What Goes Unnoticed…

9285861466 c5037cabd6 What Goes Unnoticed...

Photo courtesy of heroturtle

I’ll be the first to admit; I’m not a stellar homemaker.

But I should get an A for effort.

Perhaps if I spent as much time cleaning as I do inventing ways to clean (not to mention spreadsheets & systems for keeping track of cleaning), my home would be better off.

But alas, such is not the case.

Yet something struck me today: No-one really notices when the house is clean, but they sure do make a stink when the house is dirty!

Let’s face it, your expect the house to be clean. So when you see what you expect, nothing miraculous happens.

But as soon as that first spec of dust, that first stray hair or that corner pile of dirt emerges, all hell breaks loose.

Then it dawned on me: we parent in much of the same way.

We have certain expectations of our kids, and when they meet those expectations, no celebration ensues. But when our kids disappoint us, fall short of our expectations, or worse yet, deliberately disobey us, boy do we know how to hit them where it hurts.

Guilt. Shame. Disgust.

All those things we never like to admit we experience as parents, much less inflict upon our kids, yet it happens.

A mentor once told me she kept a picture of her kids as toddlers always displayed close by her phone. There’s something about our kids at that age that just brings a smile to our faces, regardless of what trouble they’d gotten into just minutes earlier. Looking at that picture before she answered her phone always put her in the right mood.

However, as our kids age, we fail to smile simply because the enter a room. In fact, more often than not, we find a reason to chastise them the minute they enter our presence. Following that logic, it should come as no surprise that so many teenagers stop wanting to hang around their parents. After all, who wants to spend time with people that overlook what we do well and choose to focus only on our faults?

Just like I need to spend more time appreciating the things I am doing well around our home rather than focusing on areas where I’m lacking, I need to apply equal effort to noticing where my kids are thriving rather than honing in on those areas where they might not be living up to my standards.

So what does all this mean?

Set standards & communicate values, but most importantly, show love. By training your eyes & ears to look for opportunities instead of disappointments, you just might be surprised at how your kids will in turn surprise you.

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Sibling Love: #SiblingLove Twitter Party on 2/25

The topic of love is not a new one for February, but how much thought do you give you sibling love?

 Sibling Love: #SiblingLove Twitter Party on 2/25

I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately.

I essentially grew up as an only child; I have three half brothers, but they were all out of the house by the time I was two. So when it comes to mediating the relationship between my own kids, I don’t have a ton of personal experiences to draw from.

Perhaps thats why I felt the need to write The Secret of Sibling Love on Vanderbilt’s Children’s Wishing Well blog this month.

My kids are in a unique stage of life (ages 8 & 9) where they are developing their own way in life, yet still looking to me for guidance & direction. While I can share lessons on love, kindness & compassion with them, I believe there truly are unique lessons that can be taught to them when it comes to loving their sibling.

So my fellow Tommy Nelson mommies and I will be hosting a Twitter Party on exactly this topic on Tuesday, February 25 at 8pmCST/9pm EST!

Screen Shot 2014 02 24 at 9.06.10 PM Sibling Love: #SiblingLove Twitter Party on 2/25

Just RSVP over on FaithGateway.com in the comments section so you can qualify for one of the many gifts we’ll be giving away during our #SiblingLove Twitter Party.

So whether you are a sibling, have siblings, or one day want to give birth to siblings, I guarantee you’re going to get something out of this family event! (And God knows we all need to learn and grow from each other, so the more voices that can contribute to this conversation, the better!)

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Do You Make Time for Kid Dates?

making time for kid dates Do You Make Time for Kid Dates?

Do you make time for kid dates?

You know what I mean right? I’m talking one-on-one time with just you and one of your kids doing something THEY want to do, not just taking them along with you on an errand somewhere.

The funny thing is, when you take the time to study your children and then intentionally invest in their lives on a one-on-one basis, the return is immeasurable icon smile Do You Make Time for Kid Dates?

Making time for kid dates these days can be difficult, especially when you consider that it’s tough for moms to even go to the bathroom by ourselves.

But I’m here to plea with you to consider doing exactly that.

