Tag Archives: Focus on the Family

Birthday Party for a Cowgirl Wannabe’

My daughter wants to be a cowgirl.  She dreams of owning a horse  and wearing cowboy boots with manure on them, instead of city-slicking fashion cowgirl boots tucked into skinny jeans. But, we live in town.  A big town.  A big town not zoned for horses.

She dreams about horses so much, one night she sleepwalked into our room looking for the barn to feed the horses.

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Meeting Miss Rodeo Montana last summer only fueled the dream. 

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Visiting my friend high school friend, Janet, and her horses, didn’t help either. 

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Each summer we visited she petted, fed, rode and fell in love all over again. What’s not to love? Chaz with her twins, Whiskey Girl and Wyoming on the North Dakota prairie. Even as a toddler, Beka walked under and around these hand-fed pets.

When my Cowgirl Wannabe’ was planning her birthday party, we discovered early on it would be challenging to combine her loves if buying ready-made items. She wanted pink.  She wanted lace. She wanted vintage.  She wanted horses. Many things I found on the internet or in the stores were red/blue and geared towards cowboys. Since I’ve always been a DIY, homemade kinda’ mom, we were up for the challenge.

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When she found this beautiful calendar at the Dollar Store, I knew we could pull off the horse part easily and inexpensively.  On the back of each calendar was a page with smaller pictures of each month’s pictures.

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These were laminated and turned into magnets for each guests’ goodie bag.

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We hung the pictures from the grapevine garland that’s along the fireplace year around and added twine.

 

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A doll was dressed in denim and cowboy boots and decorated the desert bar on the buffet.

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We already had strips of fabric for a background from another birthday party, so we took out some colors and added strips of tan fabric and lengths of twine. The girls stood on a step stool for their picture.

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A wooden crate was decorated with lace, twine and a flower, then filled with props for the Cowgirl photo shoot. Pictures of each guest were emailed to them after the party. We printed off one picture for each girl and put it in a picture frame card for the thank you.

After being inspired by a summer project of serving from Focus on the Family, Beka decided instead of each girl bringing a gift for her, they would bring a gift or used clothing for the shelter for women and children.  We were thrilled to see the donations brought in.

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Even grandson, Finnean, looked adorable in a mustache.

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Glasses were pint jars and 1/2 pint milk bottles with strips of tan fabric previously used for vases at our writers conference last May.  Beka pulled off tan buttons and added some pink. She made a few out of lace just because.

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A drink station was staged on a child’s cupboard.  The white enamel coffee pot held pink lemonade.

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Pink plastic silverware was wrapped in brown paper and white doilies, which was Beka’s creation. The pink paper plates looked adorable on vintage white paper plate holders.  The small crate was found at the thrift store for $.99 and stained to look aged. The meal was a sandwich bar, fresh fruit and veggies.  Simple. Healthy.  Adaptable to food allergies or strong dislikes.

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A ladder in the dining room held the chips.

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These “feed bags” are actually burlap rice bags. I removed the zippers, turned them inside out, and  hot-glued a doily on.

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Beka didn’t want cake, she wanted cookies and ice cream. To simplify feeding the girls, we purchased the small cups of strawberry swirl ice cream.

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The sugar horse decorations were found at Dawn’s Cake and Candy World. I can’t give you the recipe for the sugar cookies, because the dough came in a tube. Sometimes a momma’s gotta’ do what a momma’s got to do.

 

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Since we had a hard time finding horse party items, we  also bought this horse mold at Dawn’s for melting chocolate.  The gold is a fine edible powder that rubbed on easily.

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After seeing these on a blog, we knew this would be the one thing we HAD to make for the party.  These are Nutter Butter cookies dipped in chocolate, with Wilton candy eyes, almond ears and hard caramel noses.  Instead of cookie sticks, I used skewers because they matched our theme better, were thinner, and cheaper.

Since this was way too much sugar for one day, some horses were on display, the rest were tied up in clear bags and sent home in the girls’ goodie bags.

 

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Granddaughter, Maddelyn, loved her little horsie.  She came with her mommy and siblings to help make them a few days before the party and had a hard time waiting until she could actually eat one.

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Aunt Cindy’s recipe has been a family favorite since Christmas of 1996, and  was the first cookie Beka baked for her party. 

 

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At the end of the day, the City-Slickin’ Cowgirl was very, very, happy, even without a horse in the backyard.

 

Raspberry Almond Shortbread Cookies

Cream together:

2/3 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Add:

2 cup flour

Chill dough if too soft.  Roll into balls and flatten slightly with a fingerprint hole in the middle. Fill the hole with seedless raspberry jam.  Bake at 350° 14-18 minutes, until edges are brown.  Do not over bake.

Drizzle glaze over baked cookies.

