I Called My Grandma Last Night

My grandmother is at the sweet age of nighty-nine. Although her mind is still sharp enough to carry on a good conversation, it takes every effort she has to simply be alive each day.

I love visiting with my grandmother, and always have. She is the living version of Google. I have run into little she doesn’t know, even at her age. While so many of her contemporaries have passed on or become disinterested in learning anything new, She has never let herself get outdated.

My grandma has a cell phone, an i-pad, and was not shy to learn how to use a computer when they became household tools. Last night, as we conversed, I asked her if she had heard about AI and GPT Chat. She not only knew about it, but wasn’t a bit daunted by the upcoming changes artificial intelligence might bring. In fact, she wanted me to tell her how AI could help me with my life.

So many older folks mourn the days of their past and fear the future. It grieves my heart to see my aging friends and family spend their last days in sadness and fear over the world they are soon leaving anyway. My grandmother happens to be an exception to that common trend. I love her perspective of hope and curiosity, and hope as I rest in the Lord for the unknown days ahead, I can as my grandmother does, find joy in each day that He gives.

The Joy of the Daily Walk

I set my foot down firmly onto the paved trail. Eight smaller feet rushed on ahead of me in my steady pace. This was a new trail, and therefore a new adventure laid ahead.

It was a balmy December afternoon, just after a couple days of rain, and the clouds still had not figured out how to clear the sky above us.

The four little children I had with me were my own. Each had on a set of rubber boots, hoping to splash in puddles and in the creek beside the trail as we went along the trail.

As we walked there was much splashing, much giggling. The children rushed about the trail, sometimes walking, sometimes running up to the bend in the path and waiting for me and my oldest daughter to catch up.

My son found a vine, hanging from a tree and made a swing of it, which was amazing fun for some time. The sediment of the creek was like soft beech sand, and the children loved to feel their rubber boots get sucked into the sand as they sloshed along in the creek. We came to a brick wall, and instead of walking beside it, it provided opportunity for going up, balancing across, and coming down again…much more fun than the ordinary walking trail.

We call our daily outings, “adventures.” Every time we get out we discover new places, new sights in nature, and even meet some people.

When my children were very small, their endurance on such walks was limited, but now, that my youngest is past five, we find the average three mile walk or hike is very easy to accomplish.

I have chosen to incorporate daily walking into our lives for an insurmountable number of reasons. The most important reason is relationship.

Relationship building is a paramount theme in my life. It is so deeply biblical and is key in growing in love for God and for others. My relationships with God and with others is the only thing that carries on from this world to eternity, and it is vital that I focus efforts and discipline myself in ways that will help me improve all those relationships, as well as help others, such as my children, deepen their relationship with God, my husband and I, and each other.

So, one might ask how a walk cultivates relationship with God. There are many ways that our hearts can be drawn closer to God. Reading Scripture, praying, and spending time with fellow believers are important and very biblical ways to develop a closeness with God. Nature is one of the best sources of deepening our amazement and worship of our Creator.

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you;
    the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you;
or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you;
    and the fish of the sea will declare to you.
Who among all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every living thing
    and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:7-10

Nature keeps us humble as we are reminded how small and how out-of-control we are in life. 

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.” Ps. 104:24-25
Nature puts our hearts in worship as we stand in awe of what God made.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:10
Nature teaches us about our God.
I also find walks are an excellent way to spend time with people. I am able to have conversations with my children as we go along the trail. My younger ones often leap and skip about, but my older girls like to hang onto mom and talk about stuff.
Walking improves attitudes, aids in brain activity and development, and helps build the natural habit of connecting with others that is so easily neglected in the materialistic, artificial relationships one might find themselves connected with.
I began daily walks for the enrichment of my soul and the building of relationships, but have found that more times than I can count, my daily walks have brought my heart to worship my great Creator, loving Father, and sustainer of my heart and soul.
Psalm 146: Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word!

When the King Comes

I took a walk today. It seems long walks are becoming more and more a part of my daily routine. Today, I took my youngest child with me, my little six-year-old boy.

