Taking Care of YOU When the Kids Go Off to School

Taking Care of YOU When the Kids Go Off to SchoolIf you felt a tug at your heart when the kids got on the bus, you are not alone. Some moms are sad by the quick passing of the summer months and the advancement in the years marked by kids in school. Others are thrilled to finally have a moment to themselves after a busy, fun-filled summer. Many of us have mixed emotions.

After weeks of preparing for the beginning of the school year for the children, make time to plan your fall. Will you participate in a Bible study, an exercise class, or an art class? Do you have projects you’d like to tackle? Take a moment to catch your breath. Find a quiet time to pray.

• Discern where God would like you to serve: school, church, community?
• What project has been on the back burner that can now be completed?
• Is there a friendship that needs attention?
• Do you have a hobby you’d like to experience or one you’d like to get back to doing?
• What book have you been waiting for the time to read?
• Is there a class you’ve been wanting to take?

Connect with friends who can encourage you in your faith, marriage, and parenting. (Here’s a post highlighting the benefits of girlfriends: Silver, Gold and 3:00 AM Girlfriends.) Find a mentor who can help you discern where God would like you to serve others. Strengthen your relationship with the Lord through the Bible and prayer. Start a Bible study with a friend or a small group. 

Most importantly, continue to learn. When kids see Mom continuing to educate herself, they see how important lifelong learning is for personal growth. (This applies to dads too!)

Many blessings for a beautiful school year!

Back to School for Little Ones

Back to School for Little OnesWe’ve covered our college, high school, and middle school kids. Now its time to get those little ones ready! Lori Wildenberg, my ministry partner and coauthor, and I have a lot of experience sending our preschool through college-age children out the door for the first day. Combining our knowledge with that of the 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team, you and your kids will be totally ready to go!

Here are posts from 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting and Faith First Parent to make the transition smooth. Choose the ones that meet your needs or read through them all to be completely prepared. 

7 Back to School Tips by Lori Wildenberg
Seven helpful and thoughtful tips from a seasoned mom of four to get the year off to a good start.

A Strategic Start to the School Year by Becky Danielson
Get organized! From the calendar to backpacks and meals, this post will help you prepare.

Securing School Supplies by Megan Stone
Choosing the right supplies for each age group of students.

I Want My Mommy by Becky Danielson
A variety of tactics and tips to use if your little one is struggling with separation anxiety.

Back to School Remnant by Kirk Weaver
Helping children make good decisions in regard to protect hearts and minds.

Fuel Up with a Healthy Lunch by Becky Danielson
Ideas for fun and flavorful brown bag lunches.

School Bells are Ringing by J.L. Martin
Practical tips in how dads can be involved at school.

If you haven’t subscribed to 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, do it by August 22 to receive the FREE 1C13P Back to School Tips from the 1C13P Team!

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns,
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

Matthew 6:25-27

If you have specific questions regarding back to school, let me know. I would be happy to help you!

Getting Kids Ready for Middle & High School

Getting Kids Ready for Middle & High SchoolA middle school or high school student may act like an old hand at the “back to school” drill. And maybe he is if he’s returning to the same school. But for many of our children, it’s going to be a whole new experience. Fun and scary all in one.

For tweens, moving to middle school from the security of elementary school can be exciting and overwhelming. The same goes for students entering high school for the first time. Being thrown into a new environment, apart from what is routine and comfortable can be challenging. When the familiar is left behind, both excitement and anxiety increase.

The physical environment of middle and high schools is generally different from the comfort of elementary school. Navigating crowded hallways with older, bigger kids can be intimidating. Moving to multiple classes with a variety of teachers and the increased amount and difficulty of homework can be challenging for many tweens and teens. Have reasonable expectations for your child. Help him set attainable goals. Keep in mind a student’s junior year of high school tends to be the most stressful with a heavy academic load, ACT/SAT exams, and college visits on the horizon. 

And then there’s the fact that the tween/teen brain continues to develop. Rational thought and impulse control areas are not yet fully developed,which can result in high-risk behaviors. Open communication with kids helps. Have dinner together as a family to talk about the day, friends, classes, successes, and challenges.

Often a tween’s peer group begins to change throughout middle and high school too. Differing interests, classes, and more kids to become friends with are a few of the reasons. Discuss the opportunities for new friendships. Encourage you child to just be himself. He will find friends. Once he does, get to know the friends. Be the house the kids choose to hang out at most often. Always have food and beverages on hand to feed hungry tweens and teens. With your child, have ongoing candid conversations about drugs, alcohol, and sex. State your expectations. Be watchful. Even the most diligent parents can be caught unaware. Keep home a safe haven with open arms and unconditional love.

Try these additional tips to make the transition easier for your tweens, teens, and you!

