Author: The Mom

Recipe: Quick Fix Nachos

Recipe: Quick Fix Nachos

Have a reservoir of quick-fix meal ideas helps take the stress out of mealtime – no matter who ends up with the job of fixing the meals.

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“What are we having for dinner?”

That may be the only thing my son says to me all day, but you can be guaranteed that at some point – usually around 4:30 pm – that question will make an appearance.

It doesn’t matter that I have the door closed because I am working.

It doesn’t matter that he knows how to cook.

It doesn’t matter that he has to walk past his dad to come ask me.

I am Mom. Apparently, at some point in my life as Mom, I claimed the position of head chef.

Maybe I didn’t touch my nose fast enough.

Either way, I’m it.

I’m usually pretty good at planning meals out. I have a list posted of what they will be having at school and I set a weekly menu with that at mind.

That’s most of the time.

This week was not most of the time. I was still recovering from the yuck my son so kindly brought home from the youth conference the weekend before. I barely had an appetite and I wasn’t sure I wanted to be cooking for anyone else anyway.

My son walked into the room and I could see the words forming, so I beat him to it. “What’s for dinner,” I asked before he could.

He blinked.

I laughed.

He left the room.

I walked into the kitchen where my husband was standing. “What are you fixing for dinner?” I asked.

He blinked.

I laughed.

I felt a little better.

I did a quick inventory of what we had available. Most of the food would take a while to cook. I didn’t want to have to deal with awhile. I needed a quick fix idea.

I did have about a quarter of a block of Velvetta cheese, a half a jar of homemade salsa, some frozen browned ground beef, and tortilla chips.

I tossed together a nacho dish in under twenty minutes. Quick fix magic for the win.

Quick Fix Nachos Recipe:

  • ¼ block of Velvetta Cheese
  • 1 can black olives
  • ½ jar salsa
  • ¼ head of iceberg lettuce
  • 2 cups browned ground beef
  • Tortilla chips

Spray a plastic container with non-stick spray.

Cut Velvetta cheese into quarter-sized chunks and drop them in the plastic container.

Cover the cheese with the salsa.

Heat in the microwave in 45-sec increments, stirring between each bit, until the cheese is completely melted.

While you are melting the cheese, tear off a section of the iceberg lettuce and use a knife to chip into shredded bits.

Once the cheese and salsa are completely mixed, warm up the ground beef.

Now you are ready to build your nachos.

Layer nacho chips on a plate, one chip deep. Drizzle cheese salsa mix over the chips. Add a thin layer of ground beef and drizzle the ground beef layer with cheese salsa. Spread shredded lettuce on the top with black olive slices on top. Add one more layer of drizzled cheese salsa.


TIP: Keep flour tortillas in the house if you have someone with braces. The corn chips can be too rough but the flour tortillas make for a perfect replacement.

Dinner doesn’t have to be fancy to be done. Use what you have, keep it simple, and make something fun the whole family can enjoy.

Book Review: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

Book Review: The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks

I’m sharing a book review of The Sword of Shannara because I just finished my first book of the year. My goal this year had been to read 52 books. The first book on the agenda came from Terry Brooks – The Sword of Shannara.

I had watched the Chronicles of Shannara on Netflix (don’t be shocked that Netflix doesn’t stay true to the clean nature of the books – I don’t think the streaming service has it in it) and since they decided to cancel the show, I decided to go in search of more. I am fortunate that my father-in-law had taken a shine to the series when they were originally published. We have the full set.

I am now convinced it would be better to plan to read a certain number of pages in one year as opposed to a certain number of books. This epic adventure came out to 726 pages. There may have been a time when I could have read through it in a weekend, staying up until the sun came up, but those days are long gone.

It has be a little bit at a time for me these days.

Still, it was a very exciting story and clean. That was refreshing. Too often these days, there has to be sex and curse words before the story can be considered complete. This is my second ready from Terry Brooks and not a single issue has shown up.

