ongoing project with no good results. I never know what they remember or learn. And rumor has it that when they are out of the house they act very respectable & mannerly.

Ok, so now that I have my dinner table problem solved, I expect my kids to become solid respectable adults because of it. Oh well, one can wish!


Raising Responsible Children in an Unresponsible World

Do you think it is still possible to raise responsible children in today’s society? It may not be easy, but I do think it is possible. In fact, I think it is crucial to raise our children to become responsible adults who can function in today’s world. Unfortunately, we live in a modern society where cheating, lying and infidelity are accepted as a part of life. There is a great need for men and women of integrity today. As christian parents who home school their children, thus spending more time with them than parents who don’t home school, I believe we have the advantage. But it isn’t just an advantage we have. We also have been commanded as Christians to “make disciples”. Paul said to fathers concerning their children “to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Family discipleship, according to scripture, is the parents responsibility, not to be handed off to someone else.

In Webster’s 1828 Dictionary the definition of responsible is “the state of being accountable or answerable”. In Robin Sampson’s book, What Your Child Needs to Know When, her definition is “Governed by reason; being under the influence of reason; thinking, speaking, or acting rationally or according to the dictates of reason.” So what does that mean in a nut shell? Basically, we teach our children to think before they act and then when they act it is in a way that honors and pleases God.

So why make this important? Romans 14:12 says “So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” That includes us parents as well. It is really hard to teach my kids to be responsible when I’m not being responsible myself, whether it is with my time, speech, actions or responses to others. So, it begins with me, the parent and my actions will always speak much louder to my children than anything I ever say to them. They must know that I am responsible for my decisions & will be held accountable for them to God.

I also think it is important because as a family you work as a team, not a group of individuals. A sports team has a lot of individuals but unless they work together in a responsible manner they won’t be a very good team. You cannot do everything for everyone 100% of the time. As mothers we would like to think that we can. Delegation is important in the health of your family. Each person should be able and willing to do his share of the work for the benefit of the family. You are a team. Team members must play their position. You are counting on them to do their job. If one of my kids slacks up on one of their jobs it affects many others around them. This is where forming good strong habits become important to raising responsible children. Charlotte Mason said this:
“The mother who takes the pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days; while she who lets their habits take care of themselves has a weary life of endless friction with the children. The mother devotes herself to the formation of one habit at a time” and to watching” over those already formed.” -Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1 page 136

Forming good strong habits is not easy & takes patience & time, but the blessings are long lasting. Like Charlotte Mason said we secure for ourselves smooth and easy days. We are still working on this in our house & will probably never fully arrive but my days are easier than they used to be. We established 3 areas of responsibilities in our house and then have worked slowly on each one.

The first area of responsibility is School. The children are responsible for their materials, book lessons and attitudes. If I give my older ones an assignment with a due date then it is their job to make sure it is ready on time. My kids each have a Rubbermaid tub in which to keep their school work in. If they lost their pencil or a workbook it is their responsibility to find it, not mine. This gets the burden off of me to try & keep up with their stuff. I don’t have time to do that anyway. Attitude is also a biggie. In our house their attitude speaks louder than their words & actions. If their attitude is wrong even though their school work is completed it doesn’t count for much. Philippians 2:5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.”

The next area of responsibility is Routine. Harry K. Wong says,
“The #1 problem in the classroom is not discipline. It is the lack of procedures and routines.” The First Days of School.
It may seem that the children are not obeying, but in reality it may because we have not given them proper guidelines or procedures for accomplishing a certain task. When I established more routine in our day my kids knew what to expect & what was expected of them. Sarah knows that she is responsible for feeding the cats in the morning & getting the baby dressed. It should happen every morning. This is her routine. Daily routines are very important in teaching responsibility to our kids.

The last area of responsibility is chores. Do you have a chore chart? Do you use it? It is a lot like your Bible. It doesn’t do any good until you read it & live it. I’ve had a very organized system for chores for years now, but it was only until the last 2 years did I really get diligent about putting it into action. I love chores for 2 reasons. First, they teach great work ethic and second it is less work for me to do. Those who are helping to make the mess are also cleaning up the mess. A great rule of thumb is to not do anything that your kids are capable of doing themselves. You might want to read that aloud to your kids if you haven’t already. ( Everyone has a very important job in our family even if it is just scooping the cats’ litter boxes. We have learned to depend on each other in this way & if anyone goofs off and gets lazy the others really let them have it. We made Colossians 3:23-24 our family motto verse. “And whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (NIV)

If you are starting new habits of responsibility there are two “T’s” to remember. The first is Training your child in their new job. Make sure they know and understand what is expected of them. Spend 10 minutes a day actually doing the job with them so that they know exactly how you want it done. Don’t forget to give plenty of praise at their efforts and success. The second is Transferring the job to them once they know what is expected. Let them know that this is their responsibility now and you will not remind them of it. Be patient and full of grace and mercy during this process. Don’t set your expectations too high of frustration levels will be very high.

I have days when I think that some of my kids will never be responsible and then I catch them doing something really good. I think it even surprises them at times. Some of my children have seen the positive consequences that naturally come with being responsible. They enjoy the blessings that come to them. Being responsible seems to be contagious also. Younger siblings see the benefits and want the same. The positive habits they are forming are not only squeezing out the bad habits but their day is much more enjoyable. As a mom I often pray that my children will have the same desire as I do to bring honor and glory to God in all they do. I am blessed bountifully as my children grow and mature into responsible individuals. It is refreshing to my soul. Psalms 25:13 says, “Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; he refreshes the spirit of his masters.”

