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Bath Recipes

I almost called this School in the Tub.

Because that’s what we did. Until the book fell into the water. Don’t worry, it’s all dry – now.

bathrecipes KimberlyA.Vogel

My daughter has a skin condition. When it flares up, lotion usually does the trick. Not this time. We had to resort to long soaks in the tub. To keep her occupied, I sat with her and read books. I tried to have her read to me, but the book was heavy and it crept lower and lower until it got wet. That was today, let’s back up to last night.

Our night started like this:

“Mom, I have tell you something, but I don’t want to because you’ll make me go to the doctor. It’s my skin condition. I have blisters. But I don’t want you to see.”

What she doesn’t know is that I’ve researched the skin condition more than what’s needed. I’ve seen the pictures. I know the possibilities. She has a very mild form. VERY mild. So mild, most people don’t even know about it. So mild, I’ve never showed her pictures and probably won’t tell her the full name so she won’t google it. When I heard she had blisters, the worst images popped into my head. The worst. Panic crept up my throat and my stomach dropped to my toes.

In the middle of facebook-messaging my friend, I asked her to pray. She gave me words of Jesus to keep me sane.

I asked my daughter to please show me.

She refused.

I demanded.

She refused.

Why? It’s her body. She’s at that age. She didn’t want to go to the doctor or use a lotion that would burn.

I don’t blame her.

But I had to make sure she’s OK.

So I brought Daddy into the picture. Or the idea of him.

“We can go in my room or your room. You can show me or you can show me and Daddy.”

I gave her choices so the element of control would be back in her hands.

She refused.

I repeated my request in a not-gonna-budge tone.

“Ok. Your room with JUST you.”

She sat on the bed with me. I gently looked. And started breathing. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t that bad.

“How long has it been like this?”

“A loooong time. Since I’ve been my age.”  (Ok. That’s almost a year. After more questions I found out it’s only been since the new year. Whew.)

Two months. Two months she’s suffered in silence.

I quickly found the oatmeal bath packet she received from her skin camp. Because it was from camp, she readily agreed to use it. 10:30 at night, I’m running her bath water. I haven’t run a child’s bath water in years. I let her roll up her pants to use her feet to swish it around.

She let me sit with her and read to her. We bonded over an oatmeal soak and books.

Today she asked for another soak. I was invited to sit with her. This time she needed to soak for 40 minutes. I was invited. We did schoolwork. In the tub.

My thoughts wandered to how blessed we are. She can wear clothes that don’t irritate her skin. She doesn’t have to sit in uncomfortable seats all. day. long. If she wants a bath at 10 am or 10 pm, we can do it. It doesn’t keep her home from learning. She can rest when she feels bad. Lotion when she needs it. And mom can stop class to google “bath recipes” when we run out of oatmeal bath packets. And what better lesson than make your own bath remedies?

Oatmeal Bath

Oatmeal has anti-itch properties. (Scientific term: avenanthramides) To make your own oatmeal powder, just put some non-instant oats in a blender. When it’s powdery, it’s ready!

Epsom Salt Bath

Epsom Salt is high in magnesium and draws toxins from your body. It also softens the skin. Many athletes use this to loosen tight muscles.

Baking Soda Bath

Baking Soda soothes dry, itchy skin. It also detoxes and has alkalinizing properties. Great for allergic reactions.

Essential oils

Adding Essential oils brings another level of healing. Find what oil works for your need. (peppermint – refreshing, lavender – relaxing and soothing, Elemi – soothing and skin support)

What are your favorite bath recipes?

What Your Child Really Wants

whatyourchildreallywantsSometimes conversations just stop you in your tracks. The words penetrate your heart and they just aren’t forgotten.

This conversation is one I pray I never forget.

I must confess, it wasn’t a conversation for my ears. I just happened to overhear it. Kids were talking – a bit deeper than the normal what happened on the playground or did you see that TV show – it was a “what I really want” conversation.

“What I really want is more time with my mom.”

“Aren’t you with her ALL the time? You home school. Don’t you stay together all the time?”

“Yeah, but she’s so busy. We’re always running around. When we ARE home she keeps doing stuff. When she’s not doing stuff she just yells.”

Can you hear her heart cry? She hungers for her mom. To just be with her. No more yelling. No more busy.

Time. Love. Acceptance.

I can also hear the mom’s heart. Homeschool. Provide opportunities. Give the kids the World. Go – Go – Go. Give – Give – Give.

Pure exhaustion. Frustration. Yelling.

Mom’s, I have a message from you. Do you hear the little girl?

What I really want is Mommy’s time. Her love. Her acceptance – HER.

Your children want you. Your time, attention, and love. To them, that is the WORLD.

