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Raising Boys: Learning About The Critters in My Backyard

I have one of those kids, you know, the kind that catches every creepy crawly thing he can get his hands on. Do you have a child like that? They are completely fascinated with our world and all of the creatures that God put in it. I’m so happy that I have boys that want to learn about the world and enjoy playing in it. This past summer has presented us with a wealth of bugs, reptiles and slithering things.

Encouraging the Learning

Ever since my boys were young, I’ve encouraged them to learn and explore. My oldest son has had to be taught to have the boldness and confidence to explore. My middle child is the one we have to hold back from exploring dangerous areas. My third boy is a beautiful blend of the two older ones. He is confident, yet reserved at the same time.

I think that the best thing we can do as parents is facilitate an environment that allows our children to gain new understandings. Don’t get me wrong here, I do not have some kind of well thought out plan that spurs them to learn. However, I just make it possible for them and encourage them along. Instead of hovering over them and teaching them what I want them to learn, I allow them to ask the questions about things they curious about. Of course, there are times of instruction they do not necessarily ask for or even want. Whenever possible, though, I let them have a relaxed environment where they can decide what they want to learn about.

The Responsibility of Learning 

So many parents think that it is their job to make certain each one of their children has learned what needs to be learned. While parents are responsible for teaching, it isn’t their job to do the learning. Children need to be taught to take education and understanding into their own hands. It is your child’s responsibility to gain knowledge. At the end of the day, no one can learn for them. That is why the best thing for parents to do is create an environment in which a child can gain knowledge and then teach them it is their responsibility. This is a counter cultural idea in our society, since so many parents have been convinced that it is their’s or the teacher’s job to do the learning for their kids.

When you allow your children to be curious and determine things they learn more about, they will develop a mind for learning. Then, they need to be taught it is their job as a kid to learn. I regularly share with my children what everyone’s role in the home is. It is their dad’s and my role to take care of them in every way we can, and it is their job to grow up so that one day they can care for themselves.

Slithering and Crawling Things in the Yard

Here are just a few of the snapshots we captured each day as my boys caught these fine creatures. My oldest son does not like holding these kinds of things, and the youngest is still a bit uncertain. My middle boy is the one that caught them all and posed for each picture. Thank goodness the other two have him to handle the creepy crawlies.

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3 Ways to Model Good Social Media Behavior

With so many ways to digitally connect with each other without having to have a face to face conversation, I have started wondering some things. I have worked with teenagers for 12 years and I notice more and more that they will post things in texts messages or social media outlets that they wouldn’t have the guts to say otherwise. In a sense, I feel like I see things written out that wouldn’t even be polite or nice to say.

First World Problems

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What do we do with a generation that is learning how to relate through these disconnected means? It is so hard to think that my children will be relating to their friends on a different playing field than I was when growing up. I’m not quite sure how to handle these advances with them. While I do personally enjoy texting, facebook, pinterest, and some of the other social media giants, I am experiencing this in the middle of my life. I’m not a young child being exposed to these ways of communications as my main forms of communicating.

How to Model Good Behavior With Social Media

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I think that we have to model for our children the right ways to handle the advancing technology. Here are some things that I try to implement in my own home:

 

Dinner is off limits– during out meal together at night, I do not answer texts, emails, or phone calls.

Time limit– I try to limit my personal computer time. While I work on my computer much of the day for my job, if I do not have to be on my phone or computer for those reasons, I try to limit my time.

Socialize– even though so many of my friends are busy, I try to make time to go out with them when we can. I invite people over, and let my children have their friends over. I think it is important to have humans in our home, not just skype or google hangouts.

 

So, do you think that social media and texting allows people to be more bold or more cowardly? Is it better to say things through those outlets you wouldn’t say to someone’s face? Or would it be better to only say the things in those outlets that you would willing say if to someone’s face?

How to Make a Galaxy Design on White Canvas Shoes

About two years ago, I retired a pair of white converse tennis shoes. I really liked wearing them, but they had become so dirty, that it was a bit embarrassing to wear them. I had washed them over and over in bleach water, to only get a few more weeks of wear out of them before they looked awful again. For that reason, I went with a comfortable pair of walking shoes in black.

