Category Archives: Parenting Tips


Tuesday Tips for Parenting – Cooking Creates Memories

new logoLast week I was too tired to post a parenting tip. Such laziness! I repent of my sleepy ways. Never again will I choose sleep over blogging.

I have asked two friends to come in as Guest Bloggers for our Tuesday Tips for Parenting. I can’t wait! They are both amazing moms and I know you will love them and learn from their wisdom and experience. Thankfully this is a very slow time of year for families and moms in particular, so they have plenty of time to come by and share some thoughts with us. Ha! In other words, I’m not sure when we will welcome them to the blog, but I hope it will be soon.

In the mean time, let’s talk about COOKING with Children.

Cooking with your children is a fantastic way to train them in practical life skills, create memories, enjoy parent/child time, and participate in something that benefits the entire family.

Joshua's creation

This creation was definitely worthy of a photo.

Not only that, but you get to sit back and relax and let someone else take care of dinner and dessert. Of course, depending on the age of your children this can be more or less helpful.

I would be sure to write up a serious, rock solid contract on the kitchen clean-up duty before you enlist your children in cooking.

chocolate faceeating pineapple

Sometimes the younger children appear to make a mess and eat more than they actually help. Do not panic, that is just one step along the way to training great chefs.

sarah's got the beef

Sarah and Daniel made mini pizzas, with canned biscuits serving as the crust, as part of our dinner this evening. One way to ensure a child’s interest in a project is to offer it to a sibling. Nothing gets them rushing to help like thinking their brother or sister is having more fun than they are. Using Sibling Rivalry to Build Character would obviously be another great parenting tip. Maybe next time.

daniel's saucy

Daniel had the sauce step figured out. He tried to work with Sarah but she was just a little too heavy handed on the sauce for his liking. She obviously takes after her father. We call him The Sauce Man (but not to his face).

now some cheese

This picture should be entitled: “Pretend You Like Each Other and Weren’t Just Fighting Over the Sauce” or maybe “Staging Sibling Love for the Cooking Blog.” Not catchy but pretty accurate.

almost ready

You can see that we really did have sauce issues going on this evening. Another great reason to add cooking to your parenting toolbox. You can work out conflict, teach lessons about patience and acceptance, and do math all while making dinner. If you’re very, very lucky the children will have learned something, had fun in the process, and the meal will be edible.

So tell me, do you make it a regular practice to work in the kitchen with your children? Are you purposeful about it or is it something that just happens naturally throughout the week? What types of things are you making – baked goods, desserts, side dishes, or entire meals? Are your older children capable of planning and preparing a complete entree themselves (with more than one dish)? Do you have specific goals for your children in this area? Have you taught them some of the more complicated tasks – canning, making bread, baking pies, working with (gasp) raw meat? My older two have trouble dealing with uncooked beef or protein.

I’d love to hear what you are doing with your children regarding cooking. Please feel free to leave a comment. Thanks!

Project 365 – Day 346

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I wish I had a Parenting Tip

But I don’t. Not today. Not this evening when I’m too tired to be insightful, creative or witty. I thought about about something novel I’m trying with the children. “That would make a great blog, I said to myself, picturing the staged photos that would be perfect with the post. But since I just started today, it seems a little premature to share it with the blogosphere.

“Is this a new rule or an old rule, Mom?” my oldest son asked me last night when I told the kids we were going to try something different.
“Um, it’s not exactly new, no,” I mumbled.
“Oh, I got it. It’s an old rule that you are going to start enforcing,” he nodded sagely.

What does that mean and why did he look so world-weary when he said it? I guess an old familiar family standard is better than a shocking new one. This particular child doesn’t like change so he’s understandably wary when I charge off in uncharted waters, whether it relate to parenting or homeschooling or life in general.

I’ll let you know how it goes some time this month. Let’s just say I collected a quarter from at least one child today.

Maybe I can get the children to pay for my coffee habit. Some more coffee and I might be able to stay up and write my parenting posts. See how it all comes back to coffee. It’s an addiction, I can admit it.


That shark looks like trouble, but Sarah isn’t worried.

Get ready for this week’s Works for Me Wednesday. It’s the first Wednesday of the month and the theme is Backwards Day. Instead of sharing a tip, people post a question and readers give advice and counsel. Last time we discussed chores, menu planning and showing love to your children. There were some great responses and I can’t wait to hear from people again this week.

What shall we discuss? Any thoughts? Any burning questions to which you know other Duckabush blog readers hold the answers? Life, liberty and the pursuit of coffee?

