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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Language of Choice: Teaching your kids to choose obedience

Kids feel like all their power and control has ripped from them during this surreal time of COVID19, which leads to parental power struggles. 

Language of choice helps give your children a sense of power, without giving away your authority.

The extra time in COVID quarantine  allowed me to film a video, a follow up and part two to Preventing Power Struggles with Preschoolers.  Language of Choice work for ALL ages, and  I've been wanting to do for awhile, and I hope it helps some of you stuck inside with kids and teens

Please subscribe to my You Tube channel and share the video.  THANK YOU!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Sermon Notes for Teens

Sermon Notes for Teens

Do your teens text during the sermon?  Or write notes to their friends?  When you ask on the drive home what they learned, is the answer "I don't know"?

My almost 13 year olds are aging out of their Sermon Notes for Kids, so  it is time to upgrade to an older version of a Sermon Note Journal.

Sermon Notes for Teens contains 52 weeks of two-page layouts, perfect to keep any teen engaged in the sermon, on their level. 
52 week sermon journal, 2 page spread

Life-Long Skill of Taking Notes
Sermon Notes for Teens is a weekly opportunity to teach your student how to take notes during the sermon. Students identity main concepts of the sermons, questions that have, and an opportunity to engage in the sermon through drawing.

A.C.T.S Prayer Method
Teach your kids to use the A.C.T.S Prayer Method. After learning the basics at the beginning of the book, your student will write their own A.C.T.S prayers.

Open Communication & Teachable Moments 
Your teen will identify words they don't understand and questions they have, which can open conversations between parent and student on your drive home from church!

Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12

Thursday, March 12, 2020

To Those Unexpectedly Homeschooling Due to COVID-19

Are your children suddenly E-Learning on a computer at home?  Or are you trying to figure out how to get your kids to do the folder of work sent home from school? Are you scrambling to find childcare for a two weeks while your child's school is shut down?

I am sorry this is happening, truly.
No homeschooler should ever be rooting for public schools to be closed! Events your kids have been training for are cancelled, that is heartbreaking. Time with their friends is suddenly taken from them.

The homeschooling community, at least the one I am part of, isn't anti-public school, quite the opposite. Many of my friends have one kid at home and one kid at public school.  Or our spouses work in the schools, or we used to work in the school.

Most of us know it is an vital part of our community, and the teachers are some of the most amazing people I have ever met. Many of us choose to homeschool not because of the people, but because of the system.  I feel the same about foster care system, the system is not my favorite, but the people in it are.  I am truly sorry so many kids, teachers, and parents will have such a disruption to their lives.

This is not what homeschooling looks like. 
Your kids love you and learn an immense amount of great values from you, but they are not used to learning their main academic material from you.  Give it time, and give grace.

This is not what our homeschool looks likeE-Learning Snow Days and crisis COVID-19 closures are not an accurate picture of what a homeschool experience looks like. You are unexpectedly doing public school at home, which is very different than homeschooling.

You didn't get to pick the math that doesn't make your kids cry (and that you have the teacher's manual for when you don't understand a problem).We have had time for everyone to adjust to the expectation of learning Math, English, etc. at home.  Give it time, and give grace. It does get better!!  

We get to pick our schedules. We get to pick our curriculum.We have already established homeschool communities, with co-ops, art classes, and gym classes where our kids get to see their friends on a regular basis. We also choose this. It may be harder for you in the next few weeks because of the nature of not getting to choose to school at home. Again, give grace to yourself and to your kids.  IT DOES GET IT EASIER!

Just like it would be rude for us to say to you "I could never send my kids to public school", please don't say "I could never homeschool" because of this experience. 

Give it time, and give grace. It does get better!!  Find a routine that works for you (see below). Your children will get used to this soon.  Change is hard. 

Your attitude will guide your child's attitude.
 In life, there are decisions made that we have no control over, or do not agree with, but with which we must deal with the consequences. This is one of those times. Your reaction can affect how your students later deal with decisions made by bosses.

Your children will take their cue from you. If your children only hear you rant and rave about how you think this is all "crazy and unnecessary", they will not learn how to cope with the consequence of decisions out of their control.

Pray for teachable moments. 
There are times for validating frustrations over cancelled events and missing friends, but look for the teachable moments in the lives of your children.

 Model how to develop coping skills in the midst of disappointment. Maybe encourage them to start journaling over their frustrations, a healthy coping skill they can use for their entire life. Help them find healthy outlets for their frustrations.

I am in no way downplaying the inconvenience and headaches that several unexpected weeks of no public school will bring. I know they will be severely disappointed over cancelled events, just like you may be frustrated in having to still work or juggle other obligations in light of your children being home. Again, I am very sad this happening.  But we learn through trials, and I will be praying that God shows you those moments where you can teach your children they can do hard things.

Talk about the future. 
Talking about the future lets your children know this too will pass.  This is another time where your attitude will directly effect your children's. Children and teens feel like every moment is the most important, and many will not be able to see past this crisis because of their innate ego-centrism. Talk about the future and assure them this is not a forever thing. Talk about how things are hard now, but it will get better, and you can make the best of it.