Those who know little ones, know that children slip with ease between the complex and the simple. A child can ask questions that are deep, and meaningful in the same run on sentence of his or her light-hearted conversation. I guess to all inquisitive minds, one question is of no more value than another. Everything is meant to be discovered, known, and touched, whether it be the wonderful truths of God or the little freshwater clam from the shore of the lake.

To my little fellow, it was no different. As we started our walk, he wondered if there were any dangerous animals in the woods that might eat us while we are on our hike. I assured him that the largest animal in the woods was a fox. And foxes don’t harm humans. Foxes eat little animals like mice and rabbits. Then he  asked me if foxes will always eat bunnies.

My heart was warm to his sweet curiosity and the delight within my heart at the answer to his question.

“When the King comes,” I said “All things will be as they were created to be, before sin. Foxes and bunnies will be friends then, and foxes will not eat bunnies anymore.” (Is. 11:6)

It is a few days before Christmas, and with each Christmas season that passes, I find my heart spending more and more time pondering the coming of the King. I still think of Him as the baby born in Bethlehem a few thousand years ago, but I always let my mind move from Bethlehem to a glorious future day.  It will be a wonderful day when my dear, gentle King will return and reign over this broken earth, bringing healing in nature, in life, and in hearts, restoring all that was once broken to its original perfect state.

Oh how my heart longs, for the day when all will be right, when all will be as it was made to be. But what is wonderful for me, will be dreadful for all who have not crowned Christ King of their hearts.

It is my prayer that as Christmas reminds me of the birth of the King, I will also remember that He is the King of all, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:10-11). And for the brief time I have among those who do not claim Christ King, I can share His Kingdom with them and pray for their souls that they will be drawn into the great Kingdom of which I am deeply privileged to be a part.

Perspective On Body Image From of a Queen

“….Now the young woman was beautiful of form and face, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther 2:7b

How often we read in Scripture that a woman was very beautiful…Sari, Rebekah, Rachel, Bathsheba, and Job’s daughters, are a few such examples.

We also read in Scripture of a woman who was not physically beautiful: Leah, Jacob’s first wife. “Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance” Genesis 29:17.

I wonder how many times Leah or Esther looked at her reflection and wished she was different. Leah, perhaps longed to be pretty, so she would be loved. And Esther may have wished that she was not so beautiful and therefore not forced into marriage with a pagan king.

Yet, it is God who created both women to look exactly as they were meant to look “for such a time as this” Esther 4:13-14.

As I reflect on God’s complete sovereignty over every detail of His creation, I am assured that Esther was not beautiful by chance, but created by God to fulfill the exact purpose He had planned for her life. Had Esther not have been stunning in her appearance, she would not have entered the courts of the King. Not only did she enter the king’s courts, but it is evident that she also took his heart by storm. As a result of having the affections of the king, Esther was empowered to respectfully appeal to her husband king, resulting in the redemption of her people from slaughter. Esther’s beauty was crucial in the design God had ordained for her life.

And like Esther, God made Leah exactly how she needed to look in order to bring Him incredible glory as a mother of His chosen people. Leah was not beautiful and was not chosen by anyone for a wife. Though not chosen by a man, God gave Leah a husband. Though unloved, God gave Leah children. One of Leah’s son’s was Judah. The lineage of Israel’s kings were formed from Judah’s lineage. Leah was indeed a queen; a mother of kings. From David, to our Precious King, Redeemer Himself, God chose Leah to be the mother of the greatest, and most royal tribe in the entire earth! God could have used any woman to fulfill that role, but God chose the lowly, the unloved, and the broken-hearted Leah. What an incredible picture of the gospel that paints…impossible without Leah’s homely appearance.

Psalm 139:13-14 states that it was God who personally “formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

As that verse states, from Eve to Me.. little Rebecca, every detail of every person’s genetic code has not happened by chance, but by a purposeful design.

I glance at my full length mirror and my thoughts can rejoice. Because, like Leah, and like Esther, Scripture tells me, my physical appearance is absolutely perfect.

