Tag Archives: traditions

Christmas With College & Adult Children: Invitation vs. Obligation

Christmas With College & Adult Children: Invitation vs. Obligation

 

In my last blog post, I talked about how to determine which traditions to keep for everybody and which traditions will likely go by the wayside. These are obviously very personal decisions – and you will probably want to discuss these with your older children.

 

There are some other traditions that we have kept in part. These traditions are ones that we still do with our at-home kids, but we invite the olders to as well.

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Christmas With College & Adult Children: Continue Earlier Traditions

Christmas With College & Adult Children: Continue Earlier Traditions

One of the things that was difficult for me in having college and adult kids with Christmas was not being able to continue all of the traditions that we had formally done. I mentioned earlier that through homeschooling, we actually spent a lot of time on Christmas. Our entire December was centered around Christmas readings, unit studies, Christmas baking and cooking, and more.

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Homeschool Benefit Number One: Spending Every Day Together

I thought it would be fun to have a series called homeschool benefits. I
think a lot of times after we have homeschooled for so long, we begin to
take for granted all of the benefits and all of the good things that come as
a result of our homeschooling.

Homeschool Benefit #1: Spending Every Day Together
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Christmas Tradition: “White Christmas” movie and White Spaghetti




 For Christmas, we love to have shrimp! We start out at the end of November having shrimp cocktail and breaded shrimp for our family decorating night. Then we move into the first week of December or so and have Shrimp Alfredo for our White Christmas movie night. (It started out as White Spaghetti and White Christmas…get it?) Then for Christmas Eve, we bring out the cocktail shrimp again.

Then our shrimp days are over. We literally do not have shrimp any other time of year…sadness. Too many teens and young adults and boys and hearty eaters and….well, that equals a lot of shrimp, which equals a lot of money!

So, this is our holiday recipe. However, it is almost as good made with boneless, skinless chicken breast too!




                      Shrimp (or Chicken) Alfredo

4 to 6 lbs shrimp (or chicken tenders)
2 or 3 sticks of butter
Italian seasoning
garlic and wine seasoning
black pepper
minced garlic
parsley
oregano
salt
3 lbs fettucini (sp?)
12 oz cream cheese
1 pint half and half
1 pint whipping cream
16 oz (up to 2 lbs, if wanted–don’t use powdered Parmesan!) Italian finely shredded cheese blend (all white)


Serves 16


1. Boil pasta until al dente.

2. Melt butter and add seasonings (not sure of amounts–we just keep adding and tasting!)

3. Detail shrimp (defrost first) and drain/blot with paper towel.

4. Stir fry the shrimp in large skillet in the butter and lots of seasonings. (We do four batches.) Make this as if you were making garlic chicken tenders or shrimp scampi–you want the meat well-seasoned. We hate it when it tastes like pasta with white sauce and boiled chicken or shrimp! 😉

5. Drain the pasta and add the cream cheese and white cheese and stir until they are melted.

6. Add half and half, whipping cream, and shrimp/butter mixture to pasta/cheese mixture. Add lots more yummy seasonings!

7. Stir until yummy and heated through.

Easy One-Pot Shrimp Alfredo





 For Christmas, we love to have shrimp! We start out at the end of November having shrimp cocktail and breaded shrimp for our family decorating night. Then we move into the first week of December or so and have Shrimp Alfredo for our White Christmas movie night. (It started out as White Spaghetti and White Christmas…get it?) Then for Christmas Eve, we bring out the cocktail shrimp again.

Then our shrimp days are over. We literally do not have shrimp any other time of year…sadness. Too many teens and young adults and boys and hearty eaters and….well, that equals a lot of shrimp, which equals a lot of money!

So, this is our holiday recipe. However, it is almost as good made with boneless, skinless chicken breast too!




                      Shrimp (or Chicken) Alfredo

4 to 6 lbs shrimp (or chicken tenders)
2 or 3 sticks of butter
Italian seasoning
garlic and wine seasoning
black pepper
minced garlic
parsley
oregano
salt
3 lbs fettucini (sp?)
12 oz cream cheese
1 pint half and half
1 pint whipping cream
16 oz (up to 2 lbs, if wanted–don’t use powdered Parmesan!) Italian finely shredded cheese blend (all white)


1. Boil pasta until al dente.

2. Melt butter and add seasonings (not sure of amounts–we just keep adding and tasting!)

3. Detail shrimp (defrost first) and drain/blot with paper towel.

4. Stir fry the shrimp in large skillet in the butter and lots of seasonings. (We do four batches.) Make this as if you were making garlic chicken tenders or shrimp scampi–you want the meat well-seasoned. We hate it when it tastes like pasta with white sauce and boiled chicken or shrimp! 😉

5. Drain the pasta and add the cream cheese and white cheese and stir until they are melted.

6. Add half and half, whipping cream, and shrimp/butter mixture to pasta/cheese mixture. Add lots more yummy seasonings!

7. Stir until yummy and heated through.


Serves twelve hungry people!


