After two years of dragging (literally) my almost 7 year-old son into school every day, I was seriously OUT OF IDEAS. The combination of his very strong-willed personality, OCD, sensory issues and an intense anxiety about... well, pretty much everything... has made getting him to school every day a real struggle.
Then, a couple of months ago (with what I KNOW was divine inspiration) I had the idea to spend some time talking to him about the "Armor of God" as taught in Ephesians 6. I tried to keep it simple but explained to him that when he prayed to God and asked for His protection, he would be protected by an "invisible" shield (aka, "the shield of faith"). To a little boy obsessed with super heroes...THIS CLICKED for him.
I wanted to give him a visual to reinforce the concept and so the "Armor of God' Wristband was born. He wears it every day (as do his siblings and several of his cousins). We have had a few iffy days since then, but as long as he takes the time to pray each morning before he leaves for school, he puts on his brave little face and he WALKS INTO THE SCHOOL. There are no words to express the relief I feel.
I've since become fascinated with the doctrine of the armor of God and believe that the principles taught in this simple analogy are PROFOUND and so applicable to the real and very hard struggles that each of us face every day.
I may or may not have been guilty of re-gifting a time or two. It usually goes like this... We have a birthday, baby shower, wedding, etc to attend and because I tend to over-schedule myself, I end up on a last-minute mad dash for a suitable gift. I search the house frantically for any un-used/un-opened gift to save myself a trip to the store that I don't have time for and maybewa2q find something that is remotely appropriate for the occasion. But because I am a firm believer in MEANINGFUL GIFTS, this is where I am forced to pull out my ninja-creativity skills (or something)...and MAKE it apply.
ENTER- the cheesy hand-written poem (most likely on the pansy stationary I received for my 15th Birthday that has managed to reproduce itself like the loaves and the fishes for the past 15...ish years):
"You are so sweet,
You can't be beat.
When I smell this, I think of you,
Just rub it on your hands
And they'll be sweet too."
Stick that with a (mostly) full bottle of Bath and Bodyworks Hand Sanitizer in last year's Christmas gift bag that the neighbors' sugar cookies came in and VOILA! A 5-minute gift.
JUST KIDDING! (Kind of)
Don't be like me. Plan ahead. Like at least a day or two. Or better yet, plan a week or two ahead and get your loved one something they will ACTUALLY appreciate and want to KEEP....FOREVER.
Check out these very personal and thought-out photo gifts (All available through our ETSY shop). Think just a little bit ahead and we'll do all the work for you. So you won't have to write a last minute cheesy poem. (or maybe I'm the only one who does that?)
When it comes to the "5 Love Languages," "quality time" is definitely at the top for me. I love finding new and creative things to do with my family- the kinds of activities that BUILD memories. Things that take slightly more effort than just pushing a button on the remote, but that will be so much for meaningful to my children when they are grown. We have a quote engraved on wood hanging in our little shop that says, "Kids won't remember their best day of t.v."
The things I remember best from my childhood?
Camping and fishing.
Putting up a "tent" in the living room (when it was too cold to camp outside- we lived in the Alaskan Arctic at the time) and roasting marsh-mellows over a candle. We even had glow in the dark stars on the ceiling and put up a couple of fake Christmas trees to complete the experience. Picnics and drives in the mountains.
Looking for deer on Sunday afternoons- there were always extra "points" for whoever spotted the first one.
Searching the beach with my family for critters in the tide pools.
Singing songs together.
Family Holiday traditions- My Mom has always been the BEST at making every celebration, birthday, holiday, etc...special.
Playing "Spoons" and "Hearts".
Mom reading out-loud to the whole family.
Sledding and going to the mountains to cut down a Christmas tree.
Playing in the mud at Fish Creek (aka: glacier silt).
Going to Hockey Games.
Going "Clamming" (even though clams are pretty high on the list of thing I refuse to eat)
Getting up in the middle of the night to watch the Northern Lights.
Exploring new places- both close to home and far.
