Ideas for Young Ones- Room Time Play Time

"Shout out to mom for room time play time!"

Recent words I never thought I'd hear.

Room Time Play Time.  That phrase evolved when my girls were young and I needed a break from momming, so I sent them to their room to play by themselves each day for a period of time. They had to play alone in their room for maybe 30 minutes.

I think it might've been selfishly motivated, as a mom needing a break, but it was also evident to me that alone play time was good for them. The self control, the creativity and imagination, the peacefulness that it would help build were worthy pursuits, but at the time the break it gave me was my favorite byproduct. Looking back years later, my favorite byproduct is their ability to be alone, creative and imaginative.

At the time they didn't like it usually, so I tried to make it sound fun and exciting, "It's room time play time!!"  At certain stages and ages, a gate was even put up at the opened door so the little one couldn't get out. I wish I could find the pictures I know exist, of one of my girls hanging on the gate crying, begging to come out. Other times, they happily played.

Cries acknowledged, they would be reminded room time play time didn't end until they spent some quiet play time alone. Tears always soon ended and once play occured for a short time, they were let out and I felt a bit better. It wasn't like there was no bread or water...nothing like that. Though kids sometimes feel tortured, doesn't mean they actually are. :)

Of course the only pictures I could find are cute ones. Crying ones of actual room time play time do exist and I would show you if I could find them. Promise!

When mine were little, much of the current technology didn't exist, just noisy toys and music, which they used if desired.  It wasn't a time for watching movies or tv, but creative play. This is still a need in today's world, and even more so.  A half hour breakaway from technology can't harm them, but would instead have long lasting benefits.

Keep some toys that are only for this special time!

Soooo cute.......

Love the green socks and backwards sparkly shoe combo

So why did this come up recently? We had an outing, left phones at home (mean mom), and spent some time crafting outside. I heard one daughter say, "Shout out to mom for room time play time!"

After shock subsided, of course I had to ask what motivated her declaration. Here's her answer: "It was good because we were forced to be creative and now I greatly appreciate my creativity. Kids don't know how to be creative anymore." (love the use of word "forced"...but it's true I suppose!)

Well it only took a decade and a half, but Room Time Play Time has now been appreciated! (claps and cheers!!)

Days are long for moms of young ones! This is just one simple idea to implement to help both of you. It takes a little gumption to get through the initial protests, but persist and it will pay off.


Summer Ideas- "Notebooking"

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Summer is here. We love summer. Late nights followed by no early alarm clocks makes for good times.

I took some time off of blogging the last week or two, in order to soak in the last week of quiet mornings with no one home, before school ended.  I spent some time in quiet, off of my phone, computer and social media. It was a planned period of time to quiet all the voices in my head, so I could hear my own. And mainly, to focus on the still small voice of the Lord.

Though I love talking with people, reading my Facebook newsfeed, and also keeping up with my daily intake of online research, I must say that putting all of that aside for a few days gave me a much clearer mind.

In a world that offers so much fun and tempting "clutter", it's nice to get away occasionally and give our minds a rest. It's rejuvenating. And hopefully not a lost art. 

In a way it seems we may lose some aspects of creativity by constantly feeding ourselves information. By pulling away and being alone with our thoughts, true creativity and imagination is fueled.

This is something I have attempted to pass on to my girls....the need to put things down, to be able to be alone and think and create. That was a lot easier just a few short years ago before all the new distractions we have in our culture today. But it's still an attempt. And a need.

When children are little and require so much oversight,  it's tempting to just put them in front of a movie or videogame in order to catch a break. While I did that too, and it's fine for periods of time, just having a couple of creative ways for kids to spend some quality time alone is helpful.

Today's idea will break up the long summer days, give you a short break and also feed your childrens' minds and imaginations at the same time.

When my girls were little, I heard an idea from someone (wish I could remember who), loved it and ran with it! We called it "Notebooking". For some reason, we only did it in the summertime, but it's one of those things I'm so glad we did.

Before I explain, understand that my girls didn't necessarily love it at the time. It was sometimes met with groans yet sometimes with eagerness too, depending on age and mood.

The idea? Each girl got a blank three ring binder, full of notebook paper. Usually the kind with a little plastic cover over the front- that way they could decorate the cover by sliding a piece of paper in there.