Vogue will tell me I am too fat. It will tell me my clothes are outdated. Vogue will tell me my nose is funny shaped and my complexion rough and too uneven. Vogue will pick me apart until I feel beauty is unattainable and I am probably less than average in appearance. Vogue will make me unhappy with my body. Following the world’s idea of beauty will bring ingratitude and turn my joy to self-criticism.

Scripture tells me, I am made by God’s own hand. Scripture tells me, I am personally designed by God. Not only does Scripture say I am designed by God, but I am an image bearer of the Sovereign Creator/Ruler of all mankind. In Scripture, I learn to love the body I have, because I learn to love my Creator so much that I completely embrace the beautiful body He created for me to serve Him with. Why? Because the One whom I love, made it!

My little girl loves to make me drawings. She pulls out paper and markers, leans over the paper for a bit, creating something special. Then she plops the picture down on the table in front of me. “This is for you Mommy.” I truly, and deeply love the picture she made me. I do not critique it in any way. It is perfect in my eyes because it was made by the little girl I dearly love.

Do I not dearly love my Creator? Why then, would I ever stand in front of a mirror critiquing the form He gave me? Why would I not simply care for it, cherish it, enjoy it, and accept in overflowing gratitude?

Joy and happiness ought to fill my soul every time I stand in front of a mirror. I am looking at His handiwork!

There is so much peace in holding fast to God’s sovereignty in my created form.

Peace with my genetics: I can be at peace that God has designed every cell of my body to act and look exactly how it should in order for me to fulfill the plan He has purposed for my existence. Whether I am tall or short, whether my metabolism is slow or fast, whether I am pale with freckles or a rich chocolaty brown, my being was made on purpose, by God.

Joy in my God given image: I can freely embrace the image God has given me without regrets. From my frizzy head of curls, freckles, dusty blue eyes, and knobby bones…everything in my body was made to be as it is for a divine purpose. Yes, my head of frizzy hair serves an eternal purpose! That thought alone, brings me amusement, and yet, amazement to think that God has ordained absolutely every detail in this entire world to the point that the kind of hair He has given to me is not without its place in His design.

No need of envy: A woman who believes her body was made by God’s perfect design cannot step back and envy those she believes are more beautiful than herself. In essence all bodies are equal in value. Each person has been perfectly made to do the work God has set before him or her. I was created with the height, face, and features I a have by my Father/Creator. He knows what is best for me, more others, and for Himself (He is worthy), in His flawless design of my body.

My Deep love for God, allows me to enjoy my body without desire to change it: Just as my little girl has freely given me the drawing, she wants me to enjoy it, but would be deeply hurt if I took my sharpie and changed things about it that I didn’t like. No, her art cannot, and should not be changed just because it now belongs to me. Because I love her, I have no desire to alter my daughter’s gift without concern of insult and hurt to her little heart. In comparison, my body is still, and always will be God’s work of art, despite it belonging to me, it still is His. So yes, as I would a piece of beloved art, my body is mine to enjoy, but I do not own the copyright for it. And because I love God so dearly, I really have no desire to alter the image He has given me. It is perfect in my eyes.

Honoring the body honors the Creator: As I would honor my daughter by taking her picture and putting it in a frame, or sticking it to the fridge I can bring honor to my Creator by how I respect the body He has given me. Keeping my body clean, safe, well nourished, dressed respectfully, and well groomed are some of the ways I can show respect to my body. There is freedom to color and curl hair, apply make-up, and attempt to conceal the earthly wear and tear on the physical form God gave me. There is also freedom to embrace earthly scars and age. Both are honorable. More importantly than bodily care, is that I speak honorably about my body and other God’s created images. To degrade a human body with crude speech or complaints dishonors the One who made it.

Permission to feel beautiful: I truly am made in an amazing way by God’s divine hand.  There is nothing virtuous about complaining about our human form. God made this body, and it was made to worship and glorify Him!

