How to Make Baby Food in the Crock Pot

How did I not know that you can make baby food (without a bunch of mess!) in the crock pot?? Why didn’t someone tell me on kiddo #1, the child who ate gallons of purees?

Well, I want to save you from that sad, late realization.

How to Make Baby Food in the Crock Pot

This video is SO. FUNNY.

Because Emma.

Well… you’ll see.

If you didn’t watch – all you do is poke the veggies, wrap them in foil, and turn the crockpot on low! That’s it! Even with a full crockpot, my veggies were all done in 6.5 hours.

Make Baby Food in the Crock Pot

How to Implement Natural Consequences

How to Implement Natural Consequences

Shaking. He just kept on shaking it.

My son – he’s 6. We were on the way home from church, so I had all three munchkins in the van. We had already made a quick grocery pit stop. Everyone was hungry, and the ants were in the pants.

And he kept shaking his water bottle. He invents these little games for himself to pass the time. In this one, the water bottle could have been a missile or a medicine or machine gun. I have no idea – the boy stuff sometimes escapes me.

All I know is, he was shaking this water bottle, and the whole time I’m thinking, “It’s gonna spill. It’s gonna rocket out of there, leaving a big mess in the third row.”

I said, “Samuel, please stop shaking your water bottle so it doesn’t spill.”

Now, in my house, if you disobey a direct command, you usually get a direct consequence. Meaning: hey, I told you to do something, and you need to listen.

I find that if I give chance after chance, then I end up with a fuming mama and a frustrated kid, so I try to discipline right away.

He kept shaking it. And I did something I don’t usually do.

I waited. Just a moment. I’m usually quick. “You didn’t obey, so you will get <insert your own consequence here>.”

But Samuel isn’t 3 anymore. The direct consequences work best from about 18 months to about 5ish depending on the kid. In Shepherding a Child’s Heart (affiliate link), you see that Sam is now at the stage where we’re moving more into coaching/mentoring.

He gets the disobedience. He knows where his heart stands before us and the Lord. He can apologize and forgive on a dime (which I sometimes question but am also grateful for). So we’re transitioning to a lot more dialogue.

Not my favorite. I’d rather everyone just follow the rules. 😉

He still has one foot in each camp, though. He pushes the disobedience, and we reign back in with direct consequences. We’ve implemented a reward system that’s working great as positive reinforcement. (Whew!)

So I waited because I was thinking. What should I do? Does he get a time out? Do I take away a toy? Video game time? I was in a patient phase, so I was just calmly trying to figure it out.

And that’s when it happened. “Umm… I just spilled a lot of water back here.”

Now trust me, there’s a part of me that sometimes immediately progresses to the I Told You So part of this lesson. “Now you can see why I told you not to shake it!”… But I didn’t say that.

The Lord was granting me some insight here – I didn’t have the insight, mind you. But I could tell something was changing in our relationship, thus the waiting.

I chose to say, “Then you know the first thing you need to do when you get home, right?”

“What?” Oh, the smart ones always know how to play dumb.

“Clean up the water.”

“Oh. Yeah.”

That was it. Nobody was upset. He cleaned up the mess right away when we got home.

Y’all. I didn’t do anything else. I didn’t even say I Told You So.

I remembered reading about natural consequences in a fantastic book called Boundaries with Kids (affiliate link – so worth the $2.99!). And of course I’ve used them. I always require my kids to clean up spills of water or legos or baby doll clothes. But I usually add to those clean ups the talk. The I Told You So and You Should Have Obeyed.

Sometimes that’s necessary, but sometimes it’s not! Oooo it’s hard for me to even say that. Yes, kids will and must learn to make their own mistakes and clean up their own messes with a loving coach by their side telling them Yes, it happened, but I know you can make it right. (not I Told You So.)

How to Implement Natural Consequences

Recognize when your child is ready

Look for signs that your child is ready to handle the natural order of things. Maybe they start taking responsibility for their own things and show pride for doing so, even if only occasionally.

Another sign is when direct consequences aren’t quite as effective anymore. Rewards may not be as motivating. The age is commonly around 5 or 6 when children have to start taking more responsibility with the start of school.

Teach the principle of sowing and reaping

Principle of Sowing and Reaping

For a person will reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. (Galatians 6:7b-8, NET)

Don’t use natural consequences alone

From Boundaries with Kids, “Life works on reality consequences.”