Being the frugal person that I am, I kept the white shoes in case I needed them for something. Well, that thing finally arrived. I saw this really awesome idea somewhere about creating a galaxy design on your clothing and shoes. I got really excited when I found DIY galaxy instructions of how to decorate my shoes with a few simple items.

Items You Need to Make Galaxy Shoes

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white canvas or cloth shoes

blue sharpie

black sharpie

purple nail polish

white nail polish

light blue nail polish

glitter nail polish

rubbing alcohol

cotton balls

 

How to Make the Design

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The first thing you will need to do is to use your blue and black sharpies to color the entire surface of the shoes that is cloth. Just be sure that you color all of the areas. It is ok if you overlap the colors and make some areas more blue or more black. Once you have the shoe covered in color, you will need to take a cotton ball and the rubbing alcohol to blend the colors. Wet down a cotton ball and rub over the shoe. You will immediately notice that the color lines start to bleed into one another. Once you have blended the colors together, you need to let the shoes dry.

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Once the shoe has dried, you can use your different colored nail polishes to decorate the shoe. Use the dark colored purple to create darker circular areas. A light blue or white color can easily brighten up areas of the galaxy design. Finish off the design with the glitter to make sparkly stars on the canvas. This DIY galaxy design can be made in whatever colors and way that you most prefer.

 

Check out my video tutorial here to see some extra tips that you can do to make this design.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a message in the comments and I’ll be glad to answer you.

5 Reasons Why You Should Kiss Your Spouse Goodbye

 

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Austin and I have been kissing, “goodbye” our entire marriage, and it has done wonderful things for our relationship. This is a principal that my mom and dad instilled in me while I was growing up. My parents have always kissed each other before leaving one another.

Seeing as how they have been happily married for 40 plus years, I think taking their advice on this one is important. Here are the top five reasons you should kiss your spouse goodbye.

1. You Never Know What Will Happen ambulance-1334534-m

Of course, I’m going to start this out with the cliche’ reason…you just never know what will happen. It is the honest to goodness truth my friends. You do not know if this goodbye will be your last. I have a friend in the ministry that lost his wife to an aneurism this past year.

They were at church together, and she suddenly fell ill in the middle of Sunday School. She was in critical condition by the time he got to her, and she did not wake up. I don’t share this to scare you about losing your spouse or loved ones, but it is important that you know it is a possibility.

2. Non-Sexual Physical Connection is Important little-island-of-love-458411-m

So many times in our marriages, we can forget that non-sexual physical connection is vital. If the only time you are touching your spouse is during those intimate moments, then you are missing something key in your marriage.

Especially for a woman, there needs to be a time when she is able to physically express herself without it leading to intimate moments. Your relationship will be stronger when you make it a priority to be affectionate with one another outside of the bedroom.

3. Kissing is a Great Way to Model a Healthy Marriage to Others IMG_20140406_160554

Kissing your spouse goodbye is a perfect way to show those around you that you are happily married. This is especially important for your children to see. Believe me, they are seeing a great deal of sexual affection being displayed. It is really important that you show them what a healthy relationships look like.

Even it if it a bit weird for you to kiss your spouse in front of your children, it really is a good idea for them to know you love each other. They are seeing plenty of people kissing, and often, those people are not committed to one another. 

4. You Will Be Happier 

There are going to be times that you are mad with your spouse. When you make it a habit to always kiss each other before leaving, you will have to put those differences aside. At least for a few moments, your attitude toward your spouse is going to soften.

This is a great way to keep yourself in check in your marriage. When you have physical affection being displayed toward each other every couple of hours, you will be happier in your marriage.

5. Just Because You Can 

In all seriousness here, why wouldn’t you kiss the love of your life every single day? Remember when you were dating and all you could think about was the next time you could kiss them? You married that man or woman for a whole host of reasons, and one of those reasons was because you loved to kiss them.

When you make it a priority to kiss each other goodbye, or goodnight, you won’t have a single day that passes where you haven’t connected physically. I know there will be days when you don’t have the time or energy to be together in an intimate way, but kissing takes little time and is very effective.

What is your top reasons for kissing your spouse goodbye. Leave me a message in the comments. I would love to hear your thoughts!

