The Meaning of Christmas

Can you believe Christmas is tomorrow??! Crazy huh? The year has flown!!! I hope you all have been enjoying your 25 days of Christmas traditions and festivities! All those festivals, Christmas parties, treats and we can’t forget the annual visit to Santa. We have our old traditions that have brought us some awesome Xmas cheer, but this year I wanted to do some things a little different. Don’t get me wrong the Xmas fun is still there, you can even check out our recent Christmas fun. {You can even see our extremely fun experience at Ice! last year} We really did have so much fun revisiting all the old traditions with all three kiddos remembering each one. Even reminding us of some of the things we needed to do! Haha

However, this year I wanted to add some more magic to the season. The magic of knowing the true meaning of Christmas.

To change the kids thinking from how many gifts they want to why we celebrate Christmas to begin with. I added 5 Easy activities that focused on Jesus’s birth. I want the littles to worship and praise the good news. That’s exactly what I got this year, Merry Christmas to me!! And Merry Christmas to all you mommas, try these fun and meaningful activities that will help your children have fun while learning the true meaning of Christmas.

Five Christmas Activities to help your children learn the true meaning of Christmas.

1. Christmas trees– we watched one of the twelve videos of the Jelly Telly Series discussing what Christmas really means. One of the videos is of the true meaning of Christmas Trees. We learned that they are a way to worship Jesus. Originally others were worshiping other Gods, {Thor} and a guy walking around speaking truth and proved to them that Thor wasn’t real by cutting down a tree and not getting struck by lightning. So everyone brought a tree into their homes as a way to worship Jesus. Some sorry right?! I loved it, so it was cool to discuss the meaning of the epitome of Christmas revolving around the messiah. I never even knew this, so it was fun learning this with the kids.

2. Kindness Hay. This one is my favorite as it’s something that super easy and very meaningful. It seemed like it was the kids favorite this year as well. I got the idea off of Abcjesuslovesme from a whole list of other fun and meaningful Christmas activities. When your kids do something kind for someone they get a piece of Hay. They put the Hay in Jesus’ bed with the goal of making it thick and cozy so baby Jesus will be nice and warm when he’s born on his birthday. The first week everyone would scream and run downstairs to fill his bed with their Hay! Now they just do kind things so willingly for one another that it truly has been a sight to see. Even my youngest has been kind to everyone, picking up stuff for her siblings, getting water for them, and helping them when they fall. It seriously has been the sweetest. Daddy has even noticed when I’m being nice and gets the kids to shower me in Hay so I can pitch in as well. It’s been my favorite Christmas activity this year for sure.

3. Countdown for Jesus’s birthday. We have a snowman that we have used for three years that countdown to Christmas, but this year we have changed one simple thing…verbiage. We stop saying “5 days till Christmas” to “5 days till Jesus Birthday!!” So each day the kids know exactly what we are celebrating, what is coming and what we are getting excited about!

It coincides perfectly with the church and their bible studies this month and all the living nativity scenes acted out at Awana. Awana is a faith based club that helps the children grow their faith. That’s why I’m so glad that we have our church community and other people speaking the truth into my children. I have discussed before how crucial it is for a child’s spiritual growth to have a community that aligns with home beliefs.

I honestly feel like this Christmas the kids are filled with the true Christmas magic. They are able to tell me the story of Jesus birth and can even share it with others. It’s been a very very impactful Christmas for us all.

4. Angels. This cute activity is another find from abcjesuslovesme. It’s simple and the kids loved it because we got to use glitter lol. When we finished them I had our three little angels yell “hallelujah” praising how our true King was born for us.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, he sent his one and only Son.

5. Star of David dress up game!! We discussed endlessly why we have the tree and so we had to discuss the Star on top of the tree!

family gathered around Christmas tree

I saw this idea on Pinterest to dress up as shepherds and find the stars around your house to represent the journey of the wise men.

My kiddos love scavenger hunts {who doesn’t} and this is a very easy and simple to do activity. You can use just stickers, star shapes, or star lights!! This game can even be used during Xmas without causing to much havoc just in case the kiddos are getting bored waiting for food. I used a special star in “Jesus bed” so they can see exactly where the star led the wise men and the star has stayed there since bc Ayden said that it had to stay there until baby Jesus was born so we can always remember where to go. ❤️❤️❤️


Christmas isn’t about how many Xmas events you can go to, or getting all the gifts. Yes they’re all fun, and make great family traditions and memories. It’s not even about making it to the four different Christmas parties that you have to rush around to even try to make it to everyone. If that’s what you like to do then do you, If you’re one of the families who have adopted to not run around, stay at home with yours and enjoy Xmas as a close nit family then awesome. I see it becoming more and more popular now that people feel like they have a right to do that. Which everyone does, families are big, running around is tiring and def takes away from the true meaning of what we are even celebrating. Which ever way you do Xmas, the busy runner, the awesome wrapper, the chill joyful homebody, or the extremist, just take time to think of what we are celebrating, think of the sacrifice that was made for you, and think of others.

Have a very merry Xmas everyone, whether you believe or not, you’re loved beyond measure and by celebrating Xmas, you’re celebrating the birth of a King!! It truly is the best gift we could ever receive!!!

How to Plan a Disney Vacation

Booking a Disney trip was so exciting for our family!! With every move I made I got that much more excited about going. Before I planned the Disney trip I read so much info. Anything and everything on the Disney tips + FAQs + Everything you need to know on Disney.com. I read several Disney blogs and mom blogs on what worked best for them. I was ready!! I complied my list of things I needed and was ready to start planning. I got everything I needed that would make my trip easier like the apps and notifications from Disney said to do and for more what you need to have for Disney read about it here.

I wanted to be well prepared and make sure I didn’t forget anything. But once I started scheduling and planning there wasn’t much out there to help with that. There wasn’t best rides for AM, or things to do before noon. Of course it’s not that easy bc there’s so much to do to keep you busy throughout the day. So ultimately it’s your choice.

However there were things that helped make our trip a breeze and quite simple. So I wanted to share them with you all to help when you plan a Disney trip. Hopefully it can make your scheduling hurdles a little easier. The five things below will help you when you book your trip, schedule your fast passes and help create you’re plan of action, and make your flying travels a little easier.

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1. Do everything through the app.My Disney Experience has everything you need + more. Yes you can go to Disneyworld.disney.go.com and make an account, register, and buy tickets there. Be set to go. But with the app you can do everything!! Book hotel, book reservations, link your hotel so you can see bus schedules, food menus, and even unlock and lock your hotel door. You know for those times you head out for ice and you forget to wear your magic band. All the parks schedules, character showings, times for shows, and maps are available through app. It even has map access to follow step by step to get you to attractions or restaurants you want to find. My favorite is it stores all your photos you take during your trip as well!! Plus you can link your flight times on there so you can get picked up with the Disney Magic Express! {Which I discuss later}

Hear it from me, it’s kind of a pain to do everything on Disneyworld.Disney.go and then have to link everything afterwards on the app. So just do it all there and make it easy for yourself so you don’t have to try and keep up with all the confirmation codes. {Trust me.}These are the times when you need to take advantage of technology. I promise the app came in handy sooo much for us. Plus once you get to the hotel they ask you to book a few reservations for food and spa times through the app anyways so you have to have it.

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2. Book your hotel early and it should be the first thing you book before everything else!!! I booked our Disney tickets first because i wanted to make sure I got those out of the way, then signed up on the app, and then was ready to make reservations and realized I couldnt. I made the mistake of doing it out of order. You may be asking does it matter and yes it does!!!! When you book your hotel first it allows you to make reservations and access to schedule fast passes and food reservations as early as 60 days before your trip! Which I promise you, is very important, taking us to the next point.