Reality consequences are woven into the fabric of the world that God created. However, God doesn’t strictly use natural consequence to teach us. He coaches us through His word and community, He models grace and mercy, and He gives us direct consequences as well.

Allowing natural consequences to be a part of your child’s life will help them grow into an independent learner, but it shouldn’t be the only way you plan to teach them.

OK, Steph, but really, HOW?

I think the easiest place to start using natural consequences is when you have an expectation to leave the house for something at a certain time. Ideally, it’s somewhere they enjoy, and they go often enough to practice. For my example below, I’m going to use Kindergarten.

Learn to Pause

I’m obviously working on this one. It’s tricky when you have kids in multiple stages because direct consequences are most effective when delivered quickly, but natural consequences take time to work out. So, I have to switch one off to do the other.

For example, I told my child that we leave the house for school at 7:35am. He wants to play with his toys, but he has responsibilities in the morning: getting out of bed to turn his alarm off, getting ready for school, eating breakfast, packing up his bags, brushing his teeth, etc.

What if he’s not getting ready? Do I nag him? Nope. Do I jump right in and put his shoes on for him? Nope. I wait.

We have a cheap digital clock in his room that he knows how to watch. If he gets ready efficiently, he could use about 10 minutes to play. Most mornings he takes his time getting ready and doesn’t have time to play, but he’s not upset about it because he knows he made that choice.

natural consequences

Teach the connection between his choice and the consequence as a matter of fact

Every once in awhile, he laments, “I never get time to play before school!” In this way, he’s casting out frustration.

The first time this happens, I gently and lovingly remind him of the process that is set up. “We leave at 7:35am. Once your responsibilities are done, you can use whatever time left to play.”

Don’t be offended by his frustration

My tendency is to take this personally and want to say, “If you get ready faster, you will have time.” Or bring out the I Told You So.

Or, my need to be on time makes me angry, and then I want to yell or hurriedly help him out the door while complaining. Instead, I need to stay calm so that he doesn’t think I’m to blame.

Let him feel the pain – Don’t rescue him!

I’m not to blame (usually) when he’s late. There have been times where we’ve gone out the door with his stomach only half full.

He’s walked into school late a couple of times (which he detests at this age). If the school hands out tardies, he might have to just get one! (gasp!)

Use a different method for the “struggle” areas

Some things that he struggles to do in the morning are part of his reward system.

For example, he’s learning to tie his shoes and doesn’t enjoy it. He gets a check in the system every morning he chooses to tie them. If he doesn’t tie them, I tie them for him, but he doesn’t get the check. So as we’re leaving, we check the shoes. I really don’t worry about whether he does it or not because the reward system sort of handles this area.

Help him plan for next time

Later, when you’re not trying to get out of the door, brainstorm together how you might avoid being late.

“Hey bud, remember how we had some trouble this morning? What do you think we can do differently?”

Release control and let God guide your child

natural consequences

This is maybe the hardest thing to do, but I’m constantly learning how to let God guide my child, and show my child how they can respond to God. Sometimes, instead of a consequence, I ask them if they would talk to God and ask Him for help.

Boy do I need that lesson for myself!

If you take advantage of natural consequences, what would you add to this “how to”?

Intentional May – Gospel-Centered Kids’ Crafts for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day, Week 4

Intentional May

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/bayasaa/2693171833/

In May, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 4

 

Connect Memorial Day to the Gospel

This week, we’re looking forward to Memorial Day, and we’re discussing freedom! We made the eagle craft above. I found the original idea on Babble. Eagles are such a beautiful picture of freedom and stature! And while we think of them as free, even they are under God’s sovereignty.

I shared with my kids what freedom means, especially the freedom to worship God in our country and how men and women have given their lives for our freedom.

I also want them to see that God has given them the freedom to make their own choices – choices to obey God and choose Him over their own desires.

When we talked about the verses, we made sure to also land on the true freedom we have from our sin through the cross.

Job 39:27 “Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?”

Bonus verses:

In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft.
The Lord alone led him;
    no foreign god was with him. (Deuteronomy 32:10-12, NIV)

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (Exodus 19:4, NIV)
Easter egg: Does the “eye” on the eagle look fake to you? That’s because it is! We forgot to add one, and I put a little dot on there for Pinterest’s sake! 😉

5 Ways I Disrespect My Husband When Asking for Help

There’s that heat rising up in my face again. The diet coke is foaming.

“I need your help!” I yell at my husband.

His face is aghast. Almost slack, like he’s seeing a creature from the black lagoon.

