By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Creating a Home, Family Focus, Kids Crafts, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I believe that building traditions strengthens families. It adds to the “special sauce” that makes your family unique from all others. Not only that but it is just plan fun to have things to look forward to on a daily, weekly or yearly basis.
This year, I have been on the hunt for some new Easter traditions to begin with our family. Easter is so rich with meaning. It simply makes sense that we should develop special ways to remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection!
It can be easy to go overboard and try to do too much and unintentionally add stress where celebration should be abounding. Below are a few ideas that I have found and plan to try this year. I have jotted them down on the calendar, spacing them out, in the hopes of preventing this overload. However, I am going to make a point to abandon any activity that pushes us into the “stress” rather than the celebration side of things.
Not only is this cake adorable, but it looks like it will taste better than the Empty Tomb Cookies (shown below) that we made last year (they are a lot like divinity and I am not a big fan of all the sugar).
I did love the symbolism in the cookies however. If you are interested in going the route of baking something that magically becomes “empty”, another option that looks fun are these Resurrection Rolls.
2) Try making our own natural egg dye. I’ve meant to do this for a few years now but it takes some planning ahead so this year I am determined and already have my grocery list for the items I want on hand (such as canned beets). In the meantime, I am trying to ignore the box of Easter egg dye that I recently got at the dollar store. I found the Eco Crazy Mom blog and the Spoonful blog to be great resources for the ingredients I will need to have on hand for the natural version.
3) Watch a kid friendly version of the Easter Story. I have my own personal tradition of watching The Passion of the Christ movie on Good Friday. It never fails to cut me to the core and leave me breathless with gratitude for the sacrifice our Savior made on our behalf. However, I don’t believe that my kids are emotionally ready for the graphic display of torture that Christ endured. Thanks to the Life as a Mom blog I was directed to this website where we an watch a kid friendly Easter movie for free.
4) Read Benjamin’s Box while opening our Resurection Eggs If you don’t plan to use the eggs alongside the book, consider using the free printable by This Simple Home or this one by Play Eat Grow to easily make your own (the exact items and verses used by these blogs differ from those in the book). I have read several ideas on how/when to read this story along with the use of the eggs. I decided to follow the idea from Want What you Have and begin opening the eggs 11 days (the book highlights 11 different parts of the Easter story) before Easter with the last egg opened on Easter Sunday. I also prepared a “tree” as she did to hang the verses on that accompanied each daily egg. You can see the verses in a jar next to the base of the tree on our dining room table just waiting to be hung.
5) Make Whole Wheat Soft Pretzels. I had no idea that pretzels could be tied to Easter but according to Good Cheap Eats they tie in perfectly (pun intended). Click on over through the link provided to read more!
P.S. All these Easter ideas (and a few others) can be found here on my Pinterest page.
What Easter traditions does your family enjoy? Are there any you are thinking of trying for the first time this year so some you have abandoned along the way?
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, Home Sweet School, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Among the many benefits of homeschooling that I have been discovering, one of my current favorites is the gift of intentionality. There is something powerful that happens when the reigns of learning are placed solely in your hands. Not only is it daunting, but it is also empowering. Suddenly ALL of life becomes a lesson. Not that it wasn’t or couldn’t have been before, but now it HAS to be, because if we as parents don’t teach it, who will? The blessing in this is that we now also have more time to teach these precious lessons as our day becomes structured to meet the needs and ebbs and flows of our family pulse, rather than a school calendar.
In our home, this has meant that Hunter’s interest in cooking has been nurtured and encouraged. On several occasions we have simply slowed down to help instruct and direct him as he learns how to fry his own eggs and bacon, cook his own egg-in-the-hole, make blueberry muffins. . . Not only is it fun and educational, but we are able to enjoy the process because we are not trying to squeeze it into an evening before bed or weekend activity.
It has also meant that new skills such as sewing can be learned and we can now make time for extra curricular activities such as a weekly CYT drama class (Hunter’s pick) or Art class at the Kroc center (Ashlyn’s pick) without sacrificing family time.