I’m definitely too tired to be blogging. :)
Until tomorrow,
Project 365 – Day 309

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Tuesday Tips for Parenting — Take a Break

new logoFor the past two months or so, we’ve been presenting “Tuesday Tips for Parenting”, some of which have been well-received, and others that have been simply, er, received.

We’re away from our dear kiddos as we attend this church leadership retreat, so we didn’t really have anything to say about parenting, except that is awfully nice to take a break, every now and then. Your marriage provides the water in which your parenting is accomplished — if the marriage suffers, it becomes much more difficult to parent from a balanced perspective. While we’re here, purportedly, to build relationships with other church leaders, truth be told, Kathy and I are mostly having fun with each other.

Our children are fortunate to have grandparents on both sides of the family that love them and take an active interest in their lives. Over the years, we have been thoroughly blessed by our parents’ willingness to pinch-hit for us, sometimes for days at a time. Today Kathy and I walked down the beach for more than two hours, renewing our souls and our relationship with each other, secure in the knowledge that our kids were safe and well cared-for. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

I’ve written the last couple of blog entries, as Kathy stays up late playing Cranium with the girls, or working on her BSF lesson. “Enough is enough,” I scolded her. “You need to write a blog tonight, or we’ll lose all our readers.”

Kathy was unfazed. “You write one, and then I’ll fix it for you and make it funny.” She waved her hand dismissively in the direction of the laptop.

Humph. I think she just doesn’t want to write because she knows we have no pictures to share — whenever we fail to come up with eye candy for our demanding readers, we get a lot of guff. In all honesty, I must admit that Kathy has a rare gift for tweaking my blogs to give them that extra edge of humor. If you’ve ever laughed out loud while reading one of my posts, it is likely because of her inspiration.

As I said, today we walked along the Oregon Coast, admiring the sun and the surf and some glorious rock formations (including Haystack Rock). Here’s one of the pictures we took, but can’t download (because Kathy forgot her camera cable):

Haystack Rock

And here’s one of Kathy looking pretty, about to be splashed by the surf:

Kathy and the Surf

As you can clearly see, it was a glorious change from all the rain we’ve been having, and a great day to visit the beach. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s “Works for Me Wednesday” posting, which will (I hope) be written by my lovely bride.


Oh, all right, here’s a picture. We didn’t take it, but it is pretty much what we saw today.

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Tuesday Tips for Parenting – Throw Out Your TV!

new logo Apart from teaching us to love Jesus, one of the best things my parents did for me and my siblings was to fail to buy us a TV. Oh, we had a 9″ black & white TV for about 15 months while my grandmother lived with us — she was almost entirely blind and liked the noise for company. And my folks used to rent a TV and a VCR on a few long weekends during the winter for video-fests … so we weren’t completely TV-free.

The rest of the time, we didn’t have one at all. When others talked about “Who shot J.R.?” (I thought they were talking about Tolkien) or the latest escapades of Don Johnson in Miami Vice, my eyes would glaze over. I thought Moonlighting was working a second job, and wondered why it was so popular among high school students. Some people thought I was pretty weird: “You don’t have a TV?” they would gasp. Some assumed that our family was poverty-stricken, and would check to see if I was wearing shoes. Even in those days, not having a TV was unthinkable, for some.

Scootin' Along
Sometimes it is good to ride your scooter. This was one of those times.

Recent (2006) statistics from Nielsen, according to The Center for Screen Time Awareness indicate that the television has continued to become more and more important in the lives of American families. The average home in this country has more TVs than it has people, allowing each of us (on average) to watch 4 hours and 35 minutes of televised programming, day in and day out.

As a teenager, I began to appreciate the advantages of being TV-free. I was proud of the fact that our family was different, and I would look for opportunities to provoke astonishment:

Friend: So, my Science Report topic is on the Feeding Habits of Giant Squid.
Me: Say, that reminds me, did you know that our family doesn’t have a TV?

I was often very subtle about the way I would work it into the conversation, as you can see.

People used to ask me, “What do you do, without a TV?” Mostly, I read books, played games, rode my bike and played football or tennis. I used to mow lawns and do other yard work; later in high school I worked a job at a local hotel a few nights a week. When I couldn’t think of anything else to do, I did my homework.

When Kathy and I were first married, we decided not to have a TV in our house. Eventually we found a way to watch movies through our computers, and in 2003 we caved and bought a TV for use with our DVD and VCR players. Technically, then, I do have a TV, so I can’t occupy the moral high ground … but I will say that we have never watched any broadcast show on it. We limit what we watch to movies or shows that have been taped or recorded, and we are pretty discriminating about what we watch, and when we watch it. We generally only let our kids watch movies that we have pre-viewed, and we require the kids to pay a poker chip when they do watch a video. Neither Kathy nor I are particularly immune to the lure of TV — we’ve found it best to not allow it a foothold.