Building bridges is more about time than activities – more being and less doing.

I’m in? Are you? If you could give something up to add more one on one time with your kids, what would it be? Leave a comment – it might just give another mom a great idea!

The Smile

Exhaustion wraps itself around me like a blanket. For a mere few hours over the past two days I welcomed a newborn and toddler into my home and heart. There are things a mom never forgets: how to warm a bottle, change a diaper, wipe a runny nose, and swaddle a baby. There are things we forget quickly: the exhaustion, frustration of not being able to discern a cry, how hard it is to even find time to go the bathroom, and the intense gratification of a smile.

avery smile

Photo Credit

The moment the baby first smiled at me – I became a puddle – and it made the early morning babysitting worth every second of lost sleep. I pondered my reaction to The Smile all afternoon. The Smile possessed a magical quality that filled me with warmth. I felt connected.

No matter what I did, I carried The Smile with me.  When I bought groceries at the store, I took the memory of The Smile with me. When I did daily mundane tasks (ahem…laundry and dishes), I carried the memory of The Smile with me. When I volunteered at church, I took the memory of The Smile with me. I smiled at the clerk, my family, and the children every chance I could.You know what? They smiled back. The Smile connected us.

When the doorbell rang EARLY this morning, all I could think about was The Smile. The baby was asleep. Yes, I was tempted to wake a sleeping child just to see a smile. But as I said, there are some things you don’t ever forget. One of those is to never wake a sleeping baby… even to see The Smile.

Sometimes we try too hard to connect with people. Sometimes all it takes is a heartfelt smile. Sometimes building bridges is as simple as a smile.

I’m still pondering The Smile. You see, the toddler’s smile was an empty one. An empty smile? Yes, and I’ll tell you all about The Empty Smile tomorrow. But for now, I have the toddler to follow and the baby to cuddle. All while holding The Smile close to my heart.

Mommy Time Out

**Note: as you can tell, this post is one I wrote the first week of November. I almost threw it out, but decided to go ahead and post it! Happy Reading!**

Right now I am in “Mommy Time Out” due to misbehavior. Normally I just call it having a bad day, but today I brought it all on myself. This week I haven’t felt so hot. I had an Eve and the apple moment, but I’ll tell you all about that later. What’s that? You want to hear it now? I guess I’ll tell you… So here’s what happened – at our church fall festival I was starving. Everywhere I turned there was food, and I couldn’t eat any of it. One car in the trunk or treat had apples. It was the LAST car on the farthest side. I just kept thinking about that apple. But not as much as I was thinking about the hot dogs. So I ate one… OK – two. And I was still hungry. I asked my daughter to walk over to the lady with the apples and get me one. On the way there she saw the bobbing for apples booth. Now, my skin crawls at those booths. Out of all of Halloween’s scariness, that is just plain skin crawling scary. My daughter just couldn’t resist. It probably looked appealing because for so many years she has heard NO! associated with that activity. Yes… she did it. She dunked for that apple. So very proudly she walked up to me and handed me the apple. Her entire head was SOAKED. I debated on eating it, but my hunger won out. My husband took it inside and washed it for me. I was enticed by the apple – a definite Eve moment! And that, my friends, is why I think I feel so cruddy this week.

In fact, I feel so cruddy I’ve slept in every morning. Some mornings I woke up at 7, one or two mornings I slept all the way until 8. Losing my early morning solitude translated into loosing my early morning time with the Word. I still kept up with my Bible study reading, but that’s just not the same as truly digging into the Word. And that, my friends is what lead me to my Time Out.

I’ve been grouchy. All day. I prayed, listened to Christian music on the radio, had alone time in the car, and now I’m here. Alone. In my room. Ahhhhhh. It’s just what I need. A good book and a nap without distractions sounds divine.

Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.

Did I say without distractions?

Pause right here.

What would you do?

I want to ignore it, but the incessant knocking would continue louder each time. I want to yell for them to go away, but that usually ends up with whining and everything becoming an emergency. And tears. Lots of tears. Instead I sweetly ask, “What do you need? Momma’s resting.”  The truth is – I don’t always respond sweetly. Remember, I’m in time out – for good reason.

No matter what, one thing I know – Mommies don’t REALLY get a time out. (Unless Daddy is home.) But taking a Mommy Timeout is always a good thing. No matter how short it is. Truth is, if I had poured myself into the word all week, a Mommy Timeout wouldn’t be needed.

Sometimes more work is accomplished in bridge building when taking a break.

Whispers of Strength

Sometimes God’s hand moves in powerful ways. He pushed aside the waters of the sea and held them back to so His people could cross on dry land.

Sometimes God’s hand moves in little ways. A movement barely even noticeable, but enough to send a butterfly across my path, reminding me of His love, and bringing tears to my eyes.

