Disinfect Your Home with Thieves Oil

Thieves disinfect #yleo #essentialoilsRecently, my family has gone through a bout of various illnesses, and I have declared myself DONE with it! I have no idea what brought on this sudden onslaught to our immune systems, but we’ve run the whole gamut of diarrhea, vomit, coughs, runny noses, fevers, and sinus infections. DONE, I say! We are done with all the germs. 

Henceforth and therefore, I went on a rampage through the house with my bottle of Thieves and an assortment of other tools, determined to ban the sickness from our house for good. Or at least for a good long while.

Disinfect Safely

Most people grab a bottle of a bleach-based product, or perhaps an antibacterial spray, when they embark on a disinfecting mission, but not me. I’ve found a much better alternative recent years: not only does it smell better, it WORKS better.

Why is Thieves Oil so much better than bleach? It contains two antibacterial powerhouses: cinnamon and clove oil. A study confirmed that they were among the list of the top ten bacteria-inhibiting essential oils, eliminating 23 out of 25 types of bacteria. There’s no need to resort to a chemical such as bleach, when you can use a perfectly natural – and perfectly safe* – alternative. 

Disinfect With the Right Tools

The only tools you need to completely disinfect your home are a spray bottle, vinegar, water, rags, and some Thieves oil. It’s especially effective if you have a diffuser as well, and a small cobalt or stainless steel spray bottle is useful as well.

  • Thieves Cleaning Spray: Grab a 24oz spray bottle designed for cleaning solutions, and fill it with half water and half vinegar. Add 5-10 drops of Thieves essential oil; shake well.
  • Thieves Sanitizing Spray: Fill a 2oz or 4oz glass spray bottle  about 25% with rubbing alcohol (or vodka). Add 5-10 drops of Thieves essential oil, and then fill the bottle the rest of the way with water. Shake well before using. The advantage of this sanitizing spray is that it evaporates fairly quickly into the air due to the finer mist of this type of spray bottle and the inclusion of alcohol. Thus, you can let it air dry without wiping it off, and you might even be able to use it on some upholstery and other fabrics (test a small spot first).
  • Diffuser: Use an ultrasonic diffuser such as this one to really get the bacteria-nabbing oil into the air. This type of diffuser works by filling the small chamber to the fill line with water, then adding a few drops of oil. Replace the lid and turn it on.

Disinfect Your Home

There’s a lot of surface area in your home that qualifies for a good disinfecting spray and rubdown, but don’t get overwhelmed. Follow this process and you’ll have the whole thing done in a couple hours. I’ve started with the areas that have the highest concentration of germy traffic, and went from there.

Before you start: If you have a diffuser, set it going with Thieves oil in one room of the house. Every ten or fifteen minutes, move the diffuser to another room to help eradicate the germs there.

1. Start with the Bathroom. Germs are flying thick in there! Spray the toilet and sink liberally with the Thieves Cleaning Spray and let it set for a few minutes before wiping dry with a clean rag. I like to use a fresh rag for each new area so I don’t carry germs from one spot to another. Sweep the floor, then spray it with the cleaning spray and wipe with a rag. Spray light switches, door knobs, and any places that are frequently touched by either big or little hands, then wipe dry. Finish off the job by spraying with the Thieves Sanitizing Spray on all the “hot spots”: toothbrushes, faucets, toilet flush handle, light switches, door knobs, cubpoard knobs, etc.

2. Next, the Kitchen. Once the basics are taken care of (dishes and food cleaned and put away), spray all the countertops, cupboard doors, and appliance surfaces with the cleaning spray. Allow it to set, then wipe dry. Pay special attention to anything hands touch frequently: faucets, buttons, keypads, soap dispensers, cupboard door knobs, light switches, handles, etc. Don’t forget to give the trash can a thorough wipe down! Sweep the floor and clean it with the cleaning spray.

3. Since the dining room is likely right near the kitchen, let’s attack that next. Spray the table and chairs with the cleaning spray and wipe down immediately, so as not to harm the finish on the wood. If you’re really concerned about the wood finish, you can also spray the rag itself and wipe it on the table. Vacuum up all the food and other assorted crummy stuff off the floor.

4. Doors & Lightswitches, of course. Beginning with the door you most frequently use to enter the house, begin spraying them with the cleaning spray, letting it sit, then wiping dry. Follow up with a spritz of sanitizing spray, which you can leave to air dry.

