the firsts go on forever - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

From the first little twitch in your tummy, to the first time you look into his eyes, to the fist time you take him home, to the first time you leave him with a babysitter...once you have a baby, the firsts go on forever.

Before I had the boys, I felt like their life of "firsts" would be wrapped up in their first year or so. If you think about all the "big" things like teeth, and walking and laughing and the first smile, you think about a little bitty baby, fresh and new. And it's kind of true...except not really.

What no one ever tells you is that the "firsts" go on forever. You go on from teeth and smiles to the first time they say "I love you" and the first time they can spell their name. There's the tough ones like the first time you leave them with a sitter or the first time you drop them off at school. There's the first time they ride a bike without training wheels and the first time they can read on their own.

The firsts go on forever. The best part, the very best part, is that each first feels as good as the first one. The joy you have when that baby smiles at you is only paralleled by the next first and it doesn't matter if they're one or three or six. They all bring a mother's heart to bursting joy.

I have a feeling that I'll be enjoying the firsts of my boys for as long as I live...first college application, first love, first baby, so many things to look forward to living and experiencing as a mother.

And even though the passing of each stage brings grief that it's over, the constant of new and first comes with a steady flow as well, and mothers can take comfort in that.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

more elf...

Sorry for the back to back elf posts...but this one was too cute not to share with you right away!  Last night our elf brought the boys some elf sized kisses! 

(Psst--all I did was unwrap regular sized ones, cut the foil down to fourths, cut the streamer down to size and wrapped up some chocolate chips!).

The boys got a huge kick out of it!  Have fun!

our elf is back!

 You remember Porkchop right?  Well he's back!  He started off his visit by bringing the boys their yearly Christmas ornament.  Moses was a little worried that he might not know how to find us in our new house but quickly decided that he could always get directions from Uncle Eric (where Porkchop had been before).
This year he had his very own door.  We've convinced the boys that it only works when an Elf uses it.
Before he made his debut, I gave him a little surgery.  Giving him bendy arms and legs required me removing his head completely, pulling out his stuffing and ripping out stitches.  Made me a little nervous but in the end...well worth it.  
 He's already up to no good and the boys love him more than ever.
Doug and I have just as much fun with him as the boys do!  I know there are many (many) people out there who don't "get it" or think it's a waste of time...but we have a blast!  The boys LOVE it, we LOVE it and to us, the extra time and "work" is well worth the joy it brings to the boys!

Are you "elfing" this year?

babies aren't pets. a huggies post.

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Can we have an honest discussion about something? I'm going to share with you one of my biggest pet peeves and you have to promise not to judge me. This is a view I've always held, even before kids, and it cemented with having kids.

Are you ready to hear it? Don't judge me OK? Ok.

Having pets is not the same as having children nor does it really prepare you for having kids.

There. I said it. I've had pets and I've had kids; the two are vastly different. I've had pregnant people, in all seriousness tell me, "Thank goodness for my pets. I'm so ready for kids because of them". Then I laugh a little on the inside. Pets and kids are not the same.

For instance, I can't leave my kids for the weekend with fresh liter and a huge supply of food and water and know they will be fine.

I can't leave my kids in a crate for a few hours while I run errands, though it has crossed my mind.

I can't take my kids to a kennel when I want to go on vacation. I can't train them to go potty outside from day one. I can't put them outside for the night. I can't feed my kids the same thing every day. I can't leave them with others for the weekend while I go out of town. Pets are pretty much independent, kids the polar opposite.

Kids and pets are not the same. Sometimes they don't even work well together. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't.

That was the case for us. When we had Moses, we had two cats, Peanut and Poofy. Peanut began a pee spree through the house when Moses came home. She peed in the bathroom sink on a regular basis. She had to be escorted to a new home. Poofy ran away the first chance he got.

We did all the things we could to help our pets (who are not kids) get used to our new tenant and it didn't work out for us.

I know that there are many who make the two work well together; we just weren't one of those families. I'm not sure what we did, or didn't do that would have worked better.

Overall, just know that having pets in no way prepares you for kids no matter what anyone tells you.
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

20 minute crafter - make a giant star for less than $5!

