Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Jokes For Kids

If your little one is already going stir crazy on Christmas break, give him a laugh with a joke. These twelve are compliments of www.activityvillage.co.uk.

I’ll post again in the new year. Until then, have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

What do you call an old snowman?

What goes ho-ho whoosh, ho-ho whoosh?
Santa caught in a revolving door!

What goes “oh, oh, oh”?
Santa walking backwards!

Why does Santa have three gardens?
So he can ho ho ho!

When does Christmas come before Thanksgiving?
In the dictionary!

What’s the difference between the Christmas alphabet and the ordinary alphabet?
The Christmas one has no L (noel)!

What do you have in December that’s not in any other month?
The letter D!

Why is it always cold at Christmas?
Because it’s in Decemberrrr!

What Christmas carol is a favorite of parents?
Silent Night!

What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
Frosted flakes!

What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?

How many presents can Santa fit in an empty sack?
Only one, after that it’s not empty anymore!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

12 Days of Hot Chocolate

I love hot chocolate all year round, but at Christmas time it is fun to experiment with different recipes. Let me know if you find one that it is a family favorite!

Skinny Santa Hot Chocolate

• 1 cup lowfat milk
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
• 2 teaspoons sugar
• 2 teaspoons water
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk and the cinnamon stick until just simmering. In a mug, stir together the cocoa powder, sugar and water until a paste forms. Pour the milk into the mug and stir to mix well (remove the cinnamon stick if desired). Stir in the vanilla. Top with shaved dark chocolate if desired.

Plump and Jolly Elf Hot Chocolate

• 6 cups whole milk (or use half and half for an even jollier elf!)
• Chocolate Sauce, (recipe below)
• Whipped cream, optional
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate shavings or small pieces

Bring the milk to a simmer and whisk it into the chocolate sauce. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream.

Chocolate Sauce:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 1/8 teaspoon grated orange zest

Over low heat, bring the cream, sugar, cinnamon and butter to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until it melts. Add the orange zest before serving.

White Christmas Hot Chocolate

• 1 cup white chocolate chips
• 1 cup heavy cream
• 4 cups half-and-half
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine the white chocolate chips and heavy cream over medium heat. Stir continuously until the chocolate is completely melted, then add the half-and-half, and vanilla extract. When it is heated through, it is ready to serve.

Jingle All The Way Hot Chocolate

• 2 1/2 cups whole milk
• 2 cups half-and-half
• 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 4 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder (leave this out if kids are sharing!)

Heat the milk and half-and-half over medium heat to just below the simmering point. Remove from the heat and add both chocolates. When the chocolates are melted, add the sugar, vanilla extract, and espresso and whisk vigorously. Reheat gently and serve immediately.

I Caught Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Hot Chocolate

• 4 cups whole milk
• 4 cups half and half
• 1 pound white chocolate, chopped
• 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• Seeds scraped from 2 vanilla beans
• 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange flavored liqueur (such as Grand Marnier) but this is for Mommy only!

Over medium heat, bring the milk and half-and-half to just below simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and add the white chocolate. Add the vanilla to the melted chocolate, along with the vanilla bean seeds, and 1/4 to 1/3 cup orange liqueur, according to taste, and whisk vigorously. Gently reheat, then serve.

Sleigh Ride Hot Chocolate

• 4 cups whole milk
• ½ cup water
• ½ cup sugar
• 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 2 ounces butterscotch chips
• Whipped cream for garnish
• 1 toffee bar (such as a Heath bar) crushed for garnish

Bring the milk, water and sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and butterscotch chips until they melted. Pour into mugs and top with whipped cream and crushed toffee.

Feliz Navidad Hot Chocolate

• 2 cups whole milk
• 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
• 4 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• cayenne pepper

Bring the milk and sugar to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate, vanilla, cinnamon, and a small pinch of cayenne pepper with a wooden spoon and let steep for 3 minutes. Reheat over low heat until it simmers.
Strain the chocolate before serving.

Winter Wonderland Hot Chocolate

• 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
• 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 6 1/2 cups hot water
• Mini Marshmallows

In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in hot water; Heat thoroughly, but do not boil. Top with marshmallows.

Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Hot Chocolate

• 3/4 cup milk
• 3/4 cup half-and-half
• 2 strips orange peel
• 2 strips lemon peel
• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
• whipped cream, for garnish

Heat the milk, half-and-half, orange peel and lemon peel to simmering, and simmer for about 2 minutes. Do not let it boil.
Remove the peels and add chocolate, whisking until melted.
Serve topped with whipped cream.

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Hot Chocolate

• 2 cups hot milk
• 1 serving cocoa mix
• 1 tablespoon crushed peppermint stick
• 1 whole peppermint stick

Stir together milk, cocoa mix and crushed peppermint stick in a large mug. Garnish with a whole peppermint stick.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Hot Chocolate

• 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
• 1 cup half-and-half
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine chocolate chips, half-and-half, and cinnamon over medium heat. Stir frequently with wooden spoon until the chocolate chips are meted; about 5 minutes. Do not let it boil.
Serve and enjoy!

Deck The Halls Hot Chocolate Tea

• 2 cups water
• 1 teaspoon loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
• 1 teaspoon loose-leaf Darjeeling tea
• 1 star anise
• 1 cinnamon stick
• Pinch ground ginger
• 2 cups heavy cream
• 6 ounces chopped dark chocolate
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat water to a boil in a saucepan. Add the tea leaves, turn off the heat, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea, then return in to the pan and add the star anise, cinnamon stick, ginger, and heavy cream. Heat over medium heat until cream scalds, but do not let it boil over.

Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and strain the cream mixture into the chocolate. Add the vanilla and whisk until the chocolate is melted. This can be served hot or chilled.

Monday, December 6, 2010

12 Days of Christmas Fun

Okay, I know it is cliché, but I love the whole “12 Days of Christmas” list thing, so for the month of December I am posting lists of Christmas related ideas. This week we are looking at fun things to do around the Denver metro and surrounding areas (I apologize to my readers living in other states – perhaps a google search will reveal similar activities in your neck of the Christmas woods).

Wishing you a fun Christmas season with your kiddos!

1) Denver Zoo Lights (Denver)
I assume everyone living in Colorado knows about this since it has been around for years, but here are the details you’ll need if you are planning a visit.
Runs December 10 – January 2, 5:00 – 9:00 pm
Non-Member prices:
Adult: $8, kids 3 – 11: $4, seniors: $6
Members save $2 per ticket.
Bring a non-perishable food item donation and save $1.
Go to www.denverzoo.org for more information.

2) Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (Colorado Springs)
Similar to Denver Zoo Lights for our friends in Colorado Springs.
Open December 17 – January 2 (not open Christmas Eve), 5:30 – 8:30 pm with last admission sold at 7:30.
There is a Santa’s Brunch on December 18. See website for details.
Don’t miss the Santa Zone with live reindeer!
Admission without a skyride is $8.25 for adults, $5.25 for kids 3 – 11. Kids under two are free.
Visit www.cmzoo.org to learn more.

3) Trail of Lights – Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (Littleton)
Blossoms of Lights – Denver Botanic Gardens at York Street (Denver)
Runs December 3 – January 2, 5:30 – 9:30 pm
Adult tickets are $9.50, seniors are $7.50, kids 4 – 12 are $6.50, and kids three and under are free.
Learn more at www.botanicgardens.org.

4) Winter Wonderlights at The Wildlife Experience (Parker)
Visit December 10 – 24, 5:30 – 8:30 pm.
Adult admission: $9, seniors: $8, kids 3 – 12: $6, kids two and under are free
Members receive a $2 discount per ticket. Also, I have seen coupons for a free child’s admission with the purchase of an adult admission, so keep an eye open for one in you plan to attend.
Find more details at www.thewildlifeexperience.org.

5) Winter Wonderland at the Denver Children’s Museum (Denver)
Daily themed activities included with regular museum admission through December 31. Open Monday – Friday 9 am to 4 pm (stays open late on Wednesdays), Saturday – Sunday 10am – 5 pm.
Kids under 1 are free, one-year-olds are $6, those ages 2 – 59 are $8, seniors are $6.
Go to www.mychildsmuseum.org for more.

6) Civic Center Lights (Denver)
Drive downtown to see the beautiful lights on the Civic Center Building, right across from the state Capitol. There is a nice nativity scene, as well as a menorah. I like to drive around the city looking at lights, then have dinner at The Old Spaghetti Factory on 18th Street.

