In the days of kerosene lamps and coal furnaces, house wives had a ritual called ‘spring cleaning’. The residue these two items created mandated cleaning homes from floor to ceiling.
Even when electricity and gas furnaces replaced the dirty utilities, housewives continued the spring-cleaning ritual, opening windows, airing out the house, cleaning from top to bottom.
Today, we don’t need to remove coal dust from our walls. More likely, we need to purge the accumulation from Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s day from our closets and cupboards to make way for the next round of gifts, different sized clothing, and fresh fashion trends.
Our children’s rooms are no different. As they grow, closets need to be purged of items too small to wear; replenished with summer gear and eventually new digs for the school year. But what do we do with the rooms that house toys?
The bedrooms our children occupied were very small. Most of their toys were in the basement, where the Lego builds could remain from day to day; little villages created from Fisher Price doll house and farm set could last more days than one until a new game or adventure awaited. I have a distinct memory of allowing friends to come and play after church. The next Monday, I went to the basement to do laundry to discover EVERY TOY and piece was on the floor of the play room. Even I was overwhelmed at the mess, not certain where to start picking up. There was no way my children could tackle such disarray. Some of you may face a similar story.
When I read about research about the amount of time spent with a toy and the creativity it produced regarding numbers of toys available, this memory immediately came to my mind. Perhaps you will also find this article fascinating. It was printed in RETURNTONOW.NET. Read it and see if you can ‘spring clean’ toys or at least box a few things up so a rotation system can occur.
Too many options in the toy room can overstimulate and overwhelm a child, so that he can’t focus on — or learn from — any of them, a recent study finds.
Reducing the number of toys results in more creative, imaginative play, researchers found.
For the study, researchers from The University of Toledo gave toddlers either four toys or 16 toys.
The children with fewer toys played with each toy for longer periods of time, studying, observing and experimenting with it.
“An abundance of toys present reduced the quality of the toddlers’ play,” the study’s authors wrote. “Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively.”
The children with four toys exhibited one-and-a-half times more interactions with the toys than the children with 16, indicating they were playing in “more sophisticated, advanced ways,” they added.
“This increased involvement with a toy has positive implications for many facets of development, including imaginative and pretend play, self-expression, physical skills such as fine motor coordination, and problem-solving,” writes psychologist Susan Newman for Psychology Today.
The study echoes the findings of a German experiment in which all of the toys were taken out of several kindergarten classrooms for 3 months.
The children were left with only their desks, chairs and blankets to play with.
At first they were bored to tears. But by the second day, they got creative.
They started building forts, turning their desks into trains, and performing circuses and plays.
Their drawing and painting skills even improved:
“The children used to do one little squiggle on a piece of paper and then throw it away,” teacher Gisela Marti told The Independent. “But when paper was given back to them they drew or painted all over it until there was not a patch of white paper left.”
“We find that children [who participated in the experiment] concentrate better when they work, integrate better into groups and communicate better than the children who didn’t take part,” said Elke Schubert, a German public health officer.
For tips on how to streamline your children’s toy collection, check out Simplicity Parenting and Clutterfree with Kids:
Sunday is Mother's Day. It is a day to celebrate the woman who birthed, reared, nurtured or cared for us. It isn't restricted to biology. Lots of women are mother's in the broad sense of the word, because they invest in the lives of others. I hope in reading this piece, you will look at any men or women who have contributed to your life. And, let's use it to remind ourselves what we are building in the choices we make daily. I don't know the author though I can relate to all she says!It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the wayone of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to betaken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweepingthe floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can seeme at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair ofhands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this??Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clockto ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number isthe Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'Some days I'm a crystal ball; 'Where's my other sock?, Where's my phone?,What's for dinner?'I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyesthat studied history, music and literature -but now, they had disappearedinto the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going, she'sgoing, she's gone!One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of afriend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and shewas going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there,looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not tocompare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when sheturned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought youthis.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe . I wasn't exactlysure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'With admirationfor the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discoverwhat would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I couldpattern my work:1) No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no recordof their names.2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would neversee finished.3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.4) The passion of their building was fuelled by their faith that theeyes of God saw everything.A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit thecathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny birdon the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man,'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam thatwill be covered bythe roof. No one will ever see it'And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.'I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almostas if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you. I see the sacrifices youmake every day, even when no one around you does.No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you'vebaked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small for me tonotice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't seeright now what it will become.I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one ofthe people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to workon something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book wentso far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetimebecause there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he'sbringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in themorning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built amonument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if thereis anything more to say to his friend, he'd say, 'You're gonna love itthere...'As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we'redoing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel,not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to theworld by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.❤️
Spoiling and Ruining
Summer vacation is just two blinks away. It seems that family issues with children seem to peak at the summer vacation mark.