3. Get fast passes— these are crucial for maintaining sanity throughout Disney. I seriously cant stress this enough. They make it seem like it’s no big deal everywhere when you read about them, but guys, it’s a fast pass to the rides!! Let me say it again, it’s a fast pass. Meaning you quickly pass all the other people and the line to go ahead and get on the ride of your choice without a wait! You can schedule up to three a day but once you use the three you can schedule two more to use during that day. These made our Disney day a breeze. I can’t imagine waiting in the lines for over an hour for a 2-5 minute ride. The longest time we had to wait for a ride was 12 minutes. That was because there was a hiccup in the ride and they had to fix it putting wait times on both lines.below I discuss two reasons why fast passes are awesome and how to best utilize them:

-Spread out your fast passes – I mean this point in two different ways. Let’s dig in. When using your fast passes to select your adventures don’t cram them back to back. I did at first thinking; well we will use these up and then have access to book more and we can keep having a magical day. On Disney it says after you use the three you can keep booking for more. It sounds great! We were hooked. Then I started looking the following week after I scheduled ours and so many of the fast pass options were gone for several rides, character meetings, and light shows. I was bummed because I thought well we are going to miss out on so many adventures. Especially like the ones on Pandora and animal kingdom. Then something magical happened the next day. There was availability on two of the rides I wanted so I went ahead and canceled previous reservations and made those and decided well everyday I want to use a fast pass in am, then afternoon, and one at night. So I rescheduled everything. I wanted to make sure I utilized the fast pass access throughout the day since the access to reserve was dwindling away. Like I said I didnt book my hotel first so I had to wait until the 30 days before to start reserving with fast pass and a lot was not available. Food reservations had tight windows left, and on the busier parks like Magical Kingsom there was no ability to book fast pass for anything after the 25 day mark. Not to forget to mention we booked our trip during the busiest week at Disney out of the whole year. So we were fighting for access with a lot of people.

-Now my second grand idea that worked out beyond great!! If you have multiple members of your family like we do. Then use it to your advantage. Schedule a ride with the whole family in am. Because you do want to use up your three to get the access to book more. Keep in mind though every other fast pass holder is trying to do the same and a lot of things won’t be available past 12 but most of magical kingdom didn’t have anything available two weeks out so this is why I’m saying do it this way. After you scheduled a ride that is suitable for everyone then use momma and son for one fast pass access and if the ride allows other kids to ride then say “we will swap” or if y’all all can go then say “we are trying to add the other family members on all but it’s not letting us.” If your bands aren’t working but two family members are, they always let you in!!! Everytime! It was awesome!! So I was so happy that I took a chance and scheduled it that way because I was able to reserve up to 6 things prior that way. I booked greetings without waiting, rides for all of us, and while the girls went and napped I had rides reserved just for our big guy. Then when we all gathered back, he shows for us all to enjoy together without any waits. Guys I’m telling you it worked! Then, come to find out, you only get the chance to use fast passes two more times after you use your three so it’s not unlimited like I thought. So I was so glad I did it this way vs the original plan bc we would have had some uncomfortable wait times that no one was ready to have.

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4. Buy the early bird tickets to Toy Story Land. Just do it. We had access to the Hollywood Studios an hour and half early!!!! We got there with an hour to spend but it was still worth it. When you buy the early bird tickets it comes with a complimentary breakfast that is only given to the early birders and it was probably one of the best breakfasts that we had the entire time. You have a choice between several hot meals choices and there is a smorgish board of fruits, pastries, and cereal options. They allow you to eat there all the way until 10 AM. If you really want to you can get there right at 7:30, eat, ride, then eat again. That was our original plan but like I said we didn’t get there until 8. After we ate, we had 30 mins to enjoy Toy Story Land, and it was worth every penny. Not only was it the park we all were really looking forward to because we have watched it on TV every commercial break, but it is an oversized Toy Story Land! Are you kidding me who wouldn’t love it! In all seriousness it was the only park we saw that had workers waiting with a 65 minute wait sign before the park even opened up. They knew that park would have the most visitors, and they were right, within 10 mins of opening the park the Slinky Dog Ride had a 75 minute wait. After we utilized the 30 mins of no waits, we were able to wait a short 10 mins for character experiences and boom we were done with that park just as soon as they opened. It still is one of our favorite experiences because while the bigs rode the Slinky Dog, we rode the Alien Ride. My youngest was able to ride it twice without waits and she had a blast on it. We rode all these and still had our reserved fast passes to use. It was an amazing day!

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5. Take advantage of the Disney Magic Express + all its perks. The express not only takes you to and from the airport which makes everything so much easier, but it also will take your checked luggage for you! I saw so many people trying to haul their kids, plus their suitcases through the airport, through the express line, and through the hotel and check in. Now if you want to be champs and keep it all with you go right ahead. But our children wonder around and want to see all the cool and magical things before their eyes if they aren’t in the stroller. With three kids theee suitcases, stroller, like 5 carry on bags it just wouldn’t have been easy for us. Plus all that in one small line, no thanks. It was such a breeze going through the line without all the luggage and check in was ice bc we didn’t have to manage all the extra items. Once we got to our hotel we went to eat, look at all the animals and when we got back tinkerbell made the delivery. It was only a 1.5 wait to get out things once we got there so it wasn’t that bad.

I hope these five tips help you in planning your magical trip. There is so much to think about, and things that no one tells you about, so I do hope these help a little. and know the hassle of traveling takes a toll on anyone especially a family with littles. So anything that makes your trip easier and more efficient I want to try and help. That way all you have to worry about, is the magic that awaits for you. If this helped you in your magical adventures then please comment below, thanks for your stopping by and have a magical day.

Mickey Mouse Magic

Parenting Styles

I read this article off of the bulletin at my church and I just thought it was such a good read I wanted to share. It discusses parenting techniques and brings up the question of what kind of parent you are. It seems straight to the point, but sometimes things just need to be so clear and straightforward for us to fully understand and just take it in. When I read this, it reminded me of some of the information we got when we went through our Parent/Child Dedication in May. It is great to keep feeding our minds and souls with knowledge that helps push us to be the parents we desire.

The following was written by Walt Mueller in an article called Prioritizing Faith:

Research identified three approaches to parenting.

Parenting by Default

This is the path of least resistance. In this approach, parents do whatever comes naturally as influenced by cultural norms and traditions. The objective is to keep everyone happy without allowing parenting to dominate other aspects of their parents life.

Trial and Error Parenting

Parents see themselves as amateurs, believe that there are no guidelines to follow, and you just set out to do your best. Atleast you gave it your best right? 😏

Revolutionary Parenting

This is the least common approach, and these parents take God’s word on life and family at face value, and apply those words faithfully and consistently. This results in deep and real faith-based transformation in the lives of children.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” Matthew 7:24

Parents how are you parenting?

Did that make you think of your parenting style? I have to admit I have caught myself living in trial and error parenting throughout my journey. Especially the first 4 months with every child I feel like it’s completely trial and error. With learning the babies schedule, moods, sleep patterns all for it to change every 3 months the first year.

My first year of parenting was with a special needs child with everything being strategically done. Heavily scheduled and hard core to do list. The list of medications and alarms for “services” to be done went on and on. So, with me each child that I’ve had I’ve had to tone it down a bit. Each child has taught me to be relaxed, take it easy, get loose with parenting. It took me three years to let go of the “schedule” concept. I lived strictly off of schedules then literally one day I woke up and realized who cares if they are late for their naps by 10 minutes. My husband and I got in so many little tidbits because the first two years I fought over following the schedule to a T, then I switched on him out of no where and he was like ughhhhh arent we supposed to be doing this, or this. Then he was like all these years I’ve been attacked almost instantly for this and now you’re completely flipping the script on me. Quite confusing right? {

I just realized though that I put my focus on all the wrong things. Yes I want structure, I want my kid to feel secured based off of routine, love, trust, stability, etc. but most importantly I do want my children to know and love God.

In a book I read over the summer, “A Mom after a God’s Own Heart: 10 ways to love your child by Elizabeth George, she speaks on this topic with such devotion and motovation that it inspires you to want to be better. To set up to be a parent that leads your child towards a life filled with love and devotion to God. If. you want to read further on ways I have been moved to motivate mothers to raise up her parenting skills. 

