Back to Nature – How to Encourage Today’s Housebound Children to Explore the Great Outdoors

February 1, 2013 by  
Filed under Outdoor Fun

Latino Children Play Swing

Latino Children Play Swing (Photo credit:

Years ago, summertime meant the sound of children playing in neighborhood yards. These days, however, yards remain silent as kids are camped out in front of computers, televisions, and video games.

To help the health of our children and get them in touch with nature, we need to get them back outside. Here are some ways to encourage housebound children to enjoy the outdoors.

1. Get outside yourself – If your children see you sitting in front of the TV all evening, they will follow suit and won’t be motivated to get outside. Getting outdoors is healthy for adults, too, so do your whole family a favor and invite them outside for a group game of Frisbee, horseshoes, or a nature walk. The first step to getting your kids outdoors is to lead them there.

2. Build a tree house or playhouse – Remember tree houses and playhouses? These little hide-aways provide wonderful scope for children’s imaginations. They can be forts, pioneer cabins, igloos, stores, and anything your children can imagine.

3. Cut the cable – Have you thought about simply getting rid of cable television? Gasp! It may sound like a huge step, but those who have ditched the cable claim not to miss the TV and to be glad for the extra money each month. Consider scaling back or cutting out cable altogether, or rationing your kids’ television and computer time.

4. Swing! – Whether it’s a tire swing or a full-scale swing set and slide, put some sort of activity center out in your yard if possible. This will encourage your children and their friends to go outside and play. If it’s not possible, go to a park.

5. Build solar toys – Is your child a techie who loves computers and computer games? Try building solar-powered toys (there are good-quality kits available) or other solar-powered gadgets. You have to be outside in the sun to make them work!

6. Start a garden – It can be in containers or prepared beds outdoors, but gardening can get the whole family outside. It’s good exercise, too. Kids enjoy watching the plants or seeds they plant grow, bloom, and bear fruit. This fascination will draw them outside.

7. Collect stuff – Kids love collections. Begin rock, leaf, or feather collections. Get a good field guide and go on hikes and walks to find more items for the collection. Some children enjoy finding bugs and insects, too.

8. Look to the stars – Invest in a small telescope or binoculars and a good constellation map, and look to the skies. It can open up worlds of study and fascination to explore the heavens.

9. Have picnics and cookouts – Cooking and eating outside gets the whole family outdoors. Weekends and evenings are perfect times for these kinds of outdoor activities. A kite, Frisbee, ball, or other outdoor game will get everyone exercising and moving.

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Walking with Kids

January 23, 2012 by  
Filed under Articles

Child 1

Image by Tony Tr?n via Flickr

Just finished reading an EXCELLENT article by my friend Katy on how to encourage walking with your children.

The premise:

When it comes to children, walking is essential to developing the human body. Each type of exercise has its benefits, but the mechanoreceptors throughout the human form require walking (and a lot of it) to fully develop all the systems. Walking is not an option. It’s a requirement. For you, and your kids.


…first model the behavior you’d like to see in your children. And then, after you’ve been a good little walker for some time, begin to insist the entire family walk — first short walks and then longer as the bodies adapt for better endurance.

If you’re thinking “Insisting on something with my children won’t work!” please consider the must-dos in your home. Do they have to do their homework? Do they have to be kind to others? Why wouldn’t “have enough endurance to move your skeleton around without some sort of contraption” be on the list of your family rules?

Loved this quote:

The “brushing the teeth rule” is in most homes. Walking daily is actually more important to health than brushing your teeth, and brushing your teeth is pretty gosh darned important. Your kids do it, though, because for some reason, the dental committee really made a compelling argument that people subscribe to, so you brush your teeth at least once a day.



READ the rest of the article when you click HERE

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Ear Trainers – training our children

December 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

picture of an ear
Image via Wikipedia

by Nancy Campbell of
Part 1

“The ear that hears the reproof of life abides among the wise. He that refuses instruction despises his own soul: but he that hears reproof gets understanding”
(Proverbs 15:31-32).

What is the first thing we should teach our children? When I ask women this question at seminars they give me lots of very good answers, but usually not the one I am looking for. What is my answer? I believe that the first thing we teach our children is how to listen.

