Saturday, October 16, 2010

day 273: microwave caramel corn recipe—family fun!

This weather makes me want to make fall dishes—soups, stews, caramel apples, apple crisp, smores, and more! I love this recipe for caramel corn for a couple of reasons—it’s yummy and so simple!

Try it with your kids this fall—or make it for a bonfire or youth gathering. You’ll get rave reviews!


14-16 cups popped corn

1 cup brown sugar

1 stick butter

¼ cup light Karo syrup

½ tsp. salt

1. Microwave above ingredients (except for the popcorn) 4 minutes on high, add ½ tsp. baking soda; mix in.

2. Pour over popcorn, stir in,

3. Cook popcorn mixture 3 minutes on high stirring every minute.

4. Cool and let dry on wax paper or

greased cookie sheet.

Friday, October 15, 2010

day 272: too late to bring in the boundaries with teens?

"Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, 9yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.” Philemon 1: 8 & 9

Many of you reading this might feel that you have blown it too badly in the area of parental control. You feel that no matter what you do now, you cannot regain it. Re-read the blog posts in the “teen” section about appealing with love and humility. It is not too late.

If you find yourself in this situation, humble yourself before your children. Explain to them that you feel you have truly blown it, that you have parented in such a way that they will not grow up to be godly, selfless, others-oriented adults. The self-focus you have allowed in them has the potential to produce failure as adults for them--as parents, as workers, as spouses, as Christians. Admit your own sins of pride and selfishness--that you, too, have been self-oriented, wanting your own way and responding incorrectly when it did not happen. Point out that we can only raise them to love God and others more than themselves if we help them to learn to take the focus off of them now. Then be certain to follow through.

If your children are older teens or young adults, do not go back and try to "control them" like you would a younger child. Simply admit that you failed in areas of discipline, ask for their forgiveness, and commit to them that you will try to get into their hearts and show them God's love and ways in spite of behavior problems. Do not put it back on them--let them know that you take responsibility for the problems--and that you love them in spite of behavioral and lifestyle issues.

Maybe they will not respond the way you hope, but your humility in the situation will go a long way toward them eventually understanding what you are trying to do. Relate to them in love. Tell them that you are not trying to strong-arm them into being or doing something that you are not willing to do yourself, but that you truly want to be the kind of person God wants you to be, and you want to help them become that kind of person too. Then love them back into submission. We know it is not as simplistic as it sounds on paper. We know that it is hard to be loving towards someone who is self-absorbed, but brow-beating them into submission will not work.

Truly, by this time in their lives, we must begin to appeal to them not with force or micromanagement (though they will often still need consequences to continue to train them in character)—but with love, as Paul did with Onesimus in Philemon 1: 8 & 9: "Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love.”

Thursday, October 14, 2010

day 271: enjoyed the momlife group today—links to specific posts

I was so encouraged today to speak to a group of young moms! They were so attentive and into their families—it just warmed my heart. I loved their enthusiasm and interest in learning and growing as Christian moms. I truly went away encouraged and refreshed—even though I only got through a quarter of my handout! LOL!

I did the unthinkable (and don’t tell Ray!)—told them what I didn’t have time to tell them. I have this bad habit when I’m speaking: I want to say way more than I have time for. Thus, I often mention things that I would tell them if I had time, etc. Ray always says, “Don’t tell them that you do not have time to tell them something!” Smile…Thankfully, I now have PP 365 to refer people to—so instead of saying that I don’t have time for something, I can just tell them to go to such and such at the blog for more info about something. This is a great tool for us windy speakers!