5. Finish up with the Living Room. I like to spritz my couch pillows with the sanitizing spray occasionally; you might want to test a small patch first before you try, just to make sure it doens’t harm your fabric. Spray a little cleaning spray on a rag and gently wipe the remote controls. If you have small children, you might want to spray their toys with sanitizing spray as well.

6. Don’t forget your Vehicle! As I was driving my sick son home from school, it occurred to me that we spent a lot of time in our van, and as such, it was bound to be rife with germs. Accordingly, once I was done disinfecting the house, I grabbed my tools and headed outside to tackle the van. It’s the same process as disinfecting your house: once you’ve cleaned out the clutter (what, no clutter in your van? I don’t believe it.), spray all the hard surfaces with the cleaning spray, let it set, then wipe it dry. Focus particularly on the places your hands touch most frequently: the steering wheel, console, door pulls, gear shift, control knobs and buttons, etc.

7. Finally, the Laundry. If you’re anything like me, by the time you’ve finished with this process, you’ll have used up your entire supply of rags! On top of which, you can’t forget that used sheets and towels harbor all sorts of germs. Strip all the beds, get all the dirty towels and wash cloths out of the bathroom, get the dirty wash rags and towels from the kitchen, and don’t forget about that pile of rags. Wash them all in hot water, adding a few drops of Thieves oil to each load.

Ahhhh…. Breathe in the fresh, uncontaminated air! Now, go relax and enjoy!

*Note that essential oils, especially strong ones like those contained in Thieves oil, should only be used a few drops at a time and well diluted.

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Teacher Appreciation Gift

teacher appreciation card summer funI’ve been a teacher of one kind or another for most of my adult life, but it’s been a new experience for me the past couple of years to be the parent of a student. Having been on both sides of the equation, I know the importance of a thoughtful gesture that shows appreciation for the hard work a teacher does throughout the school year.

At the same time, I’m not exactly rolling in dough! Quite the contrary; every penny counts around here. So as the end of the school year rolls around, I have to put my thinking cap on to come up with a teacher appreciation gift that will be appreciated but doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. This year, my Certain Little Someone helped me out with his own ideas and his own special flare. He’s only 5, but I thought he put together a great gift with only a few minor suggestions and input on my part.

An Inexpensive Teacher Appreciation Gift

teacher gift summer funHe was quite insistent that he wanted to buy his teacher a beach towel, which at first I thought was rather an odd gift until it rather grew on me. I mean, what could be more perfect to herald the start of the summer (and the end of the school year!)? So from there, we came up with a perfect summer-themed gift, including a card that he helped me design. He wanted to be able to color part of it, so I made one with black and white flip flops that he could color in himself.

I thought his little gift turned out so well that it deserved to be shared with the world at large, so I’ve created two PDF printables of the teacher appreciation card we designed: one that can be colored in and one that is ready to print and give. There are 2 cards on each page, so you can use them to gift multiple teachers. You can personalize the card with a note on the back.

I recommend printing on card stock, but you could also print them on regular copy paper, then cut out and glue onto scrapbook paper for a little more pizzazz.

The 3 R’s for Teachers

Click on the images below to get your free printable teacher appreciation cards!

teacher appreciation card summer fun teacher card

There are lots of great summery gifts that go perfectly with this little card! We chose a beach towel and some flip flops, but the possibilities are almost endless:

  • a brightly patterned beach towel
  • cute flip flops
  • trendy sunglasses
  • sunscreen and/or aloe gel
  • a swimsuit cover-up
  • a breezy beach hat
  • a picnic cooler
  • a gift card/certificate covering the entrance fee to a local pool or water park
  • beach reading material (Walmart carries an inspirational line of clean – if sappy – romance novels. Not what I would read on a regular basis, but perfect brain candy for a relaxing day at the beach!)
  • an insulated cup
  • or all of the above in a beach bag!

 

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Find a Community That Fits

Pssst: Enter to win an Ice Cream Maker bundle (Worth $120+) below!!

Community: a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

Ice Cream Giveaway!

As women, and as Christians, we are called to be in community with one another. We are to be in fellowship with other women, always growing, always learning, always serving. As homemaker’s and Christian women, we should be striving to exemplify the Titus 2 model:

”Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” ~ Titus 2: 3 – 4

Introducing the Christian Homemaking Community

As a blogger, one of my main goals is to connect with other women. I love that I can hop online and find other like-minded Christian women that I can learn from and grow with! So I’m very excited to share that we are introducing an all new Christian Homemaking Community on Facebook!

21 bloggers have come together to create a place where we can chat, learn from each other, grow, and find fellowship among other Christian Homemakers. You can request to join our private Facebook group HERE.

