Monthly Archives: October 2016

Amazing Autumn


As I was driving down the road earlier this week I was literally amazed at the colorful landscape that was before me.  Suddenly the green and brown oak and maple trees seemed to leap out of the ground as their foliage turned into bright reds, yellows, and oranges.  It was as if overnight, God had taken his paintbrush and repainted our world!  I had such an ecstatic feeling welling up inside of me, as I gasped at the beauty of God’s magnificent plan of the changing of seasons.  I reminded myself of all of the attributes of the season of autumn that are so enchanting to me, such as the crisp air, the harvest season, hayrides, apple pie, sweater weather,  gathering nuts, a time of gratitude and thanksgiving, building fires in the fireplace, apple cider, and I could ramble on and on.

When I was teaching, fall was the busiest season for teachers.  It was the first quarter when first and second grade teachers were occupied getting to know their students.  The teachers spent a large portion of time assessing the students in reading and math.  Then came report cards and conferences all in the first quarter.  Being a type A personality, I would spend hours preparing and working with my students, and I would miss out on the beauty of the season of autumn.  By the time I would leave from work it would be evening.  Now that I am retired, I am thankful that I have the time to enjoy this spectacular season, that for so many years I was unable to fully savor.

Therefore, it is my desire to give my readers some ideas for Fall activities with your families.  I have found a wealth of information from my ever-ready favorite resource: Pinterest.  So, hold on to your hat, and let’s get going!

In the blogThe Better Mom, the author, Angela Richter has written a post entitled, “20 Fun Family Fall Activities”.  She lists the following as her ideas of fun activities:

  1. Go to a corn maze.
  2. Have a bonfire.
  3. Go on a hayride.
  4. Take a fall drive.
  5. Curl up with a great book.
  6. Do a fun fall craft.
  7. Make caramel apples.
  8. Visit a pumpkin patch.
  9. Have a fall picnic.
  10. Carve pumpkins together.
  11. Have fun with the leaves.
  12. Have a movie night.
  13. Prepare a crock pot recipe.
  14. Visit a farm.
  15. Take a fall photo together.
  16. Make S’mores.
  17. Visit an orchard and pick apples.
  18. Make a Thankful Tree.
  19. Start a Gratitude Journal.
  20. Go to a Fall Festival.

The blog, Graceful Little Honey Bee, written by S. Borisov has a post  entitled “35 Fun Fall Activities For Kids”.  She has included on what she calls “Her Family Bucket List” some other activities that were not listed above.  They are:

  1. Make apple butter.
  2. Make homemade apple pie.
  3. Go hiking.
  4. Go horseback riding.
  5. Go camping.
  6. Make pumpkin muffins.
  7. Roast hot dogs.
  8. Roast marshmallows.
  9. Collect leaves.
  10. Make a handprint tree.
  11. Eat candy corn.
  12. Go on a scavenger hunt.
  13. Go tailgating.
  14. Collect acorns.
  15. Make a paper spider.
  16. Read fall-themed books.
  17. Go star-gazing with a blanket.
  18. Watch football.
  19. Make homemade bread.
  20. Play flag football.
  21. Go on a nature walk.
  22. Make homemade pumpkin puree.
  23. Toast pumpkin seeds
  24. Paint pumpkins.
  25. Help decorate for the fall.

I know that when I was a young girl I loved to collect leaves and figure out what kind of leaf that each one that I discovered was.  I remember my mom helping me iron each individual leaf between 2 pieces of waxed paper to seal it and then I put each leaf in a booklet, where I labeled the leaves.  Of course, the opaque waxed paper prevented me from really seeing the beauty of the leaf.  I did the same with my sons and we made leaf books.  It was a delightful activity that my sons enjoyed.

Trish Sutton, on her website, trishsutton.com, has created a Nature Scavenger Hunt that would provide an exciting afternoon outside for your family.  I have the printable to go along with her scavenger hunt at the end of this post.

I located another scavenger hunt on the blog, Growing Hands-on Kids.  This scavenger hunt is entitled a “Fall Senses Scavenger Hunt”.   For this hunt the kids are using their senses to find different items.  The children will look for certain items, touch and feel particular things, listen for crunching leaves, a crackling fire, and so on.  Then the children will taste apple cider, fresh apples, and smell pine needles,  and apple cider.  Finally they will move through nature by jumping over a log, running and jumping in a pile of leaves, and so forth.  This specific hunt is done indoors and outdoors.  It will take a longer period of time and provide an afternoon of delight.  I have the printable to go along with this hunt at the end of my post, as well.