She asks almost the same thought provoking question:

What do you consider to be the target of all that you do for your kids? What is the purpose and aim of your parenting? Take a look at your life and your priorities. What are you intent on teaching your children? How to tie their shoelaces? Tehchniques in brishing and flossing? Good manners? How to catch, kick, or hit a ball? How to make an A? How to play an instrument? Respect for others and for property? The most could go on and on. But as good and as necessary as these issues and activities are in your kids’ lives, what you must be asking your heart is, Am I making sure I tell them about Jesus?

The good news is, if this isn’t our thinking, we can change it!!! We always have time to influence our child, the sooner the better. More good news—> it’s never too late!! Start now, commit and succeed at it!! That’s what I’m always saying. I loved reading this book over the summer because Elizabeth explains it in a way that even if you haven’t done this and your kids are grown, we always have time and a chance to start. There’s always time to find ways to lead your children.

I have begun to be that mom that doesn’t take success in all the things I’ve checked off of my list. Okay wait I said that wrong, of course I do!! I wrote achieved by the things I do, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t get bummed out and beat myself up anymore over the things that I didn’t get done that day. If my house is dirty, I’m not losing sleep over it anymore. If the dishes didn’t get done and I fell asleep upstairs with the kids when I was putting them to bed, I’m not jumping out of bed anymore to rush and get them done. I’m starting to beat my anxieties of mommy guilt and I know you can too!! With one simple thought concept that just brings everything into perspective:

“Today, if I don’t get anything else done, I must teach my children about my Lord Jesus.” – Elizabeth George.

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I wrote this down to remind me of it every day. So I don’t fret over all those other parent worries and concerns. Don’t get me wrong I’ll alway worrry about my kids; Are they handling situations correctly, being kind, putting others above themselves, making good choices, thinking first, do they feel loved enough, am I setting them up for success etc etc etc etc. You know that list that tends to go on and on.

Lately, I have been reading statements from moms who recently had a child pass due to the teen suicide epidemic. Moms that believed they were doing everything right. They are 100% relatable woman, with every word being something I understand and completely agree with. It sends me into the “over-thinker Mommy abyss”. Thinking of ways to teach them coping strategies, working through obstacles, and raising resilient kids.

Truth is, it doesn’t matter how much I pour into them if they don’t know God, they are going to have all kinds of vices, people and other places to try and find their acceptance, and love from. I can’t control their choices they want to make, but I can pray that God stays present and help them learn how to listen for His voice, and to trust the Holy Spirits guidance.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

I hope this brings motivation and some peace in knowing that it’s okay if you have a long list of to dos. If you have said one thing today about God/ Jesus to your child today that helps them grow in their relationship, well done good and faithful servant! WELL DONE!

Now, let’s ignore all those negative voices, distractions, and unimportant objectives. Take a new AIM that points your children towards God and give yourself a pat on the back. Everything else will fall in place at the right time.

Faithful parenting is challenging work, but it is truly a “labor of love” and certainly a choice that reaps the greatest blessings of all to a parents heart.

Big Life Journal | Kids Mental Growth

I’m always looking for new ways to grow LO’s brains. Their mental capacity as well as how their brain tells them to respond to situations. I came acrross BLJ, Big Life Journal, a guided journal that is the world’s first growth mindset book created specifically for children.

It is full of growth mindset activities that help children to recognize their ability to respond in a proactive manner. In a hard, tough, and stressful situations. Science says 92 percent of people don’t achieve their goals. Perhaps, its because most of them have never learned how to effectively set their goals. I personally dislike it when my children say “I can’t”. That is not a statement allowed in our house. Long before I came across BLJ, however I do like how they gave me plenty of examples of the type of phrases I can use with my child instead of I can’t. Before I would say, I’m sorry I didn’t understand you when you say those words, because I believe you can do it. Plus, I know if you try harder, you might find out that you can. SO, do you want to try again?’ It was good, because they would laugh, but now with BLJ’s phases I’ve used:

“When it’s hard, it’s because you’re brain is learning something new.”

“You’ve just got a new wrinkle in the brain, that’s why it feels hard.”

“Don’t say I can’t, just say, I can do it, with a little help from a parent or an adult.”

Just to give a few examples.

BLJ seriously has so many resources that I need and want to use with my children, that I can go on and on about how each one of their blog aligns with what I say here. But if you’re a parent, check this site out. I promise, you won’t regret it. I purchased a few items but I started out with the package Growth Mindset Printables Kit. These printable challenges provide fun activities which help children develop growth mindset, cultivate an attitude of gratitude, and improve their self-esteem. you can also help your child learn the skill of goal-setting, which is critical for developing grit than just simply getting what you want out of life. This kit includes:

5-Day 􏰘 growth 􏰊mindset challenge

7-Day􏰘 gratitude challenge

7-Day 􏰛positi􏰜vity challenge.

27 pages of printable worksheets, puzzles, and writing activities.

The first activity that we had to do was to learn about how our Brain Grows to begin with. SO, we started out with I Can Grow My Brain worksheet. It was fun because of the size. The kids were amazed at how we made it, and then to put it together and see the size of it made all their eyes huge!! They were excited to hold such a huge brain. I loved how they had the fill in the blank spots because to hear their answers not only made me laugh, but to see that they understand and recognize the points that we are discussing.

 

I’ve loved it alone for the activities, the quotes, the explanations, phases, examples, challenges, goal setting action plans, and the stress regulator. Every page in the package is something that I will use, and need to be reminded of. I’m so glad I stumbled across the resource. Joining with them has been great for the family, especially since my middle child has issues regulating her emotions. The facebook group and weekly challenges given by the leaders are also great ways to stay engaged and challenge yourself as the parent.

It is impossible to focus on your child’s growth mindset without growing your own. I loved going through these because it not only helps them with their obstacles and challenges, but it helps me model that behavior for them.

Besides the journal they also have other resources for your child:

Growth Mindset Printables Kit is a collection of engaging worksheets, posters, and coloring pages for children. It also includes printables guides for parents and teachers. Recommended age range is 5-11. Some posters can be used with younger and older kids.

Growth Mindset Activity Kit is a collection of fun activities and games which promote growth mindset and help develop important life skills. You can start using them with kids ages 4 and above. 

Challenges Kit is a collection of our most popular 7-day or 5-day challenges for children which promote self-love, growth mindset, gratitude, and positivity.  Recommended age range is 5-12.

Famous Failures Kit is a printable set of worksheets highlighting famous people from around the world who have failed and struggled on their way to success. Recommended age range is 5-14.

Inspirational Quotes Kit is beautifully illustrated collection of inspirational quotes for kids, parents, and teachers.

Each Friday they have new and improved LESSON PLANS to teach growth mindset 💡 that provide key life skills — persistence, self-confidence, learning from mistakes, & more!

Check out Big Life Journal to get your big brain pdf and find a world of opportunities to help your child’s growth mindset and mental stability. If you use any of them and like them or need further information contact me. I’d love to chat with you.

Ashly Williams, ATEAM MOM

 

 

 

Kids Mental Growth | Kiwi Co

We are a fan of anything to do with STEAM. We’ve loved it since it was STEM! Heck, I’ve loved science very early on. I remember asking for a microscope for my 8th birthday and I got it!! My brothers made so much fun of me because they didn’t understand why I would ask our parents to buy me that kind of stuff. They called it a waste. I on the other hand, was in love. I grew up saying I was going to be a Crime Scene Investigator. My first two years of college was a blend of basics and criminoloy. I loved it!

The only thing that changed my perspective on it, was time. I literally gave up because of time. I was too impatient, I started questioning if that is what I really wanted to do, because well I would be going to school for another 8 +years. Nevermind the fact that I paid for my own college so that was another little factor in the equation.