You will also get to connect and chat with your favorite homemaking bloggers including:

Why Join Our New Community?

Each week you will have access to all the latest posts, articles, videos, and discussions from all your favorite homemaking bloggers! No more having to hunt through Pinterest or Facebook for good things to read. You will find encouragement, motivation, tips, recipes, photos, and more!

Come on over and jump into daily discussions such as what is the best way to clean out your fridge, how to do freezer cooking, favorite recipes, and more! You will also have exclusive homemaking content not available anywhere else – and the best part? It’s totally and completely FREE! Join our Facebook group here: The Christian Homemaking Community.

Our Free Gift To You

In celebration of launching our new community, and as our free gift to you , the 21 homemaking bloggers have come together to offer you an amazing eBook: Sweetly Summer ~ Beat the Heat with Yummy and Refreshing Treats – totally FREE! Just join our private Facebook group and you will get instant access!

You will get instant access to some amazing summer treats including: ice cream recipes, how to make whip cream, smoothie recipes, yummy sides, energizing snacks, sweet treats and more!

Free Summer Treats Ebook!

Enter to win an Ice Cream Maker

Also in celebration of our new community, we are giving one lucky winner the chance to win an amazing Ice Cream Maker ($80), adorable apron (style and color of your choice – $35), and the Just Making Ice Cream recipe eBook ($12)! This entire bundle is worth more than $120!! Enter to win via the rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Christian Homemaking Community

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Save Money on Groceries With This Simple Tip

I love talking grocery budget. L-O-V-E it! In fact, wrote a whole book about it. save money at the checkout. Buy store brandYes, I love it that much!

Today’s tip is a simple one that most people have heard before… but not everybody’s convinced. Unless you’re budget is super-dooper tight and you don’t have a choice, chances are, you have a few favorite brands of items that you love, and you’re loathe to try the dreaded “store brand” (or “private label” or “no-name brand”, whatever you choose to call it). Many people even swear that the private label brands are noticeably worse in quality, and therefore insist on paying the premium prices for the big  brands.

Side note: I hope you realize that  what you’re paying for is packaging and labeling. Most of the time. 

And, if you’re a whole-foods, health-conscious kinda shopper like me, you probably steer clear of a lot of packaged stuff, anyway, so you’re thinking this tip’s not for you.

What tip am I talking about, anyway? You’ve probably guessed it. This:

Save money on groceries by buying store brand, for example, Giant Food’s “Own Brand”, which includes their Nature’s Promise and Simply Enjoy lines of products. 

Recently, Giant Food sent me a box full of their own brand to try and to compare with my favorite items that I might buy elsewhere. I’m talking about stuff that you probably do buy packaged (and probably do have a favorite brand/source), like organic ketchup (Unless you make your own, in which case, kudos for you! Not an option around here because of my DH’s delicate tummy, but I get the best processed ketchup I can find.), organic olive oil or organic rice. Trust me, the difference between the Giant brand and any other premium brand was negligible, if any. Frankly, I didn’t notice a difference whatsoever!

If you buy those types of staples on a regular basis, you might want to save yourself a few shekels and try Giant’s Own Brand line of products and see if they compare favorably to your favorites. Chances are, you won’t go back to paying a premium again!

This is not a sponsored post. I received product to try, and was left to form my own opinion and share it with you.

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Einkorn, the Ancient Grain {Giveaway, Too!}

Win Einkorn Berries from Tropical Traditions #giveaway #ancientgrains #traditionalfoodAre you concerned about the effects of modern wheat on your health? There is certainly reason to be! Modern wheat has been blamed on a large number of health issues, and the rising numbers of people who simply cannot tolerate it seem to provide evidence that there is truth to the accusations. 

The Trouble With Wheat

My opinion, though, is that the issue is not with wheat in and of itself, because mankind has been enjoying wheat since the beginning of time (by which I mean Adam and Eve), and all of these health issues have only cropped up since the beginning of the Industrial Age. I’m thinking that the problem lies with all the changes modern science has forced on the ancient grain, turning it into a mere shadow of its former wholesome self. It’s now easy to grow and easy to harvest, and therefore very inexpensive… but at what cost? The cost of our health, it seems.

