“Dress-up” Not Just for Kids: 5 Benefits to Play Dress-up

“Dress-up” Not Just for Kids: 5 Benefits to Play Dress-up

boy and girl playing dress-up

As a child, one of my favorite activities was to play dress-up. Yet as an adult dress-up plays a big role in our overall success, did you know that? Have you ever tried mowing the lawn in a business suit? How about swimming in blue jeans? I’ll give you the top 5 benefits of dress-up for both kids and adults and why you should think about what to wear.

My recent dress-up play

One of my dreams as a kid was to have a Little House on the Prairie kind of life. What I mean is where the clothes and doing basic chores in them. I know that might sound silly, but those dresses were so pretty and full! I never forgot this dream. Today I do not live in the country, my neighbors live about 12 feet away on both sides of our house, but I do have a little garden.

After a fried day to the brain, I wanted to do something different to spark my imagination and escape my time zone so-to-speak. I wanted to play dress-up. To my bottom of my dresser drawer I went and pulled my big long skirt out. I would define this skirt as a gypsy skirt. It was dark teal with scattered blue sequents, and lime green lace and ribbon. My imagination wanted it to be one of those long prairie skirts that Ma wore in Little House on the Prairie.

What I did next.

I slipped on the skirt and headed to the garden to do chores. It was fun walking to the garden, but gardening in this thing was not fun. The garden was full of weeds and I only had a short amount of time before I had to get my son from school. My ‘playtime’ immediately went to ‘work time’.

working in garden

Wearing a long skirt while gardening is not the smartest move. I don’t know how they did it in those days, but it was pure misery. Weeds poked my bum and little bugs crawled up my legs! Needless to say, I didn’t want to get my fun skirt dirty. I got nothing done and my ‘fun’ escape turned into a stress ball. Back to the house I stomped, I even stepped on my skirt and about pulled it off. Arg! I threw my fun skirt on the floor and pulled on my garden pants. Back to the garden I went, sat down in the dirt with confidence, and weeded the rest of the garden in half the time.

What I learned

What I learned from my dress-up play is that I needed to decide if I wanted to play or work. If it’s to play, to be practical goes out the window, who cares! But if it’s to work, you gotta adjust your attire and put practicality to use.

As soon as I changed into my garden pants, the pants I don’t care about getting dirty, the garden was weeded efficiently and quickly without any bug up the butt interruptions! All in all dressing the part will give you a leg up on performing the part.

Top 5 Benefits

1. Builds Confidence

Confidence. We all want it, we all need it. Why? Because people are depending on us to make things happen. Things usually don’t happen unless we have confidence in doing the task at hand. Playing dress-up gives us permission to move forward and boost our confidence in looking the part.

The more confident you feel in your clothes

the more you’ll achieve.

For instance; dressing the part tells your mind to do that specific activity well. If I’m mowing the lawn in my work suit, I’m going to hurry up and do a bad job because I don’t want my suit to smell like mower exhaust. And if I’m swimming in jeans…let’s just say I would probably drown. I know these are off-the-wall examples, but I’ve seen people do them. Not only did they look miserable, but the guy mowing the lawn did a terrible job. To read more about confidence, check out this post: 5 Easy Ways to Build Courage & Confidence.

2. Improves Brain Function

Dressing the part or playing dress-up engages our mind and triggers our memory. If we saw a coworker do an epic presentation and noticed their outfit, we too want that feeling of awesomeness when we do our presentation, so what do we do? We dress-up as they did.

If we saw our mom make an amazing meal while wearing an apron, we too would want to wear an apron. How about dad working in the yard with his work gloves and ballcap?

Wearing clothes that correlate to the job we’re trying to perform, puts us in the mode of doing a good job in that particular role. It gives us more confidence and freedom to act the part out, hence stimulating our brain to think as they do. When we dress like the character, we start to think like the character.

3. Fake it til you make it.

Dressing the part gives you permission to be that person. Have you heard the saying, “Fake it til you make it?” Sure you have! And you have every right to do so. You’ll learn more and more about that role until you know how to do it. Especially so if you are around people in that particular role.

4. Challenges your skills

What does a uniform say? It says I’m an expert, I have the answers. When you, let’s say, start a new job or your going to a trade show, your company wants you to wear their logo. They are asking you to represent them, which says you need to know the answers. Another example is at the store. You have a question, who do you seek for answers? Someone in uniform. When you wear the vest or logo, you have a responsibility if you want a paycheck. Dressing the part challenges you to learn as much as possible to answer questions. In return, knowing the answers makes your job a lot more fun and rewarding. It becomes easy and builds confidence.

5. It’s fun.

Putting some fun in your work can start in your closet or accessories drawer. Wearing fun bracelets, rings, or scarfs really do make a difference in enjoyment. Even nail polish can lift our moods. Dressing the part or playing dress-up is fun! When you have pep-in-your-step you’re happier, more productive, and people notice.