Book Review for The Sword of Shannara

  • THE BOOK touches on a dystopian future where the men of our time destroyed the world and the world the evolves includes men of different statures. We would call them dwarves, gnomes, trolls, and elves – but the truth is they are all different ways man has evolved after the devastation of the world.
  • THE ELEMENTS include druids, magic, and otherworldly creatures. It could be categorized as a dystopian fantasy adventure – or that is what I would tell you if you asked. There are also epic battle scenes – lots and lots of battle scenes. If none of this is to your liking then you definitely don’t want to wade through the 726 pages. If you like adventure along the lines of Tolkien, then you might want to give it a read.
  • THE STORY caught my attention and kept my attention for the most part. There were times when the detail descriptions of scenery lost me and I was scan over the words – much like I would have scanned over the scenery. But all in all, it was a page-turner.
  • THE CHARACTERS were interesting, to begin with, and grew along the way. As is often the case in a grand adventure, not all make it to the end. Those that do make it grow and stretch and become more than one dimensional. My biggest struggle was trying to superimpose my images from the television show into the written characters.
  • THE PLOT made me wish I had read the first book and the second one closer together – although the first book was actually written after the second one to explain some of what happened in the second one – which is why you can read this one without having read any of the others.
  • WHAT I LIKED LEAST about the book was the bulkiness caused by the over described moments – many that could have been left out without harming the storyline.
  • WHAT I LIKED BEST about the book was the simple moral that crosses from the fiction into real life. We all need more books that leave you feeling hopeful and closing the cover with a justified smile.

I look forward to more adventures, and I dare to wager that at least one of the remaining 51 books I intend to read will be in this series. I want to know what happens next. You’ll see more book review posts as I make my way through the stack by my desk.

Now it’s your turn!

  • What would you like to see in the book review posts?
  • Do you have any books you believe must be read?
  • Do you have any reading goals for 2020?

I look forward to hearing your book reading and book review post suggestions.

The Mom

You can use my affiliate link to purchase your copy of The Sword of Shannara.

Quick Fix Nachos

Quick Fix Nachos


¼ block of Velvetta Cheese

1 can black olives

½ jar salsa

¼ head of iceberg lettuce

2 cups browned ground beef

Tortilla chips


Spray a plastic container with non-stick spray.

Cut Velvetta cheese into quarter-sized chunks and drop them in the plastic container.

Cover the cheese with the salsa.

Heat in the microwave in 45-sec increments, stirring between each bit, until the cheese is completely melted.

While you are melting the cheese, tear off a section of the iceberg lettuce and use a knife to chip into shredded bits.

Once the cheese and salsa are completely mixed, warm up the ground beef.

Now you are ready to build your nachos.

Layer nacho chips on a plate, one chip deep. Drizzle cheese salsa mix over the chips. Add a thin layer of ground beef and drizzle the ground beef layer with cheese salsa. Spread shredded lettuce on the top with black olive slices on top. Add one more layer of drizzled cheese salsa.


Quick Fix Nachos
Print Recipe
Quick Fix Nachos
Print Recipe
  1. Spray a plastic container with non-stick spray.
  2. Cut Velvetta cheese into quarter sized chunks and drop them in the plastic container.
  3. Cover the cheese with the salsa.
  4. Heat in the microwave in 45 sec increments, stirring between each bit, until the cheese is completely melted.
  5. While you are melting the cheese, tear off a section of the iceberg lettuce and use a knife to chip into shredded bits.
  6. Once the cheese and salsa are completely mixed, warm up the ground beef.
  7. Now you are ready to build your nachos.
  8. Layer nacho chips on a plate, one chip deep. Drizzle cheese salsa mix over the chips. Add a thin layer of ground beef and drizzle the ground beef layer with cheese salsa. Spread shredded lettuce on the top with black olive slices on top. Add one more layer of drizzled cheese salsa.
How I Fight Back a Migraine Attack

How I Fight Back a Migraine Attack

Nothing ruins a day like a migraine attack. If you have never experienced a migraine headache then be thankful. It’s not just a bad headache. A migraine forces you to the point that you want to pluck your head off and throw it away.