Recently I read an interesting article on how to ruin a child’s life. I wanted to see how well I did. I read the article and thought I’d use some of the concepts to share how I was successful. This is a little tongue in cheek. I don’t know that my children ever really SAID I was ruining their life. I’m certain they THOUGHT I was. Now that they are adults, they recount certain events and tell me how they disliked some things. They look back on the event realizing our choice was the right thing to do.
So, here we go: I didn’t believe in entertaining my children. Oh. My. Goodness. I admit it! I made them play together or alone. They didn’t get devices to distract them. They got a box of dress up clothes (purchased from my husband’s grandmother’s household sale: $1.00 for a box of hats his grandparents actually wore.) We had some homemade capes and vests, too. We have a pretty large yard with neighbors who were fussy about noise, so they learned to play ‘quietly’ even outside…they couldn’t yell and scream to disturb the neighborhood. There were lots of different kinds of balls: soccer balls, tennis balls, baseballs, whiffle balls, basketballs, and volleyballs. They were pretty creative between the balls, the capes, and the treehouse, and the bicycles. They did whine and object to the ‘no video games’ until they were in college and saw what video games had done to roommates. Now, they are glad they were so deprived.
We weren’t keen on ‘participation’ trophies. We wanted the cold hard reality of some win, some don’t to come home. We have a few awards but we focused on ‘what did you learn?’ rather than ‘what did you get?’ I remember some close tournament loses and how instrumental they were in developing character. We focused on how everyone who plays a sport wins because of all they are learning…that’s the ‘participation award’. My children didn’t even CARE about the ribbons that were given at the 4H fair. (It was almost disappointing to me when they were recognized and it didn’t mean much.)
We insisted on doing the ‘right’ thing whether they wanted to or not. Case in point (this just came up in a recent discussion with one of the children). David had an aunt in a nursing home. We would attend a family event in the same town and I would insist we leave the event at least thirty minutes before we needed to head home, so we could stop at the nursing home and see Aunt Connie. She had no children and seeing nieces, nephews, and their offspring was THEE highlight of her holidays. The children went reluctantly. They gave hugs and kisses reluctantly. They now see that it was the RIGHT thing to do. Sometimes, children are guided by how they feel rather than learning that feelings are important but not always the guiding force in life. There must be a balance with using feelings as a guidepost and knowing what the right thing is.
Devotions. Are they completely absent or sometimes present? Sunday school teachers are wonderful. They should be the frosting on the cake, so to speak. Because, most of the spiritual truth in the lives of children should be taught and observed at home. Not just the stories of the Bible, but the applications of faith, trust, hope, love. The stories are a springboard for teaching the lesson. However you do it: after dinner lessons; conversations through the day; teachable moments; at bedtime; doing personal devotions when your children can observe. It’s all good. Any combination of the above is good. Absence, not so much.
Children before spouses. This might be one of the most important issues in marriage. We wanted children. We wanted them to grow up and become independent adults, leaving our nest when they were adults. So, our marriage outlasts our time with dependent children. Putting children before spouses makes them believe everything in life revolves around them. It isn’t true and it becomes a huge disappointment, a difficult thing to ‘unlearn’. Spouses come first. It establishes a good model for their future marriages.
Were we always successful? No. You won’t be either. But, these five elements delivered in the wrong way CAN ruin a child’s life. So, think about how to handle each of the five: how to ‘entertain’ your child; winning by participating; living by ‘feelings’; putting the children first; and, spiritual training.
It can make all the difference in the world because these issues are the framework for the rest of your child’s life.