Sometimes God’s Word shouts into our hearts. We drop to our knees instantly, praying, moved to seek forgiveness and mend a relationship.

Sometimes God’s Word whispers gently. A whisper so soft the moment almost passes, yet that simple conviction brings a year of growth.

Today is a day of whispers and conviction. The whispers have been there before, I am sure of it, yet my heart did not recognize or receive it.

I am busy.

My whisper of conviction – slow my heart. Just because my body is moving doesn’t mean my heart needs to follow that pace.

  • Slow your heart. Think through each activity and event. Face them with a calm readiness instead of a hurried whirlwind. It is the whirlwind that knocks bricks off of bridges.
  • Show your children there’s a better way. Don’t become upset with them if they are not prepared when you aren’t either.  Be prepared and place more bricks on the bridge giving it strength.
  • Listen for the whispers of strength.

Take time to slow down and enjoy the connection, building bridges with preparation instead of taking them down through hurried whirlwinds.

The night the lights went out.

Summer Storms. Sometimes they come out of nowhere. Just like the storm I talked about last week.

The storm surprised me. (I think it surprised it most of our area too.) I hadn’t paid a bit of attention to the sky or the weather. In fact, I was pretty oblivious to anything outside the walls of our house. Well… except for Facebookland and the neighborhood pool schedule.

The kids and I worked as a team and secured the needed items for a powerless night. Little did I know the powerless night would end up being powerful. But for now, back to our list of supplies: candles, matches, flashlight, more candles, board games, camping stove, candles, and – you guessed it – MORE candles! We had plenty of light, all over the house, complete with dripping wax.

We started the night without lights playing board games we haven’t seen in years. Dad walked into house full of candlelight and laughter. Normally, when the power goes out and there’s a storm, the kids are not-too-happy and usually a bit scared or whining about the enormous level of boredom. I must admit, mom at times also joins in on the not-too-happy attitude mixed with worry about no AC. On this night, when the power went out, the first question was “what are we going to do?” (translated – What we will do since the TV is off?) The second question was “What are we going to eat?” (no translation needed).  Instead of complaining, someone answered with “GAMES!” and “I’ll get the camping stove!” As soon as the camping stove flared on, the meal became 4 star quality! I had planned on a simple dinner of breakfast tacos. There was such a rustic feel, it gave a completely different vibe to our meal. Who knew cooking indoors with a simple camping stove could elevate the meal? I am so thankful we didn’t hop into the car for some take out or fast food. We would’ve missed the opportunity to share this experience together.

After dinner, we sat down for a family game of Apples to Apples. Laughter prevailed. Dad went outside to do some yard work while it was cool. The rest of us stayed indoors to keep our game going. Three hours later, we finally called it a night. Who knew Apples to Apples could last that long?! Usually, when we play a game, it’s for the older kids and the younger ones are left out, or it’s for the younger ones and the older kids beg their way or out of it. Not this time with this game. We all played. We all laughed. We all got along.

The windows stayed open for some air flow. I was sitting on the couch with my back to the window. My husband was outside cleaning up debris. He tried to get my attention through the open window.  Can you picture what’s going to happen? All he did was say my name. I jumped a mile high. Actually, I didn’t just jump. I screamed. When I screamed, EVERYONE screamed. The screams melted into laughter. The kids are still talking about how much we laughed that night.

After the kids went to bed, my husband and I stayed up talking. It was refreshing to just sit and talk. There is such a calmness without the noises of a working house. I felt closer to nature hearing the sounds of the night. I took time to reflect on the evening. That’s when the power came. Not the electricity, the power. It hit me that when the power went out, no one complained. Everyone worked together. We laughed and played and got along. It was so different from the other storms that blow into our lives. What made the difference?

  • Plans. Before the storm hit, someone asked if we could play a game. I had a TV show I wanted to watch, so I was going to fit the game in before my show came on. Our plans were changed with the power outage. Instead of being upset, we adjusted.
  • Attitudes. When the wind started blowing and the clouds rolled in, we marvelled at the beautiful sight. There wasn’t an attitude of fear, but of peace and the majesty of God. Our attitudes were focused on God.
  • Peace. As the mom, I didn’t complain and gripe, but maintained an attitude of calm and thankfulness. I normally stress in stormy situations. This time I didn’t. Because I didn’t, the kids didn’t. There was peace.
  • Bridge building. The conversations earlier that day added stones of safety to our bridge. We built our bridge with uplifting words and actions. When the storm hit we didn’t sway or fall. We stayed strong.

In the midst of a storm, we built bridges. Above all, we laughed and loved. A powerless night became a powerful lesson.