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons water

Making your home sing Mondays        WHWButton#2

Kids’ Imagination Spurs on Creative Service

My ten year old daughter, Rebekah, started our summer off right by making a commitment to serve others.

She accepted this challenge from Adventures in Odyssey, Focus on the Family’s Christian kids’ radio program, and signed up for their program called A.C.T.S. I previously blogged that “Kids Who Serve are Winners Not Whiners.” No parent wants  “Mom, I’m bored!” ricocheting off their eardrums all summer.

 

 

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                                  A – A

                           C – Call

                           T – To

                           S – Service

 

We downloaded theimage progress chart, watched this video image about the program, and started brainstorming. (click graphics to download)

Personal inspiration needs no prodding, so follow-through would be increased if she was doing things she wanted to do, not things her mom wanted her to do.

Her own enthusiasm and imagination took off; she owned it from the beginning. When parents let go of the reins, they can be surprised by the direction their kids take.

 

I was thrilled to watch the creative ways she served the family, the neighborhood, and the local needy. In the first few weeks she had already completed the 12 hours of service, and hadn’t finished crossing things off her list. At first, she was thinking about winning the grand prize, a mission  trip to Costa Rica with one parent, (what ten year wouldn’t think of the prize?),  but then she began concentrating more on others.

Adventures in Odyssey radio programs teach kids to use their imagination to learn about history and faith, it was fun to see her imagination to come up with ways to serve.

conference decorations 002She started by volunteering to help paint the lime green walls with two coats of primer. I liked this idea, especially since it took two coats of primer and two coats of pain to turn the lime green to a soothing gray.

 

conference decorations 018When a neighbor had surgery, Rebekah enlisted the nieces and nephew to make homemade cards and cookies. I was humbled.  It hadn’t even occurred to me to reach out.  Brayden made some tiny cookies in the Easy Bake Oven and some big cookies in the real oven.

 

conference decorations 023 Brookelyn enjoyed making cards so much, she made a few for her parents.

 

conference decorations 027Maddelyn enjoyed coloring her card, her fingernails and the table. She stayed on task so long, she almost colored a hole in her paper. 

 

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When they were done, Beka rallied her troop to walk to the neighbor’s house.  It isn’t raining, but doesn’t every little kid love an umbrella?

conference decorations 042The finished product looked so beautiful, they told me later they were trying to sneak the first cookies out without marring the package so the whole family could see Rebekah’s handiwork.

 

Other projects Rebekah has accomplished so far:

  • weeded the trees for a single neighbor who works full-time and has a hard time keeping up on her garden
  • babysat several times for another neighbor
  • baked muffins for her older sister who had a baby
  • started collecting toys, shoes and clothing for the women and children at the Gospel Mission shelter

It was hard for her to understand that serving family “counted.” But, I shared her Gramma Mary’s wisdom, “Charity begins at home” to convince her serving family teaches you to serve others.

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Her big summer project is to make 30 drawstring bags for the kids at the homeless shelter.  Most of the time they arrive with little or nothing.  Beka plans to fill the bags with small trial size personal care items, snacks, toys, and Christian reading material.  It’s a challenge coming up with items that are not gender or age specific, but it’s been a good stretch to imagine yourself in their position.

We hope to have these finished and delivered at the end of July.  Then we’ll make our video about Rebekah’s summer of service and enter the competition.  Who knows?  Maybe a future blog post will show Rebekah and I working with the orphans in Costa Rica! 

Even if she doesn’t the grand prize, we both feel like winners.  She’s had fun using her imagination to come up with amazing ways to see and meet needs.  I’ve been blessed to watch her take the lead and follow-through.  Thank you, Adventures in Odyssey, for challenging us to  A.C.T.S.!

 

 

It’s not too late to sign-up for A.C.T.S.!

 

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Click on the image to download your service kit.

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Visit the website to learn more about Adventures in Odyssey’s
summer challenge to serve.

 

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(Click on image to download this free e-book)

Just for reading this blog post today, you get a free gift,
an e-book called “Voyage with the Vikings.”

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There’s still a lot of summer days left to encourage your family to accept the summer challenge to serve. You can either join the Adventures in Odyssey program or serve in your own way.

I’d love to hear the things your family is doing to serve this summer. Many of you work at Bible camps, Vacation Bible School, or do short-term mission projects. 

Those that comment will qualify to win the special package of The Imagination Station books #1-3 pictured above. I will choose a winner Wednesday, July 3rd and announce the winner in a blog post that day.

Encourage us by leaving a comment about the way your family serves!

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Kids Who Serve are Winners not Whiners

 

A kid’s definition of summer is “the season  where I sleep in and don’t have any schoolwork.”

A mom’s definition of summer is “the season where the kids hang around the house whining because there’s nothing to do.”

