Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies, but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.

cleaning the house: 5 factors to understand to make it less stressful

There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:

1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!

2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, yet alone one you can trust.

3. It’s one more thing to add to the budget.

Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. So if you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.

Why cleaning the house matters

First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!

Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your own sweat into it. When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned!

5 factors to determine how often I clean

I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.

Pets

If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often.

Kids

The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5-years-old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help.   

Allergies

If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!

Location

Where you live plays a factor in how often to clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or pollen invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.

Personality

And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you ‘Laidback Jack’ or ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Get an understanding of who you are and how you want to move forward.

All in all

When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

3 Ways to Help My Child Lose Weight…with a Smile

3 Ways to Help My Child Lose Weight…with a Smile

The words ‘smile’ and ‘weight loss’ typically don’t go hand in hand when we are trying to lose weight. Let’s face it, diet, self-care, and wellness can be a challenge, no, it is a challenge. Then when you realize you need to help your child lose weight…oh brother. It’s okay, I get it. Why not make it fun? Seriously, this IS possible! I’ve got three ways to get your bodies (and minds) to feel and look better!

Weight Facts

Child obesity affects 1 in 5 children in the US. This means that children who are overweight now will likely be overweight when they are adults. This excess weight can not only increase the risk for them getting type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, but their mental health and self-esteem may be altered. Also, being overweight can get to be very expensive! Not just in food and clothes, but with medical bills. We all want our children to live a life full of opportunity and blessing. To give your child a head start in life start with them knowing how to take care of themselves. This is so super important, because without their health, what do they have?

The problem with child weight loss

One of the biggest issues with weight loss is that children don’t understand health all that well. They are either going to watch you or other influences to get their knowledge. Since you are their biggest influence, you can help them make the right choices and for them to have fun while doing it.

When to start?

There is no better time than right now to get started on helping your child lose weight. “But I was going to wait until New Years’?” WHY? This is what gets us in trouble, procrastination. If you wait, you’re just going to make it harder on everyone. Go about this with a gradual approach. Help your kids make the right choices with their time and dinner plates now.

3 Fun & Simple Ways to Help Your Child Lose Weight

Let them see you.

One way to make diet, self-care, and wellness fun is for your kids to see you doing it with a smile on your face, in fact, this is probably the most effective way to teach your kiddos that taking care of yourself is actually a good thing. If they see you doing it, they’re likely going to start doing it too! Remember kids see and hear EVERYTHING!

Do it with them.

Another way to help your child lose weight and make it fun is for you to do it with them. Come on, during the COVID pandemic there had been a lot of couch sitting. As we know, when it comes to the couch, the snacks come too; which eventually leads to a fully loaded butt or gut for that matter. Make a family promise to each other that together we can be healthier and slimmer! Then brainstorm together how you’re going to make this happen. This is also great because you’ll have each other to hold accountable. This approach can not only teach your kids about exercise and cooking but about love for themselves.

Make it a game.

Why not make it a game? I have a free download for you! Making anything a game for a child is way more fun than being Mr. Serious. I personally enjoy the game of Bingo. Just anticipating seeing the full line of tiddlywinks in a complete row is motivating! With my new game, Bingo Bites you win not by chance, but by choice! There are three versions: Bingo Bites Junior, Bingo Bites for 4 – 8-year-olds, and Bingo Bites for 9 -13-year-olds. These games focus on choices which, all-in-all, make a difference in their weight loss.

Bingo Bites Junior

Bingo Bites Junior comes with three cards: one card for diet, one for self-care, and one for wellness. Each card has colorful pictures and, of course, a free space! These are to be used on a daily basis until your kid gets into a habit of making the right choices in eating, grooming, and giving themselves some love. Honestly, any age can benefit from Bingo Bites Junior.

Bingo Bites 9 - 13
Bingo Bites

Bingo Bites for 4 – 8 is more complex than Bingo Bites Junior. This is one big card that covers a lot of ground! Instead of choosing what card to do, use this card to cover all territory. Bingo Bites covers all the food groups, water, exercise, manners, outside time, and reading. If you’re looking for a little help to motivate your kids, use a bingo marker they like; for instance, candy, coins, or tiddlywinks with a prize (like a soda or playing time on Xbox). BINGO!

The Bingo Bites for 9 -14 is the same except for the quantity of food and manners.

To download Bingo Bites Junior or Bingo Bites for specific ages simply go here! Remember, your first step in getting your family healthy is to take the first step. Download today! Did I mention is was FREE?! Yep. It’s free!

One last thing! I know rewards are super important for a child. Typically we reward with food. I get it, I do it too! All I’m saying is to change it up once in a while. By changing up the prize from a donut to a game of Connect 4 with mom or more gaming time, it helps the child appreciate each prize a little bit more. Plus they’ll understand that a donut isn’t an everyday food.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Infertility: What I would have done differently

Infertility: What I would have done differently

In 2010 today I lost a beautiful innocent soul. At 15 weeks pregnant, I had a miscarriage, we call her Sarah. Infertility is not something that is easy to talk about. I almost didn’t post this because I didn’t want people to think I’m seeking sympathy, because I’m not. I’m seeking the fellow broken-hearted. Our trials in life aren’t meant to be hidden, they’re meant to help others in need; and today, I felt a nudge to reach out to those who had miscarried or have had infertility issues.

This post is not for everyone, I understand that. Although, we all have our dark times in life: loss, poverty, addiction, abuse, divorce, or illness. I can’t say I’ve been there in all cases, but I can say, “My heart breaks for you; for I know what it feels like to suffer. You are not alone.”

It’s scary to open your book of life, let alone your heart to people, but maybe your story is just what someone needs to hear. “Never waste a hurt,” is what Pastor Rick Warren said during a message. And that is my purpose of this post. My hope is that you’ll feel loved, cared for, and will receive encouragement in one way or another. I give this post to God and ask Him to speak to you.