So of course, I jump at any idea that allows me to be able to add the coolness, funness, and amazingness of science into our homes. The fact that my husband is an Engineer with a minor in astronomy, may be a slight bonus. He loves it as much as I do, which only adds obsession to our addiction. It allows us to be passionate about encouraging and influencing our kids. We are a family who watches How It’s Made, Outrageous Acts of Science, Planet Earth, and The Weirdest Animals just caught my attention because of the amazing mutations and survival tactics that some creatures have that I had no idea about has B L O W N our minds. The kids get excited about the things we learn from the show just as much as I do. The Science Channel and History Channels are seriously our jam. We never feel guilty giving kids screen time when they are watching those channels.

Besides the fact that science is a clear visual aid of cause and effect reaction that helps our children minds grow.  I think it was said best by Sagan; “Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.”It’s a great tool to use as a way to explain so many things in life- from the obvious things such as health, physics, logic, all the way to making choices,  faith, Jesus’s love, etc. There’s a never ending supply of projects and activities, to choose from that adds value to our children’s mental growth.

For my children I’ve always used ABCJesusLovesMe, as my curriculum for the kids. It has been a great supply of blended Science Activities to do for fun and to be as an aid to explain God’s Promise, Jesus’s Love, and the Holy Spirits power. I’ve been so grateful to come across that website 4 years ago. However, as I have become the teacher for three kids, who print out my own curriculum and activities, I have felt at times a little overwhelmed. I’ve searched for other activities and have come across many blogs and resources I have mentioned before, but I think the new Kiwi Co has caught our attention because of the STEAM aspect. It has a ton of engineering projects that we haven’t really done with the kids before. I mean yes, we’ve done engineering activities with them, like the Easter egg catapult but it was made of spoons and rubber bands. We’ve made a ton of cool things out of paper towel rolls, old crayons, styrofoam, and really anything we can use. You definitely get creative when three kiddos brains are on the line. But the quality of what we get in the boxes beats a paper towel roll any day. That’s why when I signed up for the monthly program I was beyond excited. It convenient and adds to our curriculum.

What Comes in a KiWi BOX

                                

Each box has at least three activities worth of supplies, a book that they can read and learn from, and another book with other ideas, inspiration, and instructions for other cool projects. One box literally will keep us busy all month. Not to mention staying connected with KIWI through social media and newsletters gives us access to DIY projects that you get sent along with the box to add further knowledge on what ever that month is teaching the kids.

Having a six year old boy who is starting his first year in school takes that much more precedence because it’s important to us to keep his brain growing, it’s a priority to us just as much as his spiritual growth. He is all boy and loves science as much as we do. This year for his birthday he picked a Dino Theme Party and last year he chose an Astronaut Themed Birthday Party. We enjoy setting up really cool, and challenging activities and games at his birthday parties and usually during his birthday month I create activities around those themes. His imagination play is one of my favorites because he chooses to dress up as an astronaut 75% of the time and loves to go all out with it. We’ve flown to the moon, discovered rocks, and have ran experiments. Of course it’s all ateam affair so it’s always fun to fly to the moon with these amazing astronauts.

 

It’s so much fun raising a boy because we have a mandatory reason to always dabble, experiment, and get dirty! I mean how can you not love making volcanoes, slime, rockets, and things that make you go oooo and ahhhhhh. I want him to always stay intrigued by STEAM that it forces his little brain to innovate, explore, create, and problem solve. That’s just what KIWI co does. After all they say, science today, is technology of tomorrow. I can only imagine what kind of cool things my kids will be making in 9-10 years when they are in high school.

For now, I will settle with these innovative and fun projects that we receive each month. Each kid gets their own box so they feel special doing something of their own, at their own level. Normally we are all doing the same thing with it being modified to his or her own level. But now this adds even more excitement to these boxes because they all have their own “special” box.

This is our first month with it and we are already hooked. All the smiles, jumps, and “mom, look!!!!!”s that I have received has been beyond worth it. It’s always so much fun seeing our kids grow and learn but to see their faces light up is a great way to give yourself a thumbs up mom. The best part, is it’s one more thing we can do together. Although each kid has their own box, we focus on one at a time and allow each kid to help in some way with their other siblings box. Just so the greed, and “mines!” don’t come in full swing.

Just to show you how cool it is below I have split the three kids ‘crates’ separately so you can see what we received. I will include y’all in our Kiwi Co journey and hope you join in on the fun. If you have any questions or concerns feel free to email me or comment below.

⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

If you are interested in signing up click here and use MY CODE hereand receive $10 for your first purchase. That’s getting your first month 50% off!!!!!!

Kiwi Crate – Arcade

Koala Crate – Rainbows

Tadpole Crate – Hide and Seek Animals

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Parent/Child Dedication

Dedicating Our Lives to Disciple Our Children

On Mother’s Day we all stood up before the church and dedicated our lives to leading our children down a path that speaks the truth. It was a great experience and a wonderful gift to me I must say. This was the first time as a married family that we stood together side by side dedicating our lives outwardly in a faith based way to symbolize the effort, the hope, and the desire to steward their lives towards this reality! For our lives as well.

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This outward expression was so important to me for so many different levels. The significance however was tremendous for me because recently Joshua and I have turned to God  whole-heartedly to help lead us through this difficult chapter in our lives. We know how important it is to seek his guidance first, even above our own. We’ve established our foundation on God because we knew without him we would not be able to go through this feat alone. I tried that, and it sent us down a path were we talked, and even considered separating. We discussed getting a divorce the week after our miscarriage. We clung to one another the week before, during all the sickness I needed him. The week of I only wanted to be near him, to guide and lead me through the dark days. Then it was like a tornado of emotions just hit me all at once the week following. It was horrible, I was spiraling out of control full of sadness, anger, guilt, and remorse. Life was just breaking me down. Instead of reaching to one another for moral support I was looking inward and only saw and felt anger and lashed it out accordingly to who I thought deserved it. My husband was my punching bag, and I started to open up all the problems and warning signs from years ago, and made up accusations from the past. It was not fun. I started leaving the house once a week, to “get away”. I wanted to be far away from the person that was trying to be there for me. He didn’t understand why I was acting out the way I was, he didn’t know how to stop it, he didn’t have all the right things to say, so he didn’t say anything. The only thing that saved us at the time was our wedding vows.

One day I went on a coffee break and spent 30 mins watching my wedding video thinking, is this it? Our marriage ends before we even make it to an official two months. I then listened to myself speak our vows…on repeat. I flooded my brain with words of truth over and over and over again. These are the words I heard:

I Ashly, Take you Joshua to be my husband. To have to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or poorer, In sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, to love and cherish,  to be faithful to you alone, as long as we both shall live.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 is what our whole ceremony was based around and it speaks of a way to love one another without end. I told myself that night, I will not fail God, I will not fail myself, I will not give up on Josh. I told Josh that night how salvation came throug our vows. That I didnt think he deserved my love, that he didn’t do anything to change my mind, but purely based off the gift of love that I know I don’t deserve given to me everyday despite my mistakes, sins, and wrongdoings. That’s the love I always said I’m going to give long before I met Josh and that’s the love I vowed to give when I married Josh. I said we needed more truth in our lives and that’s when I saw my husband show me his commitment to our marriage.

We’ve started attending Re|Engage weekly, and have successfully attended 8 weeks of it. We have picked up an amazing toolbox for our marriage by going through the process. I’m so thankful for this community we have joined in. We needed them, we needed the influx of wisdom, and the words of truth spoken to us through our marriage. If you need more of this read about our Re|Engage experience and if you need prayers for your marriage please feel free to pm and I will add them to my prayer list.

The words of truth have saved me so many times in my life. So many times when I found myself going down the wrong path, even in those times I pushed God away and he said I don’t think so, “I’m not done with you yet” and drug me out of the darkness by my feet.