You can’t rub your head to make it feel better, either. Migraines hide in a part of your head that mortal fingers can’t reach.

All you can do is try not to move, or see light, or sometimes even breathe – all with the hope that the pain will soon subside.

Most of my life I was plagued by migraines. I never had more than a couple each month, which may not seem like much but is when you have searing, blinding pain shooting through your skull.

Several years ago, I did some research on dehydration and discover that a lack of salt can be the top reason to get dehydrated AND dehydration is often the top reason for triggering a migraine.

“What if salt would stop a migraine?” I only asked myself in a joking manner because surely if salt would help someone would have told me that in all of my years of suffering. Of course, throughout all of my pregnancies I suffered from dehydration and I never once had someone suggest that I make sure to get salt.

So, I decided to give it a try.

The next time I felt a migraine trying to slither through my brain, I grabbed one of those salt packets you get in the drive-thru. I dabbed a little with my finger, put that little bit on my tongue, and washed it down with some water. I continued the process until all of the salt from that one packet was gone.

And the migraine never took off. I had defeated the migraine attack with a salt packet.

It could have been a coincidence. Not all migraines that try end up gaining a footing.

I tried the next few times, and for the most part, the migraines would never show. The ones that did were not so painful that I would have to shelter in a dark corner away from all sound until they went away. I could take some over the counter pain medication and within an hour or so I would be good to go.

My sons picked up the habit. If they felt a headache coming on or a migraine attack began, they would get a dab of salt and keep going.

About two years ago, I started dealing with Menopause symptoms and desperately wanted an answer to make them go away. After some research, I tried a supplement that included Dong Quai root and Black Cohosh.

For the next six months, I went without any headaches or migraines. I didn’t take any pain medication at all.

Could it be a coincidence?

I’m not a doctor and I don’t even play one on the television and I also didn’t sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. All I can tell you for certain is that my body responded to the choices I made.

Here’s the true secret.

Your body is unique. You can learn from what others say and what others do but you have to find what will work for you. It may be that salt (or salt and lemon as I recently read or supplements are your answer. It may be they are part of your answer. It may be that they lead you to your answer.

Learn. Test. Ask. Test. Listen. Test.

Your body is unique to you and only you can determine what is right or wrong for your body. Be bold enough to learn your body so you can stand up for what it needs.

What are some unique tips you’ve discovered?

Learning to Trust When It Comes to Health

Learning to Trust When It Comes to Health

Enough already.

I didn’t scream it, but I wanted to.

The doctor had been lecturing my son and myself about what had to be done – and so far he hadn’t run any tests. He had asked the basic question, “what brings you here today,” and then gone into his monologue.

My son turned to look at me and rolled his eyes.

My internal rant when on as long as the doctor’s monologue.

Look, I get that you went to school to learn, but I can guarantee that you didn’t learn about everything and everyone.

I get that you went through training, but I guarantee this is the first “me” you’ve dealt with.

I get that your time is valuable and that you have lots of important things to do, but I guarantee we are all valuable and important.

When he finally finished, I spoke for my son – since eye-rolling is sometimes his strongest response. “I appreciate what you are saying, but I’m not sure we agree. We’ll talk it over and let you know.”

We did talk it over and we ended up looking for a different doctor. It was important to find someone that would treat my son, not follow the same path that the symptoms normally led.

It wasn’t my first time dealing with doctors that knew it all without knowing the person.

Several years ago, I had an encounter with a doctor that left me with a taste of distrust. Maybe distrust isn’t the best word to describe it, but I came away with a leery look at people that try to tell me about me without knowing me.

At that time, I trusted the doctor over my own instincts and cues from my body. It didn’t end well, but I learned through that painful experience to trust myself and listen to what my body had to say – and to look for someone who would be willing to listen as well.

When my son became sick, we talked, we researched, we questioned.

Finally, we contacted the doctor to see if he could help. It was not normal for my son to go to the doctor, except for the yearly physical for scouts.

