The Strategic Homemaker

learning to follow the Father, care for the clan, and redeem the resources


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Giveaway! Some Eggs for Easter…

The TSH and I attended a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway this past weekend. It was pretty great, and I picked up the resource below to use in teaching my daughter the Easter story. Then I thought you readers with young children might like one too, so I picked up an extra. If you know someone who might like one, please share this post with them. They are called Resurrection Eggs, and you can read about them here:

Giveaway starts tonight at midnight, ends Tuesday at midnight, and is available to international entries. If the winner lives in the lower 48, I’ll try to mail it so that it makes it to her by Monday. If she lives in Rhode Island, I’ll try to deliver it next Monday, and if she lives internationally, there is no way it is going to make it before Easter this year, but I will mail it soon.

To enter, leave a blogpost comment sharing one of your Easter traditions, and then click the rafflecopter link below to go to the widget (WordPress wouldn’t let me load it here.) Happy Resurrection Day!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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Five Free Toddler/Preschooler Toys

I am always wanting to buy my kids new toys and fun things. Usually I get it under control and refrain. and sometimes, if I think about the toy long enough, I decide to make a version of it myself.  So here are five toys we made in the last couple of months totally free–and easy enough to do as a craft with your kid:

Sock puppets. These socks had been missing their mates when I cleaned out my drawer a couple months ago, and we got it into our heads to make puppets after reading If you Give a Moose a Muffin. Of course, as soon as I made them, I found the mate to the green sock under the washing machine. We may have to make another frog puppet soon.

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New puzzles. My mom used Mod Podge (paint both sides of the picture with it to avoid wrinkling) to glue magazine pictures to cardboard, and then she cut them with a razor blade after they dried.

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Rings to practice stringing or…

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a snake! A papertowel tube or two was sacrificed for this one. (old spools [above] are a bead to string for the more advanced.)6-IMG_7902

A Personalized Memory game. I used blank index cards–just make sure it’s something you can’t see through. This has been played with more so far than several toys we own .

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A playhouse–personally decorated.

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No, these do not look professional, but the kid won’t care, and then you don’t feel bad about throwing them away when you’re done with them.

Let me know if you have any other ideas for quick, free toys!


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Teaching Truth to Toddlers

I never got around to posting my new year’s goals for 2014 or summarizing how we did on last year’s (answer: not too bad except on the television show limit–failed there), but one of them is the same–learn a verse a week. I’m sticking with the fighter verses that Bethlehem Baptist is doing for the year, and I bought PG these: the foundation verses.

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They cost me $8 including shipping, but you could easily make your own. I have just been trying to cut down on things I do myself, and I don’t mind spending a bit extra on tools to help us learn the Bible.

We practice our verses at lunch and switch to new ones on Mondays. PG loves her verse cards, and with the picture and first word prompt can say the first six. Still working on the seventh. Pretty good!


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Church hunting and G.R.A.C.E

(This isn’t a feel-good post. but this is a really important issue, so I hope you’ll read and then check out the resources mentioned below.)

We’ve been checking out different churches since arriving in Rhode Island, and I tell you, finding a church is hard. You’d think, based off some websites, churches expect you to choose them based off their “cutting edge worship,” when the actual reasons we would pick a church can’t be determined from one Sunday morning. I feel like sending out a survey to any potential pastors and seeing what they say to different philosophical issues.

Anyway, one thing I’d like to see at a church is a good child protection policy. I’ve been lately reading about the frequency of child sexual abuse happening in American churches and on the mission field, and it is horrifying. One out of four women and one out of six men are abused as children. That is a huge percentage of the population! I’ve never heard this topic mentioned in church, but it seems like a hippo in the room (hippos being more dangerous than elephants) given the potential numbers of survivors in the congregation. Also, before they are caught, child sexual abusers average 50-150 victims. This was both shocking and sickening to me. Background checks on nursery workers is not sufficient preventative action for this horrible sin against children.

I came across this group, GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), who helps churches develop policies for effectively preventing and responding to child sexual abuse. (Because, when it does happen, churches and organizations often don’t handle it rightly–check out the news). It is not happy stuff, but if you are either a parent or a church-goer, I exhort you to go to their website, and check out some of their resources.  (We watched the videos “Offenders in the church: who are they and how do they operate” and “Minimizing the opportunities: effective child prevention policies.”) If only more people are aware of suspicious behavior, that can help.  Also, go to your church, and talk to them about doing something about this important issue.

