Ice cream portion size: Are you a “super scooper?”

Ice cream is a perfect summertime treat, isn’t it? Sweet, creamy and oh- so-yummy! And it’s fun, because kids can scoop it out of the container themselves.

But we had a problem with ice cream at our house: it was disappearing almost as fast as I bought it. That’s because when it came to ice cream, my teenage boys were “super scoopers.”

Let’s say the ice cream had 170 calories and 10 grams of fat per serving. The heaping mound in one of their bowls was actually about four servings. So … that super-sized bowl of ice cream contained 680 calories and 40 grams of fat. Whoa!

Next time you have ice cream at your house, notice the serving sizes. Is there a “super scooper” in your family, too?

A normal serving size for ice cream is about a half cup or 4 ounces. To help your children visualize the amount, you can fill a ½ cup measure with ice cream and plop it into a dessert bowl. It looks about the size of a tennis ball. To make a bigger treat full of antioxidants, top your ice cream with fresh fruit and garnish with a pretzel or two.

Happy scooping!

Beth Bence Reinke,MS, RD


Raising Spiritually Strong Toddlers

There are scads of articles on children’s ministry, but most of them deal with preschool or school-aged children. Are toddlers too young to learn about God? No, no, no!

Most toddlers are eager learners. The whole world is their classroom and they’re excited to be in it. Everything is new and fresh. How can you capture this wonder and harness it for God? Can toddlers have a vital faith? I believe they can. Here are five of God’s titles your little one will easily understand.

  1. God the Creator. At every turn, you have opportunities to remind your toddler who made the world.When they bend to sniff a flower, when they see a bug, or the sky blazes with sunset. When birds chirp or dogs bark or the sun shines in their eyes, you can say, “Who made the _______?” They’ll have fun replying, “God did!” You can even follow up with the question, “Why?” and they can answer, “Because He loves me.”
  2. God the Healer. Toddlers regularly fall or bump and get boo-boos. That’s the perfect time to teach them about God’s healing power. Sure, Mommy’s kisses are good, too, but only God can really heal. Make sure they know that His power trumps Mommy’s! Take a moment after applying a Band-Aid to say a quick prayer with your child asking God to please heal their hurt. When you see the injury looking better, remember to point it out to your little one by saying something like, “Look! God’s healing your boo-boo!”
  3. God the Provider. Children often want things they can’t have immediately. That’s especially hard for a toddler since they don’t understand the concept of time yet. When you have to say “not now,” let them ask God for what they want. Tell your child God loves them and will give them only what’s best for them.  When the time comes that you can say yes to their request, help them remember to say thank you to God.
  4. God the Family Man. Children, even very young ones, understand families. Make God and His Son, Jesus part of your family. Set a place at the table for them. When a child is sad, talk to them about how God is like a nice daddy who holds them and lets them cry when they need to. Jesus is like a big brother, always there for them, loving them and protecting them.
  5. God the Author. Teach your child that the Bible is God’s Word. It is more special than any other book, so we must treat it with extra care. Let children hold your Bible or buy them their own toddler Bible. Praise them for how gentle they are with it. Open it up and let them “love” the pages by rubbing their hands over them. Tell them God’s Word is always right and true. We want to do what it says because that makes God happy…and it’s the best way for us to be happy, too!

You can reinforce these ideas with songs that are easy for toddlers to learn. The first song my children could sing along with was “Jesus Loves the Little Ones Like Me, Me, Me!” You can hear it at: Other easy songs are:

  • Jesus Loves Me
  • This Little Light of Mine
  • O Be Careful
  • Awesome God

You can find the lyrics and hear the tunes for these songs and more at

There are also lots of great books to help grow your toddler’s faith, some of them written by authors on this blog! Just click on the “authors” tab and see the wonderful books that are represented!

It’s never too early to teach your children about God. Start today!

How have you started teaching your little ones about God? 

Grieving the loss of a furry family member

June 18, 2012 was a very sad day for me and my family.  We had to make a hard decision regarding our dogs, Carley & Cassie.  They were 15 years old and pretty ill.  My husband and I knew that it was time to say our goodbyes to our sweet, loving, and precious doggies.  I truly believe my dogs knew in their heart that it was their time to go and be at rest.  They were very quiet and sleepy all day, so we all got on the bed and cuddled up together and hugged and loved on the girls, knowing that this would be our last time to do this.  Needless to say, there were a lot of tears shed on this very sad day.