Infertility.

Miscarriage and infertility isn’t something that can be forgotten. It is a painful, difficult, and piercing experience. And some days…no matter how long it’s been since, no matter how young or old your baby was; you get a stir in your heart and fall to your knees and cry. I know I do. It’s okay to do that. You are not alone.

When this miscarriage happened, both my husband and I bled with heartbreak. We were confused, mad, and in disbelief. You hear it happen to other people but not you…not you. We walked around like zombies, not saying a word for days. With Christmas around the corner and a 2-year-old tugging at my robe…it was hard to put on the Christmas spirit.

In these tender days, I didn’t need to hear “it’s common”; I needed to hear, “It happened to me, I know what you’re going through”. Not a pep talk, not a statistic, but a down to earth connection with someone who understands, who’s been there.

How can I help those of you who have had infertility?

1. I want to hug you

First off, know I want to hug you. There is something powerful in the feeling of touch. I remember when I was pregnant with my son. The pregnancy tortured me with relentless nausea and vomiting. Hyperemesis gravidarum is what I had…unbelievable. Not only was my body under torment, but my mind was a mess, and I spiritually felt dead. All I wanted was to feel His presence. I cried out of desperation to feel better, to just get a few minutes of relief. One Sunday morning I felt the need to go to the church. Getting through the service without having to excuse myself was definitely on my mind. Standing to sing and worship was too difficult for me, I was so weak. This bothered me. Then something amazing happened.

When we went out to the coffee area after the service, I saw a friend of mine. For some reason, I walked directly towards her without saying a word. She then wrapped her arms around me and hugged me. No words were spoken, but I could feel Jesus hugging me. I remembered saying to myself while hugging her, “There you are Jesus. Where have you been?” I quietly heard him respond with, “I’ve been by your side the entire time.” My friend had no clue as to what was going on. She didn’t know Jesus used her at that moment. This experience taught me that Jesus can use anyone at any time! I SO needed that hug.

2. You are beautiful, healthy, and perfect

Secondly, you are beautiful, healthy, and perfect. You did nothing wrong. I can’t stress the number of times I blamed myself for not eating this or that, or for the time I went to the dentist, or for not taking a certain vitamin. Putting the blame on yourself is exactly what Satan wants you to do. He wants you to feel like you did this, when in fact, it was most likely him. Um, yeah. God doesn’t cause these things to happen, the Enemy does.

3. Write a letter

click to buy

Thirdly, write your child a letter. There were a lot of things I tried to comfort my broken heart and wounded soul. But one thing that really helped me was by writing my child a letter. There are times when I still do write a letter to them. As a mother, there is nothing sweeter than getting a note from her. I believe in my heart that my child gets these letters in heaven. On a side note, I also read the book, “Heaven is for Real“. This story brought me tremendous love and confidence in moving forward.

4. Bless your body

Fourthly, bless your body. This is something I didn’t do and I wished I would have done. All I did through my pregnancies full-term and losses, was curse my body. To me, my body was broken. In reality, my body was doing just what it was supposed to be doing; remember every body is different. Most importantly, comparing yourself to others is a lost cause. God made you to be different for many reasons, but most of all to bring glory to His kingdom. Use what God gave you, don’t curse it. Bless your body and all its parts. Simply say, “I bless my womb, I bless my ovaries, I bless my heart…”.

5. Keep praying

Lastly and most importantly, keep praying. The Lord is close to you even when you don’t feel Him. Talk to Him about how you feel. He loves you and will comfort you more than anything else in this world. Pray specifically and boldly in Jesus’s name. Ask for forgiveness of your sins, thank Him for all He’s given you, and pray for guidance. There is an app from Wild at Heart that has many prayers to help you. This is a free app. I, personally, love it. Simply go to the app store and type in: Wild at Heart. It looks like a burnt brown rectangle with white letters.

3 things I would have done differently

1. No more gluten!

If there were some things I would have done differently to help my body along I would have, first and foremost, stopped eating gluten/wheat products. At the time I didn’t show signs of gluten sensitivity or a gluten allergy, but in 2017 I was diagnosed with colitis which lead me to a test that confirmed I was reacting severely to gluten. This article says some startling news about undiagnosed celiac disease and pregnancy, including infertility. Even though I didn’t have celiac, I still stay away from all gluten. Gluten is over-rated anyway, it is highly inflammatory and does a number on your digestive track.

2. Fight Spiritually

The second thing I would have done differently was to put on my spiritual armor and fight off the Enemy. Frankly, I didn’t know how to fight off Satan and his lies and attacks. I simply thought that if I prayed, that would be enough. So wrong. When fighting off the Enemy, his foul spirits, demons…and curses for that matter…you need to command them in the name of Jesus Christ to leave you. I know that sounds kind of whacky, but if there is light, there is darkness. After you command them to leave in the name of Jesus Christ, fill your spirit with God’s word and goodness. This isn’t a one and done type of deal, this can be a daily need. I wrote a blog post about spiritual warfare and how to fight. There are some great books I suggest for you to read if you want to learn more. Here’s the post, the books are listed at the end: Claim Your Life Back: 7 Steps to Fight Spiritual Warfare

3. Help others

Thirdly, I would have focused more on helping others. There’s something about helping others when you’re in so much pain either with pregnancy complications, infertility, or miscarriage. Even though my physical strengthen couldn’t do much, I could have written people letters, made crafts for gifts, called friends, and talked about anything but the pain I was going through. There is healing in helping others. It takes the attention off you and puts it on someone else, which is love. And love heals.

You are amazing

No matter how many children you had or didn’t have on this earth, they are still your children. You will be reunited with them in heaven, you will hold them in your arms someday, and you will be all together. I do not know what you have gone through or what you are going through right this very moment. My hope is that this post helped you in some way or form to bring healing to your heart and soul. My hugs to you.

