Life in Lape Haven

Archive - May 2016

Tried It Tuesday: Sweet Vinegar Slaw

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Sweet Vinegar Slaw. A yummy recipe for a vinegar-based slaw that is always a summer hit. Great side dish for barbecue and easy to make.

When Brad and I were first married, our church had a picnic once a month in the summertime, which meant that as a newlywed who was still building her recipe repertoire, at first, I didn’t have a lot of ideas for what to take each time. After all, there’s a bit of a difference between cooking for two and cooking for a crowd.

After a couple of summers of taking things like fresh fruit salads, cookies, or random recipes, I was inspired by a side dish at a new local barbecue place, a side dish that I loved and knew I could recreate or at least get pretty close to: Sweet Vinegar Slaw.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of traditional coleslaw. I mean, it’s okay with your bucket of fried chicken and all, but I could take it or leave it.

However, when I first tasted this vinegar-based slaw at the barbecue restaurant, I was hooked. It wasn’t like the creamy, mayonnaise-y taste of regular coleslaw, but rather a sweet, sour, tangy, crunchy yumminess that is especially awesome with barbecue ANYTHING.  

So, I went home, hit up Google, and found several recipes that seemed to mimic the slaw I’d had.

I honestly don’t remember where I came across the recipe that I finally made (and I tried looking it up), but it’s been written in my little recipe journal for several years. It’s a definite go-to recipe, especially in the summer.

From the first time I made it to every time since, this slaw has been a hit. It’s great for potlucks, picnics, and family gatherings, and unlike creamy coleslaws, you don’t have to worry too much about this in the summer heat. The vinegar and sugar won’t spoil as easily as mayonnaise. Plus, this recipe goes a long way.

While it’s a good side for just about anything, we LOVE this on barbecue pulled pork sandwiches. It’s a tasty little culinary match made in heaven. 🙂

So, to get your summer started off right, here’s how I make Sweet Vinegar Slaw. Enjoy!

 

Sweet Vinegar Slaw

Sweet Vinegar Slaw

Ingredients

    SLAW
  • 1 medium - large Cabbage, chopped
  • 1 small Vidalia Sweet Onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Carrot, peeled & grated
  • 1 Cup Sugar
    DRESSING
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Mustard
  • Dash of Pepper (to taste)
  • ½ cup Canola Oil
  • 1 cup White Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

Instructions

  1. Clean and core cabbage, and then slice it into thin strips.
  2. Finely slice and dice your sweet onion. While you could use another onion variety, the Vidalia Sweet Onion adds to the “Sweet” of the “Sweet Vinegar Slaw.” Also, having lived in Glennville, Georgia for a few years, the largest producers of Vidalia Sweet Onions, I’m kind of a fan.
  3. Put your cabbage, onion, and a peeled and grated carrot into a large bowl. You need a bowl that will be large enough to allow room for mixing and tossing the slaw.
  4. Sprinkle the 1 cup of sugar over your slaw mixture.
  5. Stir to combine, and then set aside while you prep the dressing.
  6. Combine all of the dressing ingredients into a small saucepan and whisk together.
  7. Bring to boil over med-high heat, stirring occasionally. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. *WARNING: Keep your face back away from the boiling dressing. Hot vinegar in the air isn’t pleasant, as it can burn your eyes or affect your breathing. Also, you are boiling oil, which can spit and pop out of the pan. Be careful.
  8. Remove the dressing from the heat to cool it completely. I transfer it to a metal bowl that is placed over an ice bath and whisk it until the dressing is cold (just takes a couple of minutes). You do not want to add warm or hot dressing to your slaw mixture. It’ll make it wilty.
  9. Pour cooled dressing over the slaw and mix thoroughly.
  10. Refrigerate. Ideally you would prepare this ahead of time and refrigerate it overnight before serving. However, I have made it the same day and refrigerated the slaw for only a few hours, and it still tastes great. The longer the slaw sets, the liquidier it will become. Use a slotted spoon when serving.
https://lifeinlapehaven.com/2016/05/31/sweet-vinegar-slaw/
Other recipes that are great for summer:

Homemade Stove Top Macaroni & Cheese

Kings Island Blue Ice Cream

Blueberry Hand Pies

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Trusting God through Kindergarten: A look back at my son’s first year of school

Life in Lape Haven: Trusting God through Kindergarten: A look back at my son's first year of school. Sending my first child to school meant trusting God with my precious treasure. From the first day of school to the last day of class, God has proven to be more than faithful, and Elijah has been used to share the love of Jesus with everyone around him. God's plan is always better than we can imagine.
Earlier this week our big boy Elijah graduated from kindergarten.

Remembering how emotional I felt sending my little guy off to school for the very first time back in August, it was amazing to look back over the year, and see how much Elijah has grown and how God has been with him (and me) every step of the way.

Not only has Elijah flourished in a classroom environment, largely thanks to a wonderful teacher who encouraged his nonstop creativity and insatiable curiosity, but he has continually shared the love of God to those around him. Many people have wondered at our decision to send our child to public school to begin with, but from early on, God showed Himself faithful in keeping Elijah, and Elijah’s young faith gave him a boldness to proclaim Jesus in numerous ways throughout the year.

Life in Lape Haven: Trusting God through Kindergarten: A look back at my son's first year of school. Sending my first child to school meant trusting God with my precious treasure. From the first day of school to the last day of class, God has proven to be more than faithful, and Elijah has been used to share the love of Jesus with everyone around him. God's plan is always better than we can imagine.

From dealing with the class “bully” with prayer and compassion (he has watched out for her, encouraged her, and prayed for her all year long) to inviting his teacher to church (she came), to spending a recess, on his own initiative, praying on the playground, to talking to his friends about Jesus, Elijah has used his time in school to learn…and to teach, reminding me (and others) of the power of simply living out our faith daily.

One of the most fascinating ways I can see this is through one of the coolest things his kindergarten teacher did with the kids over this year: a daily journal. It’s amazing to journey through the pages, seeing how his handwriting and writing have improved, how well his vocabulary has grown, and how good he has become at expressing himself, both with words and pictures. It also gives us a glimpse into what he was thinking about during his days. It is a precious treasure full of childlike randomness, humor, and sweetness.

A lot of his early entries are just random words he was learning, but he incorporated a lot about “Mom,” “Dad,” and “Josiah” from the get-go. Not long into the year, though, he has the sentence “Jesus loves me and Mom,” with a picture of one giant stick figure with a huge heart and two smaller stick people – Jesus, Mom, and Elijah (haha – sorry, hubby!). It was nothing flashy or meant to get attention. It was just him sharing what he knew and what he was thinking about that day. Later he also shared “I am in the Bible” (as in the Prophet Elijah, his favorite Bible story for obvious reasons), and later, “Quiz: Who is the baddest in the world? Devil!” (Haha.)

Of course, he had less “spiritual” entries to balance it out. There was “I love Mom # (hashtag). I love Dad # (hashtag)” (too much watching Mommy post on social media), and “I see a squirrel eating my head” (complete with a picture of a giant squirrel with teeth, chomping on a stickman’s head), and lots of references to various video games, Charlie Brown, and Star Wars. So, yeah, he’s still very much a 5-year-old boy, a 5-year-old boy who loves Jesus, but a 5-year-old boy.

As part of his end-of-the-year thank you gift for his teacher, Elijah decided to draw a picture of everyone in his kindergarten class for her on a piece of posterboard. Since Elijah is the creative type, he knew how he wanted to do it, and he only took a little direction from me when I helped him make sure he had a list of all the kids in his class and room to draw them, so that no one was left off accidentally. He spent three evenings working on his drawings, writing each person’s name with their stick person. He’d sprawl out on the kitchen floor with his pencil, markers, and list of names while I worked on dishes and dinner.