I am proud of our son, Caleb for handling this loss as well as he has for a 6 year old.  He just had a birthday on July 3rd!  For my husband and me…it has been a lot harder because we’ve loved Carley & Cassie for 15 years. Our puppies were our babies long before Caleb came into the picture.  We used to say that our dogs were little people with fur.

I know that things will get better with time, and one day we will be able to share without crying, all the fun and wonderful times we had with our furry family members.  But for right now, we are trying really hard to deal with the pain as best we can.  We still cry a lot because it’s very lonely around the house, and very quiet.  It feels very strange at times.  So…

In the meantime, I was looking through my Bible for verses that might help us with our grief. The Bible does not speak specifically of the destiny of animals, but there is a promise in the letter to the Ephesians which surely must include them. Ephesians 1:10: “Everything that exists in heaven or earth shall find its perfection and fulfillment in Christ.”

Isaiah 41:10 (One of my favorite verses) – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

This verse is here to remind us as Christians, that God is to be the source of our strength, and only He can fully support us. It also reminds me as a pet owner that there is nothing to fear, not even death, and that we will get through this intense feeling of loss. Prayer is a great way to work through the sharp sadness of the first few days or weeks without your beloved companion (s).

Luke 12:6Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.

This verse directly speaks about God’s love for His creation, even the small and inexpensive birds sold for pennies in the ancient markets. God cares about the suffering and life of every animal in his creation, and also loves the pet’s owner. It’s comforting to know that God remembers each moment of a pet’s life, and delights in the beauty of each part of his created world, no matter how small. This is one of the most comforting Bible verses when a pet dies.

Thank you for stopping by today.  I hope and pray that I was able to help someone else who is grieving the loss of a dear pet (s).

God bless you,

Melissa ~

Author of – I Love You to the Moon


10 fun ideas for families when the lights go out…

Our lights went out in the storm yesterday. As the sun went down I was in a quandry over how I could productively use my time. Today I have ten suggestions for family fun when the lights go out.

1. Sing, whistle, or hum: Name That Tune

If you know the words, sing hymns and songs together. If your repertoire is small, hum or whistle them together, or try a few rounds of “Name That Tune” where one person hums or whistles a tune and the rest of the family tries to guess the name of the song. Whoever names it correctly gets to whistle or hum the next tune.

2. Twenty Questions Game

To play this game, one person thinks of a person, place, or thing. For instance if she is thinking of Cinderella she would say she is thinking of a person. Then all other family members take turns asking questions that may only be answered with yes or no. For instance, a question might be “Is this person a female?” in which the answer would be “yes.” It works best to use logical questions to narrow down the possibilities instead of trying to guess names of people at the beginning. Players may ask up to twenty questions in turn. Whoever guesses correctly gets to think up the next person, place, or thing. If no one guesses it in the first twenty questions, the person who thought that round up wins the round. That person gets to think up another person, place, or thing.

3. Remember When Stories

Share “remember when” stories about days gone by. This is good for all ages – even children have backstory. Retell events from family vacations in the past, family reunions, remembering playmates who moved away. Mom and Dad can share about their childhood experiences, and children can explore their counterpart forms of entertainment.

4. Talent Show

Use your flashlights for spotlights on your “stars” as they sing, dance, recite, or perform skits. Everyone can get in the act one way or another. Invite your neighbors to join you… What fun!

5. Games from the Game Closet

Look in your game closet and pick the games that don’t require reading: Spread out your Twister game on the floor. It doesn’t take much light to see the big colorful dots. Checkers and chess don’t require much light. Parcheesi is another game that requires no reading apart from counting the dots on the dice. A flashlight will provide enough light for that if your candle isn’t bright enough.

6. Simple Yarn Crafts

Did you know there are ways to knit and crochet using only your fingers? The finished products are small, but they can supply hours of fun and provide a simple introduction to knitting and crochet. And even in dim light, you can use a combination of touch and vision to know what your are doing. Here is a YouTube video that shows how to do finger knitting. I recommend bulky yarn for this project. Search “Google – Images” for ideas of things to make from finger knitting.

Finger Crochet is a little trickier, but a chain stitch is pretty simple. Here is a YouTube video for making a finger crochet chain. I noticed on another video that the yarn was tripled using three strands together for making finger crochet. Here is the next step, but it gets more tricky and probably needs more light. I included it so I don’t leave you hanging with this craft – finish it when the lights come back on. :)

Another yarn activity is covering a wire hanger with yarn using a simple macrame-type knot with two strands of yarn at a time. The directions for this can be found on this blog post I wrote earlier. I know this can be done with little light, as I tried it last night when the lights were out.