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My Personal Confessions of Questioning God

As I sit here in the aftermath of it all, it is a bitter feeling that succumbs me. A week with some of my dearest friends is now over. I walked them to their truck, said goodbye, and walked back to my house without watching them back out of the driveway. The scene was too difficult for me to watch. And I cry out, “Why God?”. Why? I just don’t know that answer as to why these people have to live so far away from me. Since the day I was married and moved away from my home town, I’ve never had friends as close to me as this. What a lonely feeling I wallow in at the moment. I hate that they are not in my life every day and that we no longer have the wealth of shared experiences that we had when they lived so close to us. There are many many things I miss.

 

Searching For Answers

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And again, I say, “Why God?”. Why didn’t it work out for us to move close to them this year? Why did that whole idea suddenly go away? I am still not sure why this isn’t God’s plan. Why is it that we are sentenced to a life apart and not together. They are people that I need in my life. I haven’t had the real conversations that I had this week in a long time.

 

Remembering The Hard Days

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All of the people that live nearby me are the ones that were not close to us during our most difficult days over the last two years. I don’t think they understand us like my dear friends; the ones that just started their trek back to their new home. There are so many things that I have gone through, that only my dear friend know. They saw it firsthand. They were here with us during those days of trial. We are still going through so much, yet they are not with me now. We keep up through phone calls and skype, but having them here, in my face is so much better.

 

Remembering the Good Days

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My heart was happy while they were here, yet so very sad at the same time. So, so very sad. I didn’t even know how to keep myself from feeling sad in the seconds they were away. It was so hard for me every time I was alone while they were here. Each ride in the car that they trailed behind, I sat quiet as we made our way to a mutual destination. Every time they were away for even a short period of time, I wondered why they couldn’t live here.

 

Realizing the Future

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It is so clear that they miss parts of this life. The roads have diverged for us, and I hung it up that we would raise our children together. What a hard breath that was for me to draw the day I realized that we wouldn’t be raising our children the way we hoped. We were working together and holding each other accountable in parenting. During these days that they were with us, we were doing it again. There is already the established boundaries between us, and we already understand each other and know each other. There is no awkwardness between us now. What will I do now?

 

With each passing day that goes by, I know that God has a plan. It is so hard to sit and wait in these times, not knowing what will take place. At the same time, I can’t imagine not having the hope that there is a God that loves me. Even when circumstances do not make sense, He is still in control.

Maybe you are going through a time in your life that is difficult and you aren’t sure how things will turn out. Know that you are not alone and hang on to the hope that God loves you.

My Mom’s Slow Cooked Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

I have been eating the same spaghetti sauce all of my life. In fact, this is one of my favorite meals to eat and make. When I go to visit my mom, I’m always hoping that she has made a big pot of this sauce. No matter how long I have been making this recipe on my own, it never tastes as good as hers. There is just something about how my mom makes it…maybe her secret ingredient is love.

Ingredients: 

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1 pound of lean ground beef

1 chopped up onion

1 chopped up bell pepper

2 cloves of finely minced garlic

2 tablespoons of olive oil to saute’ vegetables and meat

2 16 oz cans of petite diced tomatoes

2 16 oz cans of tomato sauce

1 8 0z can of tomato paste

4 cups of water

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

Cooking Instructions:

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First thing you need to do is saute’ the onions, peppers, and garlic. Once they have cooked down a bit, add in the pound of ground beef to brown. Be sure you drain the ground beef of its excess fat. Then you will add in all the cans of tomatoes, paste, sauce, and water. Stir up these ingredients until they are well blended. Add in the spices: rosemary, bay leaves, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and then turn it down to low heat to cook for 5 hours or more.

Patience in Waiting: 

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This is one of those dishes that really does take all day long to cook. I like my spaghetti sauce thick, and to achieve that, I cook it on the stove for at minimum of 5 hours. If you do not give this recipe that long to cook, then it will be very watery. In fact, sometimes, it is still a bit watery even after I have given its full time to cook. Sometimes, I use less water when making the recipe just to be sure it is as thick as I like for it to be. This is not a good recipe for a crockpot, because it needs the ability to evaporate the water and cook down. A crockpot will not allow the water to evaporate out. However, I have successfully left this pot of sauce on my stove while I was away at church or other functions. I realize that some people do not feel safe in leaving food cooking on the stove while they are away. In that case, it is best to only cook this meal when you are home. I actually think that this spaghetti sauce tastes even better on the next day. You could easily make this up ahead of time and serve it when you are ready.