Anyway, I hope you guys take a look and find these helpful in protecting your children and leading your church to better serve Christ.

Have you thought about this issue before?

P.S. The stats above were from the first video I mentioned, but here are some other statistics from different studies showing crazy numbers of victims.


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Book Review: Simplicity Parenting

(This is one of the parenting books recommending by a reader and friend after my last spell of parenting book reviews. Also, we’re working on finding a place to live up here in New England, so blog posts may be sporadic in the next month, just to forewarn you.)

Simplicity Parenting:Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne, M. Ed.

Summary: Payne is a child psychologist with experience working with children in war-torn countries and noticed symptoms similar to that of PTSD in kids from well-to-do areas of England (commonly diagnosed as ADD and other disorders). He concluded that the lack of simplicity in their lives was stressing them out, and went about helping parents to simplify the child’s life in four areas which he says resulted in noticeable improvement.

The four areas he addresses are “Environment,” “Rhythms,” “Schedules,” and “Filtering Out the Adult world.”

Simplifying the environment involved paring down toys, books, and clothes to the more basic, and keeping scents and lighting as natural as possible.

Establishing rhythm in your day gave the child more predictability, potentially connection with you, and “pressure valves” throughout the day. He especially liked family mealtimes and bedtime stories.

Simplifying schedules meant not overscheduling, but making sure kids have plenty of free time to come up with their own activities and learn creativity. Payne also appreciated the idea of a day or even moments of Sabbath–quiet, restful family time.

Filtering out the adult world involved keeping the television and internet off limits for kids under seven. [Interestingly, this was also what another secular psychologist recommended in a different book I read.] It involves limiting what you say around your kids to that that is “true, kind, and necessary,” and not discussing adult concerns (including crime, environmental concerns [he had one example of a kid stressed about global warming], or workplace negatives).

Pros: I felt like this book echoed a lot of Biblical principles that secular psychology had found to work–go figure. (E.g. Being content with what you have [Phil 4:11], Sabbath rest, thinking on what is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely…[Phil 4:8]) I also could see how simplifying in the way the book suggested made the parents’ lives more restful (as opposed to adding things to do), and the principles espoused help toward my goal of being strategic with money, because you basically are cutting down on things that require spending lots of money.

Cons: I didn’t agree with this guy’s idea that kids shouldn’t be “racing through ‘Number 23 of the Magic Tree House Series'” because well, I was one of those kids who really liked to read books, including series books, and I still don’t see anything wrong with it. I also was not going to do his suggestion to have a specific type of dinner for each day of the week, such as Soup Sunday. Not my thing.

Overall: I really liked this book. I felt it described the way I want my home to feel–A place of peace rather than hectic stress. TSH and I generally have sought to simplify in the first three areas already, but the place we felt like we needed more work was “filtering out the adult world.” not just from our kid’s life, but from ours as well, haha :).


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“A Mother’s Prayer” Guest Post

I’m excited to share this guest post by Kristyn Getty of gettymusic.com. (I featured them before here.) One of the songs on Keith and Kristyn’s latest Album is “A Mother’s Prayer,” and what follows is Kristyn telling the story behind the song. At the bottom of the post is a special music video they made of the song, along with a link to a Mother’s Day e-card that includes the song, and a link to Kristyn’s journal entries leading up to and entering motherhood. I love this song. It echos my prayer for PG and blesses my heart. I hope this post and the song bless your hearts as Mother’s Day approaches! And for those of you for whom Mother’s Day is hard because you don’t have a baby that you want, one of the prayers in Kristyn’s journal is for you!

Kristyn_Getty

In the spring of 2008 I first prayed for a baby, and in the spring of 2011 God answered that prayer with the birth of our beautiful daughter.  My joy was full but so were the fears I wrestled.  In some ways I felt like a baby Christian again, caught in a whirlwind of emotions, learning and applying what I have known and trusted into a completely new life – I know I’m definitely not the first to feel that!

Friends of ours had given us a card when their first son was born; it was full of prayer requests for his little life, a prayer for every day of the month. My prayers were not quite as coherent as those, especially at first, but the urgency of the moment drove me to my knees.  “Help her, help me” baby prayers at 3am; prayers as I heard the baby monitor light up in the morning; prayers when I thought of her safety, her soul, her future; prayers with my husband; prayers while Eliza listened in.