Complaining is the complete opposite of worship. If I truly hold to the fact that God has created my body on purpose and with intentional design, I am wrong to critique HIS work. Now, granted, this body is altered from perfection by sin. It will show the signs of decay that will someday complete its course. In aging and entropy there is beauty, because it causes my eyes to look to the eternal future I am promised. May my gray hair and wrinkles, aching joints, and scars only serve to point me to the promise of eternal glory. And may every thought of imperfections brought on by this sinful, dying world, point me to ponder the perfect everlasting world beyond time.

We Don’t Drink Alcoholic Beverages. Why?

I was taught that all wine in biblical times was actually grape-juice. Knowing history of those times, it is funny to think that many Christians  believed and still believe that.

Many of the Christian cultures in the past have done their best to biblically address the use of alcohol, but it remains a struggle for many today as to what is or is not correct.

My husband and I have both talked extensively about the subject of alcohol drinking. It is not something we take lightly. We have wonderful, Christian friends and family who drink alcoholic beverages. We also have wonderful Christian friends and family who are adamantly apposed to drinking anything alcohol.

As a general rule, we have chosen not to drink alcoholic beverages. He have both tried these adult beverages, so we do not condemn drinking, but as an area of personal conviction for us, not for all Christians, we have chosen not to make drinking alcoholic beverages a part of our lives.

Here is why:

  1. It isn’t necessary. There are things in life that are essential for the body to thrive. A person can live in good health without drinking those drinks. Wine may have its health benefits, but it isn’t necessary. Socially, it is isn’t needed. People are very understanding toward those who chose not to drink. I even venture to say that there is more social grace toward people who don’t drink alcoholic beverages than those who do not eat gluten.
  2. It isn’t kind. My husband and I have family members whose lives have been destroyed by alcoholism. Whether loss by drunk driving, suicide, or family brokenness…when something has had such a destructive power in the lives of others that we love, it is in a way, making light of their trouble to partake of it casually. We also have close friends who come to our home regularly have been or still are going through AA. I feel it is not supportive of their journey for me to have alcohol in our home for their sake.
  3. It is dangerous. Alcoholic beverages can be addictive. Some people require them to make it through the day. Alcohol can be a coping mechanism, which is never right for to replace God with a drink. Alcoholism has been the root of so many deaths by causing illness, cancer, auto accidents, rage, and abuse.
  4. It could cause my loved ones to stumble. There are people in our lives who watch us. If those people, such as my children, and friends see that we drink, they may think that…”If they can, so can I.” That may not be true. I do not want my example to guide anyone into a place of temptation.

Now, my reasons are for my husband and I in our home. And one might notice, not one of those reasons is Bible verse based. I am not preaching or pointing out passages of Scripture to prove my decision. This is an area of conviction in our lives as we strive to best love others. We believe it is not a sin to drink wine or alcohol (Permitting one does not get drunk), but for us, it is not a way we feel best loves others. So we chose not to drink.

What is in my Freezer?

My freezer is a life-saver for food storage. I have the freezer attached to my kitchen fridge and a large outdoor freezer for bulk items.

In my large freezer, I keep things that I do not use on a daily basis.

Today, I have:

4 turkeys: I can get turkeys for less than a dollar a pound during the holidays. They have so much meat and can be thawed to grill in the summer or cooked for soups and casseroles throughout the year. Sometimes, I will pull one out July 25, for a Christmas in July dinner.

10# Brown Jasmine Rice: I buy brown rice in bulk from Azure Standard (not a sponsor). Brown rice is a wonderful whole grain and a great source of fiber. We usually eat rice at least two times a week. It is great, healthy side and works well with a lot of different dishes. I store the rice is quart or gallon Ziplock bags. Rice does not need to be frozen, but I buy it in 30-50# bags and like to know it is in a place where bugs cannot get into it or rodents will not bite through bags.

20# Gluten Free Oats: We do not eat gluten free, but we have people in our home every week who cannot eat it, so to keep things simple, I just buy 30-50# in bulk from Azure Standard. It keeps things simple if when I bake items, such as apple crisp, oat bars, or oatmeal cookies. I freeze oats to keep them from going rancid and to keep out unwanted critters.