Isn’t just for kids

Playing dress-up isn’t just for kids, us adults will benefit from it too. We don’t have to dress up in our old prom dress or as a frontier woman to reap the benefits of dress-up, we can make subtle additions that can have a magical impact.

click for details

Subtle dress-up ideas:

  • Wear a fun apron when you cook or even clean. The apron gives you confidence in making a mess! Who cares if you wipe flour on your apron or splash cleaner on it, it’s an apron! It’s simply doing its job. Check out this super cute apron.
  • When working outside in the yard wear work gloves and “garden pants”.
  • Working-out? Dress for success. Pitch the cut-off sweats and homemade tanks, pull on the performance wear.
  • Home from work? Immediately change out of your work clothes into something more relaxed.
  • Dress for the weather…need I say more.

May you get the most out of your outfits. Dress for any occasion, you’ll feel better, have more confidence, and you might learn a thing or two.

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

To Be Aware: How to Teach Your Child

To Be Aware: How to Teach Your Child

A skill every child should learn is how to be aware of their surroundings. Some awareness skills we are naturally born with, instinct. However, if you really want to succeed in life, you must learn it and pay attention to it. This life lesson can not only save their lives, but it enhances their ability to succeed in communication, life skills, and survival in many different situations. I’ll teach you how to help your child and yourself become more aware of using your eyes and ears. Check out my tips below.

Gone fishing

CTFishon

“Shh…walk softly on the dock, we don’t want to scare the fish,” my dad instructed. It was a summer morning. The lake was like glass, not a movement of wind. Today, at seven years old, I was going to learn how to fish. And the most important fish skill of all: awareness.

We got into our boat, started the motor, and trolled to our fishing spot. My dad whispered instructions on how to bait the hook. He showed me how to adjust the bobber, and he demonstrated how to be quiet watching for signs of a hungry fish.

I wasn’t just learning how to fish; I was learning how to become more aware of my surroundings.

What exactly does it mean to “be aware”?

Wikipedia explains it like this: Awareness is the ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns.

As the world drives to go faster, to be aware of what’s going on around us and in us is being ignored. This can get us into trouble. We get so focused on our to-do lists, phones, and work that we forget to stop and look around to see what’s happening in our relationships, our children, and our overall path in life.

To be aware is a skill

There were two major events that helped me understand how important it was to be aware of my surroundings. One was fishing. The other was when I endured a rare sickness.

The sickness

Awareness doesn’t come naturally; it is a skill that can be learned or in some cases forced. Not too long ago I felt that force…not Luke Skywalker ‘force’, more like the ‘dark side’. My body suffered, so much so, the tiniest movements made me fall ill. For months on end, I was continually nauseous and weak. Have you ever heard of muscle wasting? That’s when your body eats itself because you’re not getting enough nutrition from food. That was happening to me. I couldn’t keep much food down, yet alone fluids. It was hard for others to understand what I was going through.

What I noticed while going through this torturing sickness was the love and compassion of others. Never had I paid attention to it before because I wasn’t the receiver of it. I became instantly more aware of how powerful a card was, how impactful a visit was, how humbling a listening ear was, and how a small smile from a stranger made me feel.

Not only that, I also became more aware of the power and reality of spiritual presence.  My faith grew stronger every day I suffered; I became more aware of His grace and protection. But I had to seek Him to get it. If I hadn’t endured this suffering my eyes would have missed these little gems of light in our broken world.

How to be aware with your eyes and ears

Open your eyes

This skill of awareness starts with using your senses.

click for details

The simple exercise helps us to pay attention to even the smallest details. Do you know those “Hidden Picture” games in kid magazines? Or the Where’s Waldo books? These games are great exercises for enhancing our skills of paying attention. I would qualify myself as a Master Finder, not only in these games but in finding things around the house. Having the challenge to find something is gets me going. My dream vacation would be to hunt for buried treasured or go to a goldmine!

Want one?

Lately, my 11-year-old son is in that phase of asking me where everything is. My answer varies from, “It’s your responsibility to keep track of your own stuff” to “If you can’t find it, you can’t have it.” When in fact the item he is looking for is literally right in front of his face. I’m not trying to be mean by not helping him find it, I’m trying to teach him the skill of looking, to be aware. He obviously needs to brush up on this skill.

Tips

Tip #1: when finding certain objects whether it be inside or outside is to look for a piece of the object, not just the whole thing. Rarely is the entire object going to be visible? Look for a part of it. This technique works for fishing and hunting too.

Tip #2: envision yourself finding it. What reaction will you have? Will you pause and whisper to yourself that you found it or will you yell in excitement? Visualize yourself finding the object.

Tip #3: Lastly, but firstly, pray to God in helping you find whatever it is that you’re looking for. He knows exactly where it is, why not ask him to help you find it. Most importantly, listen for his ques and hints of where to look.

Use your ears

Like using your eyes, use your ears too. Ears come in handy when it’s dark or when you’re lost in the woods. Have you heard the lesson about listening for the road when you’re lost in the woods? How about listening for a car coming when you’re riding your bike on the road?

I’m a fan of the show ‘Naked & Afraid’. I hate to publicly admit that, but it’s a great show to teach us about awareness. The nakedness part could go away, I don’t like to see people’s exposed. Yet, because they are nude I think their awareness of their surroundings enhances. They feel vulnerable and their senses are on overdrive.

In this show, it seems at night is when they get the most freaked out. I don’t blame them. The noises they hear when they can’t see become so much bigger and uncertain that panic nestles in.

