Taking Life One Step At A Time

Taking Life One Step At  A Time

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Parents, the buck stops with you. Talk to your kids about porn.

A mother reached out on facebook today after finding that her 9 year old son was viewing pornography on his dad's phone. I know no other particulars than that. Her search for advice on what to do came through a Christian forum for mothers of boys.

With five boys and another on the way, I am passionate about this issue. How do we protect our kids from the influence and addictiveness of pornography when it's EVERYWHERE?? And to be clear, this is not just an issue that affects boys. Parents of girls need to be vigilant too.

So, what advice was given to this mom? As I read the first several comments I was shocked. There were the helpful links to protective software, and several people saying they had gone through this with their own kids. But a lot of what I saw were what I considered to be soft, politically correct answers. "It's natural", "boys are just curious about sex", "make sure he feels no shame over this discovery". And even one who suggested that mothers shouldn't be the ones talking with their boys about sex.

I'm sorry, WHAT?

Yes, curiosity is normal. Viewing porn is NOT. Pornography - especially for children - is never "natural". Saying that someone should feel no shame in viewing pornography is basically giving the go ahead to enjoy sin. And intimating that only one parent should openly speak with children can create confusion and lead to more secrecy.

I couldn't keep my mouth shut. Here's a snippet of what I wrote in reply to this mother's question:

I have to strongly disagree with the comments that curiosity is normal and not to worry about it. With a husband who's a pastor we see far too often the devastating effects of porn addiction. Nobody sets out planning to wreck their life or family through viewing what is pleasurable. If you don't take the time to teach your son self control now it will be so much harder for him as an adult.

I know my comment is passionate and stern, but these are MEN we are raising! Men who we hope will be responsible, productive, leaders with great character. That takes diligence and often hard choices on the part of the parent. This is a crucial moment.

I also talked about the precautions we take as a family regarding internet and media, and briefly shared that we had personally faced this issue at home.

I posted my comment assuming based on previous replies that my comment would be taken as harsh, rigid, and all about rules. Less than three hours later more than 200 people had liked my comment and several had verbalized their agreement.

So why all the soft comments before mine? Why hadn't others taken time to state the obvious - that protecting the purity of our children is ULTRA important? And why weren't others voicing the very real dangers of pornography?

I honestly think that we've become so used to having to keep quiet and only agree with one another that we're afraid to speak up or be different. Here's the thing. When it comes to your family, have the guts to stand up for what is right! Be the mean parent if you have to be. Be the weird ones that don't participate in the "latest, greatest". If you deem it as damaging, then say no. Long term health for our kids and our families is so much more important that fitting in for the moment. I'm preaching to you adults here! Show your kids that self control is possible through your own decisions. Demonstrate for them how to be different, pure, strong. Share with your kids about your own struggles with sin and allow them to be vulnerable with you. Please, don't assume your kids are "fine" just because you haven't heard of any issues yet. Check in and begin conversations.

I recently had the privilege of hearing some parents talk with their teen about the pornography they had found him looking at. He quietly admitted that the day they found out was the worst day of his life. He was so ashamed. BUT THEN, he looked at his parents and said they had done the right thing by removing his phone. He thanked them for their interference because he no longer had to hide and he felt safer from that which was so tempting to him. His honesty floored me. But it also confirmed what I've known for a long time. Kids want their parents to watch out for them!

Parents, the buck stops with you. There is an endless barrage of material for our kids to see and hear at any moment. And as we all know, they are curious by nature. Guide that curiosity and TALK, TALK, TALK! Be vigilant, be proactive, stand firm. Your kids are counting on you and our society needs men and women of character. It's up to you.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Easy Dill Pickles

Dill pickles can be a pain to can. A lot of recipes take days for the brining process. If you're swimming in pickling cukes and don't want everything sitting around for days on end as your pickles are in process, then try this recipe from the Ball Blue Book. We've found it to be our favorite recipe for good sandwich pickles.

Hamburger Dills
This recipe makes enough liquid for 7 pint jars.

Wash and drain your cucumbers. No need to peel them. Just cut them into thin slices (about 1/4" thick). Do not use the very ends of the cucumbers.

Place your cucumber slices in pint jars.

Add in 2 heads of dill, 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed, and 2 peppercorns for each jar.

Meanwhile, combine 4 1/2 cups of water, 4 cups of vinegar, and 6 Tablespoons of canning salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.

Once your jars are filled, ladle the hot liquid into the jars leaving 1/4" headspace.

Adjust lids and rings.

Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner.


I will add a few tips. If you can possibly grow your own dill, DO! It's expensive in the store and at home it will produce well and will come back in following years. Well worth the initial time and money to plant.

Also, if you wait until cucumbers are prolific in everyone's gardens to do your shopping, you may struggle to find the correct ingredients. I try to stock up on mustard seed in particular as that is almost always off the shelves at this time of year.

Lastly, you can use any cucumbers to make pickles. But if you use garden cukes you'll find the seeds to be much larger. Ideally you should plant pickling cukes and harvest them when the cucumbers are about 4 inches long.

