Culture Parenting

What’s Up With Little Critter?

Please tell me I’m not the only parent mildly bothered by Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter character? I was reading “Just Me and My Mom” last night to my two youngest, and the familiar annoyance started resurfacing. Maybe I’ve been around too many real life children that have his quirky traits.

The artwork is adorable, I admit the stories are arguably humorous from an adult perspective…but…

Does this furball really mean well? In the name of helping he loses tickets, in the process of shopping he glowers menacingly at his mother, from his perspective we’re led to believe that he is the ultimate authority on everything.

Except that Mayer cleverly lets him get away with it every time, in as cute a way as possible.

I think what really bothers me about these books is the fact that so many parents raise little critters of their own, idolizing their every move…so the kid grows up thinking that the universe really does revolve around them.

Everyone LOVES the Little Critter books. Am I just over-analyzing them…like I did the Veggie Tale’s “You Are His Cheeseburger” song?

Christianity Cooking and Food


My homeschooling friend and I got together today and canned pickles four different ways–bread and butter, dill, refrigerator dill and pickled okra. Mmmm. Our next canning day is later in August with peach lemonade concentrate up for processing!

My mom always had a neat way of comparing canning to Christianity. Life’s pressures and how they hone us. So many things are important in canning: clean hot jars, veggies/fruits need to be softened, air bubbles need dissipated, lids need to seal so the contents will stay preserved…the water in the canner needs to be boiling, and pints and quarts have to cook for certain lengths of time. All that pressure in these combinations result in a good product.

Today my friend and I had one jar break while canning…the glass bottom just blew off and all the okra in that pint went to waste. It happens. Not sure what went wrong, perhaps it was just a weak jar or maybe we filled it too full.

What causes a Christian to stumble downhill…weakness during testing? Discouragement? Pride?

Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

Christianity Home Schooling

Ready, Set, Homeschool?!

By now, you’ve figured me not to be a “die hard” homeschooler…after all, I still need to order curriculum for this fall, right? The problem is, I’m not into the “one curriculum fits all” theory. I use a little of this, a little of that…and what worked for my self-motivated oldest is probably too boring for my 6 yo.

Two good questions to ask when browsing the endless choices would be:

  1. Will this encourage my child’s love of God?
  2. Will it enhance their love of learning?

My oldest has loved chapter books like Misty of Chincoteague since she was barely four years old. She’s like a sponge, very thoughtful and introspective and loves nothing more than to read “living” books with me. We read many missionary bios.

My 6 yo, still squirms at storytime, unless colorful pictures dot each page! Abeka has the color my 6 yo loves, but using Abeka for every subject would drive us crazy, so we branch out using it one year for health/science and the next for history/geography.

Most importantly, make sure your child catches your enthusiasm for learning. Our first day of school is a day of expectation that sets the mood for the year.

While the children are still sleeping, I take about 15 clues outside and hide them…each one leaving a hint about the next…scavenger hunt style. They include actions such as: “Jump up and run so you won’t be too late, run through the horse barn and over to the gate”…then on the gate they’ll find the next clue. At the end of the hunt, they’ll find a box full of their new textbooks/notebooks, pens/pencils, gold foil- wrapped candy (gold for hidden treasure!), and supplies for a fun craft that we’ve never made before. Then we rush to the house for a favorite breakfast/tea party and spend the day crafting.

The point of the treasure hunt is this: the physical and mental actions of the hunt signify the physical and mental rigors of learning. Sometimes it will be tedious (nah, surely not!) but the rewards are like gold nuggets of treasure…all that learning that no one can take from you.

Just as with parenting, homeschooling has its struggles and its rewards. Keep the faith!

Philipians 2:13, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure!”  (go ahead and follow the link…this verse in context is awesome!)

Weekend Kindness

The Candy-Bar Fairy

I admit, I fudged a bit. Instead of candy bars, I used those little cannisters of mini-m&m’s. Hey, I know what my daughters like!