Anyway, I wanted to give those sweet moms (and anyone else who is interested) links to many of the things that I mentioned this morning and that I wish I could have had time to delve into further. So…here you go…

*Establishing and bringing in boundaries, especially for young children:  (plus the next twenty or so posts following that one)

*Chores—starting with this post then for about thirty days---

*Praising children—starting with this post then for about a dozen days following--

*Teaching children not to hurt the weak, elderly, or disabled:

*Being a problem solver:

*Age appropriate chores for ages toddler through teen:

 *Kayla’s work in Africa:

*Challenging preschoolers in non-stressful ways:

*Morning routines for preschoolers:

*Affirmations for preschoolers:

*Personal organizational strategies: and here for a few days

*Motivation—starts here and goes for five days--

*Charts and more--

*Prioritizing—starts here and goes for several days--

*Home management systems—starts here and goes for two days--

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

day 270: boundaries released too early—bringing them back in part ii of ii

Some might wonder if the boundaries will ever be widened fully in this approach to parenting. It may seem like your children (even teens) are not mature enough to allow the boundaries to ever come out in some areas. And I know that feeling. T

There will be times when our children are moving into adulthood when we can no longer control their environments. Times in which we do not have the options of bringing in the boundaries to help them gain control of themselves and their actions. At this point, many parents try to micromanage their children rather than releasing them to their own devices.

This is why we promote a gradual release of teens and young adults from under authority. The entire idea of a child turning eighteen and becoming an "adult" is simply inaccurate and damaging to young people. We have seen this over and over again when a child graduated from a protected home and was "released" without the proper guidance in his life. It was thought that "now he is an adult,” so now he is ready to make all of his own decisions. If the boundaries were not released gradually—at a rate appropriate for that child’s maturity, decision making level, and respect for authority—the results are often disastrous.

Yes, there will come a time when you will stop manipulating his environment to help him mature (stop bringing in the boundaries), and the child will flounder often. However, it should not be abrupt; it should be gradual. And it should not be without your constant input and guidance in his life even as a young adult. (We have found that when we followed other “positive parenting” advice given earlier in this blog, our older teens and young adults desire our input in their lives. We have raised them to respect us and loved them with total abandonment—and they know that we are so crazy about them that we would never want anything but God’s best for them.)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

day 269: boundaries released too early—bringing them back in part i of ii

“Discipline is a symbol of caring to a child. Discipline is guidance. If there is love, there is no such thing as being too tough with a child.” Great Quotes to Inspire Teachers

One way that we have found to take back control of our children’s behavior during times that we have felt that we lost it was to bring in the boundaries. When a son or daughter is not obeying, is disrespectful, or is discontent, he or she has often been given too many choices and too much freedom.

At that time, we have brought in the boundaries in different areas of that child’s life--and regained control. For example, when a child is consistently unhappy with his meals, he should have fewer choices (not more to try to "make him happy"--regardless of the ever popular "Happy Meal"). We need to bring in the boundaries of his choices---just offer meat and vegetables or soup or other nutritious foods that you determine until he is content and thankful for what he does have (not go through the entire cabinet and fridge until you find something that makes little Susie happy!).

When a teenager begins displaying negative behavior like her peers, we need to bring in the boundaries that were broadened too much for her maturity. Lessen the time she spends with peers and discriminate more carefully which peers she should and should not be permitted to spend time with. This boundary-narrowing is especially helpful with very small children. When we had an eighteen month old who threw his food, would not eat what was put before him, and screamed in his high chair, we knew we had broadened his boundaries--his areas of control--too early. Those boundaries needed brought in. He was not obedient or mature enough to have his entire meal on his tray; he was not content enough to choose what he wanted from the dinner menu. He was not compliant enough to remain in his high chair for family worship; he needed removed from the family and placed in his crib until worship was over. His boundaries had been too wide too soon—for him.

Another example of this is when our older children were little and would not keep the toy room picked up. We repeatedly told them to pick up when they were done with something, stop playing in plenty of time to clean up their messes, and not leave things lying around. However, they continued to leave toys strewn about in the toy room almost daily. The boundaries were too wide for our children at that time. They were unable to control themselves in the situation we had them in (i.e. an entire room of toys at their disposal). Thus, we cleaned the room with them completely, then put huge sheets over ninety percent of the toys in the room. They were not to touch those toys, but could just play with the remaining ten percent of uncovered ones. Once they learned to clean up with that small amount, we uncovered another ten percent, then another, until they were mature enough for the boundaries to be widened to include playing with all of the toys in the room.