On the second night of work, I turned around to see him coloring a huge cross off to the side of the page, and I asked him,

“What’s that?”

He glanced up, then kept coloring, “That’s for God,” he answered as he wrote the letters G-O-D along the cross.

“I thought you were drawing the people in your class,” I questioned, thinking he was just getting bored with the huge task of drawing 24 different kids and getting a little off-task.

His answer was perfect: “Well, God IS in my class.”

I smiled at him and agreed, “Yeah, you’re right. He is. He’s the most important person in that classroom.”

Life in Lape Haven: Trusting God through Kindergarten: A look back at my son's first year of school. Sending my first child to school meant trusting God with my precious treasure. From the first day of school to the last day of class, God has proven to be more than faithful, and Elijah has been used to share the love of Jesus with everyone around him. God's plan is always better than we can imagine.

Watching him draw out a picture of God and then Jesus on his classroom poster, I was overwhelmed, realizing that this little boy – he gets it. Deep down and boldly out loud, he knows that God is with him, that God loves him and everyone else, that God wants him to love everyone else, that God is his source and hope, and that God answers prayer.

And while some of his outspokenness and confidence comes from his personality, it is nice to see, over and over again, that what we’re teaching him at home through devotionals, Bible stories and songs, and trying to model for him through our every day lives, is solidifying his foundation in Christ. What he’s receiving every Sunday in Children’s Church from his Children’s Pastors and teachers and throughout the week from being around all of his grandparents and family is strengthening and growing his faith.

It makes me think of the scriptures in Ephesians 4,

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Life in Lape Haven: Trusting God through Kindergarten: A look back at my son's first year of school. Sending my first child to school meant trusting God with my precious treasure. From the first day of school to the last day of class, God has proven to be more than faithful, and Elijah has been used to share the love of Jesus with everyone around him. God's plan is always better than we can imagine.

I don’t know what calling God has for Elijah as he grows, but Elijah is already letting God use him. It’s a good thing we’ve all been working together to equip this little saint because he’s been doing the work of ministry in his own childlike way from his kindergarten classroom.

I can’t wait to see what God does in first grade. 🙂 

On Our 8th Wedding Anniversary

Life in Lape Haven: On Our 8th Wedding Anniversary. After eight years of marriage, I don't remember all the details from our wedding. But that's okay because we are focused on making our marriage unforgettable.

When it comes to their wedding, some people would say, “Oh, I remember it like it was yesterday.” Well, Brad and I are celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary today, and I can honestly say that I remember….most of it and some of it. (Some days I don’t even know if I could remember YESTERDAY like it was yesterday…but that’s probably because of our children. Haha.)

Even though it was a beautiful day, I really only remember certain bits and pieces of my wedding day, such as not being 100-percent happy with my final hair and makeup, but knowing that I didn’t want to worry about it enough to be make us start the ceremony late. I remember hanging around in the back rooms of my grandparents’ church with all of our wedding party, parents, and grandparents while we waited for the moment we were all to take our places. I remember not being able to look up much as I walked down the aisle toward Brad because I was doing my best not to cry (happy tears). I remember prompting my dad with the order of the ceremony because he was a little emotional himself as he officiated his daughter’s wedding (He almost passed over the kiss! Haha.) I remember that even though things didn’t go flawlessly (our caterer was late to the reception, for one), it was still perfect enough to us.

While I know that we chose to use the traditional wedding vows, I don’t really remember that specific moment. Thankfully, being the romantic girl that I am, I pretty much had those words memorized long before the day I spoke them to Brad.

“I, Kishona, take you, Brad, to be my lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Over the past eight years, we have enjoyed more “better,” “richer,” and “in health” than the opposite, but we have had enough moments of “worse,” “poorer,” and “sickness” to test those promises. Because, let’s be honest, it’s easy to thrive in your marriage when things are easy, good, and happy. It’s what all the fairy tales are made of, right?

