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Family Dinnertime Fun

July 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around family mealtime. I loved gathering with everyone at Gramma’s house for dinner Sunday afternoon, and I love that our door was always open to anyone needing a meal.

Schedules are a lot different now than they were when I was growing up. We didn’t have as many after school activities. I was fortunate to sit down with my family almost every night for dinner at 6:00pm. I remember the laughter that took place around our old dining room table and I remember sneaking my lima beans to our dog laying at my feet under the table. (I still don’t like lima beans!) We ate better and we spent quality time together. We talked about our day and what we were looking forward to the next day.

As a widowed working mom, it hasn’t always been easy to sit down at the kitchen table every night but I try my best to make dinnertime a priority. According to statistics, eating dinner together as a family can have significant benefits. Children who eat with their families do better in school, develop healthier eating habits and are less likely to be overweight, have fewer eating disorders, have lower suicide rates, and are less at risk for drug and alcohol use. Stronger family bonds, mutual respect, and a general consideration for each other develops through family mealtime.

Here are some mealtime activities that will have everyone in the family looking forward to eating together. Give one or two a try. They are sure to create new, lasting memories and may start some new family traditions! They did for me!

  • Have a “picnic” in the living room. Spread a blanket or tablecloth out on the floor; use paper products or plastic picnicware; serve typical picnic food and add plastic ants for fun.
  • Eat by candlelight and/or use your fine china for an every day meal, not just on a special occasion.
  • Eat dinner backwards. Start with the dessert and end with the appetizer.
  • Each night at dinner, ask everyone at the table what was the most Christ-like thing they did that day, and what was the least Christ-like thing they did that day.
  • Let the kids set a unique table. They can make placemats, place cards, a centerpiece, napkin rings, etc. Let them choose a theme and really get creative!
  • Have everyone speak with an accent during the meal.
  • Put a selection of ingredients on the counter and have the whole family work together to make dinner using only those ingredients. To make things fair, have everyone choose a few of the items that will go on the counter.
  • Have family devotions during dinner.
  • Make a new mealtime tradition for a specific night of the week. Some ideas:  Taco Tuesday, Fondu Friday, Family “Date” Night (rent a movie and eat dinner together while you watch the movie), Breakfast for Dinner Night, or Dippy Dinner (everything you serve comes with a dip).
  • Have everyone assemble their own dinner by setting up everything you need for making pizzas, omelets, crepes, burritos, or stir-fry, etc. Each person prepares their own creation and then one family member (of appropriate age) is the chef.
  • Go around the table taking turns sharing where you saw God that day.
  • Have a pajama party. Everyone puts on their silliest pajamas, eats pizza in front of the fireplace, plays Twister, and then eats popcorn while sharing silly stories.
  • As a family, bring dinner to a shut-in and stay and share the meal together.
  • In the morning, select a country, state, city, etc. that has been in the news. Announce the location and then, at dinner, everyone shares what they have discovered about the location.
  • Place a jar or box of questions, topics, etc. on the table. Take turns each night pulling one out of the jar. Spend mealtime discussing what was chosen.
  • Have everyone bring an interesting vocabulary word to the table. See if anyone knows what the words mean. Try to “stump” each other.
  • Play a word game during dinner! Here are a few that will have everyone laughing:

Categories: Take turns saying a word in a chosen category (music, movies, food, ice cream flavors, names of candy, cities, etc.) or words beginning with the same letter. For example, if the category is music, take turns listing music-related words like “sing,” “note,” “drums,” “concert,” “song title,” etc.

Alphabet Game: In alphabetical order, take turns listing items that you would take with you on an imaginary trip to a silly location. Before listing an item, you have to repeat the intro sentence and all the previous items. For example, it’s your turn and the letter is “G.” You must say, “I am taking a trip to Timbuctu and I have to pack my suitcase. I will be bringing anchovies, batteries, cow, doorknob, envelopes, football, and a _____ (your “G” word). I have never made it all the way to “Z!”

Tell a “Chain Story.” One person begins to tell a creative story. After a couple of sentences, the story is “passed” to the person on the right who continues with a few sentences and then passes to the next person on the right… The result will be some very interesting, creative, and silly storytelling.