I want to pray for you. Please contact me through the contact page and tell me what I can pray for.

By CT Copyright © 2020 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Gift Ideas for Hard to Buy People

Gift Ideas for Hard to Buy People

Whether it’s a birthday party or the Christmas season here are some gift ideas for those who are hard to buy for. Let’s face it; giving gifts can be a lot of fun! However, I find myself that it’s only fun when you give a gift you know they’ll enjoy and appreciate. So what do you get when you’re bone dry for ideas? I’ve got a quick list for adults and kids that will get your ideas flowing. Say goodbye to hard-to-buy people!

Adult Gift Ideas

Practical

When it comes to adults I think of practicality. What would be helpful in their everyday life? You can only give so many dish towels or scarves. Let’s think about time. Time is precious and irreplaceable. What can I give that will save people time?

First and foremost, you can give grocery shopping; especially during COVID and Flu season. It’s true; people can grocery shop for you. This is an incredible service especially for people who don’t like grocery shopping or for loved ones who can’t get to the store for other reasons.

My preferred service is Shipt. Not only am I a Shipt shopper…because I do love grocery shopping…but I know the quality Shipt delivers. These shoppers take it seriously because Shipt takes care of the shoppers. It’s easy to sign up and give it as a gift.

Comfort

Another idea when it comes to gifts for adults is I think comfort. What tends to hurt the most on people? Their back and feet. A great gift for those backaches is a LapLander. This product is a great companion for any trip in the car. Whether they’re commuting to work or headed out on a cross-country road trip, the LapLander brings support to the lumbar and can be used in other ways while traveling.

laplander uses
LapLander Useshttps://simplifyfirefly.com/laplander/
click to shop

As for their feet, get them a pair of Crocs. Crocs have come a long way. From fashionable styles to the mainstay look, Crocs are light on the feet and comfortable for your soles. They come in a variety of colors!

Make it personal

What about personalizing a gift? This is so awesome for those hard to buy people. At GiftsForYouNow.com you can find anything to personalize. This online store is so cool! From grilling tools to home décor, get their name or your children’s names on something you know they’ll cherish. You must check it out: GiftsForYouNow.com

click to order!

Chocolate!

When all else fails, chocolate to the rescue! Chocolate is an awesome gift for any chocolate lover. But! It has to be good chocolate. I have tried many-o chocolates in my life, from Drug Store chocolates or fancy organic chocolates, nothing beats See’s Candies. See’s Candies is by far the best. These are handcrafted and have been producing chocolate since 1921! They certainly know what they are doing. What is even more awesome is that their chocolates are gluten-free! If you have a person in your home or family that needs to be gluten-free and loves chocolates, head over to See’s. Period.

What about the kids?

Usually kids can be pretty easy to shop for. But what about the kids you don’t know all that well, like your sister’s grandkids or your cousins? Sure you can get them a gift card, but to them, a gift card isn’t a shopping spree, it’s a piece of plastic. It’s plastic. Um, plastic. Kids like to open something that is colorful or unexpected.

Click to Shop!

Lego

Lego is pretty much a hole in one when it comes to gifts for both boys and girls, especially if they’re around the ages of 5 -10, or even older! The colorful bricks and creative builds are sure to spark their interest. Not only that, but it helps keep them busy and use their brains. For the record, it’s LEGO, not LEGOS. I’ve been corrected one too many times. Heck, you can even get them a subscription to LEGO MAGAZINE! We got this for my son and he absolutely loved it!

Disney!

The Disney shop is pure fun and joy. A classic Mickey anything is a precious gift. Gifts from the Disney shop bring Disney alive. Whether they have been to one of the parks or have watched a few Disney movies, almost everyone can relate to Disney. In fact, when I was a kid I had a Mickey Mouse collection. This was back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. And I still have it! Even though my collecting stopped when I went into Junior High, anything Mickey made me smile…I had a pretty good Mickey voice too! “Hello! My name is Mickey Mouse!”

Race Track

Race track. Yep. A car race track with controls is AWESOME! Again, any gender loves these things, trust me. You know what? Adults would probably like this as well! When my son got a race track I think I played with it more than he did, and he played all the time! The folks over at Scalextric know their tracks.

Educational

Little Passports. This is a fairly new concept for me. Because of a lot of homeschooling that is happening now a day, this gift is a gift that keeps giving. You gotta check them out. Their products start out for ages 3 and go to ages 9+. It’s actually a monthly subscription. You pick the subject and length of the subscription, then they ship your gift to your gift receiver every month depending on the length of subscription you picked. In the box, they’ll get all sorts of fun things that will help teach them about that particular subject. It’s really a great idea for grandkids or your own kids. I wish I had something like this when I grew up! Who doesn’t like to get a package in the mail? Little Passports is the way to go.

This is USA Edition Ages 7-12
This is Little Explorers Ages 3-5

Wrapping it up

That wraps up gift ideas for those who are hard to buy for. Get it? WRAPS! I crack myself up. My hope is that you’ll enjoy giving gifts now that you have some fresh ideas or refreshed suggestions. All in all, it is the thought that counts. But let’s put some surprise in that next gift-giving opportunity.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

The Proven, No-Fail Christmas Gift for Kids.

The Proven, No-Fail Christmas Gift for Kids.

The proven no-fail Christmas gift for kids

Making Christmas special is what most parents aim for with their kids. What I’m about to share is something I wished I had learned years ago with my son. It’s the proven, no-fail Christmas gift that is sure to make every Christmas special.

Presents!

Christmas is a time of giving and receiving. We all know this. And the stores love this! I’ve been sucked into Black Friday, store sales, and crowds; anxiety took residency and what was supposed to be fun turned into frustration. In fact, this year I thought I’d avoid crowds and shop online. It was convenient to shop while eating pancakes, but I soon realized I fell prey to the timed sales and limited deals.