If children do not learn how to hear, they will not learn to obey. If they do not learn to listen, they will not learn to hear the voice of God speaking to them. If they do not learn the art of listening, they will not learn to acquire knowledge. If they do not learn how to hear, they will not come to faith, because “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). How you train your children to hear will determine their relationship with God!

It is possible to hear but not really hear. That’s why Jesus constantly said, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear.” We have to learn to listen with our ears but this takes training. All parents are ear trainers. By the way we parent; we train our children to have obedient ears-or, disobedient ears, lazy ears, dull ears, defiant ears, resistant ears, gullible ears or even forgetful ears. What kind of ears are you training your children to have? When you ask them to do something but they take no notice of you, you are training them to have defiant ears. When you ask them to do something but they delay doing it, they have dull ears. When you ask them to do something, but they don’t bother doing it until you have asked for the sixth time and by now you are shouting, you are telling them that they do not have to obey until the sixth time! You are producing lazy ears. What will God have to do to get their attention?

What kind of ears does God want our children to have?


When God told Solomon that he could ask God for anything he liked, Solomon responded by asking for “an understanding heart” (1 Kings 3: 9). The margin in my Bible gives “hearing” for “understanding.” The Hebrew word is shama and means, “to hear with attention and obedience, to give undivided listening attention.” This is what Solomon wanted more than anything else, more than riches and fame-a hearing heart. May God give us wisdom to teach our children how to have hearing hearts.

The word shama is synonymous with obedience. Proverbs 25:12 says, “As an ear ring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to an obedient (shama) ear.”

Proverbs 1:5 says, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning.” There is no way we can teach our children to be wise without teaching them to hear with undivided attention.


When King Saul disobeyed the word of the Lord, the prophet Samuel came to him and said, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken (qashav) than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

The word qashav describes acute hearing. It means “to prick up the ears, sharpening them like an alert animal.” Children with qashav ears will be ready for God to use as soldiers in His army.


James 1:19 says, “Let every man be swift (tachus) to hear.” This Greek word means, “prompt or ready.” Most Bibles translate it as “quick to hear.” It describes instant obedience. True hearing results in immediate action. I used to say to my children, “Delayed obedience is disobedience.”

How do we teach our children this kind of hearing? As soon as they can understand a command, we teach them to obey that command. But before they can obey, we must make sure that they have heard us. Sometimes, you may have to get your little child to repeat your command to make sure they have heard you. Don’t yell commands from another room. Always give commands eye to eye and face to face so that you know your children have heard what you ask them to do. When you know that they have heard, teach them how to obey straight away. Don’t accept anything less. This takes time and effort, but remember, mother, you are an ear trainer! This is one of your most important tasks as a parent!

May God help us to be parents who train prompt and obedient hearers.



“Oh God, please forgive me for not diligently training the ears of my children. Please help me to train children who have obedient ears. Amen.”


I am a diligent ear trainer!

Many women like to save these devotions. They print them out and keep them in a folder to read over and over again. Some print them out and pin them on the fridge with a magnet to read through the week. If you are printing this devotion and need it to be smaller, highlight and change to a smaller font.

If you know others who would be blessed by these devotions, you are welcome to forward them or let them know they can subscribe by sending a blank email to

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Finding an Afterschool Routine

August 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Finding an Afterschool Routine

Leaving homework, dinner schedules, and bedtimes to chance has a tendency to create chaos and frustration during possibly the only family time of the day. Establishing a routine does not have to mean never allowing for flexibility, but it gives parents and children alike the feeling of comfort that comes from knowing what is expected.

Children may begin to receive homework assignments as early as Kindergarten. Oftentimes in these early educational years, it falls to the parents to motivate children to finish their homework. Even in the later part of a child’s education, he or she may need structure and guidance. Some families choose the time directly after school to get homework done for the day. Others feel it may be better to allow children to decompress after a long day of concentration and constant social interaction. Should a child complete homework before or after dinner? The answer to that question depends upon the dinner, extracurricular activities, and bed times for each family. Determine which times are best for your child to sit down to homework. Once a routine is established, there should be less fighting about getting it done, fewer homework assignments turned in late, and happier parents and children.

