When Going with the Sister to Visit the Fiance

When my work schedule changed and I ended up having a few days free that I thought weren’t going to be, I made fast plans Wednesday to head out Thursday for a weekend trip with Chelsy. She was planning to visit her fiance, John, over the weekend, and when I asked her about going along, she said “of course!”. So after working Thursday forenoon, then snagging a coffee date with an out of state friend who was in town, I headed home and joined up with Chels, where we loaded up and headed to Kansas.

We talked pretty much faster than we drove (which might be saying alot:), and enjoyed every minute of the time together. Chels bought us dinner at Subway, which is one of our mutual favorite places for a quick “grab and go”.

Just a little note here: treasure the time with your family. Chels and I are extremely close, and knowing that she is soon going to be moving away makes me all the more grateful for the times we have had and are having together. And of course I look forward to visiting her after she moves to Kansas and making many more memories together. But this little trip together was pretty special, since we’ve done so many road trips together in the past, and now that she’s getting married, our “sister road trip” days are probably at an end.:)

I got to help Chels and John work on their house, which was super fun! It’s alot of work, but one thing’s for sure- these two aren’t scared of hard work! And they sure do look adorable in the process!

And so another road trip with my dear sister is in the books, and I am reminded of what a gift it was. It may have been just a weekend trip to visit her fiance and work on their house, but to me it was extraordinary. 

“Sometimes the most ordinary things could be extraordinary, just by doing them with the right people.” -Nicholas Sparks

-Allison

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10 Free Activities to Do With Little People this Fall

Some of you may have read my recent post here about loving the littles in your life.

Today I am sharing 10 Free Activities to Do With Little People This Fall. The reason I say “little people” instead of “little siblings” is that some of you don’t have siblings, or are one of the youngest in the family, or no one in your family is “little” anymore! But even if you don’t have little siblings, you have little people in your life- nieces and nephews, or kiddos at church, or maybe neighbor children, etc.

Make it one of your fall goals to invest in the little people in your life- you won’t regret it!

Here are some ideas for spending time with littles:

1. Do a picnic at the park.

What kid doesn’t love going to the park?! I know my younger siblings do! This spring I went with my little siblings to meet up with my brother’s fiance (now sister in law!) and her little siblings at our favorite local park. We took picnicky foods to share, and had a fantastic time! A few recommendations for an awesome park time: pack plenty of water and yummy but simple food (we did sloppy joes, hummis and chips, veggies, cheese, and fruit), plan adequate time (a few hours is good), and make sure you play with the kids at least part of the time!

2. Go on a walk to the creek.

Little people that visit our farm always love to walk up the road to our bridge where we can throw stones down into the water. On the way back, we might stop in the orchard for an apple.:) If you live near a creek, this is a fun way to get the kids outside and enjoy the beautiful day!

3. Do a baking project.

There are so many delicious things to bake in the fall! Pick something that isn’t too complicated, and make it a party! Apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, apple cake, pumpkin custard, and the list goes on! Fall calls for baking, and little ones are always up for baking something sweet.

4. Pick up leaves and do a craft project.

You could press the leaves and use them to make cards, or go on pinterest and search “fall craft with leaves”. Leaves are free, and they are so beautiful!

5. Create fall decorations.

This is especially good for a big “older littles”. My sister Liz went all out last fall decorating on our porch with cornstalks, a chalkboard sign, and more. It was amazing. 10-13 year old girls seem to love decorating, and there are lots of fun options in the fall.

6. Rake leaves for the elderly.

This is a great way to teach children to love serving others. Especially if you live in town, this would be a wonderful opportunity to get to know neighbors, and show some lonely elderly person love!

7. Arrange fall bouquets.

If you have flower beds, use some end-of-season blooms. Even if you don’t have your own flowers, scour the ditches for wild blossoms, or simply find some longs twigs with leaves, grasses, weeds and such to create a pretty arrangement.

8. Can or freeze vegetables for winter.

Especially if you have a garden, this is a great project to do together. My siblings canned with my mother while the tomatoes were in season, and they did a great job!

9. Eat lunch in the yard.

Fall days can be so perfect! The air is just a little crisp, without being to hot or cold.

10. Make them hot chocolate on a chilly morning or evening.

It’s hard to believe that chilly mornings are already here (at least in the Midwest)! Even though the days are warm, evenings and mornings are beginning to be chilly, and nothing hits the spot for little ones like hot chocolate. While you might rather have coffee or tea (or maybe not:), making a pot of hot chocolate for the littles is sure to make them smile and feel extra loved. They can even help you make it, or you can deliver it as a special treat while they are studying (if they’re homeschooled). If you are on a farm like us, this can be perfect for an after-chores treat on a chilly morning.

Which of these would you like to try? What are some favorite fall activities you do with your little people?

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5 Ways to Love the Little People

1. Treat Them Like Adults.

Obviously not all the time, ok? But really, get down on their level and ask them about their day, find out what’s going on in their head, and don’t talk down to them. Treat them like their opinions matter. They can tell if you are bothered by them or if you think they’re the greatest thing ever. Don’t talk down to them. Let them know you believe in them! We tend to rise to the expectations placed upon us; therefore, it stands to reason that if you treat your little siblings like little pests, they will be little pests. But if you treat them as valued friends true best buds, they will tend to confide in you and return the respect.

2. Write Notes.

Kids LOVE getting a sweet little note at random times! I like to write about something notable I see them doing, or tell them how happy I am that they’re my sibling (or friend), or just tell em they’re special! Doing an act of service (like completing a chore for them or making their bed) and leaving a note behind will totally make their day!

3. Plan Fun Activities.

Some of my best memories with the little people in my life have been fun outings I have been able to take them on. There are so many things I love to do with them!

