Gratitude Journals

gratitudejournal

Thanksgiving has come and gone…on the calendar that is.  But why can’t we put the simple principles of this holiday into practice on a daily basis?  Why can’t we prioritize instilling a grateful heart in our children, students, even ourselves?!

I have started a “Gratitude Journal” with each of my children.  This is a place they can jot down what they are thankful for.  It could be something as big as “freedom to worship God” or something as small as “a soccer ball to play with.”  It doesn’t matter how big or small…the point is to recognize how fortunate we are and learn to be more grateful on a regular basis.

I am also going to try this with my students.  I teach in a Title I school where my school kiddos probably have different ideas of what they are thankful for (more needs than wants) than my personal kiddos, but at the end of the day, if we can learn as a society to be grateful and thankful for what we have, I believe our outlooks on life and how we treat/view others will change dramatically.

You can use a store-bought journal or personalize a notebook (cover the notebook with blank paper and have your kiddo decorate with crayons, markers, and stickers) for your Gratitude Journal.  Personally, I like to have my kiddos personalize theirs so they take more ownership.  You can set a regular time for journal writing (before bed) or simply have your kiddos write when they feel the desire to.  Either way is fine, as long as they are getting used to writing on a regular basis.

I feel it is more vital than ever to recognize our blessings and how fortunate we are.  Life is not perfect…it is not supposed to be.  But if we can learn to focus on the positives, the world may indeed be a much happier place.

 

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Why Do Bad Things Keep Happening: Encouragement Despite Life’s Trials

why do bad things

Why do bad things happen to good people?  We have all heard this question and have most likely asked it many times ourselves.  How do you explain why bad things happen to good people?  Recently I have found myself in this quandary especially when friends and even acquaintances ask about our terrible divorce.  People cannot fathom this happening to “us.”  They cannot understand how something so devastating could happen to our family.  My explanation is that God gives us all free will.  Some of us choose to exercise this free will with control according to our faith, values, and morals-while others may choose differently.  For those of us who seem to continue to do the right thing yet continually have devastating events happen-I cannot explain, but I believe that is where faith comes in.  Faith that we believe in a God who is bigger than all of our problems, worries, and concerns.  A God who is always with us no matter what we may be going through.

Believe me, I have had my share of questions and doubts- especially most recently with our divorce. Do I believe in divorce –in most cases no.  Did I want a divorce–absolutely not.  I do know that a marriage takes two people who want to be married and who adhere to their marriage vows.  I wish I had a magic wand to make this whole mess go away and the person I thought I married return.  Unfortunately there are no such things as magic wands.  So instead I choose to trust God that He continues to hold my hand and knows what is truly best for my children and me.  If that means reconciliation, than I trust He will restore my ex-husband fully.  If that means something different, than I will trust Him.

Along with the divorce has come a host of challenges including: relocating, finances, employment, well…basically starting a new life.  I feel as though I continue to give my all yet doors keep closing.  It is difficult to continue to trust in Him when it feels like nothing is going your way.  But when I start to doubt, I remind myself that maybe…just maybe God is using some of these unfortunate events to help strengthen my faith so that I will be better fit to serve Him and help others.

If you find yourself questioning why bad things may be happening to you or someone near and dear to you, I hope that you will keep your faith and may even strengthen it.  Don’t allow events or people to change your faith.  Be strong and keep your head held high.  No matter what take the high road.  Do the right thing even though it may be difficult.  Pray, journal, fellowship with others, and read God’s Word.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.  Deuteronomy 31:6

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My Top 5 Stress-Busting Tips

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Life.  Life isn’t always easy or fair.  Recently I have been learning to accept that life doesn’t go according to our plans.  As much as we may try to plan and organize our life; life seems to just find a way to happen.  Along with this comes stress and worry.  Believe me, I have had my share!  I am not trivializing stress or worries, but I am learning to give it all to God.  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 However long our list of worries, God is already there.  Financial struggles, devastation in relationships, health scares- God’s got it!  So you know what, give it to God.  He’s got your back in everything.  Trust that He will use whatever you are going through for good.  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28  

My Top 5 Stress-Busting Tips:

  1.  Pray– first and foremost, spend time with God.  Build a relationship with Him by praying, reading His Word, having quiet time with Him, and fellowshipping with other believers.
  2. Spend time with family and friends– simple enough spend time together; laughter is still the best medicine, right?!
  3. Exercise– there are countless studies that show the health benefits exercise has on the body.  Nike says it best, “just do it.”
  4. Eat healthy and supplement your diet– eat healthy, non-processed foods as much as possible.  Supplement your diet where needed.  My favorite products to help with stress and mental clarity are: Advocare’s Biotune and Spark. Click for BIOTUNE and Click for SPARK.  I am such a firm believer in Advocare and their products, that I became a distributor and advisor.  I have personally witnessed dramatic results in myself, my children, as well as others who use Advocare’s products.  Please feel free to email me any questions you may have about Advocare and their products.
  5. Set realistic short and long term goals– start with a broad 2 year, 5 year, and 10 year plan.  Don’t be afraid to change and add to these goals.  Where do YOU want to be?  What do you want to do?  What inspires you?  Dream big.  All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.  Walt Disney

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Put On Your Big Girl Panties- You Got This!

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I have gone through life wearing rose-colored glasses and living in a “Disney-filled dream” until like a flash of lighting, everything changed.  My whole world-everything I had dreamed of since I was a little girl was gone.  Husband I thought would grow old by my side…gone.  Trust and marriage vows…gone.  Christian family with mom and dad married and living together in the same house…gone.  Close friendships…gone.  Close-knit community on an island…gone.  Beautiful house on the water…gone.  Financial freedom to be a full-time stay at home and homeschooling mom…gone.  Dreams shattered.

Over the past many months, I have been through my own type of hell.  Hell of going through a terribly tragic, unwanted divorce.  Hell of being betrayed by the one person I trusted most in the world.  Hell of finding out things that would devastate anyone in a serious relationship; let alone a marriage.  Hell of watching my children experience pain and despair.  Hell of losing close friendships because of lies.  Hell of legal bills and attorneys.  Utter.  Pure.  Hell.

But  you know what?  I am not in hell anymore.  I put on my big girl panties and gave it all to God.  I trust that God will lead me through it, and He will help turn the bad into good.  I honestly believe that God is using everything terrible that has happened to our family (not by Him!) and is somehow using it for His glory.  Without being brought to my lowest, darkest moments (we are talking a lot of moments!) I would not have had the chance to be molded and shaped the way God intended for me.  And you know what I also learned from being in the bottom of the pit?  I learned that I was forced to look up.  And that is exactly what I am doing now- looking up!  I am looking up by being thankful.  Everyday is a gift that we should be thankful for.  We are not entitled to anything- especially life.  Gratitude helps get us through the most challenging times.  Gratitude leaves us looking at God and away from the bottom of the pit.  And yes, we should be thankful and show gratitude even on our worst days.  Jesus did.  “On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

Believe me, it definitely got worse before it got better.  I am sure it will get worse again, but I am ready for it, because I have my co-pilot riding this rollercoaster called life with me.  I got this and so do YOU!! but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

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Cupcake Liner Fish Craft

cupcake liner fish craft

Make this adorable fish craft from cupcake liners.  It is simple, yet offers little fingers plenty of fine motor practice.

You will need: construction paper, cupcake liners, scissors, glue, goggly eye, and crayons (markers, paint, etc.).

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1.  Trace a simple fish shape on the construction paper.

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2.  Color and/or paint the fish.  Allow to dry.

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3.  Cut out.

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4.  Cut cupcake liners into fourths.

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5.  Starting at the tail, glue the cupcake liners onto fish in desired pattern.

6.  Glue goggly eye.  Allow to dry.

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7.  Glue on a larger sheet of paper to make an underwater scene or display with a string (yarn, pipe cleaner, etc.).

Click on the following links for some of the supplies we used for this craft:

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Cupcake liners

Googly eyes

Construction paper

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Painting With Pipe Cleaners: A Simple Fine Motor Activity

painting with pipe cleaners

Painting is one of my daughter’s favorite activities.  So we paint a lot around here, to say the least.  We are always finding new objects to paint with and different paint techniques to use.  My daughter wanted to try using pipe cleaners to make paint prints with; so we did.  Not only was it fun, it offered fine motor practice for these 5 year old hands!

You will need: pipe cleaners, paper, paint, paper plate and tray (for easy clean up).

  1.  Shape the pipe cleaners into desired shapes.
  2. Pour piles of paint on paper plate.
  3. Dip shaped pipe cleaners into paint.
  4. Press pipe cleaners firmly onto paper to create prints.
  5. Repeat with other shapes.
  6. Allow to dry.

pipecleaners

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Click on the images below to purchase some of the supplies we used for this project.  Thank you for your support.