Williams Family Parent/Child Dedication

I want my children to relish in his words of truth in all their future days. That is why I wanted to go through the parent/child dedication in the first place. To know that we are dedicated to give them these tools to allow God to work in their lives. For the dedication you could choose a verse for your family. We chose:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

– 3 John 1:4

I hope more than anything that they find peace in his words when times are hard. Comfort in knowing they are loved, and salvation knowing he sent his son so we could be saved. All I dream and hope for my children is that they walk in the truth. I fear the day I die for one reason only. That I die too early- too early to know for sure my children rely on God above all else. I hope in that time they are old enough to reach for the Bible in times in need versus friends that speak ill hearted, figures that speak selfishly, or family that directs them wrongfully.

Yesterday I watched a video about kids showing hatred and racism at a playground against a little boy who had to be about 5 or 6. My heart weakened knowing this is the generation my kids will live with. It’s not just one way either, I watched kids that are 10 and 11 making videos of them bullying and beating up white kids because they live in the same projects as they do.

My first instinct of course is to blame their surroundings, their parents, their community for showing them this is okay. I know the world is harsh full of broken people, full of sinners, hate and built up anger. It’s always been full of that, but now it’s full of it with a button that enhances it, spreads it, and fuels it. The hatred Timmy has in virginia is shared via internet by some sort of media, and Alex in Utah sees it, and agrees with it and displays the same anger. We have to be conscious of what our children see. Yes that means everything! We have to ensure that our children are not corrupted by the wrong things. We have to step up our parenting game. I spoke of this on Mother’s Day about raising up motherhood. It’s important. I know everywhere we hear good job, especially on Mother’s Day. We are told you’re good enough. You a great mom, look at all the things you’ve done. I’m sorry but it’s not, raising your child isn’t good enough, we NEED to lead and guide them.

I also heard on Mother’s Day moms in the restaurant I was in that day, at the store, and of course all over online, say to their kids, “this is MY day.” I’m not joking in the bathroom at pluckers where I was eating a mom said to her son when all he was trying to do was talk to her, she wanted to wash her hands in peace apparently, “Can u please just be quite today, stop just for one day, this is my day!”

I was enraged! I would have made a comment about being thankful if I was next to her but I was in the stall, and of course I’m not going to yell across five stalls so this woman can hear my opinion. That wouldn’t have gone great lol. Atleast not even close to the hopeful way I would have intended it to be. Lol can u imagine that taking place lol.

I have sat and brewed on this sentence for three weeks now though, still getting upset by the words. If you have said this in some form or fashion I want to simply remind you, the only reason you have that day is because of them. They are supposed to be what you cherish on Mother’s Day. That’s what’s wrong with the holiday, is it’s so twisted. People think it’s a day for them! You have your birthday for that. Yes, it’s a day of recognition of your efforts to raise well rounded people, but if you’re selfish and talk to your children on that day like that, then no wonder our younger generations are growing up the way they are. It’s all about me me me me me. It needs to change!

Moms, dads parents, please I beg you change your perspective of parenting. Do more than just okay with our kids. They need so much poured into them now. We can’t just get away with bare minimum of hopes everything will end up okay. What was okay with us, is not okay with them. Especially now that they get so much information from all the different outlets and sources at their fingertips alone, nvm their friends, their schools, or their community. We have to work harder to try and combat all this… this N E G A T I V I T Y filling our world.

I know this is hard stuff to swallow sometimes as a parent. We all knew it was hard but we thought of my parents did it and with what they had then we can to. But our parents didn’t have to worry about all we have to. We must attack this new generation X with a different light. For I’m scared if we don’t, what my children will have to fight for growing up is 100 x more than what I had to deal with at the age of 20.

So what do we do? Well I can only leave you with one word- Commitment. Commit yourself to your children in a way that leads them. Dedicate your whole self to them, not your tired, just got off work self. Not I just need a minute, not the mom who just wants her day. Because after all before u know it you’ll have all the days you need once they run off to other people who give them that time they long for. Dedicate your lives to raising well balanced people for our world so desperately needs it. Don’t just raise them, lead them, L E A D by example. Hopefully with your efforts and theirs we can all change this back around.

If you want notes, tips, and direction that we received from our parent child dedication class check out 5 ways to Lead your Children. I hope that it will inspire you to want to lead your children down a path of truth. Even if you don’t believe in God, these tools can help you to atleast ensure that you are placing your children in the right community to make sure they grow up filled with love, kindness, and courage.

Most importantly remember to embrace your role as a parent. God has called upon you to help lead and guide them. Here’s the verse the church gave us to help guide us to impress our children with the good news, to pass on love and knowledge of God because he so desperately wants them close to him.

 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

-Deuteronomy 6:4-9

I hope this verse helps keep you motivated even in the hard days. You don’t need to stand up above a whole church, but you do need community and a team so ask your family to help keep you guided and accountable. Ask your community what they are about and if they have the same morals and beliefs, lead our future generation to kindness and love so they too have a chance to love and serve for the better good.

Church with Kids

Going to Church with Kids: Challenges, Motivation, and Blessings

I get excited for Sunday’s, I really do because I never know what will be in store for us as we all take on the challenge of going to church with the kids. You know what challenge I’m talking about, sitting quietly for an hour as I try to intently listen to the message as my children whisper/ yell-whisper at the same time. Yes, that challenge. Admittedly though, I have actually created a great system for when we are in church that keeps them pretty calm. Calm enough that I have been approached by someone every time that I have all my kids with me in church. Last Sunday, I got told that I was an inspiration to all mothers from a church member that walked across the isle to motivate me. The elderly couple behind me told me I have great patience and was doing a great job. This isn’t me bragging, okay maybe a little, I’ve worked hard on this, but I want to share the joy of the reward that my devotion has paid off. Today a mom with the same age children who sat next to me with her five year old complimented on how well behaved the kids are. We laughed about how much of a Ham liladster is. We discussed how her other children were in class and I told her mine would have but they all opted to be with Mommy today. We laughed about the hardships that come with bringing your children to church and that we wish there was a simple easy button.

To all the other parents I know it’s always a hard decision to make, should I take them with me? Should I put them in class where they can be exposed to sickness? Will I really learn anything if they are sitting with me? Will they even learn? I know in their class they will atleast get a little more out of it then with me? Right?

All of these questions are legit, now that I think about it, it really shouldn’t be that hard of a choice. Yet, sometimes it can be for some parents. I obviously, was that parent. With each child I had new fears. New worries and doubts, I didn’t know if I could handle it. I want you to know I support whichever decision you make.  I have noticed there are benefits of both. The good news is, either way they are learning about God and building a relationship with him. So you’re already winning!

Like everything, it’s a balancing act, there are times that I’m alone when they all go to class, there are times when I have just one kid. There are times when someone voices their opinion and tells me they want to join me. The kids love the music and we sing the songs all week long at home and this has become one of my favorite times of the week. The constant singing brings such joy to my soul and warms my heart that it actually has become a big part to refueling me.

We are partaking in a parent/child dedication ceremony on Mother’s Day and we have to take a devotional class beforehand. During our class we discussed that the church ministry only has about 33 hours a year with your child. That’s the average amount of hours  each year that each kid will get in Sunday school after missed days due to illnesses and holidays. That’s not enough for your children to grow a relationship upon. Children need us, you, a community to help them grow in their relationship with God. The awesome part about sharing church with your child is they get to see how you worship God, and how you praise him. I let myself go during the music so they learn to feel it completely and vurnerably. Christian music has always had such a profound place in my heart, body, and soul that it literally has only deepened my relationship with God. So, I like to allow it to take me to my place of serenity, and want my children to see that.

The kids are more funny in church then angry it’s just the youngest hasn’t quite got the whisper thing down. I always get a kick out of it though when she chimes in with laughter at all of Pastor Tim’s corky jokes perfectly on cue. Now, don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t always been perfect, we’ve had our days were the youngest is sleepy and throws a fit and I have to rock her and miss out on the message and watch it later on podcast. That mostly happened when she was younger. There were moments were we made messes and spills, and my goodness can you just stop. There were even moments were I wanted to get up and leave, but I didn’t. I did however step out and recover, but I always go back. I’ve noticed the devotion has paid off. It has taught them to try to remain silent, listen and soak up one good lesson for mommy. The devotion now lies within them as well. They always walk in confident and ready to participate in church. From saying hello to everyone, singing, and yes, even the listening. If they choose to sit with me and not go to school I told them they need to walk out and tell me one thing they heard so we can discuss it further and we can understand it a little better.  This has helped keep some of the chatter down as they do listen for something. I will say, it has been fun to hear their side of the sermon they heard. Sometimes, Aliyna just clings to one word Tim said.