Now I haven’t turned my back on wheat entirely, but I have switched the bulk of my cooking and baking over to two ancient grains that are cousins (or forerunners) of modern wheat. These two grains - spelt and einkorn – have remain unchanged over history, unlike wheat, which has been tinkered with since the ’40s. As such, they retain a nutritional integrity missing from modern wheat.

wheatTry Einkorn Instead

Note: If you order by clicking on any of my links and have never ordered from Tropical Traditions in the past, you will receive a free book on Virgin Coconut Oil, and I will receive a discount coupon for referring you.

Today, Tropical Traditions: The Best Place to Get Virgin Coconut Oil, is generously offering one of my readers the chance to win a 5lb. bag of whole Einkorn berries that you can grind to make your own ancient flour! 

I had a chance to use these Einkorn berries myself, and I was very impressed! The flour I made with them worked much like regular ol’ wheat flour, and I didn’t have to make any adjustments to my recipes. The taste and texture were just as good – if not better – than those I made with wheat flour, as well.

The only thing that was different about the einkorn is the texture of the raw dough: for lack of a better word, it was significantly “stretchier” than the dough or batter made with wheat. I’m guessing it has something to do with the quantity or quality of gluten in einkorn, but it doesn’t affect the final product. Once baked, the texture was just like something made with wheat.

If you’re not sure where to start with Einkorn berries, here’s a great recipe from Tropical Traditions’ recipe site.

The main drawback to einkorn is the price. Gulp! It’s almost twice the cost of either wheat or spelt! If you can afford it, I say go for it! But if not… enter the giveaway below. 

Win Einkorn Berries to Try For Yourself

This giveaway is only for residents of the United States aged 18 and older. It will end on Tuesday, March 11, at midnight. Winner will be notified by email and has 48 hours to respond or will forfeit the prize.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

Curious about coconut oil? Click here for more information on its many uses!
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How to Help a Friend: Just Do It

How to Help a Friend in Need #justdoit

Not sure how to help your friend? Just do something! Anything!

You didn’t hear from me at all last week (I know you missed me, didntcha?!), and it wasn’t because I was busier-than-usual (I’m always busier-than-usual, so that’s not a good excuse). I had all these great plans to write a post or two detailing how my DH and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary on the cheap (I think I still will, but in the meantime, check out a few Instagram pics), but just as I was about to sit down at the computer and start typing out my thoughts, my husband made a phone call that unexpectedly and dramatically changed our plans. 

He called his dad for the purpose of checking on our kids, who were staying with his family for the weekend while we were busy celebrating; but as it turns out, God had divinely appointed that he check on his dad with that phone call instead. As soon as my father-in-law had answered the phone, my DH could tell something was wrong, and he was right. As it turned out, Dad had suffered a stroke and ended up spending the next few days in the hospital, undergoing various tests and treatments.

Change of Plans

We cut our anniversary celebration short – and I never did sit down at the computer! – and made our way as quickly as we could to the town about an hour away where his family lives. We got there just in time to see his dad before they whisked him away to start the medication for stroke, and we spent the rest of the week juggling our time between filling our responsibilities here in town and visiting with family an hour away. 

During the course of the week, the entire family experienced such an outpouring of love from the dear folks who know and love my father-in-law,  the founding pastor of a thriving church, that we cannot even begin to properly express our appreciation. Amid the uncertainties and fears of the first few days following the stroke, it was a tremendous blessing to witness love demonstrated in tangible ways. 

My Certain Little Someone, reading with Grandpa not one week after Grandpa’s stroke.

Encouraged and Provoked

As happens when the Body of Christ operates as it should, I was encouraged by the loving response of God’s people to our need, but I was also personally “provoked to good works”, as the Bible says. You see, I always have this trouble – and I know I’m not the only one – of knowing exactly what to do when someone I love has a need. Certainly, I always offer help, but just as certainly, they always turn it down. The conversation typically goes like this:

Me: Is there any way I can help you?

The Person in Need: Oh, I appreciate it, but we’re fine, thank you!

Me: Ok, but I’d love to help. Let me know if you think of anything.

The Person in Need: I will, thanks!

Ever had that conversation? And, of course, the person in need never actually calls on my help because they hate to be a burden to anyone. And I go on my merry way when the reality is, there are things I could do to be an encouragement and a blessing.

What I learned this past week has a familiar ring to it, and it’s this: Just. Do. It. Don’t wait for your friend to call on you, don’t wait for the “perfect opportunity” to be a blessing, don’t hem and haw and second-guess yourself. Just do it. Whatever you can think of that seems like it would be helpful, just do it.