Heart Attack in a Meal
My daughter used to request a particular meal to celebrate her birthday. Her dad called it HEART ATTACK IN A MEAL. It was delicious. The real recipe was called chicken and dumplings. The dumplings were actually frozen bread dough defrosted, cut into egg sized portions, rolled in flour and cooked with onions in butter and cream. The chicken was also cooked in cream with vegetables. I haven’t made the recipe in more than 5 years since the diagnosis of celiac fell upon two family members.
We found a new recipe, made for a celebratory dinner that could easily replace it. The real name is Lighthouse Inn Potatoes. I first saw the recipe a few weeks before a celebratory meal and tucked the idea away. It’s likely that I would never have made it except when we have guests, I try recipes I might not make for just the 2 of us. Easter meant dinner guests.
The recipe cooks RUSSET potatoes in cream. Not just half and half. Cream. I learned there are two kinds of cream: light and heavy. I’ve never seen light cream in the stores, so I had to do a little research to understand the fat content of each of the kinds of cream plus half and half.
Heavy whipping cream has a fat content of 35%. Light cream has 30% and half and half is only 18%. It required a little math to figure out how much half and half I could use WITH the heavy cream to decrease it to 30% butterfat but not lessen it more. Though the author of the recipe doesn’t say this, I found a source that said using just half and half would cause the sauce to ‘break’ which means, it separates rather than emulsifies.
I served this recipe to rave reviews even from the guests who rarely comment on a dish. I don’t say this to boast about my cooking, for I’m an average at best cook. But, the recipe, followed to the exact directions turned out well. We now have a new candidate for ‘Heart Attack in a Meal’ category. This recipe is one that would be reserved for special occasions because of the HIGH FAT content. Combined with the very starchy potato, it is not intended for any weight loss diet. However, if you want to tickle your taste buds and send them into euphoria, you might want to try this recipe. This is a Cook’s Country recipe (as seen on IPTV).
Lighthouse Inn Potatoes:
2.5 pounds of RUSSET potatoes, peeled & cut into 1” chunks
2.5 cups of light cream (2.25 c. heavy whipping cream and .25 cup half and half)
2 tsp. salt (this is NOT too much)
1 tsp. pepper, ground
1/8 tsp. baking soda (do not omit this)
Bring this to a boil on high heat and then reduce the heat to simmer for 20 min. Potatoes should be soft but not fall apart.
Add to the cooked potatoes and cream:
½ cup of half and half
6 T. of unsalted butter
Stir till the butter melts
Place in a 9x13 pan.
1 cup panko bread crumbs
2 oz (1 cup) Parmesan cheese
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp. salt
Bake @ 375* for 15-20 min. Rest 15 min. before serving
If you want to complete some of the preparation the day before serving, follow the recipe through putting them in the 9x13" pan. The day of serving them, bake the dish for 30 min. then added the toppings, bake an additional 20 min. and let it rest per the directions. The results were amazing.
Try it. You will like it.
Maybe you have heard of food recalls because of listeria. What is it? Listeria is named after Joseph Lister, the British scientist, known for instigating sterile areas for surgery. Listeria is a category of bacteria that often comes from contaminated food.
Listeria causes food poisoning-like symptoms which might involve vomiting, aches, pains and headaches, and/or diahrrea. If the symptoms become severe and medical intervention is necessary, a blood test will determine if it is listeria. It is found in soil, water, and some animals. It can also be found in food processing plants and can sometimes be found in cold cuts. (I only learned this a year ago when our daughter was pregnant and could not eat deli meat.)
It can go away on its own but it can also cause significant issues for pregnant women or those with weak immune systems. Listeria can be IN food and it can be ON food.
Recently, I read that one in five avocados has listeria on it. This motivated me to wash every avocado under running water (and I use a little dish soap) before cutting it. I have always washed my squash and melon before cutting it, realizing that those items often grow on the ground and contaminants are frequently unseen. Apparently, as the knife blade pierces the skin of the fruit or vegetable contaminated with listeria, it carries that bacteria into the edible portion, potentially causing illness.
This is just one example of being careful with fresh fruits and vegetables. As we travel to farmer’s markets, roadside fruit and vegetable stands, or even our backyard gardens to purchase or harvest the food we eat, remember this: Wash everything first.