Problem is, the m&m’s still reside under their respective pillows. Here’s what I put on their “labels”: May your words to each other always be as sweet as these treats!

I’ll update this if and when my weekend kindness is discovered! 

Updated~ Getting a bit antsy, I sneaked into their room and moved the m&m’s to their bunk bed railings. 6 yo discovered hers first about three hours later and came rollicking out to me…with some hemming and hawing she was convinced that her sister must have given it to her…eventually I was found out and deemed the best mom ever! My oldest says she’ll have one a day till they’re gone so that her words will stay sweet that much longer. Ha. Wonder how long that will last? One m&m a day?

Have a Weekend Kindness to Share?Leave a Comment and we’ll paste your link here:

Get the Weekend Kindness code here!The purpose of the meme is to get people motivated to be kind to our fellow men and women and to encourage one another in that pursuit. We all If you participate, leave the link to your Weekend Kindness in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Weekend Kindness with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their Acts of Weekend Kindness. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Family Ties Home Schooling

Summer’s End

Technically the first day of Fall is on September 23, but for me Fall is all about going back to school...

I love this time of year...three weeks left to hit the pool and have friends over...plenty of "free" time before homeschooling takes precedence over our schedule. We've made it through the dizziness of county fair (got the purple and blue ribbons to prove it!) and now it's time to plan Awana.

On Monday, I'm canning pickles with a friend (bread and butter, dill, and pickled okra)and tonight we'll traipse to the youth rodeo so our oldest can open the show with "The Star Spangled Banner." Ah summertime.

I need to be ordering my homeschool materials, and planning the annual scavenger hunt that the girls and I always do to kick off our first day of school.

But for now, I think I'll go pour us all a glass of fresh lemonade...water, sugar and sliced lemons shaken vigorously in a quart jar...

Have a great weekend!

Christianity Family Ties Home Schooling

Charter Schools and Hacky Sacks

Want to read my latest at MInTheGap? Find it here: Charter Schools? Count the Cost. 

We have my niece here today and besides playing with puppies and marbles, we had a blast making beanbag balls! My June 2006 issue of Family Fun had the idea of taking 2-3 balloons, cutting the lip off and using a funnel to fill the first with beans (we used lentils). Once it’s as full as you can get it, take the second balloon and stretch it open wide enough to slip it over the bean-filled one. Then stretch that second balloon’s neck way out and cut it near the first balloon…it will leave a nice round shape and show off the two colors. They’re homemade hacky sacks. The girls had so much fun they made them till our balloon supply ran out.

My floor was covered with lentils, but hey, fun times=messes.

Christianity Culture

The Mark of a Christian

If you’ve read the Left Behind series, you know that author’s Jenkins and LaHaye portray late tribulation Christians as having a mark on their forehead that only other Christians recognize. Everyone else wears the mark of the beast.

Yesterday at the pool, my toddler found another toddler to play around with. This other toddler’s parents were there, and also two older siblings. I found myself wondering if they were Christians just by some simple observations.

One, the mom, in her maternity suit, was relaxing at pool’s edge reading a book. Of course, I angled myself to see what she was reading and it was a non-fiction, nothing scandalous.

My second observation was that this was a young couple (mid-to-late twenties?) and they had 3 young children and another on the way. In this culture, that is a big step of faith, don’t you think?

Last, their two little girls were in one piece bathing suits. Now why would they do that? I mean, two piece suits are much easier to maneuver for diaper changes and trips to the bathroom. And two piece suits are generally more available, and sometimes more adorable than their one piece counterparts!

It just made me stop and think. What about us and our actions reveals our heart? I don’t “judge” others for letting their toddlers wear bikinis. In fact, when my oldest was that age my sil and mil were always buying cute two pieces and for a while I stifled my inner convictions and told myself it was convenient and okay. After all, we are not under law but under grace.

I could be completely wrong about this family. I wish I’d gone out on a limb and asked but I didn’t.