Lastly, we have been able to engage in more frequent parent-child “dates”. I love this. The memories and practical lessons learned (opening a door for others, how to place a napkin on your lap, ordering etiquette) are priceless.
This month I have been giving extra thought to the approaching Easter holiday and thinking with intention about how we can anticipate and celebrate it as a family. Tomorrow I will share some of the ideas I have compiled and a few that we have started in the hopes that it might stir up some fun new traditions in your home!
What about you? Does your schedule allow for intentional instruction with your kids? What are they learning or what interests do you hope to foster in them this year?
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, Home Sweet School, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Monday, February 25, 2013
You haven’t heard much from me lately. I’m sorry about that. I have two reasons, the first of which I’ll share today and the second I’ll probably share soon (no, I’m not pregnant ).
Over Christmas break, my husband and I made a game changing decision for our family: we decided to homeschool.
Homeschooling is an option that had been marinating in our minds for quite some time but to be honest I had not felt ready to commit to the challenge. Even as a prior elementary school teacher, I had reservations about my abilities. I was worried I would not have enough time to “do it right”. I was concerned that homeschooling two children would double the prep and instruction time. I was hesitant that being “teacher” and “mom” might be a hard balance of roles. I questioned how I would get anything done with my toddler and preschool age kids being a part of the mix.
Yet, regardless of all my concerns and questions, as we began compiling our list of all the benefits that we felt homeschooling would offer us, I couldn’t help but get excited about the freedom that awaited us.
(“Dear mom, Thank you for being my teacher” a note given to me by Ashlyn on our first day of schooling at home.)
It has now been about seven weeks since our homeschooling adventure began. I am loving it! In fact, I can’t believe that I have not been doing this all along. I’m not saying that it is easy, but nothing worthwhile is without its challenges. Knowing that there will be days ahead where I may question the wisdom of our decision or my own sanity, I felt it would be helpful to make a list of some of our early favorite homeschool perks to reflect on.
Top homeschool perks from our first seven weeks:
- The morning “eat, eat, eat, hurry up, is your lunch in your bag, get out the door before we are late” stress is gone. In exchange, I can let the kids sleep until they (or even I on some days) wake up in the morning.
- We have more time to teach life skills and focus on things that are specifically important to our family.
(Hunter learning helping with the laundry between Math and History)
- The two hour commute time each day to and from school is done! In addition, I can now wake up to new snow falling outside my window and enjoy its beauty from the warmth and comfort of my home, rather than be concerned if the roads will be safe to drive on.
- I now really know what my kids are learning. I don’t have to rely on newsletters from teachers (which may or may not be sent) or my children’s memory to tell me what they learned each day.
- Our schedule can be totally flexible. If family or friends need our help mid-day, we can take the opportunity rather than worry about how to fit it in with picking up our kids from school. If we want to take a vacation, we don’t have to wait until Spring Break to do so, and we don’t have to be back by a certain date either.
- Learning is a family affair and everyone has something to teach. I have learned more US History in the past 6 weeks than I have in years, and I am loving it.
(Ashlyn teaching Quinten how to write his letters.)
- The evening “get the homework done, eat dinner, get ready for bed, go to bed before it gets to late so you can get enough sleep before we wake you up in the morning” stress is gone. Instead, we can enjoy our evenings. I can make dinner without also simultaneously helping with homework. We can relax if bedtime is a little later knowing they can sleep as needed in the morning.
- We have our kids back. Quite honestly we only REALLY had them on the weekends before.
That last one is a big one and is one of my top favorites. Sure I enjoy time away from our kids like any mom, but in an honest assessment of my priorities, at this age, I want my husband and I to be the primary source of influence in their lives.
It was fun to discover how many Mom 4 Life facebook fans were homeschoolers. I’d love to hear any questions, ideas or favoriate resources you may have to share as we begin this new venture!
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, Recipes & Kitchen Tips | Posted Sunday, December 23, 2012
This just may be the perfect kid friendly Christmas treat around. Not only is it easy but you can’t really mess it up!