Valentine’s Day–Party With Your Kids (All the Time!)

 When we had Valentine’s parties (or any “holiday” party) with our kids, we always did it a few days after the holiday—so we could get the candy and treats for 50-75% off! So…if you are reading this after the “real” holiday, it really isn’t too late to have a party with your kids for Valentine’s Day!

One of the things that we tried to do with our kids for celebrations (or just “anytime parties”) is that we tried to go out of our way to make being with Mom, Dad, and brothers, and sisters cool. Our kids see us go to great lengths to prepare for a Sunday school class party, Mary Kay party, or extended family party. We put thought and effort into having “parties” with our kids—so they wanted to stay home and party with their family–and so that they would know that they are as important (more so!) than the Sunday school class, the gals at the make up party, or the reunion.

We have fond memories of communion nights, footwashings, Valentine parties, Easter celebrations, fondue parties, “flat top grill” parties, and more with our children. Being in our family was just plain fun and way cool! Some times we would just announce to the kids that “tonight, we’re having a movie party” or “tonight, we’re having a chocolate party” or “tonight, we’re having a game party.”

It may have been as simple as frozen pizza and a movie or as elaborate as a fondue meal that Mom and the littles spent the afternoon preparing for. It may have been for a holiday (after the holiday!) or just because we wanted our kids to stay home with us on a Saturday night instead of running around with friends. (We’re not opposed to friends, but the more time we spent with our kids the more WE would influence them rather than peers influencing them.)

I will list some ideas for a homemade Valentine’s Party—some that we have done and some that I have read about or heard of.

1. Write love notes to each other. Okay..I can write this one without crying…I really can. Some of my fondest memories are the times that we sat down and had the kids write notes to each other. Okay…forget the not crying thing. Talk about incredibly sweet and memory-imbedding! We drew names and sat down and listened to the true Valentine’s story on cassette (Adventures in Odyssey) and wrote love notes to each other. I still have some of them! We had the little kids dictate to us. One of the funniest ones: one of the little boys wrote, “Dear Kayla, I love you so much because you have skinny arms.”

2. Have fun foods! This is especially important as your kids get older. After all, what do they have when they go out with friends or to youth group? Pizza, Taco Bell, mall snacks. As our kids got older, we got more elaborate with our party foods. When the two oldest girls were college age and crazy about Flat Top Grill when it first opened in Fort Wayne, one of our Valentine’s parties was a flat top grill night. (It was tons of work to prepare for, but the older kids loved this!) We had meats, veggies, and pita breads all ready—and had griddles and electric skillets all set up on the table. It was quite the feast!

3. Do something for others. Preparing Valentine’s cookie baskets or bath baskets for nursing home residents, etc. is a great way to spend a party—and helps others too.

4. Wait until after the holiday to have your party, so you can get some cool party treats for fifty to seventy-five percent off! With seven children, buying elaborate Easter baskets or Valentine’s hearts was usually out of the question. However, after the holiday, we could go get things for a lot less and still give them special treats.

5. Spend your Valentine’s Day showing love to those less fortunate. For the past several years, we have spent time on or around Valentine’s Day serving a Valentine’s banquet (and sometimes cooking it or helping to cook it) for adults with cognitive disabilities through our daughter’s disability ministry (One Heart). We often do things to prepare for it (cookie making, set up, preparing a special drama, etc.) then serve at it. Valentine’s Day is about love…and what better way to show love than to live out Luke fourteen.

6. Get a special movie, audio, or talking books to listen to or watch together for your Valentine’s party. We love Adventures in Oddysey and other radio dramas put out by Focus on the Family; the Christian bookstore (and Hallmark) have some good movies about unconditional love, etc. that are appropriate for this holiday.

7. Write various verses about love on large hearts cut of construction paper, cut each one in half in various zig-zags, mix them up, and pass out a half a heart to each person. That person then finds his other half, reads, the verse, and discusses it with the family.