As in walking down the street. Using our ears helps us hear when someone is coming up behind us. Walk signs now have beeps to tell us when to walk. And horns on cars tell us something too.

I didn’t even mention Mother Nature, but we can learn a lot about the noises she makes.

Tips with hearing

Tip #1: If you’re in a strange place, unplug the earbuds. Pay attention to the sounds around you.

Tip #2: If you’re having a conversation with someone, listen to what they’re trying to tell you. There is more behind the words they say. Like when I was enduring the sickness. People understood that what I was really telling them was that I felt alone and needed comfort. Be aware of what they’re really trying to say, then act on it.

Tip #3: As in fishing or hunting, use your ears for clues of where they are. Is there a splash in the water? Are there leaves rustling or twigs snapping?

In conclusion

Be aware of the peace that is offered daily by nature, the kindness that is freely given by others, and the small blessings that are awarded without reason. I encourage you to stop and look around; for I know you’ll be amazed by what you see and find.

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

4 Simple Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

4 Simple Stress Strategies for You & Your Kids

When we look at our children we can easily think they don’t have any stress. We might say, “What possibly could they be stressed out about?” Kids have stress, just like us. It might look different, but they do, and knowing how to relieve it can be confusing for them, even for us adults. No wonder stress is the #1 cause of illness and ailments.

Who is Stress?

Think of it this way, whenever we have something important to us get compromised or threatened, ‘Stress’ comes to visit. Let me refer to stress as a person for a second, Mr. Stress. When things don’t go according to our plan, Mr. Stress welcomes himself into our home. When there are projects and deadlines to be met Mr. Stress sees an opportunity to break-in and steal. Hear me out, projects and deadlines aren’t bad, they’re actually super good, what is bad are the distractions that keep us from achieving those goals. And it’s the distractions, when not managed well, that act as precursors to our foe, Mr. Stress. Mr. Stress can cause memory issues, sore throats, and digestive tracts havoc to name a few. That’s only a few headaches he causes. What happens at this moment is that Mr. Stress wakes up a hormone in our body called cortisol. Cortisol is the ‘bad stress hormone’. So what do we do?

Awareness is critical

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” The very first step to ignoring Mr. Stress is to be aware of his triggers. This year I was on a quest to destroy my cortisol-feeders. Awareness helps us recognize the cord before it is struck. With awareness, we will then know what circumstance to avoid or to mentally prepare for. On a personal level, I needed to kick Mr. Stress out, so my plan was to simply pay attention to the little things, because the little things add up, and then do something about them.

4 discoveries that fed my killjoy

  • The step-counters. At first, I found it curious. But then it became an obsession. I had to reach my 10,000 steps or it wasn’t a good day. This equaled a DISTRACTION for me. My fix? I took it off and just made a mental note of how much I walked.
  • Social Media. “I’ll just check it”, then 45 minutes later I’m like “What just happened?” Another DISTRACTION. My fix?  I set a timer or don’t check it at all.
  • My purse. Wow, this was really stressing me out. My purse was awkward on my shoulder. It was too slippery…yes, slippery. Too HEAVY! Not organized. Weird zipper. I had no idea how much of a DISTRACTION my purse was. My fix? I changed my purse.
click for details
  • Paper Clutter. I enjoy a clean countertop. What took up the most real estate on my counter was paper. Junk mail, receipts, sticky notes, magazines, old homework, sale ads, and newspapers were piling up. This was not only a DISTRACTION but a stress bomb. My fix? I got a recycle bin and an organization station.
click for details

Tasks are done, stress is gone, or is it?

When the big “tasks” are complete, cortisol levels go back to normal. Everything is fine, right? Not necessarily. Think of a wave approaching the shore. When a wave breaks how does it hit the beach? It crashes. Sand and shells stir and water splashes. It takes time for the water to settle and be calm. Like an ocean, the wave of cortisol might be gone, but our bodies take a lot longer to recover. How do we fix this?

4 strategies to combat the ‘crash’

  • Set a daily routine. Routines help reduce anxiety, we sleep better, and we are more productive. Let your kids write down what they would like their routine to look like. You can compromise with them to give them a little responsibility and to show trust.
  • Make a ‘daily to-do list’ that includes errands and simple things like laundry and walking the dog. This is another great habit to teach your kids. It helps them see what they need to do, and then feeling the gratification of crossing it off as ‘done!’.
  • Get outside every day for at least 20 minutes. This is harder for us parents, but it teaches our kids that nature is their friend. As a parent, force yourself to get outside, even better you’re your kids. Show them how important it is to connect with nature.
  • Cut out (as much as possible) disturbing TV shows and movies, even the news. We know bad stuff is out there, but we don’t need to be reminded of it day and night. News especially freaks kids out. A friend of mine loves the news, she had it on all day. She also has two kids, who were around the news. As time went on, the kids are afraid to go outside and play. For our kiddos and TV shows? Be wise with what they watch. Their brains aren’t developed to determine what is real or fake. Even if you say, it’s fake, seeing is believing. So unless you can show them how they make movies, keep to the ‘G’ or ‘PG’ ratings, and turn the news off!