I have a strong immune system, developed over years of living on the farm, but listeria isn’t something I want to ingest, so I’m especially careful to rinse, wash, rinse food before we consume it.
Enjoy eating the colors of the rainbow, safely.
Twice a Year
I have a couple of soap boxes. Two, actually. One is about keeping everyone else safe and healthy in the fall and winter season when the cold/flu/virus season comes upon us. You have heard that one in the last year.
The second soap box is set for today. It’s called ‘eat healthy’ or ‘where are my healthy choices’ or ‘here are some options.’
I can nag and remind you of how important it is to eat well and eat as organically as you can afford. The real proof is in tasting the difference. So, today’s article is mostly a challenge. It’s a challenge to those of you with children who would like to teach your children about the source of their food; the taste difference; and the quality differences.
My disclaimer is that I don’t belong to a group because I have my own organic garden. But, if I couldn’t manage that space or if I didn’t have a garden, this is what I would do. Now, I’m going to lead you on a brief rabbit trail to tell you why I feel so strongly about this.
We have health issues in our home. Some of them are related to food issues. Celiac: the inability to process wheat, rye, or barley because the protein ‘gluten’ argues will all systems inside. My husband discovered he was gluten intolerant about 5 years ago. As soon as we learned this, I encouraged our older daughter to be tested. She had been to 25 specialists for health issues and they all thought she was perfectly healthy. She was not.
After she learned she was also gluten intolerant and changed her diet, her health improved but not all the issues were resolved. It has only been in the last year that one doctor has been able to put many puzzle pieces together and begin to bring her out of ‘health hell’ into some kind of normal. Many of her tests are still in the basement but she feels better than she has in a long time.
One of the key elements has been the right combination of healthy foods. Not just eat the rainbow kind of healthy, but REAL food. Food that has no processing. Food that has no pesticides or herbicides. Food that is heirloom for flavor and nutritional content. The detour has now ended. I shared that so you understand why I am passionate about this topic.
I know it is easy to go online and order your groceries and drive up and have them loaded into the back of your van. It saves time. But, it isn’t very interesting and there is no guarantee of freshness. Instead, why not join a CSA?
A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. This means, the consumer pays the farmer up front to plant and grow food, of which they get a share. The consumer then shares the same risk as the farmer. Some things like weather, insects, and environmental factors are high risk for one person to assume. A partnership between the consumer and farmer fortifies each one and spreads the risk.
The consumer pays a set amount of money at the beginning of the growing season. Each farmer has rules for how the food will be distributed to the consumer. Often, the consumer gets a ‘share’ each week. Some farmers have options, so if the consumer is on vacation, a week can be skipped and made up the next week or so.
The food that is available is whatever is ‘in season’ that week. In the spring, lettuces, strawberries, and asparagus are likely things to find. In the fall, it’s more likely to see squash, pumpkins, tomatoes, etc.
Some CSA’s have meat or eggs in addition to vegetables. Some have orchards or berries on the farm, which give a vast amount of variety. One of the best advantages of a CSA is the food is FRESH. I mean, picked the day before or even the morning of the distribution of food. Grocery store vegetables are often weeks or even a month old, picked before ripe, shipped and stored. With every passing day, the nutritional content decreases. Pick it and eat it optimizes nutrition.
Each CSA operates differently. There are several in the metro area. Some also show up at local farmer’s markets as one way to market. Some have roadside stands.
Today, I’ll share about just one CSA. I know these folks a little. They offer eggs, poultry (meat), and fruits and vegetables. They have distribution on their farm AND at a local chiropractor’s in West Des Moines one afternoon a week. A family can purchase a small, medium, or large ‘share’ depending upon family size or your willingness to take a risk…if you aren’t too adventuresome, go small. They offer shares based on seasons of the year. They offer so much flexibility.
Additionally, they host events on the farm, just west of the metro. This month, there is a cookbook exchange. They have sponsored a 5K run. There have been strawberry shortcake Sat. night events, where members gather for fellowship and good food on the farm. There are potlucks and recipe exchanges. It’s an opportunity to explore good food, know the grower, and expand the palate. They accept feedback from their customers and change what they grow based on what people want to eat. There is a dedicated Facebook page for their members. There is a weekly newsletter keeping people up to date on what is happening on the farm and with a recipe for the week.
