Archive for February, 2009

23 questions to ask you kids

School Girl Raising Her Hand to Answer a Question by Nina Leen
A few weeks ago I was searching online for various activities to do with my kids and I came across a great list of fun questions for parents to ask their children for the sake of knowing them even better. I love getting to know people by asking them questions, and I liked how this list had some unique and fun questions that might help you learn things about your kids that you don’t already know, not to mention that would be fun for your kids to answer. It is also just a good jump start to making you own list of questions or just getting in the habit on your own of asking interesting questions. The questions on this list are good for a range of ages.  Here are a few sample questions, and the list itself is available to be downloaded in the “downloads” box to the right of this post under the section labeled “categories.”

-What do you think Heaven looks like?

-What is the nicest thing I ever did for you?

-If you could be in a movie that you have already seen, which one would it b? Would you be a character already in the movie, or would you be one that you would add?

-How is love different for Christian couples than it is in the movies?

-When you pray, how do you picture God?

photo used with permission from


Family Language Learning

As I mentioned a few days ago, I received some wonderful resources on the topic of language learning from Vickie LaClare and Linda Woods, who are leaders in charge of language learning for the overseas staff of Campus Crusade for Christ.

If you look to the right side of this page, below the section titled “Categories,” you will see a new blue box titled “Downloads.” Right now there are 3 resources posted there for you.

-The first is a 61 page guide to children’s language learning that is full of information on goals, challenges, methods, activities, games, and further resources.

-The second resource listed is a questionnaire to help you assess where you are in the language learning process. It is designed to help you discover your individual challenge areas in order that you can work towards overcoming them.

-The third resource is titled “Becoming a Full Participant” and is a resource that discusses several levels of participation within a speech community and  has several questionnaires to help you assess where you are as far as fully participating in the speech community in which you live. It also provides a long list of helpful suggestions for language learners as far as how to become more active participants within our communities.

Also, here is a site that Vickie and Linda suggested as another great place to find language resources. You may need to register to be able to use this site, but it has a number of other valuable language learning resources.

Nutritious and Delicious


There is a great book out there called: Deceptively Delicious that I can’t wait to get one of these days. It is a book all about one of my favorite tricks to healthy eating: don’t let them know that it is good for them!

One of my favorite strategies to healthy cooking is hiding nutritionally packed ingredients in the recipes that my kids love most. Here are a few standard “tricks” that i use:

Ground nuts and seeds, wheatgerm, and especially ground flax seed have a way of making their way into lots of things. Hot cereal, cold cereal, sprinkled on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, sprinkled on other sandwiches, mixed with yogurt, grilled in quesadillias… there are many places to hide these boosts. You of course need a nut or coffee grinder for the nuts and seeds, but I assume that many places have such a appliance available. Oh, and ground nuts and seeds can go rancid, so you need to only do small batches and freeze anything that you don’t use right away. I just found flax seed for really cheap at the market here, so now I am especially excited.

Spinach puree is also great for adding to various dishes. I add it to soups, sauces, stir fry, spreads… Here is a recipe that my sister-in-law recommended that even uses it in a delicious dessert! You can puree other veggies and use them the same way, but i usually use spinach since we can buy it pre-pureed and in cubes here. Yea for Russia!

-Pumpkin puree is also a great and mild mix-in that won’t disturb the flavor of most things. Add it to a curry sauce, mix it into a marinara, experiment with this one.  Other mild squash purees would work great too.

-Nutrition packed marinara: My kids LOVE spaghetti and I take advantage of that fact. I use lean meat (turkey or chicken are my preferred options, but we usually only have lean beef), and then mix in the usual flax seed, wheat germ, other ground seeds or nuts, purred spinach, etc. The meat and red sauce disguise pretty much everything else both in color and texture.

-Plain yogurt is my standard substitute for anything that calls for sour cream. It works great! You can also use it on sandwiches instead of using mayonnaise (we supposedly have “light” mayo here, but it only has about 1 gram less fat than the regular stuff, or something crazy like that).

-Olive oil in brownies, muffins, and other baked goods sounds gross I know, but with extra light olive oil you can’t taste a difference.

-Applesauce instead of oil? This is a classic substitute, but in my opinion it messes with the taste and texture. If it is for little ones though, chances are they will still be excited about a special treat and won’t realize that it tastes much healthier than it should.

-“Veggie” burgers: I have heard that you can add finely minced veggies (soft ones I assume) to ground meat and use it to make burgers. I think you can use about 1/3 minced veggies proportionately. I don’t make burgers (not a huge fan of touching ground meat), so I haven’t tried this.

-Tofu: I grew up vegetarian and my mom put tofu in pretty much anything that should have had meat. Marinara sauce and stir fry were the classics that I loved. Also you can scramble tofu, cottage cheese, and shredded cheese together for a great breakfast! Add some purred veggies, diced zucchini, or kale, and put it on toast to make a balanced meal. Yum!