7) Georgetown Christmas Market (Georgetown)
Runs the first two weekends in December from 10 am – 6 pm, free admission.
Get information at www.historicgeorgetown.org

8) Olde Golden Christmas On Parade (Washington Avenue, Golden)
Every Saturday through December 25, parade starts at 11:00 am.
Free admission, parking and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Find the details at www.2hourvacation.com

9) Santa On The Square (Larimer Square, Denver)
Your little one can make requests of Santa every weekend until Christmas Eve on Saturdays from 10 am – 7 pm and Sundays from 11 am – 5 pm. This is free and there is no charge to take photos with your personal camera.

10) A Charles Dickens Candlelight Christmas Tour at the Molly Brown House (Denver)
Tours start at 6 pm and 7 pm on Saturday, December 17.
Tours start at 5 pm, 6 pm, and 7 pm on Sunday, December 18.
Adult admission is $16, children are $13
Go to www.mollybrown.org for more information.

11) Tea at the Brown Palace (Denver)
A fun and fancy tradition for mothers and daughters.
Daily 12 – 4 pm. Reservations required (weekends fill quickly)
Go to www.brownpalace.com for details.

12) Ice Skating
There are loads of places offering seasonal outdoor rinks, and some indoor rinks hold special events in December. Check with a rink near you, or visit one of these:

The Pond At Southlands (Aurora) Open Monday – Thursday from 3 – 9 pm, Friday from 3 – 10 pm, Saturday from 11 am – 10 pm, and Sunday from 12 – 6 pm.
Admission is $8 without skate rental, $10 with skate rental

One Boulder Plaza (Boulder) Open Monday – Tuesday from 2 – 7 pm, Wednesday – Thursday from 10 am – 7 pm, Friday – Saturday from 10 am – 10 pm, and Sunday from 10 am – 7 pm. Admission is $6 for adults, $4 for kids ages 4 – 12, kids three and under are free, and seniors pay $5. Rent skates and helmets for $3. Go to www.bouldericerink.com to learn more.

Winter Wonderland Skate Night and Festival at the Parker Fieldhouse (Parker)
December 11, 5:30 – 9:30 pm, Admission is $6 but you save $1 if you bring a canned food item to donate. They do NOT have skate rentals at this event, so bring your own.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Teaching Kids What To Do With Their Allowance

Once your kids have a little money, it starts burning holes in their pockets. It is time to help them learn how to manage that cash.

I recommend teaching kids to divide their money into three separate banks. You can use actual piggy banks, cute little decorative boxes, or simple bags to sort the money into a savings bank, a spending bank, and an offering bank. The money in the offering bank is what kids bring to church each Sunday to put in the collection plate.

Encourage your child to think of something she’d like to save for. My daughters like to save for special dolls or toys, as well as for summer camps. The money in the savings bank stays put until enough has accumulated for the desired item or activity to be purchased.

The spending bank funds your child’s pocket money. This covers those little “must haves” that kids spot while out shopping with you. My kids rarely bring their money with them when we go shopping, so I purchase items for them and they repay me when we get home. They also use this money for souvenirs when we go on vacation, as well as for buying donuts at church on Sunday morning.

I let my kids decide for themselves how much money to put into each bank. Amazingly, they generally put the bulk of it towards offering. If your kids do a pretty good job of splitting their money between their banks, let them do it independently. It does not need to be an even split, but each bank should be fed something every time your child gets paid. If you notice all of the money going into one bank, help your child learn how to split it up.

If you have a great idea for teaching kids to manage their money, please share it with us by commenting on this post.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Putting Your Teens On A Salary

It is a sad fact that most Americans know very little about handling money. They assume that as long as they don’t bounce checks, they have everything under control. It is up to us as parents to make sure we have a solid financial understanding so we teach our children good habits.

One way to help our kids enter adulthood on a solid financial footing is to give them plenty of experience before they graduate from high school. Just as a new driver must have a learner’s permit before earning a license, kids need a period of practicing with money.

Around the age of 12 (depending on your child’s personality, maturity, and attitude towards money) you can put your child on a salary. If you have been doing a good job keeping a budget of your family’s expenses, you will know how much money you spend on your child’s needs each month. This includes things such as clothes, school supplies, hot lunch, sports fees, gifts for birthday parties, socializing, etc. Rather than hold on to this money until your teen needs it, give it to him at the beginning of the month (or on the 1st and 15th of the month) in the form of a salary.