Teachers and schools are making plans so that your children do not suddenly forget all they have learned this year. And you would be amazed at how much your children will learn, even when not in a structured learning environment. They may even learn some new coping skills along the way.

Read. Read. Read. 
 If you do nothing during this time but read-alouds, audiobooks, or let them pick their own books, your child will still have a very educational break from public school! Set a goal of 20 minutes to an hour of reading everyday!  Pick classic audio books, like Chronicles of Narnia, and  play it a lunch or while they play legos.

Routine, not necessarily a Schedule
I said ROUTINE, not schedule. Establish a simple routine for your kids, and your sanity may be saved. Keeping your kids on their semi-predictable routine may help cut down on any behavioral issues.

During this time of unpredictable everything, give kids something predictable. Flexibility is key, because they are a bit fragile right now, but give them consistency when their is turned upside down.

DO NOT EXPECT the routine to be fall into place the first day. Your family needs to find YOU groove. Like I said before, change is hard. Give it time. If you are consistent to a routine, even the simplest one of maybe a few educational activities or e-learning in the morning and movie in the afternoon, eventually it will become an accepted routine.

Free Online Resources 
There are a LOT of homeschooling resources out there to keep our children busy over the next few weeks.
Free Homeschooling Resources

Again, I am very sorry this is happening. No homeschooler wishes this type of fear and uncertainty onto public schools. I will continue to pray for peace and a quick end to this crisis.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Pros & Cons Walmart Grocery Pickup

Aldi will always be my first love, but Walmart Grocery Pickup is really starting to warm my heart.

Walmart has always been my last choice when grocery shopping, but if I never have to set foot in their store, yet can still get their low prices, then I am beginning to feel the first stirrings of love.  It kind of feels like I am cheating on Aldi!

The past few months I've been going over on my Grocery budget, even though I meal plan and stick to my lists. I decided to try Walmart Grocery Pickup to see if it helped, and it really did! Last week my grocery spending for the week (for a family of 4, including 2 teenage boys) was only be $76, including fresh produce and toiletries! I credit this to Pickup allowing me to meal plan and grocery shop at the same time.

I don't think this will be an EVERY week, because there are just items I can only get at Aldi and Meijer, but twice a month has been so nice!

After a few months, I am ready to share my pros & cons with you.  Please comment if you have any more to share!

Enjoy $10.00 off your first order from Walmart Grocery.

  • Time is money- My kids are almost teenagers, so shopping with them isn't a hassle like it was when they were younger, but even without the little ones, time is still money. The time I save with pickup allows for a few extra loads of laundry done, or maybe even time to finish editing my latest kid's book.   Oh, how I wish this has been around when I was trying to wrangle twin toddlers! 
  • Energy Saver- No more wasting money on ordering pizza or takeout because I'm too tired to cook any of the food I just bought (we have all done it)! There is just something about grocery shopping that is mentally exhausting, no matter how well I plan. Pickup means no more wandering aisles while I try to find where they moved the peanut butter this week. 
  • Gas Saver- I attend a weekly Bible Study that is a mile from Walmart, and I choose a pick up time for the hour following that study.  I am already out of the house, and I don't have to worry about being "too tired to shop". It saves so much gas!
  • No impulse buying- The worst thing for your budget is not sticking to a list! Grocery stores study the science of retail, and every aspect of their store is strategically set up to get you spend more money than you planned. It is no coincidence that the stores smells like fresh rotisserie chicken during peak shopping hours or that science proves people shop longer when music is playing. They want you buying from end caps, and sales in the aisles. They put everyday items in the back, so that you will have to walk by the entire grocery store to buy milk. Walmart Grocery Pickup takes all of the retail science tricks away, and allows you to shop only from your list.
  • Enables consistent meal planning-  Meal Planning saves money, always. The app allows me to meal plan and grocery shop at the times, all while I look through my cabinets!  No more wandering in a store trying to remember if I have an ingredient for a recipe, or worse, changing my meal plan because I saw something on sale. Sales may feel like you're saving money, but if other ingredients have to be bought, or worse, ingredients you've already bought don't get used, then you didn't save anything. Long term, consistent meal plans save more money that "shopping the sales".
  • Easy contact and review process. I will give Walmart credit, they are very quick to correct mistakes with refunds (to your card, not store credit) and gift cards. A friend of mine had to wait 20 minutes after pick up time (this may happen during busiest time of the day), and after she filled out her review (they send via email) she was given a $10 gift card. Another friend was given a moldy orange, and all her oranges were refunded as soon as contacted them and filled out her review.

  • Grocery Pickup App is easy to use- 
  1. Check-In On your way to Pick Up. The app alerts you when your order is ready, and if you check in when you leave your house, your order comes out the moment you pull into a parking spot! 
  2. Specify items you will NOT accept substitutions for.  I am allergic to eggs, and the app allows me to mark that I will not accept Egg Noodles as a sub for my EGG FREE noodles. 
  3. Easily add a few items items to an existing order. I needed to add a few extra items on Monday to an order I placed on Sunday. They were added and I picked it all up on Tuesday.
Get $10 OFF your first Walmart Grocery!

