Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Tales From the Backseat (and #TheLoft)

Last week we shared our insecurities, and boy were you all brave! This week at #TheLoft we’re lightening things up a little with our real life funny stories.

I’m not sure if the fact that my babies were going off to kindergarten caused me to pay more attention to their words lately or if they have just reached the funny stage of childhood – either way, kids really do say the darndest things and with four in our house, life can be a real hoot at times. ūüôā

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On our way home from the park during the last week of summer, our princess was exceptionally and unintentionally funny. ¬†Of course, at first she was just really whiny because the water in her bottle was gone and she was really, really, really thirsty. ¬†So thirsty, that it sounded as if she might not survive….

Trying to console her, I said, “We’re only a few blocks away from the house. It’s not the end of the world.”

She grew quiet for a moment, then muttered to herself “It’s the end of the WORLD??!! …I have to tell S– (big brother)!” I dissolved into silent giggles in the front seat.

Not even two blocks later, she began whining again about something she wanted behind the backseat of the van. (It was the longest few blocks of our life, at that point.)  Her twin brother graciously offered to get it for her, unbuckled his seat belt, and stood up while I was driving!  I quickly pulled to the side of the road and gave him the you-must-have-your-seatbelt-on-or-you-might-die speech.

Moments later we finally pulled into our driveway and princess piped up cheerfully from the back seat, “It’s okay, Mom. He didn’t die.” I guess she was waiting for the driveway to see whether my claims about death were true or not. ūüôā

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As I waited in line to pick up our children after their first day of school, I was anxious to hear how it went, especially for our kindergarten twins who were trying out separate classrooms.  After everyone piled into the van and buckled up, I asked each child how the day went. Our third-grade son was brief and very matter-of-fact, as usual.  On the other hand, Princess used all sorts of flowery language to describe her wonderful first day of school.

Then it was her twin brother Daydreamer’s turn. ¬†The thing about Daydreamer is that he lives in his own little five-year-old world much of the time, so you never know what sort of response to expect from him. ¬†I was pleasantly surprised by his answer when I asked how his first day of kindergarten went.

“I didn’t get in trouble.” He grinned at me, dimples showing.

“Good! I’m so happy to hear that,” I smiled back at him.

Then he said it again. My praise was a little less enthusiastic this time.

And again.

And a few minutes later, again.

I thought, Okay, son, I believed you the first time, but now methinks thou doth protest too much! ¬† Thankfully, there were no notes from teacher in his folder. ūüôā

And one last bedtime funny….

One evening after school as I tucked our princess into bed, she told me she was afraid of the shadows on her wall. Attempting to calm her fears, I showed her that most of the shadows were actually coming from her. I told her to wave her hand and the shadow waved back. ¬†She reached for me quickly and said, “I know, but I just hate my shadow because it always copies me.” Then she crossed her arms in her signature pout. I tried not to snort as I stifled my laughter and explained that’s how shadows work!¬†ūüôā

I hope our tales from the backseat made you smile and brought some cheer to your day! ¬†Don’t forget to share your stories in the link-up below (or in the comments if you don’t blog) – be sure to read the guidelines first, of course.

May your week be full of smiles and laughter!

Jen ūüôā

 

 

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post.


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic ūüôā

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Leah
Kathy
Arabah
Jen
Rebekah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

This Week’s Topic: “Something Funny” (Laughter is good medicine and after this week’s topic, we all need a belly laugh. Or as one co-host put it, we need to spit in our coffee. Tell us a funny story, share a funny quote, post a funny picture or video, crack a funny joke. Just be careful with that coffee because this is going to be good ūüôā )


Next Week’s Topic: “Fighter Verses” (What are some of your favorite, well worn scriptures? Which ones do you find yourself going back to again and again? Tell us what spiritual warfare looks like for you and how you use God’s Word to be victorious. We look forward to learning from each other!)

 

Add Your Link Here:

 

 

Also sharing this post with: A Mama’s Story,¬†Cornerstone Confessions

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9 Ways to Save on Kids’ Clothes: Part 2

Last week I shared part 1 of how we clothe our four children on our single-income budget. ¬†Today, I’m sharing the second part of how we save on kids’ clothes, including how we take advantage of end-of-season clearance to buy new clothes a year ahead for our children.

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 Gently Used Clothing (continued from Part 1)

6.Consignment Stores for Children 

In our area, we have a few choices for second-hand clothing stores specific to children.  By far, my favorite is Once Upon a Child.  Most of these stores will screen the clothing they take in (as opposed to accepting anything like some second-hand stores to).  Prices reflect the value of clothing items, based on condition of the item and name brand.  So, when you buy from such stores, you can be fairly certain that you are buying clothes that are free of holes, stains, rips, excessive fading, etc.

What makes stores like Once Upon a Child so attractive to me is the ability to sell your own gently used clothing to the store in exchange for either cash or store credit! ¬†I really appreciate this feature for my daughter’s wardrobe since many of her items are still in excellent condition as she is the only girl.

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If any of my children have wardrobe needs, I will take store credit so that I can purchase what is lacking. ¬†If I have something else in mind to buy from another store, then I will take cash. ¬†Sometimes I even take some of both. ¬†Who doesn’t enjoy shopping without having to spend any money? ūüôā

  • Tips:¬†many of these retailers also accept toys, books, puzzles, baby items, and more.

Pros: wide variety, quality clothing that has been screened, ability to make money

Cons: may not accept all trade-ins, must watch prices carefully (they tend to be a little higher than second-hand stores)

7. Second-hand Stores (Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc.)

Second-hand stores offer a good source of gently used clothing, especially when garage sales are out of season.  Local second-hand stores, rather than chain stores like Goodwill, often offer the best value.  We have a store in our small town that charges only twenty-five cents per clothing item.

  • Tips: Look for 1/2 price days or weekends at chain stores (Goodwill’s is once per month), sack sales, or coupons to save even more money.

Pros: save money buy buying second-hand rather than new, wide variety of items, support charity when shopping some stores.

Cons: prices are often much higher than garage sales (and sometimes even store clearance), some clothing isn’t in the best condition.

8. Facebook Groups and Craigslist

If you are tech-savvy and enjoy shopping online, you can find some great second-hand deals on facebook or craigslist!  Many towns and counties have developed online garage sale type pages for users to sell clothing (and other items) locally, much like Craigslist only via facebook.

I have both sold and purchased clothing items on such a group, and the transactions really depend on the people you are dealing with.  Some sellers/buyers are very honest and easy to work with, while others are just out to make a buck.

Also, safety can be a concern since you will have to meet the party who is selling/buying in order to complete the transaction.  Always, always, always meet in a public place and never go alone if you can avoid it.