Since moving we have a whole new canvas for Christmas decorating this year.  There's a large space above our front door that I wanted to hang a HUGE wreath on...only problem was that a wreath as big as I wanted was at least $60-$70.  Not gonna happen.  In the midst of my search I happened on a photo taken by my friend Trish from Daisys and Dots.
She had my $5 solution.
 Yardsticks from Lowes (on sale for .69c each), hot glue and you could stop there.  For another couple of bucks I added some outdoor paint and lights. :) Done.  Huge.  Awesome. You could even make them from fun vintage ones if you didn't want to put it outside. 
All I did for assembly was to lay them out in a star shape, fiddle with them until they were "right" and hot glue all the placed they touched with generous amounts of hot glue.  
Here is what my corners looked like if you need a little visual. 
I then painted it black (for aging purposes), then coated it in white outdoor paint.  Then covered it with some outdoor sage lights.  To add a little rustic touch I wrapped the ends in wire.

We took this one to friends as a gift and they immediately hung it on their house! 
It would make a great gift year round...why don't you go make some?

20 minute crafter - Quick and Inexpensive Christmas Advent

Christmas is coming.  Are you ready?  I'm pretty excited myself since this will be the first holiday season that neither my husband nor I have had to work with a retail schedule.  We feel like kids again and I'm itching to decorate.  In the mean time, how about a quick and easy Christmas countdown?

All you need is:
a frame
a clothes pin
numbers 1-25 (I bought these at Michael's but there are gobs on Etsy as well)
a background paper
hot glue
*extra is washi tape or paint

Ready for how difficult this is?
Put the back ground paper in the frame just like a photo. 
Cover your clothespin with washi tape or paint it...then using hot glue attach it to the top of your frame.
Embellish however you would like and you are ready to countdown some Christmas. :)

Go make one...I bet you can find almost everything you need right at home. :)

Have fun!

Martha, Staples and win $100!

I LOVE office supplies. Love, love, love them. It's something about the potential of fresh pads of paper, sharp new pencils, and list pads waiting for check lists to be crossed off. Sometimes when I've had a hard day and Doug walks in the door, I'll run away to Staples to just walk up and down the aisles. The smell of new paper and the browsing of pens goes a long way towards calming my nerves.

Maybe it's the potential for organization that does it ... an organized home always makes me feel at ease. Recently Martha Stewart Home Office™ with Avery™ sent me a box of heaven. It was all so pretty to see, simmering in the box with efficient, organizing potential.
I unpacked it and looked at all week, trying to figure out just how to make the most of it. They included pads of pretty paper, desktop organization, labels, a journal and so much more. I'd be happy to simply gaze at it all in its packaging ...
But instead I started with a list. Done and done.
They included some Holiday Shipping items as well ... perfect for packages tied up with string. I send a lot of mail during the holidays and can't wait to use the pretty red and snowflake-patterned paper to make my packages special. These little tags will add a fun little touch ... if I can make myself part with them.
Also included were a couple of these Shagreen Pocket magazine file folders ... put to work immediately in the powder room. Who says office supplies can only organize the office? I think I'll put another one to work as a paid/need to pay folder for bills.
And my favorite item ... and the one I just can't decide the best place to use yet: little Chalkboard Labels in various shapes and sizes. Maybe I'll add them to my canisters in the kitchen? Or as a little reminder notice by the back door? Or put one on the boys lunch box to leave a little love note during the school day? I may even put them to use on jars to give gifts to friends and neighbors for Christmas.
You can find all of these and more here at Staples (and can buy on-line with the exception of the holiday items which are only in-store). You can browse at the Avery site and like them on Facebook!
Avery and BlogHer would like to give one of you a $100 gift card to Staples to stock up for yourself. Just leave a comment on this post telling me if you've started your Christmas preparations yet!

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learn the swaddle - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Oh the swaddle. The wonderful, wonderful swaddle. My very favorite trick for getting a newborn to conk right out. The swaddle should be your first and last trick up your sleeve.

I tell ya, I've lost count of the number of times I've started to swaddle a baby, mid-cry, only to have them pass right out before I can get the last flap tucked in.

I've yet to meet a baby that doesn't respond immediately to the swaddle. If you have one of those babies who don't like it, bless your heart, I hope you have another trick that works just as well.

