Thursday, October 30, 2008

Be fruitful and multiply

I love houseplants for so many reasons. The color and life added to a room. Their purifying effects as they help remove toxins present in the home (especially old ones--like ours :). The oxygen they diffuse into the air.

But since money doesn't grow on said houseplants, my goal is to multiply the ones I have, rather than buy more.
The lovely plant on the left was given to us for our wedding and thrived despite my attention (or lack thereof). As it has grown, I've begun taking clippings and placing them in water in the kitchen window. After a few weeks, new roots sprout and another plant is ready to brighten a room or give away.

One thing that has really helped them thrive is miracle-gro sticks (around $1 for 25 at Wal-mart). Just place one in the soil every other month and it feeds the plant simply and cheaply. Thanks, Crystal!

Now, if I could just figure out how to keep an aloe vera plant alive...

Check out other frugal ideas here

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Talisman: Book Review

Sir Walter Scott's own biographer did not hesitate to point out that some of his books were, well, awful, claiming that The Betrothal "would score high marks in a competition to decide which was the dreariest and stupidest book ever produced by a writer of genius."

However, the sequel to said dreary book was delightfully entertaining. And, thanks to Librivox, it kept me company through many a stack of dishes.

Set in the tumultuous and chivalrous days of King Richard the Lionhearted, the story opens in the Palestinian desert with a lone man, Sir Kenneth, making his way to meet the mysterious prophet of En-gedi.

Challenged on his journey by an emir, or wealthy Muslim leader, the knight combats his mighty foe. When neither man prevails, both step back in exhaustion and Sir Kenneth produces his safe conduct. Taken aback, the emir offers to conduct him to the prophet of En-gedi.

Many a heated discourse ensues as they journey together, but I think one speaks to the very heart of the story. Sir Kenneth asks the emir what the worth of a magnificent diamond would be if shattered into many small fragments.

"That is a child's question, the fragments of such a stone would not equal the entire jewel in the degree of hundreds to one."

Sir Kenneth continued by saying that such is the Christian knight's view of woman. "Believe me, couldst thou look upon those... to whom, after Heaven, we of the order of knighthood vow fealty and devotion, thou wouldst loathe for ever ... thy harem. The beauty of our fair ones gives point to our spears and edge to our swords...."

Thus begins this fascinating tale and through many a twist and fanciful turn, Scott weaves his tale of passion and anger, love and treachery, honor and deception.

As a historical novel, Scott masterfully intertwines the current events into the fabric of the story. But I think his real excellence lies in giving a sense of the culture that differs so much from our own and in making the great figures from history come alive. Whether it was King Richard's intense love of battle and chivalry or his fitful passions that hazarded the entire crusade, I came away from the book feeling like I'd had a glimpse into a real day with the Lion-Hearted King.

And all the while you are in suspense as to whether the romance will end happily like Ivanhoe or miserably like St. Ronan's Well. Whether honor and love will triumph in the end.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I thought we were moving SOUTH...

...but sweaters and jackets and such are still needed here! :)

Check out more pictures here.

"What button does God push to turn on the snow?"

Someday soon the barrage of questions will begin. Until that time though, I still want to teach my little Rose and lay a firm foundation for the inquisitive years ahead. Yet sometimes it's difficult to "carry on a conversation" with a busy toddler.

I've been thinking about this the past little while, and then remembered that we are told to teach "with Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord". Not only does singing of the goodness of God brighten the day and put a smile on my face, she gets to learn of God as I sing.

The verse lays out three different "categories" of songs. But many times it seems that spiritual songs are viewed as modern, hymns as way old-fashioned, and psalms something you'd sing in a stuffy old church three hundred years ago. [At least that's how it seemed to me-though I still loved hymns.] Certainly that can't be right though, can it? It wasn't until reading a commentary on the verse that I learned the distinction.

Psalms are simply the beautiful words of the Scripture put to music, allowing us to praise God through his own Words. What more powerful way to learn the truths of Scripture than to sing them? Not only that, but they are full of power and life. Never before had I heard such joyful singing as when I heard little children belted out the psalms in praise to God.

