Archive | February 2015

Ideas for your child’s reading list!

“I want to go to the ‘Livery,’ Mama!” my two year old informs me in his sweet sing songy voice. “I wanta go read  sum books!”

Oh how I love to hear these words. And I hear them almost every day! My children love to read. It didn’t happen overnight but it has happened. And just within the past month or so we have started venturing into the land of preschool aged books. We still have our hard back favorites that we regularly visit but both of my boys will now sit still and pay attention to books that are longer and more detailed. I think the longest book we have read thus far is “Go Dog Go” by P.D. Eastman at 64 pages! If you haven’t read it, check it out here. It is definitely a childhood classic.

Recently, we have been checking out books by the author Mo Willems. They are shorter than “Go Dog Go” but have quickly become my favorite stories to read as they are full of humor that adults along with children can appreciate. My favorite is “That Is NOT a Good Idea!”

What are some books that you are currently reading to your children? What are their favorite stories? What are your favorite children’s books? And what are your favorite adult books?

Adam’s Favorite Book: Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld

Owen’s Favorite Book: Where is Baby’s Mommy by Karen Katz

My Favorite Children’s Book: Pat The Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

My Current Favorite Adult Book: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I would love to expand our reading list and I’m sure you would too so check out our favorites and leave yours in the comment section below! Stay tuned for an eventual post on how to train your children to sit still and pay attention while reading.

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Treat Yo Self!

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As much as we love our kids, sometimes we simply need a break from them. That doesn’t always seem possible however. Maybe you can’t find a reliable babysitter, maybe your husband has to work overtime or maybe your parents and in-laws live too far. Whatever the reason, do not despair! Just because you can’t find someone to watch your kids doesn’t mean you can’t have a break from those sweet sweet terrors (I kid! I kid!) angels. Here are some ways you can catch 5 without the kids destroying the house and each other!

1. The Obvious Answer: TV

While not ideal for brain development there is no crime in having a little screen time. Sometimes everyone just needs to relax and veg for a while. But be warned, the average amount of screen time for American children is SEVEN hours! It’s okay to take some time to veg but don’t over do it and turn your children into vegetables! The AAP recommends a maximum of 2 hours of screen time per day.

2. Give…Them…Suger…

I know, I know! First TV and now SUGAR? Probably not the best idea but oh so effective!! And really it doesn’t have to be sugar. It can be fruit, goldfish etc. It could even be broccoli! My oldest has an unnatural love for the stuff. The other day as we drove around a drive through he shouted, “Mama! I want fries! I want broccoli! I want cookies!” That was a pretty proud Mommy moment for me. Not so much that I was in a McDonald’s drive through (heh yeah not that at all) but that my toddler used the word broccoli and cookie in the same sentence! SAME SENTENCE PEOPLE!! Anyway, back to your break… Whether it be ice cream or tofu, give the kid a snack, one that he will like (maybe this one? Or one of these???) put them in their high chairs and then TREAT YO SELF! Let them pig out while you paint your nails, do your hair, or, OR (reality check ladies), you could go to the bathroom in peace (Happy sighhhh. I think Donna and Tom would approve!).

3. Release their inner Artíst!

Never underestimate the power of a blank piece of paper.  Who knows! Maybe you’ll end up with a real Picasso on your hands! ;-P

You could also end up with half eaten markers. If your child, like mine, enjoys eating the tip off of their coloring utensils, you can buy a “Paint with Water” coloring book instead. Painting or coloring will stimulate their creative side and keeps my kids busy for about 10 minutes. That’s long enough for you to go to the bathroom FIVE times in a row! That’s even better of a break than sugar will give you! Not that I do that. I don’t go to the bathroom five times in a row. Who does that? Ahem. So yes painting or coloring can be a great activity for the kids AND can lend a break to Mom.

4. Capitalize on Nap Time

If your children still take naps, make sure you get the timing right so that they go down simultaneously. And WEAR those suckers OUT!

Play a game of tag, teach them leap frog, do jumping jacks, go for a family walk run!  Make sure that they have a snack high in protein and some good old fashioned sunshine before putting them to bed. It will help them sleep longer.

Nap Time = Mommy Time!

5. Bath Stickers

Gasp! Bath stickers?? “Does she use bath time to get alone time?” Isn’t that the cardinal rule of being a parent? Don’t leave your kids alone in the bathtub? I don’t know, but it should be high up there. Rest assured my kids are safely monitored when taking their baths. I have found, however, that their bath stickers are a great tool to use if I need a moment alone. Take a wet rag and use it to wipe down a flat surface like a window or fridge. For the next 5 minutes or so the stickers will stick to that surface. Recently, I put my 16 month old in his highchair and positioned it next to the kitchen window. While he played with the stickers I washed dishes with my 2 year old.

