Sunday, January 31, 2010

From Tots to Teens ~ House Rules

Five years ago I saw a similar poster hanging in a friends home. I asked them about it and sure enough it covered pretty much everything. A year later Lexi (our oldest daughter) and I made this poster below and it has been hanging in our kitchen ever since!


If you read my first two posts then you know we take obedience and trusting in our children pretty seriously. If you would like to read a post I wrote over eight months ago on trust – click here. Being able to trust in your children is a big deal. Big enough that God has written about it since the first man and woman! Adam tried to blame Eve for his being swayed to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:12). Over and over again examples are shown to us throughout the bible how God views lying. Spend some time in Proverbs to hear directly from God on a lying/deceitful mouth.

Our children learn from an early age to recite the house rules so when they are corrected for not doing them they can’t say they didn’t know. They are simply asked, “what did you do wrong?” Then asked, “how could you have done it differently?” They rarely say, “um I don’t know", “or what are you talking about?” Because they see these rules day in and day out and they hear them being brought up when someone hasn’t followed them. No different than us stepping outside of the rules we know God is asking us to follow. He wants one thing of us – trust and obey Him at all cost. No matter what.

Rule #2 can be abused much more than any other rule in our home. From hitting, taking a toy, not sharing, using words that are not loving to the biggest offense lying! I would rather they slap me across the face than lie to me. I have a feeling God may think the very same thing. He would rather we shake our fists at Him than be foolish enough to believe that we are getting away with anything. Remember there is NO place you can hide that He doesn’t see or a thought you can thank that He doesn’t already know. Humbling and keeps me focused on speaking the truth to God and others. No sense in wasting His time or mine – I lay it right out. I messed up here, here and here – please give me the grace and wisdom to not do that again!

God wants a faithful servant. He wants us to speak in truth and love. God is love. God is truth. God only works in truth and love. Everything we do that is not in love is a sin against a holy, perfect and righteous God. Every time we tell a lie – God says we are telling the person we are lying to that we hate them. Ouch!

A few of our children struggle in this area more than others. It has taken me a long time in prayer to stop allowing their lies to affect how I treat them or parent them. I took their lying personally and got so offended. It would mess me up for the entire day and sometimes more than one. I was ashamed of how hurt I was and how it was effecting our relationship. Slowly God showed me how to teach them to live out rule #2 in our house down to no lying. It is not perfect by far but we have come a LONG way!

We remind them that even when we don't catch them in a lie God always knows the truth and the only way to be set free from the sin they committed is to tell the truth. A painful lesson we want them to learn as young as possible!

"...he who loves his son disciplines him promptly." Proverbs 13:24

"For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." Proverbs 3:12

Our children know that if we stop correcting them - they should be concerned...God warns the same thing. If you have stepped so far from Him that you are not even aware of His correction - you are not abiding in Him and His love for you can't be felt. His love is always there - just now you are too far away to realize it and your desire to be put back on the right path is pushed down too deep.


You see it is not enough for your children or you to simply memorize bible verses. They need to be put into action…be doers of My word. How do we show God and Jesus that we love them? By following His commands. Trust and obey. Don’t ask why? Don’t question His asking…simply trust and obey. Boy that is not so easy sometimes and surely hard in certain areas of our lives. For children it can be nearly impossible. This is where we the parents come in to help them out.

I remove all of their excuses – blaming someone else, giving an excuse of why they did something wrong, saying wasn’t me, or maybe when asked if they did something that I know they did. When all of that is stripped away they know I want one thing from them – the truth. God blesses a faithful and honest servant. So do we as their parents. When you tell me the truth even when you know a consequence is coming that might not be fun – you are sure to get praises and often mercy in the level of your consequence. Same with God. He is quick to forgive our transgressions and wipes it all clean – when we confess our sins against Him. We want to teach our children what that looks like and how good it feels to tell the truth (confess their sin). Sometimes I might still be angry with them or even hurt –but they always know no matter what our love for them never goes away!

We teach our children that in order to trust and obey God – they need to know Jesus. They need to understand their complete lack of ability to do this on their own. We teach them how important it is to pray for God’s strength to help them to obey us. We are teaching them now how important it is to trust that He will do what He is asking them to do. Why? Because Jesus who lived a sinless life is living in you now to will and to do His good pleasure and has given you everything you need to do it – even down to being content right where you are! Simply trust and obey!


