Toys, When Is Too Much?

Earlier today I read an article on eliminating toy clutter. Considering that I have felt children often possess more toys than necessary, or even healthy, I was captured by the topic from the first. When does the amount of toys in the home become too much?

Answers to the "How much is too much?" question regarding toys probably varies from family to family and house to house. After all, a 500 square foot apartment doesn't have as much room for playthings as a home with a large playroom or toy area. Each family also has their own personal level of objects they can tolerate surrounding them too. Some people feel cramped if there is anything laying around ANYWHERE while others are able to live in surroundings resembling the television show Hoarders with ease.

No matter what the level of surrounding objects, is it possible for the amount of toys in the home to become negative rather than positive to the well-being of the child(ren)? The answer may be personal opinion, but I think it can. Having been parenting for the past 21 years in living quarters of all shapes and sizes while possessing toys in both abundance and few, I can testify with all honesty that the fewer toys children possess, the more relaxed the atmosphere in the home is. The child(ren) also play with their toys more and for longer stretches at a time when there are fewer toys.

I don't pretend to know why child(ren) play more with less. I just know that they do. As a matter of fact, in our home, we could put the majority of the toys away each summer as our children spend most of their waking hours playing with sticks, rocks, sand, water, and mud outside. Not every family resides in a setting where this is possible. However, even if the home is in the inner city where outside play isn't always available, there is a possibility of too many toys being present in the home.
I didn't say it was a definite, only a possibility.

Challenges where a blogger invites his/her readers to join them by participating in whatever challenge it is they are going to tackle are frequent online. Frequent challenges to show up on blogs are pantry and freezer challenges where a person sees how long they can eat using the items in their pantry and freezer without going to the store. Screen free challenges encourage participators to see whether they can go from one week up to 30 days without watching television or using the computer.

Until now, I haven't ever issued a challenge or actively participated in one either. Until now. As I was thinking about this topic of too many toys in the average home with children - that's what the article I read said - the idea of a challenge came to me. Since it's getting to be time for spring cleaning and the weather is warming up for more outdoors play in the yard and park, let's have a toy challenge. Let's gather our toy-playing children and have them select their absolute, can't live without them toys. I/We want the number they choose to be smaller rather than larger. I'm thinking of having my two select five of each category. For example, five of their favorite trucks, five of their favorite animals, etc. Feel free to choose a number that fits your situation best. Then I/we will all gather up the remaining toys in boxes or bags and put them away. Since this is only a challenge and not a purge, I/we will only put away not give away - yet.

For 30 days, one month, I/we will observe our children and our home. Is there a difference in the cleanliness? What about attitude(s)? Is the environment of the home more peaceful? The only way this challenge will work is if I/we are brutally honest with my/ourselves. Maybe we could jot down our observations. Here are some of the questions I am looking for answers to: is cleanup easier, are attitudes sweeter, are the children more content, do they use their imaginations more, how well do they play together and share.

The results of the observations may surprise us all. According to the article I read this morning, children have less emotional response to the giving away of toys than their parents. The article also shared that a number of toys are often purchased and/or given as a result of the desires of a parent, not child(ren). Train table was the example used in the article. Hmmm. I wonder if we will find that to be true in any of our homes. At the conclusion of the toy challenge all participators will be able to share their findings and hopefully learn from each other's experience.

We'll talk more about this later. Right now, there's a Victorious Man of God with a wet diaper. He's a hungry man too. Enjoying the few cloth diapers he is big enough to wear. The rest will have to wait until he grows a bit more. Maybe I'll have a make your own cloth diaper post for you later:)


Gettin' Your Groove On

The following article was originally posted on The Sandhills Scholars website. It is, however, in no wise exclusively geared towards homeschooling or homeschoolers. So...we are enjoying it here today. Let's dust off those wintry cobwebs, head to the kitchen, and "get our groove on". Shall we? Oh yes! Please don't forget to share your "signature dish" by leaving it in a comment. Thank you so much for sharing. Blessed Mama