I think there are some huge advantages to eliminating broadcast (or cable) TV from your home:

  • Cost — many people pay $30-$100 per month for cable. What a huge savings, if you eliminated that drain on your resources!
  • Commercials — companies wouldn’t keep advertising their products on TV if commercials didn’t work. Who do you want to dictate your family’s spending, you or some company that doesn’t have your best interests at heart?
  • Protection against immorality — more and more, shows on broadcast TV and cable are ‘pushing the envelope’ of violence and sexual immorality. As children are exposed, they become acclimated to this filth that is so attractively packaged and humorously distributed, so that they come to believe it is ‘normal’ and appropriate. Even adults are susceptible to temptation and being deceived, last time I checked.
  • Time — it has been estimated that the average adult spends 40% of his or her free time watching TV. Getting rid of your TV might be a great way to reclaim a large bucket of time in these days when most people consider themselves stressed for time.

Worship at the Shrine
We keep ours in the garage, where nobody can see us making our offerings and burning our incense.

My largest objection to TV, especially the kind that you allow to be ‘pushed’ onto your family, is that it seems to serve as a concentrated avenue, inside the home, for worldly philosophies to attack you and your children. If you watch TV long enough, you can’t help but begin to subscribe to some of the ideas that are ‘preached’.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.
– I John 2:15-17

If you are a Christian parent, have you ever thought about what you are teaching your children by letting them watch TV for hours on end? Have you ever considered the effect it has on your love for God, to allow yourself to be bombarded with a world-view that is inherently hostile to Him? Oh, I suppose there might be a handful of relatively harmless shows on TV; but they tend to be the exception rather than the rule, and few can stand up to any serious moral scrutiny.

Ride a bike!
I’ll be the first to admit that we are still a family of couch potatoes, even without a TV. How much bike riding would we do, if we allowed ourselves to watch television?

I could go on and on, but I don’t really need to. And I’m not trying to be all “holier-than-thou” — our family does not forgo entertainment. I’m just trying to bring the idea of living without a TV into the realm of the possible, for your consideration. There are lots of studies and resources available that catalog the evils of television — either you believe ‘em or you don’t. I’ve listed a few that I came across below:

Television and Health, California State University
How Television Viewing Affects Children, University of Maine — Facts and TV Statistics
TV Turnoff Network

Last, but not least, here is an excerpt from Dee Duke’s excellent parenting seminar, in which he addresses this issue:
Dee Duke on TV (Warning, 6MB file, not safe for dialup.)

While some may tout the educational benefits of television, it is interesting to note this finding from a Zogby poll:

While 59 percent of Americans can name The Three Stooges, only 17 percent can name three Supreme Court Justices.

Tim, Project 365, Day 288

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Tuesday Tips for Parenting – Play a Game

new logoThis tip is so basic, I feel a bit sheepish posting it, but I still think it’s worth sharing.

Take the time to play a game with your child.

That’s it.

Ignore the mess in the family room. Let the dirty dishes sit in the sink for an extra hour or two. Don’t worry about folding laundry. Screen calls and allow the answering machine to do its job.

Put on the kettle and make tea or hot cocoa. Pop some popcorn. Turn an everyday, average afternoon or evening into Game Night.

I know it’s difficult to set aside time with dance, gymnastics, and sporting events eating up the week days. And don’t even get me started about homework. What joy, however, to carve an hour out of the day to sit together and play a game. The laughter and time spent as a family will create precious memories and a legacy for your children.

For a great collection of game reviews (complete with pictures and detailed information), go to Callapidder Days. Katrina regularly share games that her family enjoys. I’m planning to plunder her site for Christmas gift ideas this year.

Games don’t have to take hours and hours. Gamewright sells dozens of card games, almost all of which can be played in less than 40 minutes, many in only 20 minutes. The website sorts the games by recommended age and is a wonderful resource of kid friendly games.

shall we play?

We played Citadels this evening, one of Joshua and Tim’s favorites.

Another excellent source for games of all kinds (with categories for card games, children games, dexterity based ones, 2-player games, party games, and on and on) is Newspiel. We have purchased many games from this company over the years and been consistently pleased with their prices and selection.

We are always looking for new and fun games to add to our collection. Leave a comment and share your family’s favorites.

Project 365 – Day 281

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