52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family

January 22, 2015 in Family Room, Mailbox

I have never been one of those moms who cries at every milestone, sad to see my babies grow up. I love my babies, but I love to see how they will conquer the next stage of life. It’s exciting to see them get older and grow in wisdom and beauty and see their personalities blossom.

There has been one HUGE exception to this general rule, however.

Junior High. Ugh.

There is just something about sending my sweet, innocent babies to junior high that knocks the wind out of me and leaves me gasping for air.

Kindergarten? Bring it on! High school? No problem! But junior high still gives me nightmares and makes me wish I could keep my family in a force field, a bubble of safety where my babies can stay young and innocent.

incredibles forcefield 1

But because school teaches much more than just reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic, and Steve and I believe it is important for our kids to learn those valuable lessons, we send our little girls off to junior high, cringing and holding our breath and hoping we have prepared them well enough for those difficult years.

Since I don’t have a force field, I have to find other ways to strengthen my family, to fortify them against the dangers of the world. The most important way I know to do this is to teach them who they are, to instill in them an understanding of where they come from and what makes them great.

Ultimately, I want my daughters to know that they have another parent who loves them and knows them even better than Steve and me, a Heavenly Father from whom they have inherited divine attributes that make them great. I want them to understand that their relationship to God is the most important relationship they will ever have and that it needs to be constantly nourished. I want them to know how to talk to Him and how to hear His voice. I know that their relationship with Heavenly Father will be the greatest source of strength in their lives and can be their “force field” to keep them safe no matter what they encounter.

Instilling this knowledge in our children takes time and consistent effort, but life is so busy! Between youth activities, church meetings, orchestra concerts, play rehearsals, and team practices, not to mention homework, playing with friends, chores, and a million other demands on our time, we are lucky to spend time together on any given day. I have gone a full 24 hours without seeing Beth at all — and we live in the same house!! That’s crazy!

website header amazon bestseller2

I was so excited when I heard about this new book from Nicole Carpenter: 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages. The idea behind this book is so simple but so powerful: daily 5-minute devotionals for your family. Nicole has put together 52 weeks of daily devotionals, arranged by topic so you can find exactly what your family needs in any given week.

I love that each daily message is short, but even more than that I love the extras that really turn your devotional into something meaningful. Each daily scripture discussion is right on topic, and the weekly questions start real discussions with opportunities to learn and bear testimony. I love that Nicole has included a reference to a conference address each week for more insight into that week’s theme. This could easily become your Family Home Evening lesson for the week.

52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family book cover Armor Your Children

I love that the book is small. That may sound strange, but it’s just not intimidating. At first glance it looks like something we can manage and enjoy. I have been thinking for months that I want to print a weekly quote and and display it in a frame where we will pass by it often and read it. Nicole is right there with a weekly quote, too! I can’t wait to get it printed so it is right in front of us and on our minds all week long.

I believe one of the best tools for strengthening our family is to make the gospel a part of our everyday lives. We live it, of course, but it’s also needs to be a normal topic of conversation. We talk about scriptures we have read, lessons we have learned, times that we have seen the hand of God in our lives and received answers to prayers.

“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins”  (2 Nephi 25:26).

How will our children know the importance of the gospel in our lives if if’s only something they see on Sunday? We need to make sure we’re bringing the gospel into focus every day. I love that 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages brings the gospel into focus for a few minutes each day. I am so excited to make it through all 52 weeks.

52-Weeks-to-Fortify-blog-tour1

I am even more excited for the chance I have today as part of this blog tour to give away a copy of Nicole’s book! You can enter using the Rafflecopter below. Or you can order your own copy of 52 Weeks to Fortify Your Family: 5-Minute Messages today and get to work building that force field around your family!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Does junior high scare you, too? What do you do to fortify your family?

Managing the Morning Madness

September 15, 2014 in Linen Closet

morning-rush


I am generally not a first day of school crier. I remember shedding a few tears when Chuck started kindergarten. My baby started school! That’s the ONE time in all of the first days of school over the past 12 years that these cheeks have been wet, until today… oh my, did I shed a tear or two.

Steve and I learned about a K-8 school in our community that sounded like the perfect fit for our girls, so we got on the waiting list and waited. Last week the call came that a spot was open for each of them! We got all of the paper work turned in, said goodbye to the old school, and this morning was The First Day of School: Take 2 for Babs, Joy, and Chuck.