Augustine defined a hymn as "a song containing praise of God". Hymns focus on God Himself, what He has done, who He is.

Finally, spiritual songs are those related to our journey through life with its difficulties and duties and delights.

As I sing the great psalms and hymns and spiritual songs of our faith, I am teaching my little girl "when she walks in the way and when she lies down..."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Just around the corner...

As the saying goes "the older you get, the shorter between Christmases". It's hard to believe that the holiday season is already fast approaching.

Hearing about women who get all their shopping done by Thanksgiving and have the whole month of December free to spend time with family, make holiday foods and remember the true Reason for all the festivities always sounds simply delightful.

But, I dread shopping and procrastinate. Last year I made that "last dash" Christmas Eve. And I only have one child. Yikes! That has simply got to change. Shopping certainly doesn't get more agreeable the closer Christmas approaches. So my goal this year is to have all my shopping done by December 1st.

It may just begin to be feeling like fall, but it's time to get busy! Here's what I've worked on this week. Want to join me...or are all your gifts already wrapped? ;)

1. Determine a workable budget.

2. Make a thorough list of each person for whom we're getting gifts. Nothing's worse than planning to get a gift for a friend and totally spacing it in the last minute rush.

3. Once the list is complete, begin brainstorming for each person.

4. Figure out which gifts will be handmade and get working on them!

Check out more WFMWs here. :)
photo by zurizim

Thursday, October 23, 2008


"Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
Elizabeth Lawrence

The changing season makes all of life seem fresh and delightful and ushers in so many of my favorite things:

1. After a sultry summer, who can resist the pleasure of a cool autumn morning? or the delightful feeling of waking up with your noise slightly chilled while getting to cuddle under the warm cozy blankets?

2. What signals fall better than the smell of pumpkin bread or apple pie wafting from the oven? Not only that, but it's time once again for soups with piping hot bread just pulled from the oven. Hurrah!

3. Socks and sweaters and slippers. Especially when the sweater's on Rosalind and makes her about as round as she is tall. ;)

4. Taking refreshing walks beneath the vibrantly colored canopy of leaves and watching as the leaves fall one by one and create a lovely crunchy carpet of yellow and red and brown.

5. Hot drinks. Even a latte didn't sound all that great during the hot summer months. That has changed quickly changed! And a latte with a book in hand-- delightful!

photo by scol22

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A quiet afternoon

Whether it's getting my rosebud up from nap and play time, watching her care for her dolly, or playing outside together, life with a toddler is such a delight.

Here's a glimpse of our quiet afternoon together.

An Peek Into My Afternoon from Anna Christensen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


I'm envisioning a time in the not very distant future when I won't be scrapbooking alone...

This little chick already loves pouring over the pictures in our family scrapbooks. While I worked on new pages, she spent a happy hour pulling scrapbooks off the shelf one by one and flipping through the pages-- which are nearly as big as she is. ;)

All the while she kept up an animated stream of commentary, but unfortunately, I am still not very fluent in baby talk. But the main ideas seemed to be that she misses family and friends... and wants me to teach her how to scrapbook soon.

Not only is it such a fun, relaxing hobby but watching her enthusiasm made me glad to have so many memories treasured away.

Anyway, here are a couple of the newest pages this week.

I just love it when you find paper that matches the pictures perfectly--it makes putting a page together much quicker business. These are a few pictures from the move... the other half made it into someone's hands (won't mention any names ;) and soon little red smudges appeared all over them.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taco Lasagna Recipe and a Menu Plan

As requested, here is the recipe for Taco Lasagna... with a picture. :) Guacamole dip and chips were a perfect side.

1/2-3/4 lb beef
1/2 cup onion

Add and simmer four minutes:
1/3 cup water
1 pack or 1 1/2 T taco seasoning*
1 can black or kidney beans
2 cups diced tomatoes

Layer with:
6 tortillas (I used home made)
1 can re-fried beans (home made as well)
2 cups cheese
1/2 cup olives (opt.)

Bake, covered, for 20-25 minutes. Serves 4. Enjoy!