  • You need the App for it to work right- All the reasons why the app is great are also the reasons why you have to have the app for it to work the best. I used the website instead of the app for two trips: the first time I waited almost 20 minutes after I arrived for them to bring me my items. The app let's them know you're on the way, so your items are already pulled out of freezer and fridge, and ready when you arrive. The second time I used the website instead to he app they gave me awful substitutions (see below).
  • Don't get to pick out your own produce- This is the biggest drawback for me, especially when you're given bad produce. Walmart will refund your money if the produce doesn't meet your standards, but it still means you're out that ingredient you wanted.
  • Bag happy- They give items from different departments their own bags, it has something to do with how they store them before you pick up. Last week they put a small cottage cheese in its own bag. A friend told me she ordered a candy bar, and it got it's own bag! I recycle mine, but it still feels wasteful.
  • Limits your shopping to Walmart inventory- Let's face it, it's Walmart. I like Meijer and Aldi much much better. I have to make every other week trips, or once a month, to a few extra stores because there are items that I just can't, or don't want to, get at Walmart. Last week I stocked up on a month of my favorite chicken stock at Meijer, and tomorrow I will have to hit Fresh Thyme for some of my dairy free options. 
  • Substitutions are sometimes not always logical- Sometimes they give Ragu Sauce instead of Prego, and that is logical. But sometimes they will give you egg noodles as a sub for your allergy friendly egg free noodles. Or Navy Beans when you ordered Black Beans. Not so logical. Again, the app allows you to say what you will accept substitutions for. Without the app, it's still Walmart, and they make not always intuitive choices for substitutions. Again, on the app you CAN specify items you won't accept substitutions for.

Enjoy $10.00 off your first order from Walmart Grocery.

I hope this helps someone who is considering Walmart Grocery Pick Up!  

Monday, March 9, 2020

When Does Empathy Become Enabling?

Feeling a bit more free this morning. I recently was in a conversation with a person who habitually reaches out to contact me only when they're in crisis, and who runs hot/cold in our relationship. They hinted strongly how much they needed help with their current crisis.  I chose to not offer to fix it, but was a listening ear only. I know this sounds cold, but it's truly a victory for this recovering fixer/enabler.

Patterns matter. If anyone else I loved had reached out for help, I would jump at the chance, but patterns matter.

Patterns are not the same as seasons of pain, where we lean in to support a loved one through the pain of grief or loss.

Patterns are repeated cycles of destructive decisions, that either wound you or themselves

We are called to be patient though seasons, but we must be discerning through patterns.

When someone runs hot and cold, repeatedly cutting you out of their life without warning, that is a pattern.

When someone seems to restart your relationship when it suits their emotions or needs, that is a pattern.

It is ok, and Biblical, to protect yourself from the destructive and hurtful patterns of others, especially when you love the other person. Loving a person means loving them enough to have boundaries, even when it's hard.

It is ok, and Biblical, to have boundaries even when you see the pain behind the other's actions.

We think it is loving when we "love without limits", but more times than I can count, my empathy coupled with a lack of boundaries ending up hurting the person I was trying to help.

Empathy is wonderful, and needed deeply in our world. But there is a dark side to empathy.

Empathy without boundaries becomes enabling.

I have chosen to stay engaged in the above mentioned relationship, but I have to willfully choose to lend a compassionate ear, not an enabling hand.

Love someone enough to allow them to feel the consequences of their patterns. Only when the pain of the pattern is too great to bare, will they finally try to break free.


Friday, March 6, 2020

Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12

Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12
Sermon Notes for Kids, Ages 6-12

Do your kids doodle on the offering envelopes at church?  Or squirm and talk loudly during the sermon?  Or do you ask your children on the drive home what they learned about, and they say "I don't know."

My children have been using sermon notes I created for awhile now, and I am happy to now offer them to the public in the form of these inexpensive notebooks! Sermon Notes for Kids can easily slip into a church bag.


 Every page has plenty of opportunities for children to draw, either the speaker or illustrations from the sermon. Drawing is the best way to keep children busy, but also engages learning on their level.
Children can write about their favorite song lyrics, gratitude lists, and other information about the sermon.  Beginning writers can copy words from the power point or your church's bulletin. 
Children reflect on what they are learning about God throughout these notes. Every week has a section for your child to reflect on words or ideas they didn't understand. As a parent, you can review these words with your child every week for teachable moments. Many times my children would write words like "sanctification" and "atonement" in this section (with their own fun spellings of course).  Sunday afternoon became a time to look up and define any words they did not understand.
"I want to thank God for" gives your children an opportunity to practice thankfulness. 

Do you have older children? 
Check out Sermon Notes for Teens!

Sermon Notes for Teens