It is a funny thing though, I don’t get motivation from others nearly as often or any other time as I do when I have all three of my kids. Well maybe a handful of times, women come up to me when I have my two youngest. It could be when they see my youngest, she is something else. It’s like, they see me with all my hands tied up and feel like they should motivate me, and to be honest I’m glad they did, because it is exactly what they are doing, motivating me. I’ve gotten positive motivation from other church members, nearly every Sunday since I’ve had my three kids. Literally, I can remember other moms telling me good job, and saying they didn’t know how I do it by myself when Addie was a newborn. Yet, I have to say this, GOOD JOB TO EVERYONE!! Everyone, you made it to church so go you!! I think everyone who goes deserves a praise every now and then. So I dare you to go up to anyone and tell them good job for being there, not just the moms who are juggling kids.

I read a blog the other day about a man telling the mom in church good job. It was beautiful. Calming her worries about the “challenges of church” and saying keep it up. That he sees her efforts and says good job. It got shared over a million times and felt good to read as another person says good job to us moms. Its tiring sometimes, and can even get deflating when church is supposed to be about building yourself up for the week. It’s about setting your mind on what matters. If you find yourself struggling with the “church challenges” with your children then try getting a new perspective. You are there to help build a relationship with yourself and your children. So do that, don’t focus so much on the message. If you need to, go back later and listen to the online sermons when you have peace and quite like I sometimes do if I feel like I missed too much. Most churches offer recaps online. Use the time as an opportunity to experience God with your child.

I have made Sunday’s all about the experience of church vs a “to do. I let the kids explore church and the grounds all around. Today we found this hallway filled with an art gallery! It was pretty awesome talking about all pieces with the kids. They kept running and asking what this meant, and I even made them guess on a few and it was funny to hear their obvious answers.

I let them see Jesus in all the scenery and devotionals the church has put up.  I don’t rush out of church, or hurry the kids out because I want to get it over with. I walk around, allow the kids to shake peoples hands, and tell all the older people hello, because they always get a kick out of them and their smiles. Last week, we even waited in line to shake the pastors hand. I want them to see community in our church not selfishness. I let them play outside if the weather is good. Their favorite is the water fountain out front of our church.

They’ve always enjoyed it and this last Sunday, I was blessed to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit inspiring my son. Last Sunday, after church service, he asked to stay so he could pray and worship longer. The kiddos stopped and said hello to Pastor Tim, said thank you for the words he says to strengthen our relationship. Then, when we walked out we made our usual stop at the water fountain. While we watched the water and all three kiddos had to pose on the cross like Jesus, Ayden asked why the cross was there. We’ve seen that cross for years and he has never asked that before. I explained to him that it’s called a “Meditation Fountain”. That as you sit there on the rock, you look at the cross and let it remind you of all the good works and sacrifices that Jesus did for us, and then you close your eyes and allow the water to quiet your soul while you wait to hear God whispering in your heart. He said let’s try! I couldn’t wait!!!

I sat down next to him and closed my eyes, peaked them open to see him with his head bowed down, eyes shut, and mouth quiet. He silenced himself to hear God. He listened to the water, and it was such a beautiful sight. It was. For a passer by thought so too, they took our pic and showed it to us! HOW SWEET!!!! THANKS FOR THAT!

I feel like I mess up a lot in parenting. I honestly sit at night and think about if I could have said something better to help them grow in any way. I don’t want to miss moments of opportunities that I could have shared intimate moments with them that can help them in their future.

Again, I have to say thank you to all the woman and older couples that come up to me each week and tell me I’m an inspiration to mothers, and that I handle all three of my kids by myself each week with such grace and patience. It’s def a daunting task sometimes so to get constant motivation each week from fellow church members feels good. No one has ever told me that my children bother them so thank you. I think if I felt like we were bothering people then I would never get moments like these. I know it’s difficult and tiring, most people want to go straight home, but try something different at church with your kids and see if yalls relationship with God grows together. It’ll be something either one of you won’t be able to forget.

-Start it, Commit to it, Succeed

Ashly Williams

5 Fun Easter Activities for Your Family

Fun Easter activities to do with your family.

Easter is a lot of things. It’s a time to celebrate many things. Family, togetherness, Jesus Sacrifice, God’s promise, God’s eternal love, and of course Jesus Has RISEN!!! There are also all the fun things you can do to prep for an Easter Day Egg Hunt. Easter is a lot like Christmas, as parents you always try to share what the true meaning of the holiday is while trying to maintain the excitement of all the fun things the community does for our babes. Boy is there a lot of activities everywhere. Almost everyday somewhere something is going on for the two weeks leading up to Easter Holiday. Not even going to lie, I definitely experience Millennial remorse when I have to weed through them all and pick just one. Some of them are really cool but just way to extravagant for me. I feel like not everything needs to be with thousands of people. Besides, this year the kids had two egg hunts before Easter, one at my Aunt Pat’s and one at the library, that I felt like I didn’t have to plan for more. The glow in the dark hunt was cute, because my Dad, Aunt Pat, and Uncle all thought the change up on it was pretty awesome as well. I think the adults liked it so much because they got to pitch in and actually help find the eggs with the kids and so they enjoyed that they could be kids too! It’s always great when you land a solid like that. I even heard my Aunt talking about it the next day to her friends, impact made. Success!! That’s why I have listed it below with a few more ideas that you can do with your children to enjoy the holiday together.

Before we dig into them though, I want to share an experience I had with the kids during their second Easter Egg Hunt. We were at the Pflugerville Library for Story Time and Egg Hunt, and a lot of kids came so they had to put a five egg maximum on each kid.

Easter egg @ Library

Now you try and tell anxious little children that they can only have five eggs when they see 100s laying around right in front of them. Ya, exactly. So, we turned around and hoped for the best to happen. We knew someone was going to walk out throwing a fit, just not sure which one of us it would be. DUM DUM dummmm. We hunted our first five in of course t-minus half a second. So we had to distract the kiddos around the library so we could wait until everyone else was done so we could leave. Didn’t want to have to push through everyone hunting. So, we waited, well then we heard the lady say something as kids in the other room 2 and below come in. Didn’t quite make it out, but realized that a lot of kids didn’t have any eggs in their baskets. We walked by a few with my heart breaking as the kids were crying, looking and I heard their parent’s say, I’m sorry their all gone. Gosh, I can only imagine the feeling they have, you take your kids somewhere so they can have fun and yet they leave with complete disappointment and you can’t do anything to make it okay. UGH! Not a fun experience. So, as we continued to walk through the room and see more kids upset, the kids started noticing as well. They stopped and asked what was wrong with the other kids, and we explained to them, and we all kind of looked around at each other and Josh and I both asked the kids if they would like to put some back for the kids that didn’t have any. They all smiled and with no hesitation smiled and agreed. They didn’t just hide one, they each hid two Easter eggs for other kids. I stopped them hugged them and let them watch as a little girl who had no eggs at all, find their eggs. I was so happy they got to see that little girl smile and be happy. They changed that little girls mood and outcome of her day. Moments like these are experiences that we can all use to help remind our children what really matters. I was so proud to see them not only doing the right thing, but sacrificing something of theirs for the goodness of others. While we were outside I hugged on the kiddos more and used the opportunity to compare their actions to Jesus’ actions. It was a great teachable moment. I feel like if you pay attention enough as a parent we are hit with many great teachable moments to help draw our children closer to Jesus. We just have to capitalize on them.

Kids Giving Back on Easter
Two kids giving back their Easter eggs with smiles.