Gettin' Your Groove On
Every cook should have one dish that they own. This signature dish could have begun as a recipe from another source. Over time however, this dish should have become it's very own identity. So were the thoughts shared in a magazine article I recently read in Southern Lady magazine. The words of a well-known chef, one I hadn't ever heard of, have been lingering in my mind since reading them.
Red Beans and Rice was the dish this particular chef has "made his own". Anywhere from two to ten people find their way to his dinner table every Monday evening for this downhome southern comfort. Why? What is it about this dish that causes people to congregate at his home to eat it? Is it the food itself? Maybe, but I think perhaps it is more the comfort of the whole thing. Knowing that every Monday night supper will be the same delicious feast of comfort on a plate provides a source of security in an often crazy world.
Being a secret romantic, I can't overlook the complete romance of this issue. Nor can I resist looking at the meals I prepare regularly and wondering which, if any, could be considered "mine". I found one. However...it isn't nearly as exciting or downhome as Red Beans and Rice, pizza. Yes, pizza is my signature dish. The one meal that has been altered, modified, and over time, has become my own. It is a meal that we have for supper every Tuesday. I have tried different crust recipes and a variety of cooking techniques. Thick crust, thin crust, and deep dish have all been laid out on the table for eating. No matter what variation I try, homemade pizza is a comforting constant in our weekly supper menus. Our week just isn't complete without it. Pizza is such a constant that it is one of the first meals I teach my children to prepare.
Prior to reading this article I never would have considered our weekly Pizza comfort food. Now I see it is exactly that. The reality that it is simple, easy, and tasty is overlooked for the warmth and comfort of the constant it represents. What about you? What is your signature dish? Do you have one? I bet you do. All that is required is consistency and love. Perhaps the thought of extra people finding their way to your home each week, as does the chef from the article, doesn't cause warm fuzzies to rise within your breast. Maybe it strikes terror instead. That's ok. Personally, just the thought of being part of such love makes me smile. That's ok too.
No matter whether our cooking draws a crowd or simply warms those within our home, it's time to take ownership of our kitchens, to make them our own. The time has come to view our homemaking tasks as the sources of love and comfort that they are. I say it is high time for homemakers everywhere to get rid of the lie that screams loud, the one that says caring for our families in love is bondage. Let's kick out the lie that tells us it has to be extravagant,exotic, or perfect to count while we're at it.
Memories of loved ones that linger close and long are those from every day life. Our favorite dishes, the ones we enjoy most are those simple, homey recipes thrown together in the middle of real life. While life is being lived day after day, the hearts of our family and loved ones are being filled. If only we could see true. How different our homes would be. As for me and my house, I say it's time to see with the eyes of truth and start getting our groove on, in the kitchen too.


Lemon Curd Revisited As Orange

After trying another variation of the lemon curd recipe in an earlier post, I had to include the link containing the original recipe. What we tried was...substituting orange juice for the lemon juice and making orange curd. It. was. yummy. I did decrease the sugar significantly as orange juice is much sweeter than lemon. While the flavor was delicious, the texture was a bit curdly. Not certain why so may do a few more experiments to find out.

Also...just to let everyone know, the recipe we use for lemon curd is absolutely, by far, the very very easiest one I have found ANYWHERE. Seriously it is easy. Don't be afraid to try it out. If you aren't a fan of lemon, try it out with lime, orange, or any other citrus. Just increase or decrease sugar according to sweetness of fruit used. Oh yes! Curds freeze well, without a change in texture, for up to a year. That is a huge plus if making ahead for gifts. Taking advantage of sales, making, and placing in freezer until needed would be wonderful. Provided you can keep from eating it up before it makes it to the freezer.

Remember that citrus curd is for more than scones and bagels. It makes a delicious filling between layers of cake, filling for tarts, pastries, and much much more. Many people eat it right from the jar with a spoon too, if one can trust comments on blogs. Please do beware that lemon curd can also be addictive. You might get hooked.


School Stuff

Hi! Most of our school info. goes directly onto the homeschool website. For some reason it seemed like a good thing to write about today. If you aren't a homeschooler, this post probably won't interest you much, if at all. I apologize in advance. Chalk it up to postpartum mental meanderings if you want.

While behaving myself and "taking it easy" the past several days, I've been reading through a recently received homeschooling magazine. It is an annual edition and is taking me quite a while to get through. Even though the main reason getting through the magazine is the sheer size of it, I do have to confess that I can only read through so many artices before getting overwhelmed and quitting. There are too many new mama fuzzies in my noggin I guess. Largely in part because Victorious Man of God is still working on getting his days and nights straightened out.

Anyway, sorry for taking so long to get where we are going here. While reading through the magazine I came to realize a few things, encouraging things. I also came to understand that each and every homeschool has its own unique set of circumstances and experiences. Each of these circumstances and experiences might be of some value to someone else out there. So...I am going to share a few things our homeschool has learned along the way. Nothing earthshaking or shattering, just a few bits and pieces that might be of use for another.

