Baby, It’s Hot!
July in Iowa. There is only one way to describe it: HOT. This week, the coming days, with high temperatures and higher heat indexes mean we must be diligent in self-care. It doesn’t take much to over exert in these temperatures and have health issues.
Many of us seek and find the comfort of air conditioning during the peak of the heat. If you seek the swimming pool or are a sun goddess or work outside for your livelihood, it is imperative that you keep your cool with lots of liquids.
We have all heard the importance of drinking enough water and staying hydrated. A human body perspires, so the droplets of water will air dry, causing a cooling. With the water in perspiration, come electrolytes. They regulate muscle and nerve function, hydration, blood pressure and your body’s pH levels. Deficiencies or imbalances in electrolytes—which include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, hydrogen phosphate, bicarbonate and chloride—can cause everything from fatigue and muscle cramping to irregular heartbeat and seizures. When we sweat, we lose electrolytes; so it’s important to replace them.
There are commercial beverages available for electrolyte replacement. They are convenient. But, they are often laden with sugar.
Here are some natural electrolyte boosters to keep on hand to consume and keep your body balanced.
Sodium is one of the electrolytes that we’re quickest to lose through sweat. Luckily, ingesting salt is a quick and easy way to replace what we lose. Salt also contains the electrolytes magnesium, calcium and potassium; so it’s good for more than just sodium replenishment. Go for sea salt over table salt because it’s less processed. Himalayan and Celtic sea salts are widely available in most grocery stores. Just put a pinch in your water and drink. It’s that easy.
Packed with nutrients and low in sugar, coconut water is a great way to rehydrate and replenish electrolytes, especially potassium. There are a lot of coconut waters on the market. Look for one with minimal ingredients, especially anything that looks artificial. The minimal processing causes some of their coconut waters to turn pink when the antioxidants are exposed to light—it’s still totally safe to drink. If you have access to it, completely unprocessed coconut water, directly from the coconut, is always best!
Lemons are the queen of citrus when it comes to electrolytes. They’re a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium. Add that to their ability to detoxify the liver, balance pH levels and boost the immune system with vitamin C, and lemons are officially a solid addition to any drink. Squeeze a whole lemon into warm or cold water for a sour jolt of electrolytes.
No list is complete without a reminder to eat more green vegetables—and electrolyte replenishment is no exception! Leafy greens such as kale, swiss chard, beet greens, bok choy and spinach are packed with electrolytes. They are especially rich in magnesium, calcium and potassium. Celery, broccoli and avocado are good sources as well. You can add an electrolyte punch to any meal by tossing in something green.
Here's a homemade mixture that tastes acceptable without all the sugar. I’ve made and used this.
Yield: 32 ounces (4 cups, or approximately 1 liter)
Serving size: 8 ounces (1 cup)
Directions: Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Pour into a container, chill, and serve!
However you decide to stay cool, be careful in the heat and humidity. Drink plenty of water, maintain electrolyte balance, and stay safe.
The Magic of Touch
For some reason, many articles about the importance of touch and hugs have crossed my path recently. After a little contemplation, it occurred to me it would be good information to share.
One of my wild dreams once all my children left the house was to be a baby rocker at the hospital. Nurses are overloaded with skilled tasks and charting and documenting responsibility and don’t have time for the desire of their hearts, to comfort babies by holding and rocking them. Apparently, volunteers can fill this vital role. Perhaps you have seen on your facebook feed, the man who holds babies.
A newer philosophy post-birth is for parents to have skin to skin contact with newborns. This has many physical and psychological benefits to the baby. One is the temperature control for the newborn. One 2014 study indicated cognitive control and psysiological organization benefits from skin to skin contact extending for a decade. The research studied the way this skin to skin contact assists in brain development.
Concluding comments in the research went so far as to say hugging our children makes them smarter. Yet babies who are denied physical touch have brain shrinkage. Additionally, hugs increase oxytocin which improves the child’s immune response. And, emotional health and stability are increased with sufficient physical touch.
It gave me pause, as I know teachers in elementary school and our churches must guard the physical touch they offer students. Inappropriate touch has moved our society to a guarded position in this issue. I’ve seen teachers who offer a hug or a special hand shake or a high five to students. It’s an effort to afford physical touch in an acceptable and appropriate manner. There must be balance in all things, surely. It saddens me that we must avoid what is an important element to growth and development because some have misused it.