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I have used that kitchen window for several different activities that require low supervision. Window clings, sensory paint bags, and window markers to name a few. Who knew windows could be so handy!

6. Listen to a good audiobook!

Sometimes the children will not be put off! No matter what they do, they want you right there in the mix. And that’s okay. We all have times when we are feeling a bit needy. While I definitely recommend you get down on their level and play with them, if you happen to be feeling needy or overwhelmed too, try listening to an audiobook while you build that tower or play hide and seek. It is a great way to take a mental break without taking a physical one. Last year, my husband bought me wireless bluetooth headphones and an Audible membership. They have been a huge benefit to me.

7. Don’t take a break.

As you search the internet for other ways to get that break and de-stress, remember that even when it feels like you have nothing left to give, God can provide you with strength! Being weak and worn down is not always a bad thing. It can be an opportunity to see the power of the Lord at work–in you!

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.
” -Isaiah 40:28-31

Your Sin and the Atom Bomb

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Someone recently sent me a Facebook message asking me to share what I believe with her. This is what I wrote. I decided that I would also share it with my readers in case you have never heard of the amazing hope you can have through Jesus!

 

If you look around at our world and observe the Universe it quickly becomes clear that the things we see…that we ourselves…our very DNA have been designed by something or rather by someone. I believe that someone is God. Not Buddha, not an impersonal consciousness or some other false god but THE God. The God of the Bible and of reality.  I believe that he has always existed and that everything we see including our own life is held together by his hand. When you look at someone’s piece of art you can often times tell something about who they are by what they create. I believe it’s the same way with God and his creation. The Bible says that we can look around at nature and see evidence of our creator. But you can only know so much about someone by their art or in God’s case–by his creation. I could know all about a famous rock star and have read every single lyric from every single song they had written but not KNOW the person at all. It’s the same way with God. We can see that he exists, that he is creative, that he is powerful but without him being intentional there is only so much we can know. Thankfully he has been very intentional and has been walking on a personal level with mankind since he created them. Not only that but he has specifically chosen to reveal himself through his son Jesus and through the Bible.

Have you ever noticed that things in our Universe are very exact? That there are laws to nature? Even if someone is convinced they can fly…if the jump off of a roof (no matter how hard they believe) they will fall. Why? Because of the law of gravity. God did not design our world to function in such a way that people can jump off buildings and float around. Have you ever looked at our planet and how particularly it has been placed in our solar system? It is amazing how small changes in the earth’s tilt and rotation, in our distance from the sun, in our atmosphere etc would result in our extermination. Yet for some reason these exact specifications stay exact and life continues on. I believe that reason is God. Just as he created our world to function a certain way he has also created mankind to function a certain way. Just like there are consequences when we try to live as if those parameters aren’t there (i.e. falling instead of flying off roofs) there are also consequences when we live apart from how God designed us to live (i.e. rape, murder, lying, cheating etc). It doesn’t take a hard or long look at our world to see that mankind has busted through those parameters. Adam and Eve were the first to rebel against God and do things outside of his design and men and women everywhere have been doing it since. So what is his design? God created us in his image. We are personable beings. We have awareness. We have a soul (aka we are eternal beings). He created us to know him on a personal level. He created us to know other humans on a personal level. He created us to enjoy him and to enjoy his creation. And he created us to glorify him in so doing those things. So what went wrong?

When God created our world he told Adam that he and Eve could eat from whatever plant they wanted except for one tree. He told them that this particular tree (which he called the “Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil”) would bring about death. And that it did. Eventually they disobeyed God and ate from the tree. Because of their disobedience they now not only had a knowledge of what good is but also had a knowledge of evil. Their rebellion…their disobedience was evil/sin. Up to that point they had no concept of sin because they had never deviated from God’s design in their lives and actions but because they disobeyed God their very act of disobedience gave them a framework for what sin is.