A dinner schedule that works for the whole family is beneficial to everyone. Predictable meal times will encourage children to refrain from ruining their appetite with snacking. Children and parents should work together to put dinner on the table for a family meal. For some families that might mean one person either cooks or picks up food on the way home. Someone else then sets the table, and another family member fills drink cups.

Bedtime is another aspect of the afterschool routine that should be consistent. Younger students require more supervision and earlier bedtimes. Whether you incorporate a time for reading together or alone, children will benefit from an opportunity to lie quietly and cultivate the habit and skill of reading for pleasure.

Afterschool routines may change from year to year and from family to family as there are many factors involved such as age, siblings, and parents’ work schedules. Maintaining a consistent and reliable routine will give your child a feeling of stability during the formative years of his or her youth.


Jennifer Tankersley is the creator of where you can find over 400 lists and planning pages including a Back to School Planner, Homework Schedules, Calendars and many more and also of List Mama Blog: Lists for List-Lovin’ Mamas.

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Back to School Shopping Tips

July 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Front of a yellow school bus.
Image via Wikipedia

Back to School Shopping Tips

When the grocery store starts selling lunch boxes and school supplies, you know that the summer break days are numbered…

I can remember from my own school days the feeling of confidence and anticipation that came from going off to meet my new teacher and classmates with a new backpack, lunch box, clothes and shoes. And now that I am a parent, I want to pass on these same feelings to my kids but without breaking the bank. Costs associated with back to school expenses can be crippling for families if you spend before doing a little studying of your own!

So, as the lazy summer routines give way to more structure every August, this is when spending skills are tested for most families. Any change in routine can cause stress on the family spender and if left unprepared you may find spending can get out of control and leave you with the same old feeling of frustration. So, below are some tips to help make the shift go smoothly and with as little impact to the checkbook as possible:

1)A little planning goes a long way. Before shopping for anything related to getting ready for school, spend some time with your kids discussing what is needed and when it is needed. This will give you an idea of the overall cost involved so you can plan accordingly. In about 3 weeks, revisit the list of things you classify as “Need Later” to see if you really need them. Get a sturdy clipboard and use the worksheet located on my website as a guide for each child.

2)Each child will have different needs since each grade has different supplies, clothing trends and lunch considerations. Check the school website for more information such as a grade appropriate supply list before shopping. Most kids can get by in the first few days with the basics, and then fill in the rest of the supplies after your student has met the teacher and knows what is expected.

3)Shop for categories of items separately to enable tracking your spending. If you lump all the shopping into one big trip for all your kids, it is much easier to loose track of your spending goals. For example, shop for all the lunch supplies on one trip and the next trip shop for the clothes, etc.

4)If you have more than one child to outfit for school, take advantage of sales for multiple purchases. For example, buy one get one free shoes, snacks and drinks. For the most savings, combine a store coupon with an offer like this.

5)Delay some of your purchases until after school starts. While there are lots of great back to school sales before school starts, try to hold off since often you will see even deeper discounts when overstocked inventory must go in a few weeks. Also, your child may change their mind about what they need based on seeing what the trends are at school.

6)Use the internet to find store coupons and online coupon codes that are not available anywhere else. For example, lists a huge variety of coupons and by spending a few minutes surfing before shopping you can yield big savings.

Remember there will be other expenses incurred as you get into the school year, such as after school activities, school events, and gifts so if you plan ahead, you will be in a better position to manage the financial impact.

Amy Bergin, mother of three children, creator of THE COUPONIZER®. The #1 best selling coupon organizing and shopping system in the US and Canada. To find out more visit her website by clicking HERE for THE COUPONIZER®

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Ways to Raise a Good Reader

May 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles

Reading for children is an important part of their development. By developing their reading skills, your child will become better at spelling, understanding ideas and concepts and develop positive language skills early on.

Reading is also a lot of fun and a great bonding activity for parents and children. But how do you raise a good reader when you’re competing against a host of electronic devices?

Here are a few tips:

#1 – Read daily. Reading little and often is better than leaving large gaps of time between reading. By making reading a daily activity, you cement that reading is important and just a “part of life” in your child’s mind. Set a routine of a short bedtime story or a story after lunch or dinner each day so you don’t forget.