7. Flashlight Hike

Take a walk with your flashlights if the storm has passed and it is safe to go outdoors. Wait until there is no lightning flashing in the sky.

8. Pig Latin

Now is a great time to teach your kids to talk Pig Latin. For those too young to remember, talking Pig Latin requires picking your words apart a little and re-arranging the letters. Every word ends with the sound “ay.” Take your word – ok, use the word “word” – take the first two letters (sometimes only one letter) off the front and put them on the end:


Now add “ay” and you get “rdwoay.” Have fun trying to pronounce it. This happens to be an example of a word that would be easier to pronounce if you only moved one letter to the end. Isn’t “ordway” easier to pronounce? Now let’s try a sentence:

Who turned out the lights?
Owhay urnedtay touay ethway ightslway?

On that last word, keep the gh silent. You may also have to fudge a bit and put only the first letter at the end to make it easier to pronounce the word. That is also acceptable. Pig Latin is meant to be fun, not hard. Once you get the hang of it try to hold a conversation in Pig Latin. This is a great way to think phonetically as you twist words around.

After doing my best to write this out, I discovered a website that does a better job of explaining it. This comes from the Pig Latin Web Page.

There might be some grandparents who remember this Pig Latin Song from days gone by. I found it on YouTube.

9. Share Bible Verses

See how many Bible verses you can quote by heart. Let everyone try. If they can’t quote it exactly, let them paraphrase. Then look them up later when the lights come back on – or get your flashlight out and look them up now. Offer a prize to the one who can say the most verses correctly.

10. Pray Around the World

Instead of dwelling on how bad you have it when the lights go out, think of people around the world to pray for who have situations much worse than yours. Consider those who lost their homes to fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes; people in areas where there is famine; people who are being persecuted for their faith; people who never had electricity in the first place… Also remember relatives and friends and neighbors who might need prayer. By praying in these circumstances, you will help instill an attitude of gratitude in the hearts of your children – attitudes that may comfort them again and again in times of stress.

Have fun the next time the lights go out. But then, you don’t have to wait until a storm comes – you can just turn the lights and TV off anytime and give these ideas a try. It might help you to plan ahead better for when the real thing happens – like purchasing yarn or checking out the game closet when you can still see to find everything…

What kinds of things did you find to do with your children when the lights went out in the late evening? What ideas can you share?

This post was written by Janice D. Green, author of The Creation and The First Christmas.

Grandys – Real or Adopted

When I was a child, I often walked across the driveway to visit Grandma. We played Scrabble; ate lunch before she revealed what it was; walked a mile measured in quarter-mile stretches; made clothespin doll skirts from hollyhock blossoms; played with Jackie, her dog; fed birds in any season; admired precious elm trees; picked cherries in Grandpa’s orchard; planted vegetable and flower seeds; splurged on a daily piece of chocolate; collected rain water in a barrel—to soft-rinse her hair after a shampoo.

We sat on her favorite cast iron bench with a broken leg, a’tilt against a tree;

spied humming bird’s nest in our maple tree; reveled in town history; watched the Memorial Day parade, which ended at the cemetery across the street.

We walked her mile around and through the cemetery. She told stories about Lulu buried here, her father buried there, and town fathers buried yonder. We paced the perimeter of the first log church; wondered at the rotting wooden grave marker inscribed, “Here lies my strong right arm.”

We remembered lots of things. But after all those years of showing, telling and listening, what I remember most is the person of Grandma herself, who shared untold hours of her God time with me.

Grandma lived alone, so I was often encouraged to go see her. Our times together were rich with words spoken, Scrabbled with tiles, or felt in our hearts. Even today, as I wonder how my mother does something, I also think of Grandma and how she might  have done it.

Does your child get to spend time with a grandparent living nearby? Yes? Your child is blessed! No? Then why not adopt a “Grandy” from your neighborhood or church? Give the new Grandy the gift of your child’s innocence, curiosity, sense of awe, searching for truth, drive to ask questions, and more. Most senior people understand the Childrenese language. They are wise. They see through children’s eyes. The influence of a Grandy on the life of your child might be key to how your child grows and lives for the rest of his or her life.

In our church, we once had twelve senior citizens and twelve young children. We paired them–child and “adopted Grandy”, encouraging them to interact at church and to  remember birthdays and Christmas. On Sundays, as Grandys grinned when children ran up to them with hugs, greetings and news of the week, we witnessed the essence of gifting love.

As you plant vegetables and flowers in your garden, don’t forget to grow Grandy flowers! Plant a grandparent or two—real or adopted–in the life of your child, and watch the love grow!