As we finished up our holiday break and got back to our homeschool schedule God laid it on my heart to teach them the above verses once again…this time how they can truly apply them.

I NEED TO OBEY + I NEED JESUS = I NEED JESUS TO OBEY as I shared earlier this month - you will often find this written on our chalk board as a reminder of their need and mine!

Not too long into my walk with Christ the word all seemed to bounce right off the pages of my bible at me. Over and over again I saw the words all and always. Another thing God takes pretty seriously.

It became a pretty convicting word. I began to ask myself and still do this routinely – “Do I do all things without complaining or disputing? Am I obeying God in all things? Do I rely on Christ for my strength? Do I trust in God with my whole heart and not lean on my own understanding and in all of my ways acknowledge Him? Do I count it all joy? Do I pray without ceasing? How can I expect them to do this very thing if I’m not living it out more before them?”

As you can all guess the answer is, “NO!” God spoke again into my heart, “Jill trust and obey Me. Teach them to trust and obey Me by following you doing this very thing.” Funny how God works – my husband just finished teaching our home fellowship through the book of Philippians the word all is said many times! God is trying to teach me to do and not just all of your ways acknowledge Me.

So it began two days before the start of 2010 a course in trusting and obeying God. I know with us, when God is going to teach us something it is never just a simple lesson – nope not for see we joke “we’re Your dumbest sheep and really need to hear You to get it right.” God takes us seriously – LOL! So lessons have begun left and right in our lives in the last week to trust and obey Him – a lot!

With complete humility and reverence of God I say to all of you – walk in obedience and trust in God with every area of your life. It will be the greatest teacher to your children and they will not only do as you say but desire to do as you do!

Pray with your children to trust and obey God as a family. Pray to trust and obey Him with your school day, with your discipline and for all of your needs. Pray to listen to what God is asking you to do and then have a joyful heart to do it. Pray that you will not be wishy washy in this area and that you will honor God’s call on each of our lives bought with the price of His Son’s blood and do as you are asked because you love Him. Do it and let your light so shine before men so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Watch how life changes in your home when the focus becomes – we will trust and obey You God no matter what!

Walking in obedience with you all and learning to trust Him more and more each day! All by His grace!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Treats 4 Your Tot


Here are some more cool giveaways for tots/moms of tots, check them out below and let us know if you win something we told you about!!!!

~I do not take email requests to be added to this list, these are just personal favorites I find online, you are welcome to leave any giveaway links (TOT FRIENDLY ONLY) in the comments below.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Once Upon a Book ~ A Million Snowflakes

Millions of Snowflakes

by Mary McKenna Siddals

Summary:  A child delightfully discovers what happens when one snowflake falls followed by millions more.  We count with the child as he experiences the first of many snowflakes to cover his home.
A snowflake is a unique creation, much like our children.  One snowflake melts on your tongue and resembles God's exquisite handiwork; and millions of snowflakes create a snowman that resemble the body of Christ working together.  Snowflakes are white, reminding us of purity. The sight of puffy snowflakes blanketing the ground kindles Christmas music in our ears, thoughts of hands building a fire, and tongues tasting hot chocolate with white marshmallows.

I'm pleased to say that we recently listened to Christmas music, built a fire, and sipped hot chocolate.

But even more pleasant to me was discovering how much God actually refers to snow in the Bible!!  I discovered 25 references to snow!  One of the more vivid pictures the Bible paints of snow that we can easily share with our children is

Isaiah 1:18 which says,
"Though your sins are like scarlet,
       they shall be as white as snow;
       though they are red as crimson,
       they shall be like wool.
I would encourage you to use the object of snow to explain how Jesus takes our sins away.  As snow is beautiful, white and pure, so Jesus allows His saving work on the cross, to fall upon our hearts creating lovely clean souls.  Though snow melts and disappears – leaving a muddy mess, Jesus never stops covering our sins.  When we confess our sins and ask Him to forgive us, He brings His big holy shovel and cleans the driveway and sidewalks of our heart.  If you are blessed to receive snow where you live, go outside with your Tot and pretend to be like Jesus shoveling the pretend sidewalk of your hearts!