Pros: local buying and selling, better pricing than many second-hand stores, easy to find seasonal items like Christmas apparel and Halloween Costumes

Cons: little to no regulation of items being sold, no way to leave feedback for negative transactions, need to arrange meetings, less variety than a second-hand store

Buying Brand New

9. Shop Clearance at Retail Stores

Shopping clearance is really a hobby of mine. ūüôā ¬†I like to shop, but our budget is tight and I want to be a good financial steward of the finances God provides for us. I also know that material things are only transient, so I don’t want to place a high value on them. ¬†Finding a clearance rack allows me to meet needs while also enjoying my hobby. ūüôā

Shopping end-of-season clothing in particular allows us to buy new, quality clothing at second-hand (sometimes even garage sale) prices.  Such items are particularly helpful for our boys since most items will be handed down twice, and some even survive well enough to be passed on to younger cousins!

However, clearance shopping is one area in which I must exercise caution.  The excitement of a good bargain often leads to over-spending or over-buying (how many skirts does one preschool girl really need?!).  Additionally, department stores thrive on marking items up and then promoting a sale thereby convincing consumers they are getting a bargain when, in truth, they are not.   So, before I share my rules for clearance shopping with you, I must caution you not to blow your clothing budget by making the same mistakes I have.

  • Tips:¬†Before you attempt to shop end-of-season sales for next year’s wardrobes,¬†know your prices¬†(takes time and research),¬†know your budget,¬†and know your needs¬†(keep a list if you need to). ¬†My favorite stores for buying quality clearance clothing are JC Penneys, Kohls, The Children’s Place, Old Navy, and occasionally Walmart.

Rules for Bargain Shopping

Buy When:

  • the item is needed (either currently or for the next year)
  • you see evidence of multiple markdowns already
  • you have extra percent off of already reduced prices (I like to wait until items are 70-90% off original prices. For online buying, check for coupon codes at retailmenot.com)
  • you will earn rewards to buy other needed items (such as Kohls cash)

Exercise caution when:

  • you’re tempted by price alone
  • the item will be difficult to match (example: a girls’ skirt with a weird color of pink or purple in it)
  • end of season clearance has just begun (I’ve learned that some stores, Kohls in particular, mark some things as “clearance” that are really just their normal sale prices. If you wait for a few weeks, you’re likely to see much better discounts.)

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Why buy a year ahead?

Whenever possible, I take advantage of seasonal clearance to buy a year ahead for our children (I mentioned this in Part 1 in the Garage Sale section).  Thinking ahead is a technique I learned from couponing, and it makes a lot of sense.  When prices are extremely low, buy more than you need for the present so that when you need the item in the future, you will not have to pay regular price.  For clothing, that translates to buying a size or so larger for the next year.

For example, when summer clothes go on clearance, I think about what they will need for their wardrobes¬†next¬†summer, including swimsuits and footwear. ¬†Thinking ahead is particularly helpful for items that tend to be more costly, such as Easter and Christmas dress clothes. ¬†Example: Once I found a toddler boys’ Christmas suit (vest and tie included) for $1.97, so I bought it even though it would not fit our son for 2 more years.

The only two downsides to buying ahead is that your budget might not allow for extra purchases (even frugal ones) and you may not have the storage space necessary to keep clothing for a year, especially if you already have several children.  In those cases, check for an area of the budget you can pull a little extra cash from (such as food) and ask friends or family for storage space in a garage or attic.

Once you have built up a little clothing in storage, buying ahead will not be as much of a stretch for your budget because you won’t be purchasing as many items for immediate needs.

  • Tips: Be sure to pay attention to how their current clothing fits and their general body type.¬†¬†For example, I’ve learned that our children all have my husband’s long torso, so I usually have to buy one size larger in shirts than in pants. ¬†Additionally, our only daughter is quite thin, so regular pants often look like clown pants on her. ¬†Thus, when buying ahead for her, I only purchase leggings and skinny jeans or slim sizes.
  • Disclaimer: Buying ahead may not work as well in the teen years when youths are prone to skipping whole sizes at once – we’re still learning about these years as our oldest is about to turn 14! ūüôā

That wraps up part 2 of how we save money on kids’ clothes in an effort to live frugally. ¬†Saving money on clothing is just one way that we stretch our budget; for more ideas, read 5 Ways to S-t-r-e-t-c-h a Budget. ¬†I hope you find this information helpful!

Jen ūüôā

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely places.

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Work-in-Progress Parenting: Emotional Children

Last night, our second-born, strong-willed, ball-of-energy-and-strength-and-passion son was showing me a few of his latest “tricks.” I watched somewhat half-heartedly and made the typical distracted mom comments such as “Wow!” or “That’s crazy!” or “How do you DO that?” until he made this horrible grimace. He effectively described it as “putting pressure” on his face. I happened to notice that it looked a lot like his typical angry face. ūüôā

Curious, I asked him why he would do that – put pressure on his face. He matter-of-factly explained that it helps him get his anger out when he’s frustrated or feeling angry. Then he showed me another of his typical angry poses (fisted hands clenched tightly at his sides) and told me that putting pressure on his body helps him get anger out, too. Once he was done with the demonstration, he sauntered away, like it was no big deal for a seven-year-old to have such knowledge of his own emotions and body.
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I sat there stunned. ¬†Not because our son is so intelligent, although he truly is, but because a posture that I tend to “read” as angry disrespect ¬†or rebellion was, in fact, the complete opposite of what I had assumed. ¬†His tense posture was actually an attempt at self-control! ¬†And here I had been scolding him to “have a better attitude” whenever the “pressure” face and those “pressure”¬†hands appeared.

He understood his own emotions (and boy, does he have b-i-g ones) better than I sometimes understand my own.  He was learning self-control methods that work for him, without any help from me.

The conversation reminded me that even though I have now logged over thirteen years of parenting experience, I don’t know it all. ¬†In fact, I never will! Each child is created uniquely and requires unique parenting, a truth I tend to forget.

What I perceived as defiance or disrespect was the most self-controlled, respectful thing my son was capable of in his angry moments.

parenting emotional children

I hope I never again tell him to change his attitude when I see the “pressure face.” ¬†I hope I remember that he’s making a greater effort than I ever realized and applaud him for maintaining self-control in the face of anger. ¬†He has come so far in the area of emotions and self-control in the last few years, and I’m so quick to forget that in a heated moment! I’m so quick to forget that he, too, is a work-in-progress, just like his siblings, just like his parents, just like every other human on the face of the earth.

It wasn’t a proud moment for me, rather it was a thank-you-Lord moment. ¬†I couldn’t take credit for his heart changes; in fact, I was unintentionally discouraging some of the progress he was making. ¬†But God can take credit. ¬†Because our little boy who is so quickly growing into a young man accepted the free gift of salvation a year or so ago. ¬†And in a week, he’ll publicly proclaim his son-ship in Christ before family and friends as he wades into the baptismal waters.