Once on a salary, your child no longer comes to you with requests for money. He must manage his needs based on what he has in his “account.” Many banks won’t let kids open checking accounts until they are 16 (and they can’t write checks without identification anyway), so you may have to create a mock account at home. I like the popular “envelope system” where kids divide money into separate envelopes for each anticipated need. For example, if they typically spend $30 a month on gifts for people, they put $30 cash in their “gift” envelope and make purchases for their friends from that money only.

As the parent, you continue to pay for food eaten at home, as well as family dinners out and family activities. If your child goes out to eat with her friends, she pays for her own food from her salary. Parents also pay for school fees and other non-negotiable school expenses. Extras like yearbooks can be paid for with the student’s salary or may be a birthday, Christmas or graduation gift from you.

As soon as your child is old enough, open a checking account and teach her how to manage it. Set aside time each month to balance your checkbooks together so you can make sure your child is forming good habits and keeps her financial records in order. When your teen is successful in keeping her checkbook under control, let her have a debit card. It is very important that she learn the difference between a debit card and a credit card, and when to use each type of card, before she goes to college or moves out on her own. Most college students graduate with credit card debt because they never learned how credit cards work. Some colleges say more students drop out due to credit card debt than actually graduate. Their monthly payments become so high that they must work full time to pay them off.

The salary system works well for students who are doing well in school and participating nicely in the family. If your teen is struggling in school, the added responsibility of managing his own expenses may be overwhelming. If your child is disrespectful at home, she may not have earned the privilege of having money. Remember that most of the things kids buy are not true needs, and are therefore privileges.

If you don’t feel like you have a strong understanding of finances, make a commitment to educate yourself. Start today. In a changing economy, you must actively stay on top of your education so you can teach your kids to make smart choices. I strongly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University for getting a good foundation for your financial education (although his information on mutual finds needs to be updated). Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad Poor Dad series is also a good source of information.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaching Older Kids The Value Of Work

Have you ever met a kid with a “what’s in it for me” attitude? Do you have one of those kids? This week’s post can help conquer that attitude with an allowance system that teaches kids the value of money, encourages them to save for a goal, and helps them learn the joy of helping.

By the time kids are eight years old (and younger kids who are mature in their understanding of money), they are ready for a new allowance system. The “all or nothing” program that keeps things simple for younger kids just doesn’t meet the developmental needs of older ones.

The allowance system for 8 – 12-year-olds is based on earning beads for helping out around the house. Start by making a list of jobs needing to be done and by getting a small jar for each child and a supply of beads. Let the kids know that when their expected jobs are completed, they are invited to do additional jobs for beads. Expected jobs are the things they got allowance for when they were younger. In my house, the kids need to take care of the dog, keep their shoes and socks put away, and keep their bedrooms and shared bathroom clean. These tasks are expected to be completed simply because they are part of keeping a nice living environment for the rest of the family and because they help us maintain the value of our home (I sometimes have to remind my daughter that her bedroom carpet can’t be vacuumed until she puts away her toys and she doesn’t make enough allowance to pay for new carpet if hers wears out because it never gets cleaned). When those things are taken care of, they can move on to paying jobs.

Each bead is worth $0.25, and most jobs are worth one bead. I break them down into reasonable bites in keeping with the $0.25 price tag. For example, vacuuming the carpeted areas on our main floor is worth one bead, vacuuming the hardwood areas of the main floor is worth one bead, and moping the hardwood on the main floor is worth one bead. However, if someone does all three of these jobs, I am likely to throw in a bonus bead, because that is a lot of work! Other jobs worth one bead are cleaning all of the mirrors in the house, cleaning the counter, sink and toilet in a bathroom, or doing the dishes. Sometimes my kids will negotiate larger payouts for larger jobs. For example, washing my car will earn someone two beads. My kids will also negotiate “package deals” by asking how many beads they can have if they pick up, dust and vacuum the family room. I am always open to negotiations, but my kids also know that I have the final say on acceptable jobs and beads awarded.

My kids also know that I will ask them to do thing just to help out and that no bead will be awarded. If I have already bagged up the trash, I may ask one of them to take the bag to the garage for free, simply because I need help. Don’t let the kids feel like they need to get paid to do anything.