  • Have theme days:

Choose a color of the day. Everyone wears and eats only items of that color.

Food Item Day: Eat foods that are made from one food item. For example, if the food was an apple, you would eat, apples, dried apples, baked apples, apple pie, applesauce, candy apples, biscuits with apple butter or apple jelly, apple glazed chicken, etc., and drink apple juice and spiced hot apple cider.

Foreign Food Day: Choose one country and eat food from that region all day. For example, if you choose France, have Crépes Suzette or croissants for breakfast, Coq Au Vin for dinner, etc. You can turn this into a family educational experience by having each person research different things about the country to share during dinner. Younger kids can make props like drawing and coloring the countries’ flag.

Instead of choosing a country, make up your own! Together, decide where your country is located, what foods they would eat, what the weather is like, what is the standard mode of transportation, what their words are for certain items, what the houses look like, etc. Create a menu to go with your country and let everyone help with the preparations.

Make the most of family time around the kitchen table. When I think back on my childhood I don’t necessarily remember what I wore on the first day of school or what I got for my 10th birthday, but I so remember the sweet faces and giggles that filled our dinner hour. These memories will last a lifetime.



8 Ways to Engage Your Kids This Summer

June 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family

There’s just an air of relaxation that settles over everything once the kids are out of school. Our evenings become filled with dinners on the back porch followed by dripping popsicles rather than a rush of dinner, homework, bath, book, bed. The rush of the school year brings its wear and tear on my family, and we just don’t do well at a fast pace. The summer brings a welcome time of recuperation and with it a collective sigh…

The rest of the year is filled with other obligations, but the summer belongs to us. One of my goals this summer is to reacquaint myself with my kids. That may sound silly. I mean, I should know my little family pretty well, right? But the truth is, we all change. My daughter no longer really plays with toys, and her taste in books and music has evolved. My son, who has always been a huge Mama’s boy, has been seeking his own sort of independence over the past few months. They’re growing. If I don’t frequently reacquaint myself with the little people God is growing them into, I’ll miss out on really knowing my family.

With that thought in mind, I’ve dug around, stolen ideas from friends (I mean, borrowed upon their wisdom), and really thought about ways I want to engage with my kids this summer. Here are some of the things my husband, Josh, and I will be doing to get back to the basics of family time this summer.

  1. Look for free outdoor events.

Summer in Canada is always filled with opportunities to get outside and be in community with one another (after all, it’s such a short season!!). Several churches host free community outreach “fun days” or movies in the park, and many festivals don’t require admission (BuskerFest, NOKIA Bike Days along the Canal, Sound and Light Show on Parliament Hill (starting July 10th).

Join CHRI at the FREE Summer Splash listener appreciation event on June 23rd at Camp IAWAH. Beach activities, boat rides, archery, rock climbing, and more.

  1. Start your own book club.

Reading to my kids has always been one of my favorite pastimes as a mom. I’m a sucker nearly every time my son asks, “One more book?” Hey, it’s hard to get snuggle time with a rowdy 5-year-old. But even my preteen still enjoys this time each day, just the two of us.

Have your children pick a book they would like to read with you this summer (my son and I will be reading Charlotte’s Web). Read a passage or chapter and then let them share their thoughts on what happened with you. I’m always surprised by how insightful kids can be.

  1. Take regular family “staycations.”

Have your family take turns picking day trips. My daughter enjoys history, so we are marking a map for places where she can dive into our state’s past. My son is a dinosaur and animal fanatic. So this summer we are hitting up a local museum’s new dinosaur exhibit and visiting a nearby elephant sanctuary. We also have several hiking trails in our area we plan on trekking (when the weather isn’t 110 degrees with 90 percent humidity, that is).

  1. Passport2Purity®

I wish I had shared this experience with my daughter last summer, before she started middle school. No one wants to have “the talk,” right? Talking about sex is kind of awkward, for them and us. Have no fear, nervous parent. Instead of fumbling through your words, Passport2Purity guides you through the topics of peer pressure, puberty, sex, and dating over the course of an overnight trip, just the two of you. I’ve planned a short trip with my daughter just before schools starts in August. Thanks to planned activities and CDs that tackle the hard topics for me, I’m actually looking forward to having the talk with her. From one parent to another, do this one sooner rather than later.