He springs into action, his shoulders slumped – all sense of manhood ripped from him by… his wife. The one woman who God purposed to encourage him, to point him to the Savior, to boost the spiritual-leader-ness inside of him.

Disrespect.

Then my shoulders model his when I realize what I’ve done. I look back – Where was the root of this? How did this begin? All I needed was a little help!

The error, though, wasn’t in the words, “I need your help!”

5 Ways I Disrespect My Husband When Asking for Help

Source: Pexels

5 Ways I Disrespect My Husband When I Ask for Help

1. I tried to do it all alone to begin with.

Asking for help is needed, especially in marriage – a team sport. Too often when I need help, my independence kicks in.

“I don’t need help. I’ve taken care of myself most of my life.”

“Well, he’s not here to help me the rest of the time, so why give him the courtesy of helping me now?” (Wow, I’m such a peach, huh?)

Or, autopilot is simply on. I’m used to doing XYZ, so I just do it without making room for anyone else.

Now, what if I told you that all of the statements above actually have to do with our relationship with the Lord?

Uh huh. That one hurts. When we try to go it alone, we’re first saying that we don’t need God. We’re capable alone. All of a sudden, that lie emerges.

Staying connected to the vine is the first way to correct this error.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me (John 15:4, NIV)

2. I’ve been hiding my real feelings.

Back to our marriage – how has my communication with my husband been lately?

I bet the answer is, “Not stellar.”

When little things irk me, like that off the cuff remark about my lack of athleticism or giving me a look when I pull out a late-night snack, and I let it go, am I really letting it go?

Hopefully, I’m in a place to be in on the joke myself and not take everything so seriously. Because really, my clutziness is hilarious. I can manage to rip off a fingernail (like, the bed of the nail) doing laundry. And I always eat something at night because three kids means I don’t eat enough during the day. But snack after snack in the evening looks like I might have a little problem haha!

But if I’m in a hurting place where I need a little more sensitivity, am I expressing that? Or, am I thinking, “That shouldn’t bother me, so I’ll pretend it didn’t.”

If I’m not letting my husband in, even with a simple, “Babe, I know I’m ridiculous, but can you lighten up a touch? Mama’s sensitive tonight,” how can I expect him to understand me?

3. Wrong time and place.

Whew – I feel like I just went through this with my husband. Before a “big weekend,” we always try to communicate before the weekend.

What is this going to look like?

What happens if I need help and you’re busy?

What are some ways I can step in to help you without us getting in a fight over it in the moment?

When we don’t do this, neither of us know what to expect from each other and one of us lashes out – a harsh word, a cold shoulder, venting on our guests… all things that only increase the disrespect.

4. My tone is rude and degrading (you knew it was coming).

My husband is not my child! I should never treat him like a child by giving him “the look”, “the evil eye”, the “mom voice”.

Likewise, commanding him to do something or giving him an ultimatum only shows him I plan to take control of this marriage, that he’s not good enough to lead, and that I don’t believe him to be a capable man.

Seeing the disrespect in our eyes, body language, and voice only pushes my husband into passivity or anger – the two things I want the least from my husband!

5. Not saying “Yes” to the help he offers.

Conviction here! My husband actually does offer to help me. A lot. But it’s never in the way I want to be helped! Sometimes, I just need to communicate the help that I need, but other times, I need to say “Yes!” to the help he’s offering.

Do I need to control every little thing he does? Must I always be right about where things go and how the baby is dressed and what route we should take? If he’s offering to help, I want to say “Yes!” and “Thank you!” instead of, “No, that’s OK” whilst mumbling (if only you would do this instead).

I know I’m not alone in this! I’d love to hear if you have a number 6 to add to the list.

Intentional May – Connecting May Flowers to the Bible, Week 3

 

Connecting May Flowers to the Bible

In May, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 3

This week the craft is the life cycle of a flower. We created the life cycle below (inspired by this post). The kids get to be hands on with this one!

Flower Life Cycle

  1. glue seeds (I used watermelon seeds from my garden stash.
  2. Brown paint for dirt
  3. Use a cotton ball for a cloud (which will bring the rain)
  4. blue paint fingerprinted on for rain
  5. sun picture to glue or draw – we used a yellow pom pom and colored the rays
  6. picture or drawing of flower – we had some real flowers from her recital that were dry and a flower stamp.