How to Help a Friend in Need {Just Do It}

A few things done for us and for my father-in-law that were greatly appreciated and might spark an idea for you: 

  • Meals Provided: No fewer than three people simply called and said, “Hey, I made some food for you, when is a good time to drop it off?” If those people had called and said, “Can I make you a meal?” we would have said, “Oh, no, thanks, no need to put yourself out!”, and then both parties would have missed out on a blessing. On Friday night, our entire family sat around and enjoyed a veritable feast, and we barely had to lift a finger to fix it (which was a good thing, after the week we’d all experienced!); and our enjoyment of the meal was enhanced by the fact that our friends had made it for us in a sheer demonstration of their love and care for us.
  • Snacks and Treats: Maybe a full meal doesn’t fit your budget or your time constraints, but a snack of some kind is totally do-able! As we sat around my father-in-law’s hospital bed, we all enjoyed some homemade fudge that a friend had prepared for us. Another friend brought a towering basket of fresh fruit! Other options include breakfast foods (a batch of muffins, maybe?), or lunch supplies (a loaf of bread and a package of lunchmeat, perhaps).
  • Care Packages: One sweet friend ran by the grocery store and picked up a few things she thought my mother-in-law might find useful while at the hospital: snacks, tea bags and a mug, lip balm and lotion, and more.  This was so thoughtful and was the perfect thing for Mom, who was so busy caring for Dad that she didn’t properly take the time to care for herself. Many care-givers find themselves in the same boat, so a gift that helps them relax and regroup is perfect.
  • Messages: Words are powerful healing agents (Don’t believe me? Read Proverbs 16:24.) and they can be communicated in so many forms: in person, over the phone, via text, on Facebook, on email, through video, or even an old-fashioned card. We received all of those this past week, and each one was treasured. We read them to my father-in-law and I know he was encouraged by the loving words of many friends.  And don’t forget… laughter is the best medicine! It was a treat to be able to laugh together with various friends… even one who put together a short video with an inside joke that was appreciated by all.
  • Prayer: Talk about healing power! Ultimately, God is the One Who heals, and we have the privilege of coming boldly to His throne and asking for His healing. We witnessed my father-in-law progress from the point on Sunday night where he could barely say simple words like “OK” and “Bye-bye” to the point exactly one week later where he and my DH maintained a lengthy phone conversation about a variety of topics. I firmly believe his progress had just as much to do with the prayers of God’s people as it did with any medication or treatment he received. People were praying literally all over the world – in the Philippines, in France, throughout the United States, and more – and their prayers were as effective as Scripture promises they will be. When you can do nothing else, you can certainly pray!

Remember the phone call my DH made that launched us into the week we weren’t expecting? Well, at exactly the same time a week later, my DH made another phone call to his dad, this time with dramatically different results! We were amazed and so grateful at the progress Dad had made during the week, and we are confident that he is going to make a full recovery and be back in the pulpit where he loves to be. I can’t help but think that every single person who prayed and helped in any way they could think of had a tangible part in his healing, and they will in turn be richly blessed.

So now if I have a friend or loved one facing a crisis of one kind or another, I know what I can do. It doesn’t really matter so much *what* I do… as long as I just do it. 

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Simple Wall Art: Fill Those Empty Walls

Win your own free wall art from Bigstock!

Win your own free wall art from Bigstock!

It shouldn’t be a secret to anyone around here that I like it when things are simple. (Hence, authentic simplicity. Yeah, that’s where that comes from!) I don’t really consider myself lazy (most of the time), but for sure I’m not going to put extra effort into anything that isn’t worth it.

Home decor is one of those things, right up there with crafts and making the bed. (Changing the sheets, now. That’s important!) In the past year, the craftiest thing I’ve done is making some monogram-esque picture frames for our living room. They turned out pretty sweet – if I do say so myself – and weren’t all that difficult; but trust me when I say the easier the home decor is, the better.

Ya with me? Ok, good, because I have a fantastic idea (and a giveaway!) for you today. See that fun vintage wall art in the photo above that is now gracing my kitchen wall? It’s actually a photo from Bigstock, printed in poster size and framed. Very cool, yes? And very simple!

Bigstock has tons of photos available to purchase and download… and then print on a large scale and hang on your wall. With over 17,000,000 (yes, that many zeroes) photos to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect one for that bare spot. (Unless you’re really really picky, and then I’m afraid I can’t help you.)

FIFTY Images FREE!