#2 – Visit the library. Many children today have never visited a library outside of school. There are so many other activities and things competing for your child’s attention that the library may be last on their list. But most kids respond positively to an outing at the library. Make visiting the library a regular activity and you’ll children will start to look forward to it.

The library can be a magical place for children and many have activities to help promote reading that are both fun and educational.

#3 – Start a book club. This can easily be done by joining forces with a few other parents. Meet weekly with the children to discuss a new book. This way the children not only see their parents getting involved, but also have the chance to develop grown-up conversational skills at the same time. Discuss the book and then enjoy a few treats; make it fun so that the kids really look forward to it.

#4 – Lead by example. If your kids see you reading from a young age, they may want to do the same thing mommy or daddy are doing. Show your kids that reading is a normal, fun part of life. Tell them about the latest book you’re reading and why you enjoy it. Show them the Sunday newspaper and explain how you learn what’s going on in the world by reading it.

#5 – Read at bedtime. As mentioned above, reading at bedtime is wonderful for both children and parents. It gives parents and kids a few minutes to connect at the end of each day. You can share a story and then discuss a few of the characters. Reading is a great way to unwind and will become a welcomed addition to your bedtime routine.

#6 – Let them choose. Reading tends to become less exciting as children grow. Give your children access to a variety of suitable reading materials to help them realize that reading is fun at any age. Whether it’s comics or “how to” books, by providing fun and informative reading material you’ll keep your child hooked and involved.

Another great option for older kids is to share their reading book with mom and dad. You can each read the same book together a few evenings a week. Your child can read one chapter out loud, then you read another and so on. This not only helps you spend time with your child but you get to enjoy a story together. There are some fantastic teenage mystery and action books that most young adults will really enjoy reading.

While raising a good reader may seem to be a harder job than it once was, it’s not too difficult a task. By exposing your children to books from a young age and creating an enthusiasm for reading, you’ll lead by example and help to raise a good future reader.

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Giveaway – Adorable teddy bear!

January 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Contests

This is a quick contest – entries close on January 30. Winner will be chosen and posted on February 1.
Isn’t she cute?
Noah's Ark Animal Workshop

Perfect for this time of the year, this adorable Make Your Own Stuffed Animal kit can you yours when you enter our giveaway. You’ll get this lovely white bear with pink hearts and a pink heart nose complete with stuffing and a birth certificate ready for you and your child to stuff together (just like Build A Bear but in the comfort of your own home).

How to Enter?

Comment below with the name of who will be stuffing this bear and his/her age (first names of children please).

Everyone must comment here to be officially entered but you can earn extra entries by doing one or all of the following:

1. Tweet about our contest. Link directly to the contest page here: . Come back here and comment with the link to your tweet.

2. Blog about the give-away and come back and comment with the link to your blog post.

3. Subscribe to our RSS feed then come back and comment that you’ve subscribed.

This is a quick contest – entries close on January 30. Winner will be chosen and posted on February 1.

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Why Good Manners in Children Are Important

December 17, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles, Recipes

Dinner Fork
Image via Wikipedia

You’ve probably seen it happen from time to time. You’ll be in the grocery store, a child will be yelling and running into people, and all the while some harried mother is trying to get the child under control. You know why good manners in children are important, but are manners more than saying “please” and “thank you?”

Good manners demonstrate that the child understands respect. When a child says “please” and “thank you” they are exhibiting manners. But not interrupting two adults while they’re talking is also a sign of respect and good manners. It demonstrates the child knows enough to wait to ask a question and is often a result of parents properly training their child.

What are some other ways a child can show basic manner skills?

* They can say greet people when they meet them.
* They can look people in the eyes when being spoken to.
* They can let guests go first, whether on the playground or waiting in line for dinner.
* They can avoid being late. This shows the other person you respect them and value their time.
* They can share what they have with others.
* They can help people if they are able.

Children who use their manners are also more likeable than those who are rude. This may not be a motivating factor when the children are very young, but as they get older it may be. Children want to be liked as much as any teen or adult; as they get older they will learn that using good manners will leave a positive impression. Using their manners will also show their peers how to act and may teach their friends to be polite as well.

