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What Do You Do to Recharge?

by Amanda on December 22, 2009
category: Inspiration

brokenglassWhat do you do to recharge your energy or to re-focus? Perhaps you relax in the front of the T.V., enjoy a cup of coffee, indulge in some ice cream, or curl up with a good book. All these things are perfectly okay to do, but they don’t truly give us life.

As a mom I need energy, life, encouragement, and love, because I am pouring out all day long. After the kids are in bed, my husband and I crash on our bed and “take 5 minutes.” We need to recharge and rest. The constant listening, concern, disciplining, and physicality of lifting children is draining.

I often look in the wrong direction to recharge my “batteries.” I sometimes fail to have a quiet time and meet with God that day. I don’t wake up until I hear my children are awake and the bustle of my day immediately begins. Why don’t I fight for time alone with God?

My friend, Esther, shared this quote with me this past week:

“God is your greatest fan. As your heavenly Father, He is constantly coaxing you forward into the heights of spiritual victory. When you neglect the secret place, He’s not disappointed in you, He’s disappointed for you. He sees the spiritual riches available to you, and His heart breaks when He watches you getting by-passed. He wants you to share in heaven’s best, and He looks with wistful longing when you short-change yourself spiritually.” – Bob Sorge

Ouch! We are robbing ourselves of God’s living water with the cisterns we have created for ourselves. We are short changing ourselves.

It is hard to find time to spend with God. I don’t like waking up early and my brain is fried and exhausted at night. I have to fight to find time with God. It isn’t easy. I sometimes sit at a crumb covered breakfast table with my 2 year old sitting next to me drawing in her own notebook. Sure, she is distracting, but at least I am sitting at the side of a river with flowing living water. Its probably better to be sitting at the river slightly distracted with my children, than not even going at all.

My mentor, Kristin, gave me this challenge and I am passing it along to you.  Before you do anything fun for yourself spend some time with God. What she means is before you sit down to watch TV or read or eat for fun do something to spend time with God. It could be reading the Bible, listening to a worship song, or saying a prayer. The point is to seek God for His life. He wants to be the source of our lives!

When do you find time to be with God? What are some of the “broken cisterns” that you have created that you use to relax?

Teaching Your Children to Pray

childTeaching your child how to pray is one of the best life skills you can teach them. I realized a few months after my daughter could start putting sentences together that I could teach her how to pray. She also goes to a Mother’s Day Out program at my church and she prays at school. It occurred to me that she didn’t pray at home.

I believe prayer is real and God hears our hearts. He wants to speak to us. I want to teach my daughter that she can always pray and that God is accessible anywhere. This is a life lesson that I don’t want to fall short on teaching her. I am also excited that later on I get to teach her how to hear God too.

This fall we began praying with my daughter as part of the bedtime process. Here are some tips that can help you with praying with your children.

1. Keep the prayer simple.
We pray the same prayer every night. We sit together, close our eyes, and each of us clasps our own hands together and pray. This is what we pray, “Dear Jesus, thank you for today. Bless Mommy, Daddy, and Brother. Help me sleep well. I love you, Jesus. Amen!” It is fun, because sometimes my daughter will include others in the list of blessing. She doesn’t always say the whole thing out loud, but we ask her to say “I love you, Jesus. Amen.” We made up this prayer, but you can make up your own too! Just keep it simple.

2. Sing a song. I have some friends that know prayers that are like songs. It is is seriously adorable to hear them sing their prayers. You can sing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ or other songs like this one.

God is Great
- With these additional lines, it is sung to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star“:

God is good and God is great.
And we thank him for our food.

By his hands we all are fed.
Thank you, Lord, for our daily bread.
God is great and God is good,
And we thank him for our food.

3. Make a routine. The best way to remember to pray with your kids is to include it in a routine every day. It can be done before they eat a meal or in a bedtime routine.  Here is an example of a meal time prayer:

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

4. Pray for someone when they get an Ouchie. You can teach your child how to pray for their friends when their friend gets hurt or doesn’t feel well. I have seen a friend’s child do this and it warms my heart to see that child learn compassion. The prayer can be something as simple as “Dear Jesus, please heal my friend. Amen.”