-Smoothies: a standard trick to getting your fruits for the day. Add frozen berries, yogurt, milk, juice, purreed pumpkin, frozen bananas (cut and freeze in small pieces), frozen yogurt… No recipe needed. Just go with what you think might taste good.

Date night!


No real post for today. It’s date night! Routine date nights…great for the marriage and lots of fun!

A Peaceful Home


I recently was encouraged by this post by the wife of one of the pastors at our home church in Seattle and thought you might enjoy it as well. It is an encouragement about allowing the peace of Christ to dwell within you, as the atmosphere of our homes will reflect what is in our hearts. This is something that has been on my mind as I strive to make our home an oasis in the midst of an often tiring culture and ministry.

Our lives as missionary moms can be incredibly busy as we balance the various demands of raising our children, managing our homes, loving our husbands, participating in ministry, practicing hospitality, learning a foreign language, among various other things.  Not to mention that for most of us, the cultures that we live in, though we love them, are still foreign and different than the culture that we were raised in and that shaped our world views, understanding, lifestyle preferences, thought processes, tastes, etc.

The most important aspect of creating a peaceful home of course is how we go about looking to achieve peace. Order and beauty help with atmosphere, but having the peace of Christ dwelling within us is of far greater affect. I know many of us don’t live in our ideal homes (no, my home doesn’t look like the above picture), but taking the concept of peace through Christ to heart means that it is perfectly possible for us to be at peace in the homes that God has provided.

This is another area that I don’t claim expertise, but where I am striving to grow. I will pray for you too as you strive for peace in your home! Please feel free to encourage us in the comments with other good resources, articles, blog posts, or any of your own ideas!

Shaving Cream Fun

Since I didn’t have any pictures of this for the last post, while my husband and daughter were having a good time at a ministry party this evening, my son and I had some fun “painting” to show you one of our favorite (messiest) forms of entertainment!




In other news, I just got some fantastic family language learning resources from Vickie LaClare and Linda Woods, leaders in charge of language learning for Campus Crusade for Christ’s overseas staff. I will be posting those resources for you soon!

Make-It-Yourself: Toys

One thing that I’ve been enjoying lately is learning about different toys that I can make for free/cheap out of household items. My kids love most of these toys as much or often even more than the ones that we’ve spent a ton more on! I know a number of you might be in places with fewer toys available, and I would imagine that all of us would enjoy not spending money if we can find a free (or nearly free) substitute. Most of my ideas are for young kids, since my kids are little, so as usual, if you think of anything to add, feel free. Here are some ideas:


-Indoor sandbox: My daughter LOVES playing with a big plastic mixing bowl full of rice. She scoops and pours it into other smaller bowls, pretends it is food, buries small items in it to try to find, etc.

-Counting and sorting dry beans: Like the “indoor sandbox,” assorted dry beans are fun to run your hands through, practice counting and basic math, and are good for sorting (by color, size, etc). You can also do this with buttons and different types of pasta.

-Painting with shaving cream: I love putting a plastic table cloth over the kitchen table spraying a bunch of shaving cream on top. Then I turn the kids loose for some finger/body painting fun. I wish I had a pictures of this one!

-Painting with pudding: Also a fun project, but paint on paper instead. Hang the finished product up high if necessary or you might find kids, who like me as a young child, liked to take their art off of the fridge to  lick for an occasional snack. Yes, I actually remember doing this in pre-school!

-Homemade play dough: I just paid the equivalent of $16 for a small-ish amount of real Play-doh at Christmas that is already past its prime. That is way too expensive to keep buying, so now it is on to the homemade stuff. There are a number of different recipes here.

-Caps and lids: My friend, Addie, gave me this idea. Save and create a collection of old jar or milk lids, or any small-ish lids really (make sure you watch out for choking hazards). Put them in a big container and they can be lots of fun for pretty much anything for small kids.

-Homemade bubbles: shampoo+water= cheap bubbles. You can wrap yarn around wire hangers and make giant bubble wands. Lots of fun for the summer!collage

-Collage supplies: Cut up your old magazines and have a stock of pictures, as well as stickers, and other things (buttons, glitter, foil…) for collages. Let your older kids cut up old magazines themselves for this purpose, and suggest that they make collages based on different themes, or to describe their week, etc.

-Indoor snowball fight: This year we ended up with over 1,000 ministry fliers that were misprinted and essentially garbage. These have turned into “snowballs” (crumbled up a bunch of them into balls) on a number of occasions and we have had quite a few fun indoor snowball fights.

-Doll diaper bag: Fill a bag full with old baby supplies for your daughter to use with her dolls.

water-playCooking and “Mom” supplies: Set aside items for your kids to pretend to do what you do. My daughter loves to pretend to cook (dishes with a little water or real ingredients in them are especially fun), and especially loves it when I give her a damp rag when I am dusting or scrubbing sticky stuff off of the floor so she can help dust and clean. A clean sponge, an empty spray bottle, a mini-broom…. lots of fun for kids. (I am hoping that this excitement about housework lasts!!!)

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