If you want your child to be polite and use good manners, you may have to ask yourself if you use them yourself. Since children learn by watching others, it’s important for them to hear you use polite conversation and treating others with respect. When they see you “practice what you preach” they will be more likely to follow your lead.

Why don’t children have good manners as much anymore? Part of the problem is that society doesn’t require it as much as in the past. Watch television or movies today and you’ll see children being disrespectful and ill-mannered to their parents, their peers, and people in authority. If children are allowed to watch this type of entertainment, it is not surprising when they act accordingly.

We need to remind our children that how we treat others is most often the way we will be treated in return. If we want to have friends, we have to be friendly. If we want to be treated kindly, we have to treat others kindly. If we want people to take our feelings into consideration, we have to do the same for them. Unfortunately, your child may have to start the trend by doing the things they would like others to do for them, but they can have a great influence on the children and adults around them.

Teaching your children good manners isn’t hard. They can learn by watching us, as adults and parents, use good manners and treat others with respect. When you know why good manners in children are important, it makes taking the time to teach and train them something you look forward to doing, to see them reap the benefits.

Find more etiquette and manners ideas when you click here

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Adoption – Part 2 -What You Need to Know before Adopting

December 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Articles

Adopting a child is an exciting and wonderful event. The process will go a lot more smoothly if you prepare yourself with knowledge about how adoption works before you begin. Here are some things to keep in mind as you consider the adoption process.

* Open, semi-open and closed adoptions

This is the most important decision you will make as you begin the adoption process.

In an open adoption, an adopted child can maintain contact with his birth parents. An open adoption includes letters, emails, phone calls, and personal visits. It can be helpful for the child’s sense of wholeness and healing to be in contact with his birth parents, but this depends on the situation and lifestyles of the biological parents, of course.

As the adoptive parents, it is your decision as to whether you will allow open contact, but it should be a child-focused decision. It’s not about your convenience or preference; it’s about what is best for the adopted child.

Semi-open adoptions limit but do not prohibit the contact the adopted child can have with her birth parents. Generally, semi-open adoptions include receiving written correspondence and gifts from the biological parents, but no personal visits or phone calls.

Closed adoptions mean no contact is allowed between the adopted child and her birth parents.

* Domestic adoptions

Domestic adoptions, or adopting a child from your own country, can mean a long wait. Also, babies and children up for adoption in the United States tend to have behavioral or physical problems, which may or may not be an issue for a prospective adoptive parent. It is easier to obtain the medical history of the child in a domestic adoption, however.

The cost of domestic adoptions varies according to state, but generally they include an application fee, attorney fees, psychiatric and physical examinations for parents, and supervision after the adoption. These and any other costs or fees as per your state range in cost from $5000 to $40,000.

* International adoptions

Almost always closed, international adoptions are comparable in cost to domestic adoptions, averaging between $7000 and $30,000. This does not include travel, however. Overall, international adoptions are faster, but obtaining details about the child such as his medical history can be almost impossible.

* Adopting through the foster system

By far the least expensive way to adopt (averaging between $0-$2500), adopting through the foster system is a viable means of adopting a child. However, adoptive parents have less choice in the age, race, gender, and other particulars regarding the child they want to adopt.

Understanding how the process works and the variables involved go a long way in facilitating the adoption process.

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My Storytime Friends – So cute!

December 3, 2009 by  
Filed under For Kids

**UPDATED! I WON this great bear kit this week and did a product review on it! Make sure you read it when you CLICK HERE!**

This is just perfect! I can’t wait to get my own (ordered my own My Storytime Friend from Amazon today!) to see it for myself! Great for kids 3-8! Click on the video to see the selection on

My Storytime Friends(tm) is an interactive toy and storybook set for children ages 3-8 that is both entertaining and educational. The My Storytime Friends(tm) set includes a unique combination of a plush stuffed animal, an inspiring hardcover storybook and a lifetime membership to the My Storytime Friends(tm) Book of the Month Club. Membership also includes free access to My Storytime Friends(tm) online, an interactive place to learn and play. Kids will love watching their cuddly toys come to life as characters in the new stories each month. Parents and Grandparents will appreciate the positive life lessons the stories teach children about overcoming challenges, helping others and achieving dreams.

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