10 gallons of bags full of frozen chicken stock. I make my own chicken stock. I like to can it, so it is easy to use, so on occasion I will gather up all my stock into one big pot and can it. But I also find it easy to freeze stock in flat in quart or gallon freezer bags and just melt it to use.

My indoor freezer is where I keep items I use frequently. Like some people, there are items that I buy on occasion like frozen juice pop-cycles for the children in the summer, or that my husband will buy, such as ice cream or toaster strudels.

On a regular basis, the staples I keep in my freezer part of the refrigerator are:

Frozen bananas: I skin and put browning bananas in a freezer bag. I use them later for banana bread or smoothies.

Frozen Berries: I keep bulk bags of strawberries and blueberries. They are usually used for smoothies, but occasionally, I will have a bowl of frozen fruit as a healthy sweet or mix them in plain yogurt with a little stevia for a quick frozen yogurt,

Frozen Vegetables: I buy most of our produce fresh, but I do keep frozen peas and frozen corn regularly. Fresh corn on the cob is hard work  and not always in season. And my children love to eat frozen peas as a vegetable at dinner. That is right! I don’t even cook them. I put them frozen from a bag into a bowl and the children really like them that way. I do buy frozen broccoli and carrots on occasion, but fresh is usually so close in price it is not a money saver. Peas and corn are usually a dollar or less per bag and easy to serve when my fresh produce is running low.

Frozen Ground Beef: I buy organic, grass-fed ground beef in three packs on sale. I choose organic, mainly because I know it doesn’t have added hormones. Since there are four females in our home, I consider hormone health a priority. I settled on organic beef for that reason.

Frozen Ground Turkey: Poultry does not have added hormones whether it is organic or not, so I do not seek out the organic poultry. Ground turkey can be bought in a 1lb. roll at Aldi for a little less than 3$ a pound. It is lean, cheap, and an easy meat to use. I like it for tacos and chili.

Frozen Fish: If our budget allows, I will buy frozen wild caught salmon. Right now, I have frozen cod in the freezer, but in general I like to keep salmon due to its high omega. Sockeye salmon is my first choice because of its supreme health benefits, but I will often settle for less expensive options, rather than have no fish at all.

Frozen Chicken: I buy whole chickens, rarely pre-cut chicken parts. Whole chickens can be stewed, grilled, or roasted easily. A whole chicken can work for a couple meals for our family. I use the bones to make stock once the meat has been eaten.

Frozen Meals: The meals I have in our freezer are usually home-made, but I do buy fish sticks or chicken nuggets on occasion. I like try to get the healthiest options I can find, but they are not a staple, so I don’t feel bad having a quick meal for those days when I need an emergency plan. My children are big enough to heat the oven and warm up breaded fish or chicken. Usually, when I make a casserole or chili or something. I will double the recipe and freeze half. Or serve it one time, (like chili) and put the rest in the freezer for another day. Those meals are nice to pull out to give to someone in need, or use ourselves when I don’t have ingredients or a good meal plan.

Bacon: Bacon is a great meat to have on hand. I usually buy it in bulk. I can serve it up with pancakes, or use it in cooking. It makes the ordinary seem special just by its presence. I try to get brands that have little to no sugar and as few ingredients as possible too. I do not worry about nitrites and nitrates. As long as the bacon isn’t blackened, those are not necessarily carcinogen.

Nuts: I keep a lot of nuts on hand for snacking mostly, but I do use them for baking and salads as well. I usually have walnuts, slivered almonds, and pecans. I pour bulk bags of nuts into jars and freeze the nuts to keep the nut oils fresh until I need to refill my pantry nut jars.

Yeast and Xanthium Gum: I keep these two items in the freezer to preserve their freshness. It is simply where they must be stored. I do not use xanthium gum much, but for gluten-free recipes it comes in handy on occasion.

That wraps it up! My freezer is certainly a very important part of our kitchen. It saves us money as well as allows me to have items on hand for a quick meal.

 

 

 

Our Two Parenting Principles

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”

And he said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.

