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.
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!
When I was younger and filled with sappy, unrealistic, Hollywood-induced notions of what love would be like...I was fascinated with the idea of "falling" in love. What took a few years and lots of learning experiences to realize is that love is not some whirlwind emotion that sweeps you unwittingly away into blissful happiness.
At one time, when I heard long-time couples speak of their peaceful connection and deep and abiding love for each other...it sounded so boring and disappointing compared to the sparks and fireworks of movie romances. But having had a small taste of each, I know that the sparks and fireworks die very quickly and leave very little behind if they are not replaced with something else....something better and of so much more substance. The kind of love that lasts is the kind that brings real joy, peace, and a feeling of wholeness. But it does not come without purposeful effort.
We must CHOOSE to love. We make that choice by CHOOSING to spend time with someone. We make that choice by showing love with our actions. "Love", the emotion, comes AFTER "Love", the verb. The choice to love someone is not a choice we simply make once and the deal is sealed. We have to make it EVERY DAY.
When I start feeling disconnected from my husband, it isn't ever because of something he did. It is ALWAYS because I have gotten distracted by other things and have forgotten to CHOOSE him. There's no such thing as "falling out of love" just as there is no such thing as "falling IN love." We grow apart from someone because we stop making the conscious effort to put them first, to think of their feelings instead of ours, and to SHOW them love.
I believe this is true for EVERY relationship, not just romantic love. The same thing happens with my kids. The more effort I put into spending time with them- the kind of time that THEY need...the easier it is to love them and be patient with them and we have much less contention in our home.
I have not yet met a person that I didn't grow to love to at least some degree once I had spent enough time with them to really get to know them. I grew up hearing the phrase, "you love those you serve," but came to know the truth of this principle while working as a C.N.A in a nursing home.
I have certainly not perfected relationships, but I know that the reward for our efforts to truly love those around us is REAL happiness. It's just so easy to forget, to get distracted by all of life's craziness, and to forget to spend our time doing what REALLY matters...so we all need reminders. This quote is mine, and it hangs in our family room.
And that's really what we are trying to do with our business...to help you show love to your loved ones. To help you remember to celebrate your relationships and make people feel loved. This isn't just a business for us, it's something we feel very strongly about because our family means so much to us and we hope yours does too.
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...