Friday, May 27, 2011

"I'm bored!" Suggestions

School has only been out for a few days but it will not be long before we hear the dreaded "I'm bored," whine coming from our kids. So here is a list of suggestions. Please add your ideas because we are going to need them!

take initiative (See Sharon and Pat's family plan for details on this)
visit a neighbor
call grandparents, aunts & uncles, or cousins
make, craft, my bed!
go outside
ride bike
math website
work on building a website
take pictures
write a note to someone
play a board game
Wii tournament
water guns

Summer reading and movies

We are always looking for some good books for all ages. What do you like to read with your kids? Or for older ones reading on their own, what keeps them coming back for more?

Preschool-young readers
Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! by Candace Fleming
Tippy-Tippy-Tippy, Hide! by Candace Fleming
Fix-it-Duck by Jez Alorough
Will--God's Might Warrior by Shelia Walsh
Gigi--God's Little Princess by Shelia Walsh
Hermie and Friends by Max Lucado
We love all of Max Lucado's children's books, like You are Special.

School age readers
A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
Hank the Cowdog by John R. Erickson (Our library has many of these on tape and they are great for car trips! We all laugh!)

Older readers

What about you Mom? Read any good books lately?
If you have not read Sharon and Laurie's books Mom...And Loving It! and Hold You, Mommy! I highly recommend them!

What about good family movies?
The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry

Moms 4 Family tv have produced five movies for tv over the last year that my family has really enjoyed. They are available on DVD now...The Secrets of the Mountain, The Jensen Project, A Walk in My Shoes, Change of Plans, and Truth be Told. They have another one scheduled to come out this summer called Field of Vision. Here is the trailer.

Field of Vision Movie Trailer from on Vimeo.

As you can see there are some gaps here. Let me know what you and your family are reading and help me fill it in. Thanks!

Shelly's framework for the Summer

Ground rules:
* Work first, then play
* Read a little/rest every afternoon
* On our idea list--we are going to try to limit it to one per day. My kids could wear me out jumping from one thing to the next!
* Ideas that are more pricey are limited to one every week or so (within reason)
* We live far from the big city with entertainment, so those "go" trips are limited to once a week

I made a list of the weekly housework jobs that have to be done. I want them to see what is expected before we can play. I also have a list of work projects that I want to do. Things like clean out my closet, clean out the kids toys and books, and clean out the garage. Oh, and Christmas shopping! My fall calendar is already crazy, so I need to get a jump start! Then there is a list of kids' responsibilities: keep your room clean, keep the house public ready (that means keep it in a state that I'm not totally embarrassed if someone drops by), do your house job for the week. My goal is to plan out the week where we have a few jobs each morning and get an idea for our fun. Hopefully that will help me to plan for fun and them to not badger me so much if they can see when it is coming.

Fun ideas that are a little pricy:
* Go to Chuck E. Cheese
* Go to the Children's Museum
* Go to the Activity Center
* Go to the movie (We have a drive-in near us, and we are planning to go see Cars 2 there! I've never been to a drive-in--I'm so excited!)
* Let the kids choose one of the kids kits at Hobby Lobby (hopefully when they are on sale), and take a day to actually do it!
* Go to a baseball game. We have a minor league team in our area, and we love to go see the Rangers!
* Go ride horses. My kids love that!

Some Go ideas that are less money:
* Swim
* We have a state park near us that has a Children's Nature Program and it is free! Last year we did the Family Nature Hike and we really enjoyed it.
* Bowling--you can sign up for Kids Bowl Free all summer! (You still have shoe fees, but you save a lot!) If you have a participating bowling center near you, this is a good deal and family fun!
* Library story time
* Parks and Recreation Department might have weekly programs for kids. We had one where we used to live and it was great!
* Vacation Bible School

Fun at the House ideas:
* Toy Town--build lincoln log house, my daughter's horse stables, tinker toy playground, hot wheels race track and set up the train between it...we will have our own little town!
* Sleep outside in the tents
* Paint/crafts
* Games
* Wii tournament
* Puzzles
* Water guns
* Slip n slide
* Write cousins or friends
* Call/write grandparents

Being intentional
A few years ago, Focus on the Family had a program called the Character Crew. I printed off all the information and activities, but it was a little too much for them. Now I think it will work better. It is still available on online here.