4. Make Yummy Treats.

Oh, how they love this! Just this evening, I happened to be home with my four youngest siblings. Liz asked if we could have these little chocolate things from the cupboard. “No, but don’t brush your teeth, because we’re having dessert later!” I said. After a competitive word search together, I made chocolate chip milkshakes for them as a fun surprise. They were thrilled! It was an easy way to add an extra-special touch to our evening together.

5. Give the Gift of Time.

Younger siblings and little friends need the thing that is in scarcest demand in our world- T.I.M.E. I know it isn’t easy, but stopping to listen when we’re “busy”, or taking time out of our jam-packed schedule to plan something fun to do together….these things speak love to them like almost none other.

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One Thing You CAN’T Fail To Do

Yes, it’t that morning time with the Lord. That one thing you CAN’T fail to do.

It’s the sweetest part of my day, the honey of life, the one daily delight to look forward to that adds more to my life than any other activity or ritual could.

That morning time with the Lord. Oh, how sweet. I have found that rushing through or skipping it is disastrous. A day that isn’t started quieting my heart and soaking in His Word- it just isn’t the same.

If you are struggling to make that time with Jesus happen every morning, I’d encourage you with a few things.

Just do it whether or not you “feel it”.

Don’t wait till you wake up and feel like it. Make a conscious choice to do what will strengthen and help you.

Too often Christians rely on their feelings, but the Christian life is not to be lived by our feelings, but by faith.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” II Corinthians 5:7

Set your alarm and GET UP.

This is huge! Of course, it greatly helps to go to bed at a reasonable hour the night before.:)

Figure out your schedule and work backwards instead of getting up when you feel like it. So, if I know I need to be ready to eat breakfast and start the day’s work at a certain time, I need to work backwards, allowing time for a run, shower, cooking breakfast, and whatever else

Time with the Lord belongs at the beginning, first of all.

Shut off your phone.

I usually have my phone on airplane mode for the night anyways, but I have made a habit to not turn it off airplane mode till after my quiet time.

There is nothing as distracting as that alluring device dinging beside you, or even just sitting there calling your name, while you are trying to focus on time in the Word and prayer.

Make a routine.

Whether or not you are much of a “schedule” person, make some morning habits that turn into a healthy routine that helps you consistently start your day with the Lord.

My morning routine (usually) looks like this:

Get up. I try- at home especially- to get up at the same time every morning. This helps my body know when it’s time to get up, and I usually end up waking before my alarm.

I detest the snooze button, because I feel like it’s nothing but laziness for me to push it. If I have decided the night before what time I need to get up, then why would I let my flesh overrule in the morning and chop into what is going to be more beneficial (time with the Lord) than that extra sleep in the long run?

And if you’re really so tired that you can hardly drag yourself out of bed, than maybe you need to discipline yourself to go to bed earlier.

Brew coffee and get a snack. Yes, I usually drink coffee and eat something before 6am. That’s a whole ‘nother story…:)

Sit on the couch for quiet time. What I actually do during my quiet time varies a bit, but my Bible, journal, prayer journal, and pen are almost always there, and I usually start with Bible reading and then move on to whatever. I LOVE keeping record of what I’m asking the Lord for and how He answers, so my prayer journal is perfect for that.

Place extreme value upon this time.

We cannot even realize the value of the Word of God. We don’t know the full power of coming boldly to the Throne of grace. How can we fathom His worthiness of our praise and adoration? He is so holy, so righteous, so loving.

Truly, seeking Him FIRST in the morning should be extremely important, more important even than our physical food. It is our sustenance, our spiritual daily nourishment.

“Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.” -Job 23:12

 

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The Sandwich Principle: How to Deliver Criticism to Your Siblings in Love

The Sandwhich Principle

A sweet friend shared this with me awhile back, and in light of my recent post about our character as sisters, I wanted to share this amazing idea with ya’ll!

As a sibling, their will be those times when we HAVE to point out things in our siblings lives- weaknesses, something they did wrong, etc. Our hearts are to help them grow.

Sometimes figuring our how to give admonition in a kind way can be tough! Enter The Sandwhich Principle! Here’s the idea:

You need to give a little constructive criticism to a sibling.

Instead of “Hey, Johnny, I need to talk to you. Do you have any idea what you just did (insert whatever mistake or action that needs to be corrected)? Why do you keep doing that? You need to stop and change! That is such a bad habit.”

Try this:

So first you sweetly take the sibling aside (always give criticism in private). You point out something in their life that is sweet + good. It may even be related to the issue at hand. For example, maybe your younger sis is bossing the littles kids around. You say something like, “Hey, I’m really blessed by the time you take with the younger ones! They love when you play with them!”

Then you insert the criticism, “You may not realize it, but you are taking charge and telling them what to do a lot, and being kinda bossy. I know you want to be kind, but sometimes when you treat them this way, it makes them feel sad.”

Top it off with another affirmation such as, “The younger ones look up to you so much! When you are sweet to them, they will want to act the same way.”

See what just happened? You “sandwiched” a criticism in between two sweet affirmations! Your sibling will be much more likely to listen and not be hurt by your instructions when you deliver it in such love!

The formula is:

praise + constructive criticism + praise = instruction/criticism given in an edible way! (We don’t want our siblings gagging on our “help” because it’s so harsh and sour!)

-Allison

ps. the photo above is my sweet sis-in-love to be, Cassidy, and I, with some of her siblings and mine on a lunch/play date at the park this summer. She is actually the wise soul that shared the “Sandwhich Principle” with me awhile back, and I am so grateful for her example in cultivating sweet + affirming relationships with younger siblings.

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