My body temperature increased as the minutes slipped away and my mind swirled not being able to make a decision. Before I knew it I was sweating through my comfy pajamas! What the heck was happening to me? My husband even said, “They got ya!” He got that right. The shopping hoopla had its grip on me. The kick-in-the-pants is that it the time spent got me NOWHERE. In fact, I had taken that whole morning with my face in the computer missing out on hanging with my son and walking our dog. And you know what? I ended up returning half the stuff when they arrived on my doorstep.

Feel the Love.

Don’t me get wrong, gifts are fun to give. Gifting is, in fact, some people’s love language. On a side note, in case you didn’t know, there are five defined love languages and each is unique on its own. If you don’t know your love language or the language of your family members, I highly recommend Gary Chapman’s book, “The Five Love Languages.” Click on the picture below for more details.

The Perfect Christmas Gift

Picking out the ‘perfect’ toy for your child, something that is unexpected and so exciting is where the magic happens…at least in the moment of buying, wrapping, hiding and then opening. But then what?

Let me put this way, in five years is your child going to remember that toy she played with for maybe four weeks? Is she going to even remember who gave it to her? In some cases, she might. But in most cases, she won’t. The real magic isn’t a tangible item, it’s something more valuable.  

family christmas gift

An Ultimate Christmas Story

Let me tell you a story I heard years ago that I wished I absorbed better. Here’s my second chance. I hope you enjoy it.

It was in the early evening of December 20th. A father and his young son were planning a trip to the city. They had a checklist of all the things they wanted to see and do; the big Christmas tree, the street decorations, ice staking at the city center, Christmas cookies at Carla’s Bakery, hot chocolate at the “Reindeer Barn”, and most of all the toy store where the son got to pick out his present. 

The dad was excited to show his son all the sites and to buy him the perfect present at the store. And the son, well, he just couldn’t wait to get to the toy store. He’d say, “Dad let’s do the store first!” The father would reply, “No. We don’t want to carry the gift around all night.” Yet the son persisted throughout the day leading up to the downtown venture. “Dad, I can carry it. I promise I’ll be careful.” We all know the real answer to that, not happening fella. The dad was starting to get a little annoyed that his son only wanted to go to the store, but he reminded himself that he was just a being a kid.

Uh-Oh! Or Not So?

After brushing a fresh blanket of snow off the car, they hopped in their seats and performed their ‘system checks’. “Hat?” the father asked, “Check” replied the son. “Gloves?” “Check”. “Phone?” “Check”. “Wallet?” “Check”. All systems were a go. The key went into the ignition, the dad’s grip got stronger, and turned key upward. Nothing happened. He tried again, but this time he pushed on the gas just to see. Complete quietness. Not even a click. The dad took in a big breath, looked at the son, exhaled and said, “Looks like we need a new plan.”

The son thought the trip was off, no toy store, no nothing. His eyes started to sting and his throat got tight. They headed back inside the house, the son sat on the couch and flipped channels. After about five minutes the dad looked at his son and said, “Grab your boots, we’re not going to let a broken-down car stop us!” They put on their hats, gloves, and coats and started to walk down the sidewalk. The son asked, “Are we going to walk there? It’s so far!” His dad said, “Nope, we’re going to ride the city bus. We’re just walking to the bus stop.”

The Ride.

When the father and son got on the bus, they sat in the middle side by side. The bus driver announced they were headed to the heart of the city, and off they went. During the ride, the son and father played “I spy”, they talked about the silly dog sitting in the seat across the aisle, they looked at Christmas lights on buildings and homes they passed, they played a game of “Would You Rather”, and lots of giggles where shared.  

They made it to the city and saw the beautiful tree. Lights alone the sidewalk sparkled. They ate Christmas cookies and drank hot chocolate. Everything on the list was being checked off. The last stop before heading home was the infamous toy store. The son walked through the doors and his eyes got wide. They spent at least an hour in the store before the son carefully picked out his present. The father with a full heart bought him the gift and they walked back to the bus stop.  

On the bus ride home the son asked, “Would you rather ride Rudolph or be Rudolph? Would you rather drink one cup of hot chocolate every day for a year or eat 10 candy canes in an hour?” When they arrived at their final stop, they wished the bus driver a Merry Christmas and started to walk home. As the son and father held hands, the dad asks his son, “What were your top three favorite things of the whole night?” The son replied, “Playing ‘Would You Rather’, laughing, and the best of the best was riding the bus with my dad.”

Christmas Love.

This melts my heart. The son didn’t mention the toy; he didn’t mention cookies or hot chocolate. His son said that it was the time his dad spent with him that was the most special.  The dad didn’t see that coming. My friends, ‘time’ is the real magic. It’s a gift that will last a lot longer than a plastic toy or video game for that matter.  

Merry Christmas. May you enjoy many “bus ride” moments this Holiday season.

By Christy Copyright © 2019 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved. 

3 Ways to Help our Kids Not Be Stuck in a Mold

3 Ways to Help our Kids Not Be Stuck in a Mold

What saddens my heart is seeing people, especially children being stuck in a mold. Not actual mold, that’s gross. I’m talking about being molded into someone they’re not. Taking the shape of others is easy. We’re easily accepted. But are we being true to ourselves? Are you in a mold? Are you ‘molding’ someone else right now? Learn how to break away from all that and how to teach your children to be free.

countryside sunset

This is one of my all-time favorite quotes because it encourages us to be unique individuals.

A mold

squash mold

A few years ago I was given a winter squash mold. These molds are used to shape a squash while they grow. The mold is a clear plastic shape, kind of like a mask. When the squash is young, the mold goes over the top of it. When the squash grows it will shape itself to the mold. Interesting, eh? After the mold is filled the squash is taken out of the mold and put on display.  The squash mold gift I received was in the shape of a scary face. Gosh, I’d be scared too if that mold was to shape every squash in my garden.