Sharon and Pat's summer plan

On Initiative: Gb4Wb4F = God before Work before Fun.
We were just gong to put Wb4F, but we really want them to take initiative in growing their relationships with God. Our "W" has eyes inside it to show initiative, meaning "Look around to see what needs to be done." Take initiative in helping. It's been a big theme of ours. Mom and Dad don't need to tell you everything to do. If you see a bug that's dead on the floor that needs to be swept up, sweep it up. If the dogs have pawed the windows on the backdoors, clean them. Be self-motivated rather than mom-motivated.

A Game we played: one at a time, look around the house and come back with 3 things you see that you could take initiative to make better. Mom and Dad had to name 5 things. We started with the youngest then ended with Mom (even though I'm not the oldest...ahem!) and nobody could say what someone else had already said. It was a good exercise in opening our eyes.

On Bedtime/wake-time: We set some loose bedtimes and wake times.

On "I want to have a friend over":
1. Look at your calendar (each kid made one with their activities in one color and the rest of the family in another color).
2. Is anything going on during the time you want your friend to come over? Is Mom busy?
3. Always clear plans with Mom or Dad before talking or texting the person you want to invite.

On "What can I do? I'm bored!":
We got the kids to help us make a list of "Things I could do." They are workout, read, play Wii (our kids are earning TV and Wii time by reading or working on a math website), take initiative to clean something, talk on the phone, make food, play outside, have a friend over, volleyball, ride bikes, basketball, play on the trampoline, practice typing, work on creating a website (our teen), take pictures, create something, write out the plan for the week, ask Mom how I can help her...(I love that one!)

On "Hurry up, let's go!":
This is for all year...and I stole this from Laurie. She has asked her kids to say, "Mom do you need me to help with something" or "How can I help you?" or "Do you have your phone, keys, purse?" (ha ha ha! I'm forever leaving then coming back for something I've forgotten!) Instead of, "Let's go! What is taking so long!" How can I help you gets everybody on the same team and teaches them cooperation, grace, and servanthood.

On "I'm hungry!":
* We found these great popsicles at Target in the dollar spot--10 popsicles for $1! They have no high fructose corn syrup and are only 20 caleries each. The kids love them!
* Snacks between meals are okay, but need to be limited.
* One sweet thing per day. Go for some fruit!
* If you're hungry, ask Mom, "How can I help you with dinner?" I told them I would have e-mealz in the cabinets for them to be able to prepare if I was going to be out of pocket.

Do you have any ideas along these lines to help you thrive this summer?

Summer Box of Tricks!

You have found the main page of our Summer Box of Tricks! Check back often and see what we have added!

Ready or comes summer!
Sharon and Pat's summer plan
Shelly's framework for the summer
Summer reading and movie suggestions
"I'm bored!" Suggestions

Some more helpful, inspiring ideas from other moms!
* In 2009 Jill Savage started a campaign of sorts to be a "yes" Mom. Read more about it on her blog here. (Notice that she hosted a contest before, but the deadline has already past. But the challenge to be a "yes" mom is still good!)

* This is one of my (Shelly's) real life friends, Jenni. She has a good idea for summer on her blog here.

Ready or comes summer!

Shelly (our amazing administrative assistant) and I (Sharon) had a conversation on the phone last week about summer...I started telling her how excited I was about summer. She said, "I'd like to be, but I'm dreading it a little." Once we started talking, I began to remember the past few summers...endless plans from all my kids, driving all over creation, spending more money than we should, and frustration over failing to finish what I had started. We decided it would be a great topic for the blog. Shelly wrote this one and did a great job. I'll tell you what we've done since at the end...

It's the last day of school! The kids will be home, I can't wait! We are going to have so much fun!

It's the last day of school. Ugh. The kids will be home all day begging to do this and go there. It wears me out just thinking about it.

(Shelly) You may not be on one extreme or the other, but you fall somewhere along that line. I really want to be a mom who enjoys my kids and looks forward to them being home all summer, but honestly I'm dreading it a little. (I must say this year is better than last year.) Then I feel guilty. I know they are blessings, gifts from God, and I'm so thankful for healthy kids. But some days it feels like they drain the life out of me. I want to thrive this summer, not just survive! Growing up, we spent summers either at grandparents' houses, camp or at home watching TV until we scurried to do our jobs for the day before Mom got home from work, so I don't have a blueprint for this. (I can still say lines from Princess Bride and Man from Snowy River word for word!) With my kids, I look back over the summer and wish I had created or taken advantage of more opportunities to enjoy them and to teach them because I know that "these days are passing much too fast." I know the ideal I want, but I don't know how to get there.