Some hints that might help you become a champion swaddler, which to some of your friends could be equal to the star of the party depending on how sleep deprived they are:

You want a blanket with some stretch to it. I've found that those waffle weave, thermal blankets work the best. You can see what I'm talking about in the photo above...Moses has a blue version of this same blanket...the best for swaddling.

Stay away from pre-made swaddlers. I tried a few varieties and they never worked as well as my trusty yellow (or blue) blanket. This may sound terrible, but they just didn't get tight enough and the key to a good swaddle is to get it nice and tight.

Start with a blanket laid out flat on the floor. Fold one corner down about a third or so of the way. Lay baby in the center with the top of his shoulders just above the fold.

Tuck one arm down by his side and fold that corner of the blanket over his body and tuck snugly under the opposite side of his body. You want to make it nice and a good burrito.

Fold the bottom corner up. Tuck the opposite arm in on his side and wrap the blanket (about here they should conk out) around and tuck in behind.

It's important for it to be tight to be good; a loose swaddle is as worthless as wet toilet paper.

And that's it! I hope it proves to be as useful to you as it has been to me. Was the swaddle as good for you?
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

heavy hearted.

Often I pray "break my heart for what breaks yours".  I want to be compassionate and sensitive to the needs of the world around me.  Sometimes the breaking is more than I can handle.

I want to be a tool used by God to spread his love.  I want love, above all else, to be the thing that people most associate with me.

But can I let you in on something?  I am still learning how to be loving, yet boldly standing in the truth, uncompromising in the things God has set forth for our lives.

God is very clear on, well, all things.  I believe that there is no area that God leaves grey in his word.  He puts in place standards and rules for life to gently guide us in the way we are to go.

If that were the only factor to wrestle with, how easy would our lives as Christ lovers be?  So easy.  Go on with life, ask God's response to all we do, act accordingly, go on with life.

It would be so easy.

So easy.

But life on this Earth is not easy.  Never.  We have God's word, at least there is that constant.  What makes the water muddy are those who work and try to bend the rules to suit their whims, setting new and better standards for what is best, sometimes on a seemingly daily basis.

What makes the water muddy is being immersed in a society that is forever pushing the envelope of what is acceptable or OK.  What is OK today becomes barbaric tomorrow.  These societal standards, set to make people the most "happy", to be a convenience to their whims, to help everyone to feel accepted no matter how steep their sin, to make people the most comfortable, to do what we like best, is killing our country.

The ironic part is that God's standards never change.  He never shifts to suit our mood.  He is constant and always.  His dependability is amazing.   

How to be a light in this world as I struggle with my own sin?  It's the biggest breaking I am blessed with.  I don't long to be comfortable in a world that says I'm entitled to it, rather, being comfortable makes me uneasy because sin makes you comfortable.  I long instead, to be firmly planted in the Truth.  I long to be unwavering in standards, I long to extend love always yet remain planted in truth.   
I can feel the walk narrowing around me.  Standing by God's word is becoming abnormal in a country once based on it.  Christian churches are cowering from the truth to get bigger numbers.  Filling people with a false sense of OK that fades easily on a Monday morning.  Fewer and fewer Christian bloggers will speak truth instead of what will get them the most followers.

People cower from calling out sin in the name of not making anyone unhappy with them.

Somehow pleasing each other temporarily has become more important that pleasing the one we will spend eternity with.   
I for one, (sometimes painfully if I'm being honest) will struggle to produce truth as I am coming to understand it, no matter who it pleases so long as it pleases the One I will have to present it to in the end.  

I will speak the truth in love, even when it hurts because that is what we are called to do.  I will not compromise to make friends but I will fight to love all with His eyes.

I know I can't be alone in this struggle.  Are there ways you've come to speak truth despite it's pain or unpopularity?  How do you struggle with the things that break His heart?

the best words - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Sometimes the best help you can get comes in the form of words...they can convey courage, they can encourage and they can build your confidence as a mother and so much more when they come from the right source.

We've talked already about finding a good pediatrician and when you find a good one you can trust, their words can go a long way to calming you, building you up and helping you find your sanity. So far, we've been extremely blessed in the pediatrician department. We've had good listeners, calm doctors and doctors who were more interested in helping us be good parents than hearing themselves talk.