Sometimes I get really creative with our kids’ dates, like when I came up with an American Girl Doll Scavenger Hunt to surprise my daughter with the new Saige doll or when I planned a “Girl Mom Weekend” to Atlanta to spend time together and talk about the transition from little girl to young woman.

KidDates Do You Make Time for Kid Dates?

Other times I keep it simple and just take my son on a picnic to his favorite tree near our home or we catch a movie and grab some ice cream afterwards (and yes, even though I love my kids, I still find a deal, take them to a matinee, or use my rewards points so it doesn’t have to break the bank).

Regardless of whether you have one child or seventeen, finding those moments to spend individual time with each child has a multiplying effect.

However you decide to spend time individually with your kids, never forget the immortal words of Nike: “Just Do It!”

Here are just a few simple ideas for your individual kid dates:

  • Take them to dinner at their favorite restaurant (even if it’s not as healthy as you’d like)
  • Learn a new hobby together
  • Get rid of all technology and spend time alone in nature together
Do you set aside time each month for special time with your kids? If so, I’d love to hear some of your kid date ideas below!

To read my full post on Making Time for Individual Kid Dates, head on over to the Wishing Well blog.

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TeachHub.com provides the latest resources for teachers & parents

 TeachHub.com provides the latest resources for teachers & parents

To be completely transparent, I get approached frequently by brands, organizations & websites looking to me to help promote their material. But I take this platform very seriously and still imagine it’s just me writing to my best friend on here…even though I now have the privilege of interacting with thousands of you on a daily basis.

In that same light, I would only tell my best friend about something that either:
A. I loved
or
B. I think she will love
or
C. I think we should get involved with
TFIMBK V6 small 73x300 TeachHub.com provides the latest resources for teachers & parents
So I guess it’s no coincidence that when I learned about TeachHub.com, I wanted to share it with you all. My best friend was a teacher for many years, I taught for five years and as a mom, I believe every parent is a teacher at home!

At its heart, TeachHUB.com is a great free resource for all teachers and parents who want the latest in education technology, news
and tools.

According to the teachers at TeachHUB.com, success in education starts with curiosity…and curiosity starts at home. If we expect our kids to get excited about something, then we first have to get excited about it ourselves!

Even though I have never technically ‘homeschooled’ my kids, I started ‘learning time’ with them when they were very young. I’ve always tried to be very purposeful about pouring certain concepts into my kids, including French, piano, math and of course, a love of reading.

But even in the midst of recognizing the need to pass on my passions to my kids, I also recognize the need to get help from the experts when it comes to how to best convey those concepts. From interactive whiteboard resources and App reviews to tips on how to organize teacher binders and community forums, this website equips not only teachers, but those of us who have been blessed with the role of parent to fulfill our calling as teachers in our own homes.

In honor of National Library Week, why not take the prompting of TeachHub.com to encourage your kids to explore a topic they’re interested in learning more about? Sit down at a library and read together – and ask them what they learned!

I was selected for this opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, and content and opinions expressed here are all my own. To learn more about the TeachHUB.com, visit their website. #CleverTeachers #NLW13

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How to Keep Your Kids Honest: 30 Ways in 30 Days of April

Screen Shot 2013 03 13 at 1.02.36 PM 300x241 How to Keep Your Kids Honest: 30 Ways in 30 Days of April

If you’re like me (or most parents for that matter!), you struggle with how to keep your kids honest. Since April 30 is National Honesty Day, I wanted to help you teach your kids honesty in a more clever, bite size way.

I’ve come up with 30 Ways in the 30 Days of April to help keep your kids honest. I’ve shared the entire list of honesty tips of on my April Tommy Nelson blog post, but I wanted to share the top 10 to get you started encouraging your kids to walk in the ways of honesty and truth.