Adam and Even didn’t immediately die like they probably thought they would. The type of death their rebellion brought forth was a spiritual death…a death that spread to all mankind. The Bible says, “Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12)

God is very exact. Deviate from his design and there will be consequences. If the earth were too close to the sun it would burn up…too far and we would all freeze to death. You split an atom and you get the atom bomb…massive destruction and desolation. You live apart from God and apart from the manner he intended and there will also be massive destruction and desolation. To your soul. At our very core we were created to know God—to know him personally. And in being what he made us to be we were created to glorify him. But we, who bear his image, at our core are not who he made us to be. We are sinful beings. Sin. There’s that word again. What is the big deal with sin? A lot of people think along these lines…” So I sin a little bit here and there. I spread a white lie, I envy my sister’s job, I hate that noisy neighbor across the street…no big deal.” I’m sure the first scientist to split an atom thought that wouldn’t be a big deal either. The difference between sin (rebellion against God) and no sin is boundless. It is the difference between “0” and “1.” It is infinity. And in order to be in a right standing with God we have to have zero sin committed. Zero. Nada. I am pretty sure that everyone has sinned at some point. Even if they were to fill the rest of their lives up with good and only good the gap between 0 and 1 has been made and it is as wide or rather wider than one could imagine.

Let me put it this way. If I created a toaster to make toast and all it did was burn toast and I knew that it would eventually burn down my house…wouldn’t I have the right to destroy that toaster? After all, it is not functioning as I made it to function and how it is functioning is bringing destruction down upon its environment. And it reflects badly upon me. That’s how it is with God. He could have totally scrapped humanity and either let us destroy ourselves or destroy us himself but because he is merciful and gracious he chose instead to redeem us. To restore us to what we were made to be.

There’s  a problem though. The problem of sin. God is not just loving, merciful, and gracious. He is also holy and just. He can’t just overlook sin as if it is no big deal. We’ve already established that even the tiniest of sins is a big deal and enough to separate us from God. How would you feel if a judge ruled that a rapist could get off scot free? I’d be livid. There needs to be retribution for his crime. The wrath of our justice system needs to pour down on that man and pour down hard. Anything less than justice would be unacceptable. It is the same way with God and how he deals with our sin. I mentioned rape as the example because our sin is that big of a deal. Even tiny ones we nominalize. The Bible actually says that apart from Jesus, on our best day, the good works we have to offer are as filthy rags. If you read this passage in the original language, filthy rags literally means menstrual rags! Graphic I know. But God is trying to clearly get across where we stand apart from Jesus. We stand guilty and are outside of his design.

Other religions say that you have to pull yourself up by your boot straps. That you have to be good enough, do good enough, look good enough but REALITY is: there is NOTHING we can do to bridge that gap between us and God. No matter how much “good” we do, even our smallest acts of rebellion are enough to eternally separate us from God and incite his judgment and wrath upon us (and rightly so…as we earlier established even what appears to be small acts of rebellion against God have colossal “atomic“ effects on our souls and on those around us. Sin ALWAYS leads to death and destruction).

So what now? Is there hope for mankind? Is there hope for me? Is there hope for you? Can we ever hope to be right with God? YES. Our hope is Jesus. We can’t bridge the gap but God sent someone perfect that could. He sent his own son Jesus to take care of things. Jesus was fully God and fully man and the only being that could fully satisfy God’s justice. God is a good judge and is not going to let the guilty go unpunished but instead of punishing those who deserve it, namely mankind, he poured out his wrath on his own son.

Jesus was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and in the end chose to give his life up as a sacrifice.  Remember that verse I quoted earlier about Adam bringing sin and death to all of mankind? If you read a little further there is this:

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.
(Romans 5:18-19)

I could use more of my own words to tell you how Jesus is our hope but the writers of the New Testament put it better than I can!

“For the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 4:2-10)

The word “grace” means receiving something we don’t deserve. The word “mercy” means not receiving something we do deserve. We don’t deserve eternal life and we do deserve God’s wrath but Jesus stepped in between God and mankind and took on the full force of his judgment. One day we will stand before our maker and will have to give an account for our life. If we try to offer God anything other than the work that Jesus did on the cross we will die an eternal death and spend eternity apart from God. But here’s the thing…we don’t get to decide what we will be offering to God when we see him face to face…we have to decide now…in this life. So many think that their works are enough but they are as filthy rags in comparison to God and in comparison to the work that Jesus did on the cross. Don’t be deceived by the world and go about doing things their way. Our only hope is Jesus.

“There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

“Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:5-6)

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:9-13)

I am so honored that you would ask me to share my belief system with you. I truly hope that what I have said makes sense and that you put your hope in Jesus. I have studied many religions and this is the only one that I see lining up with reality. That being said, I would not call Christianity a religion because religion as our world defines it, focuses on what man can do to get to God and God is clear that WE can do nothing…HE has to be the one to bridge the gap. And technically here is what religion should be defined as:

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”

The Bible is very cohesive and full of documented historical events and places. It is also full of prophecy. I wanted to leave you with one last passage of scripture. It was written hundreds of years before Jesus’ death and resurrection, yet it describes what happened with incredible accuracy.

“Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.”
(Isaiah 53:4-11)

Grow a Tasty Marshmallow Flower

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Creating and sticking to traditions can be a wonderful benefit to families. They help foster a bond between parents and children, provide opportunities to create memories, and contribute to an overall sense of stability. Valentine’s day is right around the corner and today we started a new and whimsical tradition that I look forward to repeating for years to come. Check out these cute  Valentine’s Day “seeds” (heart shaped stones)! You can print my seed packet design Here.

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These marshmallow flowers are sure to “grow” whether you have a green thumb or not! All you need is a pot, dirt, and a marshmallow or candy flower. We bought our planter and stickers to decorate it from the Dollar Tree. Adam couldn’t wait to get his hands on them! He put most of the stickers on by himself.

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After we finished decorating we filled it with dirt and planted two seeds. One for Adam and one for Owen.

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Adam especially enjoyed gathering up the extra seeds and putting them back in their packet.

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While he wasn’t looking, I fished out the fake seeds and put in real ones. Rather than water his plant every day only for it to randomly “grow” the night before Valentine’s Day I figured this would be a great opportunity to teach him how to grow things. My plan is to transplant the seedling the night before Valentine’s day and replace it with a marshmallow flower.

Most plants take somewhere around 5-10 days to germinate so if you want to participate in this aspect of the project then make sure you start at least 10 days before Valentine’s day. I bought my seeds (4 for $1) from the Dollar Tree. I looked through most of the packets to find the ones that take the least amount of time to sprout. Here’s what I found:

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Cosmos Flowers germinate within 5-10 days
Cucumbers germinate within 7-10 days
Helichrysum germinate within 7-10 days
Zinnias germinate within 6-10 days

Watering Valentine’s Day plants is a very serious business!

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And so is taking pictures! 🙂 After the boys went down for their nap I had fun taking some artistic shots of the project. I bought an extra marshmallow flower and went ahead and opened and “planted” it so you (and my impatient self) can see what the finished product will look like on Valentine’s Day!

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The Treherne Family Binder

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Organization is not one of my natural strengths. As a new wife I can remember walking around our one bedroom apartment in a daze trying to figure out how to clean and organize everything. I remember tearfully telling my husband that I was a terrible homemaker and a Proverbs 31 failure. My sweet Love never once belittled me or added fuel to my shame. Instead, he encouraged me to remember that my worth is in Jesus–not in how well I keep house. That being said, he also encouraged me to be a good steward and to develop better habits and systems that would help me to thrive in my position as homemaker.

Three and a half years later I can honestly say that I have improved by leaps and bounds both in putting my identity in Christ and in keeping a tidy home. I still have far to go and like almost every wife and mother, have days where I feel like I’m (okay am literally) buried in laundry and housework but those days no longer own me or take me into a downward spiral of Proverbs 31 disillusionment.

Today, I wanted to share with you one of my more recent systems that has been a huge help to me. My Home Management Binder is a place where I can plan out the week ahead as well as jot down important bits of information, goals, and to dos.

I bought a (pink!) binder from Walmart and filled it with different charts and graphs I printed off the internet. All of them were completely free and in case you want to make a Family Binder as well, underneath the pictures below are the affiliate links. I laminated and hole punched most of my pages and use wet erase markers to fill in the fields. That way instead of printing the same page out THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE times I can just wet the page and erase at the start of each day. 🙂

Here are the pictures of my Binder. Enjoy!

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Editable Cover Sheet  Source: Erin Rippy

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Cover Sheet Source: Erin Rippy

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Editable Calender Source: Erin Rippy

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Daily Schedule Source: The Buttoned Up Blog.

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Daily To Do List Source: DIY Home Sweet Home Blog.

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Children’s Checklist Source: The Buttoned Up Blog.

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Clean House Worksheet Source: DIY Home Sweet Home Blog.

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Individual Goal Worksheet  Source: The Buttoned Up Blog.

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Weekly Meal Planner  Source: The Buttoned Up Blog.

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Diet and Exercise Worksheet  Source: The Buttoned Up Blog.

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Time Management Worksheet Source: The Buttoned Up Blog

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General List of To Dos Source: The Buttoned Up Blog

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Master Goal Worksheet Source: The Buttoned Up Blog

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Dates to Remember Worksheet Source: DIY Home Sweet Home Blog

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Monthly Spending Worksheet Source: The Buttoned Up Blog

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Bill Payment Checklist Source: DIY Home Sweet Home Blog


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Books to Read Worksheet Source: DIY Home Sweet Home Blog

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I enjoy having a scrapbook page of my boys at the back of the binder. Makes me smile. ❤