Tomorrow: bringing them back in part ii of ii

Monday, October 11, 2010

day 268: benchmarks for readiness to expand boundaries part ii of ii

One of the first times that Ray and I heard this teaching put in this way (i.e. negative behavior is often a result of boundaries being widened too soon in an area(s)), we were with a group of about a dozen parents. The speaker expounded on the terrible results of giving children their own way when they are not happy without getting their own way.

Afterwards, as we parents spoke among ourselves about the lesson, I remember saying, “Wow! I’m glad we learned early on not to give our kids their own way when they are unhappy about not getting their own way. That sounds like a disaster!”

The other parents, almost in unison, said, “What do you mean? We give our kids their own way to keep them quiet all the time!”

It was at that moment that, in addition to being reminded once again of how blessed we were to have mentors in our lives early on, I realized how ingrained it is within parents to simply do whatever it takes to have peace, not considering that the momentary peace they get in that scenario (replayed over and over again) results in long-lasting chaos and struggle.

There are many “signs” that our child is not ready for the boundaries to be released—signs that our child is not happy when he doesn’t get his own way in a certain area and, thus, should not have the boundaries released:

1. Tantrums (screaming, crying, flailing—you know the drill) when you tell him no or he cannot have what he wants at the time

2. Saying no to you (don’t let this start…it’s an extremely bad habit)

3. Rolling the eyes, slamming a door, back talking, etc. in older children

4. Complaining about not getting something or not having things be the way he wants them

5. You find yourself making excuses for your child’s behavior all the time (he didn’t get his nap; he is hungry; he woke up too early; he woke up too late; he didn’t understand the instructions; the other party just didn’t listen to him; etc. etc.)

6. You feel a desire to avoid being with your child—running around; leaving him or her with Grandma or a sitter; feeling a need to put him in preschool early; etc.

7. Others feel a desire to avoid being with your child

This benchmark, If a child is not happy when he does not get his own way, he should not get his own way, will become obvious to us if we truly want it to be; it will be clear to us if we desire to parent in a way that raises sons and daughters to be content, obedient, respectful, and more.

Tomorrow: how to go about bringing in the boundaries when needed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

day 267: vocabulary help for SAT and ACT test preparation---“definition dissection”

Our family ministry and publishing company publishes (and my older kids and I write) language arts and composition books for homeschools and Christian schools. One of our product lines is “Character Quality Language Arts,” a complete language arts program for second through twelfth grade students. In this program, we have a vocabulary section entitled “Definition Dissection” in which we teach students to figure out vocabulary and comprehend text better through six comprehension techniques (known as “Definition Dissections”).

To make a long story short, some chapters of our Teacher’s Guide for this program are available at our website, and, in particular, the vocabulary packet that goes with the program is available there for free.

I wanted to list it on this blog as many students are preparing for SAT and ACT exams this time of year—and the Definition Dissection packet is excellent preparation for the vocabulary and comprehension sections.

Feel free to print this off and use it with your kids—work through all six strategies to help your kids learn how to unlock unfamiliar words and difficult text.

day 266: layered mexican dip

Another favorite appetizer—of teens and adults alike—and one that I served at all four of our graduation parties so far!

Layered Mexican Dip

1 large can refried beans 2 ½ cups fried hamburger

2 cups sour cream Taco seasoning mix

Salsa Shredded lettuce

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Optional: Onions, tomatoes, and black olives (drained)

Optional: Guacamole (1-2 cups)

1. Mix fried hamburger with 2 TBSP taco seasoning mix and ½ cup

water. (Mix seasoning mix into water, then pour into hamburger.)

2. Micro on high uncovered for 5-7 minutes or until water is evaporated and seasoning is throughout.

3. Mix sour cream with 1 TBSP taco seasoning mix.

4. Spread refried beans onto large round platter.

5. Spread sour cream mixture over beans.

6. Sprinkle seasoned hamburger over sour cream.

7. Sprinkle 1-3 cups shredded lettuce over hamburger.

8. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all.

9. Note: If using onions, tomatoes, and black olives, sprinkle them on top of cheese.

10. Note: If using guacamole, spread it over refried beans, before spreading sour cream.

11. Serve with Salsa in bowl beside it or pour over top of dip, if desired.