When I thought about this mold, I really didn’t like the idea of it because the mold wouldn’t allow the squash to have any unique character, or for that matter look like a squash. I enjoy seeing God’s creation take on the shape and color of what God intended his creation to be.

Our own identity

Finding my own identity being the baby of five children was really difficult. I have three older sisters and an older brother. I really enjoyed my childhood with all my siblings. But as I got older I noticed something I was doing and I didn’t like it. I was getting scared.

Being the last of the litter has some advantages and some disadvantages. One advantage is learning the lessons your siblings learned and not getting in trouble as they did. One disadvantage is copying your siblings. I watched all my older siblings go through life before I got there. And because I knew no different, I copied their identity. It was like I was at a store, I took a little identity from one sibling and took a little more from the others.

Copying was easy to do, but by the time I was a senior in high school I didn’t like myself because I wasn’t myself. I was trying to be like my older siblings and my friends. I was stuck in a mold or as Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, I was on their path and not my own.

How am I going to fix this?

Don’t get me wrong, my family taught me good morals, responsibility, and about Jesus; but I didn’t know who I was or who I wanted to become. This was my fault. I did this, not my siblings, nor my parents. It was me. How am I going to fix this?

As a kid, I would play by myself when I got the chance. I looked so forward to that time because I could play how I wanted to play! As a teenager it was tough. Our bodies go through so many changes and we get so worried if we’ll be accepted or not. The teenage years can be a real struggle for identity seekers, hence the copying I did. The problem with me is that I couldn’t get away from influencers. I still tried to spend some time alone, particularly on a run or walk through the woods with my cat, but it wasn’t enough.

After graduating high school I knew I had to change. I had to find ME! One thing I did was go on a ‘solo adventure’ from time to time. This is essentially “me time”. It’s a time where I spend time alone without any influences from people I know. It sounds weird, but it’s super healthy and critical in checking-in with yourself about who you are. Even as a parent. “Me time” gives me sanity and refreshes my spirit so I can be a great mom.

Be aware of molds

There are a lot of molds out there. Molds from friends and siblings to name a few. When you have developed a habit of scheduling a regular “me time”, you become more aware of your identity and the influences around you. It becomes easier to be yourself around others because you have more confidence in being who you are.

When you know yourself, you’ll recognize instances where people try to mold you and you can put a stop to it right away. I’m not talking about being rude and yelling “Heck no!” Unless you say it in a funny way. I’m talking about recognizing when people are wanting you to do something you don’t want to do. If you can at least see that that is happening, then you have won. It’s then your decision to decide whether you want to engage or not. Just know who you are. Don’t let someone mold you into someone you’re not. You’re a strong person who has confidence in herself!

That’s the other thing about ‘solo time’. It creates confidence in ourselves. When I intentionally go on a ‘solo’ trip its for me to spend time with me. To learn more about my own opinions, passions, and desires. As much as I love my family and friends, it’s important to take myself on a date so-to-speak every once in a while and check-in with myself. When we know more about ourselves we naturally gain more confidence in who we are.

Parents

For us parents, it’s easy to put our child into a mold. Yes, it’s our responsibility to teach them right from wrong. We are to help them learn how to live an independent life and contribute to society. Parents teach us about how to eat and take care of ourselves. We are the biggest influence on our kids, but we must let our children do what they love. If they are interested in dance, let them dance. Please don’t tell them they can’t dance because ‘we’re not dancers’. Let them explore different things so they can learn about who they are, what they like, and what they don’t have any interest in doing. If you want a happy kid, let them learn about themselves.

3 ideas to encourage your kids to be themselves

1. Make them play by themselves.

Make them play by themselves. Separate the siblings and give each kid their own ‘solo time’. Whether you send them to their room or outside. Give them some space to do their own thing in their own way.

2. Put a stop to the comparing

Siblings have a way of comparing and competing. I suggest taking a walk and having a 1:1 conversation with each kid. It’s like a mini-date with mom or dad. Talk with them about how unique and different they are, how it’s important to be true to yourself and to be your own person. Tell them a story about you and your identity journey. Please do this with each child at separate times, not with all the kids together.

3. Give them a coloring book?

Give them a coloring book. I know it sounds funny, but coloring or drawing gives kids and adults the freedom to choose what colors to pick or what to draw. There are no rules which is what you want with coloring, not even to stay in-between the lines. Here are some fun options whether you’re a kid or an adult. Adult coloring book. Kids Coloring Book Awesome Animals, I am Confident, Brace & Beautiful coloring book for girls.

click for details
click for details
click for details

Final thoughts

One of the things I love about ‘solo time’ is that it’s a time where I can wear my ‘relaxed face’ and not have people ask me if I’m okay because I look mad. Ha ha ha! You know what I’m talking about don’t you?

‘Solo’ time gives me the freedom to relax and uncover more discoveries about myself that would have otherwise be drowned out by noise. Know what I mean? I’m not saying to become an introvert, not at all! Just remember to carve out some time for you to not have to react to others. Time to only think about yourself and for you to love-on yourself the way you like to. This is especially important for parents and spouses.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us

5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us

5 valuable ways to manage mental wellness in kids

My mental wellness plan started early in my years. I learned at a young age how to develop a relationship with nature. It’s not until later in life I realized how important that relationship was going to be. I’m sure you’re thinking ‘relationship with nature? That sounds weird, but what we’re addressing here is mental health and how to manage it. And nature was my #1 go-to, I also have four other incredible ways to tame the lion within ourselves and kiddos.