Top Ways to Keep Your Kids Honest:

1. Keep them accountable for their actions
2. Listen as they speak to friends & siblings
3. Have them put a penny in a jar every time they don’t tell the ‘whole’ truth
4. Share the difference between manipulation & persuasion
5. Set a good example before them
6. Encourage them when they tell the truth in a difficult situation
7. Ask little ones if they know the difference between right and wrong
8. Explain the difference between ‘telling the truth’ and ‘being honest’
9. Talk about what it means to live an ‘honest life’
10. Discourage telling ‘fibs’

(Remember, you can read my entire list of 30 Ways over on TommyNelson.com)

If you really want a helpful tool to help your kids live our the principles of being honest and doing the right thing, then check out this DVD resource from Tommy Nelson:
cocka doodle doo the right thing 209x300 How to Keep Your Kids Honest: 30 Ways in 30 Days of April

Featuring the voice talents of my Nashville ‘neighbors’, Amy Grant & Vince Gill’, this DVD will not only engage pre-school and elementary aged children alike, but also teaches a great message, including behaving well even when nobody is watching, and the biblical lessons from the Parables of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.
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Would you like to win this DVD for your family? Well you can!
Just enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t want to try your chances in the giveaway, you can buy “Cocka Doodle Doo the Right Thing” from ThomasNelson.com and use the code SAMIC20 to save 20% off the list price!

Remember, the best way to accomplish the goal of teaching our kids honesty is to show them practical ways to live it out instead of just listening to it! If you want more practical help on how to relate God’s Word to your life, take a look at my devotionals.

How have you taught your kids about the importance of telling the truth?

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32 Cheap Kids Easter Basket Ideas

cheap kids easter basket ideas 32 Cheap Kids Easter Basket Ideas
pin it button 32 Cheap Kids Easter Basket Ideas

Even though Easter is this week, have no fear! I have 32 cheap kids Easter basket ideas for you that you can easily pull together before the weekend:

        1. Easter Stickers
        2. Sidewalk Chalk
        3. Bubbles
        4. Jump Rope
        5. Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs (my personal favorite)
        6. Easter Book
        7. Coloring Book
        8. DVDs (our kids especially love VeggieTales & What’s in the Bible)
        9. Glow Sticks
        10. Mini Figurines
        11. Coupons for Family Time
        12. Little Stuffed Animals
        13. Homemade Cookies
        14. Flowers from the garden
        15. Markers
        16. Ponytail Holders
        17. Green Army Men
        18. Marbles
        19. Mini Craft Kit (Don’t forget to use a Michael’s coupon!!!)
        20. Fake Tatoos
        21. Family picture in a frame they can decorate
        22. Lost treasures that you’ve discovered around the house (you know what I mean, moms!)
        23. Balloons
        24. Ball
        25. Gum
        26. Play-Dough
        27. Notebook (make your own with paper you’ve cut into fun shapes!)
          or Plastic Eggs filled with:
        28. Pennies
        29. Jelly Beans
        30. Scripture papers
        31. Mini Erasers
        32. M&Ms
Now that you have all the best budget Easter Basket Fillers, read my top 7 Cheap Easter Basket Ideas I shared on my “Talk of the Town” TV segment. If you live in Nashville, you’ll also want to check out where all the Nashville Easter Egg Hunts are this year!

What are your favorite Easter treats to surprise your kids with?

sor 547 32 Cheap Kids Easter Basket Ideas

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Teaching Kids Psalm 23 – Scripture Memorization

Teaching kids Psalm 23: teaching kids how to memorize Psalm 23 through video, song & hand motions.
teaching kids memorize psalm 23 Teaching Kids Psalm 23   Scripture Memorization

In the scripture memorization videos below, I’m teaching my kids Psalm 23.

Psalm 23. It’s six verses and typically I recommend teaching your kids one verse a week, but you can teach this to your kids in a month if you work on it at different times throughout your day. There is no tune to this, and feel free to make it your own as you see fit. Be sure to explain to younger children what the words mean that they may not understand so they can begin to form their own word pictures in their heads.

(Forgive my appearance in this week’s video, I just got over having pink-eye last week, so no makeup for me!)

Here are my kids reciting Psalm 23. First Kariss (age 4):

and Britton (age 3) in a slightly more humorous version:

Psalm 23 text (NIV):

A psalm of David.

1 The Lord is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
forever.
(From BibleGateway.com)

What ways have you found to effectively teach your kids scripture memorization?

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Explaining Death & Dying to our Kids: Vanderbilt Wishing Well blog

IMG 6251 300x300 Explaining Death & Dying to our Kids: Vanderbilt Wishing Well blog

Explaining death and dying to our kids is not something we imagine doing when we give birth, yet it is an inevitable part of life.