When it was Notebooking time, they had to spend 30 minutes doing absolutely anything. There were no rules. Just fill it up with something that interests you. One day, hopefully, I will find their notebooks in storage and post pictures.  This could be done with any age, I know my youngest was quite young, very young. She may have just drawn, I can't remember.

I asked my girls the other day if they remembered Notebooking and they all said yes. I asked if they remembered anything they did in the notebook. (this was a good decade ago!)

One daughter wrote her own version of the "first episode" of Full House, their favorite tv show. Because Full House never explained why the mom of the family wasn't alive, she wrote an episode explaining what happened to the mom.

During one gloomy time, when Notebooking didn't sound fun, my daughter sat in her room (maybe 4 or 5 yrs old at the time??) and wrote a song called "My Room Blues". She didn't want to notebook that day, but was forced, and wrote song lyrics about it.
What's awesome about that and so funny is that she grew up to really write songs, so we joke that My Room Blues was her first song.

They spent time writing and drawing, collecting leaves and glueing them in the notebook and other things I can't recall.

I do know that they were forced to think and imagine and come up with an interest. This is an awesome activity to start when children are young, even 2 years old! They will have to look within themselves to come up with an idea, then let their imagination run wild and let them create.

Only rule (and it's for mom) - don't correct anything- there's no right or wrong.

It's fun to see what they come up with!


Tribute to my Gram Bryant

Last week we shared quite a few tributes to moms who have gone on to be with the Lord, but left wonderful legacies behind. I had one final tribute to write, but needed some pictures to include.

So just a few days ago, while at my mom's house on Mother's Day, we dug through some old boxes to find the pictures posted here today.

This is my mom's mom, Mary Bryant, or as we called her, Gram Bryant. She passed away 20 plus years ago, but having lived with us or very near us all of my growing up years, there are lots of memories!

She loved flowers and always worked very hard on her garden. One of my summer jobs was mowing her tiny lawn.

This is my mom when she was little- this pic is so cute!

When my mom was young, my grandma and grandpa ran a restaurant. Check out this old picture of it.My grandpa is the tall one on the right, and Gram is next to him. Look at that cash register!

My earliest years Gram lived with us downstairs. My Grandpa passed on when I was very little. I remember loving to sleep with my grandma downstairs in her bed, even though she occasionally gave me an eery thrill with her funny way of telling borderline spooky stories.

She was a woman of tall tales. Story telling drama. When I slept with her she put me on the side of the bed by the wall. She'd tell me "There's snakes down there" speaking of under the bed.
Why? I dunno.
But I loved it.

She was smart. She knew all kinds of poetry. We recited lots of poetry by memory in bed. A favorite was "Little Orphan Annie".

Later, growing up in Ponca City, she lived nearby our family. She never drove her whole life.
We walked to the park, to the grocery store...

Whenever my mom cooked goulash, I called to see if I could spend the night with her and eat anything but goulash.

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I spent the night with her often. We played cards, usually Rummy, while we drank coffee with lots and lots of sugar and cream.

She made fresh squeezed lemonade.

She didn't have a disposal and it was yucky to reach in her sink when we did dishes.

We filled up S & H green stamp books when she bought groceries, then traded books in for prizes. Anyone else remember doing that?

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I might have occasionally watched shows with her that I wasn't allowed to watch at home.

She loved soap operas. We watched Night Court.

She always watched church services on TV too.

She did crossword puzzles daily her entire life and knew a ridiculous amount of words.

I asked my mom to share 5 Things she's glad her mom did in raising her. Here is what she shared:

1. I'm thankful for a wonderful Mother who always loved me. I saw and felt her love.

2. She always provided the means for me to do things that I wanted to do. Private clarinet lessons, private piano lessons. She always put me first before herself.

3. She made wise decisions for me when I was too young to make the right decision. For instance, I enrolled in Latin in Junior High school, and she promptly unenrolled me stating that it would be useless to me and of course, she was right. I only did it because my best friend was enrolled in Latin but then she went on to become a doctor.