* After glancing at the ingredients list on a package of taco seasoning, I realized why my mom started making her own! Here's her recipe (downsized for my little family):

1/4 cup chili powder
1/3 cup dried onion
2 T. salt
heaping T cumin
heaping T corn starch
heaping T red pepper
1/2 T garlic
1/2 T oregano
1/4 tsp thyme

And here's our menu plan for the week:


Applesauce muffins
Granola with dried fruit
Eggs and toast
Cooked oatmeal or cold cereal
Scrambled eggs
Pumpkin bread
....and lots of nice hot coffee. Ahhh... I love fall!


Sunday- Chicken soup with fresh baked Cuban bread.

Monday- Nacho casserole

Tuesday- Creamy bow ties and chicken

Wednesday- Stir fry with baked cabbage rolls

Thursday- Ham and bean soup with fresh baked bread.

Friday- Shepherd's pie

Saturday- Tuna patties and fried potatoes

Check out more menu plans here and more recipes here.

Where did my baby go?

Check out more Wordless Wednesdays here. :)

In God We Trust

"In God We Trust. It is the choicest compliment that has ever been paid us, and the most gratifying to our feelings. It is simple, direct, gracefully phrased; it always sounds well -- In God We Trust. I don't believe it would sound any better if it were true."
-attributed to Mark Twain

With elections in our country just around the corner and the economy enjoying some time on the roller coasters, this cynical yet humorous quip was a timely reminder for me.

As November 4th fast approaches, it is easy to get caught up in the political furor and worry about the fate of our country if the right candidate isn't elected. Will America be plunged deeper into a recession? What judges will be put in place? [*shudder*] Will the war ever end? What will be the fate of marriage? Is their any area Big Brother won't seek to control?

The list goes on and on. Honestly, the platforms of both Obama and McCain trouble me and if our trust were in the president of America it would truly be a frightening time. Looking into my little girl's eyes, I wonder what this country will be like when it's her turn to raise children.

Yet even the King's heart is in God's hands and He rules over the affairs of men. As George Washington's mother told him when he departed home to serve this country "Remember that God is our only sure trust. To Him, I commend you." Though action is a duty, until we can truly say once again "In God we trust" any gains made will be fleeting.

photo by kgdsgn

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cuban bread

'Tis recorded that during the eighth century, monks were allowed a daily ration of 3.7 pounds of bread! Delicious as a thick slice of freshly-baked bread with a generous layer of butter may be, 3.7 pounds is A LOT of bread.

It seemed nigh impossible to me, until Candace introduced me to this recipe for Cuban bread. We just loved it and came somewhat close to consuming an ancient monk's ration. ;)

Besides being awfully yummy, it's really fast and fun to make.

4 cups whole wheat flour
2 T honey or sugar
2 T yeast
1 T salt
2 cups hot water
3-4 cups white flour
sesame seeds (opt)

Combine first five ingredients. Add enough flour to make a soft dough. Rise for 15 minutes. Shape into two round loaves, brush with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place a pan of hot water on the lowest rack of a cold oven. Place loaves on middle rack and turn the oven on to 375. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until a light golden brown. Once done, lightly spray with cold water for a nice soft crust. Enjoy!

Check out more recipes here.

Modified from the Tightwad Gazette

Edit: Oh dear! I typed up this post last week and set it to automatically publish today. Soon afterwords, Candace posted the recipe too and I kept forgetting to cancel this post. Anyway, it's so yummy I'll leave the recipe here, but you really should check out her post 'cause it's hilarious ... and she managed to take a picture of the baked bread before it was entirely consumed!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Let her play...

Each morning a familiar sight greets me as I enter Rosalind's room: a pile of stuffed animals, books and blankets on the floor and a grinning baby waiting for me.

Several months ago, Rosalind began getting up bright and early but by 8 o'clock was acting like she'd just finished the gushiest romance novel ever and simply couldn't stop weeping. It was exhausting for both of and simply had to stop!

So we began implementing a change. After putting her back to bed consistently each morning and enduring many a pitiful cry, a wonderful new routine developed. Now, she gets up around 6:00 and after breakfast and a bit of cuddling, back to bed she goes. Most mornings she doesn't even sleep, but instead looks at books and plays with her animals.