Below are five easter activities that I feel like are other activities you can use as teachable moments with your children to explain all that Easter is for us.

  1. Holy Week Devotionals. I got these ideas from HCBC Children’s Ministry.   28827868_568840610145783_522133436075151650_oThey inspired me to look a little deeper and I found a few websites and blogs that I want to share with you. I think they are good to help you find some devotionals that are good for your family for all holidays. Focus on the family, is a website that has all kinds of articles to help your family grow and draw closer to Jesus together. There is an awesome Easter Pack that you can download and read through. I loved these Holy Week devotionals a little more just because they were more interactive for the littles, but enjoyed the Holy Week from the church’s because I love our worship space we created.
  2. Glow in the dark Easter Egg Hunt. This is a fun twist on the every year ritual. This year we used glow sticks to put inside the eggs and let them hunt them that way. The kids liked it because it was all different and quite a challenge for them.We put up signs so they could help point them in the right direction. Last year, we did a flashlight egg hunt and Joshua had set traps to go off for when they walked by. Little did we know the pully system he had set up required a little more weight and ended up knocking down little man. OOoops! Then as he got up the Easter basket swung right over his head! Close call!!! To say the least there’s so many ways you can change the regular hunt to make it special for your kids. Next year we are thinking a nerf Easter Egg Hunt, if you shoot the egg, then you get it. The importance isn’t the hunt, but the fun of the hunt. What is important is the meaning. We later explained to them that before Jesus everyone walked in darkness and by him coming, he gave us light, he was our hope of a better future.
  3. Palm Sunday Activity. We’ve spent a lot of time this month talking about the importance of Jesus sacrifice. What it means for us-Eternal life with God. So, Palm Sunday was a great way to refocus their mind on the week ahead. This activity was simple, and one that they all could complete. Later on that day, we cut down some palms from our yard and let the kiddos wave them around and yell “Hosana”.
  4. Good Friday-Show them Eternal Love. This was a Holy Week activity that I absolutely had to try and it was so much fun! I got it from Focused on Family, Walking through the Holy Week. You cut each child a piece of yarn the size of their arm, explain to them that this is them before Jesus. Separate from God, but after Jesus’ sacrifice, we are granted Eternal Life with God. You tie the ends back to the sheath and explain that now we are with God for eternal life.

That He so loved us, that he sent us His only son

Them, you just let them go crazy with it. They ran all over the house. No lie, 3700 sq feet of yarn everywhere. In all the rooms, loft, stairs, kitchen, hallway and living room, The kids went crazy with the yarn but then it went really crazy. Yarn was everywhere but they loved it. They got to visually see that God’s love for us goes on and on and on and on. That life with him is forever. They ended up climbing through it all night long. For Ayden, it became a spider web that he was trying to escape. HAHAH, oh boys will be boys.

5. Easter Egg Catapult. Another great website I found was, Little Bins for Little Hands, a blog that is focused around STEAM. We are definitely a family of science nerds so anytime we can join science into the kids learning, we do. This was a fun activity that didn’t have anything to do with God or Jesus but it was a great learning activity for their little engineering minds. Make a catapult out of ten popsicles, 8 tied together for your “Lever” and attach one on the bottom in between the bottom and second to bottom popsicle stick. Then you take the last one put it on top of all of it and tie the two together. Attach a plastic spoon to the top one and start shooting away. We used the activity to catapult to certain lengths, targets, and easter buckets. We moved the lever around so they could see what would happen and would allow them to make predictions along the way. This activity lasted for an hour. Aliyna even enjoyed the flying balls and eggs.

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I hope all of you have the most blessed Easter, and only the best of memories be made. I’ll leave you with the little chefs  MAKING COOKIES!!! Like I said, anytime we can, we are a baking.

HOPPY EASTER!!!

~Ashly Williams

If you try any of these or enjoy the ideas of them please share, like, and comment below!

5 Fun Ways to Teach Your Child to Clean

As a parent of three I came to the realization,

I can’t do this alone! -Mom

I used to be the mom that did it all by myself. I cleaned, cooked, set tables, washed clothes etc. Then my son turned 4 and my middle child copied everything he did. So her at two, and him at 5 they got put on dish duty. They are completely responsible for putting up their dishes from the dishwasher. Guess what? They enjoy it! For now anyways.

When I came upon this excitement to help clean, I ventured out with them in other chores, dusting, wet sweeping, washing dishes even cleaning tubs. Guess what I found out…They enjoyed it all!

My husband would jokingly come in and see them working and say, “Well, good thing no one else is here to see this sweat shop you’re running here.” I laughed, it was funny, but then it got me thinking. When did it become a bad thing to teach your kids to clean? When did moms, even me, say don’t worry about it, I’ve got it. Why did we stop teaching our kids how to take care of themselves.

Now I know the other side of the argument is that moms want their kids to be a kid. Enjoy childhood, and not worry about too many responsibilities. Then the child goes off to school, the kids throw their backpacks and homework everywhere, are rushed to eat supper, take a bath, and go to bed. Now that’s a night without an extra curricular activity to squeeze in there. There’s no cleaning done what so ever by any one but maybe you if you can muster up the obedience to. Then the end of the week comes and it’s like your hit with a dump truck of stuff everywhere. Now this is purely based off of what I remember my home and life to be like in high school. As teenagers we hardly helped clean unless it was for holidays, our turn to do dishes, and to surprise our parents when they left us alone for a day or weekend. I don’t want to fight my children about cleaning.

As a child I remember I only had to clean for punishment and it was hard work cleaning like wash the walls. My mom used to tell me that she had to learn at 15 how to cook and clean and she hated it therefore she didn’t want me to have to worry about all those things. But how I wish she did…

Let’s all be realistic, although it feels great when it’s done, cleaning and upkeep is a hassle and it is not always fun. I remember my college years and living on my own with a roommate. Two girls in an apt. It was clean we just would have those typical fall behind moments. The things we sucked at the most was taking out the trash but I think it was because we lived on the third floor. I worked three jobs at that time so I was always trying to manage the upkeep.

It wasn’t until I had kids that I decided to make a cleaning schedule. I needed it, I had to follow it, and did for four years I’ve struggled managing everything on my daily to dos. I pushed some back and some forward depending on what was working for me at that time and on that day. With a 3700 square foot home and three kids, animals, and all with lives with needs and wants. You never know where ur going to end up during the day. If they’re happy in their rooms that day and it’s living room clean up day, I trade days. I learned a long time ago that everything can’t be set in stone. Now, I love schedules, and have always respected schedules and have pushed to keep them, but some things you have to learn to let go of the reign, and in this case, clean where your are.

I’ll go ahead and repeat that:

Clean where you are.

Cleaning for me got harder when I got a job, was a coach and now had three kids. I remember the days I felt like a failure because I didn’t have the kitchen stove top clean, or I missed my fridge clean out day and would literally feel disgusting every time I opened it knowing I was behind the schedule. I won’t even talk about missed microwave clean up days. Ugh.

I started hating my own cleaning schedule and literally started thinking that I couldn’t do it. That’s when I realized I’m right, I can’t do it alone. So fast forward back to the kids who enjoy cleaning, now being 5, 3, and 18 months. I decided no more.

I sat with my husband and discussed what he could do and what he wouldn’t mind doing on his off days. His response, was, “Well I just realized I have two full time jobs.” He didn’t realize I needed that much of his help cleaning until I came to him. Then I asked what he would mind the kids clean because there are chemicals and there are some hazards of cleaning. For example, no kids can mop in our house because someone will fall on the tile and get hurt.

We further discussed if only our parents instilled in us the habits of cleaning a little better and the importance of it; then maybe it wouldn’t seem like such a chore. Our kids really enjoy cleaning so we want to try and monopolize on it now before it gets too late. You know, before those attitudes come in full swing.