The beach

My toes were planted in wet sand. My arms stretched out as wind combed through my pigtails. “Let’s give them a show,” I said. I cleared my throat, threw up my hands, and orchestrated the waves as they crashed and rippled onto the beach. My mind was free, I had no stress, I played and used my creativity; I was happy. It was just me and the beach. No toys. No electronics. In fact, no one else was by me. It was a simple setting, yet a powerful one for my mental wellbeing.

The brain

National Geographic wrote, “Nature provides us essentials like clean water, food, medicines, even recreational retreats… it also helps regulate our weather and climate. But these systems are extremely fragile…we know that once they are gone, there are no replacements.” We didn’t need National Geographic to tell us this. However, isn’t that statement similar to our mental health? Our brains need clean water, good food, and recreational escapes to help normalize our well-being. If we don’t get these things, our minds, too, are fragile and will break.

Mental health issues shouldn’t be shrugged under the rug. We all have them! Sorry to break that news to you, but we do have our own mental poo; whether it’s addictions (large or small), obsessive-compulsive disorders, learning disabilities, anxiety, anger, hypochondria, social challenges, depression, PTSD, or what have you; we all have a touch of something, even your kids do too. Perfectionism doesn’t exist in this world. Now, don’t you feel better you’re not alone?

What can we do about it?

You’d think that we can either fix it or we can try to ignore it. But neither way works very well. What we need to do is manage it. Fixing it 100% doesn’t exist, it’s bound to surface again someday, and ignoring it is going to lead to other problems. Who needs more problems? Yet managing it helps us understand our triggers and how to handle them.

My mental issue

My body has caused me a lot of grief in my life, from autoimmune hepatitis, hyperemesis gravidarum, bulging disc, miscarriage, colitis, torn ligaments, and nerve damage to name a few. These all have put a mental toll on me. It’s one thing if these ailments are short-lived, but they weren’t and are not. They go on and on. Anyone hear me out there? Some people just go with the flow, and boy, I admire those people. I honestly don’t know how they do it, hence, my mental issue. I’m just mad that my body can’t figure out balance and I eat well and exercise. However, what I do know is that I’m driven to figure it out; that’s why you’ll see posts about health stuff every so often at Simplify Firefly. And maybe, it’s not my body that has the issue, but it’s my mind or spiritual health. Read this post about spiritual warfare…so good!

Maybe this will help you understand my madness, my dream as a kid was to have optimum health. Weird dream for a kid, but hey, I’m weird. At a young age, I wanted to be super healthy, strong, and run an Iron Man. I’ve been trying to work towards this since 1982 when I was doing Disney Mousercise in my driveway…basically aerobics to Disney tunes, and yes on a Boom box, I had the cassette version. But even at a young age, it was one blow after another, then another. However, I always had hope that I’d learn something new. The Lord gave me that light and helped me through and through. Oh, I love Him so much.

Acceptance

It has taken me years to accept my mental issue, but it’s clear as day to me as I look back on life and I can see how this all came to be. Believe me; my madness wasn’t helping my health at all. It was probably making it worse. A vicious cycle it was and still is if I ignore my mental state.

With that said, this is a journey friend. I still struggle with management today, but I’m determined to understand my root cause, which I know I’m getting closer to. I think that’s why I share so much because maybe someone has gone through the same kind of thing and we can help each other. What do you have to lose?

What to do.

Probably the biggest step in helping ourselves and our children with mental health management is to digest that we have something going on. Upon discovery, many may experience anger at first, but others will feel relief that they finally figured a piece of the puzzle out. Does that make sense? All in all, when we can embrace it and understand it, we’ll have a better chance of managing it and living that amazing life we always envisioned. I may not run an Iron Man, but I’ll know a heck of a lot more about how my body works and why it does what it does.

Anger Management 101

I could end on that, but it’s important to reiterate that a ‘lack of understanding’ usually gets us upset in the first place. Why? Because we don’t understand! That’s why fights happen and judgments lash. We don’t know why people act the way they do, because we don’t live in their shoes. For all we know they could be sick, have a chronic illness, be abused, have social issues, or on drugs. And when we don’t know how to manage those things, a mess of emotions implodes and then explodes on others.

click for details

When we have an anger about something, we usually want to do something about it. I’m not talking about anger towards a person when you want to lash out at them for saying something stupid, that’s a different post. The anger I’m referring to is about how we react to either ourselves or a cause that affects other people. Some call it anger, others call is passion. You can take it a step further and call it uniqueness. There is this great book by Matthew Barnett, “The Cause Within You”. I highly recommend this book to not only inspire your own life but to motivate how to help others. Super good!

Okay, so what do we do now?

I’d have to say the majority of people try to ignore their mental state or try to numb it with something else like drugs, alcohol, shopping, or eating. Another route to managing our mindfulness includes prescription drugs and/or counseling. These are helpful ways if used correctly, but they can be pricy and scary for that matter. And what about the kids? As parents, we can teach our kids how to manage our ‘uniqueness’ in less complicated ways, of course depending on the severity.

*Disclaimer: For the record, I am not a therapist, nor am I trying to be one. These are things I have personally learned and wanted to share them with you. Please consult your physician before trying anything new, especially if you or your child is at risk of hurting themselves.*  

5 valuable and creative ways to help

Here are some creative ways to help you and your family manage our mental uniqueness.

1. Get outside

Remember that relationship with nature I started talking about? The National Academy of Sciences performed a study that shows a simple 90-minute walk in nature {a place with trees} decreases negative thinking about oneself. Taking a walk in an urban area like a city or industrial park has zero effect. This study reveals that there is a “…pathway by which nature experiences may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health…”

I don’t have 90 minutes to take a walk but I do have 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes are gold to me. My ideal walking area is to be around trees. For you, it might be the beach, the park, field, or mountains.

click for details

The University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’,” which is largely due to screen time… Push your kids outside. Show them how to get started with orchestrating the waves, climbing trees, building a fort out of sticks or snow. My favorite is to grab a camera (a camera separate from a phone) and ask for certain pictures to be taken. We had gotten one for our son and he absolutely loved it! He still goes back and looks at his pictures.