I see the work the Lord is doing in his young heart and mind already. ¬†Even though our son’s passion and energy often cause trouble for him, I have faith that someday he will use those gifts to be a great leader and a bold truth-teller.

What faithfulness on the Lord’s behalf!

My sisters in Christ, when you find yourself in the midst of a season of seeming lack of progress, take heart. ¬†Continue to follow the Lord in your parenting, and wait to see what happens. Pray for their little hearts and minds to open to the Father’s touch.

Look for progress in the little things, the still, small moments. ¬†Remember who your child has been created to be. ¬†He’s created to be different than your other children and different even than you.

Take every opportunity to rejoice over the slightest step forward.

Because God knows what He’s doing. ¬†He created these children, these gifts, purposefully.

Only He can see where that purpose might lead them.

Jen ūüôā

As usual, you might find me linking with any of these lovely blogs.

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True Stories from a Busy Mama

This Five Minute Friday’s challenge word from Lisa-Jo Baker is True. ¬†She’s asking women all over the globe to share their true stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly. ūüôā

true stories

Sometimes I fail as a Mom; it’s true. ¬†Like yesterday when I forgot to put in a load of laundry that happened to contain the soccer jersey my teenage son needed for his game last night. ¬†Let’s just say it didn’t smell the best. ūüôā

I felt so bad for him and so frustrated with myself for forgetting!

And then there are the times when I forget to sign my seven-year-old’s assignment book every night. ¬†Or the times when field trip money is due. ¬†How about the times when someone asks you to do something simple, and you agree, only to forget over and over again?!

The truth is that as a mama of four, my mind is occupied by so many different thoughts, needs, and schedules at one time that some things are bound to slip through the cracks. ¬†It frustrates me because I used to be a very dependable person….before kids. ūüôā

But then I remember something my aunt said on facebook a while back.  She told another relative dealing with mom-guilt that she was mothering well.  Why?  Because this mom teaches her children about the saving grace of Jesus.

And the truth is, that’s enough, isn’t it?! ¬†If shoes go untied and beds go unmade and laundry goes unwashed or unfolded, but we remember to tell our children about Jesus, then we have done the most important thing of all!

Sharing truth, the most important truth in the universe, is the best way to be a “good” mom.

So, if like me you experience an epic fail in your motherhood this week, remember what’s true.

Superwoman is just a myth.

You teach your children about Jesus.

And that’s enough.

Jen ūüôā

You may also find me linking-up with these lovely blogs.

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Top Ten Educational Websites for Kids

Our children don’t spend a lot of time on the computer, as a rule, but when they do, I like it to be as educational as possible. ¬†Over the years, we’ve found some children’s websites that are great and some, well…not so great. ¬†The educational content needs to be high, but so does the entertainment value (from a child’s perspective).

We really like websites that include a variety of options, such as material to read or listen to, games to play, printables, and videos. ¬†We absolutely loooove websites that have all of the above in the form of free content! ūüôā ¬†Since we’re doing preschool at home this year with our four-year-old twins, I thought I would gather our favorite learning websites (in no particular order) all together in one spot.

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best educational websites for kids

  1. PBS Kids –¬†http://pbskids.org/¬†– we love this website for a variety of reasons: the kids love the characters, parents love the educational value, lots of options to choose from (videos, games, online books etc.), appeals to a variety of ages, etc. ¬†It’s also easy for children to navigate. Target Range – toddler through the lower elementary grades.
  2. Highlights Kids –¬†http://www.highlightskids.com/¬†– great variety on this website as well, such as animated books, both factual and fictional texts, printables, crafts and science experiments, etc. ¬†The content is very similar to what you would see in a Highlights magazine, such as hidden picture puzzles, articles on animals, stories about children, and so on. ¬†Target Range – elementary grades, specifically children who can read on their own.
  3. Starfall –¬†http://www.starfall.com/¬†– Starfall is so full of educational information that it’s hard to even know where to begin. ¬†Although much of the content is free, some of the content is restricted to paid members. ¬†There are printables, songs, books for beginning readers, letter recognition, color recognition, even sign language – really too much to list here. ¬†Just go and check it out! ūüôā This site would be especially helpful for those who homeschool. ¬†According to starfall.com, the targeted audience is toddler/preschool through 2nd grade, including content specific to special needs!
  4. Cool Math Games –¬†http://www.coolmath-games.com/¬†– this site is a recent favorite of our second-grade math whiz. ūüėČ ¬†Many of the games included on this site utilize mathematic and scientific principles in a fun format. ¬†Some of the games seem to focus more on teaching the child how to use the keypad and directional arrows. ¬†However, most also involve critical thinking skills. ¬†When I asked our son for his favorites on this site, he mentioned Fruits, Truck Loader 4, and Home Sheep Home 2. ¬†Despite its name, the site also includes reading/spelling games, geography games, mazes, puzzles, and more. ¬†In order to enjoy this site, your children will need the ability to manipulate the directional arrows and the mouse or touchpad (if on a laptop), unless you want to sit and help them. For that reason, I would say the targeted age range would be for older preschoolers through the elementary grades.
  5. Seussville –¬†http://www.seussville.com/¬†– we just love Dr. Seuss in this home, so I had to include this favorite, as well. ¬†This site isn’t as extensive as some of the others I have included, but you can still find good content here. ¬†You’ll find most of it under the Games and Activities tab, including some excellent Seuss-themed printables for coloring, reading, crafting, counting, and adding. ¬†One neat feature is being able to search by specific books or specific characters to find the related games and activities. ¬†The one downfall to this website is that it seems to take longer to load than most when switching between activities and tabs.¬†Target range – Pre-K through lower elementary grades.
  6. JumpStart –¬†http://www.jumpstart.com/jumpstartmoms/¬†– The free content on this site requires a little more digging than others because there is also a paid membership option (similar to Starfall). ¬†However, JumpStart offers tons of free printables (look under the worksheets tab and the activities tab), organized by grade. ¬†Some of the online games, both educational and just-for-fun, are also free. The best thing about this site is the wide age range it caters to: toddler/preschool through sixth grade!
  7. Caravan Friends –¬†http://caravanfriends.org/¬†– I featured this faith-based website in a post about teaching Missions, but it’s also a great site just for learning about other cultures, specifically those in Asia. ¬†Cute characters help to engage children in learning about various regions on this visually appealing site. ¬†Here you will find lesson plans, printables, videos, and more! ¬†The stories and activities are available in the categories of ¬†Preschool, 1st-4th grade, and 5th-6th grade. ¬†Our children really enjoy reading stories about other cultures online as well as watching videos of children from this area. Target range – preschool through 6th grade.
  8. Nick Jr. –¬†http://www.nickjr.com/kids/¬†– ¬†Here you can expect to find videos of your children’s favorite Nick Jr. characters and a few games themed after them. ¬†The Create tab has some online coloring pages, as well, although I found them difficult to use for younger children. ¬†One thing that annoys me about this site is having to watch an advertisement before playing a game or watching a video. ¬†If you have a child who really loves Nick Jr. then watching short ads might not bother you. ¬†I especially like the Dora the Explorer game on this site because it also teaches Spanish vocabulary by allowing children to click on objects within the game and hear the Spanish equivalent. ¬†Target range – toddler through preschool, and possibly up to first grade.
  9. Webkinz –¬†http://www.webkinz.com/¬†– we found this site when our oldest son was given a Webkinz stuffed animal as a gift. ¬†You can buy the stuffed animals at many stores, and they come with web codes to activate an online pet. ¬†This opens up a whole world of pet-care, including creating and decorating a home for your pet, feeding and grooming your pet, and even training your pet. ¬†You can also visit the arcade to earn Kinzcash in order to buy more online items for your pet. ¬†I was very pleased to learn that Webkinz now offers free content that you can access without buying a stuffed animal. ¬†Instead, you choose a free virtual animal, create your login, and play any of the content that is not restricted to members only. ¬†Aside from the fun and learning that comes from caring for a virtual pet, the arcade offers a variety of educational games. Our oldest son had a whole collection of webkinz and enjoyed this site for many years! ¬†Although a child of any age could use this site with parental help, it’s easier for children who can read to navigate on their own. Target range – all elementary ages and even pre-K with parental help.
  10. National Geographic Kids –¬†http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kids/¬†– this site is relatively new to us, but our older boys love to learn facts about animals, places, and so forth. ¬†Here you can find videos featuring animals and countries, games for the brain and some just for fun, craft ideas, recipes, and more. ¬†Kids can even print out fact cards for animals or send animal-themed e-cards to friends. ¬†This site would appeal mostly to those who can read on their own, although the videos might still interest younger ages. ¬†Target range – all elementary ages.