  1. Passport2Identity™

We’ll actually be doing this one in a few years, but I couldn’t mention the above suggestion without recommending something for parents with kids older than mine. And if you are a parent of a teenager, you know raising them for adulthood isn’t for the faint of heart. Passport2Identity can help. Created in the same format as Passport2Purity, this FamilyLife resource leads you and your child through discussions that matter: what a godly man/woman looks like, making their faith their own, and determining what their calling in life is. Remembering back to my own teenage years (some time ago), I guarantee you this is a trip your teenager needs with you. Now.

  1. Grow a garden together.

To be honest, I am known as the killer of plants (I am hoping my kids take after my husband on this one). Even so, there are a few great lessons for your kids (and maybe you) to learn through gardening—hard work, responsibility, patience, and how good it feels to see some fruit be produced after a period of growing. And here’s a bonus: it’s easier for kids to open up when they don’t feel the pressure to talk. Sit quietly beside your child picking weeds out of the garden (or even filling up some containers with potting soil if you don’t have the ground space). Don’t play 20 questions or feel the need to fill the silence. Just sit, enjoy the company of your kids, and be open to listening when they have something to say.

  1. Set a family goal together.

Maybe you want your family to be more active. Or you just want to slow down so you can find more time together. Whatever it is, you have some dreams for your family. Chances are, your kids do, too. So have a powwow around the picnic table (my kids are far better participants if there are yummy snacks involved) in the backyard to discuss a family goal for the summer. Brainstorm some steps toward making that goal a reality. I’ve been thinking about this family goal thing a lot lately. Especially since this is the first time I have worked outside the home since the kids were born. One of my goals for my little family leads me to my final suggestion.

  1. Reclaim the Sabbath.

Confession time: I have turned Sunday into “catch up” day. Everything we don’t have time to do during the week is done on Sunday. Loads of laundry. Forgotten kids’ chores. Yard work. You name it. Sure, it feels good to get that stuff done, but in the process we’ve completely forgotten the purpose of a Sabbath. In Mark 2:27, Jesus told those nit-picking (my words, not His) Pharisees “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Just because we aren’t bound by Old Testament Sabbath laws anymore, doesn’t mean we should forget it altogether. It was made for our good. Our family’s good. So I am hoping to bring that good back into my family’s lives this summer. My steps to make this a reality? For starters, we’ll be dusting off those piles of family devotional books I purchased with hope we would actually finish. The Sabbath should not only be a time to rest but also a time to turn out hearts to the One who gives rest. Second, we will put down our devices for the day. Trust me, your soul (and your kids’) could use a break from social media and email.

Maybe you haven’t put much thought to summer yet,  but I’d wager your kids have. Plan a time to sit down and bounce ideas off them. How do they imagine this summer going? Maybe they have some personal goals they’d like to accomplish—mastering two wheels on a bike, perfecting that backhand on the court. Whatever you do this summer, engaging with your kids will never be time wasted. Remember, we only have a handful of summers with our kids before we launch them into the world. Make each one count.

Via: Family Life

7 Exciting One- Hour Road Trips From Ottawa

June 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family
These one-hour road trips will take you to fun and memorable places around Ottawa. If you want to stay overnight, you totally can! But these are easy enough that you can wake up and go, and come back before you’re too exhausted. Escape the city with these 7 exciting road trips. 

Calypso Theme Waterpark

Who doesn’t love a good waterpark? During the summer it’s the best place to be whether you go with family, friends, or your bae. The best thing about Calypso is that it’s not too far, but you still feel like you’re out of the city. If you think waterparks are for kids, once you’re at Calypso, you’ll totally change your mind. You can get a day pass or a season pass, and either way you won’t regret it!

Smokie Ridge Vineyard

This family owned vineyard is a perfect place to road trip to. All of their wines are to die for, and no matter who you go with you’ll find one wine that you’ll want to take home. They’ve had paint and wine nights in the past, and that’s the perfect summer night activity! You can go here for a birthday, a date, or just a celebration. 