And guess what?! Every single one of you – yes, even you! – gets to try Bigstock out for free! And I know you love free stuff, because you’re just like me. Here’s the deal: Bigstock is generously offering my readers a free 5-day trial of their site, which means that for 5 days, you can download up to 10 images absolutely FREE! The standard free trial only includes 35 images, so this is an extra 15 just because you like my blog (you knew that had to be good for something someday, right?).

Bigstock wall art

Click here to start your free 5-day trial. Browse through Bigstock’s massive selection of photos and start dreaming of all you could do!

That’s Not All, Folks!

One lucky reader also will win a free poster-size image for themselves! You can choose the cute vintage coffee one I chose, or you can choose another from a list of selected images (something for every style). Please note that the frame is not included.

This giveaway will end next Monday at midnight and is only open to residents of the United States, aged 18 or older. The prize will be shipped directly to you by Bigstock. The winner will have 48 hours to respond with their shipping information or will forfeit the prize.

Enter the giveaway here:

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How to Win Your Child’s Heart

How to Win Your Child's Heart

How to Win Your Child’s Heart -

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

You hear a lot in various circles these days about the importance of “winning your child’s heart” … but what does that mean exactly? And more importantly, is it even a Biblical concept?

I’ve been contemplating both of those questions for a little while now, and I’ve arrived at some satisfactory conclusions for myself. (I’ve also realized how terrible I have been in this department!)

free-vintage-valentine-card-boy-and-girl-dont-give-me-the-brush-off

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

I’ll start with my thoughts on the latter question:

Is “winning your child’s heart” a Biblical concept?

Well, certainly the Bible does not command us to do as such, at least not in the way it commands us to discipline, train, and teach our children. I haven’t found a verse yet that says, “Go win your child’s heart!” But here are some verses and Biblical principles for your consideration:

  • Obedience springs from a heart of love. John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • God instructs children to give their hearts to their parents. Proverbs 23:26 My son, give me your heart, and let your eyes observe my ways.
  • Our Heavenly Father pursues us. I John 4:9 We love Him because He first loved us.
  • Parents are to engage with their children in a loving manner. Matthew 18:5, 6 “Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” and Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
  • Jesus rebuked the disciples for disregarding children, and made a point of reaching out to them. Matthew 19:13, 14 Then little children were brought to Him that He might put His hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Win Your Child's Heart

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

How to Win Your Child’s Heart

I think it’s safe to say that it’s a Biblical concept, so now what about the question of how exactly to go about it? I’m embarrassed to admit this one has stumped me for some time. The best I could come up with until recently was that I needed to spend more time with my children. Relationships are built on time, right? But that didn’t seem to be cutting it for my love-hungry Certain Little Someone, and I could sense a building anger and frustration in his heart that worried me. We could spend the whole day together doing all kinds of fun things, but it was like his love tank still wasn’t quite full.

As I pondered the problem, I lightbulb went on in my (admittedly dim-witted!) head: “Winning someone’s heart” is exactly what goes on in a courtship! Now, clearly, at some point this analogy totally breaks down, but there are a lot of similarities that are applicable to the parent-child relationship.

Win Your Child's Heart

Image(s) courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

I mean, think about it. Exactly what happens when a young man has an eye on a girl and sets out to woo her? As I imagined a courting couple, I began to develop a clear picture of what it would look like to win my child’s heart (minus the googly eyes and raging hormones):