4. When I was a Sophomore in high school I took Shorthand but didn't like it so I made an inferior grade just because I didn't study or apply myself. I then told Mother that I wanted out of it but she said "NO". You will stay in the class. So I resigned myself to study and made all A's after that. I did use Shorthand in at least one or two jobs that I had.

5. She always worked hard being in the restaurant business and had very long days but somehow once she found the time to make me a Halloween costume by hand because I wanted to be a harem girl. HAHA!! I remember her sewing sequins on the top patiently, one by one. That was an act of pure love.

"I guess I miss her more than I have ever missed anyone. She was a special Mother and a very special Grandmother to my children."

(She was a fun grandma for sure. LOL that my mom wanted to be a harem girl. I wish we had pictures of that!)


Attention Moms Who Drive- Your Laugh for the Day

What a fun week this has been! There is one more story to come in this series, but my final tribute will be posted this weekend, on Mother's Day. I have to go home to my mom's and dig through some pictures first!

For now, to give you a chuckle on your Mother's Day weekend, enjoy this favorite post from last summer, for all you moms out there who can relate, Why I Can't Get Anything Done. Click this big pink word HERE and it'll take you there.

Enjoy! :)


Tribute Week- Remembering Sylvia Maris

Sylvia at age 22
Continuing our Tribute Week in honor of Mother's Day, today my friend Marcie is sharing 5 Things she's glad her mom, Sylvia Maris, did in raising her and her sister.

Marcie grew up in Savannah, Missouri. Her mom, Sylvia, grew up in Helena, Missouri just outside of Savannah. Population 300 MAYBE!! Marcie says her mom's personality was fun-loving and charismatic.

Marcie had just turned 21 when her mom passed away. Sylvia was 45.


5 Things I'm Glad My Mom Did-

1. I appreciate (now) that my mom didn't get me everything I wanted or  thought I "must have". For instance, when I was a kid, Barbie Houses just came out. My Grandmother had purchased a Barbie for both my sister and I, so of course, watching Saturday cartoons we were in awe of all the Barbie additions that were being offered. We begged our mom for Barbie Homes, cars, furniture, etc.

That summer my mom got creative and said, "Why don't you build your own Barbie house?" She gave us several cardboard boxes and sent us downstairs in the unfinished part of the basement. My sister and I spend HOURS down there cutting and taping a cardboard house together. We drew "wall paper" on the wall. We drew Kitchen counters and cabinets in the kitchen and we took our own allowance and bought blow up furniture for dollhouses for our Barbie Home.

It was HUGE when we were finally done. We had built our own Barbie Kingdom!!  We also found a big rubbermaid round tub and filled it with water for our very own Barbie swimming pool.

It struck such a chord with me. I will never forget it. I saw that creativity was a great challenge but I felt we accomplished so much! We played down there all summer long and even sewed some of our very own Barbie clothes. Being that we lived in the country, when our friends from the city came over and saw our creation, I'm sure our Barbies were considered "Redneck Barbies." (but they loved it anyway!)

2. But that would be lesson number 2 that I learned at an early age. Do not care what others think. Do not worry about pleasing man, only God.  My friends had designer clothes and shoes and purses. There was no way we could keep up with all of that and even if we could, my parents were very conservative. My mom taught me scripture that we were to look nothing like the world. That everything turns to dust. My friends had fancy homes, cars, clothes.

Along that line, she taught me (and my dad too) ...the more you have, the more you have to take care of. Learning that lesson in life has helped me so much with "not keeping up with the Jones'!!" When I have entered some houses of friends and have been tempted to desire what they have, that quote has always kept me in check. As mom used to's all gonna burn. Dust to Dust. And you can't take it with you!!

Those quotes have helped me to NOT desire the things of this world and to simplify my life. It's given me more time with family rather than keeping my house a certain way at all times and spending lots of money on myself always trying to look "fit to kill" top to bottom!! Now is that an excuse to let yourself go?? NO!!!!!!!! But you can look nice on a budget without the temptation of having it all or looking a part. Jesus would not want us to caught up in worldly things. Rather, He wants us concerned with souls and our own walk with Him!

I would mention, that although my mom was a "hands on mom", I also suspect that having my sister and I play downstairs sometimes also helped her have time to herself. Time with the Lord. And time to get the household chores going. I'm sure this helped with patience too. My own four boys now are up at the crack of dawn so the house is alive before I ever take a step! 