Many of these websites also have links to downloadable apps for those with mobile devices. ¬†If you’d like ideas for board and card games your children might enjoy, be sure to read Our Big List of Favorite Games. ¬†I hope you enjoy exploring some of these sites with your children!

What are your favorite educational websites for children?

Jen ūüôā

If you have toddlers or preschoolers at home, you might also enjoy this list of free resources!

 

I may be linking up at any of the wonderful blogs listed in my sidebar under the Favorite Link-ups tab.

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Firsts Lead to Lasts

Due tomy recent injury¬†at Buttkill Falls, I’ve had extra time to ponder life, and when that happens, I tend to get a bit nostalgic. ūüôā ¬†Maybe it’s because I’m currently medicated, or maybe it’s because I’m missing out on some family life lately. ¬†For whatever reason, when I’m separated from my people, I tend to think about them more. ¬†I miss them. I appreciate them.

As I’m resting and pondering, and thinking about how quickly the first day of school came this year, I realize that we’re about to enter a new season of life as parents. ¬†We have just one more year left with littles at home, and one year before our oldest enters high school. ¬†For thirteen years now, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, but what will I do when all of these firsts lead to lasts?

First smiles and first steps. ¬†First days of school and first solo bike rides. First baby food and first big kid beds. ¬†First instruments and first crushes. So many firsts that we’ve been blessed with.

kids blackandwhite

But these firsts lead to lasts, and what will a born-to-be-a-mama girl do when all of her children are at school for the day?  It seems like these lasts come oh-so-quickly.

Last days of kindergarten and last days of twin high chairs.  Last days of baby clothes and last days of soccer on Saturdays.  Last days of sweet toddler cheeks and last days of bedtime stories.

The truth is, the lasts stink. ¬†I know I’ll miss them. ¬†But those firsts that led to lasts will once again lead to firsts. ¬†Firsts like driver’s licenses and shaving and so much more independence.

And while my children are enjoying a whole new world of lasts followed by firsts, I’ll be opening up to a whole new world of firsts, too.

Kids Bushkill1

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Jen ūüôā

It’s Five Minute Friday again! ¬†We gather together over at Lisa-Jo’s blog and free-write for five minutes on a single word prompt. ¬†No planning, no editing, just writing. ¬†It’s glorious freedom! ¬†If you want to know more, join us at:¬†http://lisajobaker.com/five-minute-friday/

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Our Big List of Favorite Games

As a follow-up to the Mama Mondays post on Why Families Should Play Games, I wanted to provide some practical information on what games to choose for your children, family, ministry, or event. ¬†For those who don’t already know, we have four children, ages four through thirteen, and we’ve spent a lot of years working with children and youth in various churches. ¬†So, over the years we have tried out a lot of different games available and found quite a few favorites! ūüôā

The list I started became fairly large, so I’ve divided it into a few different categories such as age or group size in order to give it a little more organization. ¬†Most of these games can be researched more online. ¬†I also have a pinterest board specifically for learning games and activities where I gather ideas for homeschool or just home learning fun, and an AWANA/VBS board where I gather ideas for youth group and children’s ministry. ¬†For family-specific activities, be sure to visit the Family Fun Day/Night board, too.

Games favorite

Toddler/Preschool Games

Memory (matching, critical thinking, memory) is one of our familly favorites for this age.  We started at the age of 2 (possibly even younger) with our firstborn, but not with the entire game.  For very young children, I would start by choosing out just a few matches to start with and let them get the hang of it.

Hi-Ho Cherry-O (colors and counting and following directions) is another favorite and can be played from an early age with modifications.  In fact, before you even try to play the actual game, you could have your child do some color sorting by putting all of the cherries on the correct trees!

Go Fish – I love this game because you can make your own and use it to teach just about anything: for example,Go Fish Colors, Go Fish Shapes, Go Fish Animals, Go Fish Alphabet, and so on. ¬†Just buy a pack of index cards, print off some graphics (or use colored cardstock) and tape or glue them to the index cards. ¬†Our middle child has been our most active child and has been that way from birth, literally! ¬†Go Fish is one game he would actually sit still for at a fairly young age – young enough that he couldn’t even say, “Go Fish!” correctly.

Trouble – we played this game with our two oldest boys before our youngest (at the time) son could even count. ¬†We just counted the spaces out for him. ¬†Why did he enjoy this game so much? ¬†He looooved pressing the domed popper in the middle. He also really enjoyed landing on other players and sending them back home. ¬†However, we did experience some tears when one of his pieces had to be “sent home.” ¬†At that age, we fudged a little and purposefully tried not to land on him very often. ūüôā

Candyland Рthe best thing about this classic, aside from being candy-themed, is that you move by colors rather than numbers.  Thus, you can easily play with very young children.

Elementary-age Games

(many of the games listed in the toddler/preschool category are still interesting enough for this age group as well)

Pictureka! ¬†We absolutely love this game that was introduced to us by friends! ¬†It is easy enough to play that even very young children (pre-readers) can participate, but also quick-paced and competitive enough that even my husband enjoys playing. ¬†It’s just perfect for our age range of 4 year-olds to parents. ¬†The board is a series of large square tiles that are moved often throughout this picture-finding game. With very young children, you can make every card an all-play card and take a less competitive, more team-work approach.