The quiet time alone does wonders for her attitude. She emerges from her room realizing that the entire world doesn't revolve around her every whim and is learning to entertain herself. Then when I go to get her up, she is full of smiles and kisses and hugs.

I love it! While sweet happy noises emanate from her room, I can read, blog, tidy the house, start laundry... or get a bit more sleep. :)

A question for more experienced moms who may happen to stumble across this post: This routine works for us at this stage, but does it work to have a morning quiet time as children get older--say four or five? (Minus the pile of animals on the floor of course!)

Light bulb joys

Last night, the light bulb in the bathroom blew. Not that big of a deal, right? Well, yes it was. For, as I fumbled around in the dark trying to unscrew the fixture, I discovered.......... the outlet.

There it has been sitting unused all this time while I resorted to blow drying my hair in the hallway. Despite thoroughly searching the bathroom walls for the missing outlet, I never thought to look up.

This delightful discovery inspired me to clean the other light fixtures in the house.... maybe some other happy surprise was waiting for me.

Alas, there weren't any secret treasure maps or even a nugget of gold hidden behind the old-fashioned fixtures. But, I tackled a chore that kept getting put off and disposed of all those nasty little bugs.

This will make getting into bed [the only time one really notices the dirty light fixture, right?] much more pleasant.

Check out what others are tackling today here.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cookies and a menu plan

One simple thing never fails to make the man of this home happy. When Joshua chooses dessert, we have these cookies. I could get away with serving just about anything for dinner, as long as these little gems followed. ;)

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

2/3 butter
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs **
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour (up to half wheat)
2 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup peanuts
3/4 cup chocolate chunks

Combine butters. Add sugars, baking powder and baking soda. Beat 'til smooth. Add eggs and vanilla. Stir in remaining ingredients.

Drop by tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until edges are just slightly browned.

** I've begun replacing one of the eggs with a Tbsp each of soy flour and water and it's worked great. Thanks Gayle!

Anyway, here's the menu for the week... and hopefully none of the dishes will require these cookies to make amends for it.


Applesauce muffins
Granola with dried fruit
Eggs and toast
Cooked oatmeal or cold cereal
Scrambled eggs and cinnamon bread


Monday- Harvest chowder with homemade crackers and cheese (homemade crackers that is, not cheese)

Tuesday- Chicken burritos

Wednesday- Dinner with friends

Thursday- Taco lasagna

Friday- Creamed chicken on wheat biscuits

Saturday- Lentil rice casserole and salad.

Check out more menu planning ideas here.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


There's something so delightful about well organized closets and drawers. Just a few minutes spent rearranging supplies or tossing out old not-still-functioning ones makes the rest of life much simpler and more enjoyable.

While settling in to our new home, some areas were rather hastily organized... and two months of jumbling them up hasn't helped. So this week Rosalind and I determined to fix that.

Behind the curtain in the living room hides the Walgreen's stock pile, canned fruits and veggies and numerous other odds and ends that have no other home. After constantly fumbling to find a commonly used item nestled between things not yet touched, or trying to remember what food was on the second shelf and what on the fourth, it was definitely time to reorganize....

Hopefully now I will be able to grab a bag of tortilla chips without knocking down the winter hats or a spare water filter.

The next place of attack was the hall closet. For some reason, vitamins and scrapbooking supplies don't mix well, so the vitamins were reassigned to the living room [right at the end where they're still easily accessible-- I have been taking them faithfully. ;)]

After sorting and rearranging, the closet is ready for scrapbooking this Tuesday and "Rosalind's shelf" is child-friendly, while managing somehow to still be entertaining.

Why didn't I do this sooner?? Check out more Simplifying Saturday posts here.

Friday, October 10, 2008

All things economics: few favorite post this week...

Stories of the floundering economy are flooding the news these days and sometimes it's hard not to worry and be upset. Looking at the current economic situation in light of The Law, it's easy to see a plethora of ways in which Uncle Sam has overstepped his bounds. As Bastiat so poignantly points out:

"In regulating industry, the government has contracted to make it prosper; otherwise it is absurd to deprive industry of its liberty. And if industry now suffers, whose fault is it?"