Tips to Transitioning into Middle & High School
• Attend the Open House. Encourage students to get to know the staff. Introduce yourself to the teachers and administrators too.
• Get the student’s schedule prior to the first day of class. Allow time to walk the halls to find classrooms and the cafeteria. A map of the school is helpful to determine the fastest route between classes. Locate restrooms, the locker room, the main office, and the health office.
• Find the child’s locker and try the lock several times.
• Read newsletters and other school communication. Keep the website, phone numbers, and email addresses for teachers handy for your child.
• Help your child create a homework routine and a space to do homework. Keep necessary items in close proximity.
• Make sure your child is getting enough rest and eating healthy meals.
• Pray with and for your child to be confident in the transition whether it’s to a new school or back to the same building. There are bound to be challenges either way. We cannot go with them, but we know Who will! 

…fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

How have you helped your children navigate the transition to middle or high school?

College Kids & Campus Life

College Kids & Campus LifeDriving away from the dorm was not the soppy, tearful event I thought it would be when Scott and I left our oldest son at school last fall. Throughout the day he’d look at me, smile, and ask, “You okay Mom?” I was..really I was. For me, it was a whole lot easier than the kindergarten bus! Later that month it hit me. That’s when homesickness hit him too.

As parents we spend 18 years preparing our kids to launch from the nest. Some take a short leap to work or higher education while living at home. Others vault out of the home to a college or university campus, the military, or a service learning opportunity. Regardless, it’s change for the parent and the child.

Preparing kids to be independent begins at birth. There’s a reason why little children love the word “No” and run soon after they learn to walk. “I can do it by myself,” becomes a common phrase. The goal is to move from dependence on Mom and Dad to independence to dependence of God. 

Getting the College Freshman Ready

• Pray with and for your child: friendships, roommates, purity, discernment, work ethic, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being

• Consider College Boot Camp. Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc. offers a great preparatory camp for students. Click HERE for more information.

• Packing early and thoughtfully makes life a whole lot easier. Include a first aid kit for minor injuries and illnesses, medications, sewing kit, iron/compact ironing board, alarm clock, and desk lamp. Linens such as bedding, towels, and a rug for the floor. Clothing for just the season. (Not many dorm rooms have the space for summer and winter wardrobes.) Stationary and stamps to say thank you for care packages. Grandma is likely to mail another package if her efforts are appreciated. A microwave, coffee maker, and refrigerator are nice to have as well. And don’t forget a power strip! Include a Bible, a devotional, and uplifting posters for encouragement.

• School Supplies A planner is mandatory. Choose what was used in high school and works for the student. Purchase pencils, pens, notebooks, and a calculator. Textbooks will be available at the school bookstore, including codes for online books and resources. Electronics such as a laptop will be a necessity too. Discuss the pros and cons of a printer.  Many schools have printers available for student use with a prepaid card. This is a good option as other students will not be stopping by to print homework and papers in your child’s room, at all hours.

• Have your child check to see if all forms have been filled out and turned in. Discuss the option of having access to online grades. Some families find this helpful to keep the student accountable. Others would rather have the student be completely responsible. Signing a release for medical records is helpful if there is a medical emergency. Talk about banking needs too. Will you have access to the account? Will tuition be directly deposited? 

Be excited for your child! It’s a big step to move into the next chapter of life. Encourage him, just like when he started preschool. Your confidence in his abilities will help bolster his confidence and calm his heart. And that’s a winning combination.

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you;
he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 31:8


Poison SafetyLittle kids are naturally curious. To learn, they use all five senses which can be problematic when they ingest something harmful. Knowing possible risks will help to keep your children safe from accidents involving poisonous substances.

Accidental poisoning happens and it happens quickly. It’s good to be aware of threats as ninety percent of all poisonings occur at home. Poisons can be inhaled, swallowed, or splattered on the skin or eyes. Children under five-years-old are at the highest risk.

Tips to Keep Kids Safe from Poison

• Choose only non-toxic plants for indoor and outdoor use.

• Keep all prescription and over the counter drugs locked away to prevent accidental ingestion. Childproof bottles are not always kid proof.

• Carefully dispense prescription and other medications, including vitamins.

• Place all household cleaners, including laundry detergent, bleach, and dishwasher detergent, on high shelves out of reach for young children.

• Childproof cabinets especially if your little ones are climbers.

• Keep cosmetics put away. Even the bath salts on the side of the tub can be a danger for small children.

• When visiting other’s homes, keep a close eye on your children. Substances may be in easy reach and not typical (pool chemicals, medications, etc.).

• Moms, check your purse for possible risks.

If in doubt, always assume the child has been exposed to a poison. Children are curious. They get into things even if the substance smells bad. The natural instinct is to get the substance out of the child but don’t induce vomiting unless directed by a healthcare professional.