Meet Lori and Matthew of Heirloom Farms at this website:
Because I cannot grow my own chickens in my suburb, I do purchase the poultry meat from their farm. I can say this: it tastes a delicious as the chicken my mother grew on our farm. It’s wonderful.
I recommend you take a food adventure this summer and join a CSA. The time to join for spring shares ends soon. There are options for summer and fall shares, too. You might expand your food options, find some fun field trips, and teach your children (and maybe yourself) how food is grown and what delicious tastes like. I challenge you…just do it.
It’s that time of year again, where mud seems to automatically appear. Pets and children drag it into the house and even the most careful adults deposit sand and silt from the winter salt and sand deposits from sidewalks, parking lots, and streets, into our homes. Fastidious housekeepers may despise this time of the year because it is impossible to keep dirt out of the house.
Recently, we were watching some program that claimed Ireland had found a cure for superbugs: dirt. There was a careful analysis of the soil from a particular area of Ireland, where folk lore taught this soil could and would cure what ails one. The analysis showed the microbes of the soil could destroy what we know as superbugs: germs resistant to our current range of antibiotics.
My grandmother used to claim that a little dirt was good for children as long as it was clean dirt. While that sounds like an oxymoron, there is truth to it. Growing up on the farm must have inoculated my constitution with good germs. I shudder to think of the things we touched and played with. I remember my mother’s words to ‘wash up’ for a meal, but honestly, I don’t think any of us were thorough by today’s standards. Yet, we were rarely ill and seemingly healthy. Hand sanitizers had not hit the market yet and I doubt my mother would have bought them even if they had.
It turns out that exposure to dirt isn’t all that bad for children today. Now, my disclaimer is that yards and gardens treated with chemicals to fertilize and keep pests at bay would not be my choice for child’s play and ingestion. With that in the back of your mind, listen to some of the new research on dirt and children.
Jack Gilbert, who studies microbial systems at the University of Chicago, did a study after parenting a second child. He decided to investigate the science behind germs and the risks they pose to children in the modern era.
Perhaps surprisingly, his research demonstrated that most germ exposure was actually beneficial.
‘As adults, we naturally want to protect our children from anything that could hurt them, but what we may not realize is that, by trying so hard to protect them, we could actually be hindering their ability to develop a strong immune system. When we rush to wipe their hands and faces after playing outdoors, or block the affectionate licks of our pets, we prevent germs from working their magic.
Gilbert references the way life used to be, explaining that “we would have eaten a lot more fermented foods, which contain bacterial products and bacteria. We would have allowed our children to be exposed to animals and plants and soil on a much more regular basis.” Today we are so careful to ensure anything on them or around them is sterile, when in fact, that lack of exposure and over-sterilization creates a hyper-sensitized immune system:
You have these little soldier cells in your body called neutrophils, and when they spend too long going around looking for something to do, they become grumpy and pro-inflammatory. And so when they finally see something that’s foreign, like a piece of pollen, they become explosively inflammatory. They go crazy. That’s what triggers asthma and eczema and often times, food allergies.
By allowing your child to play out in the dirt and remain relatively “dirty,” you are increasing their chances of building a strong immune system. One main crime most parents are guilty of, despite the good intentions behind the behaviour, is over-sterilizing their environment. Gilbert specifically mentions how using hot or even warm soapy water is fine for washing your child’s hands, and much healthier than using a hand sanitizer.
Gilbert also debunks the “5 Second Rule” myth, explaining it takes “milliseconds for microbes to attach themselves to a sticky piece of jammy toast, for example. But it makes no difference. Unless you dropped it in an area where you think they could be a high risk of extremely dangerous pathogens, which in every modern American home is virtually impossible, then there’s no risk to your child.
This is definitely something every parent thinks about the moment the pacifier drops from their infant or toddler’s mouth. It’s a knee-jerk reaction that most people can’t help but have. Yet Gilbert offers some controversial advice for how to respond in this situation, recommending that, when this happens, parents should lick it rather than wash it. One study showed that for “parents who licked the pacifier and put it back in — their kids developed less allergies, less asthma, less eczema. Overall, their health was stronger and more robust.”