Many of you have followed along the journey we went through with Ricky’s dad this summer, starting with him being diagnosed with a brain tumor on June 7 and finally departing from this earth on August 26, 2012.

Honestly, it is something we are all still learning to live with, especially when it comes to how our family relates to each other. But I don’t think I realized just how difficult it would be to help my children walk through the dying process.

However, in an effort to help others who are going through a similar time of life, I’m sharing our story over on the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt Wishing Well blog today.

Thank you for affording me the opportunity to be so candid with you all.

Selfishly, I’d love to hear from those of you who are a step ahead of me in this process: How are your children a year after the death of your loved one? How have you taught them to handle their emotions better?

I can’t imagine this will get any easier as we get closer to the holidays, but I’m praying for clarity, healing and hope!

 

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Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual (Tommy Nelson Blog)

kids easter Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual (Tommy Nelson Blog)This month over at the Tommy Nelson blog, I wrote about “Easter: the journey between the secular and the spiritual“:

For as long as I can remember, Easter has marked a trepidatious journey between the secular and the spiritual. From comedians to theologians, everyone has questioned the bridge going from Jesus dying on a cross to hiding candy-filled eggs in a basket.

As Christians and as parents, I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on us that comes from a variety of angles this time of year.

We’re expected to somehow teach our children the significance of this holiest of holidays while still dressing up in coordinating outfits for pictures and having a full-blown feast ready to eat right after Sunday church!

If we have trouble making sense of the day ourselves, how then are we supposed to embody the truth for the littlest of ones God has entrusted into our care?

Read the Full Article over at TommyNelson.com….

 

If you do have young children and want some great suggestions for resources that beautifully illustrate the Easter story, might I suggest a family favorite, The Story of Easter: Read & Share or another sweet story, The Parable of the Lily?

What are some of your family’s favorite Easter traditions and stories?

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Pinterest Valentine’s Card Kids Photo Project

I admittedly do not have a full blown Pinterest obsession yet, but when I found these Pinterest Valentine’s Cards, I knew this kids’ photo project was one I had to try this Valentine’s Day!

To reiterate, I am not what you would call a ‘crafty gal’. I’m sure you could get much more creative than I did, but I wanted to share the steps for this fun homemade Valentine’s Card kids photo project.

So I grabbed my kids after school and snapped these pictures of them after running around on the playground for an hour (think natural, not staged). With the the Camera Plus app on my iPhone Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo Project, I used the “Depth of Field” in FX Effects to blur the background a bit:
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20120208 181108 Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo Project
From there, I sent it to my computer to add the Bible verse (John 15:13), “Happy Valentine’s Day”, and their names via Adobe Photoshop Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo Project (you could also do this VERY easily with an AMAZING free photo app called PicMonkey):

Kariss Valentines Day 2012 300x225 Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo ProjectBritton Valentines Day 2012 300x200 Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo ProjectAgain, not rocket science.

After the pictures were saved as a JPEG, I uploaded them to Walgreens.com where they were having a print sale (Buy 25, get 25 free with code SHARE25). This gave us enough to hand out to everyone in each of their classes, plus a few left over for the scrapbook (if I ever get around to that!).

The pictures were ready this morning, so I stopped by Walgreens after taking the kids to school to pick up the pics, along with a bag of Dum Dum Pops that were on sale for $2 a bag (and had plenty in one bag to cover both classes). After school we came home and laid everything out on the kitchen table. I used a razor blade to cut slits just above and below their fist while the kids wrote their friends’ names on the back of the pictures.

Then, the kids slid the Dum Dum Pops Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo Project through the slits and Voila! Here is our final product:

20120208 181731 Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo Project
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In retrospect, I wish I’d had the kids hold their arms at more of an angle like the original pictures, but still, I can’t believe we have these done almost a week before Valentine’s Day!

Are you planning anything crafty and creative for your kids’ Valentine’s Day cards?

picmonkeyHoliday 728 Pinterest Valentines Card Kids Photo Project

You may find affiliate links in this post, but they help support my family so I can keep bringing you great deals like these. I would never share something I wouldn’t use myself! Feel free to review my full disclosure policy.
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