2018 TOP 7 GIFTS FOR KIDS Christmas List! (No batteries) Plus Quiet Time Caddies!

We have a rule in our home for gifts for our kids: no batteries. It’s been tough sometimes but I feel like I have perfected our Christmas shopping with no batteries involved!

Here is what I bought THIS year for my kiddos to help keep them off screens and using their imaginations! Oh! And we have simplified toys….AGAIN. The boys are basically down to hot wheels with non-battery tracks and legos. The girls are down to dolls and legos. Both of them have their quiet time caddies that I will discuss in this post as well! Just click on the underlined words below to go to a link to find these great gift ideas!

1. Legos. Duh.

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Johnny created his own lego golf cart for his grandfather 🙂

Come on. I mean who doesn’t buy these? I know. But still! These are a continual go-to for my boys. Pricey? Yes. Worth it? Yes. My boys like to have building competitions and my 2 year old even plays with them. It takes some training to get them to not put them in their mouths but it can be done. I often am the judge of who has the most unique lego creation!

2. LAMPLIGHTER!! Have you discovered lamplighter yet? Oh man, a new fave around here. My kids have listened to hours of these and often while using their quiet time caddies! We love Teddy’s Button the most! Right now I am reading Jack the Courageous to the kids during lunch time and they love it! I also got each of the big kids an illustrated book that I am sure they will enjoy. 

3. Hot wheels. My kids love to make up tracks and play with them and trade the cars. Lots of fun for big and little kids. Be sure to buy the tracks that don’t have batteries!

4. Water paint! My littles love to paint! And water-coloring is super safe/clean and fun…and cheap 🙂

5. SCOOTERS! We enjoy these outside and INSIDE. This one is for my 2 year old 🙂

6. QUIET TIME CADDY GOODIES!! What are these all about?? I love these with all my heart…ok, that’s an exaggeration, but they have been great in our home! When it’s chaotic and I am tempted to tell the kids to watch something I say: “Grab your caddy and pick a couch!”

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Chloe on the left is 3 and the pic on the right is my daughter Rhea who is 11 working with a book from her sister’s caddy (Charis, who is 5)

First you have to get containers like these. Mine are slightly bigger than these though because I have some big coloring books we like to add!

What’s Inside:
Fidget Spinners
Fidget Cubes
Colored Pencils (We have a new no pen rule in the home…sick of it being written all over except on paper!)
Coloring Books 
With these cool Colored Pencil holders!!
These great journals!
Riddle Books are also fun!!

7. GAMES AND PUZZLES! It is so fun to have older kids who like to play games. Here are some of our faves:
Qwirkle
Othello
Rummikub
Chess

That’s it!! What has your 2018 shopping list looked like?? What are some of your go-to toys you like to get??

*this post contains affilate links.

You Can’t Save Your Children

My husband prays EVERY night for the salvation of our children. Is there really anything more important for us to pray as parents? I think not.

But we can’t save them.

We can’t reach into their hearts and cram the gospel in there and make it grow.

We can’t homeschool them as a guarantee that they will receive Christ and follow Him faithfully. (Look at Cain and Abel. The first homeschooled children…one followed faithfully and one brutally murdered his brother.)

We can’t force them into the Kingdom of God.

We can’t coerce them or beg them to be born again.

We can’t make promises that if they say the sinner’s prayer they will never have to fear hell.

We can’t create genuine conviction and repentance in the hearts of our children.

What can we do? 

We can pray with and for them.

We can be transparent with them and authentic in our faith sharing our own failings and weaknesses.

We can share the gospel with them over and over and over.

We can faithfully open the Word of God with them every day teaching them and instructing them.

We can and should do a lot of things. But we can’t save our children. 

Love, Katie

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” John 3:3

 

3 Opportune Times To Share The Gospel With Your Kids

#1 When they tell you all the good stuff they did that day.

The other day one of my littles came to me and said: “Today I did extra chores. I cleaned the downstairs without you asking and I gave my toy to my sister.” This child is one of those kiddos that really wants to please mommy and daddy. Which may sound like a good thing, and it is a good thing, but it can also lead to wanting to please peers later. I have heard some of the most rebellious children were the most compliant growing up.

Anyway, when this child shared this with me I asked: “Did you ask Jesus to help you do any of those things?” She looked at me with a peculiar face and said: “No.”

I explained that in life we will be called to do many good things and that without Jesus’ help we will become really weary. We need His help to do the many good works He has called us to. He died for us not only to be there for the next life but for this life as well. He wants to be the vine and us the branches right now!

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Eph. 2:10

The key part to that verse is: IN CHRIST JESUS. We must be abiding in Him in order to do the good works He has called us to.

Explaining this to our little people is so important. Good works are good, but apart from Christ they mean nothing. Our good works are like filthy rags apart from the work of the Spirit in our lives. Our children need to understand that they are doing their good works as unto the Lord while also recognizing that those good works are not what makes them righteous. It is their position in Christ that makes them righteous.