Autumn, a wondrous season, filled with God’s brilliant handiwork, that can be visibly seen throughout the panoramic scenery all around us.   We cannot help but be thankful for a God who provides for His children.

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”  Colossians 3:15

Here are some resources for your Fun Fall Activities:

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Fall Senses Scavenger Hunt

Easy Fall Crafts

In the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words….They Do Make a Difference


This past week the issue of “words that were stated” has taken over the news.  Careless words hastily spoken can have a lasting affect on people’s lives, especially the lives of children.  There is the traditional adage of “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!”  Unfortunately this saying is not true.  Words do hurt.  In fact, words crush, deflate, separate people, cause all manner of conflict, resentment, shame, betrayal, and I could go on and on.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance for the parents in today’s world to realize the power that their words have in their children’s lives.  The words that parents express to their children are words that will either build them up and encourage them, or words that will cause them to hesitate out of fear of not measuring up to expectations.  Words that will vocalize the warmth of love and acceptance or utter the coldness of anger and negativism.  Which words do you desire for your children to carry in their memory banks as adults?

In the blog, Parenting From Scratch, I found a post entitled, “Encouraging Things to Say to Kids”.  The post began with a quote from Rudolph Driekurs

“A child needs encouragement like a plant needs water.”

After being an educator for 27 years, I will have to agree with Driekurs statement.  A child does need encouragement like a plant needs water.   In fact a child is as thirsty for encouragement, craving and longing for it;  as a sponge takes in water,  soaking it in deeply, so that it fills his or her being.  I have found that encouragement is the best way to relate to and teach children.   As children are being encouraged with the positive steps that they are making in whatever small task that they are undertaking, that paves the way for the more difficult and tedious tasks where they may need more help and instruction.

The author of the post states: “Rather than saying “Good job, that makes me so happy,” I try to find a way to focus on their efforts.  In short, encouraging statements keep the task/action/problem/accomplishment about the child, not about the parent. Every positive discipline tool is designed to encourage children, help them feel capable, and connect us closer to each other.  All of the following phrases acknowledge and appreciate something positive about a child and are encouraging words to hear:

  • I love you.
  • I’m sure you can find a way to solve this problem.
  • Boy, you have worked so hard on that!  It really shows.
  • I have faith that you will figure it out.
  • I know that you don’t like doing this, and I thank you for doing it anyway.  It really helps.
  • The amount of detail that you added to this drawing makes it seem so life-like.
  • You must feel really proud of yourself right now!
  • I’ve noticed that you have been working really hard at learning to cut your own food.
  • You did it!
  • Thank you for putting all of your towels in the laundry basket.  It helps us get ready much faster.
  • Trust yourself.
  • It sounds like your body is trying to tell you something.
  • I noticed how long you stuck with that.
  • You have a right to feel angry.
  • I can tell that some special mom/dad time would help you right now.
  • How do you feel about what you have accomplished?
  • I appreciate your cooperation.
  • Thanks for helping.
  • What do you think?
  • What do you need to accomplish your goal?
  • I’m listening.
  • That was hard for you; thank you!
  • I can see you are really angry right now, and that’s O.K.
  • What would you do about it?
  • I just want to sit and be close to you for a few minutes.
  • It’s O.K. to be sad.
  • I appreciate your setting the table so neatly.
  • WOW!
  • I know you are upset.  I would be too.
  • You can  try again tomorrow.
  • What is your understanding of what needs to happen?
  • Your piggy bank is getting really full; it must have taken you a long time to save all that.
  • You decide.
  • I have faith that we can find a respectful solution.
  • Look at what you have accomplished!
  • You are capable.
  • Thank you for getting dressed so quickly.
  • I noticed that you gave your toy to that boy when he was sad.  I bet it helped him feel better.
  • What is your plan for getting this done?
  • I’m sorry.
  • I love you.
  • Lead the way.

What wonderful examples that we were presented from the blog of positive words to utilize with our children!

On the other hand, let me pass on a selection of phrases that you should never say to your kids.  These phrases appeared in a post that I viewed on Facebook that originally came from Redbook Magazine.  The article was entitled“50 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to Your Kids” by Betsy Farrell.  Here are some of the statements that I found to be most noteworthy.