The important point I will make is that for there to be seeds, the flower has to die. Living things have an ending. People also have an eternal ending unless we trust Jesus as our Savior. God doesn’t end, and our verse teaches that neither does His word!

The Bible verse this week is

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8, NIV

 

Free Printable for Teacher Gift – Chips & Queso

I’m quite a delinquent. I don’t buy into all of the Pinterest-perfect hype – although I do love Pinterest and get tons of simple ideas there!

I do, however, totally buy into getting our kids’ teachers something special. They work so hard for so little cash, and I love the opportunity to make their day.

But, I’m always planning things last minute around here, so my teacher gifts are usually some sort of food or gift card for food! (Hey, I’d like that, so I assume they would too!)

Our kindergarten teacher is amazing, and her favorite food is queso, so guess what our teachers got this year? Uh huh. Chips and queso! Fresh and hot!

Teacher Gift Chips and Queso

If this idea suits you, feel free to download and print the little punny tags for your own gift.

To download, right-click on this image and choose Save Link as… You will get a .pdf with 6 tags to print on cardstock. Enjoy!

Queso

The pdf link is also here: Queso Teacher Tag

What to Pray When You Feel All Alone

Boy, aren’t there times when we feel alone?

Suffering. Depression. Anxiety. Infertility.

Health. Jobs. Kids. Family.

Oppression. Isolation. Addiction.

What if you’re married… and you still feel alone? Even worse – what if you feel like your husband is the enemy?

What to Pray When You Feel Alone

Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/geekounet/ (changes mine)

Perhaps your husband is abusing you. If so, it’s time to tell someone. Tell your pastor. Tell your friend. Call a counselor. Ask for help. Please.

Maybe your husband is simply passive; you’re not united. You’re always at odds.

Even a vibrant, God-seeking marriage can feel like a lonely island. You talk, but he doesn’t hear. He doesn’t understand, or he’s not seeking to. What then?

After all, if the enemy can take down marriage, he’s taken down one of God’s primary illustrations of Himself.

If you’re single, you still have the same enemy. Loneliness and aloneness still knock.

We know God is there, but it’s hard to feel it. We don’t sense Him. We’re not opening that Bible because we aren’t connected to the vine.

Or we open and it feels like jibberish.

More piercing, we may read and feel anger at the Lord.

When I’m suffering with intense emotions, I can only pray through Scripture itself. I tell God how I’m feeling, but I must must come back to truth. Reciting it reorients my heart and mind, sometimes only with repetition and time.

So if you’re in any of the states I’ve described – or one I’ve obviously missed – here is a Scripture to pray through.

For context, David was hiding from his enemy in a cave when he wrote this.

I cry aloud to the Lord;
    I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.
I pour out before him my complaint;
    before him I tell my trouble.

When my spirit grows faint within me,
    it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
    people have hidden a snare for me.
Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
    no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
    no one cares for my life.

I cry to you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”

Listen to my cry,
    for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
Set me free from my prison,
    that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
    because of your goodness to me.(Psalm 142, emphasis mine)

Baby with a #MommyPuppet – YouTubesday

OK, this YouTube video cracks me up. Is it just me? Or is a baby getting excited about a puppet of her mommy just stinkin’ funny?

And why does my baby have a #mommypuppet, do you ask?

Ah, that’s because we’re weirdos.  No, really. When I was planning my April Fool’s Pranks, I created an additional prank using one of my old acting headshots. While I was rummaging through the old ones deciding which shot to use for the prank, Emma, my 3 year old, said, “Can I have one of these?”

I said, “Sure!” I just thought she thought her mama looked nice 10 years ago and wanted to draw on it or something.

No.

The next words out of her mouth were, “I want to make a puppet of you.”

See? Weirdos.

Intentional May – Connecting Kids’ Crafts to the Gospel, May Flowers, Week 2

May Flowers Kids Craft

In May, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 2

The craft this week is all about May Flowers. We already covered April Showers. 🙂

We’re always planting and gardening around here, and I know I have random flower pots hanging around in the garage, so this little craft will be super fun. We’re going to make thumbprint pots like these:

thumbprint pots

I guarantee you my kids’ pots will start with thumbprint butterflies and end up looking like a brown goopy mess, but that’s not the point! 😉 I will take them to our favorite nursery to pick out a cheap annual for their pot. They love taking care of things!

The Bible verse is:

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. (Matthew 6:28a, NIV)

The whole point of April showers (which God provides) is that you get May Flowers – God even provides for the beauty of creation! Of course, He also would provide for His own children.