#2 When they mess up.

This is probably our most opportune time to be sharing the gospel with our children. It’s also the most opportune time to remind ourselves of the gospel.
When our children mess up we need to be an encouragement to them (unless they are in a prideful/rebellious state of mind in which we need to remind them more of the wrath of God rather than the grace of God so they do not sin more, read Romans 6:1). But usually our children are broken over their mistakes. We need to remind them during these times that that is why Christ came. Remind them that if we were perfect and could earn our way to heaven then He certainly died in vain.

#3 When they talk badly about others.

When anyone talks badly about others it is always from a place of pride. Pride comes before a fall and blocks us from seeing the cross accurately. The cross says: “You are all sinners in need of a Savior. You all fall short.” Reminding our children when they talk bad about others that they are no better than them helps them to see the cross more clearly and understand their sinfulness in a truer light. Hopefully we are setting a good example for our children in this and speaking well of others or not speaking of them at all. At the foot of the cross we are all wretched sinners in need of a Savior.

*Feel free to share in the comments the most opportune times in your home that you share the gospel with your children!

Hope to see you Mother’s Day Weekend at the upcoming marriage conference my husband and I are putting on! Great way to spend mother’s day-a night away investing in your marriage.

 

 

Forget About Your Child’s Self-Esteem

There has never been a time in history where self-esteem has been more of a focus. You can’t walk through an elementary school hallway or enter a psychologist’s office without hearing about the importance of our children having self-esteem.

I say it’s not working. In fact, I think it is making things worse! Focusing on ourselves was never our Designer’s plan! Focusing on ourselves only leads us into a downward spiral! 

Suicide rates have been climbing amongst teens despite all the world’s efforts to raise self-esteem. In an article by NPR they said: “There is one age group that really stands out — girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Though they make up a very small portion of the total suicides, the rate in that group jumped the most — it experienced the largest percent increase, tripling over 15 years from 0.5 to 1.7 per 100,000 people.”

These poor girls. They aren’t being pointed toward a God who loves them and sent His Son to die for them, they are being pointed toward a mirror and told they are beautiful and that they need to love themselves. That doesn’t work because we were made for a much greater love. We were made to direct our love and worship toward the Creator of the universe, not toward ourselves. In other words, self-esteem is really turning into a form of idol worship giving the praise and focus to the wrong person. 

Our children don’t need more self-esteem, that is an endless, vain pursuit. We were never meant to esteem ourselves but to esteem Christ.

You won’t find in the bible a verse that exhorts us to love ourselves. You will find God exhorting us to love others as we love ourselves because we already have loving ourselves down. We think about ourselves plenty.
Children are being pointed in the wrong direction and more confused and depressed than ever before. Worrying about their self-esteem is only plummeting them into deeper depression and insecurity because their identity is to be in Christ.
They are being taught to fix their gaze on themselves rather than their Maker who is the only One that can satisfy their pursuit of being fulfilled anyway.

May we repent of encouraging our children to be confident in themselves and help them place their confidence in the One that will never let them down!

Am I saying you can never say an encouraging word to your child? No. But I feel like the emphasis is in the wrong place when it comes to raising our children. The focal point of our hearts and minds is to be on Christ. If you want to encourage your children while making sure that their confidence is in Christ alone then go for it!

Love, Katie

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Gal. 2:20
 

“fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” Hebrews 12:2

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-10

3 Things I Do To Make The House Run More Smoothly

So many things to do. So many ways to do them. Here are three ways I do things to make our house with 6 children 10 and under run more smoothly.

1. Set a timer. I love my little black and white timer. We have a schedule that is blocked out in 30 minute increments. We set the timer at the beginning of each 30 min. time increment and the kiddos go to their name to see what they are supposed to do during that block of time. One of my biggest tips that involves the timer is what I call: “12 item pick up!” Every time the timer goes off the kids know they need to run around and pick up 12 items. This has changed recently though. I have my 3 year old only pick up 5 things and my 9 year old checks laundry (making sure no rooms have dirty laundry in them, if they do he brings it to the laundry room. He also switches the laundry over and brings clean dry laundry out to living room where I or my 7 year old sorts it and puts it in the right room). This helps in the upkeep of the house SO MUCH.

This is the timer I have. Only $5!

This is what my daily schedule looks like. Super blurry pic but just wanted to give you a glimpse:

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Here is the book I used to make up this schedule. I HIGHLY recommend it!

2. Subscribe and Save. I LOVE THIS! We hardly ever run out of: paper towels, paper plates, toilet paper etc. And I get an additional 15% off of the already low price!

Here are two tips in doing subscribe and save:
1) Make sure you check them every time you get an email from amazon saying: “Review Your Monthly Subscription Delivery”. Many people ignore this and get frustrated when the toilet paper shows up at their door and they have no place to put it because they have so much toilet paper already from the last delivery.
2) Be accurate in how often you receive the item. If you really only use some item every 3 months make sure your delivery button isn’t activated for a delivery every month. Make sense?