Bring The Snow Inside

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Especially if you have multiple children, helping everyone get dressed up to go play outside can be a lot of frustration work.  Bring the snow inside.

What You’ll Need
  • snow
  • a sink or  large plastic tub
  • toys for your child to play with
  • imagination!

Sock Snowman

We confiscated some white athletic socks from my husband’s sock drawer much to the delight of my sons.  I loosely followed the ideas listed at Danielle’s Place for the No-Sew Sock Snowman Craft.

What You’ll Need
  • a white tube sock for each child
  • poly-fill to stuff the socks (you could also crumple up paper)
  • 5 black pompoms and 1 orange pompom
  • yarn or scrap fabric for a scarf and hat
  • brown paper, 2 small twigs, or chenille wire for the arms
  • 2 rubber bands
  • Hot glue gun or craft glue
How  To Make

  1. Have your Tot stuff the sock with poly-fill.  (I helped Mr. Me-Too with this activity by holding the sock and having balls of poly-fill ready for his hands to grab.)
  2. Tie the end of the sock with string or a rubber band.
  3. Help your Tot create balls of snow by sliding rubber bands down the sock to form a head and a body, thus dividing the sock into thirds.
  4. Allow your Tot to decorate the sock snowman with the left over supplies.  To make the chenille wire arms, I formed a “Y” and Mr. Me-Too his brother poked the wire through the sock. Be very careful if you are using a hot glue gun to attach the pompom balls, as it can burn little fingers and mom fingers!
  5. To make the hat, simply wrap a piece of fabric around the top of the snowman, turn fabric up to create a fake hem, and glue the multiple layers of fabric to each other and the sock.  Tie the top of the hat to resemble a pompom or simply glue another pompom on top!
Build Mobile Snowmen

I don’t have any fancy software to create patterns.  So if I want to create something, I Google it or I simply create my own crude pattern by hand.  Various circle shapes around the house worked well for reusable templates.

What You’ll Need
  • white card stock paper
  • scrap construction paper for hats, mittens, etc. (Even snowmen need accessories!)
  • clear tape (cleaner than glue!)

How To Make

  • Trace and have your child cut out the various sizes of circles.
  • Have your Tot tape the snowman together, trying to have them pick three different sizes of circles and tape them in order of smallest to largest.
  • Allow your child to decorate the snowman.  I also made hats for them to tape on.


And lastly, we made snowflakes.  OK . . . I made snowflakes.  We pretended that they were falling from the sky, just as in the book.

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I have done this game before, except with feathers for a Tot School post.

How To Play

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  1. Make paper snowflakes.
  2. Grab a handful of your snowflakes and stand on a chair.
  3. Have your children use a scarf or a hat to catch the snowflakes as they come falling, falling, down.
  4. Be prepared for giggles!

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 new year 040

(Oh, and please forgive the mess!  This is what happens when I do school instead of clean the house!)

Chalk Snowflake Rubbings

If you still have energy after all of these activities, finish the day off by doing snowflake rubbings with either a crayon or chalk.

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What You’ll Need
  1. Chalk
  2. Newsprint or thin paper
  3. paper snowflakes
  4. patience
How To Make
  1. Place leftover paper snowflakes under newsprint or thin paper.
  2. Help your child hold the chalk horizontally, and rub the chalk over the bumpy paper surface.
  3. You should see a snowflake pattern emerge!
Wow!  That was a fun first Once Upon A Book for us!  Enjoy!  And just so you know, actually so that you don’t feel overwhelmed . . . we didn’t do all of these projects in one day!

P.S. If you would like to play a snowflake matching game with your Tot be sure to print two of these patterns found over at PreKinders!

Want to see what's coming next (and books we've done in the past)? Click here to see our Once Upon a Book webpage!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Now I Know My ABCs ~ J is for Jaguar

It's time for some fun alphabet crafts!! We hope you enjoy these! If you are new, you can visit our ABC webpage to find links to any other letters we have done, letters (with books listed) coming up!

by Julie Guidone

Summary: Wonderful photos help tell the story of the jaguar as he roams the dark rain forest.