But I know that the blame doesn't lie just in the direction of Washington and that for change to occur there, it must begin at home.

Anyway, enough rambling. :) Here are a few of my favorite posts on the topic of current economic events.

"Why I am not worried" The stocks are falling, the housing market's a mess, gas is expensive... but the Fed will take care of us all. Yeah, just kidding. But, as Christians we have a sure confidence.

Crystal had a really great post on where changes in Washington must start: with me.,

In an interesting and thought provoking post, Doug Wilson proposes humor as a vital skill for the days ahead. :)

And here are some more great reminders about things we can learn from the current economic situation from Katrina.

The Simple Dollar had a good post on fear, or rather NOT fearing: The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself.

These are a few of my favorite posts this week. Check out others favorite things here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Recipe: granola

Growing up, granola with chocolate chips was the Sunday morning staple. Over the years, my mom has tweaked the recipe to perfection and it's one of my very favorite breakfast foods. Our family of three goes through a huge batch every few weeks!


10 cups oatmeal ( we use half quick and half old fashioned)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup powdered milk
2/3 cup coconut
2/3 cup chopped almonds (opt.)

Combine, and add to dry ingredients:

1 1/4 cup oil
scant 1 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 T vanilla

Bake in a 9x13 pan at 300 for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Top with dried fruit (or chocolate chips) and enjoy.

Visit Gayle's blog for more recipes.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A peek into the nursery...

Rosalind's room is perhaps my favorite in our home...and the one that I had the least hand in decorating.

Years ago, Poppy made the crib. Despite being used by almost a dozen children already, it's still beautiful. Nonny made the lovely quilt hanging above her bed-and it sets such a charming, little girl tone for the whole room. Even the matching material for the baby bumpers was a gift.

Her toys are all stored in the basket at the end of her bed. On the other side of the room sits her beanbag (from Grandma) just perfect for reading to her dolly (or being read to, of course). The rest of the room is clear for playing in... except when I need a bit of room to scrapbook, iron or fold laundry.

Above the reading corner hangs a beautiful, perfectly real-to-life drawing of Rosalind's little feet cradled in Joshua and my hands from Amber. Dried baby roses, a willow tree figurine and her sweet "princess dresses" add the finishing feminine flare.

So here, at long last, is a peek into the Rosebud's room.

The Law: Book Review

In this masterpiece Frederic Bastiat clearly and concisely champions the cause of liberty and limited government. Though written over 150 years ago, its message still rings true today.

Bastiat begins his discussion by defining the law.

"What then is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. Each of us has a natural right- from God- to defend his life, his liberty and his property.... It follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights continually "

The purpose of the law is simply to do what each man has a right to do individually on a larger scale. To protect justice. That's all. Period.

As the book continues, Batiat lays out a compelling argument. Each citizen has the God-give right to life, liberty and the work of their hands and to defend these rights against infringement. However, individuals may not plunder others for their own benefit or even to help others.

And just as you and I may not plunder our neighbor, so the government may not plunder. Anytime the law permits the taking of goods from one set of citizens to be used to benefit others: whether the legislators, the merchants, the poor.... it is perverting justice and permitting legalized plunder of the people.

According to Bastiat, there are only three ways to settle the question of legalized plunder:

1. The few plunder the many.
2. Everybody plunders everybody.
3. Nobody plunders anybody.

He clearly proposes the third as the only just, logical and peaceful choice. Even when plunder is proposed for "philanthropic purposes", Bastiat contends that it defeats liberty and extends far beyond its limited scope. We see this today.

And if the government undertakes to provide education and food and prosperity to the citizens, who is to blame when the children can't read, the poor go hungry and the economy staggers?

It is not the duty of the law to provide charity or fraternity or education. The purpose of the law is to defend justice and liberty.

Bastiat ends The Law with a passionate appeal to us to "reject all systems and try liberty. For liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works."

photo by creationc

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Translator needed...

I know "num" means yummy and "na nu" thanks, but I need help with "A-bu-ji-na DOW-sie". Any ideas?

Check out more fun pictures here and here.