Once we started this system, I was happily amazed at how my kids began helping out more even when they weren’t getting paid. I think part of the change came from realizing that they were capable of doing more than they knew. Moms can help with this by resisting the urge to criticize their children’s work. Don’t expect them to clean the same way you would. They are not as strong or as tall, so adult cleaning supplies, especially the vacuum and mop, can be difficult for them to manage. Reward them for their effort and gently teach them techniques for doing a more thorough job next time. When kids feel successful, they are more likely to try again, even without a tangible reward.

This allowance system is also great for kids who are saving their money for something specific because it gives them control over how quickly they reach their goal. My house looks like a model home the week before a school book fair because my kids are frantically trying to earn as much money as they can. My oldest daughter is saving up for a new guitar, so as soon as her homework is done she gets busy doing jobs. I can tell when my kids don’t have a goal in mind because their jars sit empty for a week or two.

I pay allowance twice a month under this system, just like a paycheck. Payday is on the 1st and the 15th of every month. This payment plan gets kids ready for the next system they will have for earning money when they are teenagers. For more on that, check in next week.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Helping Young Kids Get A Handle On Money And More

First off, I appologize for neglecting my blog for so long. Thank you for faithfully checking back and for sticking with me.

Secondly, November is Money Month, so all this month we will talk about teaching kids to manage finances through different, age-appropriate forms of allowance. If your kids aren't in the age group discussed this week, check back next week for tips for 8 - 12-year-olds or the following week for tips for teens.

Thanks again for your continued support. Now, on to this week's post...

Parents often ask me what they can do to get their kids to pick up all of the stuff they leave around the house. In addition to toys, most kids leave a trail of shoes, socks, snack wrappers, juice pouches, sporting equipment, and other odds and ends all over the place.

Between the ages of 4 and 8, it can help to start giving them an allowance. In order for kids to learn how to count money, as well as how to use it, they need to be in charge of some. I recommend giving kids this age three allowance jobs. Make sure they are easy jobs the child can do independently. For example, my children’s first allowance jobs were to feed the dog twice a day, keep their shoes and socks either on their feet or put away, and keep their rooms tidy (remember to keep your expectation of “tidy” age appropriate).

It works well to keep your system simple – if the child does all of his jobs, he gets all of his allowance. If he doesn’t do a job, he gets no allowance. It is too confusing and too much maintenance to pay different amounts of money for different jobs. I recommend paying $2.50 a week. This comes to $10 a month which is plenty of money for kids this age.

When you pay the earned money, pay it in quarters (if you pay $2.50 a week, that means the child receives a very impressive stack of 10 quarters). Then, every night after dinner, have a short time of family cleaning. In my home, we simply call it “15 minutes.” For 15 minutes, everyone works at picking up the debris that accumulated around the house during the day, while I clean up dinner. On Sundays, after 15 minutes is up, I walk around the main living area of the house (not the kids’ bedrooms) and pick up anything left out. The items I collect go into a bag, where they stay for one week. The kids must purchase their things out of the bag the following Sunday for $0.25 per item (this is why you pay allowance in quarters). If they need something before the week is up (like their shoes) they may buy things early for $0.50 each. All items must be purchased from the bag by the end of the week and must be put away once purchased.

This system encourages kids to do their allowance jobs and keep their things put away. You can have your child use a chart to keep track of his work if you want to, although at this age it is generally easy to see if the work is completed or not. If you do use a chart, Target stores carry a cute magnetic one that has many common jobs already listed on moveable magnets, along with blank magnets so you can make up your own tasks.

If you have a great idea for encouraging your kids to pick up after themselves or for handling allowance, share it with us by commenting on this post.

Next month we will talk about handling allowance for 8 – 12-year-olds.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Trapped in Home Office Hell (The Perils of Multi-tasking)

“..in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” - Proverbs 3:6

The idea of a home office is so appealing. There is a certain romance in the thought of listening for the washing machine to finish spinning while I type away on my latest book, knowing I’ll be home when my kids return from school and will have dinner on the table promptly at 6:00.

However, romance has never been a strong part of my reality. This morning, for example, I got my kids out the door for school, had a quick breakfast with my husband (who also works from home), then sat down to get a little bit of work done before heading out to my weekly writers group meeting. I had about 20 minutes to outline a talk I’m preparing, and told my husband about my need to be efficient with this limited amount of time. I had a busy day ahead, with no time for any laundry, cooking, cleaning, or shenanigans. Sweet home office image dissolved.