Anybody else?

First of all, I need to let go of some unrealistic expectations. I feel like everyone else has it all together, and I am the only one that struggles with this. That is simply not true. Find a friend who you can be transparent with and you might be surprised. I know I was.

This has been on my mind for a while, and of course, God meets me where I am. I'm doing Beth Moore's study about the fruit of the Spirit, Living Beyond Yourself. I am only halfway through it, but here are two things already that will help me through the summer.

Peace...Part of what I dread is the fussing and fighting (I have a son 10, daughter 7, and son 5). I just want peace! Beth pointed out that peace comes with rule. "The key to true peace is the rule of Christ." (Look at Colossians 3:15.) This is changing my perspective as a mom. I'm not real bossy and my kids tend to run over me at times. (I hate admitting that, but it is true.) If I will bow to the authority of Christ, then step up in the role He has placed me in and set some rules, my house will be more peaceful. I'm not talking a whole book, but a few simple guidelines that will make some of the decisions for me and bring more peace.

Patience...I know--this is a characteristic we avoid asking for because we don't want the assignments that prove it! Hang with me. What I learned gave me a little freedom in this. There are two different words used for patience in the Bible. One pertains to enduring things or circumstances and is inspired by hope. The other is in respect to people and is inspired by mercy. The patience to endure is something we need and can pray for. Patience with others is "impossible except when expressed by God through us." Whew! I've tried so hard to be patient with people on my own and it didn't work. It is not up to me! My responsibility is to be filled with the Spirit and allow Him to express His patience through me. For some reason that seems easier.

People with their minds set on You, You keep completely whole, steady on their feet, because they keep at it and don't quit. Depend on God and keep at it because in the Lord God you have a sure thing.
Isaiah 26:3 The Message

OK, *deep breath* I am gaining more of a vision for this summer! I hope you are too. This summer on the blog (and website), we would like to have ideas to have fun and seize teachable moments with our kids, and we need your help. We are real moms just like you looking for solutions too! If you have an idea you would like to share, we would love to hear it! These are kids of things we are looking for...

* How do you manage the day in your house? Simple guidelines that help bring peace.

* Bible verses that keep you focused on God.

* Teachable moments--short little encounters that bring the God-factor out of everyday situations.

* Activities to fill the day for all ages:

* Favorite books to read with your kids

* Family movies
* Fun games to play

You can email your ideas to Shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org, or join in on the comments!

(Sharon) Great thoughts, Shelly! Thanks for verbalizing what so many of us feel. Since our conversation, all of us (Laurie too) have become intentional about planning "real" things into our summer schedules and creating some summer rules in order to gain some peace. We'll post our ideas here and have a link to them on the website. We thought about posting through the summer, but these are ideas you may want now! So we will post them all in the "Summer Box of Tricks!" Open it up and see what is new!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fun Monday

(Shelly) Recently a friend and I were talking about how sugar is a great motivator in our families. It reminded me of a funny story.

At the time, we didn't regularly have dessert after supper, so for me to have planned to make a dessert was a big deal and the kids knew it. I was trying to get supper fixed and on the table while my 6-year-old son and 3-year old daughter were chasing each other through the kitchen into the living room and back through the kitchen in a circle. I had asked them to quit. My husband told them to quit. I asked them to quit again but it just wasn't happening--they were having too much fun! So finally I had enough and yelled, "Fine! You're not getting dessert!" Oh, the water works and the begging started! We finally got them calmed down enough to sit at the table, but they were still upset. Hubby asked if either of them would like to pray before supper. My son jumped at the chance. "Dear God, thank You for this food. And please let Mom and Dad change their mind about dessert. At least about me. I don't care if Sister gets it or not..." Honestly, I didn't hear the rest of the prayer because I was laughing too much!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thankful Thursday

(Sharon) I'm thankful that I am the one who gets to see my child's handwriting develop. Just like kids personalities are all different, their handwriting is different too. One of mine loves to embellish. One is a creative, sort of everywhere writer, and the other looks like it was printed in a book! I am thankful I get to notice how their handwriting grows and changes with them.