They’re going from a regular public school to a charter school with some different rules. One of those new rules is the requirement to wear school uniforms! We spent the weekend trying to find just the right clothes to meet the uniform guidelines and help the girls feel cute and confident.

uniforms confidence

Just look at those cute, confident kids. Have you ever tried shopping for an entire school uniform wardrobe 3 weeks after school has already started? For 3 kids? In 2 days? During soccer season? We had about 2 hours on Thursday night and some time on Saturday, and not a single store we needed to visit was in town. The uniform sections of every store we visited were picked over and hardly had anything available in the sizes we needed.

Somehow we ended up with enough outfits to make it from laundry day to laundry day for each kid. Tender mercies and blessings. That’s the only way we got it done. We even got some funky Old Navy pricing that helped a lot with the budget – shirts for a penny and the jumper Joy fell in love with for 97 cents!

school bell clock

Another big change with the new school is the starting time. It works out perfectly for Steve to take them to school on his way to work (hooray!!!!), but since they start earlier and have to drop off Bree at junior high on their way, they have to leave an hour earlier than they are used to.

There are some mornings that they barely get out the door on time as it is, but now we’re cutting off an entire hour every morning. There really is no reason why getting ready should take them so long. Most of their time is spent lollygagging and playing with the toys they find while searching for their shoes. Which means most of my morning is spent reminding, nagging, and eventually yelling. Not exactly how I like to send my kids off to school every morning.

And don’t even get me started on our issues with shoes. I can’t even begin to count how many hours of my life I have spent searching for lost shoes, but I’m pretty sure if I could get all of that time back, I could write the great American novel… or 7. But there’s no time for shoe hunting anymore – or shirt hunting, or underwear hunting, or “Mom, where is the sock basket???” or “I can’t find any pants without holes!”

I know it sounds like we never do laundry, but I do! Unfortunately, they don’t feel any need to put those piles of clean clothes away… We’ll work on that issue another day.

Basically, if we’re going to make this new schedule work, we are going to need some help. So here’s my brilliant idea to make the mornings run smoother.

closet-organizer

So simple, and I am so in love with it already. I picked up a 6-shelf hanging closet organizer and  labeled each shelf with a day of the week. The labels are simple and straight forward – days of the week printed on cardstock, different colors so it’s easy for the girls who share a closet to keep it straight. I folded the top of each word strip over and used duct tape to attach them to the shelves. There is probably a fancier way to do it, but I’m trying to stop making my life more complicated than it needs to be. (HA!)

Since shoes are the bane of my motherly existence, I made the sixth shelf for shoes. It’s empty right now because the shoes are on those cute little feet at school. Hallelujah!

On laundry day, the girls put together 5 outfits – including everything they need to get dressed and ready that day (underwear, socks, hair clips, etc.) – and put one outfit on each shelf. When they wake up in the morning, they don’t even have to think about it or search for anything. They cheerfully get out of bed (right???), hop on over to the closet, and put on the clothes on that day’s shelf. Voila! Instant morning awesomeness.

This morning they were completely dressed even before family scripture study. Usually they’re still half asleep and wearing half of their bedding because they dragged it with them when they dragged themselves out of bed. I know the first day of school excitement will wear off, but this simple system will keep on helping our mornings run smoothly and our sweet little students get out the door on time. I wish I had thought of it 12 years ago. Just think of all of the time I could have spent *not* searching for clothes and shoes every school morning and all of those mornings I could have sent my cuties off to school without being nagged out the door.

How do you improve the morning rush?
school-clothes


Go Clean Your Room: Help for Young Kids

September 3, 2014 in Linen Closet

clean-your-room-chart


Do you ever walk into a room you know you need to clean, take a look around, and get completely overwhelmed? You have no idea where to start or how to get organized, and you feel like you can’t possibly get it done.

Right now I’m dreading the storage room I know I need to clean out and organize. Help!

Now imagine you’re 4 years old. Mom says to clean your room, but you take a look around and get completely overwhelmed. You have no idea where to start and feel like you can’t possibly get it all done. And it’s probably all someone else’s mess anyway.

I have to admit, there have been times when I have sent my kids to clean their room just so the house would be quiet for awhile. I know they’re just in there playing with their toys while the mess gets bigger, but I’m totally okay with that. Am I the only one?

When my kids got overwhelmed about cleaning their rooms, I made some checklists to help them make it manageable. “First, clean off your bed so you have a place to sleep tonight, then take care of the laundry so you can see the floor…” That sort of thing.