And the second is like itYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40

 

Before my husband and I had our first child, we narrowed our child-training to 2 basic goals: To strive to raise children who 1. Love God and 2. Love Others.

Both of those goals have been the guidelines for all our our child-training choices.

We home-school, because that gives us the greatest opportunity to pour Christ into our children…especially on a very small budget.

We memorize Scripture as a family and for school, we teach our children hymns, we point them to God’s grace when we need to discipline them.

I buy books that will help them fall in love with Jesus more and more. Books by C.S. Lewis are particularly amazing in that way.

We encourage our children to have older friends to help mentor them and encourage them in their faith.

We talk about God, we read Scripture.

My oldest child just started youth group. And we have told her, that we are allowing her to attend because we believe it will help her grow in her love for God by hearing more about Him and developing relationships with other people who love Him. But we also told her that if we find it is becoming just a social event and that we are not seeing good fruit coming from her time at youth group. We will pull her out, at least for a season. Even youth-group, which many parents don’t give much thought about, must serve the purpose of helping our children learn love God and others.

I do not like the word “indoctrinate” because that connotates the idea of forceful education. I want my children to grab onto the amazement of God on their own. I only provide a feast of opportunity for them to learn about Him and be amazed.

 

Teaching my children to love others is a bit more practical and incorporates a lot of habit training.

When my children were very little, I worked with them to be quiet and still in church. I know a lot of parents would not bother, but I would tell them things like: “Do not talk to mommy. Mommy is trying to listen and that is unkind.” or “Do not be so loud. You will bother the people around you.”

I think a lot of folks would say that they are just little and such strictness is not necessary. But I do not expect people to accommodate my children. I expected my children to accommodate other people. 

If we go for a play-date with friends, I insists my children put away what they have gotten out. I might tell them on the way over. “After you play, I want you to pick up. You would not like it if someone came to our house and left their mess for you to pick up. So don’t leave your mess for others.” That is something my children understand well, because they have had to pick up often after their friends leave.

I expect good behavior when we visit other people. If my children are naughty. I do not give excuses for them. I never tell others, “He is just tired.” or “This is the result of too much sugar.” or even, “I think she isn’t feeling well.” I believe that giving excuses for my children’s bad behavior is not only a lack of respect to those I am with, but terribly wrong teaching for my child who will learn that it is “ok” not be unkind or grumpy if I don’t feel good.

I hold high expectations of my children because I am not raising children. I am raising adults. If a behavior such as crawling over the arm of a sofa, or picking one’s nose, or not answering when being spoken too, is NOT acceptable behavior for a thirty-year-old, it is not acceptable behavior for at three-year-old.

Teaching children to love others is hard work, and takes forethought. I find I do a lot of pre-event or pre-visit talks, like: “Be sure to say ‘thank you.’ Mrs. Boo has spent a lot of time getting ready for our visit today. I know you might not like everything she is having for dinner, but do not say a word about it. Be grateful for her hard work and eat a bite of everything she serves.” or “We have never been to the Doo’s House before. Please notice or ask if you should take off your shoes indoors.”

In any case, there is scenario after scenario we could walk through together, but everyone has different situations and I cannot predict what other people might need to prepare their children for. I do know it really helps make visits easier for me, for our host, and for my children if we talk about things before we go.

So, opening my children’s eyes to love them with a heart of compassion and understanding is an ongoing journey. In fact, it is something I still mess-up at doing myself.

In any case, teaching children to love God and Others will not happen on its own. It takes fore-thought, purpose, and planning to cultivate the children I pray will  someday be God-loving, kind adults.

 

Easy Cocoa

Cocoa is a treat for a cold day. I know a mix in hot water is a super easy choice, but for a healthier choice, I like to make my own cocoa.