What are you thankful for this Thankful Thursday?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Before You Burst!

(Laurie) Have you ever blown up a balloon bigger and bigger, thinking with every breath it was going to burst? Finally it does. Before it popped, you had two choices: to keep blowing until it popped, or to stop and let the air out. When we become angry, disgrunteled, or get in a funk for whatever reason, we have two choces: to let the anger rise until we burst with angry words, or admit we are struggling and end the pressure build up. That sounds so easy, but it's hard to do when you feel justified in your anger.

I've noticed that if I go on without telling my husband I'm struggling, I eventually blow up at him. But if I swallow my pride, and admit I'm wrong, and just tell him I'm strugglling, it "lets the air out," breaks down the wall I've been building, stops the vicious cycle, and as a result we can peacefully move on. My husband can be so understanding and loving when he knows I'm having a tough day. That's so much better than saying things that are hurtful to him, words I'll later regret.

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Father, You have a better way. Please help me choose Your way instead of my selfish, prideful way. It really is easier that way. Teach me to love my husband and please help us grow into the couple You want us to be. In Jesus' Name amen.

from Sharon and Laurie's book Mom...And Loving It!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Fun Monday

(Sharon) My oldest (14) came to breakfast one morning and asked me if she smelled good. I sniffed her. She wasn't very strong, but there was a faint smell of floral something. She laughed and said, "It's Febreeze!" Cheap perfume!

Hope that brings you a smile this Monday!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thankful Thursday

(Shelly) Today I'm thankful for the Body of Christ, especially Christian girlfriends. There is just something about getting together with someone who is safe to visit with, laugh with, cry with and share my heart. I can count on them to encourage and support me when I need it. And it adds purpose to my life when I can be there for them as well. I hope that you have a group of girls like this at your home church or Moms group, maybe a MOPS group. If you don't, you could start one! Laurie and Sharon's books, Mom...and Loving It! and Hold You, Mommy, are great for small group studies and discussion starters. You can even make an appointment with them to call or skype with your group! Just an idea. You can contact me if you have any questions at Shelly(at)MomAndLovingIt(dot)org. Hope you have a blessed Thankful Thursday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


(Sharon) I've walked by the mirror at times and caught a glimpse of myself. To my surprise, I looked horrible! It wasn't simply that my hair and makeup weren't fixed, or that I was still in my pajamas, but my face looked as though I'd just taken a sip of those sour apple juice bags my kids love to drink. I realized that I needed to smile more. Smiling makes you feel better. And guess who else feels better when Mom smiles? Husbands and kids really appreciate a smile from the main lady in the house.

Unfortunately, the saying is true; "If Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." I long for my face to be my family's refuge. The world can be a cruel place for our husbands and children. If they come home to a disagreeable, discontented wife/mom, their place of safety becomes uncomfortable for them. Some synonyms of refuge describe what a cheerful look can be for our family: a safe haven, a sanctuary, a shelter, a place of safety and protection, a harbor, and a retreat. It is my goal for my husband to look at me, no matter where we are, and feel "safe." The neat thing is, when my face is loving, loving words and actions usually follow.

This is my goal--not something I've completely achieved, but what I'm aiming for. I have to remind myself that this is my goal or I fall into a marital slump and my face slides back into the sour-apple pose again. The couple I saw at church lovingly looking at each other reminded me that I was doing it again--looking disagreeable. By the look on her husband's face, I knew he had found a safe place in her face--at least that day. She's probably not that way all the time either. But that incident jolted me out of my selfish, discouraging frame of mind and back into the reality I want to live in , one of love and encouragement for my husband.

[The Man] You're so beautiful, my darling, so beautiful, and your dove eyes are veiled by your hair as it flows and shimmers, like a flock of goats in the distance streaming down a hllside in the sunshine. Your smile is generous and full--expressive and strong and clean. Your lips are jewel red, your mouth elegant and inviting, your veiled cheeks soft and radiant. The smooth, lithe lines of your neck command notice--all heads turn in awe and admiration!
Song of Solomon 4:1-3
The Message

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fun Monday

(Shelly) I have told lots of silly stories on my kids, so here is one on me. Saturday I slid my flip flops off in the car and propped my foot up on the dashboard...the freshly armoralled dashboard. I didn't think anything about it until I slipped my flips back on and just about slid out of my shoes as I tried to walk! Thankfully we were going to a ball game and a little dirt fixed the problem. Now I know!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Thankful Thursday

I am so thankful that God values mothers. It is a very challenging job that many of the things we do go unnoticed and unapreciated, but He sees and He knows. He placed each one of us in this place at this time with these people for a purpose.