Taking charge of your life needs awareness, self-discipline. What is one thing you can change today to help fight stress and its crash?

Here’s another post about stress you may find helpful: 5 Stress Fighters That Most People Forget About

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

The Meaning of Christmas & Your Identity. Don’t Miss This!

The Meaning of Christmas & Your Identity. Don’t Miss This!

Are you looking to have an awesome Christmas this year? A Christmas that will have meaning? I know I am. This past month I researched Christmas, that’s kind of funny to say. But I sought out answers to this holiday. After I put some of these pieces together, I was reminded of how to make this holiday a meaningful one. And who knew it has to do with identity…the meaning of part of our existence? Before we get to that let’s have a short history lesson.

christmas gift with pinecone

What’s up with ‘Merry Christmas’?

Tis the season to be Merry, fa la la la laaa, la la la laaaa! In 1843 it was Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” that introduced the word ‘Merry’ for “Merry Christmas”. Did you know that? I didn’t. The dictionary defines Merry as cheerful and lively. Occasionally you’ll hear “Happy Christmas”, but “Merry” fits the bill. The word “Christmas” originated from “Christ’s Mass” which literally means a group of many people gathering to celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25th. In fact, this celebration started in 313 AD, three centuries after Jesus’s crucifixion. Interesting isn’t it?

Let’s talk about gifts. 

For most people, Christmas’s meaning means presents. How did gift giving come into play on Christmas? Well, it’s not a black and white answer:

1– It started in Europe as a pagan custom around Winter Solstice, a celebration to mark the shortest day of the year. It falls in the range of December 20th-23rd each year. At this time ancient Rome would celebrate this day by gift-giving.

2– Around 336 AD December 25th was established as Jesus’s birthday in which the solstice gift-giving tradition leaked into the Christian holiday. Some believe that the gift giving started with the three Magi (wise men) giving gifts to baby Jesus.

3– On top of that, Santa Claus was introduced from a fourth-century Greek bishop who was a gift giver, Saint Nicholas. His legacy gradually blended into the Christmas celebration.

So “Merry Christmas” is a combination of things, but one thing is for sure, “Christ’s Mass” has stood the test of time. Jesus came to save us from our sins so we would have the opportunity to have life after death. “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost”, says Jesus. And in Mark 10:45 Jesus also says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

How meaning comes into play

click for details

A few years ago I read Matthew Barnett’s book The Cause Within You. He talks about his experience of listening and obeying God’s cause that He placed in his heart. Based in LA, he tells great stories about how people off the street, the homeless, the drug dealers and prostitutes have completely turned their life around by focusing on Jesus and the cause God placed in their hearts. How serving others, rather than serving themselves and their addictions has changed their life.

He says, “As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity. “ (page 38) This brings on meaning! Meaning for living.

Think about that for a minute. Christmas is the most popular time of year to give; not just presents. Just look at the Christmas movies: It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, or even Die Hard. Yes, I just referenced Elf and Die Hard in the same sentence. But hear me out, they all have something in common.

Do what now?

Let me ask you this, what do you think would be a powerful way to celebrate the birth of Jesus this year? Sure we can give tangible gifts or donate money to a cause, those are fantastic ideas! But what about your time? Your precious time? What about sacrificing a slice of your time and put your talents to work to take the burden off someone else? What about using your strength to help a neighbor out with a project? What about turning on your personality to lift someone up with a little encouragement? You might say, “But I do that already Christy” But do you do it with Jesus in mind? Do you consciously say, “Hey Jesus, let’s bless someone today! Use me. Work through me. Let’s do this!”?

I love this statement from Rick Warren, “What matters is not the duration of your life, but the donation of it. Not how long you lived, but how you lived.” In the Bible, 1 Peter 4 says, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” But here’s a bonus in all this. If you think serving is just for the person being served, you’re missing it.

christmas scrabble

What does serving do for you? It produces being Merry. It gives you meaning.

  • It gives significance. Putting our talents to work to help someone else is meaningful for us. It warms the cockles of God’s heart. And generates joy in your own.
  • It produces gratitude both for the servant and the person being served.
  • It brings us back to earth. Serving helps take the focus off what’s going on inside us, to what’s going on around us. This helps us put our own lives in perspective.

Here are a few tips that have worked for me on serving others:

  • The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you would like to be treated.
  • Vision yourself helping.
  • Pray for opportunities in which you can help someone out.

I have an experiment for you to try this month to gain more meaning in this holiday. I bet you know what it is. Serve with the mindset as giving a gift to Jesus; use your time, talents, and strength to give back to Him. Not sure where to serve? Don’t make this complicated. Open your eyes and pay attention to your surroundings. He’ll tell you.

One more thing, I encourage you to experience a “Christ’s Mass” and attend a Christmas Eve service at church this year.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved.

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

The Ultimate Scavenger Hunt (kids 8-13 yrs. old)

Scavenger hunt to the rescue. Do your kids have a lot of time on their hands? Are they feeling dumpy and bored? I have a fun low-cost solution for you! My scavenger hunt takes at least three hours to complete. Can you hear the angels sing? LOL! This adventure keeps the kids busy and creates a smile on their faces.

Scavenger Hunt
Download it today! Click the picture or head to Freebies.