An article from THE ATLANTIC found that physical touch also assists children in overcoming trauma. Specifically, children were studied who had survived a hurricane. Those who received back rub massages responded in a more positive way in reducing their PTSD.
This quote from the same article shares the positives of touch in the physiological results in one’s body:
‘According to Field, any activity that moves the skin stimulates the pressure receptors underneath it—which in turn increases the activity of the largest cranial nerve, the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve has pathways to all major organs, Field says. “It slows down the heart. It goes to the GI tract and helps digestion. It helps our emotional expressions—our facial expressions and our vocal expressions. It enhances serotonin, the natural antidepressant in our system,” she says. “So that’s why hugging is good. That’s why massage is good.”
Plus, Field says, skin stimulation and the resulting vagal activity lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are linked to a variety of health problems, such as anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, digestive problems, headaches, and sleep problems; additionally, elevated cortisol is known to harm the “natural killer cells” that help eliminate viral, bacterial, and cancer cells. In TRI studies, 10-week-old babies whose mothers massaged them regularly were found to get fewer colds and fewer bouts of diarrhea as they grew.
Elevated cortisol is also known to hamper the function of the hippocampus, the part of the brain that facilitates memory and learning; as a 2005 reportfrom the National Association for the Education of Young Children notes, “children who sustain chronically high cortisol levels demonstrate cognitive, social, and motor delays in greater numbers than children with more normal levels of cortisol.” As a 2015 New Yorker story noted, when the researcher Mary Carlson conducted studies in the 1990s of children raised in Romania’s state-sponsored leagăne—institutional homes for small children that were erected to facilitate Nicolae Ceaușescu’s mandated baby boom—she found they reminded her of the socially deprived monkeys and chimpanzees she had studied in the past. The children, who were severely neglected and deprived of sensory and tactile stimulation, were characterized by “muteness, blank facial expressions, social withdrawal, and bizarre stereotypic movements.” They also had markedly elevated cortisol levels in their saliva.’
When physical touch is not available, exercise can provide similar benefits. All in all, our need for one another touches our emotional, mental, physical bodies. It’s good for all of us to have appropriate physical touch and/or movement.
II Corinthians suggests we ‘greet one another with a holy kiss.’ Let’s just substitute a holy hug for that kissing business…
Penny Pinching Ideas
If your household is like ours, you are always looking for ways to save money on purchases. I recall as a child, hearing my mother’s plans to ‘stock up’ on sheets during the ‘white sales’ of January. She was a master at knowing what items went on sale which months of the year.
As an adult, I’ve noticed there are certain times of the year particular items are best buys. Asparagus is on sale in March for $1.00 a pound one week of the year. If I want to freeze asparagus for the rest of the year, that is the week I purchase a case. Colorado peaches have a two week period mid August for availability. Before or after that time slot, peaches are from another location. We prefer Colorado peaches. We might try one or two from Georgia but my big purchases on peaches, for preservation (or gorging) come in the middle of August.
Let’s look at which items will be bountiful and abundant in the month of July. It’s no surprise that BBQ supplies are usually discounted around the Fourth celebration: potato chips, hot dogs, brats, condiments, charcoal, salad dressings are often ‘on sale’. July is National Ice Cream Month. Find some delicious treats for your freezer.
Seasonal produce include: Asian Pears, Bartlett Pears, green beans, blueberries, corn, cucumber, eggplant, figs, garlic, grapes nectarines, red onions, Valencia oranges, peaches, sweet and bell peppers, plums, potatoes, summer squash, tomatoes, watermelon.
Mattresses are largely discounted during July. By the end of the month, school supplies will frequent the shelves. The best deals are often the second week of August, but if you are picky about what you want, buy early.
Some of the items have good shelf life and it is wise to stock up. Check the ‘purchase by’ dates to help you decide what quantities are appropriate. It does no good to purchase something only to question the safety down the road.
Amy Dacyczyn, author of THE TIGHTWAD GAZETTE, described her weekly grocery shopping list. It might include a case of peanut butter (on sale, of course); toilet paper; and fruit of the week at the store. Her purchase for her family were always in bulk, for the amount her family would consume until the next time the item would be available at a discounted price. I recommend her books if pinching pennies is a necessity or hobby for you.