  1. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Psalm 111:10
  2. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. Proverbs 4:7
  3. Focus on what is eternal and the temporal will come into line.
  4. There isn't any academic skill that can't be learned later. There are, however, many character traits that are best learned while young. This is NOT an excuse to ignore or neglect academic pursuits. It is for the sake of establishing priorities.
  5. Know from the first that noone else's homeschool will look exactly like yours. Neither will yours look exactly like anyone else's - at least it shouldn't as your family is uniquely your own.
  6. Education is a process. It's a marathon not a sprint. Know this from the first.
  7. All children are unique individuals and will learn in a uniquely individual way. Homeschooling allows each child to do this as few other methods of education can.
  8. The home can be clean, but it will take a lot of intentional planning and effort. Decide for certain how dirty you can be happy, how clean the house truly needs to be, and relax that standard significantly. This step is for those managers with perfectionistic ideals. If having a spotless home is truly necessary for you and/or your situation, then take a solid, realistic look at your days to decide what other activities can be removed to create time to maintain the home to spotless condition.
  9. One can't do everything.
  10. Something often/usually has to be eliminated in order to add something new.
  11. Every child is a genius at something. Find out what it is and aggressively build on that strength while gently strengthening and building up those areas that might be weaker.
  12. Love is not mamby pamby or wishy washy. It is solidly firm, strong, gentle, and kind, all at the same time. It embraces and enfolds rather than push and shove.
  13. For the mothers: You were your husband's wife before you were the children's mother and you will, God willing, be his wife when they have grown and left the home. Remember this and live accordingly. Your children will be blessed beyond description by living with a mother who loves their father.
  14. For fathers: the same as above except in reverse.
  15. Relax and be willing to learn in a new way. Try new methods and ideas. Keep trying until the most effective way is found.
Stopping now. There's a little someone needing his mama. I think there may be more "school" articles in the future.


Card Game Download - FREE!


Boy reading         I have a couple of links to free, printable downloads to pass on today. The first link is for a card game. After realizing that a large amount of children have no trouble remember Pokemon characters yet only about 50% of the same children are familiar with real life creatures, a card game using cards the same size as those of Pokemon cards was created to increase the learning of true, living creation. Each card can be downloaded and printed free of charge. Laminating the cards would further strengthen them. Rules of play are also included free of charge on the site. Another option is available for users to choose their own cards rather than using the preassembled deck. Even though our family enjoys nature fully and doesn't have the foggiest idea about anything Pokemon, I am still looking forward to using this game sometime during the next couple of years. Using games to learn is fun for the teacher too, not just the student. The second link takes you to the Homeschool Freebie of the Day website where you will find two links to free downloadable and printable Betsy McCall paper dolls. A number of years of the paper dolls are available.

Boy readingBoth the card game and the paper dolls would make excellent, economical gifts for birthdays, holidays, or even just because occasions. When printed out on sturdy white cardstock, they will survive repeated use. All of the downloads can be laminated if desired. Paper dolls and their clothes can also be printed out on magnetic paper if the user wishes. Magnets or hook and loop tape (aka Velcro) could also be attached to the back of the clothing if printed on cardstock. How much fun it would be for a child to find either the card game or some of the Betsy McCall dolls in his/her Easter basket on Ressurection Sunday. I'm certain there are Betsy McCall selections specifically featuring an Easter theme. Not only would these be fun gifts to receive, if one has a printer and cardstock, they would also be economical to give.


Children Reading


Still Surprising Us & A Couple of Reads to Provoke Us Towards Him

One week ago this very evening, Victorious Man of God surprised us still again! He decided that he should be born in the early hours of the following morning. Early, early Tuesday morning, one week ago, Victorious Man of God joined our family. Almost a week later, everyone is home and well. We went in for a checkup this morning and are now adjusting to each other for the month the doctor recommended we remain at home away from possible germs.

Even though all of us have only been home since Friday evening, God has already blessed me with a number of special memories to treasure. Memories such as Giggle sitting beside the baby seat coloring as the baby soundly slept. Also of Mighty Man of God so sweetly loving on his baby brother and looking down at him that first night so boldly proclaiming "Hey Bro!" Memories that make a mother's heart hum with contented blessings have been abounding this past week as older children have taken over the running of things and managed not only a household but two little siblings as My Beloved, Not of This World, and myself were with the baby in the hospital. Not of This World drove me to the larger hospital Victorious Man of God and My Beloved were at. What a blessing these children are every single day.

I know I have said it before. Be warned. I'll most likely say it again. I am one blessed mama. To God be the glory, great things He has done! Where is God? Right in the middle of the crazy and the hard. Right where He is needed most, there He is. Let's join the radical and give Him thanks. How Women Can Get Radical for Their Sisters is a must read for those who understand and live in the fire of Grace. Grace greater than our sin. Grace that abounds through Him. Grace for which we give thanks. Grace. All is Grace. Here is another read to spur us on closer to Him Letters To The Wounded.