Not your typical scavenger hunt!

This hunt is like no other. First off, it’s not just a list of things to find. It involves reading, drawing, exercise, strategy, skill, teamwork, creativity, and cognitive thinking.  Seriously the kids loved it. They were outside and having fun. And strangely they got along! As a parent, it was gratifying to watch how much joy was happening in the kids. A memory for sure!

Another fun difference from other scavenger hunts is that it tells a little story. The story starts out with Larry who is lost and needs to find his way home. He has to go through the first three challenges to unlock his map, materials, and list. Then the rest of the challenges help him find his way home. He gets hungry on the way, wants to find presents to bring home, and needs to spend the night. And the most exciting part of all is that he needs to create a flying vessel to get home!

Who is Larry?

Larry is actually one of my son’s stuffed animals. I just grabbed a small one that would be suitable for flight. You can use an egg…this would be interesting…or a water balloon for that matter, or a cardboard cutout. Essentially, Larry can be anything you want. However, with the stuffed animal, I found it made the hunt more personal-able and “real”. They really had fun with it.

Who is this scavenger hunt for?

This challenge is for 8 – 13-year-olds. Younger kids can be helpers; some of the challenges I found to be difficult for kids younger than 8 years old. But that is up to you. You could make some adjustments to cater to younger kids. This is also fun for families.

Scavenger Hunt Challenge
Download it today! Head to Freebies.

Materials and Set-up

As for materials, use items you already have in-house. No need to run to the store. This is what can make the scavenger hunt more challenging…after all it is a scavenger hunt! For instance, for Larry’s flying vessel I just found some yarn, balloons, a plastic cup, a piece of fabric, foil, and threw in some other things from my junk drawer. Who knows what kids will come up with!

All you need to do is draw a map and set-up the course. This usually takes about 30-minutes. I personally had a lot of fun doing this. It brought me back to my childhood fun. To make it more interesting, I allowed a phone to be present for the kids to shoot video and for taking pictures. They enjoyed this part especially making the trick shot video. I simply downloaded an app called Clips. My son actually had to show me how to work it, in other words, it’s easy to figure out.

Scavenger hunt example

Here’s a video summary of this scavenger hunt we did the other day:

Larry is waiting for you!

Ready to have some fun and watch your kiddos have a blast? To download and print Larry’s Scavenger Hunt Challenge head over to Freebies. OH! One last thing, it’s actually a lot of fun as a family to do too! Not to mention at a campground when on vacation. Enjoy!

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

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a little History

13 Family Games Worth Playing, Plus a little History

The first family games date back to Egypt in 3100 BC. That’s right, BC “Before Christ”. It was the game of Senet that set the stage for board games. Today stores are filled with an overwhelming display of games. Let me save you some time and money, the best place to find amazing board games is in your parent’s closet. And secondly, the trick to making family games fun is to find the right game the whole family can enjoy, not just an 8-year-old.

13 family games worth playing

I’ve got a list of 13 family games that are worth the time and money. Believe me, we have one child, so when it comes to games, we parents want to like it too. However, I wouldn’t advise ‘borrowing’ your parent’s games, those games and the memories they hold are theirs, so keep the games in their closet. It’s time to get your own games and create tattered box memories with them.  

What makes a game fun?

First of all, I’m not talking about games about poop or getting whip cream in my face. The toy companies certainly don’t make games like they used to. The family games that make the top of the pile are games that require skill, cognitive skills, and where we’ll learn something like strategy. They are games with a little history.

With that said, the games listed below are for ages 8+ for the most part. Keep Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, and Hi Ho Cherry-O for your younger crowd. In fact, those are the best choices anyway for that age range.

The 13 best family games

If your game closet is looking empty, let me remind you of the top 13 picks for family games. Some of these games you might have played as a kid and forgot about them, I sure did. Note: these games are listed in alphabetical order.

1. Battleship (2-player)

Battleship involves strategy, it also involves reading your player. Reading your player in a poker kind of way, did they’re eye-brows go up when you got close to their aircraft carrier? Keep your eyes peeled. You can get it on Amazon.

History: Battleship goes back to World War I by using a pencil and paper to play the game. In 1967 Milton Bradley came out with the plastic board version.

Catan
click for the price

2. Catan

I personally have not played Catan yet! But I will be getting it soon. This game has rave reviews. It’s about developing your own civilizations. This brings you back in history a bit. I hear it’s easy to learn how to play, but difficult to master. I’m getting this one! Check it out on Amazon.

History: Catan was created in 1995 in Germany.

3. Chess (2-player)

This too gets lost in the game pile. We recently taught our son the game of Chess and he beats me every time! Chess requires strategy and getting to know your opponent. Again, reading the player and getting in their head to figure their next move is key.

History: Chess goes back to close to 1500 years! Whoa. It originated in northern India. For more info check out Wikipedia.org.

The game of clue

4. Clue

This game never gets old. Clue is best played with more than two people. Put some mystery in your game night with Clue. Amazon price.

History: This game goes back to the UK air raids of World War II in 1943. When Anthony Pratt and his wife were stuck inside during the nightly air-raids they invented this game.