If nature goes away; so will our sanity.

2. Head to your hobby

A hobby can do loads for you. It keeps your hands busy and your mind focuses on being creative and being you! Kids love this! I wrote a post on hobbies with a list of different ones to try, check’r out!

3. Do something kind for your body.

Our bodies take most of the brunt from stress. So instead of cursing your body, bless it! As much as my body and mind are not getting along, I’m still kind to it. When you feel good, you are kinder to yourself and others around you. Do you need a run, a yoga session, a massage, a hot bath, a cup of tea on the couch? Do something that makes you feel better that is good and pure. This teaches kids how to pamper themselves when pampering is needed.

4. Eat foods for your brain

Food matters! Your brain needs fats, the good fats. And getting the clean kind in your body helps your body and brain fight off free-radicals…those are the guys that destroy the good stuff. Here is a post about Omega Oils that will help you out. And don’t forget the avocados.

5. Journal

click for details

I know this sounds like old news, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Journaling works. When our thoughts are written down on paper, more so than typed, it’s like you’ve given permission to let the hurt get out of you. Write about your journey and what you’re trying to do to help. Put down what is working and what is definitely not working! Put in what you’re grateful for too. Not all journaling needs to be venting, having a flip side to things to healthy. Journaling is a great exercise to help kids express their emotions yet feel like they have some privacy. Plus it’s fun to shop for their very own journal. Another idea is to check out this workbook specifically for anger management. It will you guys understand each other.

For more ideas, this post from Mental Health America is a good one!

Taking little steps here and there are strides for our health both body and especially mind. Show your kids how to do it. You’ll be helping yourself and teaching your family. Win-Win!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly All Rights Reserved.

10 Free Things to do on Thanksgiving Weekend

10 Free Things to do on Thanksgiving Weekend

This Thanksgiving weekend is a little different. When you have a ‘stay-at-home’ Thanksgiving how can you make it great? The first thing to making Thanksgiving great is to define what ‘great’ is to you. What is it that you look forward to with this holiday? A great Thanksgiving to you probably looks completely different from the rest of your family. Let’s make a stay-at-home thanksgiving great for everyone for FREE!

Even though most of us may be stuck at home this year, the year of COVID-19, and we are more alone than in years past, we can still make the best of it. This Thanksgiving weekend will certainly not be like others due to the virus, let’s look at it as an opportunity to make a new tradition or to go about it differently. There is no sense in trying to keep things the same when it’s pretty much impossible, that’s only going to make you miserable. Let’s dive into 10 free things that you can do with your family.

1. Use technology

Log onto your favorite video communication app and connect with family, whether it be Zoom, What’s App, Google Duo, or just dialing up a phone number, connect with others on this day of thanks. Don’t forget about Houseparty! This app allows you to not only do a video chat, but you can play games with them.

2. Write out the things you’re thankful for

Take the time to write out all the things you are thankful for over this year. I know this sounds boring, but it will really help improve your mood. This year may have been a dark one, but there are sparkles of light that have twinkled through all the darkness. Write those good things down. For example, this year our family did a lot of camping. In years past, we would not have done that, so I am very thankful for all the camping we did this Summer and Fall.  At your meal with your family, go around the table and read some things off the list.

3. What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving weekend?

Ask your family members what they like best about the Thanksgiving weekend, is it eating turkey and napping? Christmas shopping? Watching football? Playing football? Decorating for Christmas? So on and so forth. THEN, make those things happen for them in a safe (germ conscience) way; for instance, shop online together instead of going to the store (this one might not be free). Remember everyone enjoys Thanksgiving a little differently, it’s not all about you.

4. Do a little history lesson

Reflect on the first Thanksgiving. Get back to your roots and read about how Thanksgiving came to be. Research together online and have everyone find some fun facts. The History.com site is a good place to start (minus the ads). For kids, check out Kids.NationalGeographic.com. For some Thanksgiving fun facts, Goodhousekeeping.com has a great list of 25 facts. It would be fun to talk about these during dinner or dessert!

5. Movie time!

Pop some popcorn and turn on the movies! Thanksgiving weekend is a great time to kick back and have family movie time. Write down some of your favorite flicks on scraps of paper, put them all in a hat, and have someone pull one out.

6. Bring on the games

Play charades using the Thanksgiving theme. Or bust out the board games. Depending on the age of your kids, embark on The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt Challenge! I have a post where you can download the scavenger hunt challenge. It’s very fun for the entire family!

Scavenger Hunt

7. Turkey Trot

Do your own Turkey Trot. Lace-up the running shoes and head outside. Make a common goal, like let’s go three miles. Make your gobble call and get running! Or walk. I am personally a walker. If you have little kids, simply go for a walk and play I Spy.

8. Bonfire!

Build a bonfire! In fact, the Thanksgiving fun facts would be fun to talk about around the fire.

9. Declutter

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, while you’re digging out the Christmas decorations, declutter some closets to make room for gifts! This is a wonderful time to declutter and drop donations off at the local donation center. Here’s a post to help you out on how to simplify your stuff! You can find it here.

10. Crafts anyone?

Feeling crafty? If you have little ones this is a fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving. There are 40 ideas over at CountryLiving.com that you may want to check out.

I know that some of these free ideas are obvious, but after a year like this one, we all need a little remembering on what we can do. Let’s make the best of this Thanksgiving by doing what we can! What’s even better is that you saved a lot of money and miles on the car.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Road Trip Must-Have!

Road Trip Must-Have!

Road trips are the ultimate carefree vacation. Gazing at the countryside, rockin’ to your playlist, and pulling through your favorite fast-food joint is a joy to the soul. These are all great things, but I want to make your road trip even better. How to do that? There are two major problems in the ‘cabin’ that can irritate your road trip: being uncomfortable and making a mess while eating. Let’s solve them with one simple solution.

the LapLander
The LapLander

The #1 problem that makes or breaks a road trip is COMFORT.