But I appreciate she allowed us to have a few things like a Barbie doll (mine was such a tom-boy!) but didn't give in to getting us everything. She challenged us to use our minds and work together and we did! 

3.  She always took every opportunity to witness about the Lord and what He was doing in her life...whether it was just in day to day living or later in her life with cancer. I remember my mom witnessing to EVERYBODY. The avon lady, her piano students, people we sold our chicken eggs to...  the crazy guy who escaped from the state hospital. She was always sharing about the Lord.  Mom was never ashamed and that inspired me to share my faith even when it was difficult. I remember leading my friend to the Lord in 6th grade. I know I had learned to be bold because of my mother.

4. My mom LOVED people.  From all walks of life.  Was always trying to figure out how to spread the love of Jesus. She was a Sunday school teacher. Bible Study teacher for both couples and women's bible studies. She was the church organist and sometimes the church pianist! She was the choir director. But one the most impressionable times I remember when she was willing to make a fool of herself and become "Rosie the clown!" for Vacation Bible School. She made her own costume/make-up and we drove from our home in the country into church each day. Oh the looks we received on the way!  She looked like one crazy lady but those kids loved her and by the end of the week the VBS quadrupled!!  She prepared each day, led us in songs that week and many boys and girls came to know Jesus.

5. As she was diagnosed with cancer, she was brave. I know there were moments she was scared. There were moments she was sad. But ultimately, she trusted Him with all her might and with all her soul. She knew that to die was gain. She continued to teach and serve in church through all her treatments and surgeries. I too have battled cancer just recently and because I watched her trust God through it, it encouraged me to walk through my own experience trusting Him all the way.

What I miss the most is that she wasn't there when I graduated college, when I got married or when I had my children. Oh, what I would do to pick up the phone and ask for her godly wise advice. At times, it has hurt.

But through her example and legacy, I turn to the One she turned to. I don't turn away. Only He makes all things new. She always reminded me, HE is our reward. Not this world. He will make ALL things new. We don't deserve Him, but indeed, as promised, He is our prize.


Mother's Day Tributes - Carole Coussens

This week approaching Mother's Day, we are honoring moms who have gone on to Heaven, yet left a legacy here on earth. One of the first people I asked to share was my friend Lori.

Lori and her husband Jeff used to be our fun loving, vibrant pastors, and we were blessed to have been involved with them for a season in church life. Though Lori's mom, Carole Coussens, had passed away  years prior, her name often came up in sermons and in conversation. Though I never met her, she raised 4 girls and a son who I have met, and from all observations of them, she did a phenomenal job as a mom.

Pastor Jeff described her in his sermons as a "Y'all come" type of mom, meaning everyone was always welcome. This was in contrast to the "peephole" mentality, the one who peeks through the peephole to see who is at the door, then decides whether to open it or not. Apparently, Carole was not that way. The more the merrier!

Jeff and Lori themselves have 4 children, almost all grown, and Lori's only daughter Hannah Jeanne was named after Carole Jeanne. Pastor Jeff often said in those sermons how sad it was that someone so amazing passed away so early....Lori was just 31 years old when her mom went to be with the Lord.

I asked Lori to share with you today.

"5 Things about my Mother's life for which I am thankful:

1 - She welcomed everyone into our home (no matter their economic status, race, or anything)....she truly treated everyone as if they were a family member & there was always room for more at our dinner table.

2 - She did not say critical or negative things about people...simply said, she did not speak bad words about or over people.

3 - She showed me how to love & care for the elderly as she volunteered at our town's nursing home & took us with her (my children have grown up doing this & I am thankful for that).

4 - She cared for widows in our small town without anyone knowing it by cleaning their homes, taking them groceries, or stopping by their homes to just visit (it was in her heart which is how Christ says it should be).

5 - She listened so very well when I talked & then spoke with love even when it was not what I wanted to hear. This made it easier to take her guidance & advice as I knew when she spoke, it was not impulsively...she had put thought & prayer into it.

My Mother was an amazing woman. This picture above of us was on my wedding day was 27 years ago. 
She  passed away when I was 31 - way too soon in my eyes, but I am forever grateful for the blessing that God gave me with my Mother.
She was truly a Proverbs 31 woman. My Mother has and will always be my role model."