5. Connect Four (2-player)

I love Connect Four. My son and I have an ongoing Connect Four title. Like the WWE title, ours is Connect Four. This game is all about strategy. We play the best of three games. History: It’s been around since 1974.

6. Gin Rummy (cards, 2-player)

A classic card game that never gets old. You can find how to play here. Plus many other games at Bicycle. History: This dates back to 1909.

7. Monopoly

I don’t think I need to say much about this iconic game. Monopoly and I have a love/hate relationship. If you want to play a game for hours or even days, this is it! However, learning about strategy and money radiates from this game. Head to Amazon to get a fresh game.

History: The original name of Monopoly was The Landlord’s Game. It was designed by Elizabeth Magie in 1902 and patented in 1904.

8. Operation

Who doesn’t like a little zap and lights? Operation is as close to blood and guts you’re going to get in my family games list. It takes about 15 minutes to play. If you have shaky hands, this is not your game. I suggest using your reading glasses for this one. History: This game has been in circulation since 1964.

9. Pay Day

Move over Monopoly, yes I did just say that. Pay Day has become one of our family favorites. Unlike land in Monopoly, you learn about money, taking risks, debt, and did I mention it’s a quicker game? You can play as many months as you’d like. History: It was first created in 1974.  Yep, Amazon has it.

10. Jenga

Jenga is like a cross between a cardhouse and pick-up sticks…sort of. Any age can play this game. And it certainly comes in all sizes. It’s a great game to break the ice. History: created by Leslie Scott in the early 1970’s. Jenga means “to build” in Swahili.

Family Game Night

My family game night memories

Family game night is a vivid memory for me. My dad wanted to take one night a week to hold a family game night. At first, when my sisters and I were young we got into it, but as we got older the more we grumbled. I remember a time when my dad announced that it was Family game night and we all rolled our eyes and moaned. His stern response was, “You’re going to play a game and you’re going to have fun!” Ha ha ha! I’ve used that response in my family. But it’s those game nights that formed a special yet goofy bond between our family…even when we didn’t want to play, we did still have fun.

click for price

11. Skip-bo (cards)

We dug Skip-bo out recently. In fact, I forgot how to play and had to have one of my son’s buddies re-teach me. Since then, we have been playing almost every night. Yes, it’s true. We play a quick 10 card stack of Skipbo. I’m happy to say I beat them all last night with my secret strategy!

History: Skip-bo first came alive in 1967 thanks to Minnie Hazel “Skip” Bowman.

click for price

12. Ticket to Ride

Once again, I have not played Ticket to Ride but looks awesome. It involves a train adventure in which players collect and play matching cards to claim railway routes through the United States. This game has gotten awards. The youngest game on the list came into being in 2003. Find it on Amazon.

13. Yahtzee

This is a great game of chance. If you don’t mind a little noise and love strategy, Yahtzee is fun for everyone. I’ve even seen it in giant size for camping!

History: The history of this game is a bit confusing. Some say it dates back to 1938. Others say it was essentially invented on a yacht, hence, “Yahtzee” by a wealthy Canadian couple.  

Boils down to memories

Okay, that does it for my brief review of family games. You might have played these games at your home when you were growing up. I hope I took you back to some great memories. But now it’s time to make amazing family game memories with your kids. Or, maybe you have invented a new game during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020!

Let’s turn off Disney+ and Netflix, gather your troops, and make it a game night! To get any of the games listed above, simply click on the links. The links will take you to Amazon.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved

6 Easy Ways to Comfort Hurting People

6 Easy Ways to Comfort Hurting People

kids walking on path arms around each other

What does comfort mean to you when a friend needs a little help? When a friend reaches out for a hand to hold, are you there to grab it? Back in 2004, an old college friend of mine committed not only suicide but murder before he took his own life. What was hard for me was that I didn’t find out about this incident until six months later. If only I could have talked to him one more time maybe I could have helped? Maybe I could have told him more about Jesus? Or maybe I could have just listened to him talk about what was bothering him.

The way I found out about this tragedy was through one of his friends. I had been trying to get a hold of my friend to catch up on life, but he wasn’t answering his phone. Something was wrong. So I looked up his buddy and called him. His friend had told me the news. He said, “You didn’t hear?” I’m like, “No.” Apparently my friend had reached out to his buddies, but his buddies didn’t pay attention. I was so mad. All my friend might have needed was a little comfort. And I know he didn’t call me because he knew I was married and he would have felt weird. Ugh. Stupidness. Not having a listening ear might have cost my friend his life, the girl her murdered, and his life after death.

Awareness

It is a horrible story, and I still don’t know what happened. All I know is that his girlfriend had broken up with him. He was on drugs. And he couldn’t handle it. He obviously needed some help. I am still in unbelief. And I wish I would have called him sooner to check-up on him. This is an extreme case to show my point. But you never know how bad people are hurting.

I admire people who can share openly what’s going on in their life; I’m not talking about people boasting about themselves, I’m talking about people genuinely reach out for help. Why? Because it makes me feel human and it gives me a chance to help in some way or form.