Battleship – it’s an oldie, but a goodie. ¬†I love this game because it’s challenging enough that my husband and I can play each other for at-home date nights, yet our two oldest sons can also play each other. ¬†Our middle son learned to play it at the age of 6, but probably could have learned earlier. ¬†It’s a game of strategy, and only requires 2 players!

Don’t Break the Ice or Don’t Spill the Beans – both are 2-4 player games that even young elementary children (or even preschoolers) can play as they do not involve numbers. ¬†Don’t Break the Ice uses a small plastic hammer to knock out individual ice cubes until the whole platform falls. Don’t Spill the Beans is a game of balance in which plastic beans are added to a pot one by one until the pot tips one way or the other. ¬†These games both utilize and teach scientific principles!

Our Big List of Favorite Games, games for families to play together, a big list of games categorized by age and use, family game night, games kids love

Teen/Adult

Risk Рa game of strategy and conquest.  You can make and break treaties, create and destroy armies, and take over the whole world!  I think this game appeals more to boys rather than girls, but my sister and I both happen to really enjoy it even as adults. Risk  is time-consuming, but that is part of what makes it fun!

Settlers of Catan  Рsee description in Family category below.

Murder¬†– this game has been a youth group favorite wherever we go, and we even played it at an adults’ game night once! ¬†You need lots of playing space for the game to work well and you also need darkness. We created our own dim area by covering some windows when we played. ¬†Basically, one person is chosen by random to be “it” and is unknown to the other players. ¬†Then, everyone spreads out and the “murderer” is free to work. ¬†What makes this game fun is that when a “body” is found, the lights come on and all players gather together to make accusations and try to figure out who the murderer is. ¬†If the person accused is not truly “it,” then the game continues!

Games for the Whole Family

Jenga Рeasy enough for small hands, but interesting enough for older brains, as well.  We have played this game with our four-year-old twins and it works very well as long as we help them a bit.

Pictureka – see description in Elementary category.

Life – our two youngest aren’t quite old enough for this game, but will be soon. ¬†They still enjoy participating through roles such as handing out pieces or playing “banker.” ¬†This game is a lot of fun for our family and teaches about life choices, careers, finances, and random chance. The first time we played, my husband’s pink “wife” fell out of his minivan game piece and our middle child got the worst case of the giggles. Now every time we play, we talk about the time Dad’s “wife” tried to run away. ūüôā

Settlers of Catan – This is our all-time favorite family game (we actually call it “The Game”) and can be played with as little as 2 players (although it’s not quite as fun) and with as many as 12 if you want to re-paint or decorate some of the pieces like we did. ¬†The game is very unique and involves a lot of strategy and planning, as well as bartering. Basically, you are a “settler” who chooses where to build. ¬†Your object is to grow your territory using resources that you earn according to rolls of the dice. ¬†You build roads, cities, and other settlements as you earn the resources to build with. ¬†You can also trade with other players, but beware of the black robber! ¬†Although this game is a little expensive and takes time to learn, it is well worth the effort and expense!!

Aggravation/ Marble game Рthis game is an oldie, but a goodie.  You may remember playing it on a wooden board as a child.  This game is easy to learn, and is much like the game Sorry in that players can be sent back to home if they are landed on.

Farkle –¬†This is one of the least expensive games ever, but is so much fun. ¬†All you need is a set of dice (6, I believe), a printed out set of rules from the Internet, and paper and pencil to keep score with. ¬†Although this game is numbers oriented, our middle son learned to play at age 6 and really enjoyed it.

Our Big List of Favorite Games, a list of games categorized by age and use, games for family night, games kids love

Large Group Games

Cranium –¬†I love this game, especially for large group play, because it combines aspects of many of my favorite games. ¬†There are 4 categories: one uses word-based clues (missing letters, scrambled letters, spelling, etc.), one uses music/acting based clues similar to charades, one uses data-based clues (true/false, multiple choice, etc.), and one uses clues that require drawing (sometimes with your eyes closed!) or sculpting with clay. ¬†It’s basically like playing pictionary, charades, trivial pursuit, Boggle, and other games all at the same time! ¬†The best part, however, is that you play in teams, so this game can work for anywhere from 4 to 20 or more players.

Apples to Apples – is another party favorite in our home. ¬†It is easy to learn and usually involves a good deal of humor. ¬†It also gives you insight into the people you’re playing with!

Catch Phrase Рis a favorite for me and probably anyone who is good with words and talking.  It can be used in a group as small as 4, but is more fun with larger groups.  The beeping timer makes the fast-paced gameplay even more competitive!

Settlers of Catan – see the description in family games.

Euchre Рan inexpensive card game that requires only a single deck of cards.  You can play with Four or more.  I had never heard of this game until I met my husband, but it quickly became apparent that I would have to learn.  It took me a while to learn this game, but it has quickly become one of my favorite card games!

Hand and Foot –¬†a card game in which you have two “hands” of cards – one to start with and a second one, called the “foot,” that you play when you finish your first hand. ¬†I like this game best when played with partners, in which case you would need at least four players. ¬†If you have enough card decks and table space, you could play with a group of 8-10 easily. ¬†This game simply requires several decks of normal playing cards. ¬†Look up the rules online for more information!

Mafia – this game isn’t your typical board or card game, but can be fun if you have an adventurous group of people. ¬†Basically, it’s a whodunnit? game, narrated by a player who sits out of the gameplay and simply tells the story. ¬†The game involves a “criminal” who points at a victim, a doctor, who points at someone to save, and a police officer or detective who chooses someone to accuse. ¬†The most important part of this game is choosing a good narrator because a lot of fun is in the details that they make up. ¬†Look up the details online!

Wink Murder¬†– okay, so this game may be a bit juvenile for adults, but I guess I’m a kid at heart. ¬†This is another game that you can play on the fly with no preparation and no supplies. ¬†Look up the rules online for more information.

Active Games

Twister¬† – children and teens alike enjoy this game of contorting one’s body in order to touch the correct colored circles. ¬†With our two youngest, we don’t bother with differentiating between right and left since they haven’t learned this yet. ¬†Instead, we just say, “Put your hand on blue.” ¬†Surprisingly, one of the favorite parts of this game is the spinner!

Hide-n-Seek – yes, this is usually an outdoors game, but a few winters ago when I was doing some in-home childcare for a friend, I decided we could play indoors! ¬†In fact, it becomes even more fun when you turn off all but a few lights and play Scary Hide-n-Seek! ¬†Just be sure to tell the players if there are any off-limit areas before you start. ¬†Fair warning, you will probably be asked to hide along with your younger children, especially if you play the scary version. ¬†Another fair warning, if you’re a mom who has had many children and scares easily, go to the bathroom first, seriously. ūüėČ

Sardines – similar to hide-n-seek, only the player who is “it” hides and everyone else tries to find him or her. ¬†The twist is that when you find “it” you have to hide along with them until everyone ends up in the hiding spot.