It’s wise of us to use our resources wisely. The widow’s mite was a prized offering to Jesus. As we use our dollars and cents wisely, we are more able to give to advance the Kingdom of Jesus. I challenge you to see this as an opportunity to make your money go further so you have more to give.
Super Natural Home
The title of this article is also the title of a book I have yet to read but have on my ‘must read’ list for the rainy days of summer. It’s a book about cleaning up your home and ridding it of the toxic cleaning supplies most of us hide in our cleaning cupboard.
We have been eating as organically as we can afford for some years. We are careful about the source of our foods. A new adventure for us is the cleaning products we use. I was originally surprised to learn the laundry detergent I normally purchase is on the ‘dirty’ list for carcinogens. I’m almost at the bottom of the barrel, so to speak. I plan to do a little research before the next purchase to be sure I’m not contaminating my family with a host of toxicity.
I love fragrance as much as the next person but we have a number of family members whose airways shut down in the presence of fragrance. For some, this means avoiding the perfumed laundry supply aisle in any super market. For others, it means no scented candles or plug ins. And, for some it is as drastic as fresh flowers in a closed room.
Rather than lead you on the trail of my exploration (at least today), I want to share with you some ingredients that are considered unsafe. Sometimes, it is not just this one item, but its combination with any of the others on the list. I challenge you to join me in evaluating the ingredients on your cleaning supplies and cleaning up your own product list and home.
Here's the list:
Found in: Many fragranced household products, such as air fresheners, dish soap, even toilet paper. Because of proprietary laws, companies don’t have to disclose what’s in their scents, so you won’t find phthalates on a label. If you see the word “fragrance” on a label, there’s a good chance phthalates are present.
Phthalates are absorbed through the skin. They become endocrine disruptors in some cases. Options to avoid phthalates would be fragrance free products or all natural products. Essential oils can be used with considerable caution, as they affect some folks, too. Less is more in this category.
Found in: Dry-cleaning solutions, spot removers, and carpet and upholstery cleaners. Percs are neurotoxins and best avoided by all of us. Products requiring dry cleaning only can be cleaned with a process called ‘wet cleaning’. Ask at your local cleaner if they offer this service.
We find triclosan in hand and dish soaps that are labeled antibacterial, as well as hand sanitizer. Some believe the use of these products has opened the door for super bugs that are resistant to antibiotics. Use simple soaps without a long list of ingredients and avoid triclosan. Currently, the EPA is studying whether triclosan can alter hormones. It is a known carcinogen.
Found in: Fabric softener liquids and sheets, most household cleaners labeled “antibacterial.” These are similar to triclosan. There is some link to respiratory issues and some who have had long term exposure develop asthma. It can also be a skin irritant. Using white vinegar as a fabric softener is less costly and equally as effective. A combination of tea tree oil and vinegar is an effective cleaner and antibacterial agent for cleaning counters.
Found in: Window, kitchen and multipurpose cleaners.
This ingredient is not required by law to be listed on the label. It gives the characteristic ‘sweet’ smell to cleaning products. It’s in the family of glycol ethers. There are a host of health issues, pulmonary edema, narcosis, liver and kidney failure related to too much use of this product. Vinegar diluted with a drop of dish soap can clean windows without the use of glycol ethers.
Found in: Polishing agents for bathroom fixtures, sinks and jewelry; also in glass cleaner.
Respiratory issues can develop, especially for the elderly with ammonia based products. It’s a common ingredient and a powerful one. A better product is to use a little vodka in the cleaning solution. It evaporates quickly. Use it for cleaning not imbibing.
Found in: Scouring powders, toilet bowl cleaners, mildew removers, laundry whiteners, household tap water.
Americans have a ‘thing’ about disinfecting and we have been sold chlorine as the best germ fighting product on the market. You can find it in wipes, and most of the products listed above. It can be a serious thyroid disruptor. It’s in the water we drink to kill bacteria and can be a skin irritant. It’s every where but we can avoid it by installing filters on our water faucets and using non-chlorinated cleaning products. Baking soda combined with vinegar scours well. Borax is a good laundry product for whitening.
Found in: Oven cleaners and drain openers.
Lye can burn the skin when it is touched. This is a very powerful and potent item. Baking soda and vinegar can clean a grimy oven, blended with time and elbow grease.