We explained the issues. We connected the dots of this event to a prior accident. I shared some the research we had done.

Despite all that we had to say, he offered his trained opinion and expected us to accept it and go on.

We didn’t. We questioned, so the doctor ran some tests before sending us home. The office called the next morning and said they were concerned about the results. Further tests were needed.

Again, we talked and researched and then went to the follow-up tests.

The process went on – each time we would talk and research and always I tried to defer to my son (because I didn’t want to be the one telling him what he needed for him). He appreciated my being there and my willingness to go either direction with him. It gave him the courage to speak up for himself.

Doctors are a huge benefit for healing and health – but they can only work with what you give them. Be determined to stand up for your uniqueness.

  1. Listen to your body. If something feels wrong, uncomfortable, or out of the normal for you then speak up. If you don’t share it with the doctor then the doctor will never know and the doctor can’t work with you the best way possible.
  2. Write it down. Keep a record of all you experience leading you up to the visit with the doctor and also what occurs when you follow the orders. It will give you something to follow up on when you have a return visit.
  3. Take someone with you. We are stronger together, and when you are dealing with health and wellbeing – or when you aren’t feeling your best – having the backup can be all the difference in the world. Plus, someone else will be able to help you remember what you need to share and also be there to hear what the doctor shares.
  4. Be okay with walking away. Not all doctors are suited to all patients. It is important to find the medical care person that you feel comfortable working with – because it is a team challenge.

You know more about you than anyone else. Listen to your body. Be honest with yourself first, and then be open to sharing with your medical care professional about it all. You only get back what you are willing to invest in your health.

A First Look at Butcher Box

A First Look at Butcher Box

Reviewing of the Butcher Box Service

For several years, we invested part of our income tax refund into organic beef. Basically, we would go in with several other folks to purchase a cow and then when it was butchered we’d collect our portion.

It’s expensive if you consider it has to be paid all in one lump sum. It’s not as expensive when you realize we have beef for almost a full year.

Or we used to. I got made at our stand up freezer because I had to keep defrosting it – plus, it was big and took up a large portion of my laundry room. Plus, the older boys were off to college so I didn’t have as many folks to feed. Plus, the youngest and husband go off to school all day so I don’t have as many meals to make.

I wanted the organic beef, but I didn’t need as much of it. Plus, I also wanted other organic meats as well.

I had been seeing the advertisements for Butcher Box for several months, but after a visit to the grocery store sent me home empty-handed (I was searching for a free-range chicken), I decided now was as good a time as any to make the leap.

Besides, there was a bonus of free ground beef for life and that’s ALWAYS an item I can find a way to use.

The ordering process was simple. I chose a variety of chicken, pork, and beef. Fortunately, I only ordered one whole chicken because the school served chicken six out of ten days after I ordered. My family is not thrilled about chicken at the moment.

It took longer than I expected for the package to ship, and then I was panicked about the delivery. We had an issue earlier in the week with the FedEx guy mixing up our address with the neighbor’s address and I didn’t want that to happen with a box of meat (especially with a momma bear and her two cubs wandering the neighborhood – but one issue at a time).

I called the local FedEx office after lunch to make sure things were still on track. The lady who answered assured me they would make the delivery before the end of the day.

As I was telling my husband about the call with FedEx, the FedEx guy showed up.

I enlisted my son to help with the unpacking.

I was surprised that the meat wasn’t in a styrofoam box – the last time I ordered meat delivered, it came that way. But this had boxes around boxes and an empty plastic bag which I suspect had once been dry ice.

We moved all the meat from the box to the sink and sorted the frozen from the thawing.

I then used the Butcher Box chat feature on the website to update them about our shipment.

We just received our first box and we were almost the last delivery of the day for FedEx. All of the dry ice was gone, and the items on the bottom of the pack were thawed or in the process of thawing.

There were four sirloin steaks, two of which were completely thawed and the other two on their way. The ground breakfast sausage was also partially thawed. The chopped sirloin tips were also partially thawed.

We brought the box in as soon as FedEx delivered – but that was 4:30 pm our time.