It takes courage, confidence, and bravery to open up and expose our hearts to the world. We weren’t made to go through storms alone, so why do we try to keep it quiet and pretend everything is “fine”. Unfortunately, my friend did try to reach out, but no one was there to listen. Is that our fear of not sharing? Probably. But we have to take that chance especially if our life is on the line. The hard part is not knowing if your friend is hurting as bad as my friend was, so listen to them all.

Download in Freebies

When a friend needs comfort that is far away

Recently, an old high school classmate of mine was going through a difficult situation. She had a choice; keep it to herself or share it. She chose to share it on social media, not for sympathy or for attention, but because she needed help getting through the storm. I admire her for putting her stuff out there, especially on social media where 90% of the posts are only good things that happen in people’s lives.

My heart went out to her and her family. I knew I wanted to respond but I didn’t know what to say so I thought about and responded to her the next day. She felt alone, you could read it even though she didn’t say it. And that struck a chord in me. Whether it was emotions, hormones, the Holy Spirit, or a soul connection, I started weeping for her broken and confused heart.

I thought back to my storm I endured years ago in my personal life, how alone I felt. I thought about my friend and how he must have felt all alone. From experience, I knew the best thing I could for her was to reach out to her, pray for her, and give her a promise that I would. Prayer really does change things, and just knowing that other people are praying for you helps you put more trust and confidence in the Lord.

I believe my friend posting the updates about her situation was meant to not only keep everyone informed but for her to know who was sitting by her. Sometimes you have to just exist with someone… to do more.

Here are some ideas to help a person out:

  1. Visit them
  2. Send them a card in the mail
  3. Pray for them
  4. Call them
  5. Just let them know you’re thinking about them
  6. Listen to them
click for details

When a neighbor needs a little comfort

“As soon as you start thinking about the needs and burdens of others, and what you can do to alleviate them, or how you can bless and build up others, you begin to establish a new identity for yourself – your true identity.” –Matthew Barnett, The Cause Within You.

A while back I was talking with my neighbor. It started out as a friendly wave across the street, then she started walking towards me. I was in a hurry but knew I had to adjust my plans. She had to get a load off her shoulders and I understood the importance of a listening ear. Afterall she’s there for me when I need to vent! She needed comfort in knowing someone would listen to her.

After she was finished she looked really exhausted. Knowing what to say to comfort her was hard. I thought about suggesting ideas for solutions, but she didn’t ask for a solution so I just listened and told her I was really sorry she was going through all of this. She didn’t want advice, she just wanted to be heard.

couple walking on beach

What I did next

The next morning I tried to put myself in her shoes and asked myself if I were feeling down, what would make me feel a little bit better? I then hopped in the truck and drove to the market. Buying something for my neighbor is what I wanted to do. Who doesn’t like to get a gift? But I wanted to get her something she could look at that would bring a little joy in her heart, not something to eat or drink, but full of color. The store I went to has amazing flowers, so I plucked out all sorts of colorful carnations. The thing I love about carnations is their bright colors and cost. They are inexpensive but have a lot to say. So if you’re on a budget go for the carnations.

When I got home, I arranged the flowers in a mason jar and went over to her house. A soft knock on her door was all I did and she opened it immediately. I handed her the flowers and said, “Just thought you could use these on your desk.” No words were spoken, yet her eyes got glossy. She kindly said thank you and I left.

No matter who needs help whether it’s online or in your neighborhood, take notice. Listen to what they’re trying to say. And let them know you hear them.

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

4 Simple Tips for Planting a Tree

4 Simple Tips for Planting a Tree

tree
This is Bruce the Blue Spruce, a tree my little ‘farm’.

One of my favorite things to do in spring is planting a tree or two. My childhood was surrounded by trees. That’s probably why I love them so much. They were my friends when I didn’t have anyone to play with, they were my listener when no one else would listen, and they were my entertainment when I didn’t want to watch TV.

No, I’m not a major tree hugger. But I do want to do my part. In fact, on my vision board, I have a ‘tree farm’. About five years ago I started my own little baby tree farm in our backyard. I bought pots, dirt, and saplings of Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Sugar Maples, and Burr Oak. There has been so much joy in watching are caring for my tree babies. In the Spring I would sell them for a discount. So much fun!

Tree facts and benefits

click for details

Trees have many benefits, they reduce air pollution, enrich habitats, bring beauty to the eye, they shelter us, and comfort us in many ways. I got the book, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Oh my goodness, so interesting! Did you know trees communicate with others through their root system? That they ‘scream’ when they need water? If you have an interest in trees or are curious about them, this is a great find to read.

There are about 3 to 6 billion trees cut down globally per year. That’s a lot of trees! No wonder our atmosphere is so polluted. Mahatma Gandhi has a valid point, “What we are doing to the forests of the world is but a mirror reflection of what we are doing to ourselves and to one another.”  