Beware of Greenwashing
If a cleaning product at your supermarket proclaims itself “green,” “natural” or “biodegradable,” that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s nontoxic. In 2010 the environmental consulting firm TerraChoice Group produced a report called “The Sins of Greenwashing.” In it the group found more than 95 percent of so-called green consumer products had committed at least one “greenwashing sin,” like making an environmental claim that may be truthful but unimportant. “CFC-free,” for example, is a common one, since CFCs are banned by law. Donna Kasuska of ChemConscious offers this advice: “When gauging ecological claims, look for specifics. ‘Biodegradable in three to five days’ holds more meaning than ‘biodegradable,’ as most substances will eventually break down with enough time.”
Even if you believe you have safe and wholesome cleaning products in your home, I challenge you to go back and read the labels with the above list of ‘dirty’ ingredients. Cleaning out the not recommended ingredients will probably give you more room on the cleaning shelf and a cleaner fresher home. And, if you cannot bring yourself to throw away items with questionable ingredients, at least promise you will find a more environmentally friendly option when you have emptied the bottle.
For a natural, clean, healthy home, get rid of the dirt and have a super natural home.
Hats off to the Dad in your Life
Recently, we cleaned a closet in our one room second story. The closet is a knee hole closet, poorly designed. The doors at one end make it challenging to access the contents 15 feet from the door. The previous owner of the house might have used it as a clothing closet. Because the far end of the closet is adjacent to the stairs, there is no easy way to add another door. We store VERY remote things at the far end. The only half of the closet that has easy access has become a library.
We love books. We like the feel and the smell and the messages of books of every size and shape and texture. We have accumulated books over the 39 years of marriage. My husband used to be an adjunct professor and had a stash of books from his coursework. The upstairs library holds ‘his’ collection of American Christian History, Economics, Theology, Presidential biographies and classics.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll let you in on a little family secret. We store things differently. I have a pet peeve: I do not like to waste time looking for something. So, my storage is often labeled and orderly. I put things in particular places so I can always find them. My husband is more spontaneous and his creative side allows him to put things wherever it seems to be a good landing zone at the moment. He doesn’t seem to mind searching for things because it brings adventure to his life.
The closet upstairs was once organized but lack of time or interest means the door would be opened and books randomly added to the shelves. I don’t know who did this. It might have been the two unseen guests who live in our home named Not Me and I didn’t. I don’t recall what event or search instigated looking for something in the closet. But the result was that we got to remove all the books to fix a loose shelf.
In the process of sorting (eliminating), and reorganizing the books, I found a title that spoke to my heart. It was a gift to my husband from one of our daughters. As I was contemplating what to write this week, the Lord brought to mind this book, WHY A DAUGHTER NEEDS A DAD. In the introduction to the 100 reasons a girl needs a father in her life, the author write this: “The love I have received shapes the love I give and it is evident at its best in my relationship with my daughter.”
Read that again. “The love I have received shapes the love I give and it is evident at its best in my relationship with my daughter.”
The book holds 100 reasons a girl needs a father. There is a similar book which we do not own entitled WHY A SON NEEDS A DAD. I suspect it is written in the same format. It is Proverbs-like, single sentences, couplets, or sometimes contrasts. It holds great spiritual truths though I am uncertain of the author’s faith. I won’t recount the 100 ways a dad shows his love for his daughter or why she needs those efforts. You can read the book for yourself to discover his treasure trove.
Dads, the love you give to your sons and daughters reflects the love you have received from your human and heavenly fathers and it is evident at its best in your relationship with your sons and daughters. This sentence would motivate any man to be the best example he can be of all he believes. So, for the dads who have come to Christ and live by His precepts, we applaud you for the love you reflect.
Hats off to the dads who have changed the world because they are different men from ungodly fathers; to the men who looked to God as their model for fatherhood. Hats off to the dads who continue in Godly fatherhood because they had great examples in their own lives. Hats off to the dads who sacrifice so their children don’t have to. Hats off to the dads who give love in the midst of exhaustion. Hats off to the dads who pray for their children. Hats off to the dads who invest in the lives of those who do not have dads. Hats off to all the dads who listen to the woes of their children without judgment. Hats off to the dads who continue to grow in the Lord.
Hats off, Dads. You are doing a great job. We admire you and we thank you for being the evidence of a loving Father.