Some of the best advice I've gotten as a parent came from our pediatrician. And it may not be the kind of advice you would think. It's not medical. It's not about runny noses or fevers. It has nothing to do with bodily functions or growth charts. No, my favorite advice had nothing to do with my kids. My favorite advice from our pediatrician was about believing in my instincts as a mother.

My boys have been blessed enough that between the two of them I think they've had about five non-well child visits. They probably only needed three of those. The other two were times where I just needed someone to tell me that it was OK not to be an over worrying mom. That is was OK not to run to the doctor for every sniffle, sneeze or (gasp) fever. I seem to be in the minority when it comes to this subject (of not running to the doctor every five minutes) and I was able to have a very frank discussion with our pediatrician about this.

She took the time to listen and remind me that I know what I'm doing. We went over the only real reasons to run to the doctor, which I was already aware of and she let me know that it was OK to listen to myself! I remember those conversations when my friends who tend to worry more try to push me into running into the doctor.

Constantly pushing your own intuition aside leads to lack of confidence in yourself as a mother and I'm thankful for having a pediatrician who encouraged me to lean and grow into my own intuition as a mother.

How about you? What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

get that baby to sleep - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

Oh the baby sleep there anything baby related that brings up more opinions? It seems that either you are OK with letting a baby cry and make some noise in order to teach them to sleep or you think it's cruel to not run to them immediately the moment they let out a peep.

I'm on the team that believes that no baby ever died of "cry". With both of my boys we used some form of a cry it out method and I can tell you that there have been NO ill side effects. Both boys have been and continue to be GREAT sleepers. They are independent, secure and healthy boys. I would do the same things all over again and I have no regret over not running in to sooth every sound and spend countless hours rocking a baby who should be sleeping in their bed.

With both boys, by 6-8 weeks they were sleeping through the night with only one short interruption to eat during the night. As soon as it was deemed appropriate, pretty early on, we dropped the night feeding to and got back to being a family where we all slept through the night.

I'm also on the team that believes that you teach a baby how to behave. It doesn't take many times of whimpering and mom running in for a baby to know that whimpering gets her some company. We ignored any cry that wasn't pain or hunger while we were teaching our boys good sleep habits. In fact, once we dropped the night feeding my husband and I slept with a box fan in our room so that we only heard the important noises and not all the night sounds.

Here's the short method:

1) Decide the time when your baby seems tired for the night, from that time start about 30 minutes prior with your bed time routine. We always did bath, bottle, in bed (awake!).

2) When you are done with your bedtime routine put baby to bed awake! You don't want to wait until they are crying and fussy from being over tired. Eventually you will learn to see the pre-sleep drama signs and know to start getting ready to bed beforehand. Putting them to bed awake, without a paci or bottle or nursing, will help them learn how to put themselves asleep without depending on anything but themselves.

3) When putting baby to bed make it short and sweet and mean it! With the boys we sang a special song, said goodnight, put them down and left the room immediately. They have to know that you mean business, that it's time for sleep and nothing else.

4) They might cry. It's OK. Moses cried for 30 minutes the first time we did this and Aaron cried for almost an hour. But each night after each of those was amazingly better and by day three for each boy they went to bed and slept through without a peep! Night and day difference.

5) It's important to let them cry. If you go in shortly after they start, they will learn that cry = mom comes and will be losing valuable sleep training. The more you go in, the longer the process will take.

6) Decide when their feedings should be and try to ignore any sounds you hear until then. This gets easier as you lean.

I promise this works. It's worked on my boys, with little effort and I've seen it work with my nephew, too!

And if you choose this method, inevitably, someone will try to convince you that you are doing irreparable damage to your child, just smile and nod and tell them what a good night sleep you got!
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

in the night {an answer to prayer}

I've been praying for some time about sharing my story, the dark corners of my childhood and youth that have shaped who I am and I am happy to announce that God has answered that prayer. 

I am thrilled to share that I was asked to be a contributing author to Beautifully Rooted and there I will share my story...among other things. 

I hope you'll take a look at my first installment...entitled "In the Night".  It won't be a pretty road, but it ends in glory.   

above all...VOTE.

Elections and politics make my head hurt.  The truth is that you don't know the truth about any candidate.  They are excellent at pretty words and promises.  Personally, there is no earthly man's name that I want to put on a sign and plant in my yard, or cover my bumper with, or give money to or trust with my (or my kids) future, regardless of what party they claim.