Call the American Association of Poison Control Centers Hotline at 1-800-222-1222 with questions. Post the number in a handy location and put it in the contact list on your phone. Take the time to visit the AAPCC website for more information.

Their homes are safe and free from fear…
Job 21:9

Kids and Cell Phones

Kids and Cell PhonesA commonly asked question in parenting classes is, “When can a child have a cell phone?” The question is often followed by, “He tells me all his friends have one.”

Not all kids have cell phones. And there’s no perfect age. It’s a privilege, not a right.

Middle school and high school kids are the typical age group using cell phones. When Mom and Dad are no longer transporting or attending every event with the child, a cell phone is a practical tool. Parents need to determine the child’s maturity level, ability to be responsible, and the need to have a cell phone.

I recommend having a child make a pitch as to why he is ready and a cell phone is necessary. Have the child do the research as to the type of phone, features, available plans (provide the name of your carrier if adding onto an existing plan), his plan to take care of and use the phone responsibly, and why he thinks he actually needs a cell phone. Ask him to include overage charges, cost of adding another line to the existing service, or insurance for lost or broken cellular devices.

Use the child’s list and add your own pros and cons. The pros could be convenience, quick contact in emergencies, security as family members are a text or call away, and the added peace with teen drivers or kids out with friends. The cons could include disrupted sleep patterns, distraction of calls while driving (same level of distraction as intoxicated drivers), possibility of texting while driving, and potential radiation hazard. Unlimited Internet access and location sharing features are potential risks too.

If the discussion goes well and you think your child is responsible, start with a basic phone. Kids don’t need Internet access, apps, or a camera on their first phone. Think of the cell phone as a tool, not a toy. Kids can work up to a smartphone.

A cell phone contract is a helpful agreement. Remind your child, every family is different. The best buddy’s rules may differ from the rules you set. That’s okay! If your child wants a phone, he needs to follow the rules. Set limits and enforce them. Here’s a list of considerations when determining safety rules for your child’s cell phone use.

Safety Rule Considerations
• Mom and Dad’s texts and calls are answered immediately.
• Texting or taking calls from unknown numbers is not allowed.
• No phone use during mealtime, while driving, or when doing homework.
• Cell phone is charged in parent’s bedroom. (Determine what time it needs to be in the charging station every night.)
• Use the safeguards on the phone. Parents can create a password to restrict the use of features on cell phones, allowing only what’s appropriate for the child.
• For teens, if social media is part of the plan, join in on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other sites. Have access to the passwords to check the child’s accounts if you have concerns. Keep open lines of communication. (Click HERE the Internet Safety post from last week.)
• Establish appropriate phone etiquette. Talk about what to photograph (and what NOT to photograph), as well as what to share with others. Photos and text messages need to be respectful. A good rule of thumb is “If you wouldn’t want Grandma to read the text or see the photo, don’t send it.”
• If the phone has app capabilities, download a Bible app. It’s great to have the Word of God in hand, literally!

As always, set a good example in how you use your cell phone. Stay off the phone while driving, during family time, and meals. Turn it off when your kids want to talk or spend time with you. It’s a tool, use it to keep track of one another, share events, and messages.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger,
but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4 ESV

How did you determine your child was ready to have a cell phone? What additional rules do you have for your kids in regard to cell phone use?

Kid Safety on the World Wide Web

Kid Safety on the World Wide Web“Mom, my throat really hurts. I’m going to google Caribbean Passion to get a recipe for a smoothie.” His favorite smoothie shop made a tropical sensation with mangos, bananas, kiwis, and strawberries aptly named Caribbean Passion.

“Sure, sounds like a great idea.” As soon as the words were out, I realized my mistake. “WAIT! Add ‘smoothie’ in the search box.” I quickly joined my then 11-year-old at the computer. A conversation with a friend had come back to me. She had been investigating venues with rock climbing walls for her daughter’s birthday party. The search was going well until she entered Dick’s in the search box for the local sporting goods store and up popped a number of porn sites. Not at all what she expected!

Keeping kids safe in a technology driven culture is daunting. Computers, tablets, and smartphones make virtually anything available. The world is just a click away. Here are a few ideas to guide you along the way.

Open communication. Talk to your kids about what’s appropriate and what’s inappropriate online. Respect is key, for others and themselves. My line with the boys has been, “If you wouldn’t want Grandma or me to see it or read it, don’t post it.”
Keep the conversations going as your children mature and begin to use the Internet academically and socially. Sexting and sharing drug, tabbaco, and alcohol related photos is common. What’s posted online is forever.

Keep the computer in a common area, kitchen or family room. Place the screen facing out so adults can monitor what sites kids are visiting and what is being posted. Security software is helpful, but Mom and Dad are the best to keep track of Internet travels.
Know the passwords for your children’s accounts and help them with the privacy settings. Coach kids to NEVER share passwords or personal information including age, birthdate, address, and phone numbers online.