We checked the box, and it only had one place where it said the items were perishable. It might have been all frozen had it been delivered earlier.

I’ll keep up updated on how things go.

Thank you, Kathryn

. They immediately responded and offered me some safety tips about temperatures of meat (which I didn’t know). After using my digital thermometer to measure the internal temperature, two of the steaks were right on the edge.

Grace offered to make it right, and she did. She then sent me an email with a complete transcript from the chat, which I definitely appreciated (and it’s the first time I’ve had a chat service do that). It makes it easier to keep records – and also to blog later on about the moment.

Most of the meat went into the freezer. Some of it went into the meat drawer of the refrigerator because I know I’ll be using during the next week. I originally put the chicken in the refrigerator, but I’m think about holding off on thawing it for now.

All and all, it was an eventful start. It may not have started out the way I expected, but it’s good to know that they are willing to back up their product.

If you want to try out Butcher Box for yourself, you can use

Be sure to let me know what you think of the experience and I’ll keep you up to date about how I put these treats to work in our meal rotation!

Have you ever tried a meal service? Share your thoughts, concerns, or blessings!

The Mom

To Home School or Not to Home School – the Struggle is Real

To Home School or Not to Home School – the Struggle is Real

“You can’t have a bb gun because you’ll shoot your eye out.” The sentiment might have been from a movie, but I often thought about it when I contemplated homeschooling. People told me I would regret it. People told me I’d ruin my children. People told me I’d hinder them from pursuing higher education.

After all, I was not a teacher (and I didn’t even play one on television). Who was I to educate my children?

The struggle was real – and even now the struggle continues. Despite having graduated two sons already (both of which made the rank of Eagle Scout and are maintaining A averages in college), I still doubt having made the right choice.

I also doubt having made the choice not to finish out the school journey with my youngest son and letting him choose to attend a local Christian school. Even though we offered every year to allow the boys the choice once they reached middle school and he was the first to request the change. I doubt having made the right choice.

Homeschooling is no better (or worse) for education than any other path. It comes down to what you choose to put into the journey and what you instill in your child to put in. In the end, there will always be what-ifs and if-onlys that will make you doubt your choice.

Home Schooling Basics


  • Flexibility – for timing, for topics, and for focus
  • Community – the homeschooling community is vast and widespread. No matter where you go, there will be homeschooling gatherings nearby.
  • Connection – you invest more time with your children and that created more opportunity to engage, connect, and grow together.
When you homeschool you can make costume design part of your school day.


  • Funding – it’s all out of pocket.
  • Responsibility – the buck stops here because it’s up to you and with you.
  • Naysayers – there will be plenty of people explaining to you how your choice is wrong and you will find that you doubt your decision on multiple occasions (no matter how good things may be going).


We homeschooled for 17 years with a variety of systems, methods, and schedules. Our two oldest graduated as homeschoolers – the oldest received an Associate in Business and will be attending JSU on a Presidential Scholarship in the fall. The middle maintains a 4.0 in college. The youngest chose to shift to traditional school last year. Along the way, there were lots of bumps and plenty of bruises (on me) but the boys learned to learn and have taken that into the world.


Homeschoolers are the smartest or not as bright – there are as many different levels of homeschoolers as there are in any educational organization.

Homeschoolers lack socialization – there are opportunities to be around kids all day, every day. The only limits are your willingness to attend events (or host if you so choose).

Homeschoolers are shielded from society – most people choose to home school to direct the educational journey not to isolate the child.

Homeschoolers only spend time with people like them – my first week of homeschooling many years ago, I encountered unschoolers (that don’t have a set schedule or even set curriculum) and restrictive homeschoolers (that followed a traditional school schedule and procedure – just at home) and the variety hasn’t stopped. Even attending co-ops I found different lifestyles, interests, family dynamics, and personalities.

Making the Choice Right

No matter which way you move, you can make the choice the right choice by making the investment to make it work.