Did you know that over 6 billion dollars will be spent on this election before it's all over and done with?  SIX BILLION DOLLARS.  Imagine all the good that money could do if we relied on facts, history and based our choices off of that and not commercials, spin and propaganda.  Imagine the food it could buy, the kids it could clothe and the homes it could build if our world wasn't so screwy.   
The election seems less about who will be best for the job and more about who can put on the biggest show and fool the most people. 

The party lines are blurry, people flip-flop overnight, they say one thing and mean another, they make promises they can't what's a voter to do? 

Pray.  And pray some more.  And pray again.  Do your own research and pray again.  Read and seek out truth and pray.  Know that we live in times where the truth is that the world will only get worse until it gets 100% better. 

I do believe that God cares about this election, just as he cares for all of the events in our world.  I believe that exactly who he wants to be elected, will be.  I believe that he calls us to take our right to vote seriously.  It's not a frivolous treat, it's a hard earned right to have a say in who God wants to govern our land.  

I realize that writing this will open up the doors to criticism but one day my kids will read this and I want them to know that I voted with open eyes, an educated mind and a heart open to doing what God wanted me to do.    

So how will I vote?  Who will I vote for?

I will vote for the most pro-life candidate, because God hates the shedding of innocent blood (Prov.6:17).  I believe that a woman's right to control her body ends where another body begins.  Human life should never be disposable.   

I will vote for the most pro-debt reduction candidate, because the borrower is servant to the lender (Prov.22:7).  If our country can't lead by example what hope do we have for a future?

I will vote for the most pro-
work candidate because God says if a man not work, let him not eat. (2Thess.3:10).  Teach a man to fish...there is much pride and good to come from a hard days work.  Our country is becoming too entitled and demanding in things they haven't earned. 

I will vote for the candidate who most closely believes a government's purpose is to reward the good & punish the evil (Romans 13).  We should be taking care of each other and not demanding the government to do it for us.  

I will vote based as close as I can on God's Word (2Tim.3:16) because in the end I will be answering to Him and no one else. 
I will vote knowing that whoever gets elected, God is the one who puts all men in authority (Dan.2:21).  There is peace to be found in that no matter what party you place yourself behind.  
Above all, I will vote.  I will make the sacrifices of those who made it possible for me to do so worth it. 

Above all, vote. 

And remember, they won't know we are Christians by how we vote but rather how we LOVE, so be kind on election day too! 

cake fun...

I've been enjoying some creative time via cake making lately.  It started some time this summer and it's been growing since then.  It's been fun to plan a cake around someones likes...
This one was for my nephew Jack who turns one this week.  He loves a bath. 
I've learned that a series of simple tricks often makes for a good result.  Anyone can make a beautiful cake...just break it down to simple steps.    
This one was for my brother in law Eric, who like us, loves his Norwegian heritage.  This one was chocolate, raspberry filled with coffee frosting, covered in marzipan.  I wasn't thrilled with my marzipan cake coverage so I made a quilted pattern to cover my mistakes.     
The little viking was my favorite...his tiny little flag was too cute!   
The best part is that I've managed to make a cake that's cute AND tastes good too!   
And this one was for my niece, Casey who turns 4 soon.  
I'm told that this is a good representation of a "Bubble Guppies" cake.  I wouldn't know, I've never seen the show but she loved it and that's all I cared about. :) 
It's been fun learning something up is an ugly sweater cake for my sister in law...

babies and travel - a huggies post

I've been asked by BlogHer and Huggies to take some walks down memory lane and explore some (what I think will be) FUN subjects about babies and having them and getting ready for them and all the fun stuff that goes with THEM! I volunteered for this series for selfish reasons. I think it will be a great way to document some thoughts and feelings that maybe I haven't before but should have. I hope you will enjoy them, too!

It's inevitable, unless you're a hermit or everyone you know lives next door to you, that you will have to do some long distance traveling with your new little bundle! While the thought of it can be daunting just remember to breath and start planning as soon as you can! It's never too early to start a list of things you don't want to forget!

When it came to traveling with my little bitty babies, I found that it was better for everyone if we over planned, over packed and yet were prepared to go with the flow.