Here are some of my subscribe and save items:

3. Jurisdictions. Major game changer. I felt like my days were consisting of arguing over who did what. So I assigned each child (except for my 1 year old) a jurisdiction that they were responsible for every day. No, I don’t have a spinny wheel to spin and get a chore. I don’t “change it up” and have them do a different one each month to make it fair. Life isn’t fair and I am sure in the future my children will have to do the same things day in and out because that’s how life is and so, they have the same jurisdiction every day.

jurisdictions

Ricky, age 9, has the dining room every day. Johnny, age 7, has the living room every day (and because the laundry gets dumped on the couches when clean, he also sorts the laundry and puts it in the correct rooms). Rhea, age 10, has the kitchen every day. Chloe, age 3, unloads the dishwasher every day. Charis, age 5, cleans the girl’s room (including putting all the clothes away) every day. Throughout the day I will say: “Jurisdictions everyone!” There is no confusion. They all know what that means 🙂 We automatically do them after every meal and before bed.

Love, Katie

Be sure to check out my husband’s books! Both 5 stars on Amazon!

 

Why Am I the Weird One?!

I am pregnant with baby number 7. Most people think that’s weird. In fact, someone asked my brother the other day: “Why would she do that?!” As if I had committed some terrible crime or something…Others have commented about how I “did this to myself” as if being pregnant with my precious child was the worst choice I could make. It’s one thing when the world has this attitude but it’s a whole other thing when believers have this sort of attitude. I always want to respond with: “Wait? Don’t you believe God is the Author of life? Don’t you believe He is the one knitting together this little baby in my womb?” Sometimes I think of saying: “Ok, let’s line my kiddos up and you tell me which ones we should get rid of.”

In our culture it is weird to have what God designed as normal.

Normal Katie?! Yes. Normal. Most women were designed to carry a number of children during their childbearing years. This isn’t always 15 kids either. I have a couple friends that surrendered their wombs to the Lord and only had 2. It’s not about the number. It’s about seeing fertility as a normal part of life. I understand that some women are not fertile and would do anything to even have one child. I also understand that there are life-threatening circumstances for very few women that inhibit them from being pregnant.

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Why isn’t it weird that people go to the doctor and tell him to cut or tie a part of their bodies that is functioning exactly the way it was designed to function? Can you imagine going to the Dr. and saying: “Hey Doc, could you cut my kidney out?” Doc: “What’s wrong with it?” You: “Nothing, I just don’t want to use that one anymore.” Not going to happen because your kidney is doing what it’s supposed to do, just as our parts that make us fertile are doing what they are supposed to do.

I do not judge those who choose to cut and tie. As you know, we did that at one point but reversed our decision . My point is not to judge but maybe get people to think: “hmmmm, she’s not weird. She’s normal. Having babies is normal.” And then maybe people can be happy for me and our family that God is choosing to grow another little one in my womb rather than treating me like I am so strange.

It’s not strange that a woman has babies into her early forties. It’s not weird that a woman carries 10-12 or more or less children in her womb over a lifetime. It’s not weird for a woman to have a little one while also getting to have her first grandchild. That’s normal. Don’t let the culture dictate what’s normal or good or better or best. Let God’s Word determine that.

It’s hard to have big families. It’s sacrificial. But it’s not weird. No where in the bible will you find that hard and sacrificial are bad. In fact, hard and sacrificial are recommended in the bible.

No matter our family size, may we encourage one another rather than making the other feel less than or inferior or stupid and may we look at large families as normal.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!”
Psalm 127:3-5

 

 

Dear Mama Of All Littles

It’s hard isn’t it? Like really, really hard?

My husband and I got married in August and I found out I was pregnant in October with our first baby. I was super excited and super clueless as to what that really meant.

Scott and I began our marriage with the conviction to let God lead in our family planning but little did we know that I would be super sick with a condition called hyperemesis which basically means you throw up throughout your entire pregnancy. I was hospitalized with the first ones and given IV fluids. Even though it was really tough we continued to let God lead in family planning and I found out I was pregnant with our second child when our first was nine months old.

I was terribly sick again but continued to meditate and focus on verses about laying my life down for those that I love. And the one about how unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it does not produce life. Unfortunately for me pregnancy does feel like dying but it also brings forth beautiful life.

I remember throwing up in my bathroom with my 10-month-old baby, Rhea, sitting next to me crying and me looking at her in the eyes in between puking sessions telling her I loved her and trying to keep a smile on my face.

I got pregnant again when my second child was nine months old. I was obviously terrified. I got through those next nine months lying on the couch and delivered our wonderful third child, Johnny, on June 17th 2010, seven days after my mother’s death.

I had three children three and under and I was dealing with the grief of my mother dying from a heart attack. Not an easy time. Continue reading Dear Mama Of All Littles