  • B” is fine but an “A” is better.
  • You make me so mad!
  • Don’t eat that or you’ll get FAT!
  • You’re FAT!
  • I’m so FAT I need to go on a DIET!
  • I used drugs/smoked when I was a kid.
  • It’s not that big of a deal.
  • You’re so lazy!
  • Why do I have to tell you everything 100 times?
  • Big boys/girls don’t get scared.
  • Stop being such a BABY!
  • You’re being RIDICULOUS!
  • Stop being so SELFISH and NEEDY!
  • You better do what I say or else!
  • It’s MY  WAY or the HIGHWAY!
  • That’s the way I WAS RAISED and I turned out fine.
  • I hate it when you…(Insert bad behavior here.)
  • Shame on you!
  • UGH!  You’re just like your mother/father!
  • I told you so!
  • I wish you were more like…( Insert other kid’s name here.)
  • Why can’t you be more like your sister/brother?
  • That’s not good enough!

I literally was cringing as I was typing the statements above.  They wounded my heart and spirit just expressing them on the page.  I have seen the power that statements such as these have had on children’s lives.  Children have grown up with poor self-esteem; filled with shame and guilt, unsure of their own talents and abilities.  They have grown into adults who were often angry at the world and others, or angry at themselves for never measuring up.

Thus, it’s in your hands, parents, what “words” that you want to resonate in your children’s heads.  Words of praise that establish a good self-esteem and are uplifting, or words that can be stated carelessly that wound the heart and cause shame.

Additionally, I have found that when I have based my identity on the words that are found in the Bible, that my mind has been transformed.  I rise to a new level, finding my identity from who God says that I am.  These Biblical concepts, when stated and explained to my children have had lasting effects in their lives.  For these words were not from the lips of parents, but from the breath of God; from the Creator who created our children and knows them more intimately than anyone on earth.  God’s words were meant to intersect with our children’s lives; because He desires a relationship with each of them.  He loves them and has a plan for a hope and a future for every child born on this planet.  

  • For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11
  • I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”  Jeremiah 31:3
  • Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:8
  • Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17
  • “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self- control.  Against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23
  • For He Himself is our peace.”  Ephesians 2:14
  • Be imitators of God, therefore as dearly loved children, and live a life of love just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  Ephesians 5:1-2
  • “Do everything without complaining or arguing so that you may become blameless and pure children of God without a fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”  Philippians 2:14-15
  • “And this is my prayer that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.”  Philippians 1:9-10
  • “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:11-13

Here are some resources that may be helpful.

64 Positive Things to Say to Kids

Positive Affirmation Notes for Kids: Lunchbox Love

10 Simple Bible Verses for Young Children

 

May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand.

Debra Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello Again! I’m Back!


Salutations!  I have finally returned to my blog.  I’m filled to the brim with excitement about getting into the groove of writing again!  This first year of retirement has been a time of many transitions and changes.  Continued health issues have been challenges that I have had to face.  Now that I am beginning my 2nd year of retirement my circumstances are looking up!  I am thrilled to be able to sit down at my computer and write this post on my blog.

Goodness gracious!  So much has happened in our world since I last posted.  It almost seems like we live in another galaxy.  Our nation is in such an unbelievable mess!  Whether you are on the left or the right, black or white, we all have to admit that we have problems in our country.  Our dilemmas have no easy fix.  Nevertheless, these predicaments are issues that have to be faced and tackled.  If the leaders of our country can’t figure out how to solve them,  we need to start problem solving them in our own little corner of our communities and neighborhoods.

So, how do we implement our problem solving in our own little corners?  What exactly do we do as parents, grandparents, and young adults?

Robert Fulghum in his book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten  tells us to:

  • Share everything
  • Play fair
  • Don’t hit people
  • Put things back where you found them
  • Clean up your own mess
  • Don’t take things that are not yours
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody
  • Live a balanced life
  • Learn some and think some
  • Draw and paint and sing and dance
  • Play and work every day some
  • Take a nap every afternoon
  • When you go out into the world watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder
  • Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup.  The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.  Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the cup- they all die.  So do we.
  • Then remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned- the biggest word of all- LOOK.