Parc Omega

While we tend to see a ton of wildlife running around in Ottawa, it’s a lot more fun to go to a wildlife park and hang out with the cute animals. You can go on a car tour and feed the animals through the window, or get out of your car and hang out with them! From deer, to coyote, to moose, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to feed and pet the animals. 

(Mississippi Mills)

Almonte is one of the cutest towns in Ontario. Not only is a great to roam for the day, but the Mississippi River Falls makes you feel like you’re at a mini Niagara Falls. They don’t have the basics shops that you would see in a big city, but that’s what makes it so amazing. Make sure to eat at the Barley Mow where you’re right by the falls! 

Brockville Railway Tunnel

This stunning railway tunnel was Canada’s first railway tunnel. As of summer of 2017 and after a few years of construction, it opened to the public and now we can all see the beauty for ourselves. The lights on the side illuminate the entire tunnel which makes it so Instagram worthy. Check out this historic site for yourself!

Eagles Nest Lookout

If you haven’t hiked up this trail yet, then you’re missing out! This lookout point, which you’ll get to by a 4 mile hike, is so beautiful. The trail goes gradually uphill, but then stops at a 120 metre high cliff. If you’re afraid of heights, this is the perfect way to conquer it!

1000 Islands Cruise

I spent half of my childhood in Gananoque, so when people don’t see it as special, I get a little offended. The small town is actually one of the cutest spots, and if you find it boring, you can go on a boat tour of the 1000 Islands. You can find cute restaurants and cafes in Gananoque as well, and since it’s so close to home, you can make it a quick day trip!

Via: Narcity

How Satan Steals our Families

May 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Mom Exposing How Satan Steals Our Families Will Flip Your View of “Normal” Up. Side. DOWN.

This past year I read a book with my daughter called Little House in the Big Woods. You may be familiar with it. It’s the first book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it began the popular Little House on the Prairie series. I don’t recall reading it before, and as I read it to my 5-year-old, I think I enjoyed it even more than her. Something about the way the family lived, it intrigued me. I love my Internet tremendously, but the simplicity and closeness this family shared sounded really wonderful to me. The idea of working together for each other drew me into their little world. Many times as I read the pages aloud I yearned for such a time as the ones described.

I look around today and I wonder if we wouldn’t be better taking a step back in time where we could focus more on important matters, and less on trivial ones. I see the things around me that cause so much unneeded stress, and I truly believe that the principalities and powers of darkness wish to destroy what God has created. God favors families. He favors love, time together, and focus on cultivating those relationships. What I see today is in direct opposition of that, yet those things have developed slowly over time, so much so that we don’t even notice them deteriorating the fabric of family.

Our pre-teens and teenagers are so absorbed in their Snapchat and Instagram that they can’t even come up for air. Not that we notice. We’re buried in our Facebook newsfeed or hottest new game app.

The normalcy of public school education with its ever-increasing curriculum demands are swallowed like good medicine. The school year gets longer, testing increases, and hours of homework creep into the family time. So children that already spend 8-9 hours away from home are spending their evening hours doing more projects, reports, and extra credit assignments.

Mom and dad are too exhausted to help much. They’re tired because they’re putting in more hours. Dual working parents are the majority. And while the cost of living has definitely increased over time, I wonder how much of our “necessities” are truly that? We work more to be able to buy more, yet we hardly have time to enjoy all our purchases. We save all year long for a week-long vacation that leaves us exhausted and in need of a day off from our off days.

A lot of our hard-earned money is spent on activities. So. Many. Activities. We spend more time driving to activities, purchasing gear, costumes, and accessories for our activities, or working on our off days to raise funds for our activities. Activities where we watch other people teach, coach, and mentor our children. Is this the time together we’re craving? Makes you think.

If you had to sit down and add up how much quality time you spend alone with your spouse, what would it be? What about your children? And not time doing and going. Just time. Is it less time than you spend on your weekly commute to work?

It makes you wonder if divorce is more prominent today because it’s become socially more acceptable, or could it be because we’re spending less time enjoying the company of our spouse? Would children get in less trouble if they had a present parent/parents available to guide them? They say it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m wondering if we’ve taken that too far. Now we just want the village to take care of them. And then when our children fall down and fail we can have teachers, coaches, and the church to blame for their demise.