Monday, July 27, 2015

How To Can Peaches

Summertime is the time for peaches! And if you are like many of the people in my family, you wish you could enjoy their fresh taste all year. Canning peaches is incredibly easy and allows you to get that delicious Georgia peach taste even in the dead of winter.

We typically buy a 25lb box of peaches (half a bushel) and get about 13 quarts of peaches out of it. Not a lot, but still enough for at least one jar a month.

To begin, make sure your peaches are soft, but not overripe. If the peaches are too tough, they'll be difficult to peel. If too soft, you'll run into the same problem. And instead of leaving them in the box to ripen, spread them out on a table. This will separate any that have small bruises from the rest of the bunch and will keep the good peaches from rotting.

Once your peaches are ready, simply peel the skins from the outside of your peaches. I typically use a sharp, small knife for this job. If the skins don't come off easily, you can dip the peaches in boiling water for 10-30 seconds and then immediately submerge them in ice water. The point is not to cook the peaches, but to loosen the skin.

After peeling your peaches, slice them in half and take out the pit. The easiest way to get the pit out is with a spoon. Gently loosen around the pit and it'll pop right out.

Place your peach halves pit side down in WIDE mouth jars. Using wide mouths allows you to fit peach halves in your jars. You may think that cutting the peaches into smaller slices will allow you to fit more, but after experimentation, we've found that you can fit the same amount whether you use quarters or halves.

Fill the jar with your peach halves.

Make a syrup of sugar and water. You'll want 1 cup sugar to every 3 cups water. It takes about a cup and half to fill each jar, so make plenty of this. Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar is melted. Do not boil this as you don't want your good syrup to boil down.

Pour the syrup into the jars over the peaches leaving 1/2" of headspace. Remove bubbles and place the lid and ring on the jar.

Process the jars at 5lb pressure for 10 minutes and then allow to cool completely.

Note: For reasons I can't explain, some jars do lose liquid during the pressure canning stage. These jars are still fine to store so long as the seal is good. If you store the jars for several years, you may find some browning on the top peaches. Just remove those peaches and eat the ones underneath. But really, these peaches aren't going to last several years! You'll have eaten them long before that!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Easy Gardening Hack to Deter Pests

We have gardens. And we have an entire clan of rabbits living in our yard. For years we've lost the battle of the bunnies. But this year we finally got smart and discovered a great way to keep them out of our plants.

Last year we put in several garden boxes. These helped by raising our beds of beans, broccoli, and carrots, but they just aren't quite high enough to fully keep the rabbits out. We've put up fencing - even RABBIT fencing - and still those little stinkers get into our garden.

This year we tried a new method born of desperation. My husband purchased a roll of shrink wrap - the kind used to wrap dressers and such when you are moving. It can be found pretty cheaply at most hardware stores. He then placed regular garden fencing posts at each corner of our raised beds. He then carefully wrapped the box in several layers of shrink wrap. By bringing the wrap all the way to the ground it prevents little pests from getting into the box underneath the wraps. And because of the posts at each corner, the wrap can go as high as you need it to. Ours ended up a little over knee high.

You know what? It works!! We'll now do this every year. Not only have we kept the bunnies out but also the chipmunks, neighbor dogs, and stray kittens that we've previously found in our gardens. The sun and rain still get into the box from above. And given that we live in a colder climate, the wraps keep just enough moisture and warmth in the boxes to provide a perfect growing environment for young plants.

It's midsummer now and our garden boxes are flourishing. We still have our wraps on. Wind and rain have not torn them off. And we're discovering the extra bonus that it keeps our plants from spilling over the sides of the boxes where they get trampled by the busy feet of children helping with garden chores.

Go ahead and give it a try! I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Friday, July 17, 2015

DIY Laundry Detergent

For over a year now we've been making our own laundry detergent. With such a huge family the cost of detergent was eating huge chunks out of our monthly grocery budget. This recipe works great in both cold and hot water and does an excellent job of cleaning clothes well - even little boy clothes! It's super economical - only about $25 or less and lasts our family of 8 for six months. So if you've got a family smaller than that and don't have to do two loads of laundry a day, it'll last even longer!

I have found all of the supplies at WalMart in the laundry aisle. You'd likely be able to find them at your local grocery store or possibly even the hardware store. Once you've got your ingredients it only takes about a half hour to put together and then you're set!


1 4lb 12oz box of Borax
1 4lb box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
1 55oz box Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
3 bars of Fels-Naptha Soap
2 small containers of Oxy Clean (3 lbs each)
Optional: laundry crystals for scent (I don't use these)

Grate the bars of Fels-Naptha soap. I use my food processor for this and it works quickly and efficiently.

Combine all ingredients in a large bucket and mix well. I use my hands to mix it. It does take some arm strength. You could also use a large spoon.

Use one of the scoops that comes with the oxy clean (usually about 1-2 Tbs - depending on the size and soil amount in your laundry) per load.

Tip: I have eliminated dryer sheets and fabric softener by making my own wool dryer balls. Simply get some washed wool and use a felting tool to make a large ball. Two or three of these balls used together in the dryer will remove static, eliminate the need for fabric softener, and will noticeably cut your drying time.