5. Be an example. Pray in front of your kids! Let them see you reading your Bible and praying. Include everyone in the family when praying with your child. In our bedtime routine I may read the bedtime book, but Daddy always comes in for the prayer time. We all pray out loud together. You can also model it by having Daddy pray for Mommy or the other way around. They may not seem that they are paying attention, but it certainly sets the tone that prayer is a normal part of life.

How have you taught your children to pray? Do you have it in a routine? What sing-songy prayer do your children pray?

Christmas Gifts for Teachers

by Amanda on December 11, 2009
category: 3 – 5 years (preschooler),5 – 12 years (kid)

Don’t forget to add your childrens’ teachers to your Christmas list this year! McKenna originally published this list last December. A few friends who are teachers told me that they do not like teacher themed ornaments. Also chocolate or coffee may not be a good idea, because you don’t know their taste or they be diabetic. Gift cards may be the best gift. You can get them gift cards to Lakeshore for school supplies, to Target, or Barnes and Nobles. What are you planning on getting your teachers this year?

Original post by McKenna:

hs_McKennaThere are some very special people on our Christmas shopping list that are some of the hardest people to shop for!  Around this time every year, I panic trying to think of a good gift for my daughter’s teachers and developmental therapists.  63758_school_project.jpgHere are some gift ideas I have come up with and I’d love to know what you will be giving to your child’s teachers for Christmas.

Personalized Stationary or School Supplies

  • Note cards, notepads,  and pens that are either personalized with your teachers’ name on it or hand decorated by your child.  Teachers also LOVE sharpies, apparently, as several of my teacher friends have said they get really excited when they buy new sharpie pens.  Who knew?

Personalized Aprons

  • A friend of mine has a monogram machine and suggested purchasing inexpensive aprons and monogramming the teachers’ initials on them.

Group Gift

  • Get together with some of the other parents from your child’s class to purchase a more expensive gift together.  You can get your teacher a spa gift certificate or a gift certificate to a teacher supply store!

Photo Memories

  • If you’re handy with a camera, take pictures of the children in the class, arrange the pictures in an album,  and have each child sign their name by their picture.

A Special Ornament

  • Have your child decorate or pick out a special ornament for their teacher.  You can try to find something that reflects on the current school year memories.


  • My daughter was in our local Down Syndrome Association’s yearly calendar, so all of her teachers and developmental therapists received calendars that year as gifts!  They all loved that her sweet face was Miss November (and all the other precious faces in the calendar) and my purchases supported our local Down Syndrome Association!

Pay Close Attention

  • Try to find out if your child’s teacher has a hobby or collects anything.  Does she wear a charm bracelet?  Does she have Willow Tree figurines on her bookshelves?  Does she have a collection of kitty cat magnets on her filing cabinet doors?  By paying attention to those subtle details, you just may find the perfect gift idea that is uniquely special for your child’s teacher!

What about you?  What are you giving your child’s teachers this year?  What special gifts have you given them in past Christmases?

Cartoon Christmas Classics: Which is Your Favorite?

by Amanda on December 8, 2009
category: Humor/Random,Pop culture

snowcartoonI love all the classic Christmas cartoons. They remind me of being 7 years old and staying up past bedtime to watch a cartoon at night that was only broadcast once a year.  It would be a whole another year before I got to watch Frosty the Snowman again. This is a big deal when you are 7 years old in the Eighties.

Now we can pick up a whole collection of our favorite classics in a DVD package at Costco for $23. I checked this weekend, but I didn’t pay for them this year. My favorites are being searched out on the network and cable channels, recorded, and saved on my DVR until January. I am so thankful that my 2 year old daughter will sit and watch them with me. I now have an excuse to watch “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at least 10 times this month.

Here is a list of some cartoon Christmas classics.