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Top Picks: Books To Help Children With Divorce

books to help children with divorce

Divorce is terrible; I would not wish it upon anyone.  The following are my top picks of books to help children with divorce.  I have (and continue) to read and use them with my own children.

Some advice with reading these books I share is to:

  1.  Always read it first.  For me, this pertains to books, movies, video games, etc.  Do your homework and make sure you find the material appropriate for your children.
  2. Choose appropriate timing.  You know your children better than anyone.  Choose a time that you won’t feel rushed or cause added anxiety in your children such as before an event or bedtime.
  3. Ask questions.  This is an excellent time to use the characters in the story to parallel what may be going on currently in your children’s lives.  “How do you think so and so felt when their parents got divorced?”  “Did you feel that way?”
  4. Discuss and share.  If your children are open to it, openly discuss their feelings.  Try to listen as much as possible.  Most likely, they aren’t looking for advice or answers; they are probably looking for you to listen.
  5. Offer validation.  Remind your children that the divorce was not caused by them or anything they did.  Validate their feelings.  Offer love, respect, and compassion.
  6. Reassure your children that you are always there for them.  Encourage them and remind them that you are on their side and are always available to talk and/or listen to them.

Click on the image below for more resources and programs to help with divorce.

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It’s Not Your Fault, Koko Bear (Vicki Lansky)

Two Homes (Claire Masurel, Kady MacDonald Denton)

Divorce Is the Worst (Anastasia Higginbotham)

Was It the Chocolate Pudding? (Sandra Levins)

Dinosaurs Divorce: A Guide for Changing Families (Marc Brown, Laurene Krasny Brown)

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Easy DIY Bracelet Made From Pipe Cleaners

DIY Bracelet

Make these Easy DIY Bracelets using pipe cleaners and a roll of masking tape. Your kiddos will enjoy making these colorful creations and proudly wear them with their favorite outfits.

You will need: masking tape (tape and empty roll); pipe cleaners; stickers; and embellishments (beads, etc.).

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1.  Using an empty masking tape roll, start wrapping various colored pipe cleaners around the roll.

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2.  Add stickers, beads, and other embellishments on the pipe cleaners.

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3.  Continue wrapping pipe cleaners around the roll of tape until entire roll is covered.

4.  Add masking tape on the inside of the roll to keep pipe cleaners from scrapping skin.

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5.  Enjoy and wear with your favorite outfits. 🙂

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Paper Fish Bowl Craft

fish bowl craft

Get your kiddos and go on an underwater adventure with this fun craft!  You only need a few household supplies to create this adorable Paper Fish Bowl Craft.  Come on…let’s dive in…

You will need: different colors of construction paper for the fish bowl and fish; glue; scissors; crayons; paper plate; and markers.

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 1.  Draw and cut out a simple fish bowl shape on construction paper.

2.  Trace around the paper plate to make the circle inside of the fish bowl.

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     3.  Using crayons, add details (such as coral, fish house, algae, gravel, etc.) inside of your fish bowl.

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     4.  Draw and cut out fish shapes on construction paper.  Glue fish shapes onto fish bowl. Add details  (such as gills, fins, etc.) to the fish.

     5.  Add some circles for bubbles and any other embellishments your undersea adventurer may want in  their fish bowl.

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     6.  Display to enjoy this adorable, easy to clean fish bowl! 🙂

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Violet Paint Prints

violet paint prints

Spring is almost upon us!  Let’s celebrate and get crafty with this beautiful print made from celery stalks.  I really enjoy making prints from natural objects like fruits and vegetables, as you never know how the print will turn out.  This is especially fun with children, as it is almost a “magical experience” for them to watch, experience, and do themselves.  Get your kiddos, a few simple materials, and enjoy the time spent together creating this beautiful work of art!  Here goes…

You will need: paint, paintbrush, celery stalks, paper plates, and paper.

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  1. Squeeze desired paint colors (we used purple, white, and green for our violets) into separate piles on paper plates.
  2. Dip the celery stalk into paint (not too much or it clogs up the celery) and press firmly onto paper.  You can use a rubber band to place around the celery stalk to change the desired flower print and/or pattern.
  3. Finish by drawing steams on the violets, grass, etc. to your masterpiece.

Hint…Hint… This is an awesome gift for Mother’s Day!! 🙂

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