As a kid I remember if my mom asked me to clean up I rolled my eyes and it was a drag but it’s not like that with my kids. They enjoy cleaning up their plates off the table, throwing away trash and most of the time cleaning up after themselves. No, I’m not living in a fairytale, they are kids, and there are moments when they say mom I don’t feel like it, can you do it for me? Those days I trade them with a hug and a kiss. Hey I just might always offer that up to them all the way up till they’re adults 🤣.

So how do we do it?

So we came up with some positives to tell our children and positives for us to remember so we don’t feel like slave labours but instead parents preparing our children for their futures. Honestly, As a mom of a boy, I don’t want my son to fight with his future wife over being too dirty or messy. I want them to worry about bigger things that are more important things in life. I want my daughters to be well maintained and know how to properly care for themselves and their humble abode. I want them all to be instilled with obedience, prepared for the day, start it off right. In life, I want him to focus on what really matters.

1. Talk the walk AND walk the walk. Obviously, lead by example and start positive verbal cues are important. Anything that sounds important, useful, and not like a chore will make them want to clean. A few things we always say to our kids are:

  • Cleanliness is Godliness and remember we try everyday to be more and more like him. To clean up shows God you’re not only trying, but doing.
  • Let’s see who can do it the fastest.
  • How many insert pick up item here can you carry this time. One time my 3 yr old stacked 4 bowls, 6 cups, and two more bowls on to of her load. It was an unsuccessful mission but she got a huge stack on and kept trying until she could get them all to the destination. Her effort and obedience to keep trying got rewarded that day.
  • You clean now, and it makes more time to play later.
  • (Of course the basic) When it’s clean and put away, we can find it again. We will always know where things are.

I want them to always try to put things up in order so they can not live a life in scramble. Also, so they don’t get mad at me because I can’t find something that they didn’t put up. It’s so stressful when u don’t have anything together. Especially when you’re a mother and people rely on you. When things are lost, Your days just seem crazy. I don’t want that life for my kids future, so I’ve came up with these five ways to help our kids in the habit of everyday cleaning where it just becomes them and not a chore. It’ll then just be another task, like getting gas for your car, it just has to be done.

2. I recommend to have the kids cups, bowls, and plates somewhere low to where they can reach. That way they can get their own cups, and plates and set their sitting spot up when it’s time to eat. They feel responsible when they do it and everyday little things like getting their water. They love this. I also tell my kids the hands that takes it out, are the hands that put it up, so they know it’s not done until they get them back in the cabinet before and after meals.

3. Kids love gloves, don’t know why, so have 30 min cleaning sessions and have them help you clean an area in the house that day that needs a good, down and dirty cleaning. Put some music on, dress the part, maid outfits, hair in bandanas, make it extra fun so it’s funny to them as well. Also, so when they look back when they’re cleaning their countertops, they might get a laugh out of some old memories with me.

4. Bring out the big guns. My favorite, when we bring out the tools, and all the wands and machines, they get so excited and can’t wait to choose which ones they will use this time. Kick out those buckets and get some button pushing tools because I promise you the kids love it if it has a button. The spinning wand is the best one, it has so much power and easy to use for both big kids. They cleaned my whole shower once. It was awesome!

5. Last, but not least, have BUBBLE FIGHTS. The best part about cleaning is the bubbles. Bubbles in the bath, bubbles in the sink when you’re washing dishes, and bubbles in the buckets when you’re cleaning. Every time I get done washing dishes I clean out the sink, and load it up with clean bubbles and have a big fight. This is of course MY FAVORITE.

These are simple, but small ways to help encourage your kiddos to enjoy cleaning. To not only become clean kids that turn into clean adults, but to have another area in life that you all can enjoy together vs an area that makes you argue. Now, I can be living in a complete fairytale, and the joy in cleaning might end when they reach their teenage years but at least we will always have these years of enjoying it together. In the end, that’s all I want. Is to create moments that are memorable even in life filled with mess around every corner.

– Ashly Williams<< p>< /p>

5 Things to do with your Family on Valentines Day

Fun and easy things to do with your family to show love to one another.

February is one of my favorite months because we call it our “love month”. It’s the one month were we relish in the all the love. There are always so many things to do with your children on Valentines Day. Of course, it’s hard to do it on days like today when everyone works and goes to school. There is however the weekends or like we say, the “Month of Love”. So we can celebrate these moments any time of the month, not just on Valentines Day. The bottom five things to do are my Childrens and I’s favorite things to remind us how to show love to not only one another but to others as well.

1. Bake. Do you really need to have a reason to bake cookies, cupcakes, and a cake? I try to bake with my kids as often as I can, especially seeing their little smiles when they get to eat the finished product. Actually, baking in our house is kind of a big deal to us all. We get the special honor of having Chef Aliyna and Chef Ayden making appearances at our house. They bake the most amazing sweets. It’s a real joy honestly to not only have them join but to see them getting better and better at baking. You can see the proudness in their eyes. Not to forget to mention the love that goes into baking all of these things. It becomes a family ritual that I love because it teaches them to help one another, to have fun with the powder and that it is always okay to get a little dirty when you’re baking. They always love the messy part. The best part this year is that the kids will be baking with their Bita today so its a way to spend time showing love with their grandma, not just with us. Baking can be something that you do and enjoy with one another or can be sweet treats that you give to other people to spread the love.

Ayden Baking Heart Cake For Valentines
Baking Cakes for Valentines Ritual with the Family

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Our first time cooking organic sugar cookies

2. Crafts. Kids love any crafts. They grow anytime they create anything and this is one craft I don’t tell them what to make. I simply say paint something that reminds you of love, something that makes you happy. You never know what stories or feelings you’re going to hear, and for the first time you may see your little Picasso bloom in a way that brings tears to your eyes. Love is something you can’t see, so it’s definitely interesting to see how they view it.

This year I even tried a new craft were they made a bouquet of “coffee filter flowers” that they made with markers and you spray water on them and they turned out to be beautiful pieces of art. I actually had a hard time letting them go because they were so great.

We even made some “flowers” by having fun with Chromatography and using some science to help make art. This was a fun activity because everyone loved how active we were in this craft. We played several games with this activity that allowed us to stay connected the entire time. Such as, who’s water will reach the top first. Who’s will have the most color? The best part was hearing them all say “absorb”. It seriously was the cutest thing ever. I had two little scientist bloom that day along with their flowers they created.

3. Cards. Make cards for one another, friends, neighbors, and extended family. Everyone appreciates a little kind gesture. Plus, it’s sweet to see them think of others before themselves. I told my children to make cards for who ever they wanted but that we needed to make sure we made some for our grandparents so they could feel their love from afar. They made people cards that I couldn’t even keep up with. This one is for my friend Jack. They met once and I have no idea how to send them to them. ( Oops sorry Jack but I think your card might get lost in the mail.) My son made one for everyone in the neighborhood and almost every family member. To see them want to spread love with just a card is truly precious because they talk about how they are going to walk up to the house with the cards behind their backs, and yell “SURPRISE!!”

4. Dance Party. These are always the funniest and cutest. We like to reign in the celebration with some groovy music and awesome dance moves. We are a family of dancers and love to get down with some fun dance moves. Ever since we had dance lessons for the wedding the two biggins dance together and spin around with one another. It’s seriously the cutest. So I propose to end the party with a slow dance just so they can see the love between Mommy and Daddy and get reminded of what Love looks like. If they’re anything like our kids, they will join in too and it becomes a “family love dance.”

5. Spread Love. Any way you can spread love through your day/month with one another, with loved ones, and your friends. This year we are going to try to go around the table and tell one another one thing we love about the other family member. Then after wards continue to spread love by making some phone calls and letting some peeps in the family know how cool they are.

I hope some of these can be intertwined into your families valentines day rituals. I know with bigger kids some of these might be hard since they are pretty active in their schools valentines gifts and/or their “Significant Others” gifts, but I think family comes first so have their friends or SO join in on some fun with the family. Have them join in on a diner were you all make sweets and go around the table and show appreciation to one another. Any way you can just show your family you love them. Hug them tight, kiss them often, and love them hard. ALWAYS.

I know I will.

– Ashly Williams.