You will want the following:
-Pretzels (we prefer the stick kind rather than the knotted version as it is easier for small hands to dip)
-Non stick surface to let the pretzels cool on (I used parchment paper) but you could also use a regular plate, cookie sheet, etc)
1) Simply melt your chocolate in a double boiler (if you don’t have one you can make one by simply stacking a metal bowl on top of a pot of boiling water) or in the microwave (be careful to check and stir your chocolate often as it is EASY to overcook it in the microwave).
2) Dip your pretzels into the chocolate mixture
3) Allow them to cool on your parchment paper. Optional: once they have cooled, re-dip them on the other end.
If you want to get fancy, you can decorate the still wet chocolate with sprinkles, candy bits (such as crushed candy canes) or shaved chocolate. OR let your children make their initials using the pretzel rods!
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, It Worked 4 Me, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Monday, August 20, 2012
When Melody approached the topic of how being a mother has changed her home (it is now a mess) and asked for tips and feedback from other moms in her post titled, “I used to have a clean house“, it started a conversation on our facebook page about what we do in our home to involve our kids in the process of keeping our house enjoyably neat. I would like to share our “system” with you and invite you to offer comments, feedback or questions about what you do (or don’t do) or plan to do with your kids to encourage them to be active participants in the upkeep of your home.
We have a list:
Perhaps some of you will recall the blog post I wrote in January of 2011 called “Let’s organize our day: the evening routine.” In it, I mentioned a list that i would set out for my two oldest children (who were 5 and 7 at the time) outlining what needed to be done in the morning before they went to school.
We have a problem:
This method worked fairly well for my 7 year old son who is systematic in nature and a strong reader. However, over time the intent of the list (to help them manage their own tasks) began to fail and simply became my checklist for nagging: “Hunter, have you brushed your teeth yet?” ”Hunter, please stay focused” ”Hunter, which task are you working on right now?”
We adjusted our plan:
Around that time I listened to an online podcast by The Power of Moms by Richard and Linda Eyre (the authors of The Entitlement Trap) which encouraged parents to shift their focus away from allowances (simply giving kids money) and toward a family system of “choosing, earning and ownership”. One of the ideas presented in the podcast included a weekly responsibility chart which the child fills out and turns in at the end of the week. Each responsibly had a monetary value attached allowing the child the opportunity to earn their own money for the “extra” items that child wished to purchase.
I saw that there was an opportunity to improve upon our current system using the ideas provided by Richard and Linda. I set to work revamping and creating a responsibility chart for our two oldest children. Each list was unique to the child for which is was made and includes both morning and afternoon responsibilities. Although many tasks were the same (they each needed to brush their teeth for instance), some differed based on ability and maturity. We did choose however to make the lists fairly equal in the overal number of tasks as well as the payout provided for completing the tasks. Since the kids have more free time durring the summer, I have tweaked the lists during the non-school months to include an extra “weekly” job each day (such as the one Hunter is doing in the photo below-cleaning the guest bathroom sink and mirror).
Admittedly it can take longer to teach a child how to do a task that is quick for an adult. But I truly believe the importance of not only the task learned but the responsibility gained is worth it. Over time, if that child is encouraged (and not belittled) for the tasks they are learning to master, they will soon be able to do them as well as you. Here is a tip I have found to work well for me: When Hunter completes a job such as washing the mirror I go in the bathroom and look it over with him. I ask, “Hunter, if you were an employer and you just hired someone to wash this mirror for you, would you feel his job is complete or did he miss any areas?” Presenting this question allows him to look at his own work objectively and without feeling like I am pointing out errors (he is critiquing himself).
We have been using our revised list plan for a few months now and overall I am very happy with how it is working. Hunter has now reached a point in which he begins his lists unprompted (most of the time) and knows exactly what is expected of him often without even referencing his list. Ashlyn still needs encouragement to get started but she now is able to read everything on her list on her own (using pictures to represent the tasks in addition to words can help a lot in this area if you have a young child). I have found that using extra motivation often works well too (such as: we can leave for our play date today once your morning responsibilities are completed OR our family movie night will begin once you both have your evening responsibilities finished).
I’d love to hear from you: Do you use a system like this or something totally different for your kids? What about when you were growing up, what did your parents do with you in this area? Do you have any questions or tips?