Post a copy of Philippians 4:8. The verse on the computer screen will remind family members to visit wholesome sites.  Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

Be a good role model in what you post, share, and watch online. 

If your child is participating in social media, join in. Friend him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram. Learn about social media. Click here for a link to one of the most comprehensive articles I’ve read on the subject of social media. The blog post includes good questions to ask kids and a list of specific sites and apps to be aware of for high risk online. The information is geared for teens and young adults, but is helpful for all ages. Continue the conversation with a discussion about faith and values. How can the love of God be shared through a Facebook account?

Eric and I sat down at the computer that day and found a number of terrific smoothie recipes, and only recipes, to sooth his sore throat. There weren’t any embarrassing surprises!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 
Philippians 4:8

Keeping Them Safe

Keep Them Safe“You can’t keep them safe, so you have to get them ready.”

My ministry partner and co-author, Lori Wildenberg, shared words of wisdom with me a number of years ago when my kids were young. She knows I would have preferred to encase my boys in bubble wrap at that time. Now, as teenagers, that’s not even an option. (Like it ever was a viable option!)

Getting kids ready means training and teaching what they need to know to make wise choices. It’s the combination of wisdom, knowledge, and experience. We want our kids to make good decisions when no one else is watching. We also want our kids to be like Jesus, growing wiser and stronger as they mature. Here are a few guidelines for assisting kids in the process.

Helping kids grow in maturity and wisdom.
• Allow children to fail while they are still living at home.
• Keep them accountable for choices.
• Following through with consequences.
• Listen more, talk less.
• Trust God. He loves our kids even more than we do.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and man.

Luke 2:52

This month we’ll delve into how to keep our little ones and not so little ones safe and more importantly, how to get them ready. I’ve listed a few links below for past posts on the topic of safety.

Related Posts
Hot Tips for Fire Safety
No Helmet, No Wheels
Water Safety for Kids
Preparing for the Unexpected


Independence Day Bars

Rocky RoadSweeten up the Fourth of July celebration with your family. This brownie recipe is sure to please everyone at the party!

Raspberry Rocky Road Bars
1 package brownie mix
(package ingredients)
1 1/2 C chopped pecans or walnuts
3 1/2 C mini marshmallows

Mix brownies according to the instructions on the box. Add nuts. Pour into greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. (Check with a knife or toothpick.) Remove from oven and cover warm brownies with marshmallows. Set aside. Prepare frosting.

Chocolate Frosting
1 C butter
2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/3 C milk
1-2 Tbsp cream
3 1/2 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
fresh raspberries
mint leaves

Melt the chocolate over low heat. Add butter and milk. Stir together until combined.
Place powdered sugar in a mixing bowl. Pour chocolate mixture into bowl. Mix until combined. Add vanilla, mixing on medium until smooth. Add cream by the teaspoon until the frosting is at the desired consistency.
Spread over warm brownies and marshmallows. Allow to cool. Cut into squares. Place a mint leaf and a few raspberries on each brownie.

Tip: Cut brownies with a plastic knife. My sister-in-law taught me this trick. It works!

Parent Tip
Let the children decorate the bars with mini American flags. They can serve guests dessert.




Potatoes…on the Grill

Potatoes on the GrillOne of my family’s favorite side dishes to accompany pork chops or steaks when cooking on the grill is this potato recipe. The ingredients are simple. The preparation is a breeze. The taste is terrific. I hope you and your family enjoy the recipe too!

Potatoes on the Grill
6-8 large Yukon Gold potatoes
1 large sweet onion
4 Tbsp butter
salt and pepper
heavy duty foil
cooking spray

Wash the potatoes and cut into bite-size chunks. Do the same with the onion. Prepare a sheet of heavy duty foil, doubled, by spraying with cooking spray. Place potatoes and onion on the foil. Distribute chunks of butter over the vegetables. Add salt and pepper.
Gather the edges of the foil together and seal tightly. Place on grill 20-30 minutes prior to grilling meat.
Open the foil package carefully! I either pour the potatoes into a bowl or just transfer the entire foil package to a tray and serve out of the foil for a super casual meal.
Options: Add bacon crumbles or garlic cloves.

Parent Tip
For a picnic outdoors, have the kids make dinnerware sets for everyone. Use a Mason jar for each guest. Add a napkin, silverware, and a straw. Place one setting at each place at the table. Once dinner is served, use the jars as drinking glasses for lemonade, iced tea, or milk. (NOTE: Not for little ones as the jars are glass and can break!)

If you’re looking for a new marinade recipe, please check out Tonja’s Table. Tonja is a friend, 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting team member, and a fabulous cook!