Simon Says – I know this is an old school game, but my children love it. ¬†The most popular position is Simon, of course, but it’s really good for our younger children to learn to follow directions and to listen!

Mother May I? – another old school game, but gets my children up and active without being too crazy.

Indoor obstacle course – This is mostly for younger children, but older children and parents can participate by creating the course. ¬†Pull out your kitchen chairs, small end tables, and as many pillows as you can gather (you can even use boxes to create tunnels). ¬†Find the longest straight stretch in your home and design your own course! ¬†My children will do the course over and over and over……well, you get the idea. ūüôā

Additionally, Energy-burning Indoor Fun for Kids is chock full of ways to help the kids burn off extra energy when you’re stuck inside.


Well, that’s it for our BIG list of favorite games. ¬†These aren’t the only games we play as a family, but they are definitely our favorites! ¬†I hope you find some ideas for new games to try out at your next family game night. ¬†We’re always looking for new family oriented games to add to our collection, so let us know if you have a great suggestion!

What is your family’s favorite game? ¬†What games would you add to the list?

Jen ūüôā

Sharing with: Family Fun Friday,

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Why Families Should Play Games

 

We love games!  Perhaps this love of game-playing stems from my MK (missionary kid) roots Рno tv, no electricity, but we did have board games!  Perhaps the love for games also comes from many years of working with youth groups.  Perhaps the teacher in me just loves being able to engage young brains in learning activities that are fun and entertaining for the whole family.

I’m sure all of those reasons come into play in one way or another. ¬†Over the years family game night has been something we all look forward to, and I think more families could benefit from it as well! ¬†Even those who don’t have their own families can enjoy similar benefits by playing games with those they have relationships with (friends, neighbors, other relatives, church family).

family game night, why families should play games, what games to play, kids, parents, games, family fun, family night

  1. ¬†Quality family time. ¬†We play games together and laugh together. ¬†Sometimes, we even get mad at each other. ¬†ūüôā Often family game time results in more than just playing a game to win. ¬†While we play, we relate to one another and focus in on one another. ¬†Playing games together leads to a lot of good conversation and sometimes even leads to family jokes that last well beyond game time. ¬†Years later, whenever I hear certain phrases, like “rooooo-aaaaaaddd,” I’m instantly taken back to some awesome family memories. ¬†Some games have even become part of our family identity (Settlers of Catan, for example, is simply known as “The Game” in our household). Why not build game-play into your family identity?
  2. Media-free entertainment. ¬†Yes, I’m one of “those” moms. ¬†Even before our children were born, I knew I didn’t want them to spend a lot of time in front of the tv. ¬†My husband and I have compromised by allowing tv, but with time limits. ¬†So, we try to find other ways to encourage our children to entertain themselves when they are bored. ¬†On rainy days, wintery days, or long summer days of boredom, why not break out a board game or card game?
  3. Frugal entertainment. Other than the initial cost of a game, and perhaps some snack food, you can entertain a whole house full of people for very little. ¬†In fact, we’ve entertained guests with games that you don’t even have to pay for, such as Mafia (a story-telling, role-playing, whodunnit? type of game). Family Fun nights are often game nights when the budget doesn’t allow for taking out a family of six. ¬†Also, My husband and I even have mini-dates at home on occasion when the kiddos are sleeping by playing Battleship or other two-player games.
  4. Learning new skills. ¬†Playing games is not only entertaining, but it can also teach your children new skills, such as counting, matching, planning, developing strategy, problem-solving, and more. ¬†The bonus? ¬†It’s so much fun, your children won’t even realize they are learning. ūüôā
  5. Learning sportsmanship.  Children have to learn how to be good sports, whether they are winning or losing.  We have one child in particular who is extremely competitive and really struggles with emotions in general.  What a perfect opportunity to model good sportsmanship for him and his siblings during family game night.  Additionally, playing together as a family gives children multiple opportunities to make mistakes and grow in the safety and comfort of their own home.
  6. Learning about others. Whether with family or friends, playing games with others is a great way to get to know them better! ¬†When people are relaxed, they are more open and honest about who they really are as people. ¬†One thing our guests are sure to learn about us when playing games is that some of us are more than just a little competitive and that we all like to laugh! ¬†I especially enjoy playing games with my husband. It brings out the silly side in each of us and gives us an opportunity to tease each other, much like the flirting of our early dating relationship. ¬†Game playing fosters a feeling of friendship between us that is important for two busy parents who sometimes end up feeling more like business partners than soul mates. ūüôā

I’m certain there are other reasons for playing games together, as well, but these are our favorites. ¬†I’m happy to know that my children enjoy playing board games just as much as they enjoy playing video games. ¬†Although, I have to also admit that on occasion, family game night does revolve around the wii (Mario Kart, anyone?). ūüôā ¬†The main idea is just to take time to play together. ¬†It’s an investment in your relationships that will multiply endlessly. ¬†As our children grow older, we enjoy family game time more and more!

Be sure to check out Our Big List of Favorite Games for ideas on great games for the whole family.  The list is even organized by age and group size!

The family that plays together stays together…..or something like that, right? ¬†I’m putting family game night on the schedule for this week or next.

Will you join me?

Jen ūüôā

How does your family enjoy games? What are your favorites?

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12 Twin Tips for Survival

twins collage

If you haven’t visited this blog before, you might not know that we have a set of twins (boy/girl) who are now four years old. ¬†I never would have imagined myself having twins, and in fact, I had mixed feelingsat first (read the story here).

However, our twins have brought a doubled joy to our lives that I could never have imagined.  There is something so precious about watching them sleep side by side or hold hands as they walk down the sidewalk. Observing their unique bond has been a true privilege.  I hope they will always be best friends of sorts even though they are different genders!

Along the way, I’ve learned some methods for dealing with the not-so-cute moments of what can easily become twin madness, and I’d like to share them with you today. ¬†These methods would also work with children who are close in age to one another! ūüôā

1. Divide and conquer. ¬†Whatever the difficult task is that you are facing, It can be much easier to handle one at a time. For example, I read many success stories from mamas who simultaneously potty-trained their twins. It seems that for these blessed mothers, what one twin did, the other followed. ¬†However, for us it wasn’t quite as simple. Our son was just not ready, but our daughter was! ¬†She insisted on using the potty even though I wasn’t trying to train her. ¬†So, I decided one at a time might actually be easier, and it worked! Not everything must be done in pairs. ūüôā

OR….