  1. I must spend time with him. This is where it all starts. Time – copious amounts of time – spent together, doing whatever. What’s being done doesn’t matter so much as the actual fact of spending time together. Typically, a couple falling in love can’t wait until the next time they get to see each other or talk on the phone because they just love spending as much time as possible with that person.
  2. Time together is a good starting point, but it’s not enough: What’s even more important is the interaction that takes place during the time spent together. For one thing, a courting couple will generally participate in activities they don’t necessarily enjoy simply for the sake of spending time with the other person. This means, I must sometimes play games and other activities I do not enjoy simply because my son enjoys them and I want to spend time with him. This is hard for me because I’m a girly-girl and both my boys are ALL. BOY. Playing outside is something I just do not love to do – never have – and yet, I must do it if I want to win their heart. My Certain Little Someone, in particular, absolutely loves the challenge of trying to hit a baseball with his big foam bat and literally could spend HOURS practicing this skill. I have never ever enjoyed baseball in any form, and it’s sheer torture for me to throw him the ball over and over and over and over… and over … and over again! (It’s probably also sheer torture for him to try to hit my wild throws, poor guy!) But I’m learning that this is something very important to him that I need to do – with a good attitude – whenever I can, just to show him that I love him.
  3. I must speak kindly, gently, and respectfully to him. A fledgling courtship will break up pretty quickly if harsh words are exchanged! And yet, harsh words escape my mouth so often when speaking to both of my sons. Harsh words and harsh tones build walls and drive wedges between people; they don’t win hearts and they don’t build relationships, and they certainly don’t win a child’s heart! I find my boys respond to me so much better when my words are spoken in kind tones. And when they are misbehaving and require correction, I still must guard my tongue and my tone of voice and make sure my words are respectful and loving even as I discipline them in one way or another.
  4. I must praise his success… and his effort! Flattery will get you nowhere, but well-worded sincere praise can secure a heart better than anything else. Just think of how a courting couple compliments each other on just about everything. I have never seen a child who didn’t blossom when praised, and it’s common knowledge that the more you praise a little one, the harder they try to please you and earn that praise. Whether they experience success in behavior, academics, sports, or some other endeavor, I need to pay attention to it, notice it, and praise them for it. And even if they don’t succeed, if they tried their best, I want to notice and praise that, too.
  5. I must see his potential. One of the quickest ways to a person’s heart (besides food, of course) is to notice not so much what they are but what they can be. See the person hidden deep inside (sometimes pretty deep) and seek to draw it out by making the other person aware of it. This is particularly an area I need to improve in with my children! I’m oh-so-quick to see their faults and failings that I overlook their potential to be more. I don’t want to tromple on their potential; I want to bring it out!

WaysYou Can Win Your Child's Heart I could go on, but I think you get the general idea! What it comes down to is this: a courting couple is generally on their best behavior, treating the other person in the best way they can in a concerted effort to win their heart. Parents can do the same thing for their children, but it’s a lot harder because it has to be balanced with the need to train and disciple them. It’s also a lot harder because in the parent-child relationship the heart-winning is usually one-sided; whereas in a courtship, as long as there’s mutual interest, both parties have their best foot forward.

And clearly, the analogy falls all to pieces at some point, because in a courtship there’s that added element we’ll call “romance”. Obviously, that doesn’t come into play here!

But I’m taking a cue from the lovelorn and making a concerted effort this Valentine’s Day (and all year long) to win my child’s heart so that they will more willingly accept my instruction and discipline.

What steps do you take to ensure you win your child’s heart? 

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Easy Spice Cake {#BakingMyHeritage}

Spice Cake, Easy and Delicious

 

Do you follow me on Instagram? Well, why not?! You are missing out, my friend! Because if you had followed me on Instagram, then you would have known that I picked up an AWESOME cookbook while I was in Michigan last Christmas, and that I proceeded to bake some AWESOME deliciousness from it.

See this picture here? It was on Instagram. Live. In the moment. My excitement was almost palpable!

Well, at any rate, I was excited so I had to share with everybody on Instagram. And as I bake things from the book, I’m going to continue sharing on Instagram, so if you wanna keep up with me as I go around #BakingMyHeritage, then follow me on Instagram.

But first, check out this cake. (It’s from the book.)

Easy and Delicious Spice Cake It’s AWESOME. Easy, delicious… and Finnish. Say what??

Head on over to Baking Whole Grains to get the full scoop.

 

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How to Get Your Kids to Listen When You Call {The “Yes Ma’am! Game”}

How to Get Your Kids to Listen Without Raising Your VoiceLately, I’ve gotten seriously fed up with having to repeat my kids’ names , each repetition rising in volume until the entire neighborhood (probably the entire city) could hear my roar. I’ve gotten fed up with my kids for not responding like they know they should… and I’ve gotten fed up with myself for allowing this to continue. That’s just some straight up bad parenting right there. 

As I considered how to go about remedying this situation I found myself in, I remembered some advice our pastor had given a few months back about training your children in obedience and respect: He recommended training your children before the need arises. As it applies to this particular problem, that means training them to respond to your call in the way you want them to before you actually try calling their name. In other words, don’t try to train them to respond politely and respectfully when you’re irritated in the heat of the moment. Nope. That’s just more bad parenting. To really train them well, you have to train them before the fact, not after. 