These times spent together are the ones that made my family close. It probably helped that we lived in the middle of nowhere for a lot of my growing up and didn't have near as many distractions or really ANY other options for entertainment....So we HAD to get creative. But I wouldn't have had it any other way.
We try now to spend the same type of quality time with our own kids. And even though they don't get to grow up in Alaska, they do get to grow up in a great place in the country with several acres to roam. They love helping in the garden, gathering eggs, fishing in our pond, going camping, playing games, going for walks (that always turn into "treasure hunts"), reading stories together etc... It seems that the simplest things can be the most meaningful. And while sometimes doing things together takes a little more planning, effort, and time... is always SO worth it.
I've found a few websites with some great (and inexpensive) family activity ideas...Hope you can find some that your family will enjoy!
You left your home in Heaven, dear one,
To come and spend time with me.
From the arms of Jesus in His holy realm,
To my loving arms you're come to be.
What is the wonderful smell of a babe?
Could it be lotion or powder or love?
I think it must be something lovingly familiar,
Like the sweet scent of heaven above.
-An excerpt from "To My Loving Arms"
(A poem written by Mindy Simpson, my mom.)
Everything about a child being born is a complete miracle. I have been blessed by three such miracles (soon to be 4) and am so grateful for what I have learned about myself, about God's love, and about these sweet and very individual little people in the process.
I was very fortunate that my other child/children were able to be present at my second and third births. I love that this could be a special moment for them also. I think it's so important to include older siblings in as much of the "baby stuff" as possible. They should feel that the birth of a new sibling is about them too.
My sister recently gave birth to her 3rd (the sweet little girl at the top of the page), and I made a "New Baby Name Puzzle"...partly for a keepsake and partly to help her older kids celebrate their new baby sister. It is now available in our online store here and may be personalized for YOUR new baby.
Such an amazing event should be celebrated! Motherhood should be celebrated! Fatherhood should be celebrated! Life should be celebrated! FAMILY should be celebrated! And certainly this new little person and the life they are just beginning should be celebrated.
I have a "love-hate" relationship with toddler learning games. I love to know that my kids are getting some kind of knowledge or skill out of something they like doing. But, I hate ALL of the PIECES! There are memory game cards, and puzzle pieces, and little blocks ALL OVER my house. We get a new game or puzzle and they play with it once or twice and we are super careful to get it all put back together and put away. But then pretty soon I'm finding a card to the newest memory game chewed up by the dog on the front porch, or a puzzle piece in the laundry. It makes me crazy!
I don't know how to solve this problem without spending all of my days putting puzzles back together and re-organizing toys OVER and OVER and OVER. But I do know that I want my kids to have a little bit of independence and to learn to take care of their things themselves and I want them to have puzzles. And while I think it will probably be several years still before we make much progress in that area, I have noticed that there are a few things that seem to help. So I suppose my goal is to minimize the mess, while still allowing them some exploration and the chance to learn through play.
They do SO much better with the board puzzles (I don't know what they are really called- but you the know ones where all of the pieces fit inside a big board?). Like THIS...
I think it helps to simplify the "putting away" process when putting the shapes or letters in their places is part of the fun.
I also LOVE the toys/games that are made of wood. The cardboard/paper stuff gets chewed on by the baby and ruined way to easy.
So one of my latest lasering projects is to make durable and all-in-one games/puzzles/toys for toddlers out of wood....because I have toddlers at home, and that's what we do.
Another of my "toddler-learning-game" pet peeves is the memory game. Maybe it's just because I'm a little OCD, but I hate lining up a bunch of cards in nice straight even rows on the floor only to have some little person bump them with their hand or foot and scatter the little annoying cards across the floor. I've tried playing the game up to the table, but that doesn't usually work either so I made a "Memory Game" Puzzle. Now all of the little pieces have their place and it can be played on the couch or on floor or in the car.
This is just the beginning of my wooden toddler toy/game plans and I'm super excited about it. The Shape and ABC Puzzles are now available HERE and the Memory Game will be available to order SOON!
Strives to celebrates the every-day special moments. Seeks new adventures...