Stay Calm and Make it a Great School Year
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Cashier:  “Do you want your receipt in the bag?”

Me, with a perplexed look:  “Ummm.”

Cashier:  “Receipt in the bag or in your purse, lady?  It’s really a simple question.”

It’s a little scary when I can’t come up with answers to no-brainer questions.  You can imagine what I’m like at the grocery store when I have to decide between paper or plastic, cash or credit.  And don’t even get me started on ordering a vanilla latte at Starbucks.  (Tall, grande, or venti?  Caf or decaf?  Whipped cream or no?)  If the server were to hand me my coffee and then ask for my kids’ names and ages, I think it would send me over the edge.

I affectionately refer to my inability to think clearly at times as “brain blips.”  Maybe a better term would be “mental overload.”

How did I get to this disoriented state?  The first rumblings of overwhelm began when I brought my first precious baby girl home from the hospital.  Diapers, feeding, laundry, bath, more feeding, diapers, spit up, ear infection, laundry—it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  Eventually I graduated from those early stages of being rattled and found my life returning to some semblance of order until . . . my second precious baby girl was born.  Then I was back to caring for all the needs of a newborn—plus managing a toddler.  The good news is, even those responsibilities eventually settled into a peaceful rhythm.

When my oldest daughter entered kindergarten, I thought my life would be smooth sailing from then on.  I was wrong.  My overwhelm increased one soccer game at a time.  Allow me to explain.  The year Grace (my oldest) entered kindergarten, I joined the volunteer ranks of hundreds of moms cutting, pasting, and driving on school field trips. One of my newfound friend-volunteer moms informed me that she was starting a kids’ soccer team, and she wanted to give me the opportunity to sign Grace up before all the spots were taken.

Soccer?  I didn’t know much about the game, except that everyone else was talking about it.  Grace had never expressed an interest in soccer, but who was I to hold her back?  Maybe she had the potential to make the women’s Olympic soccer team one day; but how would she ever have that chance unless I started her at the age of five?  Besides, I figured, going to soccer games would give me an opportunity to get to know the other moms.  Practice every Tuesday during our normal dinner time?  Well, I guess that’s okay, I thought to myself.  Just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of church on Wednesdays and gymnastics on Thursdays.

The next year my other daughter, Joy, joined a different soccer team with a different set of practice times.  And as if that didn’t require enough schedule juggling during the week, we now had two games to get to on Saturdays.  As the girls grew older, their practices grew longer and more frequent.  Did I mention we also added volleyball and basketball seasons to our year-round athletic cycle of practices and games?

Kindergarten and sports were only the beginning of the treadmill.  Add homeroom mom responsibilities, school meetings and programs, field trips, and luncheons.  Mix in time with friends, exercise, housework, cooking, doctor appointments, dentist visits, helping with homework, and trips to the cleaners.  Before I knew it, I was juggling more balls than I could dream of holding. Each one represented a good and worthwhile activity, but their sheer number was slowly pushing me into a frazzled state.

Why did I do it?  Why did I add all these activities to my plate and my kids’ plates?  Some of them could not have been avoided (like doctor appointments); yet some certainly could have been circumvented, postponed, or never added at all.  To be brutally honest with you, the root causes of my over-scheduling were deep within my own heart:  the fear of being left out or left behind; guilt that I wasn’t doing enough for my kids; and pride that I was asked to be in charge.  Comparing myself and my family with others played a big part in my over-involvement too.  I suspect I am not the only mom who has ever found herself in such a pickle!

If you have not yet stepped onto the fast-lane, activity-driven treadmill, don’t do it!  Save yourself before it’s too late!  Stop and consider the following:

Is this best for our family as a whole?

What are my reasons for doing this?

Is it possible to do this at a later time?

Most importantly, pray and seek God’s direction and wise advice from others before you fill up your calendar this year.

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress.

17575EB: A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress - eBook A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress – eBook

Photo by London Scout on Unsplash

Creative Cooking Theme Week
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With a few more weeks to go in the summer, it may be the perfect time to add another theme week. Here’s a theme that I know the whole family will eat up!  This week make your kitchen into a creative fun zone and encourage your kids to learn about measuring,  baking and blending together.  The ABCD’s to making this a delightful week of cooking are:

 

Activities:  Visit a bakery and ask for a tour, invite friends to come over to make and/or decorate cup cakes, go to the library to pick out recipe books together, make a trip to half price books to buy a few fun cookbooks, grocery shop together with your list of ingredients for the week, go to the dollar store to look for fun kitchen items (aprons, mixing spoons, colorful bowls).