  • Set aside time to work with your child. No matter where school happens, be up to date and invested with your child in the school work. Designated times for review will keep you from having negative surprises in the results.
  • Listen to your child. Each person has unique learning tilts – although the ideal learning environment implements ALL learning paths. Let your child show you the preferred path for his (or her) success and don’t try to force her (or him) into yours.
  • Listen to the teacher. No matter who is teaching your child, you need to take time to listen to what they are experiencing. If it’s you, then keep a journal of what is working and where there is a struggle. If it is another, keep in contact to see how you can help with the process (and don’t just wait for there to be a problem).

In the end, homeschooling will be what you make of it and what your child makes of it.

Now it’s your turn. What are your thoughts for or against homeschooling?

The Mom

Use Grocery Delivery to Make Up Lost Time

Use Grocery Delivery to Make Up Lost Time

Being already behind the cart doesn’t make me excited about needing to go to town. Don’t get me wrong. We only live eight miles from town, but when all is said and done it will take at least an hour for any trip and it was an hour I didn’t have (since I had already misplaced a few).

But I needed some items from the store to finish the task I was tackling. We had several shelves of leftovers that I had started doling out for freezing before I realized my entrees outnumbered my sides.

I needed some veggies and I needed them fast.

Option #1: Text my husband and ask him to stop what he was doing to bring me what I needed to do what I was doing. Any time I can interrupt my husband at work is a good thing . . . yeah, I didn’t think you would believe that.

Option #2: Try out the delivery option from Publix.

I chose option #2.

I had been watching friends take advantage of these grocery delivery services, but I didn’t think it would work for me. I can’t even get Domino’s to deliver to my house, so why on earth would the grocery store help me out?

I clicked on the delivery option, did my shopping, paid for the groceries, and then waited.

Within a few minutes I got a message that Ashley was doing my shopping for me – all while I sat at my computer working. Wow! Thanks Ashley.

It’s only been a few minutes and the phone buzzed to tell me Publix was on the way (now I’m wishing I had ordered that sub sandwich for lunch).

Thirty minutes after hitting the buy button, I have the groceries unloaded and put away.

This was definitely a win moment for my day and helped me get back some of the lost minutes I didn’t think I could capture.

Publix Grocery Delivery for the WIN!

Using Grocery Delivery

  • Keep it simple. Choose the items that are standard. Canned foods, frozen foods, and packaged foods are perfect for delivery because they are all the same.
  • Be gracious. You have the option to give a tip, so do. The shopper (and the one delivering) made your day easier. Show your thankfulness.
  • Be realistic. A yearly subscription costs $99 (for the Publix site I used). How many times would you need to order before you recouped your cost?
  • Think outside the box (aisles). You could order take out from the deli to be delivered instead of the same old fast food for those times when you need an easy fix. Or, let Publix deliver your next party!

I will confess I had my doubts about anyone ever delivering to my house. It was quick and easy, and the lady was a delight.

I have no doubt I will be using this service down the road.

The Mom

Check to see if the service if available in your area using:


And be sure to let me know what you think or how you use grocery delivery in the comments below.

Two of the freezer meals (a total of 10 today) – this is blackened chicken alfredo with veggies
Facing Down the Trees Trying to Keep You Stuck

Facing Down the Trees Trying to Keep You Stuck

It takes a village – almost literally – to maintain the gardens around my house. It’s my fault (mostly). I had grand visions of botanical gardens running through my head each spring so I kept adding to the beds until the beds overtook me.

And then I had kids. I kept up the beds until the third one arrived. After him, a series of life events got in the way and before I knew it I had a garden of gigantic weeds with root systems that apparently hold the world together. Think Boaboa trees (from the Little Prince, not from Southern Africa)!

Garden on Weeds

For the last several years I have had the mindset to get things back under control. It seems it’s easier to make the beds than it is to reclaim the beds. I do what feels like a lot, turn around, and it’s actually less than a little. When you are talking acres of beds, five feet of clearing and cleaning don’t make that much difference.