4 tips with trees:

  • Plant a tree to represent an important time in your life. You’ll take better care of it knowing there is symbolism behind it.
  • When planting a tree in the ground, make sure to dig a wide hole and only as deep as the pot. Carefully remove the tree from the pot and spread out the roots. Cover with dirt and then a 2-inch layer of mulch. Water the tree every day for two weeks. And wrap the trunk in the cold winter months to protect it from sunscald and rodents. Do this until it’s big enough to thrive on its own, probably when the trunk is at a 4-5 inch diameter.
click for details
  • Don’t know where to get a tree? Try a local nursery and opt for native trees, trees that thrive in their environment. For instance, White Spruce is a native tree to Michigan, but Blue Spruce is native to Colorado. Your local conservation office should have trees to buy. You can also get a tree on Amazon! Seriously, you can get a Sugar Maple.
  • Go to the Arbor Foundation for trees to purchase, or you can make a small donation and they’ll send you free trees as a thank you. They have loads of information in caring for your tree.

Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn.” – Lord Orrery, 1749

Let’s make the world a better place for ourselves and future generations.

Copyright © 2014 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

The Power of the Outdoors, Don’t miss this.

The Power of the Outdoors, Don’t miss this.

Christy standing by tree reducing pressure

There are many powers of the outdoors. Things like storms, healing plants, beauty, and even vitamins like vitamin D. But my favorite part about the outdoors is the healing she does for our hearts and minds.

Do you ever get that feeling something is off-balance, that you just need to get out and breathe? I sure do. In fact, this past weekend I said to my husband, “I have got to get outside and surround myself with nature. I’m feeling anxious and need to clear my head.”

lake michigan beach

The awe

There is just something about being outdoors; you’re surrounded in beauty and uniqueness that our pioneers and Native Americans lived in every day. This gives me awe that in some areas of the outdoors it looked the very same as when our ancestors were around.

When I was a child I would play in the woods for hours. I’m sure you can relate if you lived in the country. I’d make a fort and pretend where my kitchen was, the living room, and bedroom. Making a broom out of a stick and pine branches made me feel purposeful and practical. Know what I mean? I miss that kind of play. And just knowing that people actually had to live outdoors has always amazed me. Maybe that’s why I like camping.

This kind of outdoor play is so good for our children. It not only stimulates their creativity, but nature actually helps them be creative. Playing outdoors creates confidence. It helps our kids develop a relationship with nature, and it comforts their natural spirit. Playing in God’s creation also brings them closer to him. Here’s a post you gotta check out: 5 Valuable Ways to Manage Mental Wellness in Kids & Us. It talks about developing a relationship with nature. And gives ideas on how we can get our kids outdoors. It also covers our mental wellbeing and how to manage it naturally.

Our haven.

For some people, like myself, nature is one of our favorite worship sanctuaries, it’s our haven, refuge. It’s informal and a perfect place to be one on one with God. Even if we don’t go into the woods or visit the meadows and mountains or beaches with the intent to worship God, nature has a way of rejuvenating and healing our souls. It’s like osmosis.

Being outdoors doesn’t mean you have to exert a lot of energy to benefit from it, like climbing a mountain or going mountain biking; you can just be, and soak in that unexplainable need for it. It keeps our minds fresh and it maintains equilibrium with our daily lives. There is nothing more pleasing to the eye than the serenity of God’s creation. 

trail in the woods

John Muir, who I admire, loved nature and God. He published over 300 articles and 12 books about wilderness, nature, and preservation. He co-founded the Sierra Club which helped establish a number of national parks. John says it perfectly here,

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

May you make an effort to get out into your haven over this next week, to take a step back into time and see the world through the eyes of the pioneer and Native American. You may be surprised at what nature does for your heart and soul.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

The Purpose of Creativity, Not What You Think.

The Purpose of Creativity, Not What You Think.

flame

Creativity is one thing I love to do in the kitchen. I’ll never forget the time when I was 10 years old; I reached for the flour in an overhead cupboard. My fingertips were millimeters away from the canister. One… more… bit… CRASH!

I was successful in getting the flour down, but it wasn’t in the canister… it was on my head. I stood there and sulked as my older sister laughed at me. She called me “Casper”.

Back then my dream was to become a baker. I loved baking cookies, muffins, and quick breads. Mixing simple ingredients with my signature twist was so fun. Unfortunately, its harder for me to bake these days. Not being able to eat gluten really puts a damper on the baking. But I still try and experiment with what I got. 🙂 My baking dream might have fizzled away but my need to create has not.

To truly feel alive I need to create something; whether it’s cookies, a garden, a writing piece, or simply drawing a picture on my son’s lunch bag. It is gratifying to see what my imagination can create. I feel like I did something. Know what I mean?

Why creativity is important

click for details

Creativity isn’t just for fun. Creative thinking can solve problems, help us perform better at our jobs, help with depression, and it can help make a difference in peoples’ lives. Look at music, art, dance, and literature… what are those talents trying to do? Matthew Barnet has a great answer from his book, The Cause Within You.

He says, “Fulfilled artists do not paint or sculpt for the sake of creating more art. They do it to move people and challenge them to see the world differently. “

Want to know what’s scary?

From CreatingMinds.org they say our creativity fades away when we don’t use it. As in the Bible, it says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…” Matthew 5:13. (NIV)

In our busy lives, it’s important to take a time-out to be creative; to take a small step in becoming the unique person we were intended to be. Not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others.

The creativity flame still has a glow in us. Let’s blow on it to feed the fire within. There is no better time than now to get our hands busy; our minds will love it, our hearts will feel good, and we may incite someone’s perspective.

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

Pin It on Pinterest