Life in Lape Haven: On Our 8th Wedding Anniversary. After eight years of marriage, I don't remember all the details from our wedding. But that's okay because we are focused on making our marriage unforgettable.

But real life is found in the struggle of the difficult moments, and growth in your relationship only comes through facing the challenges together.

Looking back, I can see that Brad and I have done rather well in working together rather than against each other, even when we didn’t agree on things. However, that’s not to say we are either one perfect or that we, as a couple, have it all together.

I think what we do have is a single focus: glorifying God through our life together. It’s not about me, and it’s not about Brad, and it’s not even about “us.” We believe that God brought us together because we can serve Him better together. Our marriage is about Him.

Even though so many weddings use 1 Corinthians 13 as one of their readings or sermon points, I really think that a different scripture sums up marriage even better:

“So He answered and said, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27)

Loving God with all you are will make you the spouse you need to be, one capable of loving your spouse, the closest “neighbor” you’ll have, as yourself.

Not long before Brad and I got married, I read a quote that said something like this, “Marriage is your lifelong ministry to one person.”

Having seen that modeled in my parents’ marriage, it wasn’t a foreign concept, but it gave me the right perspective as Brad and I started on our adventure together.

Life in Lape Haven: On Our 8th Wedding Anniversary. After eight years of marriage, I don't remember all the details from our wedding. But that's okay because we are focused on making our marriage unforgettable.

My purpose as his wife is to encourage him in his walk in the Lord, love him sacrificially, consider him before myself, support him in his goals and dreams, speak the truth in love, pray for him, appreciate him, and respect him. And his purpose is to do the same for me. Oh, and to tell me that I’m pretty. 🙂  (It’s kind of funny because if you were to ask us who the most giving person was in our marriage, we would both say the other person, so that works out nicely.)

Over time, memories of our wedding day will probably grow a little dimmer still, but with our commitment to God and each other, we’ll make sure our marriage will be unforgettable.

I love you, Bradley! 🙂 Happy anniversary!

Tried It Tuesday: Oven Roasted Chicken

Life in Lape Haven: Tried It Tuesday: Oven Roasted Chicken. Delicious, juicy chicken is easy to make when you roast it in the oven. Seasoned simply with rosemary , thyme, salt, & pepper, cooking the chicken at a high temperature creates a crispy skin and juicy, flavorful chicken. Yum!

I like to cook for my family, but I also like to cook enough so that I don’t HAVE to cook every single day. I like having leftovers that I can heat up in just a few minutes, and boom – dinner! When my boys were even smaller, I could pretty much make any dish go for at least two meals, but now, not so much. (I KNOW – they are only 3 & 5…I don’t even want to think about when they are teenagers.)

In the winter time, I have it fairly easy because I can make soups and chili that last us at least two or three days. I can divide them up, too, and freeze them so we aren’t literally eating them for three days in a row.

Warmer months are a little trickier, but I have found one thing that is versatile enough that I can stretch it out for several meals in either summer or winter: a whole chicken.

Whether we eat it just as it was cooked, or I debone it and use the meat to make chicken pot pie, barbecue chicken sandwiches, chicken tacos, or any number of chicken dishes, it feeds us well for a few days.

I used to cook it on the stove top, like my mom always did, bringing it to a boil and then cooking it low and slow all morning, and I still do it like this when I want a bit more stock for my dish, such as chicken and dumplings or chicken and noodles.

However, my favorite way to cook a chicken now is to oven roast it because it produces a more flavorful, moist meat, and the best method/recipe that I’ve found was one that I came across last year sometime, where they cooked it at 450 degrees – THE WHOLE TIME. (Most oven-roasted chicken directions say to heat your oven to 350).

I know you could easily pick up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store deli, but honestly, it’s sooo easy to roast your own, with your own seasonings, that I would only buy one in a pinch.

Lisa at My Own Sweet Thyme has a yummy sounding recipe for Herb Roasted Chicken, which is where I got my cooking directions. I haven’t actually tried her recipe as a whole, though.