A few weeks ago we shared what is it about our children we are thankful for. Today let's look at moms. What is it about being a mom are you thankful for? If you would like to honor your mother, what are you thankful for about her?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Handprint

(Laurie) The girls were so excited! We were finally going to paint their room. We were doing our own episode of the "complete room makeover." All the furniture was moved away from the walls and the plastic drop cloth was in place. Of course I was going to be a "good" mom and let my three children--ages three, six, and eight--help.

I began with the oldest. Alec did pretty well keeping the most of the paint on the wall. Only a little got on his elbow when he accidentally bumped the wet paint. Next came the six-year-old. Tripping over the drop cloth as she entered the room, Abby caught herself between the wall and dresser. She already had paint down one side of her body, and she hadn't even begun painting.

Frustrated by her clumsiness, I scolded, "Be careful, honey! You are going to get paint everywhere!" Apologizing, she stood at attention, waiting for her orders. Providing her with specific instructions, I handed over the paint roller.

She was a little surprised that it was more challenging than she'd anticipated. However, she was determined; she rolled most of the paint out of the roller. As she refilled her roller with paint, it seemed to have a leak at one end. It dripped down the roller, missing the paint pan (of course), and fell on the drop cloth.

She looked up at me with an "oops" look on her face. With little patience, I responded, "Don't step in it or you'll track it all over the house!" She finally finished her section of the wall, and now it was the three-year old daughter's turn. (What was I thinking?) I wiped my brow and sighed with exasperation. I tried my best to put on a "happy face" as my littlest bounced toward the room. She had been waiting patiently for "her turn."

As she walked in the door, she leaned in one direction to step around the furniture. As she did, she put her hand on the wall to brace herself. Immediately she removed her hand and looked at me with a stunned expression. "Avery, honey," I said, "you can't touch the wall. Remember, it's wet." I looked around for something to clean her hand, but found nothing. I pulled at my shirt. "Here, wipe your hands on this" I said. She apologized profusely as she excitedly approached the painting pan. I handed her the paint roller, and she did her best to get most of the paint on the wall.

She was doing great until she got off balance and leaned into the wall. Again, she forgot and caught herself with her hand. Suddenly I felt all the patience drain from my body. I had none left. I raised my voice impatiently: "Avery, don't touch the wall!"

Disappointed in herself, she looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, "I'm sorry, Mommy. I didn't mean to." I told her it was okay, and she wiped her hand on my shirt once again. I convinced her that Mommy could finish the rest.

Several days after finishing the project, I was unloading the dryer. As I began folding the clothes, I pulled my old paint shirt from the pile. I was shocked when I saw it. There on the front of my shirt was a perfect little green handprint. Tears welled up in my eyes as I gazed at it. You see, I had been so worried about getting the job done "right" that I had forgotten to focus on what was important--enjoying the journey with my precious children.

Now, every time I see that shirt, I am thankful that Avery fell into the paint that day. If she hadn't, I wouldn't have such a vivid reminder of how precious life is!

Lord, help me to remember that being a parent is a privilege, not a punishment. Please don't let the weight of my daily responsibilities rob me of my sense of wonder. Remind me that the children You have placed in my care are as individually unique as their handprints. I thank You, Lord, for each of my children, and I am grateful that You've given them to me. Amen.

Mother's Day idea for the grandmothers: use your kids' handprints on the gift so that it has a personal touch only they can give.

from Laurie and Sharon's book Hold You, Mommy.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Fun Monday

(Shelly) Whew! It is still Monday right? Made it! Anyone else having crazy weeks? I guess it is the season! Here is a funny spring story. From our house...

My oldest son came and reported that my 2-year-old daughter had thrown a shoe away. So I went to the trash and retrieved the shoe. There it was. Complete with the dead bug she had killed on the bottom of it! (She wasn't a big fan of bugs at the time!)

Hope you have a good week.