Ingredients:

5 Cups Whole Milk (An unsweetened almond milk works for a dairy free/low carb choice)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 3/4 cups coconut sugar (1:1 sweeteners of cane sugar are suitable too. We just use coconut sugar in our home)

1 cup Dutch processed cocoa (regular works ok, but the Dutch process will make a smoother coco because it dissolves easily)(I got my last batch from Wilbur Chocolates)

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan warm ingredients, stirring with a whisk
  2. Serve

That wasn’t too hard was it? Now for those used to the powdered mix, this is nothing to compare. This cocoa is rich and true. I even enjoy it with a splash of coffee and some home-made whipped cream on a special occasion.

Welcoming My Children’s Play

Yesterday, my girls pulled out Legos and were spread out on the dining room table all afternoon. I heard them making up stories, integrating with each other’s surprising plot lines with ease, and letting their imaginations run wild. I heard happy chatter as they came up with ideas for their Legoland and cultivated a comradeship, teamwork skills and communication skills with each other.

As my children played, they were learning and practicing how to communicate, created ideas, roll with changes, create solutions to problems, keep peace with each other, compromise, build long-term attention, and work with their hands to build and create what their minds imagined.

We had spent the morning doing our school lessons, but could not teach any of that in a classroom setting. And if I had organized their play, I would have been in the way of their mental development. What my girls practiced and learned all afternoon was invaluable to their life…arguably more important that whether that list of spelling words we will have to re-visit next week.

Yes, The dining room was a mess all day, and still is today as they want to continue developing their world. But I embrace nearly any reasonable mess as for my children’s play.

My children have built doll-houses with cardboard boxes that can be an unsightly mess in any room as they pull out their dolls and accessories to use in cardboard boxes.

The other day I came in to my son’s room to see books nearly covering the floor as he was using them for paths for his cars.

Blankets and sheets drape from wall to wall at times as my children make tents and houses for their play.

Our sofa cushions are frequently pulled off to use for walls for these imaginative houses.

We embrace play-doh, finger paint, kinetic sand, and all sorts of messy substances. We have found a lot of these messier toys at Goodwill…unopened…I know some mother did not want to deal with the mess and had moved the gift on.

My children delight themselves outside in the dirt, mud, and leaves. I love seeing them good and dirty, knowing that they have played well as children should.

There is no mess that cannot be cleaned up (Well almost no mess…we have had some haunt us for years…like glitter) But no matter the pick-up, the education my children get out of extravagant, messy play is so invaluable, I count our clean-up time an investment.

Now at this point, readers will probably feel my children run wild. But we do have boundaries to play that make it reasonable.

One of those guidelines is that before another activity happens, whatever has been going on get picked up. For instance, if my children are playing with sofa cushions and blankets in the living room and the neighbor’s drop over to play. There is no going out to play until the living room has been cleaned up. How many times we have had neighbors cheerfully chip in the clean-up so the children can play together.

Another guideline is that if you don’t want to pick it up, don’t get it out. My children need to pick up whatever they get out, but they also need to think about how long they have to play and if the word to prepare for play is worth the work to clean-up.

I do not help clean-up, but I do manage the process when needed. In our home, those who mess up are the ones who clean up. I feel this is an important life-skill. So no matter how tempted I am to quickly pick up something and put it away, I will walk by and call the child who got it out to put it away. When my children were really little I did help them, but I did not do it myself, they had to do their share. My child with autism would be unable to clean up a big mess, so I would teach her to pick up things by color. Find all the red things and put them away. Then find all the yellow things. She is now my fastest cleaner. It doesn’t faze her a bit, but she needed coaching to get there.

Huevos Rancheros Scramble

Scrambled eggs are a favorite of mine, but they move to a higher level of favorite when salsa and cheese are added. I try to get veggies in for breakfast every day, so this scrambled egg recipe is a great way to add them in. It is also easy and quick which is important as a mommy of four.

2-3 eggs

1/2 cup shredded cheddar

1/4 cup salsa (sugar free in a can or home-made)

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I use non-fat, but any is fine)

Add chopped cilantro if desired

  1. Scramble the eggs and put them in a bowl
  2. top the eggs with half the cheese
  3. Put the pan back on the stove and heat salsa
  4. Put warm salsa on scrambled eggs
  5. Top with remaining cheese
  6. Add yogurt and cilantro on top