My recipe is less precise, with some salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and olive oil being dashed over the chicken in a roasting pan and cooked about an hour, uncovered, at 450 (until the thickest part of the chicken is at least 165 degrees.)

Even though I don’t always have the exact same measurements on my ingredients, it always comes out delicious with crispy skin and juicy, flavorful chicken.

Here’s how I make my oven-roasted chicken:
Oven Roasted Chicken

Oven Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken (3-4 lbs. usually)
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Pepper
  • ½-1 tsp. Rosemary
  • ½-1 tsp. Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to your roasting pan, and swirl the pan to coat the bottom.
  3. Remove chicken from packaging, and rinse slightly, removing that fun package of “extras” from inside the chicken cavity. You can either cook those extras separately, toss them in the roasting pan with the chicken (they may overcook), use them to make chicken stock, or throw them away.
  4. Pat the rinsed chicken dry with paper towels.
  5. Place the chicken into the roasting pan, breast up, and tuck the wings under. (I’ve never been super fancy with my chicken prep, so I’ve never tied the legs or anything. If you want to, have at it.)
  6. In a small bowl or cup, combine your salt, pepper, thyme, and rosemary.
  7. Sprinkle your seasoning over the top of the chicken. You can put it under the skin or inside the cavity, too, if you’d like.
  8. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the top of the chicken (maybe about a tablespoon or less).
  9. Place roasting pan into the oven, uncovered, and roast chicken for about an hour, or until it is cooked to at least 165 when you test the thickest, densest part of the chicken (the area between the breast, leg, and thigh).
  10. Remove the pan from the oven, and let the meat rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. You can tent the chicken with foil while it rests to keep in some of the moisture.
https://lifeinlapehaven.com/2016/05/17/tried-tuesday-oven-roasted-chicken/

 

My Strategy to Thrive During Summer Vacation

Life in Lape Haven: My Strategy to Thrive During Summer Vacation. WIth a plan for flexible structure, individual responsibilities and chores, and lots of fun activities this summer, I hope that our family can more than survive summer vacation. Lots of helpful links for how we can thrive as a family, enjoy our time together, and make great memories.

We are only about a week and a half from the start of Elijah’s very first real summer vacation. Over the last two weeks, thanks to built-in school calamity days that didn’t get used this winter, Elijah has had Fridays off, and I’ve had a small glimpse of what it’s going to be like to have both my boys at home all day again.

It hasn’t been pretty.

You would think that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. I mean, I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for nearly six years and a mom of two boys for over three. I’ve dealt with both boys being with me all day, done my grocery shopping and errands with them both in tow, and managed to cook meals and keep the house clean while they are both clamoring for attention or fighting with each other.

But apparently I’ve gotten soft over this school year, used to the ease of having only one child for most of the day.

After a particularly not fun Friday this past week, I knew I needed to start preparations now if we’re going to have a good summer all together. So, I’ve come up with a 3-point strategy to survive our summer vacation.

1. STRUCTURE

Not only do children need it, but I accomplish so much more when I have an organized plan of action for my day. Now that I’ll have both boys again, I’ll need to adjust my school-year daily schedule and transition it to a summer vacation daily routine.

I say “routine” because I’m not going to set specific times for everything, but maybe more just a general idea of what we should be doing “around-about” when. I don’t intend to schedule every moment of our day – that’s just a recipe for frustration when you have children. Flexibility is key! For example, if my boys would by some miracle actually sleep in, I’m not waking them up for a scheduled breakfast unless we have to be somewhere that day. Nope – if that would happen, we will all revel in it, and I’d totally take advantage of it! 🙂

(Of course, I’m not counting on many of those days because even now, they pop out of bed on the weekends (or days off school) earlier than even school days because, as Josiah says, “it’s sunny now.”)

Not only do I plan to have a general schedule for the day, but I’m also going to make sure that the boys know how the day should go.  While looking for inspiration for my summer strategy, I saw this cute printable Morning Checklist for kids from Not Consumed. Since we won’t be doing school work over the summer, I may recreate this idea and make it fit our plans, but the idea is great.