Besides, I couldn’t get anyone else to help me. Nobody would get the tiller running so I could keep the weeds out of the beds I did clean. Nobody would use the chainsaw to cut down the weeds that conventionally clippers couldn’t touch. Nobody would help me with the tasks that needed to be done just to make room for the tasks that had to be done.

Nobody looks suspiciously like my husband.

Last weekend, I had a mind shift in what I was doing for my business which lead to the launching of Stuck Writers. Apparently, dealing with stuckness in one area gave way for other areas because I started the week in the garden and am making a little progress every day. I have determined that if I only get five feet cleared then I will just keep that five feet of garden looking as amazing as possible all year long.

Yesterday, I hit upon something that I would never have considered before. What if I could launch a whole new garden with less work than it takes to reclaim the old one. So, I jumped on the tractor and went to experiment.

It’s not a perfect plan, but I said that before I set my flower beds on fire the first spring I gave that a go. The benefits of digging up and starting over is that I’m not restricted by what was. I have the freedom to do or to be whatever I decide.

So, let me ask you this, where are you stuck?

What part of your life, your home, your garden, is just sitting there getting bigger and bigger weeds because you are stuck in a rut of what to do next?

Getting Unstuck

  • Dare to do something – because something is more than nothing.
  • Don’t wait for others – you are all you need to take your step. Others may be needed for other parts, but you are only in charge of yours.
  • Start RIGHT now – and I mean right now – or at least as soon as you are finished with this article. Take one step (no matter how small) and get moving.

No matter how big the mountain or how deep the pit, you can get there. You start with the first step and then you add to that one step one step at a time.

Don’t stay stuck. Take your step!

The Mom

Throw the Kids out of the House

Throw the Kids out of the House

According to a report on Fox & Friends on March 29, 2019, kids are having more surgeries for sports injuries than professionally athletes.

Why – because we aren’t throwing them out of the house.

Okay, maybe that wasn’t what they said. But it was close.

Kids aren’t free playing anymore. The aggressive sports players do get out and practice, but that’s not the same. Attending exercise classes or working out at the gym is not the same. Free play gets the kids out of the house and into their imagination, their group engagement, and activities that don’t happen any other way.

My sons have always been free-ranged. It’s a little easier for us, because we live in the back corner of 40 acres and neighbors don’t see the free-ranging for the most part. Living in town, neighbors that don’t know you, complete strangers that have never met you, and even family members that just don’t like you want to get into your business are all watching and waiting to pounce on your lack of parenting skills.

But we live in the woods, so in the woods they go.

One day, the older boys (probably 8 and 10 at the time) came in and told me there was nothing to do. I encouraged them to go dig a hole. Later that day, they came in and asked if they could dig a tunnel from the shed to the creek.

“Absolutely,” I replied without hesitation. Not because I wanted a tunnel from the shed to the creek, although it might be cool. I was quick to respond because I understanding of how much would have to go into a tunnel.

To their credit, they did manage to dig a hole about five feet deep and four feet wide. Years later my youngest son would continue their efforts, but the giant rock that stopped his brothers also put a damper on his tunnel plans.

Did I tell them they were exercising? Nope. Did I mention they were working their joints? Of course not. Did I explain to them the value of getting the natural D from the sun? I bet you know that answer by now.

It’s not as easy with my youngest. His brothers are off at college or work. They don’t have time for playing or hanging out with their brother. I’ve started encouraging him to get out with me to build, to dig in the garden, or to burn (boys LOVE to burn).

Together, we dug a fire pit in the back yard, so now I’m more comfortable with him going out to build a fire without supervision. He’s a Boy Scout and has his firem’n chit (which means he’s supposed to be responsible), so that’s another reason to let him go.

Over the last several days, I have been pushing him more and more to get out. It’s spring break, the sun has been shining, and he needs to have less screen time. So do I. And in encouraging my son to free play and enjoy all that is around us, I have been encouraging me as well to get out and do more.

So encourage your children to free play more, even if they are involved in structured sports. And try to make some time to join them. Free play – it’ll do your heart good (and don’t forget your own rubber boots)!

The Mom