Dirt has amazing benefits for us, even as adults. Soil microbes, specifically mycobacterium vaccae, are considered a natural antidepressant.
Regarding the frequency of bathing, “Over-washing can actually damage the skin and lead them to have a higher likelihood of infections and over-inflammatory reactions like eczema.” Children under the age of six months and infants up to about 18 months can safely go a few days without bathing — using a warm wash cloth is sufficient.’
For more information, and to answer questions, you might want to refer to the book, DIRT IS GOOD: THE ADVANTAGE OF GERMS FOR YOUR CHILD’S DEVELOPING IMMUNE SYSTEM.
Perhaps the mud pies, the outdoor pets, livestock, walking soybean fields, making hay, and gardening were inoculating our immune systems as farm kids. It might be a good idea to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying the things children naturally do, to be sure they are healthy from the inside out.
Teach A Child
Last week I wrote about my basketball tournament tradition of cleaning the coils of my refrigerator. Now I want to encourage you to share the duties of household maintenance. Here’s why.
Growing up on the farm, we learned to be helpers at an early age. There were usually bottle babies to feed or cats and dogs for which to care. There were always household tasks that we could do from setting the table to doing dishes. There was no question about whether or not we could work. The only question was which chores were age appropriate.
When I was twelve, my mother was pinned beneath a heavy garage door. It was a weight activated door and as she was walking under the door, the weight fell off and her spine was broken in several place. She was paralyzed for some days. The nuns in the Catholic hospital prayed over her continuously for days. The trauma of seeing her in this hospital was exacerbated since my dad’s sister had died in the same building just weeks before.
For the weeks she was in the hospital, running the household and attending school was my responsibility. My dad was busy with spring farm work. Making meals and doing laundry landed in my lap. We boarded the bus at 6:45 every morning and returned home at 5:30. It was that very week that the wringer washer decided to die.
This experience motivated me to teach my children basic tasks so they could survive should such a tragedy befall our household. They learned to take dirty clothes to the laundry area if they wanted them washed. In time, they learned to sort into appropriate and color-coded baskets. Eventually, their clothing was sorted into their individual containers and they could fold and store as they wished. By high school, they did their own laundry.
As youngsters, eager to help, they learned to set the table, unload the dish washer, use knives safely, bake, cook, and clean up. When they went off to college, they were astounded that new friends were clueless on cleaning rooms, managing dirty clothes, or even time management skills.
It's thrilling for me to see young moms teaching their children basic domestic skills today. Here’s why:
Chores develop a work ethic. Learning to start and finish a task is important. Seeing a job complete creates a sense of accomplishment. Life involves work. School, earning a living, day to day life doesn’t come with a butler in our culture. It’s important to learn that life takes effort.
Children are excellent observers. They watch everything we do. Littles normally want ‘to help’ because they want to grow up to be like mom or dad. Let them. Work beside them. Give them opportunity to try things. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, there are more messes to clean up. Yes, they develop a sense of accomplishment by assisting. There is research to show that doing chores can helps kids be more responsible, develop high self-esteem, and even delay gratification.
Chores help children learn skills and become independent. Learning how to do things gives the natural inclination to want to learn new things. It’s the carrot to higher learning. If a child is confident in knowing basic life skills, he will have every confidence to strike into new territory as an adult. It’s an important reason to start early. Honestly, by the time middle school rolls around and sports or activities in school occupy their lives, it’s too late to start. Begin when they are little.
Find an outside motivator if you need. Our children participated in 4H. There are a host of opportunities for children to learn new skills. Scouting and many spring break classes or camps offer other ways to teach children specific skill sets. Use them for things that don’t happen in your house. Your child wants to learn to bake bread but you don’t? There’s probably a class for that.
Let’s arm our children with the confidence and skills to be productive and engaging in their adult lives. It’s our job as parents to train them up in the right way. You never know when it will be an important aspect of your family’s survival.
WHAT LIES BENEATH
The state basketball tournaments, held this week and last, are full of tradition. In rural Iowa, following the home town basketball games was a tradition almost as sacred as church service on Sunday morning. If you lived that, you know what I mean.