8. Sing Scripture songs about love. Once we had piano players around here, we loved to gather around the piano and sing. None of us is too musical (except the two pianists), but we all loved it anyway.

Party with your kids—and make them want to stay home more!

Holiday Musings

A few years ago I wrote a “Holiday Musings” article for Training for Triumph’s newsletter. It has a lot of the same ideals that you will find in this blog—in season and out of season! However, I want to share it with you this Christmas. I pray that you will be moved and encouraged by it.





                                                       “Holiday Musings”
                                                               by Donna Reish






I love Christmas! I love giving gifts to my children; I love lights and beautiful decorations; I love doing family activities over and over again every year; I love baking goodies and giving them away. I even have a verse to substantiate my desire to give good gifts to my kids at Christmas time: “If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your father, which is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11). I mean, God knows that even we mere mortals love to give good gifts to our kids!




Although all of the things in my “I love” list above are somewhat “unspiritual,” we have found through the years there are some common threads that we try to emphasize/do during the Christmas holiday—some to remember and ponder what Christ has done for us more fully; some to deepen our relationships with each other; some to show Christ’s love to the world. Allow me to give you a list of my holiday musings.






1. Think about, talk about, sing about, and remember the true reason for Christmas as a family throughout the month. 

We have found many things that help us focus on the birth of Christ more and more throughout December: singing carols together; reading Christmas picture books with the littles in the afternoons; collecting nativity scenes; reading from chapter books that emphasize the birth of Christ, such as Max Lucado’s Cosmic Christmas, Gene Edwards’ The Birth, and Marjorie Holmes’ Two From Galilee; going to community events that point us back to the reason for the season, such as Christmas plays, live nativities, walks through Bethlehem, Christmas cantatas, movies, and plays that emphasize the coming of the Savior.




2. Create family traditions. 

We have too many holiday traditions to list in just one short article, but research has born out the importance of traditions in building a child’s outlook on many things—and it is so obvious when you hear children talk and repeat that mantra: “We always…” There is something about being able to say that “We always …” or “In our family, we… “

 Two of our favorite traditions are decorating the house together and reading inspirational Christmas stories throughout the month of December. Our older kids laugh until they cry as they give play-by-plays of each ornament making ordeal we have gone through. (Our tree is decorated with only home made ornaments—another tradition we have is that of making ornaments together.) Anyway, they have a joke of holding up the sample ornament (one that I bought that we were modeling after) and holding up one of ours and chiming, “Sample ornament; Reish ornament” over and over. Then they tell about the time I threw the cinnamon sticks across the room in a fit of Christmas stress as we tried to make the “ornaments in a minute” out of cinnamon sticks. Then we all laugh some more—and I try my best to keep from crying as I think about Christmases gone by—and wonder where the years have gone and long for just a day from a Christmas ten or fifteen years ago.






Traditions do not have to be elaborate or expensive. Some of ours (besides the decorating night and ornament making) are as simple as watching certain Christmas movies while we wrap gifts; eating shrimp alfredo while we watch White Christmas; reading about holiday traditions each morning; learning a new carol together each year (all the verses!); having the kids exchange their gifts with each other on Christmas Eve; reading inspirational stories each night before bed; reading one of the Gospels during the month of December; etc.






3. Think about Jesus’ entire life—his birth, life, death, and resurrection—not just his birth. 

Linking the Christmas story to the fact that without it we would have no hope of salvation is important, especially with younger children. Two ways that we do this include discussing, reading about, and singing about the names of Christ and what they mean throughout the month; and reading one of the Gospels—not just the Christmas story—during December. This helps us focus on our salvation even more. (Another thing we have done to focus on Jesus’ entire life is to listen to Focus on the Family’s radio theatre “The Luke Reports.” I will put links to some excellent resources throughout December, so check back frequently!)




4. Reach out to those less fortunate—and do so in a way that costs you and your children something.

 I know that doesn’t sound very “Christmasy”—good cheer and mistletoe and all (btw, I love mistletoe if the right “mistletoe-ee” is around!), but taking a can to a canned food drive or parents buying gifts for the children to leave at the angel tree are not sacrifices for our children—and do not do much to teach our children the true meaning of Christmas—and the true meaning of sacrificial giving.