Oh, if we all could be like kindergarteners again, and abide by their classroom rules! Would our world be a better place?  It certainly would be a good place to start.  With our kindergarten core values listed above.  Yet there needs to be more, doesn’t there?  I loved it that Robert Fulghum lists that the kids learned the word “look”.  Where do the kids need to look to as to learn their behavior?  Their parents, grandparents, teachers and other caretakers involved in their lives.   For children learn the most from what they see than from what they hear- from what is modeled before them, than from what is verbally taught.

I found a fantastic post about this very subject on one of my favorite blogs, Thriving Home. The post is entitled, “Character is Caught, Not Taught”.

The author states “that it is impossible for us to know what is going to make an impression on our kids.   We don’t know when they are watching us closely or are oblivious to what we are doing.  We don’t know what small moments may impact their lives.  But we do know that these moments are happening.  Our kids are”:

  • Soaking up our attitude towards work
  • Our response to trials
  • The way we talk about people when they aren’t there
  • The way we use our money
  • The way we handle conflict with our spouse or friends
  • The way we treat strangers
  • How we respond when we are frustrated

“They are watching it all and are being shaped by the small and every day moments. Not the big ones.”

So, the author asked herself– “Am I living out the values I am teaching?”

  • I tell them to share their toys but am I being generous with my possessions and time?
  • I remind them to be thankful but how many times a day do I complain?
  • I instruct them to use a respectful tone but what am I sounding like when I am irritated?
  • I tell them to be patient but how do I respond when things don’t go my way?

She continues saying “that there is no such thing as a perfect parent.  In fact our imperfections are a great opportunity to point kids towards our need for God’s daily grace in our lives.  As parents, it is important that we look at our own behavior through the eyes of our kids. What are they seeing?  What are they hearing?”

“When they misbehave, maybe ask if they have possibly learned that from you.  Rather than just telling them not to do it, find a way to identify with the struggle and model how to fight the sin.  The good news is they not only pick up on the bad stuff, but they pick up on the good stuff, too.”

“Show them how to love, when it’s undeserved. Show them how to take a deep breath when you are growing impatient rather than lash out, Show them how to serve without demanding recognition.  Show them how to care for people around you.  Don’t just tell them- ask God to help you show them what integrity and character looks like in the mundane, small moments of the day.”

I know that when I began parenting that I was at an impasse.  There were some patterns that my parents had modeled that I wanted to use in my parenting and some that I knew that I had to discard.  I had dreamed of being a “Mommy” for so many years.  I had a “Memory Bank” that was loaded with images of parenting models that I wanted to adapt and use in my own repertoire.  I also had friends who had become mothers before I had become pregnant who had lit the pathway before me.  I read a plethora of parenting books to find my style of parenting and discipline.  It was James Dobson’s Dare to Discipline and Dorothy Corkille Brigg’s Your Child’s Self Esteem, as well as the Ilg and Ames books on Child Development, that I chose so that I would know what behaviors were to be expected at specific ages.

Mercy me!  Parenting is the most important job in the world!  We are raising the next generation.  I took this job seriously.  I became a member of a Child Book Study Group and a Mom’s Group.  I took Parenting Courses as they were offered, and I started a Mom’s Prayer Group.

I have found that the Bible has the best wisdom on raising children.

Deuteronomy 6:5-9 speaks of modeling.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Proverbs 22:6 is another poignant verse.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

My favorite verse on modeling is the Golden Rule found in Matthew 7:12

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

I will have to say that I recently crossed the path of a former student.  We both stood there for a few seconds, acknowledging in our minds that we knew each other, but trying to figure out names and places.  Finally- Bingo!  My former student stated: “Mrs. Smith, my second grade teacher.  You were the one who taught us about the Golden Rule.”    I was ecstatic!  Nothing could have made me happier than a student remembering that fact about me.  I hoped that she internalized that rule in her own life, making it a guideline for how she related with other people, thus making a difference in her little corner of her world.

Jim Henson the creator of the Muppets stated:  “The attitude that you have as a parent is what your kids will learn from, more than what you tell them.  They don’t remember what you try to teach them.  They remember what you are.”

Here are some resources that you might find helpful on your parenting journey:

5 Ways Parents Can Be a Model to Kids

13 Ways to be a Good Role Model

The Parent You Want to Be

May God keep you in the palm of His hand,

Debra Smith