About seven minutes into my work, I heard my husband’s approaching footsteps on the stairs, along with his low chuckle. “I need to take you away from your work for five minutes, but it will totally be worth it.” How do you argue with that? He directed me to his facebook post containing a Southpark video about the perils of “friending” people on facebook.

How on earth could he possibly think that Southpark would be “totally worth” taking up 25 percent of my working time?

However, this situation is in no way unique. In fact, I could write about this every day by simply changing the distractions and those doing the distracting. I find that I can get house work, work-work, or what I call “people work” (relationship building) done in any given day. It is a rare day when my fantasy of getting “everything” done is realized. This morning, taking time for people work meant I didn’t finish my work-work. I didn’t even bother trying to tackle house work.

Somewhere along the line, our society got the idea that multi-tasking is a good idea. Ask any home office worker, or any mother, and she will tell you it isn’t true. When you try to do everything, you focus on nothing and excel at nothing.

I regularly have to remind myself of my priorities. When my head says, “The kids will be okay if you just write one or two more pages,” my heart admonishes me with, “You are a mother first. You can work again tomorrow.” In the end, the laundry does get done, the work deadlines are met, but when I skip or shortchange the people work, I never get those moments back again, and that time is truly lost. The moments spent in relationship with others are the meaningful times that I remember.

If you are also having trouble getting “it all” done, share with me so I know I’m not alone!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wisdom in the Every Day

But wisdom is proved right by all her children." - Luke 7:35

A heavy, work-related decision for my husband has us both asking God for an increased measure of wisdom. Requests for insight, discernment and sound judgment fill our prayer times as we wait for God to give us direction.

I can’t help but notice that I tend to ask for wisdom when facing big decisions. However, as a mom, I make millions of little decisions every day that also require wisdom. Deciding on how to get nutrients into my kids’ mouths most efficiently and with the least amount of mess requires wisdom (and creativity). Leading my kids through their daily homework with a positive attitude takes wisdom (and patience). Deciding which friendships to encourage and which one to keep quiet about uses wisdom (and discernment).

I want to remember to ask God to be my guide in every aspect of my life, even the mundane, every day actions like making dinner. With an extra dose of His wisdom, I know I can do a better job taking care of my family.

In what areas of life do you need His wisdom?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Off The Mark

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint." - Jeremiah 31:25

Thank you for sticking with me, my faithful readers. I apologize that my Christmas blogging break extended into a longer hiatus.

Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to accompany my 9-year-old to her first archery class. She had been practicing with a toy bow and arrow for years and eagerly anticipated the day when she could get her hands on the real thing.

After stretching and warming up, she finally strapped on a protective arm guard and picked up a real bow. She straddled the firing line, aimed, and let her arrow fly. It streamed through the air, straight and true. Success. One after one, her arrows hit targets fifteen yards away as her smile got bigger and bigger.

I have no idea how many arrows she launched, but after about 40 minutes her bow was tipping to the side and her arrows hit low on the target. Fatigue led to a loss of focus, and therefore, less accuracy.

I’ve sure had that feeling as a mom. When I am tired, I am much more likely to ignore an offense that really should be disciplined. I serve food that is easy to get on the table, even if its nutritional value is marginal. Dawdling is allowed to the point where the kids go to bed later than normal when I don’t have the energy to keep them on track through the bed time routine.

When mom is tired, everyone suffers.

Now, when this happens occasionally, I don’t worry about it. What concerns me is when it becomes the normal state of family life. Sometimes what starts as fatigue turns into apathy.

Mom, please make the commitment today to take whatever steps are needed to give yourself more energy. Maybe you need more sleep. Maybe you need to cut sugar or simple carbs from your diet. Maybe you need to eat more veggies, or take a multi-vitamin, or get some exercise. Maybe you need a little downtime to just play. Maybe you could ask God to help, and spend some extra time in prayer with the Giver Of All Good Things. You may even need to experiment with some different ideas to figure out which ones really make a noticeable difference for you.

After putting down her bow and stretching again for ten or fifteen minutes, my daughter went back to the firing line and started hitting her targets again. As moms, we can be on the mark as well with just a little refreshment.

What do you do to re-energize yourself when you start feeling weary?