When I speak of reaching out to those less fortunate, I am talking about giving up time (a few evenings or days?) and money (money with which a child could buy himself something). I’m talking about doing hard things. I’m talking about getting dirty, being inconvenienced, etc. I know that sounds strange, but honestly, what could we possibly do or give that would be too much for our Lord? Find true, meaningful service projects for your children—extensive time spent at a nursing home or group home caroling, making cookies with residents, reading to them, etc.; earning money to be used to give gifts to truly poor or forgotten people (like county home residents or the disabled); going out into the homes of people who never have a Christmas visitor; serving food at a soup kitchen; cleaning mattresses at a rescue mission. Focus on others more than ever before this Christmas—your children will thank you for it eventually. (For the new year, read the stories written by the author of Mandate for Mercy (also the founder of the Mercy Ship ministry) about how his mom made his family squeeze together in the car every week to pick up poor and desperate people to take them to church—and the impact this had on this man causing him to spend his life on the poor and desolate—this is the kind of reaching out we are purporting here.)




5. Reach out to your relatives.

 Yes, those strangers who are watching “bad” things on television the whole family get together while puffing away on their cigarettes. Teach your children to go to family get togethers to serve—not to judge. Start out teaching your children about this concept of serving relatives with a Bible study (ahead of time) on “being great in God’s kingdom by serving” and “doing for others asking nothing in return” and “being a light by your good works.” 

Then, if it is true, tell your children that you have been more concerned about yourself than you have of others at past family get togethers. And that you want your entire family to change all of that. That you want to “do your good works that others would glorify your father in heaven.” Discuss ways that you can do this during this holiday season: working harder to make good dishes to the gatherings (no lentil casserole, please—bless these people with fat and sugar!); helping with young cousins; encouraging grandparents; helping to set up and take down; being kind to each other as an example of family unity to those who might not have any idea what that looks like. 

(Note: Because I always get asked this, I will put a caveat here—I am not talking about reaching out to relatives in any way that would put your children in danger. We recommend that your children never be left with non-Christians and never be put in situations in which they could be harmed.)




6. Really talk to others this holiday season. 

Your ministry of bringing your relatives to Christ will begin not with your family’s judgment of them, but with your interest and concern for their lives in general. Jeff Myers, leadership specialist, founder of Passing the Baton, and current president of Summit Ministries (as of 2012),  gives the following list of things to discuss this year with relatives young and old. Some are one-on-one types of discussions while others would work well for group discussions**:






Express thanks to someone in the room for something they did for you.


“I’m thankful for…” Finish the sentence.


If you could have the attention of the whole world for 30 seconds, what would you say?


One thing I’m thankful for about our country.


What is the key to success in life? Why do you say that?


Tell about a lesson you learned the hard way.


What are some ways life is different now than in the old days?


Tell a story of a decision your ancestors made that changed the direction of their lives-and yours.


Tell about a lesson you learned by watching someone else.


“A person I would like to honor publicly is…”


“Time and money aside, I would rather be…”


Tell about an experience that changed you for the better.


Tell a story about something that started out bad but had a happy ending.


“My first hero was _________.”

Tell about a time when you showed courage.


Describe a teacher who had a significant influence on your life.


Tell about an invention that made your life easier.


“The most admired public figure when I was growing up was ____.” Tell a story.


Tell about a memorable event in your life.


“A famous person I’ve met is _____.” Tell about the experience.


“I got in so much trouble…” Tell the story!


(www.passingthebaton.readyportal.net/page/68289/;jsessionid=6rj638as0ohf7 )




**Note: These are good to print off and use as dinner discussion for your immediate family, too!






6. Express genuine gratefulness to God and others

December is a month to really display the quality of gratefulness—and to teach your children to do so too. Not just mere ”thank-you’s”—but sincere thanksgiving to God for His Son and for others for everything they do for us. Teaching children to say thank-you, write thank-you notes, etc. is a start. However, gratefulness begins with the realization that everything good we have comes from the hand of God. That we are nothing without Him. And that He knows what we need more than we do. It is deepened when we give up materialism—the idea that we have to have this or that in order to be happy—and focus instead on the good things God has done for us. Thoughts on materialism would require an entire article in itself, but when we have to have things to make us happy, when our mood and outlook change as a result of getting more and more, or when we cannot be happy in whatever situation we are in (materially speaking), we are probably steeped in materialism. Praying through this, sharing with our family the importance of giving up our ideas that we somehow deserve this or that, focusing on gratefulness for all that God has done for us outside the material things we are lacking—these are ways to feel and exhibit true gratefulness.