Seven Sanity Savers for Summer

Summertime, Summertime, Sum-Sum-Summertime! It’s here! Although we LOVE summertime, there are a few parts about summer we dread. Here in Texas it’s the heat. For mom’s everywhere, we dread the blahs, the bickering, and the “I’m bored!!!” whining. This post is for all moms, with a shout-out to those moms clinging to their sanity and counting the days until school starts again.

1. Schedule and Non-schedule

Some kids thrive on a schedule and feel safe when they know what to expect. These are also the kids who tend to freak out a little if a schedule changes and they don’t have enough warning to mentally prepare. If you have one of these, keep a schedule, or have them make one. It can be as simple as

  • sleep late
  • wake up
  • brush teeth
  • eat breakfast
  • watch tv and swim…

Or laid back:

  • Mondays – library
  • Tuesdays – swim lessons
  • Wednesdays – Church night…

Other kids feel oppressed by a schedule. They have one all day at school and their minds need a break. A non-schedule works for them. Don’t keep one. If  you are the one that thrives on a schedule, keep it, but have room for flexibility and don’t post it if they don’t ask for it.

2. Success Chores and Serving

While kids are in school, they have lots of opportunities to complete assignments and feel good about accomplishments. During summer, they still need to feel accomplished. Chores and serving others are great ways to foster that responsibility and to avoid the mentality of summer laziness. (I’m ALL for having lazy summer days, but when the days stretch into weeks, it’s that much harder to snap the kids out of.) I’m a huge proponent of kids having chores – weekly and daily, so summer chores is a must at our house! Does anyone else notice that the more kids are at home, the more of a mess the house is? Summer is the BEST time to teach and enforce chores. Remember – praise, praise, praise, and thank your kids for a job well done! (or even an A for effort!)

3. School 

Yes. I said school. We have always done “summer school” with our kids, even before we homeschooled. The best part is that you don’t even have to tell them you are doing schoolwork! (Here is where I spare you the lecture of how easily children forget facts or slip back a reading level or two when they don’t practice skills…)

  • Pick a book to read together, out loud as a family.
  • Practice math facts.
  • Grow a garden.
  • Do crazy, messy science experiments!
  • Make a family scrapbook about your summer adventures. Have them write it as a story!
  • What did your child struggle with during the year? Find on-line sites to help you know how to reinforce those concepts.
  • And don’t forget about computer games! There are tons of free educational sites that will keep their minds sharp and they won’t even realize it’s school!

4. Safety

There’s nothing like trying to go through a summer with a cast… Remember the safety rules! Brush up on water safety tips and please make sure your kids wear helmets!

5. Saturate and Sleep

Saturate your senses with water. On the outside and the inside! Have fun at the pool – stay saturated with the cool pool water and stay saturated with sunscreen!

Saturate your soul with water. Find a special Bible study to do with the kids during the summer. If you can’t find one, just pick a book of the Bible to read.

Saturate – don’t dehydrate! It is so easy to forget to drink water when the kids are outside playing. I am learning more and more about how important it is to stay hydrated. If your child complains of headaches or dizziness, have them slowly drink a glass of water and follow-up with water during the day. Tip: Children should drink 1/2 their body weight in ounces of water. My 50 pound child should drink 25 ounces of water a day. I add extra water when they are outside sweating.

Saturate with sleep! Kids need 10 – 12 hours of sleep and teens need 8 – 10.  If you do not adhere to an early bedtime during the summer, allow them to sleep in! Many kids have growth spurts during the summer because they don’t have the pressure of school and usually get extra sleep. One time an eye doctor told me when we had eye exams the first week of summer, to check their eyes at the end of the summer because when children go through growth spurts, their eyes can change prescriptions.

6. Save TV Time

It’s easy to let the kids turn the TV on and stare at it for hours on end. I’m guilty of it myself. If you limit TV time, they are more likely to do chores, schoolwork, or play outside. Here, in Texas, we have many days that are just too hot to stay out for very long. On those days, we save TV for the hot hours of the day. If we don’t turn the TV on in the morning, chores and schoolwork are done quickly leaving time to play outside before it gets too hot. Other days, we read inside together during the hot hours, then follow book time with a TV show.

7. Slip Away

When you’ve enjoyed your kids for hours longer than you are accustomed to having them around and feel like you are going to explode if you hear “She’s bothering me” or “I’m bored!” one more time… slip away. Find a friend to switch kids with (I often find my kids stay out of each other’s hair when there is another child in the mix) or find a sitter and give yourself some “me” time!

Speaking of slipping… I am going to slip one more sanity saver in here. Seriously not serious. The only thing you should take seriously this summer is not being too serious and having fun!

What are YOUR summer sanity savers?

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