If you are traveling to someone's home for the first time I would suggest that you bring your own pack and play or bassinet for baby to sleep in. Sometimes just the sight and sound of something familiar to baby helps to continue on your usual routine away from home. And really, you never know what you will find when you get to someones home. For me it was always better just to throw the pack and play in the car with everything else. You know it's clean, safe and up to date!

Pack more diapers, clothes, wipes and food than you think you will need. This will keep you from running to the store for that one thing that you ran out of or from panicking when you run out of clothes. Keep your diaper bag stocked with bum cream, any medication you or your little one may need, a first aid kit, nursing pads, etc. I'd rather carry a little bit of everything than forget something.

Always bring a jacket and long pants. Always. It never fails that the one time I forget or choose not to do it, is when we need them!

And take it from my personal experience, even if a hotel promises you a crib for your room, don't count on it being there. Take the pack and play EVEN if you reserve a hotel crib or in lieu of one anyway.

If you're driving, prepare for extra stops to change and feed. Being able to take your time is a lot easier than having to rush at break neck speeds! Having plenty of time adds to good moods, happy babies and good attitudes!

If you're flying, try to plan fly time during nap time and feed baby as you take off - this can be done with baby in a carrier!
The important thing above all is to relax! Make the travel part of the trip and it becomes a lot more fun. Be prepared for disasters and good times alike!

How about you? What's your best baby travel advice?
Check out the Huggies Mommy Answers Facebook app and find more posts from bloggers sharing their experiences of motherhood on the Huggies page on

Halloween and the Johnsens 2012

If you've been here for a while (five years old this blog is!!), you've read our ever evolving stance on Halloween and how it fits in with our love for Jesus.  This past year has probably been my biggest growth ring (so far) when it comes to being a parent.  I've learned more this last year than all my years combined.  Which is great considering that parenting just keeps getting harder.

Yep.  You mothers of babies.  I'll tell you something no one ever told me.  Babies are easy.  Easy.  Easy.  Looking back, the baby years were a breeze.  Basic needs met and simple comforts could solve all problems.  Each year my boys get older, the more complex their problems are...the less likely a kiss from mom can cure the world.

Thankfully, I've been blessed with the will to always learn and this last year I read "Grace Based Parenting".  It changed my views on my entire parenting life.  I approached Halloween with a much more simple lens:  Is this a heart issue?

No? No.  Proceed.

That's it.  I know that in our house Halloween comes down to dressing up for fun and getting candy because of it.  That's it.

No demonic worship, no gore, no guts.  Just pure and simple fun.

Many Christians today choose to make it a heart issue.  If it is for them then by all means, proceed according to your hearts convictions but don't shake your finger at me while you do it.

Consider this in Romans 14:5-9 Say, one person thinks that some days should be set aside as holy and another thinks that each day is pretty much like any other. There are good reasons either way. So, each person is free to follow the convictions of conscience.
What’s important in all this is that if you keep a holy day, keep it for God’s sake; if you eat meat, eat it to the glory of God and thank God for prime rib; if you’re a vegetarian, eat vegetables to the glory of God and thank God for broccoli. None of us are permitted to insist on our own way in these matters. It’s God we are answerable to—all the way from life to death and everything in between—not each other. That’s why Jesus lived and died and then lived again: so that he could be our Master across the entire range of life and death, and free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.

That about sums it up doesn't it.  Approach it with God and see what he says to you about it.  And then keep it between you and your family.  

And do some research...the History Channel has a great summary on Halloween and there's a lot of good that can be pulled from it's history. 

For example...Moses has been fascinated with mummies this Fall.  Instead of fleeing from them because of their "yuck" factor we turned it into a history lesson.  Moses and I talked about why mummies exist and what they were all about.  As we made all of our pumpkins into mummies we talked about how when Jesus died he would have been wrapped in a similar way, about becoming a new creation and what happens when you die.  Sounds deep for a pumpkin craft but Moses loved it and now he can tell you a short history on mummies instead of that they're "gross".

So we choose to be open to lessons as they approach, to look at the issue behind what we are approaching and to keep our decisions between us and God.  
And this gnome and hulk had a great time, a sugar high and immediately after were excited to look forward to Thanksgiving. :) 
And I had to include my adorable nephew.  Maybe the cutest tiger ever.  

"One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way. An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons--marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who use them, he has taken the wrong turning."- C.S. Lewis
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