7. Spend quality time reaching into your children’s hearts. 

That’s a tough one, huh? I mean, the busiest time of the year, and we have to add another thing to the list. I remember vividly eighteen years ago when I had five kids ten and under. I still had younger siblings at home who would come and spend a lot of Christmas week with us. I made four Christmas dinners in a row for various relatives. I got up early in the morning to make home baked bread and rolls and went to bed late at night to get the overnight breakfast casseroles in the oven. I get tired just thinking about it. I was trying to serve others, but found myself distanced from my kids by the time the holiday week was over. I can remember looking at Joshua, then ten, one evening after the relatives had all left, and calling him over to ”sit in Mommy’s rainbow” (my bent legs as I lay on the sofa)—and he seemed so far away. I had been with him all week—I was usually with my older kids all the time as they did not have any older siblings to take them anywhere like my littles now have! However, I felt so far from him. I had let the busy-ness of Christmas keep me from those I love the most. Now I have to remind myself that one more home made goody or one more shopping day is not worth distancing myself from my children. Stay close. It’s Christmas!




This Christmas I pray that all of us can ”keep Christmas” in a way that glorifies God and teaches our children deep Christmas truths.


*Copyright TFT 2008

Christmas in the Car–reprint

Tonight as we drove home from an extended family Christmas gathering, reading aloud and singing, I was reminded of an old article I wrote for our newsletter several years ago—Christmas in the Car. I will post it in its entirety below—gotta sneak in those family times any chance we get as our kids get older!

Christmas in the Car
From 2004:

If your children are growing up as fast as ours are, and if you travel distances to church, piano lessons, grandparents, etc. as we do, you might want to try some of our “Christmas in the Car” tips. Basically, every year I see the holiday time slipping away from us. The girls are taking college classes; off to Spanish or piano; teaching their own guitar, language arts, and piano students; working at their jobs; and more. Every time I think we’re going to have a sing-along/reading time tonight, someone announces that she has a Spanish test tomorrow and has to study all evening! Thus, our “Christmas in the Car” time was born.

We spend a great deal of time in the vehicle each week—driving to lessons, church, grandparents, etc.—all forty-five minutes away from us minimum. Being the efficiency expert that I am (of sorts!), I began utilizing this time in the vehicle to keep some of our holiday traditions alive. Try some of our “Christmas in the Car” ideas—and keep those traditions going strong:

*Sing carols as you drive.

*Listen to Christmas radio dramas (Focus on the Family has good ones), Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue Christmas stories, Christmas books on tape, Adventures in Oddysey Christmas stories, etc. as you are driving.

*Sing your way through the Christmas story. Start with “Mary, Did You Know?” and move on to “Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem,” then move onto anything having to do with the shepherds (“The First Noel,” “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” “Angels We Have Heard on High”). Next move into the birth/after the birth with “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “Away in a Manger,” and “We Three Kings.” Lastly, sing of the joy of his arrival: “Joy to the World” and “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

*Tell the Christmas story in one sentence increments as you go around the van, person-by-person. (This gets interesting with the little ones who might have them fleeing Herod’s wrath before Jesus is even born!)

*If a passenger can read without being sick, you might read your way through a favorite (pictureless) holiday book. We enjoy reading Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado and The Birth by Gene Edwards. Everyone looks forward to reading another chapter the next time we get in the van.

*Likewise, we read “devotional” type books about Christmas while we drive. This year, we are enjoying short chapters in the book Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas (see review). We have also enjoyed Christmas Stories From the Heart, The Christmas Reader, and more in years past.

*Use the driving time to memorize the Christmas story from the book of Luke. (We like to assign one verse to each person and go from person to person.)

*We enjoy memorizing all the verses from a certain Christmas song each year. In years past, we have memorized “Away in a Manger,” “Twelve Days of Christmas,” and “We Three Kings.” We can still sing most of the verses today!

*Drive by Christmas lights on your evening travels.

*Go through a drive-through or walk-through nativity while driving by one.

*Deliver goodies to those in route.

*Play “20 Questions Christmas-Style” or “Name That Christmas Tune.”

*New game: A person picks three things about the Christmas story that are really true or just thought to be true (or embellished, such as the little drummer boy playing for Jesus), and the others try to guess which two things are really in the Bible and which one is not. This is eye-opening.

*Sing whatever Christmas song you are reminded of by the decorations you see—stars, snowmen, angels, etc.

*Make up your own humorous twelve days of Christmas song, with each person getting to add their own items to the list as you sing around the van.