Mine looks a little panicked...but our boys love him!

What You'll Need:
  • Orange or yellow foam sheet/construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil {to outline/trace letter} 
  • Black yarn
  • Marker/Pen
  • Googly eye
  • Glue
How to make the 'J' Jaguar:
  1. Trace and cut an uppercase 'J' out of the yellow/orange foam sheet or construction paper. I used a foam sheet that was about 4" x 5" in size.
  2. Using the excess foam, cut out small ears, four legs/feet and a face for your jaguar.
  3. Draw spots all over the letter J to give your jaguar some spots.
  4. Glue on the legs, ears and face. Add the eye too!
  5. Using the tip of your pen/pencil, poke a hole to thread the yarn through for a tail.
  6. Draw claws on your jaguars feet as well as a mouth and nose for his face.
  7. Don't forget to color in his ears!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Play with Me ~ Stacking Pegs

For our very first Play with Me toy we are featuring one of my all time favorite open ended toys, which comes in 2 different versions. We had this version for years, image before adding this version to our collection. image If you can afford the bigger set, just skip the smaller set. If money is tight, get the smaller set, which comes with one board and a set of pegs, it is definitely enough! You’ll see both products featured here in this post, but mainly just the smaller set. You can get both sets on Amazon, by clicking on the images above. Amazon does have the best price that I have found!

Here’s a few play ideas using this great toy. Remember with young tots, EXPOSURE is the key word, not MASTRY. Don’t feel like you need to drill facts into your little one, just have fun exploring together!

The most obvious way to play, is to let your tot freely explore how the pegs fit into the holes…IMG_0600 copy

Popping the pegs back out from the other side is something your tot might enjoy, although you might have to show him/her the first time!IMG_8973 copy

Encourage your tot to build them as high as s/he can! Use language like tall, big, high, top, etc while building. Some tots will get very upset when it falls, this is a good lesson in “try-try-again”! IMG_4637 copy

Sorting by color is a wonderful activity, although some tots who are younger will reject sorting until they are truly ready. This was the case with Krash, I tried many times with him before he would gladly sort ;-).IMG_0606 copy

Making stairs and bringing in another toy (we used Little People) is fun. Expose vocabulary, counting, colors and more!

  • “The man is going up, up, up, down, down, down..”
  • “The man is standing on the green tower, can you put him on the yellow tower?”
  • “Oooh the man is on the shortest tower, can you move him to the tallest tower?”
  • “Let’s count with the man, 1-2-3-4-5…” (as he moves up and down the stairs).
IMG_8966 copy

Make a mini zoo, with cages for animals…IMG_8967 copy

Investigate the tiny circles when you flip the board over. Have your tot find different colors!IMG_8970 copy

Make a car garage out of the bigger set…IMG_4557 copy

Practice shapes using the bigger set…IMG_0895 copy

A lesson in perseverance and patience will happen as your young tot works to fill in the entire board on either the small set or the big set (especially the big one!) IMG_0906

See if your tot can balance on the board with all of the pegs in it (be close by just in case!!!)…IMG_3049 copy

One of the boys’ favorite activities is to make a birthday cake out of it, with candles that are taller. Then they take the “cake” to the birthday boy/girl and sing Happy Birthday and have him/her blow out the candles! IMG_9290

Make patterns with the different colored pegs. Either on the board, or simply on the floor.IMG_9255IMG_9249

Add some straws, or stirring sticks to the mix and challenge your tot to place them in the tiny holes in the tops of the pegs. Here is matching the specific colors too!IMG_9262

Sort the shape pieces that come with the bigger set… IMG_9242

An idea straight from Krash-make a trampoline! IMG_9246 Other ideas…

  • Show your tot how to put the pegs onto his/her fingers.
  • Lay the pegs in a straight line and practice counting.
  • Make different letters using the pegs laid out on the floor.

The opportunities are truly endless and this is by far one of the most popular toys we have in our home. Krash is now almost 4 and has loved this toy since he was 2. My oldest son is almost 8 and still LOVES to play with it.

Happy Playing!

Signature button Carisa

You can see this and other toys we feature here on our website all on one page. We will add all of the toys we feature with links back to the blog posts!