 

Leave me a message in the comments and tell me about your favorite recipe. I’d love to know what you enjoy cooking.

How Non-Verbal Cues Affect Communication in Your Marriage and Dating Relationships

In your marriage, you can certainly chalk a lot of fights up to poor communication. When you clearly communicate with your husband or wife, then there will be less fighting. You will probably still disagree with each other, but the arguments will be less frequent.

The truth is, to be successful in communication, it takes more than just the right words to accurately pass along your feelings. Non-verbal cues play a big role in how your words are taken. Also, the tone that you take to speak will communicate to your spouse what you are really saying.

It is important to understand how body language, tone, and the words you say work together as a whole package.

Learning to Read Body Language

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It is really important that you pay attention to your spouse’s body language. If you aren’t paying attention to this aspect, then you aren’t understanding what they have to say as clearly. If their words do not line up with their non-verbal cues, then ask them to tell you what they are really thinking.

When they know you see through their disguise, then it will be easier for them to speak freely about their feelings. The position your loved one takes when you are talking to them gives you a tell tale sign of how well you are communicating. They very well may be taking what you have to say in the wrong manner.

At this point, it is best to stop and re-group with what you are saying. Facial expressions and body positions make up a good portion of how you are being understood by others.

 

 Understanding Tone of Voice

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The flexion in which a sentence is spoken, can change the meaning of a words that were used. How many times has your tone of voice backfired on you? I know that I’m constantly speaking in a way that communicates something I don’t intend.

Sometimes, I do intend to communicate something very clearly through my tone. When you are in conversation with your spouse, it is important that your tone isn’t giving impressions you don’t mean. On the other hand, listen to your loved ones tone of voice, and ask them if they truly do mean what they are communicating.

Increasing Communication in Marriage

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In your marriage and dating relationship, increasing communication is very important. When you understand that more goes into expressing yourself besides just the words you use, then your communication will grow.

Explain to your loved one what their body language is saying to you or what their tone of voice is reflecting. They may not know how you are taking their words based off of those non-verbal cues.

 

 

 

 

When you work hard at increasing the communication experienced between you and your boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse, then all aspects of your relationship will be enhanced. Clearly understanding your partner gives you a great appreciation for who they are and causes you to love them more deeply.

Leave me a comment and share a way that you and your loved one have increased your communications.

Simple Baked Potato Recipe

Baked potatoes is something I consider to be hardy enough for a meal, especially paired with salad. While I don’t make many potato meals anymore, this is one that I really enjoyed putting together for my family. Everyone here really liked eating this dish as well, and it turned out to be a huge hit. Anytime I can make something my boys like is a win in my opinion.

Ingredients:

As far as the ingredient list for this baked potato recipe, it is pretty minimal. You can make this meal as simple or extravagant as you please.

The number of baking potatoes you want to cook

Spray Oil

Fixings of your choice

By fixings of your choice, I mean whatever you like putting on your baked potatoes when they are done. I really enjoy putting chili, cheese, and sour cream on my potatoes. This makes it more of a complete meal by adding the protein from the beans, meat, cheese and sour cream. With the chili and cheese, it made this idea very similar to chili cheese fries, but with intact fries.

 

How to Cut the Potatoes: 

When I originally saw this concept on Lifetricks.com, I didn’t really look at the way the potato was cut. That is kind of the way I do things, I see something briefly and re-create what I thought I saw. In this case, what I chose to do instead turned out really well. This is the trick that I based the idea off of.

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Picture Credit

 

Instead of cutting the potatoes in slits like this, I cut them down center first and then cut thicker slits. They turned out like thick french fries.

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Once I was done cutting them like this, I sprayed the surface and in between the potato slits with olive oil. You can use any type of oil or butter here. I just chose to use olive oil. Then you will bake them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 30-45 minutes. They cook faster than normal baked potatoes since they have been cut opened.

 

This is what mine looked like when they were done baking. I really like the crispy edges on some of the potatoes. That really is my favorite part about this technique for cooking baked potatoes.

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After the potatoes were cooked, I added some chili that I had leftover from the night before. I topped that with a bit of sprinkled cheese and dab of sour cream. If I had chives, I certainly would have added that. This meal was very delicious and I plan to make it again soon.

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Leave me a comment and tell me what new recipe or cooking methods you have tried out lately. I’d love to hear from you.