2. Kill two birds with one stone. ¬†Some twin tasks are just easier to do together, such as diaper changing (one right after the other, of course), nursing (huge time saver if you can get the hang of it), going to the doctor, bathing, and feeding snacks or meals. ¬†When you already have all of the “stuff” out, you might as well get it over with for the other twin, too! ¬†I even learned such talents as double burping, which only lasted a month or two. ¬†Part of finding my groove with the twins was learning which technique worked best for which tasks – either #1 or #2.

Additionally, sometimes it even makes a difference which twin you do first! After a while, I learned to always put my twin son’s shoes on last because he would try to take them off if we didn’t leave the house immediately. ¬†My daughter didn’t seem to mind the shoes, so I could count on her to leave hers on while I wrestled with her brother. ūüôā

twin tips3

3. Set up stations!  When the twins were infants, this was a lifesaver when it came time to do something like prepare a meal, or work with an older child, etc.  I had a rotation of baby devices for them and when they began to grow weary of one (after about 10 minutes), I would quickly rotate them to the next thing in line.

Instead of having two of everything, we found we only needed one of most things and thankfully, many of these devices were given to us.  So, at one point in time we had out an exersaucer, a jumperoo, a bouncy seat, a playmat, and a walker (before the walker days, we had a swing). Even today, our twins will  often choose different tasks at the same time.  One wants to color while the other one wants to work with playdoh.  When they get bored, we just switch!

4. Identify the tough times. ¬†We definitely had specific times of the day that were much more difficult than others. ¬†Meal times, bedtimes, and late afternoon seemed to be the worst for us. ¬†Once we identified those tough times, we were able to problem solve a little to try and make them as easy as possible. ¬†Sometimes identifying and problem solving require a little trial and error, but when you get desperate, you’ll try anything! ūüôā ¬†If all else fails, then….

5. Enlist helpers!  By far the best thing we ever did was to accept the gracious offers of friends and family to lend a helping hand.  Many ladies from church took turns helping me with afternoon feedings (my husband worked second shift at the time) even when the twins were quite small.  I would either pump ahead of time or I would take that opportunity to nurse one infant at a time and the company could play with the other twin.

We also are blessed to have a very helpful oldest son. ¬†He often rocked a fussy baby while I cooked supper or helped our middle child with a problem! ¬†Additionally, for a few months I enlisted the help of one of our teenage nieces. ¬†I paid her very little (because that’s all we could afford), but she loved coming over to help with the kids. It was totally worth the financial investment. ¬†Do not be afraid to ask for help, especially in the early months – it will save your sanity! ūüôā

twin tips2

6. Schedule, schedule, schedule. ¬†I wasn’t a very schedule-oriented mom when it came to nursing or even napping our first two children. ¬†Our firstborn sort of fell into a schedule all on his own, and our middle child fought any sort of schedule from day one! ¬†However, I’m by nature a planner, a scheduler, so I like at least a loose form of organization. ¬†And after our strong-willed middle child, I was determined to start off right. ¬†With two babies at once, I knew that I was going to need to be a little more of a tough mommy in order for us to survive. ūüôā

Since our twins were born prematurely, they spent time in the NICU and came home already on a strict feeding schedule. ¬†So, we were already off to a good start. ¬†However, our infant son was not always happy to keep to the same schedule as his sister. ¬†It was hard work to find a happy medium, but I knew I wouldn’t handle feeding and napping at different times very well. ¬†Persistence paid off, and the majority of the time, they ate together and napped together.

Find a sort of schedule that works for you! ¬†The best pattern to follow for those first 6 months or so is eat – wake time- then sleep, which is the opposite of what many babies naturally do. ¬†However, this pattern sets your infants up not only for feeding success, but for sleeping success as well! ¬†You may be tempted to let sleeping babies go undisturbed, but it will be worth working to keep them awake when they reward you by sleeping for longer periods of time. ¬†Trust me. ūüôā

7. Invest in the gear that makes your life easier.¬† Being a parent is hard work. ¬†Being a twin parent is sometimes doubly hard work! ¬†Some baby gear makes that work a lot less difficult and is worth every penny. ¬†For example, my husband and I debated about whether or not to purchase a double snap-n-go stroller. ¬†It’s basically a metal frame stroller that the infant carrier car seats can snap right into. ¬†Thanks to some generous gifts, we had the necessary funds and decided to go ahead and purchase it.

Next to my twin nursing pillow, it was the best purchase we ever made for the twins! ¬† It made so many outings much easier, even those I had to navigate alone – going to church, going to the store, going to the library, going to the doctor. ¬†I was no longer confined to the house, which made me and our two older children very happy! ¬†Later we switched to a double jogging stroller, courtesy of my father-in-law’s fabulous auction skills, and the last stroller we owned was a double sit-n-stand, which I highly recommend for the toddler to preschool years. ¬†When one is tired of sitting in the front seat, you can switch them out to standing, kneeling, or even sitting in reverse in the back seat.

8. Keep your older children occupied. ¬†Sitting down to nurse ¬†or feed two infants isn’t an easy task, especially if you also have an active three-year-old on the loose. ¬†Sometimes our middle child would escape into another room and I would just pray that he wasn’t destroying anything of value! ūüôā ¬†I learned that if I did not find something to occupy him before it was time to nurse, it would be a frustrating experience for us all.

I wish I had known back then about busy bags! ¬†If you don’t know what they are, you need to find out. ¬†Just look up busy bags on Pinterest or Google and find a variety of ideas for quiet play. ¬†I have quite a few pinned on my Learning games and activities board. ¬†Books worked well for us, as well as singing. ¬†Sometimes I would even ask him to perform tricks for me while I was sitting. ¬†And when all else failed I turned to Netflix or PBS Kids. ¬†Did I mention that having twins also taught me to lower my standards a little? ūüôā

9. Remind your older children that they are special, too! ¬†Sometimes older siblings have jealousy issues, and then sometimes they have twin fame issues. ūüėČ ¬†Twins not only require a lot of extra attention from mom and dad, they also attract a lot of attention when you are out and about. ¬†People love to look at them and ask questions about them. ¬†This might leave your older children feeling a little ignored or neglected. ¬†Going on one-on-one dates really helped our older children when they were exhibiting signs of attention-deprivation. ¬†Also, relatives stepped in often and took one or both of them for special activities or sleep-overs. ¬†Sometimes it’s as simple as mentioning something special about your older children when people are ooo-ing and aaahhh-ing over the twins.

boys

10. Remember that it does get easier! ¬†Those early months are oh-so-tough. ¬†I well remember the sleepless nights, the double diaper blow-outs, the duets of screaming banshees, the illness multiplied by two in winter months, and sometimes it felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. ¬†But there is. ¬†Those twins will grow up and while you’ll always have two at the same stage, rather than one, as they grow older it feels a lot less like double duty and a lot more like having two children very close in age. Believe it or not, our twins are so different in looks and personality that sometimes I momentarily forget about their special bond!

