Winter Fun for the Birds!

Project Overview:

Materials Needed:  peanut butter, birdseed, pine cones (empty toilet paper rolls can work great also) and string

In my home state of Michigan, winter can often seem never-ending – particularly when you have a house full of little ones like I do!  Those days spent indoors can be turned into an ideal opportunity to do something for someone else, or in this case, someTHING else.  Namely our feathered friends the birds!

Recently we had a playdate at our house where the girls made pine cone birdfeeders.

You’d think with 3 little ones at home I would be used to mess, but I have to confess that it makes me a little nutty to have too much to clean up!  So this project was made made much cleaner and easier by giving each girl her own birdfeeder station consisting of a cookie sheet, bowl of peanut butter, bowl of birdseed, child friendly spreader and pine cones.

After a healthy slathering of peanut butter and a  dusting of bird seed, I tied string to the pine cones and the girls decorated a small tree in our front yard with the finished feeders.  They had a great time creating this project, and the birds enjoyed it as well!


Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Part of the fun and terror of parenting is watching our little ones pattern their lives after us.  I love to make things in clay and shared this craft with my children when they were growing up. One day when my daughter was in fifth grade she came home with a coil pot that was a miniature version of one I had made years earlier.

As a parent this gave me a surprise and a jolt!  What stimulates and drives us will drive our children. They may not be able to communicate it verbally or intellectually but they know internally what we admire, worship and hold up as most important.  What excites us will excite them.  What we get from God’s word they may not be able to completely grasp but they understand it on an emotional level.  Isn’t that like faith? Because of their natural inclination to trust, admire and depend on us they naturally model themselves after us.

14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  (Matt, 19:14, NIV).

When Jesus said, “do not hinder the children,” most parents agree they would never want to stop a child from going to Christ. As children of God we are modeling an image of who we are in Christ and are given wisdom to correct what He may see in us that is acceptable or needing adjustment, or balance. Just like we as parents’ correct unsightly or undesirable behaviors in our children.  Do our children see a parent who seeks out and finds joy in the word of God? Our children already know what we have set aside in our lives as valuable. So how can we be sure they understand that we value Christ? Simply by setting aside time to read, pray and share our joy. Even after a hectic day the simple truth of Christ in a picture book, or better yet one told from memory, will let them know we have a heavenly Father who we depend on and who looks after us all.

Roslyn Alexander

Valentines Day – joy or disappointment?

Tomorrow is Valentines Day. Can you think back to a time in your childhood when you felt left out, especially on Valentines Day? Of course you received a box full of valentines from most, if not all, of your classmates. But you couldn’t help but feel a little jealous of the girl who got a box of chocolates or flowers along with her valentines.

In recent years schools have been bombarded with flowers and gifts for students on Valentines Day from sweethearts and from parents and relatives – which means once again the “haves” will shine while the “have nots” will do their best to maintain a happy face in spite of feeling left out.

How do we prepare our children for Valentines Day? Parents usually have some idea whether their children are likely to get the super-valentines or not. A little parental wisdom might be helpful whichever side of the fence the child is on.

The fortunate children can be taught to recognize that other children are hurting. They might find ways to “share the love.” Perhaps they could offer a piece of candy out of their box of chocolates to the friend who feels left out. Most importantly, they can show kindness rather than putting on airs of superiority.

But what can you do if your child is among the ones who are not likely to receive a super-valentine? You might share a time in your childhood when you were disappointed on Valentines Day. Let your child know these feelings are normal. You might also ask how many children received super-valentines, then compare that number to the number of children in the class. This might help your child to recognize that not receiving a super-valentine doesn’t make him/her strange, but very normal.

Above all, find a way to let your child or children know how special they are in your eyes. Serve a super-special supper on Valentines Day with their favorite foods and a desert that says “I love you” in its own way.

If for some reason you are unable to do something special on Valentines Day, you might plan something on an alternate day and let them look forward to it. But if the promise is made, it must be kept or the disappointment over Valentines Day will sting more profoundly than if you had ignored the day completely.

Suggestions for things to do with children on Valentines Day:

  • Make homemade valentines and/or gifts for relatives. (click here for ideas)
  • Bake a strawberry cake or serve strawberry shortcake.
  • Visit a shut-in and give him/her a homemade valentine.
  • Watch a Charlie Brown Valentines Day video.
  • Visit the park or zoo if it is warm enough.

Enjoy your Valentines Day. Share the love of  Christ with someone who may feel alone today.

Reading the Bible with the Children You Love

I remember sitting in first-grade reading circle when the letters on the large book on the easel suddenly formed words. Sit, Spot. Run, Jane. Run, Dick.

I could read!

Not long after that, my mother took me to the children’s library in our town to get my very own library card.

From then on I read nearly nonstop. Cereal boxes at the breakfast table. My Brownie and Girl Scout handbooks.  “Dear Abby” in the newspaper. Stacks and stacks of library books. But my childhood love of reading didn’t translate into a love of reading the Bible until many years later.

I’m not sure why. The Bible seemed mysterious. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Why didn’t that shepherd guy (there was always a picture of King David as a young shepherd) want the Lord?

Although I had a children’s Bible, no one opened it up with me and said, “Let’s get to know God better.” I’m not faulting anyone. We all do the best we can at the time. My parents took me to church every week. I had dedicated Sunday school teachers. I went to VBS. I heard the stories. I sang in the choir. God managed to get hold of my heart somehow. But I wasn’t firmly rooted. Not for a long time. I needed to know the word of God.

Are you a parent, grandparent, or child care provider? A favorite aunt? An amazing array of Bible storybooks and children’s Bibles awaits you in bookstores and online. In my next posts, I’ll provide some guidelines for choosing the right ones for the children in your life and some tips for using them.

You can read to your children directly from a full-text Bible as well. Have you ever wondered if that can work? Would it hold their interest? Can they understand it? What do you do about the parts that need censoring for a few more years? (The Bible is anything but candy coated!) Here’s a link to an article with fascinating insights to those questions:

Until next time, I pray for all our beloved children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, to understand clearly that God’s words are the path to knowing him and the path to life. It’s never too late to read the Bible, and it’s never too early to start.

Question: Does your family read the Bible aloud?

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© 2012, Diane Stortz



Valentine’s Day Salad

As Valentine’s Day approaches, your children or grandkids may be breaking out the construction paper, scissors, glitter and glue. Along with red paper hearts come lots of sweet treats. Kids love baking heart-shaped cookies and eating candy hearts, but the sugar adds up fast. For a fun treat full of antioxidants, try this Valentine’s Day recipe using bell peppers – red ones, of course!


Red Bell Pepper Hearts Salad

You will need:

1 bag mixed salad greens

1 pint cherry tomatoes

3 large red bell peppers

small heart-shaped cookie cutter* (metal is better)

What to do:

Wash mixed greens and arrange on plates. Wash tomatoes and peppers. An adult can cut tops off peppers and remove seeds. Use cookie cutter to cut out as many hearts as possible from pepper bottoms. Arrange red pepper hearts and cherry tomatoes on a bed of salad greens. Top with your favorite dressing and enjoy. Serves 4-8, depending on size of salads.

Toddlers and preschoolers can wash the veggies in a colander, using cool water. Kids may need help with the cookie cutter because the outer skin on bell peppers can be a little tough.

Red bell pepper hearts are great for dipping, too! 

*If you don’t have a tiny heart-shaped cookie cutter, an adult can use a paring knife to cut heart shapes from the pepper.

Blessings to you,

Beth Bence Reinke