*Play the ABC Christmas game—“What I love about Christmas is A for angel, B for baby, C for candy, etc.” Go around and each person starts with A and tries to remember what was previously said. (This is a spin-off of the “I went to Grandma’s and I took A for applesauce, B for blankets, etc.)

*My personal favorite: Have someone write your holiday cooking and shopping list and holiday menus down for you while you drive and dictate to them. (Be forewarned: No comments about the spelling or penmanship are allowed when the child is done writing for you!)

Colors of Christmas—reprint

One of the essays we have in one of our upcoming creative writing books is one about the “colors of Christ.” In it, students can write for children (i.e. think the wordless salvation book or color salvation bracelet concept), or they can write a general essay, spending one paragraph per color representing salvation. I have always liked the concept of explaining salvation through color—especially with children and the “wordless salvation book,” so I was especially thrilled with how this essay project has come about.

Along that same line, Lisa Welchel, in her book “The ADVENTure of Christmas,” describes the colors of Christmas—and incorporating the colors of Christmas in your advent celebration with your children. The information below was gleaned from that book. (I recommended this book last week when we first pulled it out for our yearly Christmas read-aloud—see link there for more information.)

Some of the colors that are generally ascribed special meanings for Christmas include, but are not limited to the following:

Green—suggests “life” and is reflected in the ever green tree

Red—reminds us of the blood of Jesus shed for us and is reflected in berries and other “red” décor

White—represents the purity of the spotless Lamb and is reflected in snow of the season

Gold—denotes the royalty of Christ (or the wise men’s gifts) and is reflected in ornaments, tinsel, and more

Silver—reminds us that Christ’s sacrifice was paid for in full and is reflected in icicles, stars, and more

Yellow—reminds us that Christ came to bring light and is reflected in candle flames, stars, and more

Of course, there are more colors that can be included in an explanation of the “colorful” Christmas traditions and the birth of Christ—the wise men’s “purple” clothing and the fact that purple represents kingship; blackness of the December night—and the fact that we are in darkness before the star shone to lead us to Christ, and much more.

Tomorrow—colored popcorn recipe to add an object lesson to your colorful Christmas teaching!

Twelve Terrific Times to Talk—#10: Half Birthdays and Other “Dates”

#10: Half Birthdays and Other “Dates”

When our older kids turned twelve (girls) or thirteen (boys), they began to have a special privilege known as “half birthday dates.” At the 12 ½ (or 13 ½) year old mark, that child got taken out to dinner with Mom and Dad for a unique dinner date. The first date was a time for the son or daughter to re-committ to purity (and for the girls, included a purity/promise ring)— and included a long conversation affirming all of the teaching that they had received up to this point about our relationship standards. (For our family, this has included a commitment not to “date around” but to only begin seeing someone when he or she is ready to get married and thinks the person might be “the one.” Of course, there are many more details that go into this (i.e. getting parents’ approval on both sides, establishing a relationship (that we called “courtsthip,” etc.).)

Beyond that first half birthday date, our kids’ “half dates” have included the child choosing a restaurant and a night out with Mom and Dad to talk about goals, friends, siblings, academics, ministry, and more. It was a novel idea that we carried out for many, many years.

This tradition has gone by the way for us today—as it served its purpose in establishing times away for one child and Mom and Dad during the child’s teen and young adults years. However, it is no longer needed in a formal manner since we have “dates” with our teens and young adults much more regularly than at the half birthday mark today. As a matter of fact, as I type this, we are driving home from South Carolina to bring our son home from his internship with the Academy of Arts. We just did a “dinner date” with our daughter and son-in-law the night before we left to come to SC. The night before that found us eating dinner alone with our seventeen year old after his first day of college classes. As we drive home today, we will sit down with our son at one of his favorite spots. In a few days, one of our daughters will be home with her “court friend,” and the four of us will sit down alone one evening. A few days after that, another daughter will be home for a short visit, and Mom, Dad, and daughter will go to her favorite spot. (Yes, it costs money and calories—both of which we save just for these occasions—time with our kids is more of a priority to us than a beautifully decorated house or expensive vehicles.)

When our olders were younger, we would sometimes do “dates” one on one with the little kids, too. These could be as simple as getting an ice cream cone at McDonalds and going to the park to walk and see the buffalo or taking a bike ride. Time with our kids one-on-one doesn’t always have to cost a lot. Once again, the point is that each child knows that Mom and Dad want to spend time alone with that child—and we will go to great lengths to be sure that happens.