Tribute to Gram Horseman

If I was a well planned blogger, I would have thought of these things way ahead of time and been prepared...But no, I decided today to blog about my grandma, my dad's mom, Gram Horseman.

I had only asked women to write about their moms who have already passed, but today I realized I can't leave Gram Horseman out. In my impatience that I may or may not have gotten from her, I'm not even allowing time to ask my dad or anyone else their 5 Things about her. I'll do it myself :)

Thankfully, I found the photo album I made her on her 90th birthday. She has gone on to be with the Lord since. It's fun to look back at these pictures of her and my grandpa, who we called Guy. As a kid, I always thought he looked like Bob Hope.

Things that come to mind about Gram Horseman:

Visiting her house in Kansas City. Going to the front closet upon arrival to get out the pages of puzzles from the newspaper that she'd saved  for me to do.


Pick up sticks.

When they would arrive at our house Christmas morning, bringing home made povatica bread.

You can actually order some here, though it probably won't be as good as hers. It's still yummy!!

Her tiny backyard with a birdbath in it.
One of her favorite songs "It Only Takes a Spark".

How she and Guy took my brother on vacation every summer but not me or my sister. But it didn't even seem unfair. I knew I didn't want to go fishing so I didn't care. Nowadays we worry about everything being fair...maybe it doesn't have to be.

After my wedding, how she kindly but very boldly and firmly rebuked my new brother in law whom she'd barely met, for playing a joke on his brother (my new husband) during the ceremony. She didn't mess around :)
When I aggressively plow through crowds of people in public and get called "Gram Horseman" by family. Apparently I look like her when I do that.

How she rode a motorcycle with her grandson well into her 80's and was excited about it.

The legend that late in her 80's when she had to have a tooth removed, she didn't use painkillers or medication. Ha. Our high pain tolerance comes from her.

My kids got to know her. And she didn't mind being silly.

How sad she was when she had to stop driving in her 80's.

In her 90's she didn't want to go live at the old folks home "with all those old people".

When she passed away, I received her jewelry box, which amazingly still smells the same. I always loved going through her jewelry in her bedroom.

That's more than 5 things, but I couldn't help it. And of course the one picture that won't scan is the one of our whole family with her. Why oh why. But in my impatience, I will post this anyway, without the picture, because I just have to. This was fun to write.

Happy Mother's Day week! What do you remember about your grandma?


Tribute to Big Mama

Carolyn and Mildred "Big Mama"

This week approaching Mother's Day, I thought we'd share some 5 Things Stories about some special moms who have already passed on, but who left great things with us from their lives.

I asked my wonderful mother in law, Carolyn, if she would share about her mom, our Big Mama, as our family lovingly called her.

First, I've got to share this. One of my funny memories of Big Mama, after I married into this awesome family, was sitting next to her in a car. I was in my late 20's. She was grandma. We were both wearing shorts due to summertime and I noticed that her legs didn't look a whole lot different than mine! WOW! Well thank God for good genes, because I realized everyone in this family looks amazing and doesn't really age much...yikes!! But their quality is much more than skin deep for SURE.

My girls all got to know Big Mama before she passed, for which we're thankful.

Now, let's hear from Carolyn:

5 Things…A Mother’s Day Tribute to my Mom

Being the Mom of six great children (including spouses) and 6 fabulous grandchildren, I often think of my younger years and my own Mom, Mildred, and the amazing woman she was. She is in heaven now and I am still so very grateful for the life she gave to me.

It is my joy to share in Holly’s (my Steve’s wonderful wife) “5 Things" blog. You probably should know that when Holly first started doing this, I wasn’t really sure what a blog was! I learned quickly however and now love to see “5 Things” pop-up in my emails. I scurry past lots of other things to get to it and I am constantly amazed at the wisdom and gifting of our dear Holly to touch the lives of girls, young women and their Moms. So, at her request, I am sharing today about my Mom and Steve’s grandmother, Mildred. Hope you enjoy.

Growing up in Detroit, my family was blessed with great opportunities offered back then in the big city after World War II: a good job in an auto factory for my Dad and a secretarial position with the US Government for my Mom. They were determined that we would “have things better than they had”, growing up in the Depression. As I look back to my growing up years, I am so grateful.