Hand-made gift boxes

After searching for hours for just the perfect gift or lovingly making one, sometimes the wrapping has to be special too.

Not only are handmade boxes fun, but easy to make and so customizable. Simply choose paper that matches the mood of the gift or the personality of the recipient.

To make a 7x7x2 1/2 inch box you will need:

2 pieces of 12x12 card stock
1 piece of decorative 12x12 paper
Double stick tape
Ribbon or other embellishments.

Trim one piece of card stock by 1/4 of an inch. This way the bottom part fits smoothly into the top.

Then, using a ruler and dull point make a crease 2 1/2 inches from the edge along all four sides.

Tape the decorative paper to the other piece of card stock and crease as above.

Next, make a diagonal crease in each corner.

Fold the tips in and tape them to the sides.

(opt) Finish by tying the outside corners of the box with matching dmc floss. Tie with ribbon, add a gift tag and voila, you're done! Works for me!

Just a few more...

The happy couple getting ready to head out...

Joshua and Mac-- the oldest and youngest of the Christensen kids. :)

The Hansen clan. :) I have such a wonderful family!

Rosalind with Nonny and Grandma. Don't they look way too young to have grandchildren?!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mr. & Mrs. Stephen Christensen....

The long-awaited wedding day finally arrived. Rosalind now has another awesome aunt. (Though I'm sure that wasn't the first thought running through Steve's mind as they were pronounced man and wife.)

It was wonderful to get to spend time with family and witness the lovely ceremony. Jenny was such a gorgeous bride and she and Steve are such a perfect match!

Here's a family picture... the wedding's not complete without one, right? The Boyd Christensen family just keeps growin'! :)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Goofing off...

The trip up to Missouri was long, but good. Rosalind sat in her car seat for almost ten hours and fussed for perhaps 15 minutes. I was getting tired of sitting, but how could I complain when she was being such an angel?!

We arrived at my family's house about 10 last night and stayed up quite late talking. Rosalind had a great time in the morning with her aunts and uncles. Here she is goofing off with her Aunt Kathryn!

Menu plan for the week

Since we'll be getting in late Sunday night after an awesome weekend with family, I thought it'd be nice to have our menu plan all laid out in advance. I was so excited to browse the store ads this week and find that just about everything we needed was on sale. :)

Eggs- 1.29
Chicken legs (59 cents a pound) 3.66
Pears (99 cents a pound) 1.13
Fells naptha soap (for homemade laundry detergent)- .99
5 pounds potatoes- 2.99
Unbleached flour- 2.42
Butter- 2.54
Salad dressing - 1.78

Total: 18.31

So here's the menu for the week.


Pumpkin muffins (they're oh so yummy and so autumnal!)
Granola with homemade yogurt
Eggs and toast
Cooked oatmeal or cold cereal
Pancakes with applesauce
Scrambled eggs and cinnamon bread


Saturday and Sunday enjoying time with family in Missouri. Hurrah! :)

Monday- Chili with cornbread (Oh! I just love soup season! :)

Tuesday- Shepherd's pie with corn and bread

Wednesday- Chicken enchiladas with salad

Thursday- Baked potatoes, homemade bread and salad

Friday- Shrimp and pasta salad

For more menu ideas, visit Organizing Junkie.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dolls and giggles

A few days ago a package arrived with this picture of Joshua and his dad enclosed.

His darling cheesy grin and this sweet post from Candace have got me thinking about how quickly the time will pass before Rosalind grows up and begins a family of her own.

It seems like just yesterday we were holding our fragile little princess in the hospital, and now she's nearly sixteen months! Though I wish time would simply slow down, I'm learning just to treasure each new day together.

Here are sixteen of our favorite things to do together.

1. Cuddle: She's especially cuddly first thing in the morning. As I get her out of the crib, she puts her chubby arms 'round my neck and covers my face with kisses.

2. Read books: Rosalind would be perfectly happy if I read to her all day long. Though there are generally other things that I have to do, I love getting to teach her the names of animals and what sounds they make, let her find things on the page and instill in her the basis of a good story.