I love that the checklist includes a devotional time and a reminder to do daily chores because my next strategy point goes right along with that.

2. RESPONSIBILITIES

Since my boys are both getting old enough to take on a few daily chores, this is definitely something we’re going to incorporate into our summer strategy. Right now, Elijah’s big responsibilities have been feeding our dog and bringing down his dirty clothes in the morning, while Josiah just gets to help Mommy throughout the day as he can.

Life in Lape Haven: My Strategy to Thrive During Summer Vacation. WIth a plan for flexible structure, individual responsibilities and chores, and lots of fun activities this summer, I hope that our family can more than survive summer vacation. Lots of helpful links for how we can thrive as a family, enjoy our time together, and make great memories.

Josiah likes helping whenever it means he gets to play in the dirt.

This summer, I’m going to up the ante a bit for them both by adding an item or two to their daily chores. I’m sure they are going to LOVE this part. (Hahahaha).

Of course, since they are both relatively still young, I know that they will need a lot of instruction and supervision, at least at first, with some of the more “big kid” tasks. However, teaching them now means they’ll be really good at it when they get older. 🙂 (My mom was awesome for “encouragement” and an answer when we were young and doing chores. If we complained that we did it all the time, she’d tell us, “Then you should be able to do it quickly and really well.” If we tried to use the excuse that we weren’t good at it or didn’t know how, guess what? “Now, you can practice/learn.” Haha.)

For help with this strategy point, I’ve pooled all kinds of resources from Pinterest, including age-appropriate chore ideas and printable chore charts.

Preschool Chore Charts

15 Chores Ideas for 4-year-olds

34 Free Printable Chore Charts for Kids of All Ages

38 Age-Appropriate Chores for Kids

Editable Chore Cards for Kids (This one even gives them step-by-step directions!)

3. ACTIVITIES

Of course, I won’t expect my boys to spend the summer slaving away for me. I’m definitely not going to!

So, I need to have a healthy stash of activities ready to go once we’ve completed all our responsibilities for the day. I already know that my boys enjoy visiting the nearby parks, plus we plan to participate in our library’s summer reading program, and we can always visit family and friends for play dates. For what we can do at home, my boys like our Homemade Sidewalk Paint and playing with bubbles or on their swing set, so those are always on the list, but I’ve also gathered some new ideas for ways to make memories and spend a fun summer afternoon.

Life in Lape Haven: My Strategy to Thrive During Summer Vacation. WIth a plan for flexible structure, individual responsibilities and chores, and lots of fun activities this summer, I hope that our family can more than survive summer vacation. Lots of helpful links for how we can thrive as a family, enjoy our time together, and make great memories.

One of the easiest summer activities that my boys love is going on a picnic.

50 Fun and Free Summer Activities for Kids

32 Summer Boredom Busters 

Summer Activity Schedule for Kids (Free Printable)

Summer Bucket List – 150+ Activities for Kids

21 Fun Summer Activities

And if they seem to find that structure, responsibilities, and the activities I’ve come up with aren’t enough, I’ve also found this great little printable to help them out when they think they are “bored.” (Elijah likes that word lately, so this is definitely going up in his room.) 🙂

Having never faced a true “summer vacation” as a mom yet, I can’t say that my strategy is perfect, but having a plan is better than being completely unprepared, right? Hopefully with a little organization, planning, and advance preparation, we can sail through this summer fairly happily, making great memories and enjoying the time we have together so much that we’ll hate to see it end. My hope for this summer vacation is to more than survive it. I want us to thrive in it together as a family. That sounds like a good plan to me. 🙂

 WHAT IS YOUR SUMMER SURVIVAL STRATEGY?

The Importance of Storytelling Daddies

Life in Lape Haven: The Importance of Storytelling Daddies. There is just something about playing make-believe or listening to adventurous stories told by your daddy. It's a great way to create memories and bond with your children in a way they will always remember.