Mom’s days were spent somewhat like a Proverbs 31 woman. Her job was almost an hour away so she left home while it was still dark and got home when it was close to dark. When she got home from work she fed us, then prepared breakfast, lunch boxes and dinner for the next day. (Hmmm-no microwave-how did we do it?) She laid out our clothes for school, braided our hair, wrapped it up for sleeping. My Dad (who worked evenings) put hair ribbons on the next morning and got us off to school. I often remembered hearing the washing machine running and also smelling the next day’s dinner as I went to sleep. She often even hung out clothes in the dark before she went to work! That task alone put her in “the best Mom” category for me.

Because she didn’t drive until later in life, in order to give us some of the “better” things, for years she faithfully took my sister and me to piano lessons, clear across town on the bus and streetcar system. This was in the snow, rain and often darkness. If we didn’t become musical, it was not going to be her fault! She was also a great reader, always with a book in her hands. So we became readers-through Mom’s frequent trips with us to the public libraries-yes, once again on the bus.

It was important to Mom that my sister and I grew up to be “nice” girls and ladies, not “fast” girls who talked back, “acted ugly” and got into trouble. However, my best recollection of “the talk” was while she was ironing clothes in the basement (no permanent press back then).  I was sitting on the steps and she started talking to me about boys. I’m sure there must have been some preliminary talk but what I remember most is that I’d better not ever become a “fast” teen-aged girl and hang out with boys by myself and that I should never, ever, ever kiss a boy. That would make me become a “fast” girl and I would get into a lot of trouble! Somehow, that “trouble” word stuck with me- I don’t think I ever became a “fast” girl because it was a very, very, very long time (years) before I ever kissed a boy. When I finally did, it wasn’t a boy at all, it was a young man. Funny how some things just stick!

In her effort to raise nice girls, and probably also based on her very conservative church background, we had to wait until we were 16 to wear lipstick. Even then it couldn’t be red, it had to be natural. Funny, but to this day I don’t wear red lipstick. And heaven forbid- red nail polish! I’m still just a “natural girl” and I think it’s my Mom’s fault.

As with all of us, we have those things our parents did to us that we vowed never to do with our children. My sister and I have pictures of us wearing huge “blue jeans” with suspenders to keep them up, rolled up pant legs, coats that were way too long and sleeves that covered our hands. It was the curse of buying things big enough “so you can grow into them”. I truly believe all of those big clothes wore out before we ever grew into them! She meant well and was a great manager of money. Shopping was part of her life. We would dress up to go shopping in the big department stores in downtown Detroit, always stopping to have lunch in the department store cafeteria. We loved those shopping days before every big holiday, first day of school and before out of town trips. Having grown up wearing Goodwill and Salvation Army clothes, Mom wanted her girls to have what she never had.

There was never any question but that my sister and I would go to college. Because of my parent’s hard work, the encouragement to do our best in school, we both are college grads. Mom was a master typist and typed many late-night school papers for us even in college. She wanted us to succeed and she did everything she could to be sure we did.

Such an organized lady, when she went home to be with the Lord about seven years ago, she had all of her personal affairs in order, down to a letter in her safety deposit box. The letter started “My dear Carolyn and Pat- if you are reading this letter it means I have already gone to heaven so here are some things you probably will need to know….” A treasure of a Mom- making things right for us way ahead of time. So grateful for the gift she was to us!!

As I come to a close, to stick with the 5 Things format, this is what I'm grateful for:
1. I am grateful for her constant sacrifices, care and nurture in ways that came from a heart full of overwhelming love. I know now that it was unconditional love, birthed by the precious love of God.

2. I am grateful that she taught us the value of becoming virtuous women –with a little Proverbs 31 thrown in for good measure.

3. I am grateful through her unfailing influence that she put us in good stead for God’s destiny to be worked out in our lives.

4. I am grateful for her distinctive Mom-isms (how she did things)  that to this day remind me of her –it seems “I’m becoming my Mom.”

5. I am grateful for her guidance in every area of our lives. It can never be repaid but hopefully some of it can be passed on.

It has definitely been passed on....

Happy Mother's Day.