This is hard stuff to think about. It’s taking everything we’ve called “normal” over the past few decades or more and realizing that it’s actually destroying the family unit. Our kids are playing ball 3-5 times a week until 10 p.m., and the parents are working 60 hours a week to keep designer duds on the kiddos lest they get bullied for wearing WalMart brand clothing. Everyone has a TV in their room, a cellphone in their pocket, and a brand new car in the drive-way yet none of that will go to Heaven with us. We’re working very hard providing material possessions for our children when in all reality we should be on our knees with them leading them to a closer walk with Jesus. Eternal life is what we should want for our kids, not the best education money can buy. And while I’m all for giving them a bright future, I don’t want to give them the world if it forfeits their soul. When my grown children look back on life I want them to have memories of time well spent rather than spending all the time. I gotta work on this! I don’t have it all figured out either, but I’d like to think my eyes are open enough to see that Satan wishes to destroy us.

Satan wants us tired, worn thin, and stressed. He wants us in debt up to our eyeballs, and our health failing because we can’t sleep enough, eat right, or handle our stress effectively. He wants husbands and wives fighting over finances, disrespectful teens who learned how to treat their parents based off Nickelodeon sitcoms, and thousands of young children sexually abused by the adults we’re so quick to place our trust in. He wants us busy, but not productive. He wants our plates full, but our tank empty. He wants us looking to society for what’s best for our families, not God’s word as a lamp to our feet. He wants the family unit ripped apart, and many times I look around and see us letting him. We’re not even trying to take a stand.

I’d like to believe that it’s not too late. We can still fight to save our families. Perhaps it all comes down to stepping out in wisdom, courage, and truth for our family. In a world that’s so busy Keeping Up With the Kardashians, maybe it’s time to be a Little House on the Prairie. What do you think?

*Of note, this isn’t meant to offend anyone. It’s just meant to trigger thinking about it. I’m certainly a work in progress.

6 Questions for your child

April 1st, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family
Our kids are filled with a wealth of ideas, passions, views, and perceptions just waiting for someone to explore. It should be us, their parents, who blaze the first exploration. With genuine interest and the right questions, we can get them to open up their souls. Here are 6 good questions to ask your child.

  1. What would you do if you were me?

If you want to get your kids talking more, give them a voice in your life. This builds trust and lets them know that you value their thoughts and opinions. Next time you have a situation or decision that requires some thought, ask for their opinion. Calling them to a higher level of thought is an exercise in wisdom. You don’t need to heed their advice, but just asking will honor them.

  1. What do you think would make the world better?

First, you will get an idea of the things about the world they think are wrong. Be prepared, you may get a glimpse of some painful stuff that has happened to them you may not know. This is especially true if they start by eliminating something negative in the world. Second, it gives them a vision of the type of person they want to be. The follow-up question to this one is what do you think we can do to help make that happen?

  1. What do you love most?

We all end up as servants to what we love the most, and sometimes we even become a slave to it. Career, drugs, family, sex, money, relationships, power, self, fame, God; whatever you love the most you will serve. Naturally, the follow-up question is, is that thing/person worthy of your service and devotion? What does it produce? This line of questioning will get them thinking about the consequences (good and bad) of where they invest their heart. What should we love the most?

We all end up as servants to what we love the most, and sometimes we even become a slave to it.

  1. If you could describe yourself in three words, which words would you choose?

This is a good way to get an idea about how they view themselves. You will learn where they find their identity. Pay attention to whether those words are positive or negative. Follow up this question with why did you choose those words?

  1. How can I help you?

We can’t always assume we know what they want or need. It’s important to hear from them. Sometimes they know best what they need from us. What they need may even be a little space for them to explore, dare, and fail on their own.

  1. Why do you think your mother and I had kids?

The answer to this question is central to their origin and affects their sense of identity. The reason we had kids is to have someone to love. They were created in love. Their sense of identity is that they are loved. They need to know and understand that well or they will live with a hole in their lives.

Adopted from

Easter on Pinterest

March 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family

St. Patrick’s Day on Pinterest

March 2nd, 2018 | No Comments | Posted in Family