The lack of structure quickly loses its thrill after a week or two, and moms begin hearing the fingernails-on-chalkboard whine, “Mom, I’m bored!”   This complaint ranked on my list of five “Things That Aren’t Music to a Mommy’s Ears.”

For years I battled  boredom by making my kids write a Summer List of exciting things they could do instead of complaining. They could put anything on their list -  foods to eat, activities to do, places to go or crafts to make.  (Click on the link to see the now-vintage lists.)

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My goal was to teach my children to replace the word “bored” with “busy” by becoming self-entertaining and creative.

Focus on the Family recently revealed their Adventures in Odyssey summer challenge for kids, but it challenged my heart as a parent.  Instead of focusing on WHAT, they want kids to think about  WHO. They’re defining summer as “the season where you spend time serving others for Jesus.”

Even though I’ve been parenting 26 years, I mentally did the “DUH” forehead slap.

Parents are rarely bored, because our hands and hearts are busy serving. We fill our days and nights helping others  be happy, healthy and encouraged.

If we honestly define boredom, it’s a form of  selfishness.  You can’t think of anything to satisfy or gratify yourself.  A quick cure is to turn your attention to others.  It isn’t  enough to teach our kids to entertain themselves, we need to teach them to see and meet needs in others.

The familiar friends from Adventures in Odyssey want to spend the summer with our kids challenging them to serve through a program called

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A – A

C – Call

T – To

S – Service

The theme is , “When you serve, everybody wins.”  Kids to show and grow in their faith in Christ by using their talents and skills to serve  their families,  communities, and the world.

1. Your child commits to record 12 hours of service on the Path to Service form. Pick up form at your local Family Christian Bookstore or download here. (Participating bookstores provide Adventures in Odyssey character stickers for each hour served.)

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Put it in a place you won’t lose it or forget where you put it.  I know, that can be challenging, especially if there’s a dog, small children, or  forgetful older mothers….now what was I saying?

2. Download and listen to this special Adventures in Odyssey episode “Lost & Found.” It will get your kids revved up to serve.

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It will also give you twenty minutes to sneak off by yourself and have your devotions, drink a cup of coffee and sneak chocolate from your secret Mommy Stash. (I know you have one!)   Remember to gargle before the AIO episode is over.  Kids always smell chocolate on your breath and then your stash won’t be a secret anymore.

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If you need a few more minutes alone, or your kids need  more explanation, watch Bob and Jesse explain the program on this podcast.

 

3. Visit the AIO website to print off a page of Weekly Service Ideas to spark ideas. Have your kid add their own ideas based on their skills and interests. Serving in areas of giftedness makes it a blessing, not a chore.

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Make room for the list on the fridge, after you throw away those expired coupons and the three week old grocery list that you forgot to take to the store. Use two magnets so it doesn’t slide down and under the fridge to live  with the dust bunnies and your missing spatula.

Oh, yea, now I remember what I was saying, you can put the Path to Service on the fridge, too.

4.  Join Connie (acted by Katie Leigh ) and Chris (Chris Leigh) at the May 22nd  Launch Party!  It’s through the computer, of course, so you’ll have to provide your own snacks and party hats while you watch the webcast.

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5. This is more than a challenge, it’s a contest. From June 1 – August 16, your kids can make a two minute video telling about their service and why they want to be one of the first Adventures in Odyssey Ambassadors.

Many participating stores are hosting special recording events, and kids who record their video in stores will receive an AIO prize. Complete rules and prizes listed here.

The cool news is that the top girl and guy winner will go on  an all-expense paid Good-Goers Adventure-Based Mission Trip with a parent to serve orphans and enjoy a day of rafting in an overseas location. The May 22nd webcast will also reveal the top-secret location, so tune in!

The 100 third place kids win a one-year subscription to the Odyssey Adventure Club.
The 24 second place kids win a subscription and  a phone call from an Adventures in Odyssey cast member.

Thinking of Adventures Ahead!

I was thrilled to talk to Jesse Florea at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal May 17-18 this past weekend.  He’s the editor of the Focus on the Family Publications Clubhouse and Clubhouse Junior and one of the inspired leaders for the A.C.T.S. program.

He previously stated his heart’s plan for this program. "We want to remind kids that they have a part to play in God’s story, and serving is an easy way for everyone to take part in that, “The challenge is a fun way for kids to learn about serving, but the end goal is that kids will deepen their walk with Jesus Christ through serving Him.”

This is the real win in the challenge, not the awesome prizes. Many lives could be touched if our kids learn to say,  “How can I serve?” instead of,  “I’m bored!” 

This is an amazing challenge for our kids’ Summer Lists, doncha’ think? I’m game to bust summer boredom and turn whining in winning through service.

I’d love to hear if you will join our family in turning our summer into an adventure in service.

 

 

 

Making your home sing Mondays