If your body isn’t comfortable, a three-hour trip is going to feel like a five-day trip. And when you become middle-aged or older, your body will be sure to tell you you’re getting old. No one wants that! My go-to when it comes to comfort is a new product called the LapLander. It is a versatile cushion that can be used for many things, like eating on your lap. But when it comes to a sore back or aching booty, the LapLander certainly takes the edge off. I personally use mine every day in the car for my back. My sister folds hers in-half and uses it as a pillow. Let me help you get more comfortable in your car, get a LapLander.

The #2 problem is eating in the car.

After picking up your lunch from a drive-through restaurant, eating it becomes a challenge. You’re either balancing your burger on the gap of your lap or you’re scarfing it down in a few bites. What fun is that? It’s not. Let’s face it, balancing your burger or salad on your lap is down-right dangerous, especially if you’re driving.  It’s not illegal to eat and drive, but you can get pulled over for being distracted and careless with your driving. To be safer and cleaner, I use the trusty LapLander.

The LapLander used as a lap-top is perfect for setting your salad or sandwich on it. There is a non-slip strip to help your lunch stay in place and give your inner thighs a break from squeezing. This product is great for anyone who has to eat in the car, not just road trippers, but truck drivers, Lift drivers, Shipt Shoppers, or the like.

Simply go HERE for more information or order RIGHT NOW!

Head to simplifyfirefly.com/laplander/ for videos.

A little LapLander History

You might be thinking of the Northern European people, also called Sami. The history of these people is quite remarkable. The sad part is that in English they were referred to as Lapps or Laplanders: some of the Sami people find “Laplander” to be offensive. I fully respect the Sami and by no means are using the word ‘LapLander’ to bring offense. My product has no relation to the Northern European community. The LapLander is literally a lap lander.

Why I Created it

As my own personal testimony, I love this thing, not just because I invented it, but because it works! I used to be a Shipt Shopper, a person that grocery shops for other people. With a job like that, I found myself eating in the car on my shop days. Frankly, my inner thighs were getting too tight and exhausted from me trying to balance my food on my lap, which leads me to eat faster, and when you eat faster your body fires back. Not cool.

Road trip, camping, and more!

As for road trips. The LapLander saved me in so many ways. Not only did I feel confident handing my son his burger to eat on his lap, but I used it between my belly and the seat belt. Why do seat belts seem to get tighter and tighter as we travel? No, I’m not talking about getting bloated from fast food. Some seatbelts don’t glide like they used to. This annoyance was solved with the LapLander. I remember one trip I literally was using four LapLanders: 1 for my lumbar, 1 for my butt, 1 for my seat belt, and 1 for my lunch. It was pretty comical but I was comfortable!

The LapLander is also awesome for camping. We camped for nine weeks this past summer! Nothing beats a soft cushion on a picnic table, especially if you have a sore booty. Eating around the campfire was a breeze with the LapLander on my lap. No balancing act! Did I mention camp chair support? At times those camp chairs can sag in places that need more support. The LapLander can fill those gaps.

People have used them for commuting to and from work, backpacking, tailgating, and sports watching. The LapLander is seriously a game changer where sitting is involved.

LapLander camping

What others have to say:

I took the Laplander with me on a cross country trip. I used it for more than just placing my sandwich on it. It was also a headrest, sun shade, back cushion, and lap desk. Very useful and handy!

– Anna S.

The LapLander is the perfect item you’ll need on a road trip. My sister and I drove from Michigan to Colorado. It gave us somewhere to set food while we were eating. I used the LapLander for my lower back as an extra cushion, it was perfect! Honestly, we even used it to cover up our legs so they wouldn’t get sun burnt! The LapLander was so helpful in several ways for our road trip. I highly recommend this product. 

– Matti H.

I am taking mine daily in the car with me…. it is AWESOME for some back muscles!!!! A great help!!!

– Rita T.
laplander uses

Where to buy

The LapLander helps you relax on the road in so many ways. Add this to your road trip essential checklist. It will save you a ton of stress both physically and mentally.

Simply go here for more information or order right now!

LapLander
Order your LapLander today!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Corn on the Cob Song Fun

Corn on the Cob Song Fun

corn on the cob song fun

Corn on the cob. A vegetable that gives you a rich buttery taste and a little crunch. Who doesn’t enjoy this golden treat? It’s so delicious and versatile! Why not sing a song about it. This song was a fun mom and son activity I did years ago. It’s been hanging out on YouTube, I’m just sharing our corny creation with you. May you be inspired to write your own jingles. Simple, clean, happy fun!

When you think of a road trip do you think of singing family songs like She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain or I’ve Been Working On the Railroad? Well, you’re in luck with a new song to add to your road trip mix or the dinner table. When you’re driving through Iowa, Illinois, or Nebraska bust out the vocal cords. In honor of being the states that grow the most corn, this song should be the national corn song of America!

The song write

I created this jingle back in 2013 while driving along a road in Michigan lined with cornfields. My son was five-years-old and we had a ball singing this song. The song talks about how it grows, what uses it has, and more. Super kid-friendly and corny.

After the song was written, it was just too good to keep it to ourselves; so my niece, son, and I created a music video and put it up on YouTube. With over 18,000 views…not too shabby for a corny jingle…I still enjoy singing the song during the corn on the cob season.

Corn on the Cob Song Fun Copyright © 2013 DoMoreThanExist. All Rights Reserved.

Please note!

Please note, the song can get stuck in your head, kids love the video and they will want you to play it over and over again, and you’ll always think of this song when you eat corn on the cob. Enjoy!

Corn. Corn. Corn on the cob!

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

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