Which are your favorites? Do you have a special memory with one them? Will you always remember Hermey the Dentist Elf? Do you tear up when Linus gives his speech about the true meaning of Christmas? Does A Christmas Carol weird you out a little? Do you remember the Heuy, Dewey, and Louie and how they wished for it to be Christmas every year? Okay, after all these questions. I seriously watch too much TV or  maybe I just have a good memory! haha.

Herbie1. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
2. The Year Without a Santa Claus
3. Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer
4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town
5. Frosty The Snowman
6. Frosty Returns
7. A Charlie Brown Christmas
8. A Christmas Carol (Sim – 1971)
9. Mickey’s A Christmas Carol
10. Mr. Magoo’s A Christmas Carol
11. The Nightmare Before Xmas
12. Grandma got run over by a reindeer
13. The Little Drummer Boy
14. Shrek the Halls
15. The Polar Express
16. A Christmas Carol (Carry – 2009)
17. The Flintstones Xmas specials & The Flintstones A Christmas Carol
18. Olive the Reindeer
19. Annabelle’s Wish
20. A Garfield Xmas

Happy Cookie Day! 5 Christmas Cookie Party Ideas

CookieDayIn the last 24 hours I have been invited to 2 different cookie parties happening this month. I don’t think that they will be my last two either. This is the first Christmas that my first child will understand a few Christmas traditions and I am so excited!  I am sure she will be elated to know that Christmas cookies are a yearly tradition.

Here are 5 ideas for Christmas Cookie Parties if you are thinking of throwing a party.

Cookie Exchange Party

A cookie exchange party can happen in the evening for a girl’s night out or during the days with kids and chaos.  My friend Tashi is hosting a Christmas cookie exchange this year and here are her rules that you could follow as well.

1. Bring 7 dozen of your best and yummiest cookies.
2. Bring 12 copies of your recipe.
3. Bring 1 dozen of your cookies arranged nicely in a basket or platter.
4. Bring a container to take home your new cookies.
5. If you don’t have time to bake or have ruined your recipe but still want to attend, just go to your local bakery and pick up 7 dozen yummy cookies.

Cookie Decorating Party

christmas_cookies_2A cookie decorating party is completely fun for the kids and adults during the day time. Everyone can have fun while making a mess and eating delicious cookies.

My friend Jennifer C. is hosting a cookie decorating party and she will be providing the cookies and frosting. If the weather cooperates the party will be happening in the back yard. The guests only need to bring 3 things: (1) their kiddos (who aren’t in school), (2) some sprinkles to share, and (3) a take home container.

I am sure you can ask other moms chip in to bring cookies and ask someone else to bring frosting if you don’t want to provide all of the elements.

Cookie Bake Day

My family has had a cookie bake day almost every year. All the women get together and bake cookies in the same kitchen together. There is always a line for the oven, we are on top of each other, and making a mess on every counter space available, but it is so much fun! At the end of the day we have massive amounts of cookies and we trade what we made. It’s really fun being together and being silly.

Baked Ornament “Cookies”

Perhaps you aren’t looking to gain a few extra pounds this December and would prefer a non-edible party – you can always hang your cookies on the tree instead! I have never made these myself, but I really want to this year. It seems like it would be fun do with my kids and other kids as well. Here is a link to make Christmas Dough Ornament Crafts.

Cheer up homeless shelters and hospitals with your cookies!

cookie_boyAfter you have a cookie party you can package them up to give to a local hospital or shelter. You can get the kids involved and tell them who the cookies are for. They could even write a note or draw a picture to go with the cookies. You can even take it a step further and collect children’s books to give away along with the cookies. There are homeless shelters with children too. I am sure they would love cookies! A step further would be to gather your friends, family, or church, and provide a cookie decorating party for the children at the shelter. Here in San Antonio, The Strong Foundation, helps homeless families get back on their feet. Check with your local shelter’s volunteer coordinator to see if you can help.

Have you ever hosted a cookie party or participated in one? What is your favorite Christmas cookie?

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