Focus on one day at a time, until you can focus on one week at at time, and eventually one month, and so on. I distinctly remember watching our twins play on the floor one day while their older brothers played at the table. ¬†I was happy; the older boys were happy; the babies were happy. ¬†I remember thinking, “We’re not just surviving anymore, we’re actually thriving!” ¬†And we were!

11. Count your blessings. ¬†On those really rough days, the ones when you barely limp across the finish line that we mamas like to call bedtime, try to let go of the challenges and remember the blessings of having twins. ¬†There are many difficulties in raising twins, but there are equal, if not more, unique blessings wrapped into those challenges. ¬†So when the days are dark, count those blessings. ¬†Remind yourself of the things that you enjoy about your double gift, how one baby catches the other’s eye and the face lights up, how ¬†they “talk” back and forth to one another, even answering one another’s cries, how they take turns giggling, and just as one is winding down, the other one revs up ¬†and it starts all over again. ¬†Remember those good things; cling to them!

12. Pray. ¬†It sounds simple and everyday, but it’s not. Prayer is powerful! ¬†Some days I woke up after a sleepless night asking the Lord for supernatural strength because I just didn’t have it in me. ¬†He literally carried me, not just mentally but physically, ¬†through many of those early weeks or even months. ¬†I know others were praying for me, too – the power was almost palpable at times.

Don’t underestimate the Power of the Spirit; pray for the things you need to raise those twins – for finances, for strength, for wisdom. ¬†I even consulted the Lord on such mundane things as “Should I pick up this crying baby or would it be better to let him cry it out?” While I didn’t get a direct answer to that question, I was overwhelmed by the peace of His presence. ¬†And suddenly, I realized that maybe it didn’t even matter as much as I though it did. ¬†Maybe there is no perfect way to parent, no perfect way to potty train or sleep train or breastfeed or, or, or… ¬†That peace set me free. ūüôā

trust in the Lord

Proverbs 3

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

If you have young twins or are about to have twins (or even children very close in age), I hope you find this post helpful.  And if you are already a twin mama and you have some advice to share, please feel free to share in the comments!  I love finding out what works for other moms and seeing if it will also work for me.

Jen ūüôā

Sharing this post with: How Do You Do It?

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Much Ado about Missions: Introduction

Much Ado about Missions

I’m very excited to introduce you to a bloghop series taking place here over the next few weeks – Much Ado about Missions! This series has been in the works for over a month now and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the kick-off! ¬†Since I spent the majority of my growing up years as an MK (missionary kid), global missions is a subject close to my heart. ¬†But lately, I‚Äôve been plagued by questions of¬† Am I doing enough? and What else can I do?

I’m very blessed to have two other bloggers join me in this missions series, as we attempt to answer some of these questions.

           My sister Sarah, from Love Notes,  not only grew up on the mission field, she also elected to return to PNG  (Papua New Guinea) for a while during her single years.  Currently, she and her minister husband serve at a church in Ohio, as well as at the local city mission.  She is also mama to a step-daughter, an adopted child, and several foster children.

     My blog-savvy cousin Angie, from My Four Monkeys, is a homeschooling mama of four.  Angie writes all over the web for companies like Tommy Nelson and Alex Toys, as well as on her own blog.  She also serves faithfully in her local church, alongside her husband.

So what’s the big deal about global missions anyway? ¬†We’re all called to be missionaries where we live, right? ¬†We should be sharing the gospel in our homes, with our neighbors and co-workers, and so forth.

missions waiting for good news Source of info: The Joshua Project

The big deal is that nearly one-third of the world’s total population remains unreached, meaning these people have had little to no opportunity to hear the message of salvation! ¬†They often live in fear of evil spirits or gods and sometimes even participate in horrors like witch-burnings and ritual killings out of those fears. ¬†Some are trapped by societal boundaries of caste systems or governmental boundaries such as communism.

While we here in America are blessed to find churches on many street corners and ¬†bibles not only in our own language, but also in a plethora of translations, our overseas friends are not. ¬†Even driving down the highway, we often see crosses or billboards proclaiming God’s truth. ¬†And with the rise of the Internet, the possibilities are further increased! ¬†Those unsaved relatives, friends, and neighbors might not know Jesus personally, but most of them at least know¬†of¬†Him.

But for a tribal man, woman, or child in an unreached location, the gospel message is simply not present. By some estimates, the ratio of American churches to unreached people groups ¬†is 140:1. ¬†One hundred forty American churches for every one group of people still waiting to hear the Good News! Are you as surprised by that number as I am? ¬†As a minister’s wife, I know the unsaved are with us here too, but the need for these unreached people groups is even more urgent yet often more easily ignored. ¬†They have no neighbors who believe, no Bibles to read, no billboards, no Internet, no gospel tracts, no revivals, no churches, no outreach ministries… nothing to connect them with life-giving Good News!

We have a responsibility as Christ-followers ¬†to reach out to the unsaved on all levels – within our families, our local communities, our countries, and¬†yes, even our world! Let’s not forget our overseas brothers and sisters who are without hope.

go ye

We¬†must¬†be involved with global missions in some way (even if we can’t physically go ourselves), and we¬†must¬†teach our children the importance of reaching the unreached, whether they live nearby or ¬†halfway around the world. Not to be ‚Äúgood‚ÄĚ Christians or to pat ourselves on the back but because‚Ķ

People.

 are.

 dying.  

without ever having even a single opportunity to hear of the Father’s great love for us, without a chance to experience true freedom.

Please take a moment to view this powerful message from the Joshua Project. I promise it will be worth your time! Be sure to watch it to the very end – the last few seconds are important.

So, what can we do? ¬†We may not all be able to go at this point in time, so how can we reach out beyond what is comfortable to us? How can we foster a missions mindset in our homes? ¬†I’ll be honest with you that I struggle with these questions. ¬† What exactly does the Lord require of me and our family in regards to missions?

I don’t have all of the answers, even for myself. ¬†My husband is a pastor and much of our “missions” work occurs right here in our neighborhood, but I am convinced that I must not forget that there is a world of dying, unreached people out there, as well. ¬†I hope this series will answer at the least a few of those questions for us and for you, our readers.

We are excited to share with you some amazing materials and methods for teaching missions in your home or in your church, as well as ways to experience missions as a family, and even ways to pray specifically for the most unreached people groups of the world.

In addition to my own posts, I’ll be sharing links to the other bloggers’ posts both here on Being Confident of This and on the¬†facebook page.¬†I hope you’ll join us for the next few weeks as we explore the area of global missions!¬†

The first post, 8 Resources for Teaching Missions in the Home, is live now!

Jen ūüôā

For more statistics on why the need is so great, read here:

http://writtenreality.com/209-million-is-a-very-big-number/

http://weheartnepal.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/life-in-the-fll-why-we-do-what-we-do-part-2/

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