As the culture erodes more and more of our Christian values, how will the rest of the population know we are Christians? Is it obvious?

Maybe it should be.


Faith lesson? No thank you.

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.’”
~ C.S. Lewis ~

Amy, author at Tudor House shared the above quote in her post “Your will or mine”MInTheGap is doing a series on Psalm 25 about finding God’s will. Check them both out and your wheels will start turning!

Isaiah 49:10 says,

“They will not hunger or thirst, Neither will the scorching heat or sun strike them down; For He who has compassion on them will lead them, and will guide them to springs of water.”

And then, verse 11 begins,

“And I will make all My mountains a road…”

Wow. A road. Is there a Mountain in your life that you are asking God to remove? Let Him drive you through that test. Accept that faith-growing experience knowing that God is allowing it for your good.

Is your Mountain a person difficult to deal with, or a job you loathe? Maybe it’s a health test. Finances. School or homeschooling. Persecution in the work or home. Submitting to conviction and giving up that passion to which you cling? Are you asking God to remove the suffering?

My experience is that when you accept the suffering–Thy will be done–God draws close in a way that is beyond sacred. His word comes alive as you apply it to your situation. He speaks to you, and shows Himself mighty. It’s brought me to tears many times, that reaffirming love.

Stand strong in the desert, and His healing waters of life will flow, yes, even from those rocks we call Mountains.

Weekend Kindness


Please join me in the Weekend Kindness Meme:

“Your mission for this weekend, if you choose to accept, is to purchase a candy bar (does not have to be elaborate or big) and attach some kind of encouraging writing– be it a verse, poem, limmrick or joke– and place it for someone to find but not let them know it’s from you! Write about the experience– what did it feel like getting it ready? Were you able to see their reaction? Did they find you out? What did you learn about the experience.”

The new missions are posted each Wednesday, and you have till Friday to check in at the site if you decide to participate. Then over the weekend, blog about how it went!

P.S. I get points for each new recruit! (just kidding!)

Christianity Culture Parenting

Attitude is Everything?

Heart is everything. If you have your child’s heart, then an occasional attitude flare will be easily dealt with.

So how do you nurture your relationship with your child? When we were first married, our Bible study group watched Gary Smalley and John Trent’s The Blessing video. It should be required viewing for all parents-to-be. Smalley and Trent share real-life stories on how devastating the lack of affection and acceptance is on children. The Biblical teaching at the core of their presentation is that of Jacob and Esau, and the blessing that Jacob stole from his brother. I can’t do it justice by blogging, you’ll have to take my word for it. A must see.

In the meantime, here are some practical tips on keeping your child’s heart.

  • Be interested in what they care about. They need to know they are more important than the newspaper, or the computer. So don’t brush them off.
  • Match their excitement when they come running with news or something to show you
  • Show physical affection–ruffle their hair and pull them in for a hug. Tell them how glad you are that God gave them to you.
  • Don’t criticize their efforts to help you. Instead praise them for their servant’s heart and later, at a separate time, gently instruct in the right way (if you are so led)
  • Be consistent. Nothing frustrates a child more than a parent that lets an offense slide one day (b/c of apathy)and punishes for it the next. If your family standards of obedience change, have a family meeting and make sure everyone understands why
  • Don’t take them for granted. Praise them when they do the right thing, when they go out of their way for someone. So often we come down harder than we need to for their mistakes and don’t capitalize enough on their strengths
  • Role play with them. For instance, before their birthday party, remind them that each person in attendance went out of their way to shop for a special present/card with them in mind. They need to be genuinely thankful for this reason alone! Remind them of how they felt when “so and so” looked disappointed in the gift they gave.
  • Leave the past in the past. God does. Practice grace in your parenting when possible.
  • Picture a special future for them (taken from The Blessing)
  • Ask their forgiveness when warranted.

That last one is a must if we want to keep the heart-lines open. Don’t send mixed signals–walk the talk.