I contemplated how to go about this for a while before it hit me: Turn it into a game! Kids love games, right? And usually, the simpler the better. The game I came up with is definitely simple, but it is amazing how much fun The Boys have playing it!

yelling

photo credit: sideshowmom

The “Yes Ma’am! Game”

I call it the “Yes Ma’am! Game” and it goes like this:

  • I call one of The Boys’ names in a sing-songy voice.
  • If they respond with a prompt “Yes, ma’am!”, then I say, with great excitement a la a carnival caller, “Ding-Ding-Ding! You’ve won a prize! Mmmmm-Wuah!!” The “Mmmm-Wuah!!!” part is, of course, an air kiss, and is as exaggerated as I can make it. They collapse into giggles and absolutely love it.
  • If, however, they fail to respond, or worse, respond with a “WHAT?!?!” full of attitude, then I say, “ERRRRRR (think of a buzzer sound)!! You lose!”, followed by a sad face. This usually prompts them to say a cheerful “Yes Ma’am!” but it’s too late for the “prize”.
  • Repeat until you’re sick and tired of it.

Told ya. Simple!

The Boys

The Boys!

How it Works

To be honest, when I first started this whole game, I wasn’t sure how it would all play out; but I figured anything was better than hollering their name at the top of my lungs, so I just dove in and did it with gusto. 

It played out much better than I expected! Here’s how it all went down:

  • Day One: On our way to school, we played this game for the first time. The whole way. Over and over and over. And over again. I was quite surprised by how much fun they had, and every time I tried to stop playing the game, they literally begged me to play it some more. I was tickled pink. They had no idea that training was in session! Sneaky ol’ mama!
  • Day Two: The evening of the second day, Daddy had a chance to get involved in the fun, and we all took turns calling each other’s names. Yes, The Boys even called out “Mommy!” and “Daddy!” and we had to answer with either a “Yes, sir!” or a “Yes, ___Kids’ Name___!” After all, everyone should be treated with respect, not just mommies and daddies. And Tiger Cubs’ little “Mmmm-wuah!” air-kiss was so precious, it was a prize worth getting.
  • Day Three: The Boys were too good at the game by this point, so I introduced a new element: surprise! This time, no matter how much they begged, I wouldn’t call their name when they were asking for it or expecting it. I explained that they had gotten too good at this game, so I needed to make it a little harder. They were pleased with that explanation, although Tiger Cub (the younger one) still kept asking for me to call him, so occasionally I would indulge him.
  • Day Four: Honestly, I was a little surprised that by this time, the “Yes Ma’am!” response was starting to become automatic, whether we were actually playing the game or not. I started intentionally calling them during times when they were involved in something else to see how well they would respond. And I would keep the game going – if they responded the right way, I’d give them an air kiss at the very least, but if they did not, then I’d make the “wrong” buzzer sound. I did find, though, that they responded best when I called their name with a bit of a sing-song in my voice, even when I was serious about needing their attention. One little problem did arise, though: as soon as they had said “Yes Ma’am!”, they would go back to what they were doing without waiting to hear what I had to say to them, which kind of defeats the purpose, so I had to learn to grab their attention quick while I had it.
  • Day Five: Mission Accomplished!! I can truthfully say there’s a lot less name-yelling going on around here and a lot more “yes-ma’am-ing”. An unexpected benefit of this whole game is that I as the parent am doing a better job of addressing them with the respect they deserve, which means that they in turn address me with more respect. You reap what you sow, you know?

I plan to keep this game up until we’ve got it down pat and the “Yes Ma’am” answer is automatic every time, and then I’ll resurrect it as I need to when the habit slips.

Listening

photo credit: sgarton

Will It Work For You?

No guarantees, friend, but here are a few tips to at least give it a fighting chance:

  • It probably works best for kids in the preschool/early elementary age range. Any older and they’ll just look at you like you’re cross-eyed. Trust me, your teenagers will not have fun playing this game! (I don’t have teenagers but somehow I just know this. Such great wisdom I have, I know!)
  • You can choose whatever phrase you want your kids to respond with. I know not everybody has their kids call them “ma’am”, and in fact, we didn’t start out doing that. In the past, we’ve had our kids say, “Yes, Mommy” or “Yes, Daddy” instead of “ma’am” or “sir”, so that will work just as well. Or maybe just a polite “Yes?” is good for you. Whatever works, as long as it is in a polite tone.
  • Don’t play the game in the heat of the moment when you’ve called them the thousandth time and they have not even looked your way. Wait until a time when everybody is relaxed and happy and introduce the game in a fun and inviting way. 
  • Don’t be afraid to be silly! That’s a lot of the charm of this little game.
  • Your “prize” can be whatever you want: a hug, a real kiss, a sticker, singing a song, whatever. I chose an air kiss because I was driving at the time, and it was some way I could show them love and affection without taking my hands off the wheel. I think intangible prizes have more value than tangible prizes, personally, and whatever you do, don’t go with candy.

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