When I was little, maybe about four or five, I can remember lying down beside my dad in our little side porch/sun room, with my older brother on the other side of him. It was either afternoon or early evening, so maybe Dad was keeping us occupied so my mom could get my younger brother down for a nap. I don’t remember that part. What I remember most is that we were listening to my father tell us stories about “Ishewa,” a little Native American boy who always seemed to have great adventures, and that day he was going on a bear hunt with his father.

I mentioned the “Ishewa stories” to my dad a while ago, and he was surprised that I remembered them. I don’t remember too many of the storylines, just that my dad was a great storyteller, and I loved the characters that he made up for us. His affinity for American history, including Native American life (his paternal grandmother was part Cherokee), and his hobbies of hunting and fishing and general rambles in the woods combined to give his stories authenticity and a slightly educational element, but he always made them fun and exciting. His tales might be one of the things that encouraged my love for historical fiction books. 🙂

Given how much I like to read and write, you’d think that I’d be the storyteller in our little family, but I’m not. While I do make up stories for our boys on occasion and sometimes even sing them per Elijah’s request, which is harder, my stories are always random.

When our children look back at their childhood, the stories I’m certain they’ll both remember best are the ones their daddy tells them and enacts with them. Those stories are called “Big Bad Bear, Baby Bear, Little Boy, Big Boy, and Monkey in the Woods.” (Yeah, it’s a mouthful…)

IMG_2214-5

Started when Josiah was still a little one, these kooky adventures take place when Daddy and the boys go upstairs to play together. It’s a combination game and storytelling, as they come up with new “episodes” every time they play. (Elijah tends to think of these stories like a TV series.) Daddy narrates, and the boys offer suggestions of what will happen “today on this episode of ‘Big Bad Bear, Baby Bear, Little Boy, Big Boy, and Monkey in the Woods.’” While Josiah is “Little Boy,” and Elijah is known as “Big Boy,” they use their stuffed animals for the rest of the characters. “Big Bad Bear” is a gray bear puppet whose character is more grumpy than bad. “Monkey” is one of those toy monkeys with really long arms and legs that you can Velcro around you, and he’s a crazy, clumsy monkey who always ends up falling down our stairs. “Baby Bear” is the teddy bear that Elijah snuggles at night. They also always visit “Grandma Monkey” at some point in the story, and she cooks them yummy food.

I don’t know all the craziness that goes on, but I hear it: the laughter, the running, Brad doing silly voices, and my boys having a wonderful time. I’ve been tempted to join in before, but this is their thing with Daddy. It’s more special that way.

If a father telling his son stories that include the child’s stuffed animals sounds familiar, you may be thinking of A.A. Milne, who did the same thing with his little boy, Christopher Robin, and his teddy bear, Winnie the Pooh. Apparently fathers and storytelling is a thing in more than our family.

And for good reason. While Brad’s storytelling technique is definitely different than my dad’s (and far different than A.A. Milne’s), the end results are pretty much the same: memories, bonding, a shared adventure, and children who know that they are important to their daddy because he takes time to play and imagine with them. (They also give moms a break. Haha)

As moms we have lots of opportunities with our children to bond and make memories. They know we love them because we snuggle them, kiss boo-boos, make them cookies, sing them songs, read them stories, and 50 million other things throughout a day. It’s kind of easy for us.

But our kids need special moments with their daddies, too. Who better to lead them on wild (pretend) adventures and daring (imagined) feats than their big, strong daddy? (Remember, I’m a girl, and my father was telling me about a bear hunt, not a princess tea party, and I still cherish that story).

So, mamas, step back (if you have to) and give them those moments, and daddies, take them. Make time to spend with your little ones just playing make-believe, and create stories together that they’ll remember for the rest of the lives.

Because, trust me, they may forget the storylines over time, but they’ll never forget you were the one telling the story.

Feature image courtesy of Picture Bliss Photography.