 

Books: 

Mom and Me Cookbook by Annabel Karmel

The Everything Kids Cookbook by Sandra K. Nissenberg

Southern Living Kids Cookbook by Elizabeth Taliaferro

Snack Attack! (Teachable Moments Cookbooks for Kids) by Brenda Ward and Jane Jarrell

 

Cooking:

Cook fun recipes you discovered together in some of the cookbooks, or choose from some of the following ideas:

Cupcakes

Pizza

Play dough

Lemonade

Trail Mix

Cookie Cutter Cookies

Homemade Ice Cream

Lasagna

King Ranch Casserole

Tacos

Bread

Muffins

 

Devotions:

Exodus 16:31 God provides Manna

Ezekiel 4:9  Recipe for bread

Matthew 4:4  Man does not live by bread alone

Matthew 6:11  Give us this day our daily bread

John 6:35  Jesus declared, “I am the Bread of Life.”

 

Hope you have a delicious week!

Need a Little Summer Boost
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Is Summer’s weather & longed-for flexible schedule starting to heat things around your house? Are quarters closing in? Has “bored” entered the picture? Watch my discussion with other moms on the “Say Something Show” with host Kay Wyma

Amazing Animals
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I hope you enjoyed a wonderful 4th of July with family and friends.  Isn’t it wonderful to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in this great nation?  Remember to pray often for our nation and our leaders.  Pray for God’s protection, guidance and blessing.  May we be diligent this entire month of July to encourage our kids to pray daily for America, and also to thank the Lord for the ways He has already guarded, blessed and cared for us.

 

As we continue with theme week ideas this would be a great time during the summer to declare Animal week! Each day choose a different animal to study and explore.  You can read books about the animals, dress up like the animals, watch videos, play animal games and do animal crafts.  A visit to the zoo or local pet shops would add a great adventure to the week.  Here are some activities to consider for younger kids.

 

Rabbit Day – Make bunny ears out of poster board and attach them to a headband, put white socks on hands and feet and make a little cotton tail too.  Draw nose and whiskers using make-up pencil. Eat rabbit food (fruits and vegetables), do the bunny hop and visit rabbits at the pet store.  By the way, this is a nice quiet day, because bunnies don’t make a lot of noise.  Lovely!

 

Lion Day – Practice roaring (okay just for a little while), make a lion’s mane using a brown paper sack, cutting into strips or use yarn or mop.  Add a tail using a long tube sock.  Watch Narnia videos.  Find interesting facts about lions on line.  Visit lions at the zoo.

 

Dog Day – Make doggy ears using felt attached to a visor or headband.  Watch a dog show video and 101 Dalmatians, play fetch, eat trail mix out of pretend dog bowls.  If you do not have a dog, visit a friend who has one.

 

You get the idea.  Think about a Crocodile Day,  Tiger Day, Elephant Day, Zebra Day or Horse Day.

 

Animal devotionals can include a study of God creating the animals in Genesis 1, or Noah’s ark in Genesis 6,  Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22, or God talking to Job about creating the animals in Job 39 – 41.


A Star-Spangled Week
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It’s the week of July 4th and the perfect week to celebrate our country, our heritage and our freedom.  If your neighborhood doesn’t already have a 4th of July Parade, I would encourage you to generate one.  It’s easy.  When we moved into a new neighborhood many years ago, we recognized that if a parade was going to happen it was up to us to get the ball rolling.  We printed up simple fliers on special decorative paper, and invited all our neighbors to join in a neighborhood parade starting at our house on the morning of July 4th.

 

The response was tremendous!  Kids, grandkids, parents and grandparents all gathered at our front driveway. We decorated our bicycles, played with sidewalk chalk and bubbles, enjoyed cookies and lemonade.   When it was time to start the parade, I piped in some Star-Spangled music from a portable stereo.  We slowly made our way down the street and back to our house again.  Cooling off by running through the sprinklers is a great way to cap off the event.  The parade was a great success as it brought together neighbors and allowed us to celebrate our nation’s independence.   The parade became a tradition every year.  Such joy and so easy to do!

 

As a family you can also build the week of 4th of July fun by serving red, white and blue food throughout the week.  Consider colorful pancakes for breakfast (just add food coloring to the batter), enjoy blueberry, strawberry, and banana fruit salad, and make a red, white and blue cake using colored icing.  I’m sure you can think of even more fun ways to eat red, white and blue.

 

Be sure to check out books at the library for the kids which teach about our country’s heritage.  One of my favorite books is The Light and the Glory and From Sea to Shining Sea  both by Marshall and Manuel.  Excellent books which teach about our true beginnings as a nation.

 

Of course there are also wonderful riches about freedom found in God’s word.  Read in Exodus about the freedom the Israelites experienced from Egypt.  More importantly teach your kids about the freedom from sin which we experience through Christ.  If the Son has set you free, you are free indeed.

Happy 4th!

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