But I still had a problem to solve. The younger kids really had no idea what they were doing and they couldn’t read the checklists. Clip art to the rescue!

clean-room-chart



They needed some extra help, so I put together this nifty little chart to help my pre-readers follow the steps to clean their room.

Here’s how it works:

  • Print on cardstock
  • Laminate (mostly because I’m completely addicted to my laminator)
  • Attach to clipboard because my kids feel cool when they get to use a clipboard
  • Attach a whiteboard marker

Mark off the steps as you go and Voila! The room is clean.

Click here or on either image to download the chart and see your kids’ bedrooms get cleaner in no time.

Do your kids clean their own rooms?

 

A No-Nagging Solution for Screen Time Sanity

May 6, 2014 in Linen Closet

Get the kids to finish their work before turning on the electronics with no nagging required? Count me in!


Yesterday when my kids walked in the door after school, they went straight to the TV. All 5 of them! No kisses for Mom. No telling me about their day. Not even a snack. Straight to the TV.

Please tell me I’m not the only one whose kids have days when they would rather watch a movie than download their day to Mom.

It’s not that we don’t have rules about screen time. They just choose to “forget” about them until I start nagging.

I hate nagging.

My expectations really aren’t a big mystery. The rules are the same every day. You finish your homework, jobs, and piano before you can turn on a screen. Simple.

Kids & Technology Toolkit

The only exception is when you need to use the computer for your homework. Hey, I’m not completely unreasonable.

I don’t think I’m asking too much.

  • Homework includes whatever the teacher assigned that day and reading for 20 minutes.
  • Jobs include 1 kitchen job (like unloading the dishwasher or sweeping the kitchen floor), 1 daily job (like taking out the trash or cleaning a bathroom), and straightening their bedrooms (just a quick pick things up and put them away so it doesn’t get out of control).
  • Piano practice is playing each song in their lesson assignment 3 times.

 

If they drag their feet and complain about it for awhile, it still takes less than an hour to get it all done – on the harder job days.

But it still doesn’t get done. Grrrr.

Have I mentioned that I really, really hate nagging?

So in an effort to avoid the nagging and still get what I want – and ultimately what is best for our family – I made this handy little sign.

Get the kids to finish their work before turning on the electronics with no nagging required? Count me in!

 

It hangs next to the TV and the computer. Now all my little screen-addicted children need to do is ask themselves those 7 questions before they turn on those electronics and everyone is happy!

Well, mostly me. But some day they will thank me.

I’m sure of it.

Do you need to stop the screen time nagging, too? Just click on this link or the image above to get to the full printable version of my screen-time sign.

Do you have screen-time rules?

Can you fire a tooth fairy?

April 2, 2014 in Playroom

I think we need a new tooth fairy.

A tooth fairy’s job requirements are pretty straight forward. Child looses tooth. Child places tooth under pillow. Tooth fairy retrieves tooth while child sleeps and leaves a small gift under the pillow.

Simple, right?

Apparently it’s trickier than I think because my tooth fairy can’t seem to handle it. My kids wake up morning after morning and excitedly sneak their hands under their pillows in search of a fun prize, but every time they retrieve only an old tooth.

Every. Time.

Do you know if there are any unemployed tooth fairies looking for a little extra work? I’m pretty sure I need to find a replacement.

 

tooth-fairy silhouette

I don’t mean to brag, but I have become quite an expert on coming up with tooth fairy excuses.

“I think she’s just running a little late today, sweetie. Why don’t you try checking under your pillow again? Now please excuse me, I need to run upstairs a few minutes before you do.”

“The tooth fairy doesn’t have as much magic as Santa, so she can’t get to the all the kids in the world in one night.”

“When you lose your tooth so late in the day, the tooth fairy doesn’t have time to put it on her list, so she adds it to the next day’s list.”

My kids always buy it. Every time. So what’s the problem? Well, as the mom, it’s my job to keep things like tooth fairy magic alive. Is it too much to want my 11-year-old to keep believing?

The other day when I was spinning yet another impressive tale excusing our tooth fairy’s shortcomings, my sweet Babs joined in with a few extra embellishments.

“…the good thing about the tooth fairy being late…is she leaves extra money under your pillow! Right, Mom?”

What do you think? Is she on to me?

How is your tooth fairy working out for you?

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