When people found out that I was pregnant one of the most frequent comments I received was how my creativity would discover a whole new vista of inspiration as I became a mother.  So, when Eliza came I was anticipating a fresh flow of profound poetic thought, but instead I was swept up in the constant flow of changes and feedings and “Old MacDonald had a farm!” I was expecting full sentences, but I was blubbering looking at my beautiful girl! I actually wondered if I’d ever be able to write again.  I just about tucked some thoughts away to ponder later when my brain would start to fit itself back together again (still nowhere near a completed process!). As I continued to learn the wonderful balancing act and privilege of mothering, homemaking, writing, traveling and singing, Keith and I began to write a song for Eliza choosing this theme of praying for her, and the end result was “A Mother’s Prayer.”

My parents have faithfully prayed for me my whole life, and I remember when I was younger my mum met with other mums to pray for all their children – a “Moms in Touch” group in Belfast. Even just the knowledge of that helped me, and I want Eliza to know we are praying for her and trying to guide her in this context that reaches to the call and purpose of her whole life and an understanding of the Lord’s grace and faithfulness. We’re now in the toddler stage and some of the prayer needs are shifting.  We wanted the song to reflect the different seasons – ones we had discovered and then those still to come.  We also wrote it to remind us of our promise to pray for her through all the years we’re given.  We hope this song for her – and even more our praying for her – might catch her ear and help guide her heart as she grows up.

Link to FREE Mother’s Day E-card with music video. (Everyone who sends a card gets 15% of any Getty purchase.)

Kristyn Getty Prayers_Journals


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Book Review: Going Public

This is seriously the last parenting book I am going to review for a long while, because I need to move on to something else.  I had wanted to read this book for a while, though, and it did not disappoint!

The title of Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David and Kelli Pritchard sounds like it would be a book giving reasons to put your child in public education, but it actually is more about parenting in the context of public school. In fact, when someone asked the Pritchards what advice they had for people deciding where to school their child, the Pritchard’s advice was to pray about it and ask God what He wants you to do.

That said, here’s the summary:

The first three chapters look at the public school system and the Bible’s words on schooling, and encourage parents that what they do at home with their kids should be far more of an influence than anything that happens in school, and that the public school can be a good system for helping your kids learn, both academically and spiritually. It’s basically both a defense of their decision to put their children (all eight!) in public school, as well as an encouragement to other Christian parents with children in public school.

The next three chapters go through the three most important things to teach your children, especially for them to succeed spiritually, academically, and emotionally in a public environment. First, teach them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. As one example of a way to be intentional in this, the Pritchards required their kids to be up at 6:30 every school day when they, as a family, read five chapters of Psalms and one chapter of Proverbs. Secondly, teach your children to obey you, not only because this is obeying God, but also because obeying their authority will enable them to do well in school and open opportunities. Finally, teach them to have self control. The Pritchard’s consider this far more important than the culture’s idea of self-esteem, and a necessity if you want your child to make responsible and right decisions when no authority is around.

The next eight chapters give advice to parents on getting involved in the public school, caring and ministering to the people in it, handling difficult situations, having a stay-at-home parent/relative, and addressing issues in which the public school teaching does not line up with the Bible’s teaching.

Pros: This book had a ton of valuable advice for parents, regardless of what type of schooling they decide on for their kids. At some point, your children will need to learn how to honor God in a secular world, and you need to prepare them for that. Also, no matter what form of schooling you use, you need to care for the world, having compassion on them like Christ did, and teach and model that to your children. The Pritchards definitely examplified this. Also, I felt like their advice was manageable–as in, if I just need to worry about teaching my child the three important things, I do not get overwhelmed, I can focus on those.

Cons: Honestly, the only thing I can remember disagreeing with from this book was the Pritchards’ idea about college being super important. (Especially when their kids majored in things that do not help people get jobs in this current era.)  I did wonder sometimes how they did as much as they did, but then, It was 20 years of kids in school condensed into one book.

Conclusion: I definitely recommend this book! TSH and I haven’t ruled out any type of schooling for our kids, but regardless, we want to teach them to honor God and share Christ’s love with the world, and this book gave lots of good ideas on how to do that.

What are some things you want to be intentional to teach your children?