My elementary years were in a small town that encouraged girls sports. Somehow, they managed to make practices between the two gymnasiums for both girls and boys. Perhaps they didn’t have middle school sports. I don’t really remember. We moved to a larger school the year before a basketball career could begin for me and the larger school focused on multiple sports for only boys. So, I didn’t play. But, I loved the sport and enjoyed watching the games.
When tournament weeks roll into town, I watch the schedule to see if there are any teams of friends whose children or grandchildren play. It helps me select a team to cheer on to victory. My family doesn’t care one way or another about basketball. I had to force one of my children to attend the state tournament when her high school played. She enjoyed the environment but didn’t know enough about the game to enjoy the details of accomplishment.
Consequently, I relish just listening to the game and commentary, the interviews, the general celebration of youth in Iowa who gain the privilege of playing at this level. So, I go to the kitchen, close the door and get busy. You see, I’ve started my own tradition during the basketball games.
I’m not certain how it started but one year I determined to get my spring cleaning done. I knew it was important to vacuum the coils from under the refrigerator to help it work more efficiently. I took off the front panel and could see more than dust on the coils.
I remember pulling out the refrigerator and vacuuming the dust off the floor and the back and trying my best to clean. I could tell there was more dust under a cardboard ‘plate’ in the back. My helpful husband removed the plate and I found dust bunnies the size of grown rabbits that had accumulated in 27 years. I suppose no one takes the back off the refrigerator, but I had spied these dust bunnies while trying to remove dust off the coils from the front.
These days, my refrigerator is older than 27 years and I want it to function for a long time more. We had to replace our ‘extra’ refrigerator last year. It replaced one that was only 8 years old. My old-timer has a few dings in it, but I’m keen to do what I can to preserve its life for as long as possible. Keeping the coils free of dust is just one way I attempt to keep that baby humming.
If you haven’t started spring cleaning, I recommend you take the front plate off the refrigerator and see if you can vacuum the coils. You might want to pull it out and clean behind it as well. And, if you team the cleaning with something remarkable, like a basketball tournament, it will be easy to remember when you last did it! I need all the help I can get at remembering things.
You know that I plan a menu and it keeps me on track and avoids the last minute scramble of ‘what’s for dinner?’. I’ve even resorted to making a two-week menu to make fewer trips to the store and hopefully reduce our grocery bill. But, I’m almost over it. Every time I put soup on the menu, we have a snow storm.
This week, my husband assured me that winter was almost over. I really had not complained. I like the purity of snow covering the undulating contours of my back yard. I can recognize the tracks of various wild creatures who come to forage or walk through the yard on their way to the water source, a few blocks from our home. I was actually glad we had that last snow storm. Why come this far and not set a new record?
But, really, I’m about done with winter. It’s time to plant seeds and think about new life and growth. I’m ready to clean drawers and do what I consider spring cleaning, with the understanding I might not get back to the deep cleaning till November, when the growing and preserving season draws to a close.
This week, it seems everything I think about takes me back to the scripture that says, ‘See, I am doing a new thing.’ (Isaiah 43:19). It began in late December when I was pondering what the next year would hold; what I should focus on for my personal growth. That scripture not only came to my mind but it was on my Face Book Page, and everyone seemed to be noting this scripture. I was taken aback and wondered what I should do.
So, the question is ‘what is the new thing?’ And, how do I prepare or what do I do with it? Is the ‘new thing’ a record amount of snow fall for the month of February? Is the new thing the new food forest I want to establish in my yard? Is the new thing just the blooming of (more than I want to admit) tulip bulbs I planted last fall?
It seemed to be underscored with the Adoption stories from Sunday: a new thing: new siblings, new families, found families. New revelation of how God sees us. A new thing.
What is the new thing in your life? What is the urging you have to grow or rest or find a different season?
I haven’t pinpointed my ‘new thing’. I could tell you what I HOPE it is, but I cannot be certain my hope and God’s plan are the same thing. But, I want to leave myself open to His direction. So, maybe my ‘I’m over it’ attitude toward winter ought to also be present in the daily menu of my life so that I can be alert and aware of the ‘new thing’ God wants to do in my heart and the body as believers I’m a part of. Let’s join our hearts and our hands and watch for the new thing.