Raising responsible children doesn’t happen quickly, it is a long season of giving life and love to your child while instilling in them the desire for godliness. Be patient and let God guide you on your journey. And don’t forget to praise him for the privilege of raising his children to become warriors for him. I am so excited for our future and the leaders that are rising out of the home schooling homes today. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Prov. 31:25 (NIV) We are a blessed people!

Below are a few resources that you may find helpful.
How to Raise a Responsible Child by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo
Peacemaking for Families by Ken Sande
The Young Peacemaker: Teaching kids to respond to conflict God’s Way by Corlette Sande
Let Us Highly Resolve: Preparing Families for the 21st Century by David and Shirley Quine

Habit Revisited by Mary Woodis (based on the “Habit” writings of Charlotte Mason)
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Romancing Your Child’s Heart by Monte Swan
Raising Kids Who Hunger For God by Phillips
For Instructions in Righteousness, Polished Cornerstones, and Plants Grown Up, by Doorposts
Doorposts very inexpensive posters: Stewardship Street, The Blessing Chart, If-Then Chart, The Brother Offended Checklist by the Forsters of Doorposts http://www.doorposts.net/


© Copyright 2005, Dana Bailey, All Rights Reserved


8 Reasons Menu Planning is a Bad Idea

I learned a very helpful habit from my mom...Menu Planning.

When Scott & I were first married, I didn't do it. I didn't have to. But as the children began to arrive..quickly...I learned that in order to make it a whole week without going to the store, I better get organized.

I would plan out 3 meals a day with a snack for the kids & then shop according to my menu list. This also saved me money. I wasn't buying a lot of junk food that we didn't need anyway.

Well, I found this neat little article that proves my point on why I need to plan our menu's...so I thought I would share it here.

Christine @ Dine Without Wine wrote...

Have you heard about meal planning lately? Families are busy and getting busier all the time. As families work on getting organized, many home managers are turning to meal planning as a way to eliminate the evening stress in their homes.

However, meal planning is not for everyone. Here are eight reasons why meal planning just may be a terrible idea for you and your family.


1. You enjoy eating unhealthy fast-food three to five times per week.

2. You love the taste of pre-packaged preservative packed frozen convenience food.

3. Spending $200 and 2 hours at the grocery store, only to come home to discover that there is nothing to cook for dinner is one of your favorite things to do.

4. You enjoy the stress of running around like crazy at dinner time trying to figure out what to cook while your children and husband are hungry and crabby.

5. You like your food rut of spaghetti, hot dogs, pizza, repeat.

6. You have no other way to spend the extra $100 you spend each week eating out.

7. You have nothing better to do at 5 o’clock every day then to go to the grocery store. It’s enjoyable to daily spend extra money on groceries as additional items “fall” into your cart.

8. You have no desire to enjoy a home cooked meal around the dinner table with your family. You feel spending time with your family is a complete waste of time.

If you agree with the above statements please do not ever try meal planning – it is probably a terrible idea. On the other hand, if you possibly disagree with at least one of the above statements perhaps it is time to give meal planning a try!

If you would like a weekly menu plan delivered directly to your e-mail box we’d be happy to help!



Christine Steendahl Is The Founder Of Dine Without Whine – A Family Friendly Weekly Menu Planner. Eliminate Your Dinner Hour Stress And Re-Discover The Pleasure Of The Dinner Hour! For A Free Menu Visit http://www.dinewithoutwhine.com


Friday, January 2, 2009

Redecorating!

I have been redecorating the blog. I'm not totally finished, but I got the main stuff done. I just love Split Decisionz. She has great templates & many are free.

But in reality, as I look at my new calendar & my super busy schedule, I'm wondering how I can "redecorate" my schedule to not be so hectic & a little more enjoyable. There are certain things that I can't get rid of. My kids & my husband remain my priorities. Then comes Mom2Mom at church, though this I put in many hours doing this, it can't come before my family. That is a hard one.
I made a list of what is in my schedule that I cannot take out.

Time with the Lord
Time with my husband
School with the kids
Down time for me
Mom2Mom
Housework

That is only 6 things, but they are intertwined and take up my whole day. If I tried to schedule out each thing into a time block schedule, it wouldn't fit in. This is where the Lord becomes real to me. When I go to him first and lay my desires and fears at his feet, my list of to-do's usually always gets done. He multiplies my time. I'm able to return phone calls, do phonics lessons & grade Algebra tests, get those 5 loads of laundry washed(I didn't say folded & put away) and still go on a date with my husband. Sometimes I can even have a nice long phone conversation with a friend (rarely). But if I don't get it all done today, I get to start all over tomorrow & pick up where I left off. I don't know how it gets done, but it does. And sometimes it doesn't get done. I have to be o'k with that.

So, I think that what really needs redecorated isn't so much my schedule, but my attitude about my schedule. Instead of getting frustrated because my whole list didn't get one, I need to look at what did get done and thank the Lord for helping me accomplish as much as I did.

Now, what needs to be taken off my list?
I rarely watch TV, but I can sit longer than I should watching a show.
I spend way too much time on the computer. That is one of those things that seems to eat up more of my time than anything else. But I love to write & communicate with others. I love to blog. I want to learn html & css code. I am learning how to use GIMP with my pictures & images. I am on facebook and twitter & that all eats my time, so I have to be real careful. So, I am trying to guard my time & use it wisely while I am on the computer & to not let it steal my day away.

How can you redecorate your time? Or is your attitude like mine that needs the makeover?