We celebrate the men in our lives this week, the unsung heroes in families.
Silence is Golden
Years ago, I met an exchange student from Finland. As she was preparing to leave that area, she stopped at my office and invited me to visit her at ‘home’. Finland was not on my bucket list of places to go, yet just a year later, I was invited to be an exchange ‘student’ to Finland through an entirely different group, specifically at Kaisa-Leena’s home.
When I arrived in Finland, I quickly learned one principle the natives hold near and dear. ‘If you can hear your neighbor’s ax, you live too close to one another.’ The Fins love privacy and they relish silence.
When I read about the study performed by Finnish scientists, I was interested and not at all surprised by what they discovered. This information was printed in Lifehacks and I’m just going to summarize some of the high points.
First, though, as summer is upon us, Americans feel the need to fill every moment with activity or noise. This research may be just the ammunition you need to impose some ‘quiet time’ in your life, with your children, and with your God.
‘A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice. The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.
The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons. In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.
A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.
When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.
When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.
The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.
It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.
A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech.
Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.
The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making. The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.
Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.
But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise. ‘
Silence can be golden when it allows the brain to reboot, process information, and develop a positive direction. Swim against the current of culture and abandon the norm for a new and better alternative. Let’s use this information to discipline ourselves away from the noise of the world and into the quiet of replenishment.
Many afternoons when the children are dismissed from school, I’m in the yard working. I hear the chants and rhymes the children who aren’t on their phones sing as they are released for the day. Soon, they will be singing about no more teachers, no more rules, and looking forward to days at the swimming pool (if it ever stops raining).
A friend of mine posted this article on Facebook, our trusty source of all kinds of information, true and false. It’s a good reminder to all of us that despite the battles we are growing through, we have value in the eyes of our Creator. It’s a great lesson for children. But as adults, we need to be reminded, too. The storms of life wrinkle our perspective and distort our view. Culture may tell us our shape or size is unacceptable, but there is One who looks past the silhouette and examines the intent of the heart.
Credit is given in the post, which I have copied. I cannot verify its accuracy.
Today was bittersweet. My last day of my first year(semester) of teaching ever. My last day with my 4th graders. My last chance to leave an impact on them since unfortunately, I might not ever see them again. In order to hopefully leave an impression on them that would last a lifetime, I went to the bank last night and asked for the most crisp, without flaw, never been folded $100 bill they had. I would be using that $100 bill today in my final lesson of the semester. After our awards ceremony this morning, we returned to my classroom where I delivered my final lesson for this school year.
I took the $100 bill out of my wallet, held it up, and asked the class to tell me what it was. Obviously they knew what it was, who wouldn’t? I then asked them how much it was worth, to which they responded, “$100!” I began to explain how $100 is a lot of money, no matter how rich or poor you are in this world. I then asked them who wanted the $100. 14/14 students raised their hands before I could even finish the sentence.
The next part of my lesson required me to explain how a simple $100 bill can be related to our lives. I explained that this perfect $100 bill is like all of us when we’re born. No flaws, no imperfections, no negative thoughts being thrown at us by others. I had the students pass the $100 bill around and share something mean someone has said or done to them and how it made them feel using the $100 bill as visualization. If it was something minor, they’d fold it maybe once, if it was something more hurtful they’d maybe fold it a couple of times.
At the end, when all students were done sharing, I looked at the $100 bill(now crumpled, folded to what looked to be a million times) and held it up again. I asked my class “How much is it worth now?” They replied, “$100 still”. I asked, “Who wants it?” Again, 14/14 hands flew up. So I asked “Why? It’s all crumpled, folded, and it doesn’t even look like a $100 bill anymore.” I explained to them that no matter what anyone, or this world says about you, your abilities, your worth, your value or your flaws, you’re still worth something. The same as you’ve always been worth.
I ended my final lesson by saying this, “What you say and do to people matters. You may not see it, but I can promise you it matters. No matter how many times this $100 bill was folded or crumpled up, it’s still worth $100. It’ll still spend the exact same as to when it was brand new, with no folds or imperfections. That’s the same with all of you. You’re all still very valuable. My task for you is to find someone around you who doesn’t feel so valuable, pass on this lesson I’ve taught you, and be the difference. Be the difference you wanna see in this world. Be hope to those whose lives are far from easy.”
*By the end of it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
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.