3. Give her a bath, just for fun: What a delight an inch of water and a few rubber toys can be!

4. "Work" outside together: Which invariably leads to favorite thing #3, of course. :)

5. STEPS: Yes, I know, they're not all that exciting to most folks, but the moment we've reached the top of the steps, she grabs my hand and wants to go back down. Which is why it can take five minutes getting from the car to the front door.

6. Tickle time: Starting with her forehead, we name the parts of her face ending with tickling and giggling when we reach her neck. She loves it and has started pointing to my face saying "eye- nohhhse-eye..."

7. Put away toys together: From the time she was old enough to pull toys out of the basket, she's helped put them away. Now she grins when I say "time to put the toys away" and hums as she drops them one by one into the basket.

8. Play with her doll and teddy: What child doesn't love you playing their toys with them?

9. Work on memory verses: Though she loves all her books, this one is best. I sure don't mind that. :)

10. Dance together: A friend recently told me about music lessons offered to little ones that help them learn rhythm from infancy. Since real lessons certainly aren't in the budget right now, she said "dancing" with your baby will still help instill a good sense of rhythm. At any rate, she loves it when I turn on the Mozart and dance around the room with her.

11. Go to the park: It's our afternoon ritual. When she wakes up from her afternoon nap we head over to play in the sand and on the slide.

12. Look at pictures of family and friends: After moving far from family and friends I realized how important it is for Rosalind to have pictures up of her grandparents, cousins and soon-to-be 18 aunts and uncles.

13. Do the laundry together: After attempting to get the laundry done with her "helpfully" picking up the folded clothes and handing them to me to re-fold, I realized it was not working. Now, she gives me clothes from the basket and we work on learning the colors as I fold laundry. Much better! :)

14. Take a walk: Whether she's in the stroller or pushing her dolly around in her dolly stroller, we love taking walks together.

15. Shopping: As I've mentioned before, this little girl loves to shop! Her new thing is telling each person we meet (whether or not they're half way across the parking lot) "hi" then grinning and saying "bye".

16. Rock her to sleep: Oh! How I love watching her slowly succumb as she lays her head against my shoulder and wraps her little fingers around my arms.

Check out Susanne's blog for more favorite things. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Never too little...

There are so many ways even a fifteen month old can help. Sure, it may not actually cut down on the time it takes to complete a project, but incorporating children in this aspect of family life is so important. The extra effort is well worth it!

Ever since Rosalind learned how to make a mess (and that skill comes pretty early ;) she's helped clean it up. Even if it was just handing me pieces of toilet paper she'd strewn across the floor, we've begun working on the important lesson: if you make a mess, clean it up. As she grows and blossoms, I want her to know the importance of responsibility. Though I'm there to help her, she shouldn't expect someone else (i.e. me) to constantly clean up after her.

Not only does training her to put her toys away teach responsibility, but instills a sense of order and peace in the home. Keeping things picked up makes play time much more enjoyable. There is no longer an array of toys strewn across the floor to distract or be tripped on. The blocks are much more fun when she's put away her Noah's ark. One toy is much more exciting when there aren't a dozen others vying for attention.

In addition to putting her own toys away, we've been working on areas where she can help contribute to the family. I'm not advocating forced child labor or anything, but strongly believe that even the littlest children can and should take part in the tasks required to make family life run smoothly.

Even a fifteen month old can:

  • Load small clothes into the dryer
  • Bring Papa his shoes in the morning... and put them away when he gets home
  • Help take out the trash (or at least walk hand in hand to the dumpster)
  • Add flour or sugar to a batch of cookies...

Of course, helping should be fun, not drudgery. Growing up as the oldest in a large family I saw the huge difference in response depending on how I portrayed "clean up time". If I viewed it as fun, the little ones did too. Now working side by side with Rosalind gives me the opportunity to show her that having a good attitude makes work fun.

Learning to help also teaches her that she is an important and useful part of the family. She loves it when I place the basket by her side and let her put the clothes in the dryer. Once it is loaded, she walks around and pulls the dryer door shut with a look of "All done mommy, aren't I a big girl?"

Work is a normal part of life. God created us to work, to take dominion and to rejoice in His creation. As we train our children to work joyfully beside us, we are helping equip them to be godly men and women.